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The Cheapest Android Tablet? SF-M703A Tablet Sells for $44

December 17th, 2013 8 comments

I’ve just noticed Liliputing posted an article about Datawind UbiSlate 7Ci tablet, the commercial version of Aakash2 tablet, that sells for $37.99. There are two caveats however: it’s only available in the U.S., and the price does not include a $9.99 shipping charge which brings the total price to $47.98. That’s still dirt cheap, but I’ve decided to look for the cheapest 7″ tablet that ships internationally. I did so on Chinese websites, including Aliexpress, where you can find such tablets for as low as $12 including shipping from sellers without feedback. These are obvious scams, so I filtered the products sold from sellers with decent feedback, and products with reviews. Based on these criteria, the cheapest Android tablet I could find is SF-M703A, or just called 703A. It goes for $43.99 including shipping via Swiss Post.

SF-M703A Tablet

SF-M703A Tablet

Let’s compare the specifications of SF-M703A with Datawind UbiSlate 7Ci.

SF-M703A Datawind UbiSlate 7Ci / AAKASH-2
SoC AllWinner A13 @ 1.0 GHz with Mali-400 GPU
System memory 512 MB RAM
Storage 4GB NAND Flash + micro SD card
Display 7” capacitive touchscreen – Resolution: 800×480
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
I/O mini USB + 3.5mm audio jack
Camera 0.3MP front camera
Sensors G-Sensor
Battery 1800 mAh 2100 mAh (AAKASH-2).
Up to 180 minutes on battery
Dimensions 183x120x10mm 190.5×118.5×15.7mm
Weight 320 g.
Android Version Android 4.0.3
Price (inc. shipping) $43.99 $47.98

Both tablets have basically the same specifications, with the only real difference being a battery with a slightly larger capacity on Ubislate 7Ci. Both devices are sold with a power adapter, and a USB cable.

Such tablets could be given to kids, although many games may not play smoothly, used as a remote control using apps such as Droidmote, or as a Chromecast remote, a digital photo frame, and possibly some projects where you need a cheap Android console (3D printer, home automation, etc…). For 10 to 15 dollars extra, you could also upgrade to a tablet with a dual core SoC including a more powerful GPU.

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13.3″ PocketBook CAD Reader Features a Lighter, Thinner E-Ink Fina Display

December 3rd, 2013 2 comments

E-Ink has announced its new E-Ink Fina, a new thin and lightweight electronic paper display (EPD) technology, has been embedded into PocketBook CAD Reader, the first Fina ePaper Android device designed specifically for displaying drawings generated with Autocad from Autodesk.

PocketBook_CAD_Reader

PocketBook CAD Reader integrates a 1GHz dual-core CPU (probably Freescale i.MX6 DualLite) running Android 4.0.4 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage allowing it to hold plans for up to 200 constructions projects. The product also comes with built-in Wi-Fi & 3G modules, and a 8000 mAh battery. The built-in touch screen and  Wacom digitizer support both touch and a stylus for fine detail work.

But that’s the display that make it stand out. E-Ink claims that Fina displays weigh less than 50% of the weight of an equivalent glass based TFT and are less than 50% of the thickness, and the 13.3″ display module installed in the Pocket CAD Reader weighs about 60 grams. Energy efficiency and daylight readability are said to be the same as for other E Ink displays.

PocketBook CAD Reader will be showcased on December 5th at the Autodesk University software conference held in Las Vegas.

Via Liliputing.

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ZGPAX S5 Android 4.0 SmartWatch Features a Dual Core Processor, a SIM Card Slot

November 17th, 2013 18 comments

The newly introduced Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony SmartWatch all work as a smartphone companion, and have limited use if you don’t carry your smartphone with you. The Samsung watch also requires a recent smartphone running Android 4.3 and supporting Bluetooth Low Energy, which current seriously reduces the list of compatible smartphones. There are already standalone smartwatches in the market that include a SIM card slot, and allow you to make phone calls without a phone such as Z1 watch and WiMe NanoWatch. However, these watches feature low-end hardware with ARM9 processor, so the interface may feel a bit sluggish. ZGPAX S5 smartwatch with its Mediatek MT6577 dual core Cortex A9 processor, and 512 MB RAM, will be much more snappier. It runs Android 4.04 with Google Play Store, and comes with features such as a camera, GPS, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

