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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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  • 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).
  • Link to Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:16PM (#33182324) Journal

    So does this mean that Android is not truly open source, i.e. available to anyone without right holder approval?

    You can browse the source right here [kernel.org]. All of that code should be Apache 2.0 license [apache.org]. I think the issue at stake is that they took a module of code that connects to Google's Market place for Android and they're not supposed to be doing that unless they are a member of the Open Handset Alliance. It's not like Google's launching a lawsuit against them but I'd imagine Google doesn't really appreciate that. Hosting that sort of thing can't be cheap (look at how much Apple claims it loses distributing apps) and maybe that's why your membership is needed -- to support that and keep it going.

    I never realized that one had to a member of fruity club to develop Android hardware. I thought that was the point, anyone could innovate without corporate approval. It is just a gimmick to sell phones with promise of multi vendor support 'open apps', like MS?

    You can get the source yourself and do whatever the hell you want with it. Carriers and phone vendors are demonstrating that they can even lock down Android so "open" doesn't mean f-ckall to the end consumer. You want to get down and dirty and hose up your own version of Android? Go ahead and pull it from that git repository linked above and do something fancy with the sqlite phonebook tree [kernel.org] or whatever you want.

    It's open source as can be but how do you "open source" a centralized app store with tons of traffic? I guess you're free to make your own app store and as far as I know, more are emerging. With sideloading you could make it as simple as a file download as long as the user's Android supports sideloading.

  • by Troed (102527) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:16PM (#33182326) Homepage Journal

    Google's applications are not part of Android.

    Android is truly open source.

    Google's own applications aren't.

  • 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 Duradin (1261418) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:55PM (#33182598)

    Thought the iPads had free shipping. You're going to be paying taxes either way and I don't know about a recycling fee but that sounds like a state/local thing.

  • 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.

  • Re:Uber geeky? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dionysus (12737) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:40PM (#33182952) Homepage

    Like this [youtube.com]?

  • 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 turn off even more lights)
    • To mask the fact that their store is a total dump
    • To reduce the cost of replacing lights
    • Because they no longer have an employee who knows where the other light switch is

    By this time we had attracted the attention of several individuals wearing smocks similar to hers. I walked out before they decided I was threatening one of their own.

    Perhaps you should buy some zombie outbreak tape [tshirtbordello.com] before you venture in there again (if you ever do).

  • Re:Wake Up (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:04PM (#33183930)

    Not legal? Where? In your country?

    Meanwhile in the rest of the world people do this every single day. Where I live, it's illegal for a carrier to force you to use only phones sold by them. They HAVE to support any GSM phone. You walk into any mobile shop and buy a SIM card directly from the carrier themselves.

  • Re:Link to Source (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:16PM (#33184430)

    Thus providing a very widespread example of why the EFF released the GPLv3.

    FSF released the GPLv3 not the EFF.

  • Re:Uber geeky? (Score:2, Informative)

    by LordBoreal51 (1085741) * on Sunday August 08, 2010 @08:54PM (#33184654)
    If it helps, an Android hacker, http://twitter.com/thedudesandroid [twitter.com], has done some work with it, and installed a custom recovery (Clockwork). So potentially there's an opportunity for community work to port CyanogenMod, or a more functional rom to the device. But that all depends on who buys them, I suppose.
  • Re:Uber geeky? (Score:3, Informative)

    by RobertM1968 (951074) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:18PM (#33184822) Homepage Journal

    Supposedly, CyanogenMod has already been ported for it. I guess I need to look into it (maybe after I get off my lazy ass and root my G1 and install Cyanogen's Froyo on it).

    Thanks for the link, info and your perspective on it!

    Best,
    Rob

  • Re:Win7 drivers???? (Score:4, Informative)

    by RobertM1968 (951074) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:36PM (#33184928) Homepage Journal

    Why the hell would anybody with a brain expect an Android based cheap tablet to have Windows 7 drivers.

    FACT: It is an Android tablet. NOT A WIN 7 DEVICE.

    The drivers are to CONNECT it to and USE it with a Win7 machine - NOT for the tablet itself.

  • Re:Link to Source (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @10:49PM (#33185286)

    > You can browse the source right here.

    No, actually you can't. The link you provided is the official Android source code, but it does not run on the Augen tablet. According to http://mjg59.livejournal.com/126162.html [livejournal.com], the kernel source code for this tablet is not available anywhere at all, which is a blatant license violation and I hope Kmart gets sued for this. Note that while most of Android is under the Apache license, the kernel itself is still GPLv2 like any Linux kernel is, which means that it cannot be relicensed.

  • Re:Wake Up (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cimexus (1355033) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @11:46PM (#33185606)

    No - that is how most people, in most countries, buy mobile phones. They buy a handset, then shop around for a plan (or just go home and pop in the SIM card from their existing plan).

    It may be 'the minority' in the US, but it's the norm elsewhere. I haven't bought a carrier-locked phone (or, for that matter, a phone plan with a 'x month' committment) in over a decade.

  • by Legion303 (97901) on Monday August 09, 2010 @12:52AM (#33185844) Homepage

    "How long does it take to copy Apple?"

    Android tablets hit dealextreme before the iPad was out. So if we can just reverse the flow of time I can answer your question.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

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