Category: Reviews

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My unboxing of Archos 43 and 32 Internet Tablets

Posted by Charbax – September 27, 2010

This is my unboxing video of the Generation 8 Archos Android tablets:

Archos 43 Internet Tablet (16GB) for sale soon for $199 in the USA and 199€ in Europe. (yes A43 is confirmed to be $199/199€ for 16GB Capacity). The Archos 43 Internet Tablet basically offers the same Android experience on a large yet very pocketable 4.3" touch screen as on a Droid X using the same Texas Instruments OMAP3630 ARM Cortex A8 45nm 1ghz processor but for $199 all inclusive (no $599 unlocked pricing or $2000 with 2-year contracts), no monthly subscriptions required, though for 3G access and VOIP you need to use a Mifi or Bluetooth tethering. It comes with HDMI output and full video and audio codecs support up to MKV 720p high profile and high bitrate support (which I will test in my upcoming next videos).

Archos 32 Internet Tablet (8GB) for sale now on Amazon.com for $144 in the USA and 158€ on Amazon.de in Europe. This MiniTablet range by Archos offers basically a similar experience to the iPod Touch but for an amazing price starting at $99 for the Archos 28 to $149 for the Archos 32 which thus has slightly larger screen, a VGA camera and Composite tv-out.

In this video, I unbox them and boot them up for the first time:

Consider European prices include ~20% VAT taxes which is why the EU price of any consumer electronics devices is always higher than US prices which don't include taxes.

You can discuss this video in my other forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=37752

PocketBook 360 review (part 1)

Posted by Charbax – September 18, 2010

Here is an overview of the design and the size of the PocketBook 360 e-ink e-reader. This e-reader device has a nice compact 5" e-ink screen with a nice screen cover design making it pocketable unlike the Kindle. This device is widely available on the worldwide markets such as for $193 on Amazon.com and remains one of PocketBook's best selling products thus far, making PocketBook the third most popular e-ink e-reader manufacturer. In my next part of this review that I will post in the next few days, I will show you the user interfaces of the latest firmware update. Wouldn't it be cool if such pocketable e-ink e-reader device was to get 3G/WiFi/Bluetooth as well as a Wacom-style digitizer screen or Sony's new infrared/laser touch screen technology?

Dell promotes the 5″ Android Tablet form factor

Posted by Charbax – June 21, 2010

Here's my review of the Dell Streak, 5" capacitive Qualcomm Snapdragon powered Android Tablet, as posted by JKKmobile.com a few minutes after I first tried to use his unit at the recent Computex in Taiwan.

The 4.8" to 5" Android Tablet is in my opinion the coolest and the best size for a Tablet because it is the largest possible screen that fits in most pockets, thus this form factor Android tablet can be carried around everywhere with the largest screen size for web browsing and watching videos and launching apps always available.

Archos created and has been selling this form factor since 2003 with their release of the Archos AV300, back then the first large screen PMP device. Since 2005, Archos released the first WiFi enabled touch screen embedded Linux Qtopia based PMA430 and for over 9 months, the Android based Archos 5 Internet Tablet has been available on the market at $249 in Radio Shack.

The release of the Dell Streak is a good thing for Archos as it popularizes the form factor. Also, I believe Archos has some advantages even with their 9 month old Android product such as pricing with a 9 month old pricing that is at about half the launch price of the Dell Streak, support for all video codecs and high profile H264, larger storage capacities up to 500GB, HDMI output, USB host and a bunch of other features. Also, Archos is expected to release 45nm based OMAP3640 Android tablet devices by September, thus further improving on the features and on the price/value performance.

Review: Novatel Wireless Mifi 2352 vs Huawei e5830

Posted by Charbax – May 16, 2010

The Mifi is a great solution for bringing a WiFi hotspot with you everywhere in the city and even in the country (depending on HSDPA/UMTS/GPRS coverage in your country). It's perfect to add 3G connectivity to your Archos, iPad, iPod Touch, Laptops and any other WiFi-only devices that you may have. In this video, I compare the performance and features of the two Mifi adapters that are available on the market, the Novatel Wireless Mifi 2352 and the Huawei e5830.

