2011-11-10

Cambridge Sciences G7: One week in

It's now almost a week since I took delivery of my (finally working) Cambridge Sciences G7-II 7inch Android tablet so I thought I'd jot down some notes on how I've found it so far.

Overall, ignoring the "screen goes mental when plugged into the mains" problem, I'm happy with the device. I've been using it at those times when I've wanted something bigger and easier to handle that my HTC Desire HD but, at the same time, haven't wanted to pull out the Chromebook. It feels right in the hand (albeit somewhat heavy -- I can't imagine me ever using this instead of the Kindle as a ebook, for example) and, despite the fact that there's no feedback like I get on my phone, the screen is fine for typing on.
Overall, for the money, I'm happy with the purchase.
That said, here's a few niggles and observations:
  • The battery status seems to be way off. Even after a full charge it tends to only show 93% full. It then seems to fall very quickly then ease up a little. I often also find that when I turn it off and turn it on again the battery will come back as showing having a higher charge than when I turned it off. This then falls rapidly back to where it was when I turned it off. All that said, the battery status seems roughly right so I've yet to find myself caught out by a low battery I didn't expect.
  • Out of the box the auto-complete that's part of the keyboard doesn't appear to have a British English dictionary. Because of this the only auto-complete options you get when you're typing are things it can complete from the device's local data (application names, contact names, etc...). This is a bit of a serious issue but not one without a solution. Although it's essentially the same keyboard I installed Gingerbread Keyboard+ (which does have a British English dictionary) and have made that my keyboard instead. This is the keyboard I use on my phone anyway so not only does it solve the problem, it makes me feel more at home.
  • There seems to be a pre-installed copy of EF File Explorer that can't be updated from the Android market. Any time I try and update it I get an error saying it's incorrectly signed. Bit of a shame because I use EF File Explorer.
  • While I do appear to have and be connected to the UK Android Market with the tablet some apps seem to be missing. For example, the UK Amazon app (the one that lets you shop from Android) isn't anywhere to be seen. Same goes for the Box.net app.
  • While I haven't had any of the WiFi problems some have reported in the reviews on Amazon (I imagine those problems have more to do with their WiFi setup than a problem with the tablet) I have found that it can be a little temperamental at times. Now and again I've had to stop and start WiFi to coax it fully into life. I also note that, if the unit has fully turned off and I've then turned it on again, I have to manually start WiFi. Not a big deal.
  • From time to time it seems to fully power off after some time in sleep mode. I've not worked out if there's a reason for this, or if it can be changed. Neither does there seem to be a set time between being put into sleep mode and it turning itself fully off. This, again, makes for a mild annoyance because, most of the time, it means you can't just pick it up and do stuff -- there's a boot time you have to wait around for. While it's not terribly long (I've not timed it but I'd say around 60 seconds) it does mean it can take longer to get the tablet up and running than it can to get the Chromebook going.
And, so far, that's pretty much it. No show-stopper. Nothing that makes me hate it and want to send it back. It's not perfect, but then again it's around 1/2 the price of tablets that try to be.

29 comments:

  1. fantastic review - thanks for this.

    a couple of questions though:
    - how long do you normally get between charges?
    - is it good as a portable movie player device?
    - is the OS upgradable to any newer version of Android?

    thanks!

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  2. I've not actually timed it so I can't really say how long I get between charges. It gets used for about 1/2 hour each morning (catching up on stuff on the net over the first coffee) and here and there in an evening and, I think, I probably put it on charge a couple of times a week.

    Can't say what it's like for movies as I've never used it for that.

    As for OS upgrades... sorry, no idea.

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  3. I have this problem to with the android market and apps also double up like opera mobile browser some apps are there one week and gone the next. There is no info on the company witch is odd. I wonder if there is a way to root the device and solve the problem I was hoping to do this when I bought it in the first place but no instructions online ether

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    1. you need correct time & date set to connect in browser.try clear cache in market app

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  4. Hi Dave, I don't know whether you can help me with this. I've been searching the web but can't find anything. I was given one of these for Christmas. It's been fine but then yesterday I could not power it off. I can switch it off using the on/off button, but not power it off or put it into stand-by mode. Any thoughts. I can not find anywhere to go for help. Thanks

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  5. To the first Anonymous above this post: you're right, the company behind the retailing of this tablet in the UK do appear to be hard to reach. When I did some searching when I was first looking at this I noted that a few people mentioned this.

    The only way I've found to contact them is via their Amazon page. To be fair to them, the couple of times I needed to contact them, they did respond (and, in the first instance, responded very quickly). Perhaps it's worth trying that route?

    As for the market issue, that seems to be getting worse and worse. As it is, while I still have it, I've swapped tablets recently (over the Christmas period) and now use an Acer A100 (Android 3.2, fully supported -- just had an over-the-air update this week, for example) so I've not been using the G7. However, when I've added apps from the web-based Android market (I did this a lot during the 10-days-for-£0.10 promo just before Christmas) I've noticed that the compatible devices list almost always shows that the G7 isn't compatible.

    When I get the time I'm tempted to see if it's possible to install a custom Android image on it.

