on August 1, 2011
Just got my Skypad Alpha today. I haven't had much time with it yet but so far im loving it. I did a lot of research on tablets under $200 and this one stood out to me. I know Skytex is not a really well known brand, but I've had luck with their ereader in the past, and their tech support is great! Now the skypad....it has lots of features that other tablets don't have at the price I'm looking for. I considered the Coby 7024, but it has a small battery and no bluetooth. I also looked at Archos and Velocity Micro tablets, but the processors were kinda slow. The one downer is the resistive screen, but I knew that going into it. Even though its resistive its still pretty responsive and it comes with a stylus but I don't really need it. I could've spent a little more and got one with a capacitive screen from china, but I didn't want to take the risk. Anyway, I've been playing some games, browsing the net and skype calling some friends so far. Everything runs really smooth. I even tested a couple 720p videos I had and it played perfectly. it use getjar as their apps market which isn't the greatest , but theres a lot of cool apps available on freeware lovers and I plan to install the amazon appstore next.
This tablet isn't an ipad or xoom killer, but you do get a lot of bang for the buck. For the price, it's really hard to beat. It's a great starter tablet for someone who isn't completely ready to take the plunge and spend hundreds of dollars for something really nice that'll be outdated in a month.
- Fast processor (plays most games without lag)
- Wifi N
- 1.3MP webcam
- US based company (good tech support, and standard warranty)
- Resistive screen
- Only 4GB storage (pretty standard in this price range, but expandable to 32GB)
- volume control is through software(but the earphones come with volume control which is pretty nice)
on September 2, 2011
Quick Edit. I just wanted to let everyone know that this pad does play netflix. Find and download version 1.2.2 and when it asks to upgrade just hit cancel. Made it through several full length movies with no issues at all.
I apologize for no original pics but my current camera blows hard unless actually using the light on the surface of the sun.
First the basics.
[...]The Skytex Skypad Alph[/url]a comes in your standard MID type box. You can tell the revision of your pad, A or B, by the image on the top of the box. If you have the green cloudy field you have an A, if your have the amber sunset field it is a B.
The Skypad comes with a soft cloth case, felt screen swipe, earphones with their own volume control., USB cable, stand for horizontal or vertical use, charger, and in my opinion the greatest pad accessory in the world, a stylus with a screw on cap that plugs into the headphone jack of your pad. Why don't all pads?
The style of the Skypad is sleek and simple. I mentioned previously it feels kind of strange but pleasant in your hand when compared to other pads. Like an e-reader on steroids. It's slender with a nice solid feel, on the ends it has a brushed metallic trim, the back has a black coating that has a nice no slip feel to it. You have the Menu, Home, and Back button on the right front side of the face and the Skytex logo on the bottom. The bottom right side has you Mini USB and power adapter ports, the top right side has the headphone jack and power button. On the back you have your speaker and the reset pinhole.
The specs are as follows: Screen
Type: 7" (diagonal) color LCD Display
Resolution: 800x480 SVGA
Touch type: Resistive
CPU Freescale i.MX515 ARM Cortex-A8 (800Mhz core + 200Mhz DSP)
Memory 512MB RAM
Storage 4GB Internal External microSD Card support (up to 32GB)
Supported Formats Audio MP3, WAV, WMA, OGG, AAC, M4A, FLAC
Video (720p playback) H.264, MKV, WMV, MOV, 3GP, MPE, AVI
Image JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG
Languages English, Spanish, Chinese Traditional & Simplified, German, French, Russian, Polish, Korean, Japanese
Wireless Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
Ins and Outs
mini-USB 2.0 port
micro SD card slot
3.5mm Earphone Jack
1.3MP front-facing camera
Power Volltage: 100~240VAC, 50/60Hz
Battery: 3000mAh Rechargeable Li-Polymer
I was pretty impressed with the 22 second boot from button to slide lock. Once inside it is a refreshing minimalist install. You have all the basics Aldiko e-reader, Astro Filemanager, Getjar market,movie and photo players, Dev tools which I think are a version of Spare Parts, e-mail, calendar, etc... Not a ton of bloatware or craptastic uselessness. You will need to install Gapps/market and Flash yourself. I installed the latest with no issues. Youtube and web streaming works great.