In this video, I demonstrate a VOIP call taken using Google Voice and Gizmo5 on my $249 Archos 5 Internet Tablet using SIPdroid or any other SIP VOIP applications on the Android OS. This is the vision where you just need a pre-paid 1GB or 10GB of bandwidth per month on a SIM card, just enter it in your unlocked Mifi device, make sure the right profile informations are entered using the control panel and that's it. You've just about got a full mobile phone replacement, but where you don't need to pay for voice minutes and SMS subscriptions any more.

Although eventually all devices will have built-in unlocked SIM card slots and modems, the Mifi solution is a really great temporary alternative, that connects on 3G all WiFi-only devices. When your city gets White Spaces, LTE or WiMax, you don't need to buy new devices, just buy a new Mifi.

If you travel a lot in Europe, this is a must have. Then find SIM cards for cheap pre-paid plans, for 5€ to 10€ and get Mifi internet access all over that city and country.

The Novatel Wireless Mifi 2352 that I got was unlocked beforehand, I don't know if there are online programs to unlock one if you happen to have a locked one. It can be bought unlocked for 214€ at moblix.hu and expansys.com.

I will post further test video of the Novatel Wireless Mifi 2352 once I get to figure out how to use some of the more advanced features. And at Mobile World Congress, Novatel Wireless advertised the functionality of installing applications on their Mifi device (see my video interview about it), to increase the functionalities. Such as hosting a little server in there on the MicroSD card, doing some file-sharing, file caching, GPS tracking and other stuff. The Mifi is the kind of device that I think all busses, trains in Denmark are getting installed to provide free WiFi to all people taking public transportation. If you own a taxi business, drive a bus, own a sausage stand, providing your customers with mobile WiFi is an awesome opportunity.

I bought the Huawei e5830 at the Three store in London for £49 with a compulsory £10 1GB/month first month pre-paid credit. I then unlocked it for 15€ using http://www.dc-unlocker.com/ (it can also be bought internationally from ebay.co.uk for around £80 unlocked) and I installed the latest firmware with full Control Panel, built-in Profile and other Router management features at: http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=98318&page=2. Consider also I filmed the Huawei E5 version 2 (with faster 3G HSPA+ speeds support and a new display) at Mobile World Congress, see my video here: http://armdevices.net/2010/02/15/huawei-e5-2-mifi-at-mobile-world-congress-2010/

sync-blog.com: Hands on with the enTourage eDGe

Posted by Charbax – March 13, 2010

For $499, http://entourageedge.com is releasing the dual-screen 9.7" e-reader with Wacom and 10.1" Android Tablet combo based on the Marvell PXA168 processor. It comes with 3G sim reader, memory expansion, USB host ports and plenty more. I filmed an interview and product demonstration with an Engineer of Entourage Systems at CES: http://armdevices.net/2010/01/17/entourage-edge-android-dual-mode-tablet-e-reader-at-ces-2010/

Once companies start getting the annotation, collaboration user interface aspects of the Android tablets and stylus touch e-reader functions right, this could unlock huge revolution in all areas where people need to collaborate on editing texts, potentially revolutionizing education, journalism, law, politics and more.

Here's a video-review posted by sync-blog.com:

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Exclusive video: Archos 7 Home Tablet released for $179

Posted by Charbax – March 1, 2010

Check out my exclusive video of the Archos 7 Home Tablet that will be released in April/May for $179 in the USA and 149€ in Europe:

It is powered by a 600mhz Rockchip 2808 processor, does web browsing pretty well (for an ARM9 processor) and plays all video codecs at up to 720p video playback (at up to limited 2500kbit/s bitrates for 720p).

For now, this Archos 7 Home Tablet is being released this next month or by May already and at this amazingly low $179 price for the 2GB version with MicroSD card slot. There will also be a 8GB version and maybe larger capacities for slightly more expensive. It also has a mini-jack to composite video-output using the headphones jack and micro-USB to USB host features built-in. The built-in stereo speakers are very decent for movie watching and the 7" 800x480 resistive touch-screen is just very fine and does allow for fast text input.

