Well I had gotten an android phone this past May, the original Droid, and subsequently rooted it and eventually and put Sapphire 1.0.0 on it in advance of the big Froyo roll-out. Well, I also would load it up with lots of fanfic and ebooks for reading on the go. One problem was that the phone is so tiny that it can be hard to read after a while. With the advent of the various android tablets coming out, I decided I would get one that has reasonably broad support that doesn't cost nearly what an i*Pad does.
I happened across a Cruz Reader at Borders a few weeks back, but because it was a resistive touch, I didn't like the responsiveness. I did note that the manufacturer listed it as having Android 2.0 (Doughnut) rather than the 2.1 (Eclair) the floor model had on it. Well, last week I got an email from Borders saying that if I pre-order the Cruz Tablet, I would get a $25 gift card, nice, it would just cancel out the TN sales tax.
With the device scheduled fo a Nov. 1 release, I opted for ship to store (and save shipping). So Nov. 1 rolls around, and I've been checking the Borders.com website all the while waiting to see if there has been any other updates on the stats for the device or sales promotions. On Nov. 1 it suddenly updated to say the release was Nov. 30th - and no email to say "oh by the way, the manufacturer pushed out the release date another month". I called Borders and asked what happened to the Nov. 1 release, and they said whoever told me Nov. 1 was lying - until I pointed out that it was on their website until Sunday. They then said distributors and manufacturers call the shots and they can't tell they won't get stuff until the last minute and a whole lot of other excuses. Not really building my confidence here!
Well, after a few days of hearing that Best Buy had them, I started looking at the local inventories of the device on the Best Buy website and called the stores that showed stock. When the local store said that they did indeed have a few in stock, I snatched one up. I got the last one from the Mt. Juliet Best Buy. It was sort of sad really, the sales manager didn't have a clue what the device was (had to explain that it was an Android i*Pad like device or over-sized Droid X) but was cheaper and had more possibilities in the long run.
The box says Android 2.0, but it has 2.1 with a build date of Oct. 22, 2010 - but you won't be able to tell it's Eclair until you install something like Electronic Sheep Android System Info because the normal device info says Firmware is 2.0 but does not state what version of Android - just the kernel version. Android System Info shows it to be Eclair. I have been able to take the APK files from my Droid and install some essentials like Dolphin HD, ADW, and ES File Manager, as well as K-9 Mail and a number of games which all run just fine on the tablet (thankfully Astro is preloaded so that puts me ahead of the game). Most of the time the device is very similar to my Droid in performance and responsiveness, however, sometimes, the slower CPU does show itself when opening directories with 1000+ files in Astro or ES File Manager.
I have also encountered a few apps like Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Reader, Laputa, and FBReader which just won't install - the last app is actually on the Cruz Market (Velocity's answer to the Google Android Market that Google wouldn't let the tablet onto). It also won't install the Android Nook app but does install the Amazon Kindle app. Note - if you use Dolphin HD in "desktop" mode, be sure that when you click the Cruz Market link you flip back to Android/Mobile mode else you will just get a splash page. This applies to whether you use Dolphin or the stock browser. I have attempted to install some of these failed apps using ADB and get the warning "Failure [INSTALL_FAILED_CPU_ABI_INCOMPATIBLE]" which is certainly more useful than "Application not installed" at least there is a reason. The tablet appears as "Ingenic Mobile Phone" to ADB.
For the folks out there who have been wondering, the device comes with a 4GB & 8GB SD card, simple black sleeve, USB cable, and power brick. It has 500MB internal memory and shows 366MB RAM (I'm guessing that some of that is virtual memory). The CPU is listed as Ingenic Xburst V4.15 FPU V0.0 with BogoMIPS 421.06. The tablet DOES NOT come with the docking station shown in so many promotional photos.
The device appears to have a light sensor in the front along one of the long sides (evidenced by a shadowy dot), but the brightness settings does not have an auto sense setting. The home, menu, and back buttons only illuminate when pressed, and they will respond to a mere brush across them. It is unfortunate that the buttons do not illuminate when in low light settings or that they do not require a half to whole second of pressing before acting (hyper sensitive). It is also unfortunate that there is no search button as several apps I have used on my Droid support search, but the only way to get a search menu for the app is to press the magnifying glass for the search button.
Now if only there was a rooting guide and custom ROMs for this tablet, it would be something to behold as that would be the opportunity to bridge some of these usability and compatibility issues.