Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Velocity Cruz Android 2.0 tablet

 

We all know about the Kindle and the forthcoming Kindle Fire. We also know about the iPad and the tsunami of tablets converging on the market. I was curious about some of these gadgets, and I had the opportunity to do some shopping for a relative's birthday this weekend. After a lot of comparing, I chose the T103 Cruz by Velocity, based on a combination of features and price. I purchased this particular Android tablet on sale for about $89 from Tiger Direct's Amazon storefront.    


Features:

    Full color TFT display
    7” diagonal 16:9 800x480 screen
    Capacitive touch screen – ultra responsive!
    Android 2.0
    512MB RAM
    4GB AND 8GB bundled SD cards
    Supports PDF, TXT, HTML reader files
    MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV audio support
    MPEG-4, H.264, H.263, MOV, AVI video support
    JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP image support
    802.11n wifi
    Built in speakers
    Microphone
    Headphone jack
    Mini USB
    Li-Ion battery - up to 10+ hours of life, 24+ standby
    Dimensions: 7.5"x 4.75"x .6"

Pros:
Of immediate note is the battery life of 10+ hours. At this point, we don't have a full 10 hours on the device but the battery life is definitely holding up. After several hours of use both Saturday night and throughout Sunday, the battery is still at 50% capacity. Most of this time was spent surfing the internet and watching YouTube movies (the proud recipient of this device is a 12 year-old boy). The video and sound on this thing are crystal clear! I was amazed by the quality of video. The 7 inch back-lit display left me in awe; it's perfectly suited for the type of video you find on the internet, probably producing a higher quality image than a desktop monitor due to the small screen.

The wifi setup was quick and painless. Email was a bit trickier but still not difficult, once I understood the menu interface. Being an Andriod system, the menu button brings up options on just about every screen, from the home screen to the various addons and apps. A number of apps come preinstalled, including email, internet, app store, a notepad and an office suite. I must also mention that this is a capacitive touch screen(like an iPhone), which is fast becoming the standard. You can smoothly navigate the menus and apps with a touch, and you can also flip the pages of your e-books by sliding your finger across the edge of the screen. The display also turns automatically when you rotate the tablet side to side, or even upside down, and it has similar zoom and scroll features to what you'd find on an Android or iPhone.

Obviously, the pros of a device like this are many. The color touchscreen is gorgeous and provides most of the functionality we've come to expect from much higher priced devices. Battery life is phenomenal so far. The built-in 500 megabytes of memory are supplemented by two SD cards with an additional 12 gigs of storage space! Sound and video are good, setup is easy and intuitive, and features abound. It can play and store music and movies as well as e-books, and can run numerous e-book apps (I installed the Kindle app right away and it works just fine).
 
The cons:

    With all the features and accessories for this device, for some reason the manufacturer chose not to to include a paper manual. This is a minor inconvenience since the manual is available in electronic format in the apps menu... if you can figure out how to operate the menu system and then locate the strangely titled app. (Couldn't they just call it the Owner's Manual, or something similarly obvious?)

    Start-up is surprisingly slow. I expected it to turn right on like a cell phone or any other electronic device that doesn't have a hard drive, but no, this thing takes forty-five seconds to start up. 

Obviously this $100 (or less) tablet doesn't come with 3g or any other cellular network. (That may be a con to some, but in my opinion this type of device doesn't need it. Why pay $40 a month for a digital plan when most of us are rarely more than a few minutes away from wifi? And for those times we are away, we've got 12 gigs of storage. That's a lot of music, video, and e books.)

    Daylight, full-sun viewing: Ain't gonna happen. This is a backlit screen, and in this aspect it's inferior to the Kindle's e-ink. Surfing the internet or checking your email under these circumstances will be tough, and this is NOT how you want to read a book. The screen glare is horrible in sunlight. There may be screen accessories on the market to improve this problem, but I still don't think the experience would compare to the Kindle's simple, elegant screen.

Summary:

This technology is amazing and is certain to change the world. We can purchase a device with this capability for less than $100, and that price is only going down. That said, a tablet like this is not a PC, or even a laptop. This device is awesome for surfing the internet and entertainment, but I wouldn't want to write 100,000 words on it. Or even 10,000. As cool as it is, its not a replacement for a laptop, nor is it a replacement for a Kindle if you're an avid reader. The true Constant Reader will want a device that can download books as well as display them anywhere, under any circumstances. The fact that you need shade to use this device knocks it out of that competition for a lot of people.

If you're looking for something with vast functionality, a sort of electronic jack-of-all-trades, this or a similar device may be for you. Kids will LOVE these. However, if you're looking for a device specifically for reading, you may find the Kindle to be a more appropriate purchase.

I'll give the Cruz a few weeks and update this review. I'll be taking note of things like battery life, performance, and (hopefully) consistent functionality. I'll also be looking for a chance to try out a Kindle Fire and compare features.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

    ReplyDelete