Kindle Fire competitor
Jan 10, 2012 (Updated Jan 30, 2012)
Review by j_cricket
Rated a Very Helpful Review
User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Quality of Tech Support:
Pros:Android 2.3, fast processor, beautiful touchscreen
Cons:No mic, camera, or Bluetooth.
The Bottom Line: This is by far the best inexpensive 7" tablet on the market, and now everyone in my extended family has one.
I love this tablet. They went on sale for $129 and I bought 5 of them!
Recommend this product?
This has Android 2.3, which sets it apart from earlier Android 2.1 models, and that is probably the biggest difference. In addition to on-screen navigation buttons, there are touch buttons externally (Search, Home, Settings, Return) which make navigation much easier in case the on-screen display doesn't show the navigation buttons.
The 7" inch color TFT capacitive touch screen (i.e. not pressure activated) is one of the nicest I have seen on any tablet, and it is surprising to find it on an inexpensive model like this. It has built-in WiFi (but no 3G/4G or Bluetooth) that works instantly with one touch (and works flawlessly), scanning and recognizing APs quickly. I have never had a problem connecting, even while traveling.
It has a (RK2918 chipset) A8 Cortex 1Ghz processor with 256Mb RAM, but Android is Linux, of course, and it therefore runs quite quickly (and twice as fast as the earlier Next6 model).
There is built-in 4 Gb Flash memory, and an SD card slot that can accommodate a 32 Gb card. It has a micro-USB port, and when plugged into a computer is recognized as an external drive (allowing easy file exchange). I share the SD card between my MP3 player and my Nextbook, and I have no problem moving the SD card back and forth (unlike with other tablets I have had).
There are built-in speakers (and a standard-size earphone jack) but no camera and no mic. Although Skype runs on this unit, without cam and mic it doesn't make any sense to do so. (I have not tried to set up an external webcam/mic through the USB port, but that probably takes advanced "root" level hacking to accomplish driver installation).
A built-in G-Sensor (gyroscope) orients the screen depending on how the device is held. This behavior is adjustable/preventable in the settings.
It has a very nice Browser included (and Flash 11.0 is pre-installed and works great), and an E-mail app (which I love) that is easy to set up with both POP and IMAP servers. I love the E-mail app. The music player is great, as is the Photo/Slideshow viewer. The Video player automatically resizes videos, both for 16:9 and 4:3 viewing, and the videos are crystal-clear. It plays my .AVI videos (with DivX/Xvid video encoding and MP3/AC3 audio encoding), my .MP4 videos (with AVC video and AAC audio), my .M4V videos (with AVC video and MP4A audio), my .MKV videos (including with .srt subtitle files!), and my .FLV (Flash) videos. (The only format it won't play is .WMV video.) Volume buttons are always readily accessible, too (the lack of which irritated me on earlier tablets). The eBook reader reads both ePub (which looks the best on this tablet) and PDF files, as well as .txt files. The default size is just right for my eyes and is slightly larger than an average paperpack. The screen brightness is adjustable, and I read books routinely on this unit (which is one of the reasons I originally got it).
The desktop is 5 screens wide (only the middle screen is shown by default -- gestures are used to slide to the other screens) so that I can add as many widgets and shortcut icons to the desktop as desired. There are several widgets pre-configured and available (such as the Weather/time widget, a Photo widget, the default Google Search widget, and the wallpaper background widget (for photo and "Live" (i.e. animated) wallpapers).
This device is not recognized by the official Google Android Market, so I have gotten additional apps from the Amazon Android App market, the pre-installed SlideME/SAM market, and the open source F-Droid.org repository.
What did I add to make my laptop obsolete?
From Amazon Android App marketplace: the Netflix app (works very well on this device); the Sky.FM Internet Radio app, the Winamp/Shoutcast Internet Radio app, the Smart App Protector (allows passwords to be required when starting up selected apps), WebLiveWallpaper (allows random display of images from the Internet) and a few games (yeah, the usual, like AngryBirds and Words Free).
From F-Droid.org: the OsmAnd+ app (Open Street Maps and navigation, which can be used offline in place of Google Maps or MapQuest); the aCal Calendar app (which plays well with my CalDAV and ics calendars on the web); the Contact Owner app (which allows me to put a "If Found: Call me" type of message on the lock screen); and other games like FrozenBubble and JewelLust.
The browser also automatically allows access to my WebDAV folders on the web, so I can access files on my home WebDAV server. (Two browsers, Explorer, and Astro are also pre-installed, but neither work well with WebDAV folders. Of the two, Explorer has a nicer UI; I also don't like Astro because it has ads.) For FTP file transfers I love AndFTP (or SwiFTP) which are free, ad-free, and directly downloadable from their developers.
I therefore no longer travel with my laptop -- this tablet is now suitable for me and fits in my pocket (unlike larger tablets), which for me is very important. This tablet is comparable in every way to the much more expensive Kindle Fire and I can't recommend it highly enough!
Amount Paid (US$): 129
Operating System: Linux
Processor speed: over 1000
RAM: More than 256
Hard Drive (GB): Under 4
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