Archos is still working on the Android software optimizations, it comes with special video player, audio player and file explorer applications by default. My guess is that the Google Marketplace could be hacked to work onto it by the open development community at http://forum.archosfans.com

Also, my expectation is that Google will release an Android 2.2 or so version which will provide the full Google Marketplace experience on all large screen Android Tablets and even on Android Laptop form factors and also to provide such for lower cost platforms than the latest ARM Cortex based ones. See my interview with Andy Rubin and Eric Schmidt about those speculations: http://armdevices.net/2010/02/22/i-interviewed-eric-schmidt-and-andy-rubin-at-mwc-off-camera-for-now-watch-eric-schmidts-keynote-video/

Here are some pictures of this device (click to see full sized version on Picasa):
Archos 7 Home Tablet with Android Archos 7 Home Tablet with Android Archos 7 Home Tablet with Android Archos 7 Home Tablet with Android Archos 7 Home Tablet with Android Archos 7 Home Tablet with Android Archos 7 Home Tablet with Android

You can discuss this video at http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=31278

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Exclusive video review: First non-Nokia Maemo Tablet device, installing apps on the Optima OP5-E

Posted by Charbax – February 4, 2010

After my unboxing and review video and my video-interview from IFA, hyere's my third Optima OP5-E video where I test the installing of some of the .deb Maemo Linux applications (found at http://www.woojoy.com/repository/) from the File manager directly onto the Optima OP5-E.

This device is now being released with 3G access in China through China Mobile and is being integrated with HSDPA for release to the European market, if distributors or telecom service providers approach Optima for the release of this device. If you are a distributor, Optima has told me that they can be contacted directly about any enquiries on this device at Stephen Kwan's email address: shkwan@wtpacific.com or through their website: http://en.optima-china.com/

This is the first example of a Maemo Linux based device that is not manufactured by Nokia. I think this device might be sold below $300 unlocked while consider that the Nokia N900 costs over $600 unlocked.

My previous Optima OP5-E videos have had coverage on these sites among others:

http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/04/optimas-maemo-running-op5-e-mid-demoed-on-video-priced/
http://nexus404.com/Blog/2009/12/08/optima-op5-e-mid-reviewed-optimas-maemo-mid-comes-with-4-3-inch-screen-3-2-megapixel-camera-3g/
http://pocketnow.com/tech-news/optima-op5-e-runs-maemo-linux-just-like-nokia-n900
http://www.softsailor.com/news/13436-optima-op5-e-tablet-is-running-maemo-5soon-starting-from-300.html
http://www.jdmag.com/optima-op5-e-mid-the-first-non-nokia-maemo-device/
http://www.journaldugeek.com/2009/12/08/optima-op5-e-maemo/
and many more sites...

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Android Laptop Review: Hivision PWS700CA

Posted by Charbax – January 29, 2010

This is the world's first video-review of the Hivision PWS700CA ARM9 Powered Android Laptop, find more info at Hivision's website. (Hivision, which I previously video-Interviewed about cheap Laptops from the trade shows at CES 2010 and IFA 2008)

Hivision Android Laptop

The Hivision PWS700CA is based on a Rockchip RK2808 600mhz ARM926 processor, 128SDRAM, 7" 800x480 screen, 720p Video playback support, WiFi, Ethernet, audio input/output and weights only 650grams.

The price has not yet been announced officially because Hivision is looking for worldwide distributors who will then decide how much it will be sold for to end consumers. But you can understand that if Hivision was able to sell those types of laptops for $98 to distributors more than a year ago (when I filmed my popular video from IFA 2008), then surely the mass manufacturing price has not gone up since then. My expectation is that if a giant consumer electronics reseller such as Walmart or Best Buy approaches Hivision today to order huge quantities of this laptop, it could be sold below $100 to end users.

I've seen those kinds of cheap laptops running Windows CE or some less optimized Linux distribution at Buy.com (2), at Amazon.com, at Kmart.com and plenty other places for even cheaper. The point of this video is to show that Android can make all these cheap laptops much more usable when it comes to browsing the web. The Android browser is much better than the one in Windows CE or the Mozilla-based ones used in other Linux distributions. More usable web browsing means more people will want to buy it, which means even cheaper prices.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the full sized pictures at Picasa:

Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail Hivision Android laptop thumbnail

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Google Marketplace on Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android using hack on Firmware 1.7.33 (and all newer ones)

Posted by Charbax – January 21, 2010

Here is a video that shows you how easy it now is to install the full Google Marketplace experience on a Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android with the new firmware 1.7.33 that integrates a whole bunch of the Android 1.6 software features from Google that optimize everything better for Archos's larger screen:

