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Customer Review

323 of 332 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars EDITED: Not As Happy Now, January 3, 2011
This review is from: Velocity Micro T301 Cruz 7-Inch Android 2.0 Tablet (Black) (Personal Computers)
EDIT: After having this tablet for over a year now, I'm reducing the star rating from 4 to 2. After buying and reviewing this tablet originally, I bought a Samsung Transform phone, which runs Android 2.2.2. After having a direct comparison, this tablet started showing its flaws. While I still stand by my original comments (which remain unedited below), there are some significant issues that I found unsatisfactory:

* Software Limitations - This turned out to be a big one for me. When I bought this tablet, I noted a wide variety of file support. However, as time has passed, this device's fairly early Android O/S doesn't support a lot of newer apps. Also, while finding .apk files to install software on the internet is easy, the complete lack of Android Market/Play Store support is a major disadvantage. Also, you can't upgrade the Android O/S on the Cruz, possibly on account of my next point:

* Hardware Limitations - I can't weigh this too heavily, simply because tablets are a one-shot device that can't really be upgraded (though I believe that day is coming soon). In any case, The Cruz's 528mhz processor (compared to my Transform's 800mhz processor) definitely trails behind. Both devices have 256mb of RAM, and the Transform's performance totally clobbers the Cruz.

* Usability - Since my purchase of the Cruz, I have also purchased a low-rung Kindle. I purchased the Kindle when the price dropped, and I won't read on another platform ever again. I've had experience with the Nook readers (both color and virtual paper display models), and the elegance and functionality of the Kindle is far superior. I was shocked at how pleasurable and simple the reading process is on the Kindle, as compared to the Cruz, which is clunky and slow. The gripe I had with Kindle's more narrow format support is easily remedied with the free open-source software Calibre, which organizes your library and converts formats. With the Kindle, pages turn faster, the text is easier on the eyes, and the reading process is far more transparent than on a tablet. I find that to be the case with color readers in general, including the Kindle and Nook, but the Cruz makes it very obvious you're doing other things besides reading when you use it.

I'm still fairly happy with it as a portable media device and a mess-around toy for internet browsing and such, but the execution of this device could have been a lot better. I still recommend it, with the caveat that you understand what it can and can't do before purchasing it. I still find uses for it.

ORIGINAL REVIEW

Originally, I was going to title my review "Excellent eBook Reader", but that would be selling the Cruz Tablet short. Although I primarily use my Cruz Tablet as an ebook reader, it is actually a multimedia device with internet capabilities. This is a stark difference to conventional ebook readers, who usually tack on features like MP3 playability almost as an afterthought. The Android operating system effectively and elegantly addresses six key features: ebooks, internet, music, movies, pictures, and games & apps. I will break each down:

eBook Reader: The Cruz was an obvious choice for me as an ebook reader for three reasons: PDF, TXT, and HTML support. Of course, there are apps that allow you to read the major ebook formats as well (Kindle, Nook, etc), but given the abundance of ebooks that use the three standard formats mentioned above, the lack of support for these formats on any reader is, to me, unacceptable. These formats have been around for many years and are excellent formats for ebooks. When an ebook reader supports only its proprietary format and maybe one of those three, that sends a message to me that they're interested in the money of their constituency, not their ease of use or satisfaction. In any case, the Cruz supports all major formats for ebooks, and reading on it is a pleasure. (*****)

Internet: The Cruz supports true internet connections, meaning 802.11x wireless connectivity. The included browser is sufficient for most applications, but does not support Flash, meaning no youtube, etc. A previous reviewer recommended the 3rd-party browser Skyfire, which I have installed successfully for that purpose. Aside from that, there is not much else to comment on. The web is at your fingertips, as the tired old saying goes. (****)

Music: With the ability to read numerous formats and create playlists, it's a good fill-in for an MP3 player if you only want to carry one device. Media of all types (ebooks, movies, music, etc) are stored on an SD card, which I find more convenient than limiting. The size of the device does not behoove you to ditch your standard MP3 player, but considering all of the additional functionality of the device, it'll make you think long and hard about it. (****)

Movies: This device reads MP4 format for video. While I prefer other codecs and file formats for compressed video, you can get a reasonably good-looking and -sounding full-length movie down to just over a gig with the right software, making this a very enticing feature of the tablet. (***)

Pictures: Photo support is pretty standard these days, and the implementation of photo galleries and desktop pictures is what you would expect. Nothing about this feature stands out, but on the other hand, nothing is missing. (***)

Games & Apps: A lot of people have griped about a lack of official Android Market access on this device, and while those complaints are valid and realistic, there is an abundance of software you can install on your Cruz from many resources. There are third-party marketplace apps ready to be installed, and finding apk software bundles on the 'net is a cinch. Installing is as easy as dropping the apk on your SD card, browsing to it using Android's Astro file browser, then launch and install. I have run into a few applications that don't want to cooperate, but the vast majority of apps and games I have installed have been problem-free. Keep in mind, however, it does take some know-how and creativity to find apk's without Android Market, but it is not difficult. (****)

Overall, I'm compelled to give this tablet four stars overall. The tablet takes a bit of getting used to, but is easy to use and makes taking media with you wherever you go a snap. The fact that the tablet features a user-replaceable battery is also a perk, considering some manufacturers (who shall remain unnamed) like to stick it to you in that area.

