eLocity A7+ Hands On/Quick Look

Super sorry about the really weird black border and lower-ish quality. It takes 4+ hours to upload videos like this, and I am not about to do it again.

 

Re-Uploaded, all good now

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Stock Firmware

I will start to modify my eLocity A7+ with custom ROMs probably tomorrow or over this coming weekend. Here is an overview of how well the device performs with the stock Android 2.2 firmware.

From Off to On

It takes 2-3 seconds of holding down the power button for the tablet to turn on the green indicator light and begin the power up process.

At about 5 seconds “Device boot up” is show in really small white text in the top right corner.

At about 8 seconds, “ANDROID” is shown in small white text.

At about 16 seconds, the green “eLocity*” logo is shown in the direct center.

32 seconds is where the device actually shows the lockscreen and becomes functional.

From On to Off

A force shutdown (holding down the power button until the A7+ shuts down completely) takes about 10 seconds. This will vary depending on what system process you have running.

A normal shutdown (holding the power button for 1 or 2 seconds and then selecting “power off”) takes about 14 seconds. Note that this number will vary greatly if the device is frozen or is running lots of processes. 14 seconds is the number I got from a fresh boot up process.

App Support

If you bought or are buying this tablet to run all the latest applications, forget it or flash a new ROM. These days, in the era of 2.3 to 4.1 devices, Android 2.2 comes way short. Yes, you can still get facebook, twitter, email, pictures, flash, browsers, and google voice. But you can’t get a lot of custom launchers, keyboards, games, software enhancements, productivity apps, or any recently launched app. I was able to get around some of this by downloading .apk files and installing them directly, but that is frowned upon by many. It is truly annoying to see the black banner stating that “Your device is not compatible with this version” every time you go to download something from the market.                                    A couple of notable non-supported apps: Netflix, YouTube, Skydrive, Go Launcher EX, Go Locker Opera Web Browser.

The android market is a different matter. The A7+ comes shipped with an extremely outdated version, one old enough to where finding applications is up to you and your favorite search engine. The default app recommendation page, and any applications page really, only shows 10 or so apps.There is no “load more” button, or scrolling down. This is fixed, however, by an easy root hack. I got Google Play up and running within 5 minutes of hearing that it was possible.

Browsing

The Nvidia Tegra II processor does not disappoint here. Browsing is snappy and responsive. Web pages will load slowly because your network is slow, not because the device has a hard time with them. The higher resolution screen is nice as well. Zooming in (with true multi-touch, might I add) works flawlessly.

I use the Firefox Beta browser and the Dolphin HD browser. Firefox Beta doesn’t like YouYube (it tries to redirect to the application, which doesn’t exist for 2.2), so I use Dolphin for that. The default Android browser’s smoothness is OK and plays flash content fine.

Flash

The A7+ comes with flash 10.1 pre-installed. This means that you can browse the web and watch embedded videos. Because of the fast processor, you can have videos running while you scroll down the page, but be warned that the more content-heavy the page is the slower it will load.

Even though the official YouTube application does not support Android 2.2, you can still browse the mobile (or desktop, if you really want to) version of the YouTube website. I haven’t noticed any real problems with this method. m.youtube.com is well put together. (In my opinion, at least.)

There is one reoccurring bug with flash playback that I have experienced. Sometimes, after watching 10 or 15 videos in a day, the software will just recognize a video as “unplayable” or the device will freeze when you try to play another video. This only happens after I do intense browsing and multitasking, which probably contributes to the problem.

Gaming

The Tegra II processor would be really nice… if I could use it. The A7+ comes with a nasty orientation glitch that makes it next to impossible to play games that use the gyroscope. Not only that, but because the device is running 2.2 there is a very small selection of games that would even come remotely close to using all of the processor’s power.

