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Kmart Briefly Offers $149 Android Tablet 245

Posted by kdawson
from the attention-shoppers dept.
pickens writes in with word that Kmart put an Android tablet on sale for $149 — and quickly sold out. "A Kmart circular came out last week with an uber-geeky product that perked up a few ears in the gadget community. Augen's 7-inch Gen-78 Android tablet which runs Android 2.1 is on sale for $150 (normally $170). The tablet is as bare bones as it gets, but it does work and has some features which may interest those who can't reconcile the $500+ price of Apple's iPad. Features include Android 2.1 (no skinning), 7" 800x480 Display, WiFi 802.11G, 2GB of storage +SD card slot (up to 32GB), 256MB of RAM (same as iPad), HDMI out for 720P viewing on an external display, an eBook reader, YouTube app, and Maps. ... 'I'll be honest,' writes Seth Weintraub. 'I don't trust my toddler with an iPad but this thing will be great for watching Gumby (don't ask) at home and Sesame Street in the car.'" It seems that Kmart offered rainchecks to those who found the item sold out at their local store — up until July 31. It is not clear whether after the retailer restocks the pipeline, they will stop at fulfilling the rainchecks, or will offer the Augen tablet again to new buyers. An update to the article notes that Augen does not have a license for Android from Google, and therefore the Android Store is not supported on it.
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Kmart Briefly Offers $149 Android Tablet

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:50PM (#33182116) Journal
    From LaptopMag [laptopmag.com] Google said:

    Augen included proprietary Google software in their product via an unauthorized vendor. Google only licenses its software to partners and OHA [Open Handset Alliance] members directly.

    And Augen's CEO responded [laptopmag.com] saying it was unintentional:

    the Google Mobile Service and Android Apps were pre installed during the development process on our tablets for testing purposes, and were not removed unintentionally before releasing the products in the market place. Google and Augen came to a mutual understanding that the Google Mobile Services Application Suite pre-installed on the GENTOUCH/ GENBOOK Series; could not be removed due to technological constraints for the products that were sold, shipped, or already produced. For future production runs and deliveries, Augen will block and remove the Google Mobile Services Application Suite from the current devices until further notice.

    Augen is not listed as a member of the Open Handset Alliance [openhandsetalliance.com]. Augen's website [augenus.com] still says:

    The GENTOUCH78 is a sleek Android powered tablet with a 7” touch screen that connects you with hundreds of your favorite applications from the App Store.

    But does not indicate which "App Store."

  • Uber geeky? (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordBoreal51 (1085741) * on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:50PM (#33182118)
    For those unfamiliar with this ultracheap Augen tablet, I'll do my best to sum it up: it's an unusable POS that somehow made it into production (apparently in limited quantities). It has a *resistive* touchscreen (hello 2004), a buggy and nearly unusable implementation of Android 2.1, and mediocre hardware specs which make the G1 feel like it's from the future. I hoped this would make a decent device to play around with for Android hacking and some kernel development, but it's a huge disappointment in nearly every respect. Really, it's not worth it, no matter how cheap it is. You'd have better luck buying an old HTC Magic (MyTouch) from ebay if you want a device to play around with (even with a substantially smaller screen, it's a better experience all around).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      it's a huge disappointment in nearly every respect

      Sounds like exactly the kind of merchandise I would expect to see sold at KMart. For that matter, it is a pretty good summary of the KMart shopping experience.

      • Re:Uber geeky? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RobertM1968 (951074) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:16PM (#33184426) Homepage Journal

        it's a huge disappointment in nearly every respect

        Sounds like exactly the kind of merchandise I would expect to see sold at KMart. For that matter, it is a pretty good summary of the KMart shopping experience.

        I was debating modding you troll or replying... you can guess which won out.

        First, when there aren't cheap, low end options, everyone complains - now, when there is an entry level option, you complain.

        Second, KMart sells cheap stuff at cheap prices? OMFG!!!!! So the hell what? That's what they are there for. Not everyone can afford to buy a $500 bookcase or $200 pants. If you want something cheap, go to KMart. If you have the money to spend (or waste, depending on how much), then shop elsewhere.

        It's really not like people go to KMart, expect to spend $20 on a bookcase, or $150 on an Android tablet and think they are getting top of the line products. KMart isnt trying to fool anyone, and no one is being fooled or is so deluded that they think anything different than what I outlined.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          First, when there aren't cheap, low end options, everyone complains - now, when there is an entry level option, you complain.

