Smartphones optimize

You can do more for less with the Coby Kryos tablet

According to TR member dcolbert, as a value proposition, the Coby Kyros is a pretty impressive device for under $150. In fact, it's capable of a few things that are more difficult if not impossible to do on some Apple devices if you're willing to put up with a few headaches.

In my previous post, I shared that I received a Coby Kyros MID7015 Android-based tablet as a Christmas gift. When I opened it, my initial thought was, "This is like lighting a cigar with a $100 bill." But it's a gadget, and I'm a geek, so I figured I'd give it a shot and see what a cheap Chinese import tablet for under two C notes could do. Here are my observations.

Out of the box, the device actually surprised me with the build quality. I only have hands-on experience with one other tablet, my iPad, and the Kyros feels of similar quality. The device is surrounded by a metal band that gives it just enough heft - not so light that it feels cheap or plastic and not so heavy that it's uncomfortable to hold. When it's in the included leatherette case, it looks like a small padfolio.

Initially, I thought to myself, "At the very least, I'll load this up with e-readers and e-books, and it'll probably make a good, inexpensive digital library." The truth is, this device would be a very good purchase for that role when compared to the price and features of dedicated e-readers. However, there are some significant caveats.

This is not a Google-authorized device. In fact, none of the current tablets available at the time of this writing are, to my knowledge. That means no "Android Market" and no "Google Experience," which includes a bundle of apps that are available on many Droid devices, such as Navigation, Google Maps, and other assorted goodies.

Instead, the device carries an alternative app market called AppsLibs. Not only was the AppLib site down for several days right after Christmas, due to a deluge of Android tablets and netbooks, but when it was accessible, I couldn't find many of the big name apps I know and love from my Droid 2 in the AppLib library. I've argued in other posts that it doesn't matter if you've got 200,000 or 20,000,000 apps, as long as you've got the right apps. AppsLib doesn't quite meet this expectation.

This one/two combination led me to start flexing my Android skills. The first thing I realized was that with a File Manager like Astro, you can easily back up Market Apps to .apk format, copy them from one microSD card to another, and side-load them on another device. This worked in most cases - like Facebook and The Great Land Grab.

However, the official Twitter app didn't work, which was disappointing - but at the price point, there was already enough of a value proposition in this compromise that I decided the device was worth keeping. The biggest value was the freedom to do something that should be my right to do - the trust in my abilities, my competency, and my honesty that the Android OS grants me (things that the "other guy" denies me).

Emboldened, I decided to root the device. This was a far more trivial process than I expected (install an app, click a button), and I'm not setting myself up for a cat-and-mouse game with Coby where new firmware or OS updates require me to go through outrageous hoops. Hackers and gadget-geeks who like to tinker with their devices will certainly find this appealing.

After rooting, I was able to install the Android Market and Google Experience. While this is warranty voiding, unauthorized, and requires a certain degree of technical competency beyond the average consumer, there isn't even the vaguest threat that the manufacturer, Google, or some other corporation might come after me with a legal team.

I don't have to worry that by rooting my own device I am placing my fate in the hands of a court system presided over by judges that barely understand the technology in the cases they oversee. That is refreshing. The reason we're not doing more with these devices isn't because they're not capable. It's because the manufacturers of the mainstream devices are preventing us from experiencing their full potential. See the gallery: Unleash the full potential of the Coby Kryos.

And once the full potential of the Coby Kyros is realized, it's actually a pretty impressive device, especially for under $150. A lot of technology bloggers are being hard on these devices, but most reviews by reasonable owners of the Kyros generally tend to agree with my own perception. The construction is of good quality, it has reasonable specifications and features, and even without rooting, the AppsLib library would probably satisfy most tablet consumers.

Truly, we've forgotten where we were a few short years ago, and now - especially among journalists - the iPad is the bar that must be met in order for a device to be considered worthy. But I don't think that the iPad bar is necessarily the bare minimum. I did, but that was before I spent some hands-on time with the Kyros.

