on May 23, 2011
Velocity in their infinite wisdow preloaded this reader with its bare bone and useless Cruz Marketplace, and no flash support; idiots. Get this, they include a Youtube app but it doesn't work because the reader lacks the ability to load Adobe Flash. Their Cruz Marketplace is the digital version of 7-11 (small and limited apps and options); it won't give you access to the full Android Marketplace that you'd get via your Android mobile phone. You'll need to "root" or hack their Android OS to get the Android Marketplace.
Gawd, I wasn't expecting an iPad, but I didn't expect a second-rate reader/tablet, either. My reader was a gift; had I bought it, I would have returned it the next day. Velocity dropped the ball on this reader when they rushed, in my view, to market a reader that fell short with the absence of Adobe Flash. The missing Flash support is a major gap which makes modest web surfing to be a task and a major disappointment as noted with its failure to play flash videos in Youtube and other fash-designed websites. The Amazon Kindle in my view benefits from what Velocity failed to envision when it sent to market this product.
Don't expect much support from the Velocity website either. Moments ago I visited their website for a firmware update and found the question, "How do I update the firmware on my Cruz Reader R101, R102, R103?" Users who rated the instructions as "useful" on how to update the firmware was 288 versus 2148. In other words, less than 14% of users found the support as useful.
If you settle for a basic reader, buy it. If you want flash support that, at the very least, matches your Android phone, with moderate internet browsing (that plays Youtube videos and the like), skip it and buy something else.
Soon after writing the review above, (which I stand behind), I searched online for a way to root the Reader (still looking for a way to unistall the crapware apps). I found a forum that uploaded a modded "Macho Cruz" root file that, once installs, will 1) increase the speed of the unit, 2) installs several important apps, such as Gmail App, Google Maps, and Android Marketplace (the real deal that replaces the Cruz Market), and 3) fixes the functionality of Skyfire Internet Browser, which allows you to view flash videos via Youtube. The nice thing about the Macho Cruz root file is that it asks for your Google Account (if you have one), and it will actually sync your Google Calendar (all the calendars if you have more than one) with the Cruz's stock (android) calendar! Sweet!
I recommend strongly, however, that you download the Dolphin HD browser from the Marketplace (after installing Macho Cruz), which is the fasted browser you can use for this reader. Look hard enough online and you will find a modified Macho Cruz file that claims to speed up the reader even more (800 Mhz).
December 2011 Update: Since writing the review above, I have made several improvements to the reader. I rooted the reader using modded file via Slatedroid (jgm, Rom rooted with market, busybox and app2sd script). This rom improves on Macho Cruz by adding the ability to partition the internal micro SD card (or external SD card) and install apps that would normally exceed the paltry, less than 60mb internal memory in the OS that is left over from the 250mg max for apps. I partitioned the micro internal sd card with a little over 1 gb of space using app2sd using jgm's instructions and have loaded the reader with several dozen apps in excess of the 60mb that are normally provided from the original factory settings. The JGM room also allows superuser access via Terminal Emulator to uninstall factory and 3rd party apps, installing instead Android Market, Gmail, and Gmail calendar. Once you have rooted the phone and uploaded the JGM rom, you can install GO Launcher Pro app (free via Android Market) which will noticeably sharpen the screen image, improve the responsiveness of touchscreen, and the upload time of installed apps. I was finally able to delete the Border eReader app; the Borders app was useless; Borders stores went bankrupt and their Android app didn't allow me to delete downloaded ebooks. I replaced the Borders app with Aldiko eReader which gave me access to royalty-free classics and for-pay options. I also recommend downloading NPR App, BBC, and Time apps for news reading, and audio listening (again, don't expect video playback in flash). I recommend strongly to use a stylus in lieu of your fingers (your screen and sanity will thank you).
I have yet to play flash videos; mp4 playback work reasonably well, but I am not willing to go as far as converting all my video files from flash to mp4. I am hopeful that someone within the Slatedroid forums will be able to develop a "superuser rom" that will allow the reader to install and use Adobe Flash for video playback. I'll update if I succeed in this endeavour.
Since writing the review, I have grown to like the reader for basic uses (eReading/Twitter/Mobile Facebook/Email uses), have tolerated basic/limited web browsing, but still feel highly annoyed at the HUGE gap in utility as a result of missing Adobe Flash support.
