Alert: this is not a highly technical review, but from a laptop/desktop user unfamiliar with tablets.
The feel and handling of the new Micro Cruz T408 is excellent. Not too heavy, but substantial. The screen is clear and made of high density, scratch resistant plastic, which leaves lots of fingerprints, as does the glossy black border. The screen itself reacts to the touch rather nicely. Out of the box, the tablet is pre-charged, so you can play with it immediately. The welcome screen steps you thru a brief setup of Wi-Fi, language, time, time zone, and email accounts, if you wish. You can load more than one email address if you have multiples email accounts and when you pull up your mail they can be separate or aggregated into one.
The home screen features icons for both the Amazon Kindle store and the Amazon Android Appstore, along with games, browser, email, inkpad, Napster, Facebook, Youtube, File Manager and W-Fi settings. If you have an Android phone, which I don't, I'm sure the tablet will feel very familiar.
One note, being a Prime member, I thought I could watch Prime Streaming Videos on this, but you can't. I also understand that it is also the same for Kindle Fire. I would assume that Amazon will fix that problem shortly. At least, I couldn't get it work! As of now, the true Android App Market is not available on the Cruz, just the Amazon Appstore.
The browser works like any other browser with a pop-up keyboard on the bottom of the screen, which does take some getting used to. The speed of internet connection to web pages is relatively fast, not quite desktop speed, but more than acceptable. The text size is adjusted by spreading two fingers across the screen to make it larger and bringing them to the center of the screen to make it smaller. Pages are turned by finger movements across the page, left or right, to move forward or backward.
From what I have read, this tablet runs Android Gingerbread 2.3 operating system, which is over a year old, but I have read it may be upgradeable in the future to newer operating systems.
Having never really used a tablet, my impressions are that it is convenient and fun to use. Smaller than a laptop and certainly more portable. I already used it in the kitchen to look up a recipe and on the couch to look up an actor's name. This will be a new tool for me. I feel it is not a replacement for my desktop, but another very useful portal. If you are looking for a very portable device for music, videos, or internet, this 8" screen is more than sufficient, a little bigger than a Nook or Fire, but smaller than an Ipad. Feels nice in your hand, when reading a book. Amazon books can be downloaded directly, just like a Kindle, by using your existing Amazon account.
I have used a friend's Ipad and find the Ipad certainly a bit more user friendly, but the $499 cost is more than double the cost of the Cruz.
After spending some time with the T408, I have observations. The battery life is great, if you don't use the wi-fi and connect to the internet. If you surf the web a lot, the battery drains fairly fast, maybe two hours or so. I installed an 8gb micro SD card, which gives you plenty of storage, and I understand you can put in a 32gb or 64gb card also. I tethered the T408 to my computer with the provided cable and was able to manage files. The most "profound" observation is that this not a windows computer and you have to learn a whole new way to function and may take a while to figure it out. Also, it is not a replacement for a desktop or laptop for certain functions, like printing or using a keyboard to type a document. A 8" tablet is not a replacement for a 20" monitor. I still like the Cruz T408, but with the sales going on now, there is a lot of competition out there in this price range.
It is rather frustrating that the operating system limits access to certain websites, like Android Market and many applications. This is the case with many if not all tablets, but this has got to change or people will not buy them.
on December 31, 2011
First, I want to say that this is NOT a high-end, over $300 tablet. In this price range, I feel the fair thing to do is compare it to other similar-priced items, and this is where I feel this little guy shines.
//// Before I forget, I want to say that the BatteryWatch app by The Mobile Content Distribution doesn't work with this device. I'll explain why further into the review, but BEWARE of this problem, since it will make your tablet inoperable. //////
So, I wanted to get an eReader or something not very expensive and started searching. At first, I was inclined to go for the Kindle Fire, which costs the same as this device. I made a search by price and read the reviews, and realized that anything below this price wouldn't be worth buying. Once I determined the lowest acceptable price, I started reading through all the reviews and the two that stood out were the T408 and the Fire. I have to say that right now I feel VERY happy I chose this device over the Fire, and here's why...
1) I had a feeling I was going to miss having the Android Marketplace, but I don't believe the Fire has it either, so null point.
2) While I like Amazon, I didn't want to be stuck with no memory card or internal space, and only having the Amazon Cloud for storage. Being able to use a micro SD card really made a difference for me. If the Fire had free 3G or 4G, I would probably have found it more acceptable to stream and download everything from the Amazon Cloud, but since I have to use my cell phone as a mobile hot spot when I'm not at home or at a place where wifi is available, I really thought I should have more storage available with the device I got.
3) I don't believe there is anything that can be done with the Fire that cannot be done with the T408. But there are tons of things you can do with the T408 and would not be able to do with the Fire!
