Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A Newbie to Tablet PC’s

"Before you start readng my blog, I like to say Sorry for a lengthy blog. It wasn't my intention, but when you read on you will understand why"
Just over a year ago I decided after having I got a Decent PC & Windows 7, I needed something more portable when I am away so not to hog other people’s PC’s to check my Social Networks & emails online as my lil’ ol’ N95 was struggling with it all. After helping others to get Netbooks, I thought a Netbook would do me nicely as they were cheap & cheerful.

Well that was the plan, but the prices of Netbooks were escalating, gone were the days of the £100 unit which was the whole ethos of the netbook. Linux faded into the background as Netbooks went to XP & now Windows 7. So I decided I cant really afford it.

But I had started seeing reports & news on mobile phones with Android & then the rumours of a Tablet version. But all I saw about them was online & very vague. So when some freinds got Android mobiles, I had to have a play & I like what I saw. But still wasn't what I wanted, I wanted something like a Netbook. So I got a download version of Android & installed it onto my PC in Virtual Box so I can try it out. It definitely suited my need, if only I could get the right Tablet.

Then before Christmas I was starting to get emails from well known Computer shops offering Android Tablets for under £100 & this got my interest. It would be perfect for my needs, a portable PC with Wi-Fi capability. So I decided it was time to research on specs, prices, reviews & good suppliers. That is where my headaches started, if you go onto a site like eBay or Amazon you will find hundreds of them out there. Different sizes, specs & types of Android from 1.6 to 2.2. And with eBay, a lot of sellers are from abroad & with Electrical Goods I prefer to buy within the UK. One thing I had noticed was the lower the price, the lower the specs were & to be honest I don't think the lower spec ones would handle the modern web & social networking.

So, 1st thing to do was to see what's the oldest version of Android I be happy with? Ideally 2.2 is the best at the time, tho 2.3 is coming out & 3 is just around the corner. But for cheapness, 2.1 would be ok for what I needed. So next was to find a cheap good model & that was another minefield. You have Apads, Epads & many other cloned look alikes to the iPad, so I went thru & researched each that looked ok & at the same time taking notes of the companies as well as the reviews of the tablets & the Company who are selling them.

That’s when one UK Company caught my eye, as I saw them mentioned with reference to reviews of their stock in Webuser , Engadget & Gadget Show websites, what they were saying was pretty good tho nothing about tablets, so I went to & had a look. They had exactly what I wanted, it was an Android 2.1 7” Tablet for £140 which wasn't to bad with all it came with.  

OS: Android 2.1

Processor: 800Mhz

Built-in flash memory: 2GB,


Micro SD card slot up to 32GB

WiFi, G-Sensor

Camera , Microphone, Built in stereo speaker

USB 2.0 port

2.5-mm stereo earphone jack


Charge socket

Display: 7" TFT LCD touch screen, resolution 800x480

Support up to 1080P

Google Android Market access, YouTube video playback

Battery: Long time standby with low power consumption up to 6 hours

Built-in 1500mAh lithium

Multi formats supported include: MPEG1, MPEG2, WMV9, MPEG4-SP, ASF, DIVX, H.263, H.264, RMVB, Mov, Mkv, TS, FLV, WMA, MP3, WAV, OOG, AAC, EAAC

Weight: 0.5kg

So with Christmas coming up & me spending time away from my PC, I ordered one. It arrived late due to the Snow but in time for Christmas. This is what I got in the box, it even came with the HDMI cable to connect to TV.

From initial inspection, definitely looked good & felt sturdy, but had to charge it for 6 hrs & wait which was a pain as I was itching to play with it….

Once fully charged, I turned it on & off I went. Setting up Wi-Fi was a doddle & you have to have a Google account to access the Android Marketplace as well as other parts of the Android Software, but I had one already so was easy to log in with my account details. Setting up to how I like it was pretty simple too.


Now the downfall, for some reason after a day the Marketplace wouldn't download apps to the Tablet. I tried different ways without success. But as it was Christmas I couldn't ask the supplier about it so I reset it & tried again. Reset to factory setting was painless & Marketplace worked ok, but stopped working again a day later. I eventually worked out that if I install all wanted apps as soon as Factory reset is done, that will do me until I contact the supplier about this glitch. So with that sorted for now I used it over Christmas, a lot! It was very handy, even fitted inside my coat pocket as I went visiting family & friends. Whilst I played with it, I found it didn't like Flash or Java but neither did my N95 & on researching more I found out only Android 2.2 or later does work with Flash.

The Tablet also came with a stylus that slips into the back of it when not in use, this came in handy as the touchscreen isn't too responsive, but a cautious warning if you do use the stylus you be best to sand down the edges of the tip as mine had a sharp edge & slightly scored the glass on the 1st use of it.

All in all, minus the glitch of the App Marketplace this is a worthwhile buy. And after the Christmas season, I contacted Sonix7 about my issues to see if they knew a way to resolve it. The reply I got was a surprising one. They apologised for the issues I had, this was due to a glitch in the firmware & then offered a replacement of a newer 8” model coming out in a few weeks if I can wait. So of course I agreed & a few weeks later the replacement 8” model arrived & I did some comparisons.


Apart from the obvious difference in size & version of Android as well as the specs, the main differences I found in the hardware was the new 8” model didn't have HDMI output or a camera. This wasn't an issue for me so I was happy with what I have. Specs are as the following: 

OS: Android 2.2

Processor: 1GHZ


Hard drive: 4GB NAND FLASH

Micro SD card slot

WiFi, G-Sensor, Built in stereo speaker

Flash 10, Standard 30pin dock connector & USB adapters

3.5-mm stereo earphone jack

8" TFT LCD touch screen, resolution 800x600

Support up to 1080P, YouTube video playback

Battery: Long-time standby with low power consumption up to 6 hours

Built-in 3900mAh lithium

Multi formats supported include: MPEG1, MPEG2, WMV9, MPEG4-SP, ASF, DIVX, H.263, H.264, RMVB, Mov, Mkv, TS, FLV, WMA, MP3, WAV, OOG, AAC, EAAC

Weight: 460g



 Not only was it better in processing speed, RAM, Memory & screen size as well as its now Android 2.2, I also found the touchscreen was far more responsive. Downside was that it wasn't pocket size, but it still is portable as what I required as well as cheaper than a Netbook. Setting up from start was the same as the previous model with the Wi-Fi & Google account, etc. The updated Android is a lot better, Marketplace is working ok too with no issues of troublesome downloading as I had in the previous model. So I am totally happy with this model & the service I got from Sonix7, they definitely achieved higher than expected service & I would recommend them.

Are the 2 models worth it? I say yes! Even with the firmware glitches in the 7” model, it was still a good one to work with & eventually there would be an upgrade to it to take the kinks out of the glitch in the Android Marketplace, maybe even upgrade it to Android 2.2.

Both have their uses, it all depends on what you require. 7” Model is great for it size & 8” for its power. Both are below £200 mark, a lot less than the iPad & Samsung Tab as well as many other similar ones going for the £500 mark. I have played with a Samsung Tab & the best bit about it was the touchscreen, but £500 is a lot of money. These 2 models I have discussed about are sure worth what you pay for. And as for battery life of both models, I found that not to bad. I got around 3 hrs of use on a single full charge on both models, this isn't to bad. I know of mobile phones running down quicker when using all its services. They also met my requirements to what I wanted too, so I am happy.

I hope this review of my path to getting a tablet has been of help & hope you the best to getting a tablet suitable to your needs. Tho in a few months, these models will be outdated & other better ones will be available. But the Company will hopefully be there for you to go have a look at.