The display is bright and crisp. The resistive touch is not an issue on this pad. Very sentsitive, you can just use the tip of your finger or fingernail. That said the fine touch using the stylus and the screen responsiveness make using a stylus nice and easy. I tend not to like using stylus but I find my self more and more using it on the Skypad. It's nice to have a choice I guess where some resistive touch screen leave you no option. I honestly can't see the extra cost of a capacitive screen on another brand being worth it.
The spec sheet says 720P on Video but I tossed a couple of 1080P BR rips and they played perfect. Nothing I have played on it has had any issue other than some voice sync, which occurs on some player but not other so It is not the machine's issue.
In an age where our attention spans are lessening and we think in terms of seconds, the power of the pad is great. Most apps and games install as fast as you can click them. I have tried most of the standards Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja with no issue. The G-sensor works great with the couple of games I have tried it on Wave Runner was a blast.
I activated and installed my wifi in just a few seconds. Much like a lot of pads the signal strength is a little low. No disconnects, but the occasional low signal where there should be no issue. I installed Wifi fixer and that helped a little. This is to be expected in a first release firmware really.
Added my BT headphone no problem. When trying streaming some video bogged down. Not sure if that is a BT or Skypad issue. I am going to re-flash the stock image then try that first and see. Could be related to something I have changed or installed.
USB to Computer
Works great. Make sure you have a USB 2.0 compliant controller and it is plenty fast. Try the hard mounted USB on the back of your PC. Installs the internal and external memory as two separate drives.
This is the first pad I have had that the sound is more than adequate from the internal speakers in a normal home or office environment. Even out on our porch it wasn't too bad, The sound volume is software controlled so nice idea but is a little issue when using the speaker. The headphones come with a volume wheel. Perhaps someone could come up with a always on top type widget so you can get to the volume while in a movie or game.
I still have to run a live to dead battery test but I did get through two episode of True Blood and Gone in 60 Seconds last night with battery to spare. I have gone almost 5 hours with wifi on now. Pretty nice compared to some other pads even with the same battery.
Great. US Company located in Cali. My first call I got straight through. No waiting no translating Engrish or Engladesh. Sorry if anyone is offended but that is a reality of Ce tech support. I wasn;t talked down to we took just a couple minutes to figure out the issue. It is noce to know the company is following the mod community with trying to influence it or control it. >>>>>coughapadcough<<<<<<< sorry something caught in my throat.
To some unfamiliar with flashing the process may seem a little complicated but really it is very simple. Connect, Find, Flash.I had an issue with a setting defaulting that shouldn't once we figured that out I just reinstalled the software and it was fine.
So my overall impression?
Ease of Use
Stable firmware release
App and Game compatibility
Responsive clean resistive touch
Did I mention a cool self storing stylus? ( I don't know why that impresses me so much. I once paid $3000 over book on a convertible just because I fell in love with the power top was controlled by a joystick type toggle instead of a simple switch)
It is hard to really have any cons that aren't more on personal preference than actual functionality. The power button feels a little soft, but is is also a nice flush design. HDMI out would be nice, but not necessary. Wifi could be stronger but really what pad has it on first release. Until any Ce is out in the wild and hitting all the variables there are, it can;t work perfect with every other component out there. They all need a little tweak time.
I would rate is as 5/5 . Any issues I have really are just preference over function. For the price It is was a great deal. This blows the doors off my Flytouch 3 10 inch.
EDIT UPDATE: An unofficial "official" support forum has popped up on Slatedroid dot com
on September 2, 2011
I am not an android guru, but I am a linux enthusiast and I am currently attending college under a programming major. Anyways enough about me, I thought I would throw up my thoughts on the issue.
I thought that the wireless card provided and software worked great. I never did install wifi fixer seeing as how I've never heard of it and the only thing I have seemed to have issues with is the fact that I don't think I have a powerful enough router to use my device throughout my whole house. Like Rabid1 said this is to be expected with the smaller devices, but maybe I can bump up the performance with that app.
