The 50 Euro tablet

So I was ambling through the bottomless pit of despair that is Frankfurt Airport’s Terminal 1 to pass the time before my Lusthansa flight back to civilisation, when I felt the uncontrollable urge to enter one of those ‘duty free’ electronic shops sprinkled freely around the airports of this world, drawn like a particularly stupid fly to a liverwurst roll to its earphones, cameras and Iphones of pure gold. After ignoring the usual offerings by Beats for the 3gazillionst time, my eyes swiveled to a table that was decked out in tablets, particularly to one that was rather small and looked a bit podgy (the tablet, not the table). This was the Denver TAC-70111 , a 7″ tablet running Android 4.2.2 (Jellybean) by the Danish importer DENVER, sold new for 50 Euro (£ 41). I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist. This was just too tempting. While the best girlfriend ever rolled her eyes, I jumped like a little puppy to the check out, where the manager knowingly commented that they had tested the device at their shop and pronounced it better than expected.

As we had a good hour to wile away before our departure beyond the channel, I unboxed it and started to play around with it. First thoughts were obviously underwhelming: no Bluetooth, no mobile data, no camera on the back of the device. No home button. 512 MB DDR3 ram and 4 GB storage. But, it booted without problems, updated itself quickly and was by all means a fully functioning tablet, albeit with the speed of a pony that is carrying an overweight, hippophobic American tourist on Blackpool beach.

20140429_113807

Quick size comparison: Note 3, TAC-70111, Ipad Air

The screen is not particularly bright and has a sub-par resolution of 800×480, but is moderately responsive. There is a micro-SD card slot that will expand the built-in storage, a micro-usb adapter and a AC adapter, so the bare necessities are certainly there. The main problem is undoubtedly though the CPU: a single core allegedly running at 1.2 GHZ and there is no specsheet on the net that actually names it which is decidedly dodgy. JFDP Labs’ Hardware Info gives the following specs and makes the hardware manufacturer out as another Shengzen company, Itek :

Processor: ARMv7 Processor rev 2 (v7l)

Cores: 1

Max Frequency: 1200 Mhz

After many hours of research and downloading more hardware info proggies I am now convinced that this is a Allwinner A13 platform, a Chinese all-in-one computer that pretty much runs half the entertainment infrastructure of the world. Now this isn’t the world’s fastest processor and Mobo, but together with a mali 400mp graphic unit, the little thing is able to play content on the BBC’s Iplayer without hitch:

 

If this is stuttering, it’s your connection, not the tablet.

Now, for 41 quid I already had hours of geeky fun, a functioning toy to play with on the train and a possible gift for my nephew, though he’s not going to get it before I installed Cyanogenmod on it. Would I advise you to buy one? If there’s only a smidgen of nerdblood (technical term) in you, you’ll fire up your browser now and buy it this very second.  You might have more fun than that time when you tried to install OpenBSD on your first Gameboy.

Stay tuned for the report on Cyanogen insertion.

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