It landed on my WeTab

The A N D R O I D… has landed

It landed on my WeTab as an easy-to-install Android Starter application from the WeTab market. It’s a virtual-machine-like-emulation so the speed of apps like games is pretty poor in general. You can play only puzzle games that don’t need any high framerate. Most other static apps run fine with this speed. The Android installation comes with the AndroidPIT app store but about the half of the software there is not optimized for tablets in any way or doesn’t run on a virtual machine.

Nevertheless it’s great to have it and there are rumors that one day Android apps will run on the Intel x86 Atom CPU of the WeTab in native mode with better performance. More Info: http://www.android-x86.org/

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My WeTab

WeTab

This is my WeTab 3G 32GB, a Linux powered tablet computer designed in Germany. I have it now since about two weeks and I’m absolutely happy with it. The device is extremely versatile. It brings many features like Adobe Flash support or an integrated Webcam that have been announced or experts suspect for the second generation tablets like the Apple iPad 2 or the Motorola Xoom. The user interface of the WeTab OS (that is based on MeeGo Linux) is clearly structured and very user friendly in my opinion. The device has two USB ports, a mini HDMI port and a SD card reader. Currently no other tablet computer can provide such great connectivity options and they have actually been the reason why I bought the WeTab although the device had many negative reviews in the press and by users on Amazon. Most of the reviews refered to version 1.x of WeTab OS and are simply outdated by now. The OS is at 2.1 and updates with improvements keep coming. Reviews of the WeTab with OS 2.x often didn’t acknowledge that the device is truly open or even consider it. You don’t have to jailbreak it in order to install an alternative OS like Windows 7 or Ubuntu (just put in a slightly modified bootable USB stick into the port and there you go). On WeTab OS you can run many great open source apps known from Linux like OpenOffice, Gimp or XBMC media center and of course use free apps like Skype or Firefox (including all Add-Ons). The device installs all Adobe Air programs as apps and since one of the latest release it supports Java as well. The CPU is pretty powerful for a tablet computer. It’s a 1,66 GHz Intel® Atom™ N450 processor supported by a Crystal HD chip for hardware accelerated video decoding. In short: this is the right tablet computer for me. It’s not limited like the Apple iPad not not as expensive as a Samsung Galaxy Tab. It’s has a larger screen, it’s cheaper and much more flexible. It’s not perfect but the more time you spend with it the more you enjoy using a WeTab.

Let’s recap the Pros and list some Cons:

Pros

– USB, HDMI, SD card ports

– Adobe Flash, Air & Java support

– Full HD 1080p hardware video decoding via Crystal HD

– 1,3 Megapixel front facing Webcam

– Built in GPS and 3G with mobile ISP presets

– Large and bright 11,6“ screen

– Weight of 1020g not really a problem

– Battery time of about 5 hours is sufficient

– Customizable & easy WeTab OS pin-wall user interface

– Tons of free Linux software from various sources like portablelinuxapps.org

– Extremely engaged and vivid used community on wetabcommunity.com

– Price of the WeTab 3G 32GB is lower than the cheapest 16GB Apple iPad with 460€

Cons:

– Screen gets dark when changing the view angle too much  (meanwhile I got used to it but sometimes I wish it had a better screen)

– Active CPU fan can get loud (1.6 GHz need some cooling – in my opinion it’s an acceptable noise level though)

– Speakers are weak (I guess that’s the case for all tablet computers)

– OS hangs sometimes (I hope they fix this in one of the next software updates or at least implement some visual indication that the OS is busy)

– Integrated browser has difficulties with complex Ajax driven sites (the good thing about the integrated browser is that it’s fast and very well optimized for touch)

– Linux software not optimized for touch is difficult to use (I think about getting a wireless Speedlink FUTURA  keyboard that has a small trackpad)

– The market (kind of App Store) doesn’t have many apps currently (it will be opened for 3rd party developers soon and gain some apps I hope)

– Not available or known outside of Germany

The WeTab – the broken bicycle of Tablet computers?