    To the second Anonymous: sorry, that's not a problem I ever experienced. All I can suggest is that, if the person who purchased the gift for you purchased it from Amazon, have them contact the seller via there.

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  6. hi Dave, just a few bits to add as I got one of these for christmas, and it does in deed seem very hard to find any info, and updating to newer android doesn't seem an option at the moment. At first I thought they where a herotab c8 re-branded but after trying to flash it I now own a tablet sized paper weight ...

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  7. Damn, sorry to hear that Joe. It would be so handy if it were possible to flash it to something else.

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  8. I'm writing on one of these now. Apart from the auto-complete issue on the keyboard the only problem I have is with the hdmi output which is not producing sound through the telly even with the audio enabled.
    I'm going to try and contact somebody about this but judging from the comments on here that won't be easy.

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  9. My tablet also went crazy when I plugged the charger in so I didn’t use it when on charge. Last week I plugged it in to be charged and the charger broke.

    I went onto amazon and found this guy selling replacement chargers for Cambridge Science tablets, so I take it this is a problem with the chargers.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cambridge-Sciences-Android-replacement-adaptor/dp/B006GGP5OS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1328714809&sr=8-3

    The charger arrived today but I haven’t used it yet.

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  10. i would really like to root the device but i cant find this s5p otg usb driver any help welcome

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  11. Sorry, not something I know anything about.

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  12. May be of interest to those who want to know what's in the Cambridge Sciences tablets, or who fancy flashing a custom rom/unbricking ... http://www.slatedroid.com/topic/13861-herotab-c8dropad-a8-known-issues-problems-not-working/page__st__240

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  13. Has it ever frozen on you and if so, how did you fix it?

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  14. Sorry, no, never had it freeze up on me.

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  15. I found your blog whilst searching Cambridge Sciences in the vain hope of fixing my StarPAD 3G Dual camera....which I have had for exactly TWO HOURS!. It didn't shut down properly, with a power-off menu, but just went black. Now it won't load up again. Ho Hum. I think it's been used before...the box is tatty and the packaging has been opened. Luckily I got it via Amazon so hope for a refund. Not sure whether to trust the vendor again with a replacement. Where did you get yours?
    Regards, Ligs.

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  16. Hi Dave, seems to be alot of complaints about this product, I was wondering if it was one of those Chinese products, all glitz, no performance, oh and cheap.

    Ps great article ... keep up the good work ...

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  18. Very poor Tablet sent back to QS 4/5 times for replacement / repair Complaint to amazon "Tuff Luck" from amazon

    Now I have a problem with the WI FI till not stay on just turns off after 5 10 secs

    Looking to brick it , if I can't the it's gonna get bricked.

    If you have have on of these tablets you will be lucky if its still working by the time you read this.

    DO NOT BUY DO NOT BUY BE WARNED

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  19. I have a problem some apps I have paid for wont work they did on my old android. ie need for speed most wanted plus others.
    can you help
    cheers mark

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  20. I have a vector G7 running android 2.3.1 but can't activate GPS or Bluetooth. Any fix for this .
    Gordon

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    Replies
    1. The Vector G7 does not have bluetooth or GPS built in.

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  21. Am trying to get a dongle to connect to my Star Pad 7 but it will not fire up. The instructions, and the person I spoke to at Cambridge Sciences, said just use an mini to standard USB adadpter to plug the dongle into the mini USB port (not to full-size USB) + it will be fine!
    I have a dongle listed on their list as being supported (Huawei E1750) but when I put it in it does not 'fire up' + is not recognised ( it tells me to "insert the ethernet dongle before setting ethernet info").
    If I plug it into the USB port the dongle fires up + is recognised as a memory stick! They have told me that the problem is with either the dongle, which works fine elsewhere, or the UB adapter (I have tried 3 leads as well as the adapter). I have had no problem using WiFi, but need the dongle for internet connection away from WiFi hotspots. Has anyone else had this problem? Does anyone else have a solution?

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    1. All sorted now! I ignored the instructions and just plugged the full-sized USB dongle into the full-sized UB port and hey presto it now recognises it as a internet-access dongle. It now works perfectly on the "3" network and it will be easy to get local, pre-paid SIM cards to access the net when I'm abroad! So much for instruction manuals!

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  22. Help got starpad 7 8gb powered off last night,came to it this morning and its stuck in reboot mode.reset tablet via tiny hole,still no joy. Reset with sim and memorycard in, reset without. Left it like this all day to drain battery reset again then put it on charge. But still not working tryed power and minus volume down for 10th secs still no joy. any suggestions? Regards Paul (tombstone13666@gmail.com)

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  23. anyone know how you can use the google android market? the pre installed market is hopeless.

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  24. Good luck with anyone buying Cambridge Sciences goods. Be aware that you will probably only get 6 months warranty from Quality Stores (if they are still operating under that name). I bought a tablet from them via Amazon but the battery pack expanded and popped the back off the unit. Nice looking tablet but looks aren't everything and the attitude of the seller in my case was horrendous, to say the least. Cowboy trader.

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