So, where does the Kyros fall short?

  • The Resistive Touch screen. My Droid 2 has a much higher quality feel and response than the Kyros, but it isn't unusable or frustratingly unresponsive.
  • The battery life is very poor, especially compared to an iPad. I have to charge it every night with moderate use.
  • The system has far more instability than iOS devices. Apps lock up and frequently require a Force Close, and you have to reset the device when it reboots or hangs.
  • Some graphics don't render correctly on Angry Birds - and other apps, like Skype, just refuse to work.
  • There are times when, for no easily discovered reason, it just starts to run SLOW.
  • The Wi-Fi has terrible range and is picky, sometimes dropping connections or failing to see access points.

Some of these problems are unique to this device and others are Android quirks. This is the LINUXness of Android - the kind of half-boiled, DIY, roll-your-own grass-roots-ness of Linux that I so often disparage. But in this case, the weakness is the strength for the right consumer.

Face it, at $499, the entry-level iPad is too expensive and not full-featured enough for the average user. My kid got a 32GB iPod Touch for Christmas. She'll need every bit of that space, and it still cost $100 more than the Kyros. No one is going to disagree that even the Touch is a more pleasant, higher quality experience - but as a value proposition, the Kyros does the vast majority of things that the Touch or the iPad do, and it's capable of a few things that are more difficult if not impossible to do on some Apple devices if you're willing to put up with a few headaches.

I think the success of Windows proves that most consumers are willing to put up with a few headaches when the trade-off is a value proposition and empowerment, which is the most important thing that Android devices deliver. If you're modestly technically inclined, you can do a lot more with the Kyros than you can do with an iOS device and for a lot less money.

I'm a pretty well-off, middle-aged gadget-geek, so I can have my cake and eat it too. But if I was in my early 20s, freshly married, struggling to work full-time in a low paying job while putting my wife through school, the Kyros would be my choice over the iPad. It's the reasonable, practical, rational choice for most people. It may not be quite ready for everyone yet, but the Kyros certainly represents proof of concept that this is a completely achievable goal.

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...

52 comments
harrykrishna
harrykrishna

very well written. matched up with me on so many points that it's scary. tanks for the help.

goodwong
goodwong

I agree with most of the author's suggestions. I'm a Chinese from Shenzhen, China from where most of the no-brand low cost tablets are produced and shipped to global buyers. You have to read the tech specifications very carefully before purchase. Don't be fooled by the price tag. However, there are some good Chinese tablet retailers offering quality and high performance tablet models at great price. Do a little more research and you can get a great deal and even better than buying a famous brand tablet like iPad, DSamsung Galaxy Tab. Check the Tablet Factory Store (www.CampuStore.net) for great tablet deals!

ob1
ob1

$150 and its yours, no $800 data commitment.

ob1
ob1

This is not a Google-authorized device... Samsung Galaxy tab

dacoy
dacoy

Nonetheless... a value for money would be a good debate for this one.. but as he said if you are willing to put up with a few headaches why not... and challenge is good, to learn and contribute is just the way to do it.

user support
user support

I have put the following comment in reponse to Are $100 tablets a waste of money? Poll: Would you buy an outdated, but extremely cheap tablet? Bill Detwiler - TechRepublic Feb 08, 2011 @ 10:55 AM (PST) I have read all the negative comments. For a media device meaning connect to the internet, read email, listen to music and carry some photographs my Coby Kryros M7015 bought at $140 from Kmart in Nov 2010 it was a good deal. As for working with Office Suites, Quicken, TurboTax and software for home, I use an Apple or Windows Desktop and tablet pc. Our work organization is still using Windows machines and if you get an exception to policy, you maybe able to use a custom device with no support. I would like to add that I did not have to buy a phone contract I just use the WiFi at home. I tried Linux about 15 years ago for home and there were just two many flavors and not enough consistancy as compared with Windows. Even without hacking, there are enough program in the AppsLib to circumvent apps that don't work.

