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Kmart Briefly Offers $149 Android Tablet 245

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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  • 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 to be my grandfather. The store had neither a cashier nor a customer service employee at the front went I left (after abandoning my purchase on the cash register belt).
  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <pgunn01@gmail.com> 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.

  • by Dee Ann_1 ( 1731324 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:27PM (#33182404)
    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 sales people.

    The local Walmart is deteriorating just like the old K-Mart did. The theft problem is so bad that they quit bothering to stock a lot of basic things and I have to drive out of town to another Walmart to find just about anything.
    I don't know about electronics but clothes and shoe? Nothing. All they sell now are warm up pants and flip flops.
    I'll bet the electronics dept is stripped clean. I expect the local Walmart here will shut down within 5 years.

    I would have liked to have one of these little things to read e-books in bed.

    Now there are no K-Marts in Texas. :-(
    You have to drive out of state now. :-(
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by mjblecha ( 411716 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:38PM (#33182478) Homepage

    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 under a sign that proclaimed a "Rain Check Policy" but she held her ground and told me rain checks weren't done there.

    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.

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

    by LordBoreal51 ( 1085741 ) * on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:39PM (#33182482)
    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.
  • 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.

  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:30PM (#33182864)

    That's the opposite of where I live. K-Mart's (specifically the "Super" K-Mart's) are so much nicer than any Wal-Mart around.

    The local Wal-Marts (there are at least 3, maybe 4 within 10 miles) all suck. The stores and the people in them are trashy as all hell, kind of like a mix between a leper colony and a prison.

    K-Mart's on the other hand are nice despite the oldest store being at least a decade older than the oldest Wal-Mart and the people in them are so much nicer than Wal-Mart.

    Probably depends on where you live. I won't go in a Wal-Mart around here both on principle and because of the uncleanliness and urchins that lurk at them.

  • by LesFerg ( 452838 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:01PM (#33183920) Homepage

    I just got one of those from DealExtreme. Not ready to make a final judgement just yet but not excessively impressed so far.

    It is running android 1.6, no clear indication at this stage if it is possible to upgrade it.

    Wifi was working briefly then it seemed to start rebooting whenever a wifi connection was established, may be a config issue, need time to sort that out.

    Eth connection fails to make a DHCP connection, got it working after typing in gateway, DNS etc myself.

    Android Market appears to think it is working, but after registering an account I get to the download stage and it freezes. Cleared cache and tried every stoopid solution I could find from only about an hour of googling and reading. Hopefully I will find a more useful help site after I get more time to investigate this.

    Downloaded a free PDF reader and managed to get reasonable access to a ebook, which is the main reason I got this thing. Would like to see a better PDF reader with useful navigation interface, but I will have to use a freebie until I can find a way to use the market thing.

    So how is the uninformed user supposed to know if a product can actually use Android Market before buying? Ok I didn't have high expectations from ordering a cheapie from a foreign country, but this seems just a little bit ermm.. under tested? ill prepared? Or is it the Google software at fault? Really, I don't understand why it would freeze and offer no suggestion whatsoever on how to diagnose what went wrong; if the product is not licensed with Google or whatever, then why put me thru the process of registering, offer a bunch of products, then simply freeze once I actually decide to buy one? If the app has filled it cache or whatever, why the hell wouldn't you write software that detects this condition and warns first?

    Seriously, Google software? WTF?

    Oh, and as for purchasing stuff from DealExtreme... good service but it looked like the screen on this thing had been rubbed around on a dirty floor. No protective removable film over the screen, it was scratched to bejaysus and looked seriously second hand. Not likely to be a repeat customer.

  • Re:Link to Source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:23PM (#33184064)

    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. Just take ArchOS for example. ArchOS makes a tablet that has no phone functionality, no camera, and not the usual buttons you'd find on Android. For those reasons, it's not allowed to use some of the Google applications and connect to the official Android Marketplace (it had to create its own special Tablet app store, which it is also licensing to other companies in the same position that they are). Not to mention, they do not even have capacitive touch. This is the route they chose to take. Developing an Android tablet that met the minimum system requirements listed by Google was just too cost-prohibitive for them.

    And as an Android developer, you're free to take your existing app and distribute it (or sell it) on the ArchOS app store, assuming it works on the stripped-down physical hardware and buttons that ArchOS/Android is supporting.

    Compare the ArchOS tablet to the Dell Streak for instance, and I think you'll notice what I'm talking about. Dell decided to meet all the minimum requirements of the Android platform. As a result, the Dell Streak is still more a phone than a tablet itself, and it's much-much pricier as a result.

  • by Phoobarnvaz ( 1030274 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:44PM (#33184196)
    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 iYk6 ( 1425255 ) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @09:26PM (#33184880)

    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?

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire