Tuesday, April 05, 2011
While I still believe that Android is going to be a market presence to compete with Apple for the app market, there are going to be bumps in the road. RIM’s recent announcement that it will support the Android Market app in the new PlayBook tablet supports this optimistic view and is good news for publishers as there is now one less app store and device to worry about for their magazine.

But the Android Market is still the wild west, hackers have been busted for phishing (ID theft) with bogus applications, and there is a wave oflow-cost tablet manufacturers using Android 2.1 for 7-inch tablets priced at $200 or less. I bought one of these devices from www.lightinthebox.com and discovered the tablet was made and shipped directly from China. The tablet had the same look and feel of an iPad with a touch colour screen, wifi, email, browser and access to the Android Market for apps.

“No Name” Android 7-inch Tablet Scorecard

The gadgets in this blog will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these four criteria to arrive at the score.

The device had a 800MHz processor, 4GB storage, USB and HDMI port, microphone/camera and 7-inch screen colour touch screen. It had Android 2.1 as its operating system. Photographer: Don Molyneaux
The device had a 800MHz processor, 4GB storage, USB and HDMI port, microphone/camera and 7-inch screen colour touch screen. It had Android 2.1 as its operating system. Photographer: Don Molyneaux

Download Speeds
The device was buggy right from the start. The wifi connection was spotty and intermittent. I found it slow when downloading games from the Android Market and the games did not load properly and crashed the unit, so I had to reboot.

Readability
The screen quality varied: for video it was poor and sometimes did not work, and for games/websites excellent. I still very much like the 7-inch form, but not this device.

Navigation
The touch screen was good and bad. Scrolling in the email was frustrating as it would not work sometimes, but playing Angry Birds it worked fine.

Price/Features Value
At $200 bucks it is very attractive to my frugal side. It has a USB port for portable storage that no other vendor has. It did have a camera, but it was an odd position, the corner of the device and on the wrong side. The voice recorder was a good built-in app. Battery life was short lasting 3-5 hours.

The Gadget Report Rating - 2 out of 5

The 2 rating is generous, but that was based on price, colour screen and a 7-inch form. This device did not work and should not have been shipped to a customer. This experience can been damaging to any brand. This could be one of the reasons why Google is restricting access to Android v3 (Honeycomb 10” tablet system) to prevent damage to the brand by low-quality products entering the marketplace. According to Don Marti, an open-source expert, Google can restict access to this version of the Android code based on the GPL (Open Source) software license.

At least with Apple we know what brand experience to expect, but with Android it is a lot different. It is buyer beware when you purchase an Android tablet off the Internet from brands that you do not know. On the plus side these manufacturers are helping drive prices down faster for consumers, as you can now get a Samsung Galaxy Tab (which a I rated 4.5/5) in Canada for $299 with a 3-year plan, so maybe this was a good thing.

About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners online publishing, ad sales and acquisition/selling brokerage services. His media services also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He also moonlights as a pro goalie as a "rent a goalie" at mypuck.com.
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