Not much can be said otherwise. Casual games work fine and smooth. I played Minecraft Pocket Edition with no problem. You can play all the Destinia you want (in that case I was forced to download the apk though). I also downloaded a game called “Spirit” (Again, not from the market) which runs really nice and it’s a pretty fun game.

Productivity

I didn’t do much testing with this, because I didn’t want to pay $6 for a word processing app. What I DID test was the mouse and keyboard input-

Mouse and Keyboard Input

I won’t lie here- I had a tremendous amount of fun using the tablet like a PC or laptop. My friend has an (Intel?) keyboard and mouse that both connect to a small USB dongle. I plugged in the dongle and started using both input methods without any problems! The cursor comes up as a crosshair. The keyboard works whenever you want to input text. Keyboard function keys can also be used, but the functions will varry by keyboard. Typing is a little laggy on an old USB keyboard I found laying around, but not on the wireless keyboard I tested out. That might just be due to the fact that it is old.

The Status Bar

By default the status bar shows the orientation, volume and brightness controls. It is really a bummer that the A7+ does not have a volume soft key, but to be honest I didn’t notice any cases where my experience was hindered by that fact.

Overall the eLocity A7+’s firmware is lacking in some core aspects but excels in browsing and media.

Overview of the device’s hardware

Here are the hardware pictures I’ve taken so far.

The front of the device. There are three soft buttons to the right- Back, Home, and Menu. There is NO search key or volume key, which is a downer. The soft keys do not light up, so they are relatively hard to operate in the dark. The company name is displayed at the bottom, beneath the  touch screen. In the upper left corner is the camera (webcam) and the light sensor. The light sensor doesn’t show up in these photos, but it is there. At the top, slightly to the left middle is the microphone.

The right side (the side with the soft buttons) only has one stereo speaker.

The left side of the device (the side with the camera) has the power button, power indicator, USB, HDMI, and the other stereo speaker. The power indicator is green when the device is ON and Charged. It is Yellow if the device is being charged and off, or if the device’s battery is low. The USB and HDMI have a plastic cap. The USB port is USB 2.0, and I believe that the HDMI port is full-sized. The USB port does NOT act as a gateway between a computer and the eLocity A7+ (at least without some modifications). You can plug a mouse, a keyboard, and (almost) any normal usb storage device. It acts as a SD card slot does on other devices-“unmounting” is the same as “safe removal”.

The bottom (or front, depending on how you look at it) houses the 19v DC IN port and… two really strange circles. I think they may be for docs or add-ons, but I can’t be sure. The Quick Start Guide says nothing about these.

The top of the device holds the 3.5 mm headphone/audio jack and the Micro SD/SIM card slots. Having a cap over the audio jack sucks sometimes, but I suppose it isn’t that important. The Micro SD card slot works just like a normal one, no changes. I have not used the SIM card slot, so I can’t offer any explanation or information on how that works.

The back of the A7+ is a little boring. It has a shiny, glossy tab across the top with the logo on the top left – it’s a fingerprint magnet, but not as bad as the chrome backing on a iPod or similar devices.. In the middle of the shiny glossy tab is the reset button. You need a pin or a pen to use it. Other than the glossy tab, the back has a really nice matte finish that feels slightly rubbery to the touch, yet still plastic smooth. Towards the middle bottom is the FCC/Logo/Device information…Nemko…text…thing. I don’t know what to call it.

The overall feel of the tablet is actually really nice. There are a couple of problems though:
1) On the front, the glass beneath the eLocity logo is slightly pushed out. Pushing down on the glass will actually push it in, but then it bends back up. It seems like there is something beneath the glass down there that causes it to stick up a little. It isn’t that noticeable.
2) The matte finish is really nice, but it heats up when the A7+ is being put though intense use. Usually phones/tablets feel a little warm, but the backing on the + actually gets moderately hot. It’s not so bad as to make me return it or anything, just something I noticed.

The caps are nice when you aren’t using the ports, but when you are using the ports, the caps are incredibly annoying. If I removed the caps manually, there would be some really awkward indents along the sides.

