Monday, 06 September 2010
I'm tight. I make no excuses for it but when it comes to spending £499 on a tablet computer, that's just a little too expensive for me. After failing to secure some snazzy new banners on this site in exchange for an iPad and iPod, I went straight to eBay and picked myself up an ePad, a Chinese tablet PC running Google Android.
Before the review, let's rewind and see why I was after a tablet.
I've got a website based around a data feed. As fussy as I am, I need to work through each product to make sure it is suitable for the site. It's not something that can be automated but it is something that could be outsourced. From the opening line we know I'm tight and I probably wouldn't be able to justify the cost of outsourcing this work even given the benefit.
My snazzy system estimates I have a mere 75 hours of processing work left to do. The problem is, I don't have 75 hours lying around. As an affiliate and a PHP/MySQL/Wordpress coder working on behalf of several clients, time is scarce. One thing I did identify though is that I do spend some time each night in front of the TV, only watching programmes I want to but nevertheless simply watching the TV.
I wondered whether an iPad (or similar device) would therefore help me gain an extra few hours each day. I wouldn't need to sacrifice the work I do now in the day and whilst it's still working, I could also watch TV therefore making it feel not so much like work. Productivity wouldn't be high but it's a way to work without hunching over a computer.
I seriously contemplated the iPad and with the amount that were being given away in competitions, press meetings and blog sponsorship over the past few months, I certainly hoped one would wing it's way to Fiske Towers. Alas, it didn't so as time was pressing (Christmas is only around the corner), I had to look at my options. Spend £499 on a sleek iPad with a terrific user interface or spend less than half as much on a 10" tablet computer running a bugged version of Android.
I realised the only thing that really set them apart was apps. I don't own an Apple decide and want to get into the world of apps. "There's an app for just about anything" as they say but if you don't have an iPod, iPad or iPhone, you're not welcome in the app club.
So ultimately the only thing I'd use the tablet for was web browsing. £499 for a web browser is a little steep.
Buying a similar product means buying something that may look or feel like the original but just isn't as good. I finally came to terms with it and bought one from a business in Walsall, Staffordshire. They seem to only deal with tablet PC's and seem to be shipping out dozens on a daily basis from the looks of it.
After a week it arrived and does look very good. It's been styled very similarly to the iPad but is made from a cheaper plastic. It does come with a USB port, a couple of speakers, a mini USB port and a Micro SD card holder.
It's got a glorious 10.2" screen (albeit resistive) with a 1024x576 resolution and a Zenithink 2-axis sensor so the screen image can be rotated in 4 directions. It's powered with a 1GHz ZT-180 Arm based CPU with 256MB RAM and 2GB of Nandflash under the bonnet.
It's got WiFi and an Ethernet adapter but lacks 3G (not bothered with that anyway) and a camera. It's also running Android 2.1.
So what is it like?
To be perfectly honest, it's no iPad but I bought it knowing that. In fact, even the seller said that. As a web browser, it's perfect. I can work through my products and have managed to work an extra 8 hours over the last week that I ordinarily wouldn't have managed. I've only had the toy for a week so can't really say whether this is a standard figure or whether it suffers from "new toy novelty" syndrome.
Assuming I can get an extra hour a day Mon-Fri, that's an extra 5 hours work I can do without really noticing it. I still spend time with my wife, I still watch the TV programmes I want and I don't feel like I'm working. Using this figure, in a little over 3 months I will have completed this site, without sacrificing any 'normal' business hours.
As a rounded device, it's not that great. Apps fail to run, there's no Google Marketplace (yet) so the quality of the remaining apps is poor. Not everything works on it such as the Android Spotify app. Google Maps works but Streetview does not. Flash doesn't work unless you use the Skyfire browser but that slows the device right down.
As a web browsing tablet, it's a dream (apart from no Flash). It's fast, the on screen keyboard is well proportioned and it can be used in landscape or portrait mode.
I'm glad I went for a tablet as it's so much easier for me to work on compared to a laptop or netbook. This particular device is for the budget conscious but if you are after a rounded user interface and a good all-round user experience, a cheap iPed is not for you. If all you are after is a cheap device to surf the interweb in-front of the TV, this may well be a contender. It's a nice bit of kit, has allowed me to work but not work (if you know what I mean) and has already paid for itself after a week of use. Bargain!
That said, I wouldn't say no to an iPad ;-)
You may also be interested in reading:
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Link it up David readers will be curious to see it I think. What browser is it running?
My iPad arrived yesterday and so far I'm a tad underwhelmed with it, maybe it will grow on me.
PS delegate that feed admin and use your time for something more productive/profitable.
Written on Tuesday 07 September 2010 at 05:36:43 GMT (Permalink)
@Matt - Plenty on ebay via http://desc.shop.ebay.co.uk...
Written on Tuesday 07 September 2010 at 11:47:21 GMT (Permalink)
What firm in wallsal?
Written on Friday 08 October 2010 at 14:03:08 GMT (Permalink)
@Colin - Really for the life of me cannot remember what the name was but it was via eBay. Search eBay using the link above for some suggestions :-)
Written on Thursday 28 October 2010 at 10:18:43 GMT (Permalink)
Thanks for your comments! Makes me feel sane, I've had one for 3 days now and for a Chinese product it has had to learn an awful lot of English swearwords quickly. I think because of the size you expect more, but the instructions I received with it held the clue, I seen a better set for fitting a toilet roll holder to the wall.
The concept of making a call via Skype and Holding it up to my ear (Dom Joly style) is quite tempting.
It's been fast-balled into production, the best part of the design has been the box, Product testing has been to see if it's resistant to air, but if it undercuts the I-pad, then it can only drive the price down, and some of us sad people like a challenge with poor equipment.....it's like being back in the Army!
Written on Sunday 31 October 2010 at 06:44:59 GMT (Permalink)
Have you tried upgradin it to the newer Android 2.2 or 2.3? do let me know as im thinking of getting the same one but only if it can be upgraded.
Written on Tuesday 19 April 2011 at 09:23:27 GMT (Permalink)
@Ahmad - The version I have doesn't have upgraded firmware available for Android Honeycomb - yet :-)
Written on Wednesday 27 April 2011 at 09:17:07 GMT (Permalink)
I think A more suitable for you the zt-180 -2. 1GMHZ Andriod 2.2 10" Touchscreen Tablet PC is convenient, easy-to-use and the latest in personal computing trends. The Tablet comes with 512 MB RAM , It has a processor speed of 1GHz, one USB port, an HDMI plug, SD card slot, and built-in memory of 2GB. Micro sd card up to 32GBIt has Wi-Fi connectivity and a Li-ion battery that lets you use the tablet for 5 hours without a recharge.
Written on Tuesday 17 April 2012 at 22:35:34 GMT (Permalink)
@May - Thanks for this. I've moved onto a Blackberry Playbook ( http://davidfiske.com/item/2012/01/christmas-competition-prizes-2011 ) as this is much easier to use than the ePad - though it's still not an iPad!
Written on Sunday 22 April 2012 at 13:01:48 GMT (Permalink)
Thank you to all previous commenters.
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