Tablet for TouchDRO for $49.99

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I test TouchDRO on a number of devices ranging from 10" Galaxy Note Tab to an old LG phone with 4" screen. One of the reasons being that there are subtle differences between devices, event if the OS version and build are the same and some devices work much better than others. For years I've been recommending Google Nexus 7 or Galaxy Tab 7. I use both devices for development and in the garage and stand behind my recommendation. Unfortunately those tablets aren't cheap. Up until now the alternative was to get a no-name Chinese tablet. While these tablets cost half as much, quality of software and hardware varies wildly. For some time I've been looking for an inexpensive tablet that is readily available and offer consistent and reliable performance and finally I found one that fits the bill: Amazon Fire 7" tablet for $49.99.

When I saw it, I immediately ordered one and for several days have been putting it through a good amount of testing with the new version of the app. Besides the basic things, such as look-and-feel, reliability, performance etc., there were a few things that I wanted to hammer on based on the problems people have with Chinese tablets. First of all, I spent a good amount of time trying to break the BlueTooth stack. Second, I wanted to make sure that the dialogs are readable, usable and act predictably.

TouchDRO on Amazon Fire 7

I'm happy to report that neither ended up causing any problems. BlueTooth connection is very stable and reliable. I ran it through my standard tests and Kindle passed them with flying colors. Similarly, display layout is correct across the application, and the dialogs are formatted as expected. Furthermore, the on-screen keyboard works correctly as well (this is an issue with some off-brand tablets). Finally, such actions as creating circles with large number of points didn't appear to take any longer than on Nexus 7 or Galaxy Tab.

Dialogs and the keyboard work as expected

Overall the tablet handles TouchDRO extremely well, and frankly, I'm rather impressed with it.

Amazon Fire (bottom) next to Nexus 7

With that said, this is clearly a budget device built to a price point and Amazon clearly had to cut some corners. I didn't find any show stoppers, but there are a few things worth mentioning.

FIrst of all, the tablet feels plasticky, which should be a surprise, really. The switches feel a bit cheap and it's not clear how durable they will be. I assume Amazon specked them for a reasonable number of cycles, though, so I'm not too worried.

Second, the screen is nowhere near as nice as the ones you'd find on a top-shelf tablet. It's not an HD screen and the pixel density is somewhat low, leading to some artifacts as can be seen in the screenshot below. The viewing angle is pretty narrow as well. At 45 degree angle the screen is visibly washed out.

Low pixel density leads to some aliasing artifacts
Viewing angle is clearly narrower on Amazon Fire 7" (bottom)

Finally, the tablet is running "Fire OS" (heavily rebranded Android OS). While I wasn't able to find any compatibility issues, the UI is very different and will take some getting-used to. This also means that by default it doesn't have access to Google Play Store (although there are well documented workarounds).

Overall I can definitely recommend Kindle Fire 7" for TouchDRO. Even though it is clearly a budget tablet, it's very well executed and doesn't suffer from any of the issues I've been seeing with no-name Chinese tablets. In my experience Amazon stands behind their products and even at such low price point maintains good baseline quality. As I said earlier, the table runs TouchDRO very well. Since Kindle Fire doesn't have access to Google Play Store, though, right now the only way to install TouchDRO is to sideload it. This won't be an issue for long. Once V2.5 is ready I will publish it to Amazon's App store as well.

The bottom line: if you can afford Google Nexus 7 or Galaxy Tab 7, by all means go for it. They are great tablets and are well worth their price. If you're on the budget and don't mind the lower resolution and viewing angle display, Amazon Fire 7" is a great platform for TouchDRO.

6 comments :

  1. Any idea when TouchDRO will be available through Amazon's app store?

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  2. Any update on TouchDRO for the Amazone Fire 7" through the Amazone app store?

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    Replies
    1. There are still a few bugs in 2.5.x. Once they are fixed, I will publish to Amazon store.

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    2. Any word for kindle fire?? Thanks

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  3. After struggling to come to grips with sideloading, and the Rootjunky's "supertool",
    I found this..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLZjb_5Cj78&t=0s
    I was really glad it worked 'cause I'm not an app developer. Now your $50 tablet can walk hand-in-hand with a ten minute install. Thank you's to Yuriy and Greggles

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  4. thanks for posting this. I tried it out last night and it worked out great

    ReplyDelete