Review APad review and first impressions.

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#1
If you haven't heard of it, the APad, is an Android based tablet/pad. Chinas' answer to Apples' iPad, but comes in at about a quarter of the price and in different screen sizes.

There are quite a few versions of the Apad around, the one I went for is a 7” that has the Rockchip 2880 chipset, known as the iRobot, Moonse 7001 and other names.



This being a generic Chinese item I wasn't expecting much, I knew from the beginning what I was likely to be buying into and I have to say....well I was pleasantly surprised. I'd had no experience of Android at all previously but was able to work out what to do with it pretty much out of the box. The screen is responsive, actually a good deal better than my touchscreen phone and the virtual keyboard is fairly easy to use (more of this in a minute) with a minimum of mistakes. There are bad points but so far nothing that would make me sorry I bought it, I'll tell you about these as I come to them.
It has a good heft to it, feels solid and heavy, the casing is silvered plastic and very smooth, so smooth it makes it difficult to hold it comfortably so I'll be adding some kind of grip to the back when I get round to it. The screen is sharp and bright (I've left the plastic cover on it for now till I can source a screen protector)
Size wise It fits easily into a cargo pocket or back pocket (not recommended in case you sit on it).




The screenshot (sorry if the quality is bad) above is the pad set up the way I like it although it's changing all the time as I find new programs to try out. The base system is Android 1.5, this is a pretty early version and so far is not upgradeable, though I'm sure that will change as the modders get to grips with it. There's an Info bar along the top with icons, from left to right - Home, a notification area, WiFi signal strength, battery level, clock, vol up/down, return and finally menu. There are three home screens of which the middle one is default, you swipe your finger along the screen to roll it left or right to the screens on either side which are both empty of icons when you first fire it up, you put what ever programs you like there. There seems to be room for sixteen icons per page, not sure yet if that is adjustable but the lateral spacing looks like it could be better used. On the far right of the screen is a grey band with a small white arrow (on my firmware), this is the main menu pullout and has icons for all the software you have installed including anything you have copied to the home screens. A tap on the white arrow slides it out and another tap slides it back again.

Some bad points, this model comes with a camera, some specs say 3mb but in fact it's 0.3mb and very poor, best forgotten completely as it's unusable.
The volume through the built in speaker is so low it's hardly audible but the headphones supplied work well and are much louder. I can't vouch for sound quality as I'm pretty much tone deaf but music is not one of my passions so I'm not bothered.
The power supply has a very short lead and a dc plug whose thin pin is poorly fitted into the moulded plastic. I'd read a few reports of this pin coming adrift and true enough mine came off today, I've got something better coming from eBay and have superglued this one for now.

Good points, battery life, I've read folk saying they get about 1-2 hours with wifi turned off but my experience is much much better, currently on 4 hours with Wifi on and showing about 40% power left. This may be a result of my flashing a new firmware to it ( I did buy it to play with after all..)
It's very quick, a lot quicker that I had expected, the 2880 chipset has something to do with that, avoid the current Via one if you decide to splash out.

Good/Bad - Setting up WiFi was a doddle, the pad found my network and connected straight away once I'd put the password in. The WiFi range is pitiful though, ok as long as you're in the same room or pretty close but drops out if you get a wall or two between you and the router.

Android Market has a wealth of free and paid for programs for it and is a doddle to use, if you already have a google account you are straight in there. So far I've installed Opera Mini, some games and book readers, all free of charge. I've also bought a couple of others. Since I also intend to try to use the Apad seriously, I've bought Documents2Go from Dataviz (special offer $9.99) for working with office files and pdf's, I've used this software before on my pda and know my way around it well. Also a replacement for the inbuilt keyboard called Better Keyboard for £2.99 and installed a skin for it that gives me black keys with thin white borders, this makes it easier to type.
Opera is by far the fastest browser I think and it works very well, displaying websites properly and at a good size. It does have one problem, when changing from landscape to portrait modes the ability to scroll down disappears.

Book Readers, I've tried quite a few now and some of the offerings are dire, I've got down to three that I like and they are Aldiko, very graphical and a bit slow but once you have a book loaded it's a pleasure to use. WordPlayer, works the way I like a program to work, i.e. with the minimum of fuss and again is a pleasure to use, Documents2Go for reading pdf's, I tried a 65mb 220 page book and it handled it effortlessly.
I've discovered that I can export my Rainlendar calendar to Google and have that displayed on my left home screen which will be handy when head office phone up and say what shift are you on on such'n'such a date?
As you would expect with Android being Googles baby everything about it connects seamlessly, checking your email etc. automatically when you are online and buying from the market is very simple.

I've mentioned audio but not video, this is where the Rockchip version of the Apad comes into it's own, full screen videos play play smoothly although I had to go looking for a better player than the one pre installed on my pad and have not yet worked out what file types are supported. This version will also play youtube videos as well but I've not tried it yet.

My primary uses for the Apad are as a book reader, with simple games and a small amount of proper work, I don't think I'm going to be disappointed.
 
