G-tablet review and comparison to iPad.
First the back story...a little explanation.
I picked up an iPad for mainly one reason, a media player...specifically a movie player that could play multiple movies without going dead (for those long flights.) I also wanted something I could pick up and use everyday without worrying about charging it up (just put it on the charger once a week or so.) The iPad fulfilled those requirements perfectly. Streaming Netflix was another bonus. I watched a two hour movie, streaming from Netflix, and only used 20% of the battery. The screen is great and everything runs smoothly.
Now for the bad things...the things that got me looking at Android tablets (after my experience with Android phone.)
1. I hate how apps close to open other ones. I hate how it closes mail to open a link, and then you have to go back and open your mail again (after closing the browser.)
2. I hate the single quit button. It would be nice if there were some basic menu buttons...a back button, a search button...etc. Different programs have unique ways to get to their settings...you have to figure out how to do it with each one.
3. While the browsing experience is fast and I haven't found a website that doesn't load, the lack of flash really messes with the experience. So many websites have flash videos on them. If those videos aren't linked to Youtube, there is no way to see them.
4. The lack of expansion/room is very limiting. I bought the 16Gb version, because I thought $400 was enough to pay (for a used one.) The camera kit used to work great to run USB drives but Apple shut that down by limiting the voltage output on the port. Now I've got to move stuff to the tablet when I want to view it. This makes loading it full of movies for a vacation a bigger PITA. I can't just bring the iPad. I need another device to load to it.
5. Media has to be reformatted for the narrow range that works on it. I've got a bunch of videos encoded for an older Archos that will need to be reencoded for the iPad.
6. Limited software. Some neat software isn't available because it doesn't meet Apples criteria.
After some looking around I stumbled upon the G-tablet. The reviews seemed to say the hardware was good (except for the limited viewing angle screen) and the built in Tap-n-Talk software (which could be minimized in the update or replaced altogeter.) Also, supposedly there were work arounds for the lack of Android Market.
I decided to take a chance on one and see if it was a good replacement for an iPad.
I picked it up a couple days ago and here is my experience, impressions with a tilt toward comparing it to an iPad.
First it did work...somewhat, out of the box. Within minutes of getting it, the tablet said there was an update. Based on what I read, I deleted all user contents before applying the update. Even with this caution, it did not go well. The machine force closed on Explorer and refused to play videos in the Youtube app (really just mobile Youtube) and force closed several times.
That started my journey to "fix" it. I repartioned the user area. I reinstalled the stock ROM several different ways. I installed the "vanilla" TNTlite. Finally I ran the nv_flash routine documented on XDA, which brought it back...to a somewhat working machine. From there I installed the latest TNTlite and it finally actually worked...though I still get the occasional force close...and even got a total reboot while surfing the internet.
Here are my peeves, so far.
1. The screen is really bad. Not only does it have a very narrow horizontal viewing angle, but the colors seem to be 8bit. In photos, where there is gradual transition in shade (like in a sky or a person's shirt) the color has big blocks of single color in it...like a paint by number. This is equivalent to those cheap photo frame screens you see. The poor viewing angle causes practical problems. For example, if you lay it on the counter, with a recipe open, you have to get right over it to read the recipe. It works much better if you can prop it up....would have been much nicer if it came with a little easel arm...like an HTC Evo (The iPad can get away with not having one because of it's wide viewing angles.)
2. The touch screen isn't responsive enough and seems to have different levels of responsiveness in different areas of the screen. I tried recalibrating it by the recommended methods, but it didn't help. Sometimes you have to press really deliberately to get something to happen. This really messes with the typing experience.
3. Despite doing all the market fixes I could find, still don't have full market. For example, only one Angry Birds was found.
4. Double tap to zoom, in the stock browser doesn't work correctly. It never wants to zoom on just the text block I'm reading, so I'm constantly having to pinch to zoom and then recenter.
5. The action buttons aren't illuminated...making them impossible to work in the dark. This was somewhat fixed by TNTlite's application of the buttons on the screen, but I find I still occasionally touch the action buttons inadvertently...because I can't see them.
6. While the browser supports flash, it doesn't do HTML5 and possibly the latest flash so I still get errors in pages with videos that won't play.
7. Netflix doesn't work in the stock browser (will it work in another one?)
8. Hulu doesn't work either (thinks it is an iPad??? Need to research alternative browsers further.)
9. Battery charging is slower.
So far, the negatives...especially the screen...are outweighing the positives. It will take a little more time to see if there are fixes (of course there won't be one for the screen.)
- 02-12-2011, 02:43 PM #2
- 82 Posts
- CM7 & HC Bottle of Smoke
The Gtablet unfortunately is for nerds who like to hack things to make them work. The Tnt-Tab interface is yuck so you have to root with something like Tnt-Lite or Vegan-Tab in order to see the full potential of the tablet.
Yes, the viewing angle is bad but it can be tolerated.
- 02-12-2011, 07:29 PM #3
Hulu and netflix are a no go on android right now. Hulu is investigating ways to rip us off and netflix apparently has a team of snails working on their app.