dcolbert
dcolbert

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=15572057&findingMethod=rr These are reviews coming in from typical Walmart consumers who purchased the Coby Kyros online - and they're overwhelmingly positive. I was actually kind of shocked. I think that the tech industry has set the bar too high for what tablets need to deliver, and consumers are actually being far more reasonable in their expectations. I felt a certain risk going out on a limb and saying this device delivered a decent experience for the money - but if your average WalMart consumer agrees with me, I'm feeling a little more confident in my decision. :)

unconditionalliving
unconditionalliving

I just joined Tech Republic, and if all the articles here are this good (as compared to what I find on other sites such as ZDNet), I'll be happily visiting each day. Thanks again!

nfordtchrpub
nfordtchrpub

For $338, I got the 7" Archos 7-250G Wifi tablet. It has a beautiful, capacitive touch (not resistive like the Colby) screen. It gets impressive battery time. It was easy to put Android 2.2, Android Market, Flash 10, etc., onto it. But the biggest feature for me is the 250GB internal storage, making this the only handheld device which will hold ALL my music, plus tons of movies, videos, apps, books, etc., yet it is under a pound, making it light enough to hold in one hand for long periods. The A70-250G is not perfect, but what is?

Vahidm
Vahidm

Glad to read this. It's too far from usual to read an honest blog post that discusses earnestly what you can do with low-speced tech. Reviewing the latest and best is always cool, but learning about low tech and its uses is a niche that needs more exploration.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

but not quite. If only it could do more. You get what you pay for, though. I suppose it would be nice for a reader, as you felt. But then again, I could spring a few extra bux, get the nook color (which has a better touch screen) and hack it to run Android. But then, no one has decided to buy me technology in many years, so I won't get the opportunity to play w/some unless i get rich and buy it myself. Gotta get this degree first.... Maybe some day I'll be able to justify having an android phone and tablet as well as my chrome notebook and windows 7 laptop :D

dcolbert
dcolbert

It is simple to give it the UNauthorzed Google Experience. :) It is *no* Samsung Galaxy Tab, and for some people, the Galaxy Tab wasn't enough. Those people would not be satisfied with this device at all - not by a long shot.

pfyearwood
pfyearwood

Are not headaches standard issue with any type, style or version of computer usage? Headaches, compromises, and lots of Prozac and/or Valium. Paul "Open the pod bay door, HAL" "I cannot do that, Dave."

dcolbert
dcolbert

Thanks for sharing the perspective from another user. I think the common theme we're seeing here is that devices don't have to break the bank to meet your needs - especially if those needs are light web surfing, e-mail and social media. The fact that the Coby does well on most available games illustrates that games are MOSTLY being designed for the LOWEST common denominator in the Android market. They're aiming for the low end, and most of the horse-power of your Droid Incredible, 2, or X is going to waste. Mobile games aren't about the most immersive gameplay and most incredible graphics. Instead, they're about simple, engaging and addictive gameplay that is best enjoyed in small doses. All of these factors come together to make the low end tablets a compelling alternative. I'd especially recommend the Coby to anyone who wants to have the basic Android experience, but for whatever reason, is opposed to buying a smart-phone on contract through the carriers. You make a great point there - about these devices being inexpensive *and* unsubsidized.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"I tried Linux about 15 years ago for home and there were just two many flavors and not enough consistancy as compared with Windows." Fifteen years ago is a pretty long time, things have evolved greatly over that time. Also, look at the distribution as the product not "Linux" as all one product. You don't consider "car" all one product just because multiple vendors happen to use the same combustion engine in them; why confuse all distributions as the same product because they happen to use the same kernel in them. No worries if you don't find a distro or have reason to look; I only suggest that you view the market more accurately if you do choose to look again.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Thanks! I appreciate the compliment tremendously. But I'd say most of the articles on Tech Republic are *better* than mine. There are some really talented content contributors on Tech Republic. One of the best sites for good, reliable and detailed information on I.T. in the industry.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You speak the very reason I migrated here from Cnet. Welcome.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Might be a bit off topic but my practice due to the limited write cycles of Flash is to boot the device off removable storage; when I max out the write cycles of an SD, I just restore my last image to a fresh SD and carry on. Have you looked into dual booting your Archos at all? Mind you, at 250G of storage, you can lose write cycles in a lot of chips before you loose all internal storage functionality.