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#3
The Apads are basically big Android phones in much the same way the iPad is a big iPhone so there's nothing for Apple to sue over. This year we should see a raft of Android pads released by the major companies, I know Asus have a 10" eee pad in the works, and Archos already sell a 7" mid. Acer, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba...

With regards to the Apad above, I paid considerably less for it than I did for my e-book and it has soo much more functionality.
 
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#4
The Apads are basically big Android phones in much the same way the iPad is a big iPhone so there's nothing for Apple to sue over. This year we should see a raft of Android pads released by the major companies, I know Asus have a 10" eee pad in the works, and Archos already sell a 7" mid. Acer, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba...

With regards to the Apad above, I paid considerably less for it than I did for my e-book and it has soo much more functionality.
Great bargain for that functionality, features and looks it's a great buy! Now my question is does it have a USB input? If yes, then I would be very much interested in getting one for myself as well.
 
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#5
2 usb inputs yes, but wait a little while, there are faster ones coming out that have Android 2.1 in the next few weeks.
 

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#6
The Apads are basically big Android phones in much the same way the iPad is a big iPhone so there's nothing for Apple to sue over. This year we should see a raft of Android pads released by the major companies, I know Asus have a 10" eee pad in the works, and Archos already sell a 7" mid. Acer, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba...

With regards to the Apad above, I paid considerably less for it than I did for my e-book and it has soo much more functionality.
I guess it depends if Apple have copyrighted the design at all, as its a direct rip off looks wise, but then if its Chinese, i doubt anything would happen.
 
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#8
A good review.... Apad live here - http://www.apad.tv/apadforum/ - theres a few forums about including Slatedroid too.

I've been watching these for a while and I'm just waiting for the M16 to get 2.2 and I'll get one. USB is host as well which means pen drives, mice and keyboards. There are other clones out too incliding the IPed but Orphan who make this seem to do a better job.

Re Apple + court.... have a look at clonedinchina ;)

Terran
 
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#9
really interested in these having played with the Ipad, so thanks for the quick review!
I like the fact that you are not restricted as such and have a couple of q's if you could help with....

How is the screen for showcasing your photography? is there a decent slideshow viewer for jpegs and such? Also what sort of storage does this have?

One last thing any good forums for researching and purchasing?

Thanks!
 
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#10
Luke, price between £100-150 from a UK supplier for a 7" version similar to mine but there are new versions available already with faster processors more memory etc so the best thing to do now is check the various forums and eBay for the best ones.

oli, the screen on mine is 800x480 and shows jpgs fine, I've not looked for slideshow software but anything that's made for Android can be installed on an apad, again storage on mine is pretty much micro sd card based (up to 32gb) but it has a couple of gb onboard.

As Terran says above there are lots of different variations on the basic model, Apad, Iped, Epad. The best manufacturers seem to be Hiapad and Orphan. Most of the newer ones are better but be careful as Chinese sellers can be economical with the truth if they think it will make you part with your cash especially in their use of images, so do check out the forums first for the good and bad ones. I've been using Slatedroid myself (up and down atmo moving servers) and Terran has linked to a new forum ^

The big hit for this week seems to be a 10.2" pad with Android 2.1 and 16gb onboard with hdmi out, supposed to be released today but I've seem posts from folk having ordered already.
 
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#11
I think i would be interested in getting one of these new ones, i got an ipad but it was over priced for what it was, this on the other hand could be great..!
 
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#12
Cheers Steep. There's no way I'm getting an Ipad but for the money these are interesting. Could help while away many an hour stuck on Ryanair cattle truck.
 
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#13
The big hit for this week seems to be a 10.2" pad with Android 2.1 and 16gb onboard with hdmi out, supposed to be released today but I've seem posts from folk having ordered already.
which ones that? M16+?

just had a quick search but not 100% sure. Also which seller did you go through?

Just trying to work out if 7" or 10" would be suitable....
 
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#14
which ones that? M16+?

just had a quick search but not 100% sure. Also which seller did you go through?

Just trying to work out if 7" or 10" would be suitable....
M16 + 2.2 - perfect :D

Glad to see another Slatedroid user.... Its been up and down but I'm trying to stick with it..... I'm amazed that the whole web site is been served from just one Eken now.... I kid you not.

Terran
 
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#15
dear god it's like trying to learn another language listening to you lot. All I want to do is buy one with 2.1 or better with WIFI. I dont' want something else that I need to master the technical jargon of, photography is bad enough for that!
 
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#16
I found Android to be very simple, if you have used a smartphone or a pda you will have no trouble with it. Eken is another make/manufacturer, they brought out one of the first models.

oli it probably is the m16 yes, I'm going to wait a while before upgrading mine though, what I have works just fine and there's the possibility of Android 1.6 working on it soon which will expand the number of apps.

If you have use for a calendar/shifts/scheduling app Jorte works a treat (think old style paper filofax)
 
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#17
Yeah I'm familiar with Andriod, I've got an Android phone. There just seems to be a load more jargon with these tablets though.

Would be handy if other folk dropped links in to their devices with specs so we can compare them in one thread.
 

