Monday, 01 July 2013 02:35

K-Mart Audiosonic T-17P 7" Android Tablet

Just when we think things can not get much cheaper, surprise surprise!! Along came a toy catalog in the mail from K-Mart, which I was not going to pay any attention to, except my bargain savy other half pointed out a tablet which had $69 written in a red circle. Wait, what, need to look closely. Yes, it was not some make belief toy (like those plastic laptop that plays rhymes), it was referring to Android 4.1, 4GB Memory, Wifi etc, etc. So, not a toy, could it be the real deal? 

I was curious to say the least, but at the same time had restrained expectations. What can they possibly be able to sell at that price. A decent digital photo frame costs twice as much. Anyhow, while we were at the mall making the inescapable routine shopping trip, picked up the tablet. Came home and unpacked, and apart from the tablet everything is business as usual. 

Containted a USB to Micro USB cable, a wall charger (the tablet charges via USB as well), some manuals all contained in a glossy printed box.

The Tablet
Well, the dimensions are right, 7" screen, average thickness, but its plastic all over. If placed upside down, it can be mistaken for a pencil box or something. Having said that, it is not bad in the way that its not falling apart,does not feel bad to hold, etc. Sure the choice of material used is possibly to keep the cost down (and we have all seen better), but it'll have to do. One thing that must be mentioned is that the screen is not perfect flat as we would expect from a glass surface. Non the less, the tablet has already been dropped a few times (accidentally) but no damages, so some credit is due to it being some what sturdy but would absolutely not want to push any luck.

Specifications :
(Accessed from K-Mart website as at 07/07/2013)

  • Runs Android v4.1
  • 5 Point Capacitive Multi Touch Screen
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • Internet Browsing
  • 4GB build in Memory
  • Memory Expandable to 32GB via Micro SD cardMini USB 2.0
  • 0.3 Mega Pixel Camera
  • 800 x 480 Resolution
  • Listen to Music
  • Watch Movies
  • Download apps from Google market
  • Headphone Jack

Not mentioned on the website:

  • CPU - Rockchip RK-2926
    • Single Core
    • 1GHz
    • GPU Unknown
  • 512MB RAM

Photo

Display
The resolution is not the most appealing at 800 x 480 pixcels. And while the brightness is reasonable the viewing angle suffers if tilted more than 30 degrees. The overall display is borderline acceptable, any less would have been just terrible. What I mean by that is that one can read emails, news, gossips, etc without missing out anything except images and text are not at its sharpest. Small fonts suffer from the low pixel density but for larger fonts there is no issues. Videos played over youtube etc is fine, even at HD though the screen is not HD (1280 x 720 qualifies HD, 1920 x 1080 qualifies full HD). Most apps, games etc worked fine, as majority of those were designed for low resolution smartphones, so that helps the usability. Rescued by vote of majority so to speak, but as the trend is moving towards optimisation to a higher resolution this display is standing at the door of becoming obsolete.

PhotoPhoto

Performance

This is where I was most sceptical. First of all there were not much informantion presented on the CPU. Then again will their intended market know differently if there were many technical information printed out. Besides the numbers are not that great to begin with, these days even a non technical person could tell that 512MB of RAM is not that much. But does it really suffer from it, the answer is that it depends.

General apps - News, weather, most light weight games and most garden variety apps tend to work without any issues. Youtube had no issues as mentioned, and the system pulls off the HD videos too though it is scaling down a bit as the screen is less than HD. But we do get to see the improvement in the clarity. Web browing was by most part fine, even on full versions of most sites (opting out from the mobile versions). On average up to three tabs is as far as I found it to stay calm, after that it becomes too much for the system (limited by both RAM and CPU). 

Extensive Apps - In benchmarking it took a flogging, but more on that in a sec. At the time of launching some of the benchmarking tools there were warnings that the system is low on memory, and we should close some apps to free up memory. Also, while loading some 3D applications it took a fair amount of time.

The scores from three of the benchmarks are as follows and for comparison there data form the same benchmark tests that was run on the Galaxy Galapad 7" tablet that we reviewed earlier. 

antutu

quadrant

vellamo

First thing I'll say is that the tablet managed to finish the benchmark tests without crashing which is comforting. However we are left with less than impressive scores. As we can see the nVidia Tegra 3 CPU in the Galapad scores almost double in each test with exception of Vellamo Metal. There are two reasons for that, one the Tegra 3 was able to do well with any graphics test given that it is a member of nVidia family, a graphics powerhouse and these benchmark tools often use various 2D/3D oriented tests. Secondly and more importantly the Tegra 3 is a quad core CPU clocked at ~1.3MHz while the Rockchip RK-2926 is a single core 1GHz CPU. So if we look at things in that prespective the scores did not go down by four fold but rather did half as well as a CPU that on paper is four times as powerful. 

Photo
Snapshot - 3DMark Benchmarking tool showing 8.5 FPS at the current screen

 

Camera

The forward facing camera has a slight angle to it, and that is the only camera on the tablet. It will only suffice for video chats etc, nothing fancy.

picture taken by Audiosonic.

This is a picture taken by the camera, unedited, uncompressed as it was taken. Also in its full resolution of 640x480, not a lot of pixcels but as mentioned, plenty for video chatting.

Wireless
Works. Sufficient said. If you are concerned about protecting your kids online, set up password on the network or a firewall. Plenty can be done to step up safety for kids going online, but that is a different subject to talk about. Preinstalled there is no such security software, although K-Mart is marketing this to parents to give to kids, took no action to keep them safe online, its a stock standard Android distribution, hence its a case of parents to be responcible.

Battery life
Not good! We are looking at about an hour and half of usage and then its flat. The actual capacity of the battery was not mentioned anywhere, and possibly the only way to find out would be to take it apart.

Positives for purchase
There is 1 year warranty and if there is any defect upon bringing it home, K-Mart normally takes it back and gives you full refund. Hold on to that receipt. The advantage of buying locally is that there is no postage to pay and if you needed to return it, the costs of return postage is not payable either. I have seen some similar tablets going for a little bit less with a little bit more on the specs, but a few dollars vs the peace of mind. 

Final thoughts

Well, it had everything that it says it had on that brochure. I agree it is not the best that money could buy, but then again when it comes to money we are really not forking out as much to start with. $69, did we get what we paid for, I'd say so. To compare, the Galapad that we talked about costs about $200. Mind you though, I gave it to the kids to play with, and they are happy with it, and that was what the K-Mart Advertisement was aiming towards too, kids. If you are a grown up reading this, and chances are that you are, this is not a product that I would recommend for you, but will for your kids. Not everything is for everyone, but even for adults who has less to demand out of such tablet will find it usable. Lets say for checking share prices, weather, news, emails, etc. The tablet does these things without fail. If someone was expecting a Rolls Royce of tablets, would be dissappointed but if we keep our expectations in check there is value to be realised.

'You get what you pay for', think of this in positive light and negative. Not much to pay, then again not much to get either. But over all certainly its cheap and cheerful not cheap and nasty. Having seen this up close, I am really curious as to what would be the next item to surprise me. May be if they could do this with cars, properly functional car that will take you from A to B drive away $2000, who knows...

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