          I encourage you to go back and re-read my comment; it isn't very long. I did not at any time complain about the product itself; how could I when I haven't seen one? Rather, I was pointing out the "KMart experience".

          Second, KMart sells cheap stuff at cheap prices? OMFG!!!!! So the hell what?

          Again, go back and re-read the comment.

          It's really not like people go to KMart, expect to spend $20 on a bookcase, or $150 on an Android tablet and think they are getting top of the line products.

          I didn't say that they would. However, as I stated, the KMart shopping experience has become a torturous act. KMart has decided to not only carry crappy products (which arguably are appropriate for the price) but they have also decided to shaft the cu

          • I encourage you to read my later comment... :-)

            http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1747422&cid=33184812

    • by gilesjuk (604902)

      I think this is why it is selling. It's a ropey cheap piece of junk that is "good enough" to give to the kids for them to play with and ultimately break.

    • by westlake (615356)

      For those unfamiliar with this ultracheap Augen tablet, I'll do my best to sum it up: it's an unusable POS that somehow made it into production

      Just wonderful. Another bottom feeder to poison Linux sales in big box retail.

    • Re:Uber geeky? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DrXym (126579) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:29PM (#33182416)
      It has a *resistive* touchscreen (hello 2004),

      Don't believe the hype about capacitive. If you intend to take notes on a device then capacitive by itself is absolutely fucking useless. To take notes you have to finger paint like a child rather than write properly with a stylus. Any device pitched at students / ereaders really should have resistive functionality. Apparently there are hybrid screens that offer the best of both worlds.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LordBoreal51 (1085741) *
        I've owned touchscreen devices since the Palm III, and I have to say, I can't stand resistive touch screens any more. I would sacrifice stylus input for no-pressure-required screen interaction any day.
        • Re:Uber geeky? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DrXym (126579) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:15PM (#33182754)
          That's why I suggested hybrid devices. There is no doubt capacitive is more responsive for finger gestures but for writing it stinks badly. Capacitive devices including the iPad are useless for note taking. The best of both worlds would be something that handles a light touch via capacitive but allows pressure based sensing too for handwriting.
      • by Weezul (52464)

        The N900's resistive screen does not require much pressure and seems fairly responsive for gestures. I'm doubtful that multitouch gestures are doable on N900, but the underlying pressure issue was solved.

    • For those unfamiliar with this ultracheap Augen tablet, I'll do my best to sum it up: it's an unusable POS that somehow made it into production (apparently in limited quantities). It has a *resistive* touchscreen (hello 2004), a buggy and nearly unusable implementation of Android 2.1, and mediocre hardware specs which make the G1 feel like it's from the future. I hoped this would make a decent device to play around with for Android hacking and some kernel development, but it's a huge disappointment in nearly every respect.

      Really, it's not worth it, no matter how cheap it is. You'd have better luck buying an old HTC Magic (MyTouch) from ebay if you want a device to play around with (even with a substantially smaller screen, it's a better experience all around).

      While your post may seem informative and/or interesting, I have a few questions to ask you:
      (1) Have you bought one and tested it?
      (2) Why does your "review" sound very much like the one Engadget posted a week ago (with the "huge dissappointment" part tagged on to it)?

      Buy one, test it, then come back. Until then, I put no stock in your "review"

  • The KMart closest to me is such a dump it makes the local Wal-Mart look like Macy's. Even if the local store was giving them away for free, I probably wouldn't be able to find them in the store, nor would I be able to find an employee in the store who could find it for me. The last time I went into the store not only did it look like a small tornado went through the store, the only "employee" (using the term very loosely) I could find was the rent-a-cop security guard at the front door, who was old enough
    • by emj (15659) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:03PM (#33182236) Homepage Journal
      Visiting KMart in Left4Dead 2 doesn't count as going outside.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Which is why Walmart has been eating Kmart's luch since the 80s. You describe the two kmarts near me (seperated from each other by 10 miles) down to a tee. There have been instances where I thought one or other has been closed down, because the parking lots have never seen a repaving or resealing in 30 years, lack of cars, and general run-down appearance but no, for some reason they are still open. But no life in them and just expensive relatively.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dee Ann_1 (1731324)
      That's exactly what happened to the K-Marts in this area (SE Texas) just before they shut them all down about 9-10 years ago.
      They got trashy and you couldn't find anyone to help you with anything. It was really sad to see that happen.
      I liked having an alternative to Walmart, as those were really the only two department stores in the area.
      The other option is to drive way out to the extremely over-priced mall where they sell the same quality imported crap, just at greatly inflated prices and snottier sale
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by RocketRabbit (830691)

        Do what I do, and just order your shitty Chinese crap from China. There are plenty of vendors there who are willing to ship individual items. Housewares? How about 50 cents for that steel ladle, not $15. Shipping is not expensive from China either, and is in fact extremely prompt for me. Import duties are now so low as to be inconsequential.

