WoPad Android Tablet: 1/4 of the price of an iPad, 1/2 as good

Tue Aug 9 23:11:15 2011 EST (-0500 GMT)

WoPad

Over four months ago I ordered a WoPad from PandaWill.com, so far I’m glad to have the exposure to the Android platform, and for some tasks the larger screen works well. But, the bottom line is it does not replace what any of the Apple iOS devices do.

The Device

The best part about the WoPad is that with express shipping it costs less than $200.00 Canadian. The free Android operating system that Google provides allows seemingly random manufacturers to assemble a collection of hardware, add the Android OS and suddenly have a tablet for sale.

The WoPad offers a capacitive screen or pressure sensitive. I won’t consider anything without a capacitive screen to be a modern tablet, so I ordered the capitative screen so that I wouldn’t look like a cafeteria worker trying to punch-in a trays worth of food into it. That said, the WoPad’s capacitive screen is slow to respond, that or perhaps it’s ability to process touches is very slow, but more on that in a bit.

The WoPad also has an SD card reader, standard headphone jack, standard USB connector for external media, a mini-usb connector so that the WoPad itself can be an external drive. There’s also a micro-HDMI port (I have yet to test) and it’s non-standard power connector – however it will trickle charge off of the mini-USB cable.

Android

The first thing I did when I received my WoPad was ask a colleague to “root it” and install the latest Android ROM that the WoPad would could support.

The ROM he used was based on this thread over at SlateDroid.com www.slatedroid.com/topic/14507-wopad-froyo-custom-rom/ Using these steps www.slatedroid.com/topic/12854-how-to-flash-a-rooted-rom/

If it weren’t for my keenness to get the latest ROM it would have never needed to be connected to a computer. A challenge Apple’s “peripherals” have yet to overcome.

Once the Froyo/Android 2.2 ROM was installed the quick setup that all Android 2.2 and later versions of Google’s mobile OS provide is one of the best parts of the experience — if you already have a Google account (or a few) it’s easy to get all of your mail, contacts and calendars on the device.

Android’s widgets are kinda’ cool and the simulate depth between the apps and the background when you scroll is very well done – innovation not imitation! The apps available are OK, but still not as mature as iOS. That said, the geekyness of apps available on the Android platform gives a better selection of tools for copying/syncing files over SSH, or remote server control, or monitoring the hardware itself.

One thing that I really appreciated: The Formula 1 live timing and scoring app is free! It’s free on the web too, but on iOS it’s ~$40/year and bundled with track with GPS-based track positions of all the cars. market.android.com/details?id=com.formula1.twothousandelevenapplication&feature=search_result

Lastly, I installed the Beansoft Thumb Keybaord market.android.com/details?id=com.beansoft.keyboardplus which really improved the tablet’s usability and compliments the in-between-tablet-and-phone size more than the stock Android keyboard.

The Bad

The processor is very slow.

The biggest issue is I can’t tell why the key responses are so slow; the keyboard, the sensitivity of the touch screen or the the slow processor. In any case, it does limit the WoPad as an input device.

The wifi is also an issue. I find myself not using it as much as I had hoped because it doesn’t not connect to WPA2 Enterprise WiFi networks and occasionally has issues with standard WiFi networks that use first-web-page authentication. This rules out it being the Evernote-based tool I wanted for work.

Not surprisingly, without the network, there isn’t much to do with this tablet. There is the Google and Amazon book stores… but as an individual not captivated by fiction I haven’t used them too much. I am excited about the Economist app for Android.

Summary

I’m happy to have the WoPad in my life. It is a good device for reading articles and other documents, however when it comes to modifying documents it’s far too slow — in fact when it comes to anything other than reading articles, its slowness becomes an issue.

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