Smartphones

How I obtained a Coby (low-end) tablet

TR member dcolbert was sure surprised when he received a Coby Kyros MID7015 Android tablet for Christmas. Find out his opinion of this niche of low-end tablets.

On Black Friday, I saw a K-Mart doorbuster for a $139 Augen Android tablet and "threatened" to go get it. I didn't really intend to, because I was certain it would be a disappointment. My wife snuck out with our friend who was visiting to buy it for me - but instead, she got the alternative, a Coby Kyros MID7015 Android tablet.

The Coby device fits in a niche of low-end tablets that exist somewhere between Chinese counterfeit knockoffs and legitimate name brand devices. You only need to look at the COBY logo - it's no accident that they use almost the same font as SONY uses for their corporate identity - to get a feel for how this company operates.

From the very start, this device represents the paradox of the Android platform. On one hand, it's an opportunity for a small importer of inexpensive Chinese electronics to compete with big brands like Samsung and Apple. The opportunity for a company like Coby to compete with these big firms probably benefits consumers with a more competitive market. After all, Acer was once a small upstart offering inexpensive electronic solutions.

On the other hand, Android also offers an opportunity for abuse and neglect. Smaller companies may bite off more than they can chew, with grand aspirations that they can't quite deliver in their products. Less scrupulous organizations may not really care, looking to mislead consumers and make off with a quick profit by selling devices that are little more than expensive paperweights.

I was honestly surprised when I opened the gift. Even though I probably wouldn't have bought it for myself, I put on my best, "What a great gift!" face and decided to give it a shot, if only to show my wife my appreciation.

So, I've played with the device quite a bit. It's a FOSS-licensed Android OS platform built on a Linux kernel, and it delivers on its promises and potential pitfalls as well. I've experienced all the difficulties of an inexpensive Android tablet made by a company that simply can't afford to provide the same level of support as a Fortune 500 manufacturer. I've made note of all the ways the unit is unrefined or lacks attention to detail, particularly when using the device side-by-side with my iPad and Droid 2.

In my next post, I'll provide details about my experience. I hope you'll join me to share your own opinions and experiences in the discussion thread.

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

16 comments
stuart_lesnett@lesnett.
stuart_lesnett@lesnett.

First thing, the COBY 7015 rooted work great. I have owned for a year with a 8 G SD card installed. The only thing I find is limited WYFI range. That being said, I purchased the 8125 for my wife for the larger screen. I see COBY has gotten a little cheap by not providing a screen cover, pick or cover. I did find these items on EBAY which also included a keyboard. I have noticed that APPSLIB wasn't not working but I went checked the my old 7015 only discover it had stopped working on it. I think this a COBY and APPSLIB issue even though both machines came loaded with the software. I still have hopes for the 8125 and really enjoy my 7015. Our local library supports OVERDRIVE EPUB and with the current situation downloading is great option. OH! I use BRreader but I considering moving to CALIBRE and it new app server.

jlforest
jlforest

I got a Coby tablet for Christmas. And i have really enjoyed it everyday. (Especially the ereader app). I like it as its smaller and easier to hold than an ipad and the memory is expandable. And it plays video in hd. I play some games, read lots of books, surf the net, watch a show, and listen to music and best of all it didnt cost anyone over $180. If I had an expensive ipad or tablet I would be doing exactly the same things on them so I think its pretty great. And its easy to navigate and fits in a purse and no forced 3g contract where thats the only way to lower the price! If I wanted to spend more than $300 on a tablet I would rather go buy a laptop where I can do everything that I want.

mbfonz
mbfonz

I am really curious to hear about the details about your experience with this device. So when is your next post? Any estimate on the date?

awgoodrich8
awgoodrich8

...she doesn't visit this site "Hey honey how are you doing today?"..."Don't you give me that hey honey business...I saw what you posted on Tech Republic"...LOL.

stevetag
stevetag

Made in factories employing children, usually containing toxic crap, and our dollars go directly into their military. It's bad enough they are killing us with wall boards and bad dog food but must we support their army also?

