Saturday, February 25, 2012

My 2 cents on the Cruz T408 Tablet with Root

When I got my ASUS Transformer for Christmas I knew that my wife was going to want a tablet herself as well. After looking around online and her getting crazy for just any old tablet I had picked her up a Velocity Micro Cruz T408 Tablet for a decent price online.

  I knew the tablet wasn't going to have all the bells and whistles that my Asus had but after looking at reviews (PCMag , Engadget , cnet ) and taking them with a grain of salt, for the money and her current usage of social networking apps it was a decent choice. After receiving the tablet I noticed right away like the reviews had said some things were missing from it such as Android Market , Gmail & handful of Google apps normally stock on many Android devices. This wasn't an issue cause Gingerbreak is a wonderful tool and already knowing from reviews these items were blanked I knew my next step was off to Xda-Developers.

Looking on Xda-Developers I was able find information for installing the normal Google apps we're used to seeing on Android devices. After installing everything I rebooted the tablet to allow changes to take effect and upon reboot I was asked to use the Launcher or Setup Wizard to complete the action. Selecting Launcher as the default I opened the Google Market signed in with my wife's Gmail account and once it had synced the device with the Google servers we had access to the market however it was an much older Donut (1.6) version with limited app selection.

I was able to update market to a newer 2.2.6 via the stock OI File Explorer. Any later market version seemed to crash if just installing right from SD as a normal APK.  I rooted the device with gingerbreak to use SU & File Explorer to r/w the /system/apps/ folder , moving the newer 3.3.4 Market APK there installed it from that location. Once rebooted the new market showed right away and showed all current apps. Issue with the newer market is almost all apps list as "Not Compatible With Your Device" on many newer applications designed for tablets. Having my wife use her cell to download and back up applications she wanted she emailed it to her tablet. Netflix , Firefox , Smurf's Village,  Facebook , Twitter , F* My Life & many others ran with no issue even with Market saying not compatible and Netflix looks good on the devices poor 800 x  600 screen.

Skype video calling is fair when using the front facing camera and sound quality is decent. Even though Skype will do video calls don't expect Gtalk video calling to show up as the most recent version for 2.3.3 will fail install even with root pushing it via ADB. The over all design of the tablet is durable for everyday use like how the wife transports it in her purse,  kids playing apps on it, & the occasional drop from the hands. Wifi on the device when tested at other locations runs fine with no issue's. Both myself and my wife have noticed no issues with it dropping from network when streaming from YouTube , Netflix & other popular sites as mentioned in reviews of the tablet upon release.

Updating applications are frustrating given the fact they won't update from Market 3.3.4 but will with older versions of Market. The preloaded Amazon App Store when selecting an Application for download gives the error of "Not Available In Your Region". For folks who use MAC filtering the settings menu when displaying information about your tablet gives a MAC address number of 00:00:00:00:00 forcing you to turn off MAC filtering on your network just to grab the real MAC address. The bootloader is locked on the device blocking any kind of custom based ROM or further expansion of the device beyond Velocity Micro so don't expect to see a custom compiled ASOP build to bring this device up to working order beyond Market or even further OS updates like Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich.

Other then the Market issue the tablet settles as just an OK pick up for my cost of $125  but not at the $179.99 when comparing this to other real versions of Android tablets around the same cost. For people looking for a lower priced lite use tablet for a youngster, test platform for developers or even just as a lite e-reader it's great. Light weight and 8" screen makes reading more comfortable then holding my Transformer or iPad2 with a slight slimmer design.
However the Cruz T408 will make a bad impression on anyone new to Android when comparing it to a friends iPad or other Android device. The device screams not Google approved as Cruz has put very little time into tweaking the UI if any at all. The system for anyone familiar with Droid or ever worked with the SDK will agree it feels like a slapped together version of Android 2.3.1.

In the end after 2 months of use with Root my wife has already been looking around into different tablets for a new one, but still does not regret the purchase of the Cruz T408. It has served her as best it can while at work, home, and vacationing. In the end this tablet will be stripped down and given to the kids with a handful of pre-installed apps or used as the main brain of a new Arduino build.

Update 3-5-2012

To strike my previous statement about Amazon Marketplace not working properly it was all about a user error. The Amazon account that you sign into Marketplace with must have a personal credit card or bank card has your primary payment source. If you have a amazon gift card or prepay credit card as your primary payment & not a ATM / personal credit card it may show as "Region Not Supported. 

The reason for this via Amazon tech support was the gift cards are international & after adding my wife's debit card as her primary on Amazon applications downloaded with no issue paid and unpaid. 

Kinda of kicks the idea of picking my wife up Amazon gift cards for her tablet in the back side , but at least a simple problem was solved changing my wife's mind completely about her tablet.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rainy Day Telephone Fix

Looking at my cordless handset the other night I had noticed that the display said 'Line In Use' figuring that maybe one of the kids sat on the phone by mistake and turned it on I proceeded to double check all the cordless phones in the house to see which one was turned on. To my surprise non of the phones were on and for once sitting in there respective chargers for a change.

After unplugging the cordless phone base and testing for dial tone on a corded phone I had nothing just dead air on the line and when trying to  call the house from my cell it rang busy. I proceeded to head outside to test the corded phone on the customer service panel side of my telephone box to see if it was a company issue or an internal one. As I approached the side of my house I found the problem without having to do much more investigation, from age, wind, or an animal the telephone box cover was open laying on the ground with the telephone circuits soaked from the rain.

For those with no experience with basic electronics or even simple wiring knowledge the reason for no dial tone & why when calling the house phone from my cell and only a hearing a busy signal is because the water from the rain was joining the the connections. The fastest way to solve this problem was an extension cord , & a heat gun.

Opening the telephone company only side of the phone-box I dried off all the contacts and wires in the whole box on a low heat setting as not to melt anything. After everything was dried I tested the phone line and sure enough it worked perfect. I would recommend to anyone having issues with static or even the same problem that I had to double check your telephone access box for water on the line or even moisture.

If your outside box is damaged in anyway other then deliberate it is the phone company's responsibility to replace the unit with no charge to you, as they own the wires from the street to your house.