4) Again, the T408 is a device that costs under $200, but it is a tablet, which the Fire isn't.
Regarding the battery monitor app I mentioned earlier, I downloaded it the first night I got the T408. After a little while, the tab wouldn't turn on after it went to sleep. I jumped on the computer and started looking at Cruz tablets reviews and found one from someone who had the same issue and was able to take care of it by doing a hard reset. It was a different model, but I got on their website, figured out how to do it for the T408 and it actually worked. Since the review I read said they only had that problem once and after that the tablet worked fine, I was ok with it. I played with it a little more, then plugged it to charge and went to bed.
The next morning, it was dead. Dead, dead, dead! Hard reset, begging, crying, nothing worked. I went to work and when I got home, I checked my email (I had sent Circuit City an email the first time the device died the night before, so I was hoping to hear back from them), but there was nothing from the vendor. So I went back to the Cruz website and got their number. I called and it took a while for someone to come to the phone, maybe 10 minutes or so, but when they did, they were great. They tried this and that, and finally said that the device was dead. The person on the phone, who was pleasantly an English native speaker and not someone in India, told me he had never come across this problem before, but that I could send the device to them and they would either fix it, or send me a new one. Of course, I didn't want to wait, but I was happy that they were willing to help me.
Once I hung up, I logged into Amazon and looked up the contact number for Circuit City. When I called them, the lady who answered was extremely nice and told me that, since it was an Amazon purchase, they had to refund the order. She immediately sent me a return label via email and gave me the RMA number. She also transferred me to someone in sales who was going to help me purchase a new tablet, since I had decided that I should get a more expensive one so it wouldn't die on me in less than 24 hours. But, the guy on the phone really didn't do so great and I felt like just buying it somewhere else. Of course, I ended up going back to Amazon and purchasing a much more expensive Samsung tablet that I haven't received yet, but I have to say I now regret it because I am happy with my T408.
At any rate, I got the T408 to get it ready to ship back, and decided to give it another try. Now, I really didn't want or need a very expensive tablet, I just wanted a fancy reader with some apps, I have a desktop computer and a mini laptop, as well as a Samsumg Galaxy S2 phone. So a cheap 8" tablet to watch Netflix, do emails, and play some games was really all I wanted and felt it made sense to invest on. And the T408 is a handsome little guy, very light weight and, from the little I had played with it, did all I wanted it to do, and well. If only it hadn't died... So, I plugged back the charging cord and tried to do another hard reset. And it worked!! As soon as it came on, I started deleting everything I had installed and removing my personal information from it, after all, I had added my personal email account, my Netflix account, and such to the device. I thought that if I was going to return it, it would be great to clear everything out of it. So I did. And it continued to work. So I decided to play a game on it, and it kept working. So I sat it down and went to do a few things, it went to sleep. I came back later, and it worked. I went to sleep and I woke up the next day, and it was still working!
So, after a day of it working, I went ahead and started adding things back up to the tablet, but since the problem was a lack of power, I decided to leave the battery monitoring app out, and the little guy is working just fine.
To my surprise, I didn't find it too frustrating that I don't have access to the Android Market place. For what I need, the Amazon Apps store seems to work just fine. And I find that the games seem to be cheaper there too.
Right now, I'm all excited because I just installed an app for printing from my T408! I really haven't found anything that I wanted to do and couldn't with this device.
Here is my take on some of the points raised in other reviews:
- The camera is not for taking pictures, it's for video chatting. That's why it's located on the front of the device. And for this price you can't really expect it to be something to take awesome pictures with anyway. I mean, my camera cost about what this tab costs.
- The touchscreen works well once you realize that you have to hit a tad higher than where you would normally hit. There may be a way to adjust it, but I haven't really looked for it. I did feel a little frustrated with the screen at first, but once I adjusted myself to click on top of the area I intended to click on, the screen started to feel more responsive.
- Circuit City customer service works great if you call them. I still haven't received a reply to the email I originally sent them.
- Streaming video: I used it to stream Netflix and it worked great. I have no complaints there. No, it's not my HDTV, but between watching on my 5" HD Samsumg phone and on this 8" screen, I lean towards watching on the T408.
THE NEGATIVE: The menu to access the home page, return button, search and menu is on top of the screen. This is the only thing that actually bothers me on this device, you have to reach for the top of the screen whenever you need to use one of the main menu keys. It's just counter-intuitive and a pain to have to reach across the screen when it could just be on the bottom, where your hands are already positioned.
As I said, I think I'm in love with this little thing. For someone who's looking for a mobile entertainment center with a low price tag, this little guy is awesome. You can look around, but at this moment at least, I can guarantee that you won't find a tablet as good as this one for the same price. And when you read the negative reviews of the Fire, with its security issues, lack of storage and privacy, it really makes you feel good to have chosen the T408.
