So I decided to get an android tablet. I didn’t know what I was going to use it for or if I’d even use it consistently at all. I just wanted it so I can poke around and see what I can (and want to) do with it. So I went to the local consumer electronics store and got the cheapest thing they had. Still cost me well over a hundred Euros, and I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do with it.

I booted the thing up to find a very limited Version of Android 2.3 on it. I had some problems getting it to work with my Wifi. Somehow I managed to convince it to connect to my router, and it does so very loudly. Yep, loudly: One of the speakers makes a scratching noise every time the wireless interface transmits data. The Wifi kept cutting out, too, sometimes only to be fixed with a reboot. Most of the stuff I am used to from my experience with other Android devices was missing, not even the Market / Play Store was there. Instead I found some wannabe app store program, which did nothing but inform me that “this device is not compatible”. A very pleasant first-time user experience.

Well, fortunately there’s a custom ROM for it (yeah, I checked before I bought that thing because in fact, I was expecting something like this). Installing it was easy, and everything seemed to work fine. The Play Store is there, most of the apps work (except for the calendar, which for whatever reason does not want to sync with my google account), Wifi works fine, though the noises are still there.

That’s when I found out the power supply hole had a loose connection. If I hadn’t voided whatever warranty that thing came with by flashing a custom ROM onto it, I certainly did when I cracked open the case to see what’s inside. I got the power connector fixed by soldering one of the contacts into the right spot. (I still wonder how that power supply connector is supposed to work, it seems it’s only held together by solder and thin air—presently a bit more solder than originally). It still wasn’t very stable though, so later I replaced it with a different connector, which now works fine.

Okay, power supply working again. So I took the tablet to university and connected it with the Wifi there. Worked surprisingly well, but when I got home, I found that the Wifi icon didn’t want to turn green any more, indicating that there’s no connection to the Google servers. The Twitter app, Google Reader, the Play Store and some other things didn’t work any more. I never found out why this happened; reinstalling the ROM fixed the problem, but when I came back from university the next day, the issue reappeared.

It took me several tries of flashing the ROM until I found out what causes it. You wanna guess?

That’s right: Every time the battery runs out while the device is on or in “standby” mode, something goes børken and the Google sync is gone. I haven’t found out what to do after it happens. The workaround I use now is “be careful and never let the battery run out”, which means I completely have to shut down the tablet every time I leave it unattended for more than a few hours. I installed a backup app which lets me backup my apps and settings so I can hopefully restore them should things break again. I never needed it so far.

If I had wanted a tablet to use seriously, this thing would have been a very bad choice. It hardly worked at all with the original software, and now that I’ve somehow persuaded it to do what I want, it still has its problems. But since I see it as an experiment and an opportunity to play with some piece of electronics, it’s okay. Kinda. I’ve got some good laughs out of that situation (especially the first time I heard the Wifi), and I still have a nice toy to play with and take with me, I just have to be careful the battery never runs out. Plus, I have to be prepared for any new funny quirks my tablet makes up.

Despite all the problems this thing has, I gotta say it’s nice to have the tablet. It’s a little more convenient than a laptop or netbook for things which do not involve much typing: I like using it to just browse the internets, read RSS feeds while having breakfast, have quick access to IRC and IM, and read PDFs (which my E-Reader does not deal with too well).