I am quite happy with the look and feel of the eLocity A7+. It’s sleek, modern, nice looking, and easy to grip. More about the software side is coming soon!

Price, Lether Case

To be honest, right now I’m pretty ticked off. Only one week after I bought the eLocity A7+ from 1 Sale a Day, they “relisted” the item and are selling it not only $10 cheaper, but with a free “Leatherette Case”. I bought the A7+ quickly because I have bought from 1SaD before, and I thought that it would only be available for ONE DAY. Obviously I got a little bit ripped off.

The Buy

How I Discovered It:

I was hanging around Liliputing, when I stumbled across a daily deals page that had a link to a page that was selling an “eLocity 7″ Android Tablet w/ 1.2GHz Tegra II Processor, 4GB Memory!” for $100. At first I was super exited, because this was the first tablet that had none of the cons that had stopped me from buying tablets before; fast processor, 512mb RAM, decent internal storage, capacitive multitouch, Flash, and a SUPER low price. (for the value, at least).

I did some research, and got more disappointed the more I learned. The description had “A7”, no “+” in the name at all, so that’s what I was searching for. Yet after taking a closer look at the screen resolution, the “multitouch”, and the model number (004) I realized that this was actually the A7+. After I figured that out I tried to look for reviews, and couldn’t find any really in-depth ones, but bought the tablet anyways. I mean, for $100 that thing is quite the deal. Of course, I weighed the signs that it was the A7 and that it was the A7+:

A7 Signs: Description was copy-pasted from somewhere on the eLocity web page for the A7, “Package Includes: eLocity 7″ Touchscreen Tablet”

A7+ Signs: “7” capacitive touch display (1024×600) (Resolution)”, “Model: A7-004”, and the picture.

The Shifty Part:

Among the stats and features I found “Android App Market access with thousands of apps available”. Now, every single site I’ve checked says that it does NOT actually come with the Android Market. So as far as I’m concerned, this “feature” is phony.

Shipping:

It says that the tablet usually ships “Estimated within 3-12 business days”, and that “Items ship within 1-2 business day of purchase”. It has been six days so far- bought it on the 2nd, 4th is the max for processing and getting it shipped (5th is a Sunday), so that leaves 4 days of shipping time. I bought the eLocity A7+ from 1 Sale a Day on Ebay. They are notorious for super-slow shipping on their mother site, but they are known for fast shipping on Ebay.

The Start – Welcome!

This is a blog by 6Leinad6 (you can call me Dan or something less… username-y) dedicated to bringing potential buyers, electronics enthusiasts, Android users, and whoever else might stop buy the most in-depth look possible at the eLocity A7+ Android tablet.

Why?

I am starting this blog because I could NOT, for the life of me, find ANY reviews or videos about the A7+. I actually almost didn’t buy it because almost every link I clicked led me to a review on the A7 (without the +, mind you), which is a different tablet with quite a few problems. This blog will hopefully stop the spread of misinformation that I was subject to. That misinformation is mainly the fault of Stream TV Networks and the site I bought the A7+ from. Amazingly poor advertising and little to no references to the + in the name could make any non-experienced reader think that they were reading about the A7, not the A7+.
How?

Every day (hopefully) for the next three weeks (or until there is nothing left to cover) I will be uploading a small report on my experiences with the eLocity A7+. Sometimes, probably Mondays or Fridays, I will post a video showing any tricks or modifications I’ve done to the tablet. These posts will contain images, links, tutorials (or links/excerpts to/of tutorials), and reviews.

Current Status

As of 12:35 PM, August 5th, 2012 I do not physically have the tablet. It’s projected arrival date is… well it’s the eighth or ninth, but I bought it off eBay and we all know how slow free shipping can be. Whilst I am waiting for the arrival of my baby-I-mean-tablet, I will post some history and facts that will show the on-paper specs.