        Order a bunch of stuff at once, and cut out the middleman. Having hundreds of thousands of giant stores to display stuff from China is infeasible and I don't pity

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by iYk6 (1425255)

          There are plenty of vendors there who are willing to ship individual items.

          Citation needed. Please?

          What you say sounds awesome, but it runs counter to my experiences looking for many things that I have tried to find on the internet but can only find at my local retail and grocery stores. Where can we find a $15 ladle for 50 cents? What other kind of Made in China stuff can we get? Do we have to know how to read Chinese?

    • by Animats (122034) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:29PM (#33182422) Homepage

      The store had neither a cashier nor a customer service employee at the front

      Many years ago, I had a similar experience in a J.C. Penny store in New Jersey. I had just moved, and was buying an armload of bedding, curtains, and towels the middle of a weekday afternoon. So I had a stack of merchandise about three feet high. I couldn't find any store staff anywhere on the floor. So I went to a checkout, picked up the phone behind the counter, and dialed 0. I told the store operator "I'd like to speak to the store manager. This is an unhappy customer." The store manager was put on, and I told him I was in linens, ready to pay, and unable to find a store employee.

      About two minutes later, five people show up. One was the store manager. He wasn't the senior person present. Higher management was visiting the store that day. The oldest, a distinguished looking man in a very good suit, quite possibly the CEO of the chain, personally unlocked the register and competently handled the sale. The others stood there silently, looking very uncomfortable. One was sent off to find the missing retail staff.

      By now, there were three other customers lined up behind me with merchandise ready to check out. The person sent off to find the sales staff returned from some back rooms, reporting that he couldn't find anyone. Visible annoyance from the senior management. Fear from the store manager.

      The senior manager turned the register over to one of the junior people (not a clerk, part of the corporate group) to handle the rest of the line, and the management group departed, taking the store manager off to his fate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mjblecha (411716)

      You're far too kind.

      The KMart I walked into could have been used as a set for a dystopian future reality "Escape from New York" style movie. There was neither customer nor cashier in any of the check out lanes. The woman behind the counter at the service desk had the demeanor of someone waiting for a bus.

      Once I got her attention I gave her the SKU. She told me they did not carry that item. I asked if a rain check was possible and she told me they don't do rain checks. I informed her she was standing un

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        The KMart I walked into could have been used as a set for a dystopian future reality "Escape from New York" style movie. There was neither customer nor cashier in any of the check out lanes. The woman behind the counter at the service desk had the demeanor of someone waiting for a bus.

        After reading your comment I realized that I forgot to mention that the local KMart I described, on top of all the things wrong with it that I already mentioned, had half their lights off when I walked in (during normal business hours). Allegedly they had half the lights off "to save on energy consumption".

        I'm pretty sure that was just the publicly stated reason, and the lights were as they were for one (or more) of:

        • To find out how many of their customers are too blind to notice (after which they'll tu
    • by leamanc (961376)

      While my local KMart isn't quite the dystopia you describe (there are usually cashiers at at least half the checkout lanes), it does appear to have been hit by a tornado, with the shelves having not been stocked since 1987 or so. New merchandise is there, but just randomly strewn about. And don't bother asking anyone where anything is.

      It's just so depressing to walk in the place. I've just been there in the last couple of years to find Wii games that my kid wanted and were sold out elsewhere. Sure eno

      • by cgenman (325138)

        I've actually found that KMart is a treasure trove of hard-to-find or out-of-print games. They seem to update their shelves so infrequently (and nobody buys them anyway) that rare titles seem to be plentiful. Sears can also be a veritable gold mine of out-of-print games.

  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:11PM (#33182286) Homepage Journal

    I would love a tablet computer. but not a really tiny one. Vendors: Start making tablets that have an unlocked bootloader, run android, and are at least 10" (ideally 12" or bigger). If you make that at a reasonable price, I will even locate and visit a local K-Mart to get it.