ZGPAX S5 Smartwatch (left), SIM and microSD  Card Slots (right)

ZGPAX S5 Smartwatch (left), SIM and microSD Card Slots (right)

SGPAX S5 Specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT6577 dual core Cortex A9 @ 1.0GHz + PowerVR SGX531 GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – 4GB NAND flash + microSD card slot (Up to 32 GB)
  • Display – 1.54” OGS (One-Glass Solution) capacitive touchscreen. Resolution: 240×240
  • Network – GSM, GPRS, EDGE, HSPA+. GSM 850/900/1800/1900. SIM card slot.
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS support)
  • Camera – 2.0MP camera
  • USB – microUSB host port
  • Audio – Headphone via microUSB, FM radio
  • Sensors – Gravity sensor, light sensor, and distance sensor
  • Battery – 500 mAh Lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions – 55x40x14mm

The watch comes with a battery, a USB cable, earphones, a charge, and a user’s manual. The 500mAh battery is said to be good for 2 days in standby mode, 6 hours talk, and in typical use, the battery is expect to last about one and a half day, which is expected for a relatively powerful device running Android, but annoying for a watch. Nevertheless this smartwatch does have potential, and the interface is snappy, as you can see from the video below from armdevices.net.

As mentioned in the video above, ZGPAX S5 costs $95 when bought in quantities from the manufacturer (Sample price is currently $165), but you can also buy from online resellers on Aliexpess ($165 and more), Ebay ($185 and more), or Chinavision ($150).

Thanks to onebir for the tip.

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MYIR MYD-SAMA5D3X Development Boards Feature Atmel ARM Cortex-A5 SAMA5D3 Processors

November 8th, 2013 No comments

MYIR Tech, a company based in Shenzhen, and ARM Connected Community Member, has recently made available MYD-SAMA5D3X boards powered by Atmel ATSAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 embedded MPU. Like many development boards, thise are composed of a baseboard coupled by a 200-pin SO-DIMM computer-on-module (CoM) featuring one of the four Atmel SAMA5D3 processor: SAMA5D31, SAMA5D33, SAMA5D34 and SAMA5D35. The boards all feature 512MB DDR2 SDRAM, 256MB Nand Flash, 16MB Nor Flash and 4MB Data Flash on board. Typical applications developed with these boards include control panel/HMI, smart grid, medical and handheld terminals, outdoor GPS, DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) phones, and more.

MYD-SAMA5D3X Board Description (Click to Enlarge)

MYD-SAMA5D35 Board Description (Click to Enlarge)

MYD-SAMA5D3X boards specifications:

  • Processor -  Atmel SAMA5D31, SAMA5D32, SAMA5D34 or SAMA5D35 Cortex A5 up to 536MHz with 128KB of SRAM and 160KB of ROM
  • System Memory - 512MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Storage – 256MB NAND Flash, 4MB Data Flash, 16MB Nor Flash, one MMC/SD card slot, and one microSD card slot
  • Peripheral Interfaces
      • Serial ports
        • 1 x 3-line RS232 Debug serial port (DB-9)
        • 1 x 5-line RS232 serial port (UART1, DB-9)
        • 1 x RS485 serial port (UART2, 10-pin 3.5mm pitch terminal block connector)
      • USB – 2 x High speed USB HOST,  1x Mini USB OTG
      • Ethernet
        • ETH1 – 10/100Mbps for SAMA5D31/35
        • ETH0 – 10/100/1000Mbps for SAMA5D33/34/35
      • 2 x CAN interfaces (only for SAMA5D34/35)
      • 1 x HDMI interface (driver not available yet)
      • 1 x Camera interface (driver not available yet)
      • 1 x RJ11 Telephone interface (driver not available yet)
      • Audio input and output ports
      • 1 x LCD interface – Supports 24-bit true color TFT LCD, resolution up to 2048 x 2048 pixels (Not supported on SAMA5D35)
      • 1 x 4-wire touch screen interface
      • 1 x 20-pin standard JTAG interface
      • 1 x Reset button, 1 x Wakeup button and 2 x User buttons
      • 2 x Power indicators (Red, one on base board and one on CPU module)
      • 1 x User LED (Blue on CPU module)
      • 2 x expansion interfaces (J2, J3 and J4) with access to 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 1x PWM, 4x ADC, 41x GPIOs (some are multi-plexed)
  • Dimensions
    • Base board – 154mm x 110mm (4-layer PCB)
    • CPU Module – 45mm x 67.6mm (8-layer PCB)
  • Power supply -  5V/2A
  • Operating temperature range – 0~70 degrees Celsius (commercial grade) and -40~85 degrees Celsius (industrial grade)
MYD-SAMA5D3X Block Diagram