I played 1080p no problem. I would like to see Skytex perhaps put that on the box. I looked at there ad saying "plays 720p" and almost moved on because I figured it was slower than I'd like. Luckily I looked at the specs and liked them because I think that I got a great deal for the money.
Rooting and Gapps (their tech service)
Favorite thing about this company, I must agree with the no engladesh translating. I got ahold of an actual skytex employee who helped me walk through the process. We ended up being able to help each other out. Anyways I went from never using android to getting mine rooting and teaching myself to put gapps on this device fairly fast. I think that having a tech team that has your back and will be compliant with the modders makes any company a good leap past the rest.
I don't really take advantage of bluetooth, so I have no help there. The gyroscope's response seemed to work great (I know cheapies can go nutz and/or not turn right). It comes with the stylus that plugs into a head phone jack (Why did this technology take so long to be released :p?).
Great product! Super fast. I am always hesitant buying from the little guys but it's the little guys like this that make me take the risk. Very satisfied. 5/5
on September 5, 2011
I've owned this tablet for a week now I get about a days worth out of the battery.
Following instructions from saltedroid.com I've been able to root this device and install the G apps like android market youtube gmail and others, there's a company rep on there that usually answers any questions about the tablet.
Now that its rooted its value to me went up about 50 bucks
Only real issue for me is typing on the on screen keyboard, other than that its great.
on September 13, 2011
Let me start by saying that I am an iPad user, and I love it. My mobile phone, however, is a Motorola Droid X, so I am an android user as well. I was looking for a second tablet that I could buy and not have to worry about getting it banged up, etc. My iPad is expensive, so there are are times and places I don't want to take it. I saw this tablet and decided to give it a try, and I am very glad I did. For the money, it is very hard to beat. You just need to remember, this is not going to be an iPad or even one of the more expensive Honeycomb tablets. However, it does a great job of web surfing, e-mailing, and even game playing. The resistive screen did not take long to get used to and is just fine if you use your fingernail or a stylus. It doesn't come with Android Market installed, but there are easy instructions to do this on slatedroid.com, and for many people simply installing the Amazon App Store may be enough. The tablet feels very good in your hands, and does not feel cheap at all. So, if you are looking for an inexpensive second tablet, a tablet for your kids, or just an entry level tablet, this one is hard to beat for the money!
on September 4, 2011
I've been looking for a tablet off and on for about 6 months but haven't wanted to pay hundreds of dollars for one. I picked my up on buydig.com for $119 after a $30 rebate - I figured for $119 what the heck. I like the fact that it's compatible with wireless n and most website are view-able and I can check email, news and Facebook relatively easily. It's too bad that there isn't an HDMI port and disappointed that Netflix wasn't able to be installed - but, that's OK. I figure in another this technology will be a bit further along. All in all a good buy for tablets in this price range.
on October 5, 2011
Usually, I wait several months before writing a review in the electronics field because I hate to mislead readers as I have been misled by enthusiasts who give five stars to a product that they "just" received! I even waited two years before writing my review of yogurt maker EURO CUISINE YM 100 that people seem to like (21/21 useful votes as of today). And I was right because, if I had written this review after one week, I would have only given one or maybe two stars to this machine instead of four.
Now, after almost four weeks battling with it a couple of hours each day, I think that I have enough elements to let people know what they are getting into when buying the Skytex Alpha Internet tablet.
GOOD VALUE FOR MONEY IN SPITE OF SEVERAL ISSUES:
Given the price I paid for it ($147 with free shipping from Beach Camera via Amazon) this machine is a good value for money, although it is not excellent.
I ordered this Skypad Alpha hoping to replace my old PDA. I received it with the latest version B and Android 2.3 Gingerbread (the home screen shows a brownish sunset) on Friday September 9, 2011 and the same day, I started downloading software, mainly free (whatever is free, I buy...) but I also purchased the Office Suite 5 because that is the program that I need most in order to enter my students' scores and Syllabi. I have the scores of all my students in my pocket since 1988, when I bought my first PSION II LZ 64 ("64" for 64 K, the highest capacity in 1988!) that I still have.
