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
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.
Are you curious why there’s no Cyanogenmod for the Sero 7 or Sero 7 Pro tablets? Or why there’s only one aftermarket ROM for it, released way back in May, with no updates?
I realized why this week. Hisense has not yet released the GPL source code for the tablets. And without developers being able to look at the kernel source, you’ll see very little, if any aftermarket firmware for these tablets.
Amid competition from newer, faster tablets like the 2013 model Nexus 7, Hisense cut the price of its low-cost 7-inch Android tablets. The low-end Sero 7 now costs $79, and while the reviews on that tablet aren’t all that great, it’s much better than last year’s $79 tablet. The Sero 7 Pro, which I own, now costs $129.
They’re imperfect tablets–the Sero 7 Pro, even with its recent update, still crashes from time to time when I use a keyboard with it–but they were fine for the money at their old prices, and at their new prices, it’s hard to go wrong. I expect that eventually they’ll attract enough third-party development that there will be ROMs available to address their shortcomings.
My Hisense Sero 7 Pro asked to update itself this morning. The update billed itself as a stability update. Indeed, afterward, it still reports itself as running Android 4.2.1.
That said, I’m all for a stability update. My Sero 7 Pro sometimes has issues coming out of sleep mode, so I let it update. Whether it makes a difference will take a while to figure out–I tended to have the issue once or twice a week. A day is too little for anything but a first impression, and my first impression is that this was a very low-profile update. But mainly I’m happy to see that Hisense seems to be supporting the tablet with updates. Not every update needs to make a big splash.
Cyanogenmod–the open-source distribution of Android for undersupported/abandoned devices–went to version 10.1 this week. Version 10.1 is based on Android 4.2.2, so it matches what’s in stores right now.
My Nook Color was sitting unused, so I figured I had nothing to lose by loading Cyanogenmod 10.1 on it. It was slow and laggy and crashed a lot under 7.2, so it wasn’t like it could be much worse.
I bought a keyboard this week for the Hisense Sero 7 Pro. It’s a universal keyboard/case made by Afunta, and I paid $12.50 for it. I took a chance on it, and now you don’t have to. Its spring-loaded jaws nicely accomodate the Sero 7 Pro, and the keyboard works with the Sero 7 Pro with no issues. Plug it in, wait a moment, and it starts working, replacing the onscreen keyboard when you need keyboard input, basically turning your tablet into a convertible. It has a micro USB connector, unlike many 7-inch keyboards, so it works with the Sero 7 without an adapter. It’s odd that most keyboards seem to have full-size USB connectors but most 7-inch tablets have micro ports.
I wouldn’t want to type at length with the keyboard, but it’s much nicer than using an onscreen keyboard on a 7-inch screen.
Disabling animation is one way to make a Hisense Sero 7 Pro, or anything else running Jelly Bean, feel faster and smoother. That’s a hidden feature, but it’s not difficult to make it visible and selectable.