UPDATE - Still in love after 2 weeks...
So, I've had the tablet for two weeks now and had no additional issues with it. Since the only change is that I never installed the battery app back, I am 100% confident that it was what caused the issue.
I feel like, at the moment, the most important thing I have to add to this review is that I could not resist the curiosity and picked up the Samsung Galaxy 7.0 Plus last night, and I still love this guy more than the almost-$200-more Samsung. I know it sounds crazy, but other than the fact that the Samsung has bluetooth and access to the Android Market, at this point at least, it doesn't seem any better than my T408. As I get to play with it more, I will add updates with my thoughts. But, right now, I really don't feel it's worth the money to get the Samsung over this one.
By the way, kitty says: "11jnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn00" I think she likes the Cruz better too! :)
Believe it or not, there are also things I like better about the Cruz, like the bigger screen! I don't feel the resolution on the Samsung is any better (it may be, but I can't really tell), and really feel the size makes a difference in this case. That is true especially because the Samsung's screen seems to be taller, so things that just fit on the T408 screen actually need to be scrolled on the Samsung in order to view the far top or bottom of the screen.
The Samsung uses its own type of connector for charging and connecting the device. Really, Samsung?? Couldn't it just be a normal mini or micro USB cable? Yeah, we need one more cable laying around because we don't already have enough, especially a cable that is JUST for this device! That's right, my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone uses a regular micro USB cable, so this cable is just for the tablet. Oh, and if you want to charge it from a wall outlet, then you need the little connector piece to attach to the cable, but wait... No, it's TWO connecting small pieces in order to plug the thing in. Yeah, it can be frustrating!
Oh, and my only earlier complaint about the Cruz, that the controls were on top of the screen and that was annoying? Well, guess what... I just found out last night that having the controls on the bottom of the screen is a pain because you keep hitting them by mistake and bringing the tablet back to the home screen. Yuck!
My conclusion at this point? I'm sure other people may think I'm crazy for loving my T408 better than the Samsung, even I thought this poor little guy would be abandoned once I picked up the box from UPS last night. But NO, it just reinforced my love for the Cruz T408! Sure, it doesn't have bluetooth, although I am sure I will be able to find a way around it and will be looking to see if there isn't a mini USB device I can plug into this tablet, like there are so many around for using with your PC. And I am sure if they are not available yet, they soon will be, and they won't cost as much as the price difference between these two devices is.
Regarding not having access to the Google Android Market, I honestly don't miss it at all. Amazon App Store is really awesome and I LOVE the free apps they give out each day! I just downloaded one yesterday that allows me to access my computers and stream to my devices, which is really awesome and almost like having free remote desktop! And I actually downloaded the paid Thumb Keyboard app, which costs $2.99, but is the best keyboard for Android I have seen so far, it actually has the arrow keys that make changing one letter and moving through the text so much easier!
So, in closing, I still love my Cruz. Actually, I'd say I love it MORE now that I have compared it to the Samsung, which I find impressing to say the least!
UPDATE - SAMSUNG DAY 2
Well, the Samsung is going back. After playing with it extensively last night, I realized I really dislike it. And it only made me appreciate my Cruz even more! Here's why :
- Although it's smaller in size, the Samsung feels much heavier.
- The lower part of the Samsung gets uncomfortably warm as you use it, like laptops do.
- As I mentioned before, the shape of the screen isn't standard, which causes you to have to scroll to view parts of the screen that wouldn't be hidden on devices with standard screens, which is annoying.
- I don't know if I don't like the Android Honeycomb, the Samsung layout, or a combination of both, but I felt some features on how to set up your home screens, etc. weren't as easy, or were counter-intuitive.
- At the end of the day, I guess I had high expectations for the device based on my positive experience with my Galaxy S2 phone and with the T408, as well as its higher end promise, and it really let me down.
The one good thing about the Samsung in my opinion? It has Bluetooth. I did some research yesterday and there aren't any Bluetooth adapters for Android on the market at the moment. But with the high demand I saw for it online, I'm sure they'll be around in no time, and they shouldn't cost the price difference between these two devices.
On a final note, the battery life on the Samsung was better when I take into consideration that I never turned off wifi on it. But I don't believe the difference was significant enough to make me want to keep it. And with the money you save buying the Cruz, you can buy many backup chargers.
Ok, so now it's been a couple of months, and I am still on love with my Cruz! I have an eye out for the new Cruz that will be hitting the market soon, probably by the end of March, though. The T507 is supposed to run Android 4.0 (Ice-Cream Sandwich) and be under or around $150. I do have a feeling I may just have to get one to see what it's like... :)
Back to the T408, I have to say that I have absolutely no regrets for sending the Samsumg back. I still believe I kept the best tablet. That said, there are a couple of things I want to bring up/correct from my review above.
