For those looking for an alternative to the $500+ Apple iPad, you might consider the aPad Android-powered 7″ table as an alternative. I ordered mine from Totobay at a price tag of $140 and and had the device in my hands in 10 days. I have been using the device for about 5 weeks now, and wanted to share the pros and cons that I have experienced.
First, my initial impression of the aPad is that it is a sleek, nicely-sized device. At around half the size of an iPad and almost exactly the same dimensions as the Sony eReader, I was very happy with the fact that it fit nicely in the palm of my hand. The OS is Android 1.5, which is a bit out-of-date (current version is 2.2), but I have only found 3 apps that won’t run on the aPad. The device is manufactured and imaged in China, which means that some of the default applications had Chinese as their default language. It’s more of annoyance than a hindrance, but some of these apps cannot be deleted from the device (that is without rooting, of course).
The aPad does have 2 USB ports and can support up to a 16GB microSD card, meaning plenty of room for apps, music and movies. The microSD card also offers the opportunity to add 3G service to the device, if you have a carrier that provides 3G via microSD (currently I believe only AT&T offers this). Built -in Wifi provides access to the Internet and I have had no issues connecting to hotspots at home, airports, and local businesses.
The aPad (also referred to as the iRobot, depending on the vendor) uses a dual-core Rockchip 633 MHz processor and has 128MB of built-in memory. Be wary of aPad knockoffs sporting the less powerful VIA MW8505 600MHz. These are usually identifiable by the fact that they don’t have the built-in webcam offered by the aPad. The Rockchip processor is fast and the response times are nice. The built-in accelerometer was quick to shift the screen from vertical to horizontal when the device was turned sideways. Overall, I’m impressed with the OS, even if it is on 1.5.
The aPad offers does offer full access to the Android Market, with thousands of apps to customize functionality . In addition, for those who like to tinker, the developers at SlateDroid continue to work on root options to unlock the full potential of the device. For now, I’ve been primarily using the device to access GMail, Social Networking sites, GTasks, eBooks and to surf the web. As a carry-along companion, it’s great for traveling. Battery life has been fine, with about 4 hours with WiFi turned on and 8-10 hours with WiFi off.
I’ll report back as I continue to use the device, but so far it’s been worth every penny and I’m excited to see more Apple alternatives hit the market.