GPAD GForce 2nd Generation Review
As Android tablets move into their newest generation, various Shenzhen manufacturers are now releasing Cortex A8 and A9 tablets.
One of these is the 'GPad GForce' offered by Pandawill, which is a 9.7" 1:1 iPad clone running Android 2.2. They recently sent a demo unit to us, and I’ve spent a couple of days taking a good look at it. This is a new second generation revision of the tablet previously discussed here. The device currently is sellling for $285USD with free shipping.
The hardware features of the device are as follows:
It has a Freescale iMX515 ARM Cortex A8 processor clocked up to 800MHz its core, with 512MB of RAM. The /data partition is approximately sized at 1 GiB to be used for Android applications and data, with another 5.2 GiB mounted at /extsd for file storage. The multitouch capacitive screen supports up to 2 points of touch. The screen supposedly uses IPS technology, and has a resolution of 1024x768. Viewing angles are pretty good.
Standard accessories - AC charger, USB data cable, USB host cable, screen protector was included with my demo unit
At first unboxing, this unit seemed to be of average quality construction (average by Shenzhen shanzhai standards, that is). There is a visible gasket between the screen and the aluminum backing. The screen seems to be slightly loose at the corner where the headphone jack is. The image quality of the screen is on par with other capacitive TFT screens I've seen. It's nice and clear with bright, not overly saturated colors.
Included in the box with the tablet are the following items: (1) 30-pin to USB cable (approx. 6″), (1) 30-pin USB host cable (approx. 6″), AC adapter (9VDC@1500mA output), earbud-style headphones, a pack of screen protectors, and an imitation leather envelope-style case. Nowhere to be found is a manual, warranty card, or any other documentation.
There is a single speaker on the lower right of the device (when held with the front button on the bottom). The sound quality from the speaker is decent, considering this is a single-speaker mobile device. Also on this edge is a proprietary 30-pin connector and power connector. Along the right-hand edge, in this same orientation, is the Menu/Volume Down and Back/Volume Up buttons. Each side of this rocker switch serves dual purposes, with either a short press or a long press, respectively. Next to these buttons is a switch to disable the gravity sensor. I’ll talk more about this later. Finally, along the top edge, you have the power button, a small reset switch embedded in a pinhole, and the headphone jack. Also along this edge is a cover that when removed reveals a MicroSD card slot. There is a front-facing camera on this edge of the tablet as well, just above the screen. The software reports the camera as a 2MP device.
The tablet features a pre-rooted Android 2.2 with the official Google Market preinstalled. It also has the Hiapk Market available, which is an app store oriented for Chinese users. Other software preinstalled included: Superuser Permissions, Dev Tools, Spare Parts, ES File Explorer, 3GDialer, Calendar, Gmail, Sound Recorder, Speech Recorder, and Google Talk. There is no YouTube app installed, and I was not able to find it on the Market, but more about that later. In the notification bar, you’ll find a Home and a Back software keys at opposite ends, and they cause the bar to be about 2-3 times the normal height. The stock Android Launcher2 is the default launcher:
The GPad GForce is fairly responsive. There is no apparent lag in the UI, which is stock Froyo. Apps load fairly quickly and respond well. In several days of usage, there have been no force closes from applications. The UI can be locked in one orientation by moving the slide switch that is next to the Back/Menu rocker. This is actually useful for reading forums, web pages, etc.
It has a gravity sensor with 360° rotation support in applications supporting rotation. However, the orientation is 90° off in some games, as tested with Labyrinth Lite and Raging Thunder 2. This is a common issue in multiple shanzhai tablets, and is a software issue that tends not to be fixed with future firmware updates in most cases. The battery type is unknown and so is the mAh rating of it, but it seems to last for around 4-6 hours of moderate usage.
The 3GDialer app was interesting, as it suggested the device (as per the box) is 3G capable. After not finding a SIM slot anywhere in the device, I have to assume that 3G is supported via USB dongle only. Since I don’t have one, I could not test the 3G features. The box also lists GPS as being supported, but since there is no built-in GPS radio, I could not test this, either.
The Market experience with this device is less than expected. YouTube is not present in the Market, and neither are quite a few of the other Google Experience apps. I discovered that many common apps were missing from the Google Market on the GForce. For some reason, the Market only ever displays exactly 10 apps at any given time. I don't even know where to start looking for the fix to this.