dcolbert
dcolbert

You're barking up the entry level iPad's tree at $338. I'm not knocking the Archos device... and you may very well be right... if you've got the money, you want Android, and you can't wait for the Gingerbread tablets to start showing up, the Archos might be a really good bet. This is clearly a little "downmarket" in both budget and build.

dcolbert
dcolbert

as I.T. salaries get squeezed and we I.T. employees find it harder and harder to afford our own personal gadget habits. ;) I agree completely.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If the hardware is good, the software is week and it can be modded; one might be able to stuff in an alternative software stack. It'd be sweet if someone ported a more fully developed Android firmware over to it.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The very FIRST generation of cheap Android tablets are already dropping below $99 on-line. Soon you'll see these ones doing the same, if not new, then used. These tablets will be what brings tablet experiences to the true masses. Historically, I think that is what caused Windows to be successful. Everyone young and poor was pirating Windows 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 98. It wasn't until well into the XP era that WGA made it such a hassle to pirate Windows OS platforms. Interestingly, that is when we saw a much larger interest in Linux. These devices are likely to cement Android as the dominant platform for mobile devices in the long run. I'd like to add, this device *can* be frustrating - especially if you expect the kind of performance you would get from a Droid X or an iPhone 4. The processor is running just a bit slower than a first generation Droid, and the hardware and OS platform is a little... um... sketchy. :) If you're not afraid of registry hacks, of the Linux command line and manually editing config files, of really getting into things - then I'd say go for it. But if you want a polished consumer experience, this one is best avoided. Wait for the Xoom or the iPad 2.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Just want to give you the heads up... the thing is, everything ELSE evolved 15 years during that time, too... so Linux is MUCH better than Windows or Mac OS was 15 years ago, but they're still about just as far behind the commercial OS platforms TODAY as they were then. Well, In MY humble opinion, anyhow. ;) Car sucks, by the way. It locks up, it is relatively slow, and there are too many components of Car to break down. It is very expensive to maintain Car - even the cheapest varieties of Car are going to require upkeep. Gas for Car is always getting more expensive. If I want to go a VERY long distance, I prefer Plane. On the other hand, for shorter distances, Bicycle is often a nicer alternative, although sometimes Foot 1.0 is still superior to Car. Both Bicycle and Foot are more ecologically responsible to use than Car. I disagree, Neon. You *can* generalize. But, your analogy is bad, too. Car is to OS as Ford is to Windows and Chevy is to Linux as Chevy Malibu is to Linux Ubuntu. and Ford 500 is to Microsoft Windows 7. Except, OS X is more like Chevy, and Linux is more like... um... Tata Motors? :D

dcolbert
dcolbert

That the internal device in the Archos is magnetic physical media, not SSD. I could be wrong - but at the price point, if they're delivering a 256GB SSD drive, heck, they're not just giving you the tablet, they're giving you part of the SSD drive, too. "Buy the Archos 7, get $50 off on the included 256GB SSD drive!" You've killed the write cycles on SD devices? I still haven't hit the write limit on any SD or SSD I've ever bought. That is some serious milage to put on a device.

nfordtchrpub
nfordtchrpub

The entry level iPad doesn't have the 250GB hard drive that the Archos has for a good bit less money than the iPad. Everyone I know of who has actually *used* an Archos 70 (have you?) says that the build is solid.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Being able to muck with the latest gadgets is an educational requirement in IT. Being on the bleeding edge of hardware and software isn't about impressing friends as much as knowing what the new generation of tech can or can't do. I know budgets sure affect my learning thanks to lack of hands-on. Sad when money gets in the way of knowledge.. such is the case though.

