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The Android-powered Augen GenTouch78 is no iPad

Good News, Bad News

  • August 16, 2010
  • By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
The Apple iPad is going to face serious competition from Android Linux-powered tablets, but the first mass-market, low-priced tablet to arrive, the Augen GenTouch78 isn't it.

The tablet does have some good things going for it. While it's made from black plastic, it has a solid feel. Better still, it comes with a form-fitting, faux-leather case. I don't know about you, but whether I pay $170 for a GenTouch78 or $500 for an Apple iPad, I appreciate getting a real cover to protect it without shelling out additional cash.

<em>The screen, while very reflective, is easy on the eyes. Now, if all those application icons actually lead to programs that work. </em>
The screen, while very reflective, is easy on the eyes. Now, if all those application icons actually lead to programs that work.

In addition, the GenTouch78 comes with a pair of micro-USB to USB cables to make it easy to hook the device up to PCs or USB devices. It also comes with a microSD card port that can handle up to 16GB cards. I also found the tablet to be a nice size. For me, the overall shape with case was as easy to handle as a trade paperback book.

That Was the Good News

OK, that's the good news. Before even turning it on, I was dismayed to see that the headphone jack port looked a little small. I was right. Instead of a music-grade 3.5mm port, it comes with the perpetually troublesome 2.5mm port. If you email the company at support@augenus.com with proof of purchase, they'll send you a 2.5/3.5mm adapter.

Another plus is that the 7-inch screen looks good. Of course, it only 800 by 480, but for $160, what did you expect? What's far more important is that it's less of a touch-screen than it is a push screen. That's because it uses a resistive touchscreen, ala the old PalmPilots and Nokia N97, rather than the iPad's capacitive touchscreen technology. There's something to be said for both resistive and capacitive in general, but in this case, it just doesn't work.

I had to return in my first GenTouch78 when I found that that not only was I having to push rather than touch the screen to get any reaction from the resistive display either using my fingers or the included stylus, but that they screen wasn't registering right. For example, when I tried to press 'J' on the Android software keyboard, I'd end up with N. The replacement unit had better screen response, but anyone used to a good touch-screen will find it very annoying.

The device also doesn't come with any gyroscopic or accelerometer technology. What that means is that you have to manually tell the display to switch from its default landscape mode to portrait. This too is annoying.

"Specs"

In theory, the GenTouch78 has a 800MHz Telechips TCC8902 processor at its heart. It seemed slower than that to me. It turns out I was right. A tear-down of the device revealed that it's only running at 600MHz. Tisk.

It also has only 256MBs of RAM. That's fine for most Android applications, but you'll want to install Advanced Task Killer or another Android memory manager after an hour or two of non-stop use or the device will start slowing down because it's wasting time juggling programs and data. For storage, it also has 2GBs of on-board memory. If you plan on storing much on the device, you'll want to add a microSD memory card.

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