Home » Android » Page 4

Android

The Asus Memo Pad HD 7 review: It’s a nice inexpensive tablet

I’ve been messing with an Asus Memopad, the 7-inch version. I think it’s a well-built, good-performing tablet for $149, and when you can get it on sale for less than that–and this is the time of year for that–I think it’s a great tablet for the money.

It’s not a high-end tablet. It has a 1280×800 screen, a quad-core 1.2 GHz Mediatek processor, a middling GPU, and 1 GB of RAM, and importantly, it includes a micro SD slot so you can add up to 32 GB of storage to it. The specs are all reasonable, but not mind-blowing. Most of the complaints I’ve seen about it are that it’s not a Nexus 7, but it’s 2/3 the price of a Nexus 7, too. When you compare it to other tablets in its price range, the worst you can say about it is that it holds its own.Read More »The Asus Memo Pad HD 7 review: It’s a nice inexpensive tablet

Baidu: The lightweight browser for low-end Android

I went looking for a resource-friendly browser that would run well on a 1 GHz-ish Android tablet. Everything I read said that Baidu was the lightest browser on resources. Since Baidu is a Chinese company and very low-end Android tablets are common in China, this makes sense.

I’ve never been one to shy away from alternative browsers on low-end systems on other platforms. Usually I sacrifice some rendering quality, but I frequently found that preferable to waiting around for minutes for bloatware to load and pages to render at glacial speed.

So I tried out Baidu, in spite of criticisms of its user interface and annoying defaults. The annoying defaults, it turns out, are easy enough to turn off, and I found the user interface, though out of style, makes it easier to use. It has forward and back buttons, unlike most other browsers on Android, and tapping those buttons is far more responsive than gestures on high-end browsers. I’m willing to give up 8 pixels of vertical space for that.Read More »Baidu: The lightweight browser for low-end Android

Benchmarking Android

After rooting a device and loading a ROM or two on it, it’s easy to start to wonder what tweaks and settings actually make a difference in performance or whether you’re just imagining things. For example, my devices all have the option to force Android to use the GPU for rendering (under Developer Options), but does it really help?

Benchmarks are a synthetic but objective way to measure the effect. I use Antutu.Read More »Benchmarking Android

Android ROMs explained

To the uninitiated, the world of Android ROMs can be more than a little confusing. Since Android is based on Linux and therefore large portions of it are licensed under the GPL, enthusiasts are free to create and release their own builds.

That’s where some of the confusion comes from. When you buy an Android device, it comes with Android pre-loaded of course. Then, when Google releases a new version of Android, it releases it to the vendors and to the phone companies. If your device is really popular and you’re really lucky, you’ll get an update from either the carrier or the vendor. Usually the update comes with some ridealong software, which you may or may not find useful.

Enthusiast-built Android ROMs tend to come out much sooner than official ROMs sanctioned by the manufacturer, and they don’t come with the bloatware either, so they tend to run a lot better. My venerable Samsung Galaxy S4G phone, which is nearly three years old, runs better on an enthusiast-built ROM than it ever ran with the vendor-provided one, and the enthusiast-built ROMs are much more up to date.Read More »Android ROMs explained

Rooting: Just do it.

Rooting is a confusing term to Android newcomers, but it’s really simple: It’s gaining administrative rights, just like you have on a Windows PC. It’s nothing particularly nefarious.

The difference is that it’s not quite as straightforward with Android.Read More »Rooting: Just do it.

I hope Motorola’s build-your-own smartphone idea catches on

Motorola’s Project Ara would sell you an Android phone the way many of us buy PCs: as separate, swappable components that we can use to upgrade and customize as we please.

Think about it: The PC I’m typing this on has a 15-year-old keyboard. The case is about 10 years old. The monitor is about five years old. The motherboard, CPU, memory, and SSD are about three years old. When I need to upgrade, I have a great deal of freedom about what I replace. If the SSD is still big enough, I can keep it. I’ll definitely keep the monitor, keyboard, and case. They all still work well. I can basically build a new PC every few years for a couple hundred dollars. Sometimes less.

Read More »I hope Motorola’s build-your-own smartphone idea catches on

I have a new favorite Android ROM for the Nook Color: MROM

My Nook Color is my experimental Android rig. Since it’s aging fast, I don’t use it nearly as heavily as my other Android devices, so if I accidentally do something wrong, I can live without it much more easily than I can do without a phone or my nicer tablet.

So I tend to try a lot of different things on it, just because I can.

The newest ROM I’ve tried on it is called MROM, and I must say I am impressed.Read More »I have a new favorite Android ROM for the Nook Color: MROM

A new Hisense Sero 7 Pro ROM

I’ll get back to the Android questions momentarily, but here’s an interesting development: randomblame on XDA-Developers has managed to develop a working Jelly Bean 4.3 ROM called Jelly Time for the Sero 7 Pro, even without kernel source.

As one would expect, the workarounds are causing some issues, but even with the limitations he’s working with, the reports have been very good. I’ll be trying it out on my Sero 7 Pro as soon as I have a bit more time.