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

I wanted a cheap tablet/slate device to learn Android without having to buy a phone (and a two year contract). I was considering learning how to write programs for Android. I'd love to have a drag-and-drop graphing tool like Visio and I can't find an existing application for Android. I may take a stab at writing one. If I can make it well enough, it would be the last time I jot down (and subsequently lose) an ERD diagram on the back of a napkin. I wanted to be able to use it as a digital pad for notetaking, but it's too slow and the graphics too coarse for use as a notepad. The Android keyboard is not usable for typed notetaking. While there is a USB port, it cannot act as a USB host. I have found ways to use a computer's keyboard as an input device, but it requires a full computer (in which case, I'd rather just take notes on the computer). No GPS (a benefit, I already have GPS on my mobile phone). No ability to easily use an ad-hoc Wifi connection (I can turn my phone into a host for an ad-hoc wifi connection, was hoping to use that with the tablet). No accelerometer (have to use RotateD to flip the tablet from landscape to portrait) Resistive, not capacitive touchscreen (I have to press harder than I'd like, potentially a benefit because I can clean the screen while it's on and not move things around) Limitations aside, I like it. Out of the box, it's fairly useless. After installing rooted firmware and upgrading everything, it became usable. The step-by-step process of turning this into something usable can be found at http://marcjellinek.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/new-toys-from-kmart-if-you-see-a-programmer-carrying-a-screwdriver-run/ My main issue with the device is that even after installing rooted firmware, Android Market is unreliable. It will work for a while, but after a week or so, downloads will refuse to start. Google refuses to support the device because Augen and Google never came to an agreement about the use of Google applications (while Android is FOSS, Android Market is not). I use the GenTouch for the following things: Reading RSS feeds (NewsRob) Reading eBooks (FBReader or CoolReader) Playing the occassional game (Untangle Unlimited, PhitDroid, GridDroid) Reading comic books (ACV) Calendaring (Google Calendar) Task Management (Astrid Task) Contact Management (Komodo) Light Web Browsing (Google, Wikipedia) The best thing I can say about this device is that it cheaply proved to me that I would use an Android-based tablet for things that I find useful. Once major vendors like HTC, ASUS, Samsung and Lenovo start shipping Android-based tablet, I'll buy a more expensive device for daily use and use the Augen to learn to build and test my own distributions of firmware, programs, etc. I like the 7 inch form factor because it fits in a pocket. I've tried out friends iPads and they are simply too big. I see the plastic construction of the cheaper tablets as a benefit. I don't have to worry about breaking glass when I toss the tablet into my car or put it in a backpack.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The knockoffs can be pretty good. my MP3 player gets about 15 hours of battery life (but takes 8 hours to charge) and holds 4 gigs. The interface is simple and the required controls are easily accessed. The sound quality is fairly good and has basic equalizer abilities.

dcolbert
dcolbert

that has given into the temptation and bought one of the low-end Android tablets? I'd love to hear what other people are experiencing with these devices - and see if our experience matches up or is a night-and-day difference.

dcolbert
dcolbert

It should be posting any time now - I expanded the scope of the post with a decent gallary of some screen shots and hands-on photos of the device in action - and the pre-publishing editing has probably been delayed because of that.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I have her proof a lot of my stuff. She tells me it is all "blah blah blah, nerd nerd nerd, geek geek geek" to her - but she thinks the writing is good. "If I were a geek, I'd probably be very interested in this, honey". :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

Paying anything much more than that for this device. But at that price, if you're technical at all, you can probably get some milage out of this thing if you want an inexpensive tab.

parnote
parnote

Just try buying something that ISN'T made in China these days. You will be hard pressed, and most likely will have to stop using virtually all electronic products. And, thanks to our debt to the Chinese, coupled with their purchases of land and American companies, they own more of us than we do. Let's see ... who did we sell the company that makes Hum-V's to, our principle, general use military vehicle? Oh yeah, that's right! We sold it to the Chinese, back when we were chiseling parts of General Motors off to the highest bidder! The Chinese Army won't have to fight us on a traditional battlefield. Instead, they'll just come over here and take what now belongs to them. They fought this war in the financial markets, with lopsided trade agreements, and with the purchasing power that all of these things gave them. They fought us with our own American dollars. Wanna guess who's winning? [Hint: it's not us.] You, my friend, live with a Utopian mind in a very non-Utopian world.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think the Kyros MID7015 is probably a more powerful, more stable device, but in general, I think my experience closely matches yours. My write-up should be posted by Monday, so I don't want to reveal too much.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Listen, the iPad is made in China and goes for $800+ at the top end. People pay $150-200 for Nike athletic shoes made in Chinese sweatshops. Good luck convincing people on this one. This is political, it doesn't really have an impact on this discussion. Not saying I don't agree, or do agree, but it is going to distract from the discussion about the technology and Android - which is what this post is about. How about this... I promise to address your issues with Chinese manufacturing of technology in a later blog - I think it is worth talking about, it just doesn't add value to this discussion.

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