dcolbert
dcolbert

To cook alternate roms and even getting Debian dual-loaded on it. I suppose if that is your interest, you can probably take a device like this a lot further than I have already. I mean, I'm rooted, I've got SU access at terminal. Check out the screenshots in the gallery. I haven't done a tremendous amount in the command line on it, and I'm sure it is a stripped command set - but I'm sure if you were an Android developer used to moving around at that level, it would be like being a kid in a candy store. It really is a remarkable device when you step back, think of the big picture, and realize you can get this thing for less than $150. It'll even hook up to an external USB hard drive (it mounts at /scsi). There is a lot of potential - for sure. I think things like these are going to become favorites of hardware hackers and developers.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

I'd have to see one and touch/feel/play w/it in a store like Best Buy or something before even CONSIDERING buying a tablet online. Craigslist or any other site. (wellll esp Craigslist/eBay, you don't know what people do to their stuff!) Registry....meh, I'd rather not. And, I'll be honest, never touched a linux machine in my life, so I have no idea about those commands. If a piece of technology requires a little work to make it usable, fine. But in the case of unfamiliar waters (and preferring all the work done for me), I'd probably wait for the xoom. Or the Samsung sliding pc. (I like a physical keyboard...what can I say?) Furthermore, I'd probably wait for a 2nd gen before making a purchase. Safety first!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I was going to take a swipe at you for this bit: "This is the LINUXness of Android - the kind of half-boiled, DIY, roll-your-own grass-roots-ness of Linux that I so often disparage." It read as a rather unnecessary inclusion; more of a troll to get discussion going if folks didn't want to talk about the device. In the context you present it in this comment though, it's a pretty solid assemesment. Disapointing to hear a bigger device is out-performed by a phone sized device but yeah, they're not reaching for top shelf components and the unofficial use of Android does take a lot of wind out of it's sales. Maybe it's easily modded and the hacker folk will will start posting more usable firmware images for it. How is it for jailbreaking? Anything in your way of getting to a device@root# ?

nfordtchrpub
nfordtchrpub

It's my understanding that the HDD only spins while you are accessing it, so unless you take a fall while loading Angry Birds, you're probably going to be no worse off than with any non-HDD device that you bounce off of concrete.

dcolbert
dcolbert

As far as I know, Android devices do not support booting from SD or external USB device. I'm not sure if you can hack that - seems possible that you could if you designed your own custom ROM, but in any case, you're probably going WAY far down the rabbit hole thinking in that direction with a tablet or other small PMP type device. My Eee PC boots Ubuntu off a 32GB SD card, as opposed to the internal 4GB SSD drive - so I know where you're headed with this idea. But it is going to be a LOT more involved getting an Android tablet to do this.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The other side of it is removable boot media. If it can be set to boot from removable SDs or similar then multi-boot becomes swapping an SD or maybe a few OS on the device and mulitple bootable SDs optionally. But yeah, at the price point I guess it would have to be platters inside (another strike against for me sadly.. same strike that kept me from the Palm Lifedrive). The thought of a spinning platter on me when out and about isn't ideal though at least I'm not traveling on forms of transportation that can involve really interesting falls on hard concrete (ah.. the skate/blade days.. and a few phones that broke my fall). Your sure not going to out-size that internal storage with a removable SD though either (256 vs 32?).

dcolbert
dcolbert

That is pretty much how PCs started out... i.e., the Apple 1 kit and the machine kits that inspired Jobs and Woz to build it. I really think we can predict accurately how things are going to turn out this time by looking back at the evolution of the PC and seeing who is most closely following which model from that era of personal computing.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

