Unleashing the power of Tegra-2
Patrick Mannion, Director of Content - December 15, 2011
The less-than-$300, Android 2.2-based ViewSonic gTablet has the horsepower to make it competitive with high-end devices—that is, if you have the stomach and time for rooting and hacking. The device uses a 1-GHz Nvidia Tegra-2 dual-core ARM A9 processor and has a 10.1-in. display with 1025×600-pixel resolution. It’s got all the bells and whistles needed for video, audio, and wireless connectivity, with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but no GPS, a 1.3M-pixel, front-facing camera, and a 3650-mAhr lithium-ion battery. However, out of the box, the gTablet is sluggish and a bit clunky and awkward.
Whichever way you go, the cost makes it a decent deal for the holidays, but with lots of competition, such as the Vizio VTAB1008. The Amazon Kindle Fire is sucking up all the oxygen, and its hype might suffocate the gTablet and the Vizio. From what I’m seeing, though, I’m not eager to buy into the Amazon ecosystem.
1. Part of the device’s clunkiness may be due to the installed Tap ’n Tap user interface, and part is due to the general form factor. It’s too big to be pocket-portable and too small to be a real high-end display. However, it has a low-cost screamer of a processor, and that feature, combined with less-than-stellar security, has led to a subculture of rooters and hackers who can turn the gTablet into a powerful portable multimedia system.
Rooting a tablet voids the warranty, of course; if you have problems, you’re on your own. As one attendee at the recent ARM TechCon pointed out, rooting the device is a case of caveat emptor, but, if you’re the rooting type, that caveat presents even more of a challenge to do it. I didn’t get around to doing so before my teardown. For more on rooting, read “New Guide for Rooting the ViewSonic gTablet,” by Ray Waldo, or “Do not root your gTablet."
2. The ViewSonic gTablet’s key components include four 4-Gbyte Hynix HY5PS1G831C FP S6 DRAM modules, a Texas Instruments’ TPS658621A lithium- ion power-management controller, an SMSC USB251 USB 2.0 controller hub, and a USI WM BN Wi-Fi+Bluetooth module.
See more about the gTablet here.
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