A few weeks ago I posted very positively about the WeTab, an Apple iPad competitor that runs on Linux. I called it the Mercedes of Tablet computers. Since then I talked about it with colleagues, read tons of reviews and even posted questions in the WeTab Community Forum. Most people & reviews dislike the WeTab. Should I call it now the the bicycle of Tablet computers? For sure NOT!

One thing I can tell: Most negative reviews and opinions are simply outdated. I don’t have the WeTab yet but went to my local MediaMarkt electronics store to check if the allegations are true. Most of the allegations are wrong. Ok, there are  a few things that still need to be improved  but the company that designed the WeTab (meanwhile called WeTab GmbH) is still working on it and I’m sure they will do EVEYTHING they can to get things right in the long term!

The thing that I’m most worried about is the Android emulation. It’s at a very early stage right now:

Do I still want to get it? Heck, yes. Why? Because per specs the WeTab is the BEST tablet computer right now and the software will for sure improve with time. The people who designed the WeTab live the idea of open-source! For the most part of the software that comes with the WeTab I would need to pay 10$ each at the Apple App Store!

The video below shows the history of the PR-disaster around the WeTab (WePad how it was first called – video in German BTW)

Here a recent review of the WeTab at Computer Bild (in German) – they still don’t recommend it but I think they just don’t understand the idea of the WeTab: http://www.bild.de/BILD/digital/computer/2010/12/27/wetab-neue-version/tablet-pc-ipad-touchscreen-apps.html

The WeTab – the Mercedes of Tablet computers

Nope, it’s not the Volkswagen of Tablet computers. For sure not! Just read the specs but later more about that… The Apple G4 Titatnium PowerBook that we are using at home broke recently (my wife spilled water over the keyboard) and I started looking for a device that would replaced it. My first thought: the Apple iPad as it’s a great “Couch Internet Surfing Device” (it should get the acronym CISD 😀 = Tablets + Netbooks)… then I talked to my wife and she said she wants to keep watching DVDs on it (with earphones when our daughter sleeps for example). Basically that’s something you can’t do with the iPad without jail-breaking it.

After some research I found the WeTab, a tablet computer that has been in the German IT press  because of the CEO of the company who rated it positively on Amazon.de. That’s more or less illegal. Nothing uncommon in the business IMHO but he has been caught doing it. I have seen the WeTab recently in the print advertising of some large discounters too. Even MediaMarkt, the largest German electronics store chain started selling it.

The specs of the WeTab STRUCK me! Everything I waited for! USB that can connect external DVD and HD drives for watching movies and storing large photo archives. It runs Adobe Flash… very important for us as our daughter is watching free cartoons at http://www.bajkionline.com and they run only with Flash. It has a Webcam for Skype video calling with my uncle in Poland and even HDMI for connecting it to a TV! WOW! If the iPad is the Ford of tablet computers then this is truly the Mercedes. Quality made (better: designed) in Germany! …and the price?… it’s really competitive: 450€ for the basic 16GB model and 570€ for the 3G model with 32GB + GPS. Impressive! Moreover it runs the open-source MeeGo Linux that emulates Android so apps won’t be any problem in future. Productivity apps like the complete OpenOffice suite come with the WeTab too (for free – at Apple you would pay 10$ for each).

Today the Mac repair service guy called (http://www.mac-profis.de/ from Munich BTW – a great 3rd party Apple repair service) and told me the G4 is fixed (they had to replace the keyboard) but I will still get the WeTab FOR SURE! (probably around February when my company pays the bonus). The possibilities of the WeTab fully convinced me. Probably I will go for the 3G model so I can use it to surf the web while going to work with the bus.

More info: http://wetab.mobi/en

Community with Linux-fans running the WeTab with the rootshell (and without): http://wetab-community.de/index.php (German)