There is another market app included, namely Hiapk Market. The problem with this market is that most of the text is in a Chinese dialect, rendering it unusable for the average non-Chinese speaking person. They should probably remove it.
Despite the Market limitation, the GPad GForce has exceeded my expectations for a Shenzhen shanzhai device. The tablet is responsive and works as expected. The only problems I had with it was the lack of an included YouTube app, the strangely crippled Android Market, and the g-sensor being off by 90° in the tested games. The build quality around the screen seem to be par for the course with Shenzhen shanzhai manufacturers. If you are looking for a tablet to import, this is a decent choice.
Oh, and Angry Birds works flawlessly, which is a plus.
GPad GForce Review Copyright 2011 by Shawn McIntosh (l_n) and AndroidTablets.net
Last edited by xaueious; 03-24-2011 at 10:56 PM.
Reason: minor edits
03-24-2011 07:19 PM
The 4:3 aspect ratio Android tablet market is not a particularly strong one. While 4:3 devices offer a better reading experience, they also tend to have lower application compatibility than 16:9 variants. No major Android manufacturers offer 4:3 devices. As a result, while applications will scale to the screen of 4:3 devices, they will not run as optimally as on 16:9 they were designed for.
Also keep in mind that Android 2.x is still primarily an operating system for mobile phones. A 7" 16:9 device is 3-4 times larger than the typical Android handheld. A 9.7" 4:3 device is 6-7 times larger. Applications are stretched by the same margin. The drop in user experience from a 7" to a 10" device is a significant consideration.
The Gforce Gpad belongs to the category of larger Android tablets such as the Gome Flytouch II and Zenithink ZT180, Advent Vega, Viewsonic gTablet and Archos 101 IT. Besides having the best screen quality out of all of them, the 30-pin proprietary jack and the g-sensor bugs hurt it. It outclasses the Gome Flytouch II and Zenithink ZT180 in all aspects, but do not have GPS, ethernet LAN, 1080p video playback and GPS capabilities. Performance is expected to be slower than the aftermarket optimized Archos 101 IT, Advent Vega, and Viewsonic gTablet tablets. The locked down nature of shanzhai tablets leaves little room for aftermarket modifications. But as an out-of-the-box product, it is not a bad choice in the category. Shanzhai tablets have no concerns with shipping with Google mobile applications such as Google market.
One should consider keep the legal and support complications of shanzhai tablets before purchasing one.
So, I just got a GPad GForce (9.7" Capacitive Screen) from China and I have the application for the Android Market, yet, for some reason, I am unable to download some applications.
Does anyone know how I can get the applications onto my device?
Facebook doesn't show up in the Android Market, yet, when I went to the Android Market web-site, I was able to download a copy there, however, this doesn't work with each application.
Also, the e-mail application is not allowing me to add my Yahoo! e-mail account to the application. Can someone tell me how to get this to work? Right now, I can only (easily) check it in the mobile Yahoo! site.
At least for Yahoo, you are best off using the Yahoo app for mail...
GPAD GForce 2nd Generation Review
You should definately get Apple iPod touch 32 GB (4th Generation) NEWEST MODEL
1.Wi-Fi capable Facetime (video chat with no 3G)
2.Game Center (challenge your friends play games and so much more)
3.About 50% thinner (0.28in;7.2mm)
4.Apple A4 processor chip faster than ever)
5.HD video recording
6.Retina Display (Pixels at 78 micrometers wide packing 326 pixels per inch)
7.Voice Control ( control your music with your voice)
8.iBooks (your own personal bookstore and reader)
9.iMovie (movie editing program redesigned for ipod touch)
10.Multitasking (Switch instantly between your favorite apps)
11.Folders (Make more room on your home screens for you favorite apps)
1)More expensive than the last gen
2)Not out yet
I have to say people in the United States and Australia should avoid buy Pads that look like cloned iPads. I have spoken with a number of manufactures here in Shenzhen that have told me their tablets are being stopped in customs. I have noticed however there is a new generation of Pads that have come out over the last month that aren't clones and have some very unique stylistic features.
Interesting review. Thanks for the user's experience.
iPad lookalike are also banned on auction site, Trademe, in New Zealand.