  • this thing will be great for watching Gumby (don't ask) at home and Sesame Street in the car.

    I'm not sure if I know what that is supposed to mean

    I'm not not even sure that I want to know, but, "have fun with that."

    Remember the first law of 'merikan sex . . . "Do it in the dark . . . with your clothes on."

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:15PM (#33182320)

    Someone is trying to make the cost seem psychologically higher - the retail price for the cheapest iPad is $499, not $500+.

  • The Eken M001 - also an Android tablet can be easily obtained on eBay for just over $100.

    But I don't recommend it, either. The hardware ought to be capable of reasonable response - but the software is so slow as to be ~unusable.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:25PM (#33182388)
    Ebay is filled with auctions for android tablet devices circling $99. Most seem to be something called an Eken aBook running Android. Charitably it looks functional, less charitably it looks cheap and nasty. There are a few models one which looks gaudy, another which is an iPad ripoff shell and another somewhere in between. Despite being pitched as an iPad knock off it does demonstrate one thing - there is no reason that tablet devices should cost $500 upwards.

    I expect when bigger players come along that we'll see some decent Android based tablets for $200 offering comparable functionality to the iPad with none of the downsides.

    • by willy_me (212994) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:53PM (#33182584)

      I expect when bigger players come along that we'll see some decent Android based tablets for $200 offering comparable functionality to the iPad with none of the downsides.

      No, quality components simply cost more then the cheap ones used on those garbage devices. I would guess that quality Android devices will retail in the $300 to $400 price range. When this happens, Apple will drop their prices accordingly. The outrageously high price for the iPad is simply due to a lack of competition.

      Once more manufacturers start producing quality components for such tablets, the prices will come down. This requires high demand for such components - something that is starting right now thanks to Android. Well, Apple also helps in this regard but they limit the number of component suppliers (as all companies do) thereby making it harder for other manufacturers to enter the market. Android opens up the market giving manufacturers the required incentive to compete. This helps everyone - even Apple.

      Oh, and eBay will always have cheaper devices. They generally ship from Hong Kong, offer no warranty or support, and illegally bypass local tariffs and taxes. They usually ship as personal mail with an outrageously low declared value. Legally, you are supposed to declare such purchases but nobody does.

      • by DrXym (126579) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:21PM (#33182804)
        No, quality components simply cost more then the cheap ones used on those garbage devices. I would guess that quality Android devices will retail in the $300 to $400 price range. When this happens, Apple will drop their prices accordingly. The outrageously high price for the iPad is simply due to a lack of competition.

        I see no reason that this should be so. I see no reason at all that something with better build quality and performance than a $99 tablet shouldn't occupy a price slot considerably less than an iPad. After all netbooks manage it and have as many, if not more components & costs to worry about than a tablet.

        • by willy_me (212994)

          Well the teardown of an iPad resulted in an estimated production cost of ~$300. It would be very unlikely that an Android device with comparable hardware would sell for any less then $400. Only $100 profit is a very slim margin - especially when you still have to consider all the other costs of doing business.

          Here is a link [telecomasia.net] to the teardown article.

          I see no reason that this should be so.

          But it obviously is. It takes time and money to make a quality device. Give them some time and you will get your quality $200 device - but it is still sev

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Perhaps not $500, but you are at the very least getting a known-quantity for the quality of an iPad - you said it yourself, the $99 tablets look cheap and nasty, even if they are functional. Quality Android devices are going to be more than $99.

      I'm sure the price will fall somewhere in between as the products mature, and we see the second gen iPad.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        I acknowledged a quality device would cost more but I see no reason why it should cost $500. I bought a netbook for half the price of an iPad and I see no reason that tablets should be priced any differently. Even if a screen might cost more, the device saves in other ways such as no HDD, lower CPU spec, lower memory, no keyboard, no power brick, smaller packaging. I fully expect to see very acceptable Android powered brand name tablets starting from $200 up before long.
  • Saw a review of it on Youtube. It looks like a piece of crap. It's a shame, I hope they come out with a quality one soon. With at least a Snapdragon CPU in it.