I found SEVERAL PROBLEMS, the worst is that IT HAS NO CALENDAR!!!
The next day, I started having problems. Since it was Saturday, I had to wait until Monday September 12. I called in the afternoon before going to give my French classes at FIU and somebody answered the phone in California at the second ring. Excellent! So far... I submitted my problems but the technician was incapable of solving a single one of them:
1) I deleted by mistake the Weather icon from the home screen. How can I recover it? UNsolved. He suggested resetting the machine to factory settings.
2) Where are installed all the Android applications that I purchased and downloaded from Amazon? UNsolved.
3) How can I transfer all those applications that I purchased out of the machine into a micro SD, so that I can run a factory reset and install them again without losing my money? UNsolved.
4) When I try to open the calendar, it opens a page requesting my email address. I tried with all my three email addresses: Yahoo, AOL + Gmail but it does not work. UNsolved.
5) I have NO sound even though the sound icon says the sound is on and at the maximum. UNsolved.
6) There are continuous text, numbers and red bars on the upper right hand corner of the screen, masking sometimes as far as the email icon in the middle of the screen. How can I get rid of that? UNsolved.
7) I can't link the machine to the laptop via USB cable. UNsolved.
He promised to learn more about his machine and send me an email with the solutions...
Two days later, I called again. But it was only 10 am in Miami and somebody answered at the other end of the world, who didn't know any more about these problems than the guy in California two days earlier. He said that they open at 9 am Pacific and took the message. At 12:30 Miami time somebody called but he could not solve the problems either. He assured me that I would be able to recover the purchased programs automatically (which I did, indeed) and helped me run a factory reset that solved most of the problems but not all.
For example, there is still NO CALENDAR. He confessed that their calendar does NOT work and that they are trying to find a solution to the problem. Also, I still could not link it to my computer.
Later, I received an email with a video clip explaining how to link the Skypad to the laptop. Without that video I could have tried a hundred years without success! Here is how to do it:
As you hook the USB cable, you must watch on the top left corner of the Skypad and, as soon as you see the USB icon (which only lasts for a few seconds, so you must be a fast shooter!) you must press and hold it, roll down and then you will see a dialog, which otherwise will never open! Couldn't they find something still more stupid and complicated???
BUT, if you are running WINDOWS XP, you must first download a free patch from the "companionlink.com". If you click on the "help" sign once you plug in the cable and drag down the USB dialog, you will see the path.
OTHER PROBLEMS that you should be aware of are the following:
NO access to Android market because Skytex did NOT purchase the license. This is NOT a big issue, since you have access to Amazon Apps store where you may download many applications for a few dollars and many of them for free. That's where I purchased the "Office Suite 5" that only has Word and Excel programs.
NO RECOVERY of files deleted by accident. As a matter of fact, the trash can is hidden behind the vertical toolbar on the right of the screen and you only see it if you press an icon on the home screen for a few seconds. Then you drag your icon to the trash can, which disappears again as soon as you lift your finger!
NO MS ACCESS FILES but I found the solution to this. Just open your Access files one by one and export them via EXCEL 97 - 2003 (the one that I have) to the folder of your choice in your laptop, then copy those files to a micro SD card plugged in your computer. When you mount the micro SD in the Skypad, you will be able to open your files in the Excel format thanks to the "Office 5" that only has Word and Excel as I said.
NO CALENDAR. This is a very big issue for me because without a calendar this machine is almost worthless for me and cannot replace my old PDA which is almost ten years old but still working perfectly well!
POOR FIXED BATTERY LIFE: Fully charged, it went down to 9% (when you receive a message announcing the shut off) after only 8.5 hours of continuous music playing WITHOUT the screen. That's barely a Miami-Paris nonstop flight! After fully recharging it, I ran another test with continuous videos at 30% screen brightness: I got ONLY 4.5 hours. My next tablet will have to have a user changeable battery or I won't buy it!