This seems the most bleeding edge of the build-your-own-tech lego sets. http://www.buglabs.net/ https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Bug_Labs If you want to focus on the software side more then the Openmoko is also out there. http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Main_Page If I had the money to muck with the buglabs hardware I'd have it on the hobby desk at home. Neither are average consumer level products yet I don't think.. maybe the OpenMoko given the availability of firmware for it.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It certainly helps that CPUs don't run so hot nowadays... Basically I guess it would have to be a modular mobo; LEGO extendable in the length dimension. A baseline mobo module is a certain length, and can take a custom module or two and still fit in the standard tablet frame (stacked). A more expensive mobo could be more compact, accepting more modules. And then of course, there could be thicker tablet frames that can take extensions below the level of the mobo. That would be cool, and fun! Could even have a dual-mobo custom rig then, if that's feasible.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

But of course, now I can't find the website as I don't generally follow it's progress. Still, it starts as a base module; cpu and I think some storage. it has a lego like display, gps reciever, cell radio module.. you just buy the functions you want and plug it all together. Think it's pretty DIY on the software side though too. Interesting project for those that really want to do a custom phone/pda.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm not sure how it'd work though with the kind of sandwitching that goes into these things. It'd probably be more like a custom assembly.. maybe an extension of the overclocking boutiques for gaming rigs?

dcolbert
dcolbert

Like the original clone market. I think we'll get there to a certain degree. I see the BRAIN or "CPU"... the "beige box tower" becoming something about the size of a pager that just clips onto your belt - with no interface. It'll be a mix and match, bring your own interface smorgasboard. Get near a desktop with a keyboard and a 22" wide screen display, your system will detect and give you the option to connect. Same for that DVD/Blu-Ray burner. Same for the projector, or your HUD glasses, or external hard drives, or countless other accessories. Plus the cloud, of course. Online gaming, video streaming, business productivity, whole house remote control, security and monitoring. Want a traditional PC interface, that can be done, but the PC itself will be brainless. Same for a slate/tablet. When you get home, you might use the slate accessory as the remote, and your TV might be the output for your streaming video, but everything is going to be going through and being processed by the little brick on your belt. Not sure if it can get as DIY as you suggest... that has never worked for laptops, even though it has been tried (and they've made a lot of progress in standardizing the various components that make a laptop). But this is close enough. I don't think that corporate America *liked* the lack of centralized control that represented the Intel Architecture PC era, though. Sony, IBM, and others spent all kinds of effort trying to reign it in through proprietary designs (Oddly enough, Apple Intel architecture was probably the MOST successful at this). Here, the cat *didn't* get out of the bag too early, and it seems like they're going to pains to make sure it never does.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

is a tablet hardware build kit. Think of it, buy the casing of choice, screen unit of choice, choose from various pre-fitted "mobo" plates, maybe even made-to-spec... That'd be awesome.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

(Does that mean I invite Dcolbert over to my home for tea because I'm pretty sure I'd still be using online communications when sending personal messages or email..) Anyhow (bitter over today's Nokia announcement), I do like that Ios has such a modding community around it even if well outside Apple's approval. It may be time to pull the first gen Iphone out of the drawer and have a go at it. With Maemo, vendor supported mucking about was a better benefit. That was one of the things they really did right. (luckily, the Iphone is nice and easy to breach if you forget your keypad code too. ;) )

dcolbert
dcolbert

I bet there are people out there in the community who do know, though - so it probably isn't impossible that we'll see things like this. Although, if we're talking communities, the truth is that the iOS community does have a vibrant, committed group of people hacking at the devices. One my iPad is solidly out of warranty, if I don't sell it to fund something like the Xoom, I'll probably jailbreak it and see if I can make it live up to its potential.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If community contribution is part of the buying criteria, your going to have to look at how much community surrounds your buying options. Right now Android has the buz and a lot of community effort going for it if one is willing to wade through device differences. Chances are, if you value the community and hackability of a device, you'll know how to find and evaluate the community. The N900 is a good example. I'm happy to see that the Maemo hackers carry on; steady flow of updates and still new apps turning up. The platform is a pretty small slice of pie now against the big giants (what with Nokia only shipping one device..) yet it still has folks going at it. With the Coby, I'm not sure of it's boot process or if there's a place to break into it and add a menu. With Maemo, it involves a utility that generates a menu pause in the boot loader once the modified init/kernel is flashed back to it's place in internal storage. I'm not sure how the boot loader works for Android or how it can differ from device to device.