MYD-SAMA5D3X Block Diagram

The board is sold with a 5V/2A power adapter, an Ethernet cable, a USB Cable, a DB9 to DB9 serial cable, and a DVD with user manual, schematic in PDF format, datasheet, and software packages. The company can also separately provide a 4.3″ LCD with touch screen ($60), and a 7″ LCD with touch screen ($99). When Atmel announced SAMA5D3 eMPU at the beginning of the year, they delivered Linux 3.6.9 and promised Android 4.0.4 at a later date, and that’s exactly what you get with MYIR boards. According to the user’s manual, the source code is apparently available for all software component including the first stage bootloader, u-boot, the linux kernel, and all drivers.

The baseboards are available for $290, but you’ll need to add $100 to get one of the MYC-SAMA5D3X CPU modules, which adds up to $390 for a commercial grade system. For comparison, Atmel devkits cost between $445 (Atmel SAMA5D35-EK without LCD) to $595 (Other devkits with a 5″ WXGA display module).

You can find more information, including datasheets and user’s manuals, on MYIR MYD-SAMA5D3X Development Board and MYC-SAMA5D3X CPU Module pages.

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VIA Announces $99 Springboard Platform for Android and Linux Development

November 1st, 2013 3 comments

Back in May 2013, VIA unveiled VAB-600 Pico-ITX board powered by WonderMedia WM8950 with an ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 800 MHz and a Mali-400 GPU. At the time they provided a starter kit with a 7″ display. The company has now announced the VIA Springboard Platform based on VAB-600 that is available without Wi-Fi for $99 or with Wi-Fi for $129.

VIA_Springboard_Platform

VIA Springboard Platform Wi-Fi Kit (Click to Enlarge)

Here are the items included in the kits:

  • VAB-600 Pico-ITX board with WM8950, 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, 4GB eMMC Flash memory and microSD slot. See VAB-600 post for detailed specifications.
  • VIA VAB-600-A I/O extender card:
    • 1 x Line-Out jack
    • 1 x Mic-In jack
    • 2 x USB 2.0 A-type ports
    • 1 x Suspend LED power indicator
    • 1 x Power On/Off button
    • 3 x board-to-board connectors
    • 1 x USB board-to-board connector
  • VIA VNT9271 Springboard USB WiFi module (Wi-Fi Kit only) – Supports IEEE 802.11b/g/n standards and 802.11e WiFi Multimedia (WMM). Based on Atheros AR9271 controller chip
  • A/C power adapter
  • 1 x COM cable
  • 1 x USB 2.0 cable
  • 3 year longevity
  • 6 month warrantee

The VAB-600 board supports Android and Linux Software Development Packages which can be downloaded from VIA Springboard website. The Springboard Android Software Development Package features Android version 4.0.3, and includes the kernel and bootloader source codes as well as a Smart ETK comprising a number of APIs, including Watchdog Timer (WDT), GPIO access, COM port access, RTC for auto-power on, and a sample app. The Springboard Linux Software Development Package has a pre-built Debian image, including the kernel and bootloader source codes, as well as a toolchain.