This reader should have been what the Kindle Fire is now, a solid Ipad alternative for true media browsing and consumption via movie playback, Netflix compatibility, and rich web browsing.
on April 1, 2011
The good > Movies, Music thumbs up.
Pictures > thumbs way up > better than one of those digital photo frames thingies.
Book reading > Have not tried that yet.
The bad > Internet and WIFI > thumbs down, takes forever to connect and the browser is super slow.
Apps and games > thumbs down, apps install to the phone memory and runs out of space quickly.
Speaking of apps, no access to the real Android Market, just the "Cruz Market" which is a joke and may as well not even exist. The device is well built but it came become quite uncomfortable when holding it. It starts to feel like you are holding a brick with a 10 pound weight on it. The resistive touch screen is not smooth like the iPad or an iPod Touch. It requires a little pressure or the use of a stylus or I found that using your finger nail works also. If I could have tried this thing out first, I probably would not have bought it.
on March 3, 2013
I bought it about a year and a half ago for a bit under $200 and while I wasn't expecting it to be amazing for that price, I was still expecting more than what I ended up with!
The thing is soooo slow, keeps freezing and is just generally such a pain to use for anything other than reading books or other documents, I simply gave up on it. The touch screen is absolutely horrible to use, you can't watch YouTube videos and even browsing is painfully slow - so slow, it's not worth it.
The only reason I ever thought it was somewhat decent enough to use is because having never had a good android smartphone, I think my standards were pretty low - since I had nothing to really compare to. When I did get an android smartphone a few months later, I realized how ridiculous it was to waste my time.
I've basically just used my phone for everything, including reading, since then and the chappy tablet has just been sitting in my drawer.
If I had known, I simply would have used the money (I was given a giftcard) for a good eReader, spent the money on books instead or held off and waited a little longer to buy a tablet for the prices to come down a bit so I could buy something I could actually use as a tablet like I intended to. Waste of money.
It's much cheaper now.but I still wouldn't waste my money on that crap. I'm baffled how some people can give is raving reviews when it's so crappy?!?
on December 29, 2011
i had spent much time researching ereaders and bargain tablets searching for the perfect one, at an affordable price. i recieved this one as a gift 2 weeks ago. on the good side, the browser is faster then expected. I was able to get on all of my social networking sites easily, and check my email and play a few of the facebook games ADAPTED FOR MOBILE. (not all facebook games are compatable.) I found the built in cruz market rather limited, and instead installed the amazon appstore for free. It was very easy and works like a charm. I love the free paid app of the day feature on there, and their downloads are fast and reliable. However, a bunch of the apps are NOT compatable with the cruz. I have so far downloaded and installed several free apps from amazon, and put on some music as well. The sound is rather quiet for my taste, but its alright. I was able to access my songs relatively easily. Those were what i feel is the good side for such a low priced tablet/ereader. And now, for the reasons I gave this device a low rating. Im upset that with the wifi sensors, firstly. Anywhere i am, it seems i can NEVER get a strong wifi signal. Even less then 2 feet from my router, all signals are poor. The wifi kept cutting out, and I had to reconnect again and again. The device I have has a matte, rubbery back to it, which i kind of like, and it is very heavy. If you are reading, its hard on the hands, and you certainly cant hold it in one hand while reading or doing anything else. Its to much of a strain. One would think such a hefty weight would mean a quality build to it. Not in this case. its mostly constructed of plastic, but felt pretty sturdy at first. However, after 2 days of ownership, the backside of the cruz started to make a clicking sound, like the matte rear cover wasn't properly attached in one area. It wasnt dropped or mishandled in any way, so I chalk up this clicking to poor quality. Now the touchscreen seems to have a mind of its own. I expected more, even for a resistave touch screen. It is very unresponsive. I find its best to use your fingernail to navigate on it, as it requires a firm precise touch. even so, I almost have to jab it 5 or 6 times to get my touch to register. The Borders ebook app pre installed on it didnt work AT ALL. When i finally picked up a weak, faulty wifi signal I opened it but couldnt do much of anything. I could look at their library but was unable to download anything or even look at the books descriptions. The Amazon kindle app doesnt work on it. The ereader itself works allright, at least the part of it i used to review the instrution manual downloaded onto it, although I find it difficult to navigate. The only way to turn the pages is to touch it, then get the buttons on the bottom to light up. There dont appear to be any of the handy tools that are present on other ereading apps, such as notes, highlighing, or dictionary,etc. I have gotten very frustrated with it trying to do anything useful. And so theres my opinion of it. Ive decided to spend $80 dollars more and try out a Pandigital Supernova. Its $180 at Walmart, and you can get free shipping site to store when you order online. Stay tuned for my review of THAT ereader tablet.