Discuss this video in the forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=29833&p=195177#p195177

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Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID video-review

Posted by Charbax – December 6, 2009

Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID

Since I filmed such a great video of it at IFA, OPTIMA TECHNOLOGY(SHENZHEN)CO.,LTD sent me a review sample of their new Optima OP5-E for me to publish an exclusive hands-on video-review. The new Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux based MID is now being released by http://www.chinaoptima.com/ and China Telecom on the Chinese market and they are now looking for global distributors (if many people demand it, there may be a distributor bringing this device to your local 3G telecoms market or sell it unlocked). (contact shkwan@wtpacific.com if you might be interested in ordering 300 units or more).

Maemo is the biggest potential alternative to Android Linux OS for embedded devices, mobile internet devices, pocket computers or phones, however you want to call them. This Optima OP5-E is the worlds first Maemo device that is not manufactured by Nokia. This makes the Optima OP5-E a product to check out for people who want to see how Maemo could make a commercial impact outside of Nokia in the open-source embedded device market.

It has a 4.3" 800x480 resistive touch screen (capacitative at that size and price does not yet exist), 806mhz Marvell PXA310+ ARM processor, 128MB RAM, built-in 3G CDMA sim card reader (HSDPA version coming next month), built-in GPS, built-in Bluetooth, a high capacity exchangeable 2600mAh battery. All that comes for around $500 unlocked and could be sold at $300 or lower subsidized with a subscription plan from the carrier. It can support either VOIP and IM or regular voice and sms, that is up to the carrier how they want to integrate that feature.

The really cool things about this product are following:

- It has a built-in 3G CDMA modem with sim card reader.

- It has a pretty long battery life with a high capacity removable battery (I got a second battery to swap just in case I need more than 8 hours or more battery life for video playback)

- This type of device could function as a VOIP phone on 3G and WiFi networks (if the carriers agree to it and don't apply packet shaping mechanisms to block VOIP usage on the 3G networks)

- Maemo may have quite a lot of dedicated open-source programmers already hanging out in the http://maemo.org/community/maemo-developers/ and who may have developed some pretty interesting Maemo based applications already (which I am going to check out and publish another video when I have found out which would be the best applications that work on this device and how much porting may be required to eventually adapt software that is already developed for the Nokia Maemo Linux tablets).

- It comes with a larger touch screen than on the existing range of Smartphones, significantly larger than the Nokia N900 screen, yet this product can be sold cheaper than all those smaller smartphones. I think that a larger 800x480 medium density screen is very valuable and I think that all those 3.5" smartphones on the market have too small of a screen for Internet browsing and video playback use.

Things that I think Optima and eventually the open-source developers may improve on this device (based on my initial tests):

- The whole Maemo Linux user interfaces I think could use some optimizations and fine tuning, this device does support firmware updates, I don't know how often Optima may release firmware updates for it to improve on all these things.

- The Firefox Fennec browser that is included, might not be as smooth and fast as the Webkit based browser that one can find on Android, the Palm Pre and the iPhone. Though, my guess is that it should be possible to port a version of a Webkit based browser to Maemo (if it hasn't been done already), and I am sure this browser could be optimized and improved in firmware updates.

- Obviously, I would like to have HSDPA instead of CDMA 3G modem in this, to have i work here in Europe, Optima has told me that the HSDPA version will be released in about a month from now (maybe a bit later, I guess it may depend how soon interested importers from Europe and other HSDPA markets demand for it to be made available)

- I can't seem to be able to connect my Bluetooth foldable Stowaway keyboard, I don't know if Bluetooth headsets may be supported. I am sure, this could be fixed or improved in firmware updates. I don't know if it supports Bluetooth tethering to access the Internet through a mobile phone that has that functionality. My guess is Bluetooth tethering is not supported yet since the 3G modem is integrated.

- It does not seem to have a TV output (unless somehow that functionality exists within the mini-jack output, but I guess it's not there). Too bad, cause I enjoy watching DivX videos outputted from such a device onto a TV. Though, most existing smartphones on the market such as blackberry, palm pre and the iphone don't have that feature either.

My pictures of it on Picasa:

Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux MID

You can discuss this product in the dedicated forum section for it at http://forum.armdevices.net/viewforum.php?f=5

Here are the full official specs and press pictures:

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