The kits are available now at www.viaspringboard.com for $99 for the base version and $129 for the Wi-Fi kit, plus shipping that seems to be between $25 and $30 to the few countries I’ve tried. That’s not exactly the best performance / price ratio we can get today, but it could be an option if you need at least 3-years guaranteed longevity, or/and some particular features available on the board such as SIM card slot, pico-ITX form factor, etc…

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iPazzPort NC-812-19A Rockchip RK3066 mini PC Temporary Discounted to About $30

August 29th, 2013 18 comments

I’ve just been informed about a special offer (for 2 more days) on Aliexpress for a mini PC based on Rockchip RK3066 called iPazzPort NC-812-19A, but it looks very much like CX803-II. You can get a dual core HDMI TV stick with 1GB RAM, 4GB Flash and an external antenna for about $30 including shipping here or here.

cx-803_II

Here are the specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3066 @ 1.6 GHz + Mali-400 MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 4GB NAND flash + micro SD slot (up to 32GB)
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g/n
  • USB – 2x micro USB port (OTG + power) + 1x USB host port
  • Power – 5V
  • Dimensions – 101.2 x 48 x 9.5 mm
  • Weight – 36g

The device is said to come with a USB cable, and a user’s manual (No power supply). Aliexpress listings do not mention the Android version, but the (apparently) official website lists Android 4.0 as the operating system, which is a bit disappointing. The regular price is $37.99 on that site.

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Intel Education Tablets Come with a Temperature Probe, a Magnification Lens

August 9th, 2013 No comments

Intel has recently announced 2 educational Android 4.x tablets: The 10″ Intel Education Tablet powered by Intel Atom Z2460, and the 7″ Intel Education Tablet based on the newer Intel Atom Z2420. Beside standard features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, dual cameras, etc…, the tablets also come with items such as a temperature probe, and a snap-on magnification lenses for experimentation, as well as a educational software.

7" Education Tablet with Temperature Probe and Stylus.

Education Tablet with Temperature Probe and Stylus, Running SparkVUE

The table below adapted from LinuxGizmos lists both tablets’ specifications side-by-side.

10.1″ model 7″ model
Processor Intel single-core Atom Z2460 (“Medfield”) @ 1.6GHz Intel single-core Atom Z2420 (“Lexington”) @ 1.2GHz
RAM 1G LPDDR2
Flash 16GB eMMC 8GB eMMC + microSD slot
Display 1280 x 800 capacitive 5-point touch TFT LCD (16:10) with stylus 1024 x 600 multitouch TFT LCD (16:9) with optional stylus
Wireless 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.1 EDR 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 3.0 (optional)
Camera 2MP rear; 0.3MP front
USB 1x micro USB 2.0 (Type B)
Sensors Ambient light, accelerometer Ambient light, accelerometer, GPS, eCompass
Accessories Temperature probe, snap-on magnification lens
Battery life 6600mAh (24.4 Whr); 6.5 hours 4200mAh (15.5 Whr); 7.8 hours
Ruggedization IP41 (ingress resistance), water resistance; 50cm drop IP41 (ingress resistance); water resistance; 60cm drop
Dimensions 272 x 174 x 13.2mm 200 x 122 x 9.95mm
Weight 689 g 355 g

The 10″ model runs Android 4.0 (ICS), whereas the 7″ model with a newer processor runs a newer version of Android (4.1).

Snap-on magnification lens

Snap-on magnification lens

Both tablets are preloaded with Intel Educational Software such as:

  • PASCO SPARKvue (Science)
  • eLearning by Mythware (General subjects, quiz…)
  • Lab Camera (Science) and Media Camera (Arts) by Intellisense
  • MyScript Notes/Stylus Mobile
  • ArtRage (Arts)
  • Kno Textbooks
  • Classroom Management
  • Intel Education Resources including skoool content, math and science videos from Khan Academy, English language learning resources from the British Council, and a collection of digital literacy resources from Intel Education.

The company has also included some security applications with McAfee Mobile Security (for malware or identity theft), and Intel Education Theft deterrent (to prevent theft of school tablets).

Intel did not announced pricing for their education tablets. Further details may be available on Intel Education Tablets page.

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