Chinese Cheapness... me likey vely much

I finally decided to get a tablet. I already have a laptop for all my usual work requiring mobility, and have a dual screen workstation for heavy work at home. I could not justify spending a couple of hundred dollars on a gadget. Even though I would like to develop application for the Android platform, software emulators would do just as well for testing and deployment evaluation, but I got an Android tablet anyway... not one that is a high end, high quality and thus having a high price tag attached to it... I got a Chinese Cheapness... an Eken M0021 to be exact, off of eBay!

In all honesty, given the budget and the reviews, expectations were low. I was surprised when I got the box. Initially I thought I was shipped the incorrect model, as the box depicted an Eken M001 tablet and not the expected Eken M002. However once I opened the box, I discovered the correct unit inside. The packaging was slightly damaged, I suspected this may have happened during transit. The box contained an AC charging adapter, a small manual, which was promptly discarded back into the box, a small stylus and a 30 pin USB cable similar to the standard iPhone or iPod cable.

I pressed the power button, checked out settings, etc. to make sure the unit was working properly. Left the seller my feedback on eBay. I knew that the Android Market application was not installed. Fortunately I was prepared, and had downloaded the latest firmware previously2. Since the unit did not arrive with any SD card, I used an old 2GB card I had lying about. I flashed the firmware as per the instructions on the slatedroid.com site without any issues.

The unit is features a nice durable aluminium body. This gives it a nice feel. The 7" resistive touch screen provides 800x480 16:9 display and input. Since it's a resistive screen, this means no multi-touch. The bootup process seems to take a good minute or two one minute and thirty seconds. Probably because of the low 128MB RAM running at 800 Mhz and light weight VIA MW8505 CPU running at 533Mhz. The touch screen itself appeared very poor. It seems to be more sensitive in one corner and less on the other corner.

A close examination revealed that there is a slight ripples/buldge across the screen, as though a large screen was forced into a small case, instead of being completely smooth. The unit appeared to perform better to a human touch rather than prompting and provocation by the mechanical stylus.

The internal storage is only appears to be only 1GB. As previously mentioned I am running the unit with a 2GB SD card, the product website seems to claim it can support up to 32GB. So will update the blog when I run out of space on the current card, which seems unlikely.

Since I'd already read the reviews, I wasn't expecting much in terms of runtime. Unlike the iPad which delivered between 10hrs to 12hrs runtime, the M002 would give you between 1hr to 2hrs depending on what you were running.

On the base of the unit you have several ports, one for the SD card, the 30pin USB port, 3.5mm head phone jack, the power adapter port and a small pin hole labelled MR, which I assumed meant master reset. Without hesitation a conveniently located paper clip was straightened and inserted, and the unit reset. Also the USB port seems to fit upside-down.

I've seen picture of adapter that plug into the 30pin USB port and provide an RJ45 connection. However the unit natively supports 802.11B and 802.11G, capable of working with WPA2. This is very simple to set up and worked without issues.

I didn't even bother checking the resolution. The image appears to be so low resolution it reminded me of the camera on my old Nokia 2760 phone. This is exactly what I had expected for the dollars spent. If you want HD just get an iPad.

Android Market
The main reason for the firmware upgrade was to get access to the Android Market. Since its a toy, all the useful applications were installed, i.e. Facebook, Dolphin Browser, anti virus (not sure why), WeatherBug, Blogaway, Touiteur, Kindle, RealCalc, eBay, Dropbox, mAnalytics, Speed Test, ConnectBot and Wifi Analyser, Ping, Pinger, AndroidVNC, Remote RDP Lite, SecurityInfo.com Net Audit.


  • The resolution of the YouTube video play back does not seem the best, but gets the job done. 
  • The Home screen keeps crashing so I get "Sorry! Activity Home (in process android.process.acore) is not responding", this is annoying to say the least. I installed Home++, things are much better now
  • Using the USB port does not appear to charge the unit, so I need to have the AC plugged in to charge. 
  • The orientation changing from landscape to portrait and visa-versa is not very response at time, am not sure if this a software issue with Android or hardware issue with the accelerometer.
  • The Skype client does not support Skype over the Wifi link, so cannot make voice calls using Skype.

The battery runtime leaves a lot to be desired, but I knew this before I got the unit. Issues, the unit does tend to overheat to the extent that it's not comfortable holding it in the palm of your hand for prolonged periods of time. This overheating issue is the only one that I was not aware off. The bottom line is that I was prepared for, and knew what I was getting. For anyone considering a tablet for regular use for anything other than recreation, this unit is not for you, and you should probably wait for Google gPad.

When I have some more time, I will try to see if there is a better custom firmware and run that to see if it makes a difference.


  1. http://www.ekengroup.com/en/products/show.asp?id=17
  2. http://www.slatedroid.com/eken-m002-firmware-development/8279-[-piece-software-flashed-device-expand-its-functionality]-m002s-2-0-plus.html

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