Naturally, this tablet will garner a lot of comparison to the iPad. However, this notion is strictly apples-to-oranges in its nature of comparison, though I will say that I prefer the ability to choose and install software rather freely with the Cruz, an option not as immediately available to iPad users.

I do not wish to make this a soapbox review about the evils of Apple equipment; I will be the first to admit that Apple makes good, sound, reliable, and accessible equipment. However, for reasons stated above (as well as reasons not stated in the review pertaining to Apple), my purchase of the Cruz was not just a matter of settling, it was a matter of preference.

I love this product. After using it as much as I have (for all sorts of things), I just shake my head while I look at the Kindles and the Nooks with bemusement. They seem to me like a dial watch: "What, all it does is tell time? Isn't this the 21st Century, the Information Age?" ... Okay, that may be taking it a bit far, but there is certainly a gap in functionality between these new tablet devices and ebook readers.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 24, 2011 9:27:28 AM PST
T. Traub says:
Good, detailed review; you got my helpful vote.

I want to comment, however, that Kindle is really not comparable to this unit. Kindle is first and foremost a book reader. With networking turned off, the Kindle will work for 2-3 weeks without recharging. I've heard of a month between charging. The Kindle's e-Ink display is unequaled for black-and-white text.

Tablets like the Cruz are really meant for a different market. I'm thinking about getting one because I'm a frequent flyer and I really need something a bit bigger than my Android phone for long plane trips. Tempting as the price is, I may hold out, however, for a more "mainstream" tablet that has Android 2.2 or 2.3 and runs the Android Market. I'd also like bluetooth so I can use a keyboard. These features are going to cost more and I'm not knocking the Cruz, just being realistic about its capabilities for this price.

Posted on Mar 3, 2011 12:23:48 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 3, 2011 12:24:14 PM PST
J. DeMoray says:
I have a Iphone with AT&T for phone service, leaving my only Android device the Velocity Micro T301 which is not supported on the Android app store. I went to Skyfire and Cnet to try and download the app but they both run throught the Android app store which made me log into gmail and I was denied the download since its not tied to a Android device. How did you get the skyfire app or what do I need to download it. I need the flash to open my Math092 coursework.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2011 5:08:30 AM PDT
jason revell says:
Android 2.2 is available on the Velocity Cruz website for free download.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2011 9:41:38 AM PDT
J. DeMoray says:
Check out the 7" Minipad for Android on Amazon. It's sticker is $350.00, but it's on sale for $250.00. It does more than you are looking for. I bought the Cruz and ended up sending it back, my expectations are what you are looking for. The Minipad will provide all you are looking for and with specs that will leave you satisfied and glad you bought it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2011 7:16:55 AM PDT
Please could some one tell me how to download the skyfire app

Posted on Jul 28, 2011 11:03:40 AM PDT
KayCS says:
Lynn, download SkyFire from here: http://www.freewarelovers.com/android/app/skyfire

Posted on Nov 16, 2011 6:47:25 AM PST
lappins678 says:
I'm buying this for grandkids. Will it play Angry Birds and Netflix?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2011 10:36:40 AM PST
KayCS says:
This tablet won't play Angry Birds, you cannot even install any of them, because I tried it. I am not sure about Netflix, but my guess is the same, you can't install or run it.

Posted on Nov 29, 2011 6:28:07 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2011 6:35:03 PM PST
I just bought 5 of these and for the life of me I can't figure out how to get movies, Angry Bird or video's on this. Can you help me. Also I tried to down load Skyfire and it downloads but won't install it says it doesn't have permission. Can you tell me what software you use to get a movie to down size. I really need your help before Christmas. I would like all this to be set up for them. I guess I'm just a dummy. :0 Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2011 8:19:35 PM PST
KayCS says:
Hi Donna, Angry Birds does NOT install on this tablet at all, even if it did, it would run very, VERY slowly, because of the use of a slow processor at about 520mhz, you need a 1GHz processor to really enjoy the game(s). You can install Amazon's own Android store app, it DOES work on this tablet and use it to download video related apps, there are some movie player apps that run nicely on the T301, such as TeteVideo. I suppose you meant not being able to install apps as non-Market applications, if yes, you can go to Settings>Application settings>Unknown sources, put a check mark there. Then you can install any apps you would like to try, in fact, this is how I installed 80% of my apps on my T301. Not sure what you meant by "down size" movies, I suppose you mean converting a DVD movie into a video file that the T301 can play. You will need to do this on a PC or a Mac, there are tons of programs out there that can convert DVD's into AVI's, MKV's, MP2's, etc. If you haven't done this before, it will take some practice and you will need to spend time making things look right. I have been watching full length movies on the T301 non-stop, it plays everything I throw at it !

Hope this help at least a bit ! Good luck !
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