For touchscreen issues, I suggest running a screen calibration again. Look it up on xda and delete the file when you're done, you may have a bad unit as mine works fine after the calibration. I also recommend vegan tab over tnt lite, feels slightly more stable.
- 02-13-2011, 02:51 PM #4Retired Moderator
- 3,558 Posts
- Ice Cream Sandwich
Hulu can be made to work, at least on the evo by hex editing the flash to make hulu think your on a PC. Search around, and if nobody has done it for the g-tab yet, go to the evo forums on XDA and try the same thing on your g-tab, it'll probably work.
Get off of Tnt-lite and go to vegan tab, it made my cousins g-tab speedy has hell.
I wish i could get one of these bad boys, if you ever decide to sell it... For a reasonable price... Pm me haha
- 02-14-2011, 10:07 AM #6
I got mine on Saturday and like it a lot. My daughter has an iPad, and though its display is indisputably better, it's a different target-audience, IMHO.
If you're a techie, or love openness (or dislike Steve Jobs), the G-Tab is way better. If you want a dumbed-down but slick-looking interface, buy an iPad/iPhone. It'll make you think you're technical...
The VEGAn ROM requires ClockworkMod (I don't think the TnTLite does). There's a very good FAQ/Tutorial on XDA. I got it working on the first go-around. I recommend it.
OK, I installed VEGAn after realizing what I had been doing wrong. It was a piece of cake. I like the feel of VEGAn more.
However, several problems remain.
1. Touch screen is much less sensitive on right hand side. I recalibrated it several times...even tried cleaning it, then recalibrating...but the problem remains. I have to use a more determined push on the lower right hand side, which makes typing a real PITA.
2. Market is still kind of a bit of a pain.
3. I'm getting weird behavior occasionally, that requires reboots to fix. For example, when I closed ConvertPad it kept opening again.
4. Sometimes Flash videos freeze and I have to refresh the page...some I could not get through.
I agree about preferring the openness of the platform....but I think I'll wait for something with slight better hardware (ips screen and touch surface) and a less buggy operating system (Honeycomb perhaps.) If one of these was available as a refurb for $200-$300, I might reconsider....but for almost $400, I want something a bit more functional.
- 02-15-2011, 06:28 AM #8
So if you want a completely refined experienced out of the box from your tablet then the gTab isn't for you.
The selling points for me were pretty simple. It is open and the development community is pretty deep. There are 3 or 4 great roms and a lot of collaboration between the rom developers.
Made the choice easy for me. I believe that this will be one of the first tablets to get Honeycomb, unofficially that is. I can get past the screen.
Honestly, what I hate the most about it is the size...I feel like 10 is just too big...it's not a comfortable to use and you can't do anything one handed.
So I'm in the market for a NookColor too
I hoped it would be more compatible with all websites (ie. flash) and it did handle flash. But, not without issues. The browser has some weird display issues that I haven't seen since the days of Java browsers...selection areas that aren't lined up with text...windows and bars overlapping video boxes...format issues. The double tap to zoom into a text pane never works...though it will zoom back out with it. I've ran into a page where the scroll didn't work. It was like the browser didn't realize the page was longer.
Additionally, there are still the hardware issues.
The screen lacks sensitivity in some areas...which is frustrating...and I'm not sure it can be fixed by software.
The screen is hard to view at angles, so it must be held more perfectly, which reduces the comfort levels.
The unlit options buttons are a real pain in the dark. I can't count the number of times I was rotating the tablet for a better view and activated a button I did not want to. One suggestion for developers...a hard key to enable/disable them...like maybe a quick doublepress on the volume down button.
On top of that, I lose Netflix (which works really well on the iPad) and some other video streaming services.
In the end, it is fun to fiddle with, but not ready to replace my iPad.
By the time the developers get Honeycomb stable on it, there will be more tablets to choose from...probably at better prices...probably with Honeycomb standard.
2 years ago this thing would have been amazing. With a good viewing angle screen, it would function as a great media player even today (better than my old Archos) and I would keep it.
Good luck to you and God bless the developers for all their hard work.
P.S. Another weird glitch just occured. The tablet has been sitting on the charger all night. When I took it off the charger this morning it reported 96% battery. Perhaps it cycles the power on and off...off at 100%...back on at 96%? I've seen this behavior with other portable devices with Lithium Ion batteries.
- 02-15-2011, 08:43 AM #10
I think you're being very fair in your assessment, and no one can fault you for making your own decision as to which device best suits your needs.
The netflix thing is a general tragedy that I don't understand; seems to me with the level of openness in the OS, it would be a no-brainer to sort-out the DRM problem they are pointing to. I think there is something else going on there.
I am keeping mine. I agree with almost all your points (I haven't had any issues with the market or flash...yet), especially the sensitivity of the screen (the viewing angles I can get by). I don't think that Honeycomb will overcome those hardware limitations, but maybe bring a more attractive tablet.
Best of Luck. Hope we see you back "here" when the Xoom WiFi version appears!
- 02-15-2011, 10:23 AM #11