dcolbert
dcolbert

This is where I am absolutely on board, and see the FOSS/*nix community as the most likely to be the ones that adopt and deliver. Keep in mind, Microsoft is a wild-card. They're backed into a corner, and I think they're well aware that there is an opportunity to turn Apple into the bad guy and allow Microsoft platforms to be hacked into more consumer friendly configuration. They've already actually encouraged this, to a certain degree. The momentum is Android's to lose. Unfortunately, I think a big PART of that will be out of the FOSS/*nix community's hands - it'll depend on what Google does. Maybe not. Maybe these alternative Android devices will keep the door open for this kind of community to nurture and grow good things. We'll see.

dcolbert
dcolbert

They're not there with the Coby yet, and the catch-22 with devices like this is, you can't count on the hacker community deciding to support YOUR device. If you're interested in something particular, you need to research where the hacker community is already active and successful, generally. They do have Debian dual booting alongside Android on other Android devices - but it looks like the method used is not available on the Coby. That is about all I know about it at this point though. It is certainly proof of concept that it is possible. I think your "future view" of tablet devices is accurate. I think a lot of us are going to have several of these things in various states of hacked, in the future.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

this all is right up hacker alley. If the right kind of community-reach-out is done now, some hearts and minds could be harvested for the good cause. Making the devices work like we want them to, giving power of modification and self-support back to the normal people... those are going to be big issues now.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

A replacement firmware may get you Android or alternative repository access but getting Su is a big one for me personally. Need root to run nmap and a number of other interesting programs beyond the native java applets. Amdroid; that's still a bit of an issue as I'm reading that it's far from a standard distribution under the hood. It's basically a Linux kernel with Java VM on top versus something like Maemo which is much closer to a full distro. I also have trouble trusting how much of it's data is fed back to central office or questionable app developers. I just don't see the same repository management that one gets with Maemo, Debian and such. Granted, I'm also not inside the Android community so maybe I'm missing details. Still, tablets are the natural evolution from PDA and I'm a PDA nerd going back to the Palm/Newton2001. If this continues, I can see splitting my device back out from my phone (was PDA / phone until the N900). And if I had the disposable budget.. oh man would I have a stack of tablets in various states of mucking with. If the harware is good, the software is crap and the hacker folk take interest, this could be a very affordable box of chips to get started with.

dcolbert
dcolbert

You expect me to be a drunken Irish, quick tempered brawler, so your expectation becomes self-fulfilling prophecy? I think there are several things going on in this branch. For example, I agree - in general, hacking in the Windows registry is at best a frightening, confusing and potentially dangerous prospect that makes Linux configuration file modifications a relative walk in the park. In the sense of overall design, I do appreciate that generally Linux apps do not scatter settings, files, libraries and other debris far and wide through different layers of the OS - and that if you do something stupid that blows X completely apart, it usually doesn't render the entire OS inoperable. But I still think there is a cheapness in the look of the environments that ride on top of Linux that permeates like evolution through everything that has been spawned from those things since. I don't know if it is just an aesthetic that the community has subconsciously adopted, or if it evolves from the tools that are used - but to my perception, it is there. You would think that the fact that Android is really a bastardized Java running over the top of Linux, that would derail the evolutionary heritage - but sometimes when I am using Android, I almost feel that if I flick the screen in the right direction the *compiz cube* is going to spin to the next desktop. So, it isn't JUST a jab at the FOSS crowd. It is my legitimate opinion that FOSS apps tend to look, feel and act less polished than commercial non-FOSS counterparts, and that this sets a lot of the experience with Android devices in a certain direction. If you *like* those kind of Linux experiences, you'll probably like Android, especially in this case, where you're probably going to get a little CLOSER to Android than you would on a phone under contract. But if you've experience with Linux, share my opinion (and a lot of people do) and *didn't* care for it - you're not going to want to go down this path. I kind of left that up to each individual to decide.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