1) When I said games seemed to be cheaper at the Amazon App Store, that wasn't really accurate. They do have some cheaper games at Amazon, but if you find the same game on both Amazon and the Android Marketplace, the price will be the same at both places. And, while I don't really miss the Android Market, I have to admit that they do seem to have more games. But Amazon has plenty to keep me busy, and although I can download whatever I can't find on Amazon using my phone that has access to the Android Market, I never really do so. I love the Amazon daily free apps and make sure I check it every day.
2) When I said that there will probably be bluetooth adapters available some time soon, I didn't realize that the Cruz' mini USB port does NOT recognize peripherals. It is only good for data transfers and charging. That said, I haven't really missed having bluetooth on my Cruz, so to me it's not a big deal. Unfortunately, I found out about this when I purchased a cover that has a USB keyboard and the Cruz wouldn't recognize the keyboard. Frustratingly enough, when I plug in my phone, it recognizes the keyboard right away. On the bright side, the keyboard sucks! It is too small and hard to use, so I'm kind of glad I won't be banging my head against the wall trying to use it. But a keyboard is the only thing at this point that I really wish I could add to my Cruz but can't.
I have called the Cruz support and asked if the T507 and T510 will have USB ports that do recognize peripherals. The person I spoke with wasn't sure, but said he thinks they will. What I do know for sure about the new models that I anxiously await to get my hands on is that they will not have bluetooth, but they will be the first Cruz devices that will have access to the Android Marketplace. I know, I really don't need a new tablet, but I have been counting the days!! Then again, there is always a chance that I just won't like it as much as the T408. I really like the 8" device, not sure I will like the 7" one as much...
on March 3, 2012
I've had this tablet for just over a month now, and these are my two cents.
For an entry level, under $200 tablet, it isn't terrible. It arrived with just a few bloatware apps, mostly android OS stuff and a few games.
It has plenty of onboard memory for apps (almost 400 megs), and can use up to a 32gb SD card. For some strange reason, unlike every other Android device I've used, apps don't just open themselves and run in the background. And when you close them, they actually close. Which saves the battery and allows apps to run better.
Battery life is decent, but could be better. I can watch about 2, 2 1/2 hours of streaming video on Netflix before I have to think about charging. Longer if I'm just playing games with the wifi off. Just be sure to use the included charger. Anything else will damage the battery. More on this later.
It's also lighter than I expected for an 8 inch screen. The screen itself is bright and responsive, and even works well with a stylus. The processor is powerful, and I haven't had any lag problems yet.
Videos look good. Blacks are a little washed out, but not too bad. There is almost no pixelation, and I haven't seen any lagging.
The tablet is shipped with Android 2.2, and the upgrade process, while straight forward, is NOT for the technologically challenged. Further, the OS update included another app (iheartradio) that is utter junk. It's a radio emulator, but since you can't access the Android Market on this tablet, you can't use it because the app is out of date and requires an update. And it can't be deleted.
Since this tablet can't access the Android Market, you're stuck with Amazon, SocioMall, GetJar, and Slide Me. All of which are fine, but limited. In order to get the apps that I wanted, I had to sideload them from my phone. Thankfully, there are free online clouds that make the process much easier. Most of the apps worked just fine, but some had issues. I will say that some of the games I have work much better on this tablet than on my phone.
Other than the power button, and the volume controls, there are no hardware buttons on this tablet. Which in and of itself wouldn't be a problem, but the placement of the soft buttons at the top of the tablet make using it more difficult than it needs to be.
To me, the speaker was kind of weak. Something the size of this tablet should be able to support two speakers, instead of just the one.
This tablet has to be charged using its included adapter. Velocity Micro has seen fit to change the amps required for charging from 1 to 2. Which means that you can and probably will damage the battery if you attempt to charge it using anything other than the included cord. There are even warnings in the box about this. So there are no travel chargers, battery extenders, car cords, etc. available.
There very limited accessories for this tablet. Other than some stick-on skins, and a screen protector, there is nothing made specifically for this tablet. I did find a cover that fits, but even then I had to cut holes and add padding for it to fit properly.
Overall, the cons are more annoyances than fatal flaws. This is a good tablet for someone looking for an easy, cheap, entry level tablet. Probably a perfect tablet for a kid. But more advanced users will probably find this lacking.
Oh, one more thing. The Velocity Micro website says it prides itself on having 100% US based tech support. I find it hard to believe because the support requests I've sent have been answered by someone who is either barely literate, or doesn't understand English very well. Not that the responses haven't helped, it was just difficult to understand what they were trying to say.