ONE GOOD THING about this machine is that it reads Windows media files, while my Archos 604 (which I thought had died after three years because it refused to turn on even with the AC adapter, until I had the idea to press the "Reset" button under the battery and it is working again like new!) only reads files converted to AVI via a program that you have to buy extra. You therefore get a better image BUT since a video in Windows Media weighs between 2 and 4 gigs, your famished micro SD card will be full after just a few films!
On the other hand, unlike my old Archos 604 (far superior in this field!), the Skypad Alpha does NOT let you hook it to a big TV, therefore this higher resolution is useless in a 7 inch screen.
However, YOU MAY CONVERT your Windows video files to a "POCKET PC" format thanks to WINDOWS MEDIA ENCODER (free from MS site). This is what I've been doing for years in order to watch them in my good old HP 2415 PDA with a 32 Gb CF card (for which I wrote a review in Amazon) + a 2 Gb SD (my old PDA won't read SDHC cards). At an average of about 200 MB versus 3 or 4 gigs for a DVD recorded directly in Windows, imagine how many films and concerts you may put into a 32 gigs micro SD card! I have more than 500 files between films, concerts, theater plays and documentaries, all in 32 Gb! Naturally, the image is far from excellent, but since you cannot hook this machine to a big TV that's no big deal at 7".
As for the SOUND problem, it was very simple. This Skypad Alpha comes with a small stylus attached by a string to a little piece that hooks in lieu of the headphone, which cuts the sound... I realized it when I saw that thing hanging from the headphone jack. I just took it out and voilà! You may change the volume of audio files by pressing the icon on the screen BUT NOT while watching a video, which is very annoying. You must go to the home page, which automatically stops your film, change the volume and then go back to your film. It would have been smarter to put an external volume control! Also, the tiny speaker has a metallic sound.
AN IMPORTANT PLUS for this machine: You may plug a USB drive into it via a USB to mini USB adapter and increase your total memory. I also tried with SD and CF cards in a USB card reader and it also worked. Then I tried with a "Vivitar 50" card reader and it also worked BUT you may only insert ONE card at a time. If you try with two cards at the same time (SD + CF for example), then the drive disappears from the tablet.
For some reason that I can't explain, the micro SD + USB drives appear both on the OFFICE 5 SUITE. When I click on the "Office" icon, I see "External SD" for the micro SD and "Udisk" for the USB drive. You may open any Word, Excel or PDF file directly BUT audio and video files won't open from there. You must go to the audio section (click on the speaker in the toolbar) or the video one (click on the "GALLERY" icon in the home page). You may have to wait for the system to load your photos and videos and even run a "reset" by introducing a paper clip in the back side if it refuses to load them saying that you have no files.
Of course, this will increase the size of the machine. Since the USB is placed in the lower side (which is not very smart), you must turn your Skypad upside down but this is not a problem since Android will reestablish the right view. A solution would be to buy an OTG cable with an angle male mini USB and a female USB where to hook the extra drive but I could only find it in Amazon... UK! This cable only seems to exist in the US with micro USB but not "mini". This is because big brands use a micro instead of a mini USB port like the Skypad.
DON'T FORGET TO UNMOUNT your micro SD card before taking it out. I forgot to do it and when I put it back, the machine did not recognize any of the media files: NEITHER SOUND NOR VIDEO. It only recognized MS Word and Excel as well as PDF files. I had to run a reset by introducing a paper clip in the little hole in the back, then turn on and off a couple of times, and this solved the problem each time it appeared.
SOLUTION TO THE LACK OF CALENDAR. You may SYNCHRONIZE MS OUTLOOK (Contacts, agenda, tasks) via "COMPANIONLINK 5.0 FOR OUTLOOK" that you may download free, with a program called "DEJA OFFICE". You will get a 14 days free trial for the Companionlink, which I'm doing, but then you will have to pay $49 for the licence, which is a lot. I tried it the other day using my home Wi-Fi connection and I now have my Outlook contacts, agendas and tasks in the Skypad Alpha. But I will keep my good old, outstanding and reliable HP 2415 PDA in spite of its small screen!
