We took the $99 tablet to a major California corporation and asked their IT Department person who buys computers, what they thought of it. He said they have over 500 ruggedized, 2.5 lb, 10-inch tablets in their warehousing operations. Those units have a proprietary Windows XP application running on them. They cost the company $1,500 each. He said if they replaced only half of the 500 with the little tablets and used them only inside their warehouses - because of the $99 tablet’s limited screen capability - they could shift their purchasing budget around.
We found the same reaction to the NOVO Basic 7 at several other businesses. All of them used proprietary vertical market applications that could be recompiled to run on Android ICS and the MIPS processors.
Our Northern California corporate decision maker asked what it would cost to have an outdoor readable screen like Pixel Qi offers. We did not have any pricing information, but we could show him how it would look. During CES 2012, we stopped at Pixel Qi’s booth and showed them the Ainol NOVO Basic 7-MIPS tablet. Pixel Qi’s COO and VP of Marketing, Dr. John Ryan says other screen suppliers have been jacking up their screen brightness, while most display manufacturers have done very little to improve screen readability and picture quality under high ambient lighting.
Their booth had a demonstration of how the sun affects our computer screen viewing. With a 45,000 Lux light
and a rotating screen in front of their high-output light, BSN saw the full 24-hour daylight-to-dark cycle.
Pixel Qi CES 2012, netbook LED vs. Pixel Qi screens
We quickly put the 7-inch tablet into Pixel Qi’s booth and recorded a brief video. You can see for yourselves the difference between an average, inexpensive, LED screen and the Pixel Qi outdoor readable display.
Our Ainol NOVO Basic 7-MIPS came with 8GB of memory. They also offer 4GB and 16GB versions. The standard microSD card is 2GB, we tried a generic 32GB and regularly used our 8GB Patriot Memory microSDHC card
. You can load your library of music, apps, videos, and photos, then store more music and videos on the microSD card. We found the MIPS ICS widgets worked well when we loaded new apps.
NOVO Basic 7 - Widgets
With the built-in Youtube app that was recompiled for the MIPS-based processor, we did spend hours watching videos on our 720P HD TV in the office. The battery lasted for at least five hours of videos and powering the miniHDMI port. The 7-inch 800 by 480 pixel LED-backlit display is another reason for the $99 retail price. There is no comparing this low-resolution screen to say a smartphone’s Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screen. But, those phones are in the $450 to $600 range when purchased outright, without the wireless carrier’s multi-year contract to lower your out-of-pocket cost.
Another problem with the $99 tablet is screen reflections, even when you are inside. You saw above that our camera lens showed up in the photo without the display being turned on. We were constantly moving the 7-inch tablet around to be able to see the apps or videos.
For the gamers out there, the shipping version comes with versions of Angry Birds, Spiderman, TurboFly 3D, Wow Fish, and a Chinese game called The Last Defender. They are all recompiled for the MIPS-based Ingenic's JZ4770 processor.
Here come those wild and crazy Angry Birds
The author played Spiderman a lot. Our neighborhood gang of 10 year-olds immediately got to the second level with Spiderman. I decided it was no fun playing against a group of ten year-old expert gamers. [I also got a bit addicted to the game, Ed.]
My Spidy senses are tingling
There is a video viewer called Pandora (not to be confused with the radio service) which worked well with the sample videos that were installed. The recompiled version of Document to Go
works just like it does on the ARM-based Android phones and tablets. You can use Microsoft Messenger as well with the Chinese-developed English-language client. The installed FaceBook app worked just like it does on other Android-based tablets.
Next a look at the cameras, a front facing VGA 0.3MP and a rear-facing 2MP. Yes, they both take photos and videos too. However, their resolution is only comparable to today’s basic feature phones like those from regional carrier metroPCS
. They should not be compared to all the smartphone cameras with higher resolutions up to 41MP such as the Nokia 808 PureView
. The low-resolution cameras on this tablet are all part of how the manufacturer reached that magical $99 retail price point.
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