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#18
Yes please do. I love the look of the ipad but it's functionality (for me) is pants so I really want something with 3G wireless that will play flash, slideshow for pics and if it would handle my database that would be awesome! (My palm used to do it 10 years ago!)
 
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#19
dear god it's like trying to learn another language listening to you lot. All I want to do is buy one with 2.1 or better with WIFI. I dont' want something else that I need to master the technical jargon of, photography is bad enough for that!
2.2 gives you flash and a load mor though.....

Most of the big players will have some thing out very soon - quite a few high spec ones have been demoed.

The Apads are Ok but if you want to wait a little longer you may pay more but get a branded device...

Google Android Tablet and you will see what I mean..... that been said theres nowt wrong with the Apad as it is just make sure you get it from a good supplier.

Terran
 
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#20
So 2.2 is the one to get then.

I've been following android tablet updates on T3 for weeks but they only worry about the big players (HP/ACER/TOSHIBA etc) and with big names come similar price tags.

The chinese ones are probably my sort of level and price. I don't need or want one with phone/network capabilities, WIFI will be fine for my purposes. I had a look at a couple of the forums/sites mentioned so far and got confused straight away so left.
 
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#22
None of the apads up to now have had 3g that works in the UK, if you see a new model advertised with it make sure it's compatible.
 
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#24
Yeah I've looked at which ones were interested in and came across so many options of device, and then after that there were the different suppliers....... minefield or what!

Still no closer but i'd like to see one in the flesh and try out the touch screen to see if it is usable.
 
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#28
There's one available now, the 7" Wits A81-E, it's a last year model though that happens to have a cpu that is suitable. Missing some stuff like an accelerometer and lacks performance.
 
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#30
Looking at what the guys on the fan sites are saying they will be so so and that anything under the 7" range is just OK. Style wise 7 and 10 look really good although a number ( like me ) are a bit put off by the fact there is no GPS in any.

The question remains as to the support in general imho over Android how ever the community has put presure on them and code etc is been released....

Dont expect to see Gingerbread on any of these from the OEM imho although codec and screen wise I think they will be very good.

One to watch for IMHO is the Inkpad which is due any time ( again a noob so support is a big question ) and the new Tosh 100.....

Weighing all the above up I still come back to value for money ( and this includes support ) from the clones and I'm consideirng getting a 2.2 tablet on the basis 12 months later to upgrade I buy new hardware..... works out about the same and I may not upgrade any way :)

Terran

PS TAB has been anouced on Voda this week how ever their Android track record and stupid price is putting me off it
 
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#31
This is very relevant to my interests...

Love the Samsung Tab but if they are going to try and charge what the leaked price is then I am really not interested...

As long as it has Android 2.2, A camera, Nice screen, Wifi and maybe GPS would be a nice addition then I am sold.

It will go well with my HTC Hero.. :D
 
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#32
Yes, price of Tab on expansys is way out of any range !! lets wait couple of months and see how it will change
and by that time we will have few of them on market :)
 
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#33
I have 2 of these since the wife "borrowed" the first one and would nt give it back! The second one is version 3 aPad and a bit snappier than the first V2 that wife nicked. For the price they are amazing, paid £84 for the second one.
I ve got my portfolio on mine on a 8GB SD card, the screen is pretty good, it has a slideshow feature that comes with it.
I use FB reader (free download) for e books and its great, its what I primarily use it for.
Its wifi connects easily to my home router so email checking and surfing is no prob. and it was a godsend when I was stuck at Glasgow airport with a delayed Ryanair flight last week.
If you get the Rockchip one it plays movies smoothly, no juddering or artifacts and the sound through decent earphones is v good.
Dont know the benefits of Andriod 2.2 v 1.5 that it comes with, it has a feeble camera 1.3meg but extrapolated from 0.3meg. For £85 its a steal, need to budget for a micro sd card if you have nt got one and good "leather" cases are available on eBay for less than £6 now.
I also frequent Slatedroid.com, a great place for all the latest info and rom mods etc. I highly recommended both the site and the apad at its price point.
 
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#34
I've moved on a bit myself, still have my V2 apad but only waiting to see if Android 1.6 can be made to work on it so I can try sat nav/gps (if the bluetooth works...) then I can investigate a car installation for it. My main plaything now is a Dell Streak which just blows the apad away in every respect (so it should for the price).
 
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#39
the Archos 101 is looking nice although could do with a couple of extras..
I had a play with a pre-production sample of one of the new Archos 10's today - very nice bit of kit. Great with videos because unlike the iPad the screen is actually in 16:9 ratio and there's a little stand built in behind so you can prop it up. It's also got hdmi output and a proper usb host so you can plug any usb device into it (like a card reader or camera).
 
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#40
I had a play with a pre-production sample of one of the new Archos 10's today - very nice bit of kit. Great with videos because unlike the iPad the screen is actually in 16:9 ratio and there's a little stand built in behind so you can prop it up. It's also got hdmi output and a proper usb host so you can plug any usb device into it (like a card reader or camera).
interesting.. can i ask if you happen to know if the october release is still on course?
 
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