that's one of the problems that immigrants face (at least in non-melting-pot europe). Being suspected of a certain behaviour pattern is bound to make some parts of the demography act exactly like that. People can call that petty spite, but it's human nature, and we should be pragmatic about addressing it. Off-topic two-cent.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I may think you over-critical at times but I respect the fact that you will also openly admit error. The line in the article just seemed unneeded. It stuck out like a red flag planted in the middle of a soccer pitch without adding anyting of value to the sentement. It would have been just as informative to say "nice tablet but vendor should have polished though in this rare case, the device benefits from that" rather than dragging in the stinger for the FOSS readers; wasn't any reason to try and play the emotional reaction card over a product review. The article was solid on it's own without the off topic jab. I do agree with respect to the specific distribution though; Android could due with more polish if not more development as a full bodied OS rather than java runtime platform on top of a handy kernel. As long as a more open and full options exists for the rest of us; who am I to complain though. Your issue should really be with Google's development and management of the distribution or with OEMs choice to mangle it during implementation (though the license allows), not what kernel it happens to run or the development model it uses. I think Apple's OS would be just as polished even with vendor permitted root access. Apple would still have the tightly controlled distribution channel. Iphones would still ship with full Apple polish. It'd just allow those who choose to do more, to do so (it's now legal but not vendor supported). I also see the lack of polish a result of the distribution producer not the kernel or development method. I just don't see polish or lack of it relating so directly to how open the product is after delivery to the buyer. If I get my lovely Iphone and chew it into a mess; that's my fault not Apple's. If it's chewed on arrival then we have issues to talk about (Motorola's Android device among others). On one side, the license allows OEMs to take the commodity OS and modify it. On the other hand, this means we need to ask the OEMs WTF justified the kind of mangling they've done, lack of updates after sale and factory installed malware. In a healthier market, the really mangled implementations would loose to the better products.. Hurray for the realities of the tech market we have instead. I hadn't even considered your mention of registry hacking in my comment. I gotta agree; if you can muck about in Win registry then editing a text file under /etc or similar should be no issue. In a rationally layed out BSD or Linux distro; it's probably much easier. I mean, to capture the reg config of an app, I need a specialized app just to track all the random places stuff goes unless editing a standard Win setting. I do like being able to capture an application's various Reg entries but being able to just hit a directory of text files is usually much less of a pain. (granted, this may be an issue with third party apps more than the Win registry setup itself)

dcolbert
dcolbert

Well, everyone knows how I feel about Linux, and because I've been *accused* so often of actually being a "hater", sometimes I feel compelled to play that up a little bit. I think you know and understand, Neon, I'm *critical* of Linux, but I'd never dismiss that it has places where it can be a success and where it can be more appropriate than other solutions. Compared to iOS, Android lacks a little polish, it has a certain "Gnome" kind of look and feel (the task/notification bar at the top, especially - but you see it in some of the games, as well). Listen, I am a firm believer that you can go back and look at an 8 bit system and see a distinct different in the LOOK and FEEL - for example, the Atari 400/800 (and later the XL and Atari 5200 console) - all had very crisp, brilliant, vibrant graphics. Things just "popped" on the screen. The C-64 and the Nintendo had a much more muted look. I could look at Donkey Kong on all 3 systems, and tell you which was which. I feel the same way about the differences that show through between Windows, Mac OS/iOS and Linux/Android. I'm not a fan of the fit, finish and polish of the *nix choices... it is purely subjective, I'll admit. But in this case, that same "kinda half-done" quality I like to rip on is also an ADVANTAGE. iOS may be polished, but part of that means it isn't as easily accessible for the kinds of things I'm suggesting here. On Registry Hacks... my point was - if you're comfortable in a Win registry hacking situation, then Rooting and adding market to an Android device is completely within your technical skill-set. It is a LOT easier than making a Hackintosh, for example.