  • I got one of these (Score:5, Informative)

    by Osty (16825) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:05PM (#33182668)

    I put in a rain check with my local KMart early on during the sale, and I just got mine yesterday. Therefore they must be filling the pipeline, albeit slowly (I was told only five units came in). Out of the box, the device has a number of problems:

    • No Windows 7 drivers at all. There are XP/Vista drivers for 32-bit that may work, but there are no drivers for 64-bit. Flashing does work when you put the device into "fastboot" mode, but for standard connecting it might be a while before there are drivers.
    • There's an update to add screen calibration and a working recovery mode, but see above about drivers.
    • Market doesn't work. The device is missing an Android ID with no way to create a new one from the device itself. This is fixable [slatedroid.com].
    • Once Market is working, you'll often find that it doesn't want to start any downloads. The problem is that the cache for Market is too small, so once you've downloaded a couple of apps there's no more room for it to download more. This is fixable by frequently clearing the Market cache.
    • Every device has the same MAC address. This is not really an issue until you get multiple devices on the same network. This should be solvable with a software MAC change, but it's indicative of Augen being forced to release this early to satisfy KMart's sale. Augen wasn't planning on shipping until later in the fall, when they would've had time to sort out a lot of these problems.
    • There is no HDMI output despite claims to the contrary, no accelerometer for orientation changes, the headphone jack is a 2.5" jack rather than the US standard 3.5", and the MicroSD card slot is poorly design such that it's very possible to push the card into the body of the device rather than getting it into the socket. Not a whole lot that can be done about these hardware flaws with a software update.

    I spent a fair chunk of yesterday getting everything working on my device. After rooting, adding shortcuts to manually rotate, changing the launcher since the default won't rotate to portrait mode, getting Market working, etc, the device is in pretty good shape. There's no way someone's parents or grandparents should buy this device, but for a geek who's reasonably comfortable following instructions from hackers it's a neat little device with decent hardware for a good price.

    Too bad the resistive screen sucks. But that's not Augen's fault. All resistive touch screens suck once you've used capacitive.

    • Thanks for the excellent review.

      Final analysis: Wait for version 4, when more of the problems will be fixed.
    • by mobby_6kl (668092)

      Those complaints don't seem so serious for a $150 device, except maybe the MAC address issue. You're wrong about resistive screens though, I found my old PDA after having used an HTC Desire for a few months, and it was great to be able to feel the screen again, as opposed to having to smudge my finger all over the immovable screen surface of my Desire to do anything. I'd settle for a capacitive/digitizer hybrid though.

      Have you tried any media playback? This seems like it could be a pretty nice carputer for

    • by ignavus (213578)

      These comments apply pretty well to my new "ePad" - a 7 inch tablet running Android 1.6: http://www.pioneercomputers.com.au/products/info.asp?c1=183&c2=185&id=3172 [pioneercomputers.com.au]

      It cost AUD$199 and has a pretty crappy protective film over the screen (lots of air bubbles in the top half - managed to clear most of them away - not a show stopper, just not brilliant).

      The Wifi packed it in within the first day - it hangs and reboots after a couple of minutes. But it does have ethernet and I don't *need* to use the Wifi

    • Sounds like you got exactly what you paid for :) Seriously tho, this experience versus buying an iPad...? They might get it right in the end, but 'in the end' is too late for a lot of people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Phoobarnvaz (1030274)
      I have an Asus EEE 701 4G Surf with a 7" screen/no webcam and 1 GB of memory that will run either XP/Linux. You can also find them on Ebay between $75-125 US.

      With several netbook versions of Linux...I can make any computer act like Android...except for the touch screen function. I can even rotate the screen and use it as a book reader.
    • by wowbagger (69688)

      The Novel isn't much better than what people are saying about the Kmart device. The "Android" that it has is locked down to the point that you can buy books from Barnes and Nobel, read the books from B&N, sort-of surf the net (with a very limited version of Safari that doesn't support enough Javascript to run Google Maps, doesn't do Flash, doesn't play videos other than MP4, won't stream ANY media (it can only download to local storage, then play from there). The media player can play media in the inter

  • $149 is expensive for a 7 inch picture frame. And that is all this piece of sh!t is good for. To under powered for web or video and the screen is unacceptable for ebook reading.

    • If you have actually used it, then when? There have been a firmware upgrades that have made a big difference.

      Actually, I very much doubt that you have used it, or if you have, if you are giving it a fair review.

      Take a look at the demos on youtube. The device is really not that bad at all.

      It is certainly capable for watching movies, reading books, listening to music, etc.

  • Kmart: "I am shocked, SHOCKED there is android piracy going on"
    Clerk: "Your android tablet sir..."

    If google needed proof of market demand for it...

  • by Macrat (638047) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:48PM (#33184988)
    I haven't seen one in a decade.

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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