on March 6, 2012
The price on this ereader was very cheap compared to others at the time of my purchase. The key thing to note on this product is that it has a resistive touch screen. The only good thing I get from this is that you don't flip pages or take actions if you slightly touch the screen. The more sensitive touch screens make unintentional actions sometimes when you accidentally touch the screen. However, this ereader is good for not much more than reading. And the resistance of the screen is too high. This causes the tablet not to respond to a lot of my touches, which is very annoying. The best use I found for this reader is as a digital picture frame. The resistance of the screen makes it very hard to zoom in and out of pages also, which is needed when viewing magazines as the screen is too small to view magazines at 100% view. There is so little memory and ram on this that you cannot use it as a tablet and run many apps on it. The difficulty of using the touch screen made me give up on this product. I stopped being cheap and bought an Ipad2. I wish I would have done that in the first place.
on October 9, 2010
Went to Borders last week (2 hour drive round trip for me) and the clerks could not get the unit to turn on; nor could they answer too many questions - actually they could only repeat what was on the little display card and nothing else. One stated that the cruz reader definitely had access to Android Marketplace. Non-working showcase model -10 points.
This weekend we were back in that area and I stopped again at Borders. This time they had a working model. I went prepared with my own SD card for testing. After power the unit on I had to redo the wi-fi connection to browse the internet. It was quite slow but I don't know what setup Borders has. Funny that the signal strength IN THE STORE was only 70% but I get no better around my house so... I went to [...] and poked around and the browser seemed to work ok.
The screen resolution seemed fine; I could make things out pretty good in the browser and the app fonts were legible.
The touch screen was a NGIHTMARE. I don't know much about the differences between resistive and capacitive screens but this screen required a HEAVY touch and a long touch. You had to MEAN IT when you touched something on that screen. I assume resistive is what I have on my 10 year old Dell PDA, but it responds quickly to a light touch. I almost felt I had to poke the Cruz screen. EDIT when I wrote this I was assuming that the screen on this cheaper unit (vs. the "Tablet") was resistive because I had read such negative reviews of resistive touchscreens but according to the spec page at borders it's capacitive. Go figure.
Video- on my SD card I had 4 mp4 test files. 3 were AVC mp4's in Baseline, Main, and high. Only the audio played on any of the 3 files. The 4th was another mp4 (MPEG-4 (Divx4 simple@1) and that wouldn't play at all - error message that it couldn't play this type of video. I also had an old .avi (xvid) file from years ago and it wouldn't load that either. So far -50 for video playback.
Audio (mp3) file seemed to play fine but speakers were very quiet. Didn't bring headphones to test volume.
PDF- seemed to work but I only had a standard PDF (meaning older) so I didn't test reflow or any such thing. I only use PDF for manuals myself so it wasn't improtant.
ePub - First the only ereader software on the device is the Borders app. You MUST be signed into an account to read a book. I didn't want to do that on a public device so I was SOL. I used the file browser to navigate to the SD card and managed to use office tools to open a .txt file but I couldn't open any of my epub files (said it didn't recognize type epub - maybe a file association issue?). I tried to open an ebook I had that was in HTML format but the browser only popped up an error message about opening the file. Blah blah blah nothing seemed to work worth a darn. And the Borders reader app (as I tested it on my pc) is so terribly featureless compared so Mobi Pocket reader on the Dell.
It was SLOWWWWWWWWWW also. Very slow to do something once you tapped an icon. My OLD OLD PDA is faster loading apps and multiple apps to boot. I'd never think about a device like this to replace my PDA if my PDA had a 7" screen. My eyes are getting bad is the reason I was looking in the first place. Well that an web browsing; the browser on the windows mobile 2003 device is terrible and outdated; besides scaling stinks.
I was after a PDA replacement for reading books; watching movies, listening to tunes and surfing the web. maybe the Tablet is better but then again if little brother is such a putz....? I walked out of the store and never looked back. Has I bought it I would have returned it and waited for something better. Looking at getting an ARhos 101 (but Archos has their own inbred problems with treating the customer like a person)>