IN SHORT, at $147 with free shipping, this Skytex Alpha Internet tablet is a good value because you will be able to read your mail while you are away from home by using a free Wi-Fi at a well known fast food or coffee chain, and also in your hotel, while having at the same time a book reader plus a music and video library in a (big) pocket. It fits in my pant's right pocket with just the tissue sleeve that comes with it but not with a thick protective sleeve. And all that for just a few dollars more than a book reader! It's very imperfect but cheap.
on September 6, 2011
Hello this is my first review ever so bare with me. First off i would like to say i am very happy with my purchase i have no complaints really at all! This little tablet is great and it usually has me up all night on it watching streams or playing games. I love the fact that for a little company somebody now-a-days still give you quality and great customer service. These seems to be a lost art these days. This is my first android experience and it wont be my last thanks to Skytex Skypad i appreciate it.
on September 14, 2011
First week impressions, so far...
I bought this device for my son's 11th birthday, and I was more than taken aback since this is a relatively unknown company, and the cost is well below the median price point for tablets like this. It has an excellent weight and soft rubberized feel. Battery life is better than any android device I've used, and as for a resistive screen, it's quite responsive. Although not nearly as a responsive as a capacative would be, but if you use the little digi-pen or your finger nail, it works fine.
I have a couple of minor cons which I believe the company could easy change to make the tablet perfect. First of all, just upgrade the device to a capacative screen. This shouldn't raise the price point too much, plus it would make more apps compatible, which brings me to my second issue. The tablet cannot connect to the Android Market place, however it does use a third-party app vendor. I believe that vendor, GetJar.com should release free apps quicker or more often as they become available. My last issue I see (so far) is the lack of physical volume buttons. Currently, volume is controlled from digital buttons on the taskbar (not THAT big of problem really)
I would highly recommend this device for a first time tablet buyer who wants to just "test" the android os, or, perhaps for a young one not needing anything extravigant or expensive.
on September 17, 2011
I already have it for one week, decided to keep it.
Things I did
- good battery
- light and in general well-made
- not filled with some software you have to remove, good choice of starting programs (although took me some time to realize why I keep getting advertisements at the bottom of screen when I use ASTRO file manager)
- no volume control buttons (which could be quite useful for many applications, especially with resistive screen)
- no google market (I saw there is some way to install it, but have not succeeded yet, would make it easier to have it from beginning)
- was not really able to use external SD card, since most of applications are automatically looking for sdcard directory, which corresponds to built-in memory
- front camera not really working in darker places (my Acer netbook camera is performing great under same conditions) - also I was not yet able to setup skype to use it for video - do not know if it is possible.
- I like to have fix portrait orientation for many applications, somehow feeling it got 180 degrees turned
Things I would love to have, but not really expected:
- USB host (so I could connect my USB hard drive or USB flash drive) - see UPDATE! you can make it to work, although I still wish tablet manifactures would make some normal usb and sd ports - my much smaller $40 media player (mica) have 2 normal size usb ports, normal size sd port, hdmi port and many others....
- few more hardware buttons (like page up/down for example to use when reading books, or some button to switch on/off wireless networking)
- hdmi output so I could save on buying media player
In general, good tablet, hopefully Skytex will produce new version soon... And some of drawbacks I mentioned can be due to fact that I am not an experienced android etc user - it looks like this product is oriented on more tech-savvy people at this moment. In any case, for 120$ /got hot deal, best price is fluctuating every week/ it was a good deal to try !
UPDATE (after 1 month use): First, it is still working! I also found it is possible to connect some usb devices! Although still, same problems - not working right from box (need to get female USB to male mini USB adapter, and do some technomagic first), and wrong direction (location for usb connection is not convenient). Was able to instal google market too, using instructins from [...] - there are some other interesting posts in this forum too, even if some are too technical for me. It took me about 2 hours to install google applications - I am sure a lot of people can do it much faster. Also, installed moon+ player for reading books, after checking several, so now can use it to read all my docs (I have a lot ot text files, mostly in .zip files, which I need to refer from time to time).