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The One about the Augen Genbook 108

March 26, 2011 by  




The Good – The Augen Genbook 108 can get you in the Internet and you can be reading a e-book in no time.  The Bad – Unless you are have the disposable income to test your fascination with an android netbook, even priced on sale at $99, prepare for continuous crashing, erratic mouse and spotty wi-fi.

Augen GenTouch Notebook 108 Stats

•1024×600 color 10.2” TFT screen

• CPU: 800 Mhz

• Ram: DDR2 256mb

• Internal Memory: 2GB

• Expansion Slots: SD/MMC card slot up to 16GB

• Wi-Fi Connectivity with Full Web Browsing Capability

• Supports Ebook Formats: Text, PDF, E-PUB, HTML

• Supports Media Formats: MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC

• Supports most popular E-Book formats

• Picture Viewer in JPEG, BMP

• Video Player

• Rechargeable Lithium Battery

WEBSITE

AUGEN GENBOOK 108 INFORMATION:

Think.Fast.Android Powered

Android is an operating system for mobile devices such as tablet computers, netbooks, and cellular phones. Android is based upon the Linux kernel and GNU software. Android has a large community of developers writing apps that extend the functionality of the devices. There are currently over 70,000 apps available for Android, which makes it the second most popular mobile development target.

What is Android™?

Download your favorite books and more anywhere Wi-Fi is available, such as at home, cafe, airports, and more…

Built-in Wi-Fi

The GENBOOK108 has a wide resolution and a 10.2” screen, allowing web browsing in full width. Unlike the experience on other mobile devices( small screens and slow speeds), the GENBOOK108 offers a true web browsing experience, with web pages displayed in full screen. No need of zooming in and out as the text is easily viewable on the 10.2” screen.

A Close to Full Sized-Keyboard.

The GENBOOK108 also offers a 93 % full-size keyboard, allowing you to conveniently IM, email and browse all your favorite websites.

Create and Edit Documents with Ease.

The GENBOOK108 Netbook is the perfect device for creating and editing your documents when away from a desktop/pc. Pre-loaded with many office applications makes the GENBOOK108 your source to a mobile work station.

 

Because this netbook is prone to crashes, expect to see this android image appear often...

Like many people who saw the “Augen Genbook 108” netbook on sale for $99, I instantly jumped at the deal.  Granted, if you read the text from where you bought it, you notice the words “refurbished”.

Personally, I’m fine using my iPad as a portable device and I do have several portable devices to go on the Internet and when it comes to netbooks, I have used a Linux and a Windows netbook before but never an Android version.  So, I couldn’t wait to use an Android-powered netbook.

For starters, the model # for this Android device is Android for Telechips TCC8900 Evaluation Board (multi-language).

So, how did this Android netbook perform?  Read on…

I.  FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Upon opening the box, the genbook was nicely cased and you get a power adapter.  And you get a registration card with an Augen instruction manual.

After opening the box and turning it on (it had about 50% power), so I figured before recharging, I want to deplete it to 100% before giving it a full recharge.

Upon turning it on, I was bummed to see a single dead pixel.  Fortunately, it was on the far right.

Also, I noticed how light the Genbook 108 is and also how it uses plastic that may break easy.

You notice that it feels quite basic as it is light and the plastic casing for the netbook feels as one drop would shatter the netbook.  So, for those considering on bringing this genbook for travel or anywhere and you are prone to dropping things, like a cellphone, unlike a cellphone, I don’t think this Genbook would survive a fall.

I was happy to see three USB ports on its side, headphone and mic inputs plus an ethernet port on the left side.

II.  THE MAIN TEST

Main layout of the Genbook 108. The orange bar on the right is how you access the main important files such as settings and other applications that you have downloaded.

Turning it on, you get the Augen Genbook 108 screen and it goes to the main screen in which you see various icons.

The first thing I did was establish a wi-fi connection.

NOTE: Wi-Fi and Ethernet Connection must be set first as it may be automatically set at off.  For Wi-Fi, unlike other netbooks which will detect various incoming Wi-Fi sources, for the Genbook 108, you need to manually input your Wi-Fi settings.

Now, this is where things get a bit sketchy.  For Wi-Fi, it tends to fluctuate for this device.  Sometimes, it will just conk out on you for no reason and the only way to get everything back is my shutting down a browser or other applications and then it comes back up.  For the most part, it was stable 70% of the time but the wi-fi does get a bit spotty at times.  As for Ethernet, you need to make sure the settings are correct.

II.  THE MOUSE

This is probably the most frustrating mouse I have used.  You can be using the touchpad for the mouse and somehow it is so sensitive that tracking your finger on the pad may accidentally be misconstrued as a left click.  Also, when you are moving around, you find yourself zooming in and out at times. So, although it has a mouse and two buttons for left and right clicking, it’s erratic.   There is something about the bottom left corner of the track pad that registers as a click.

I recommend using a mouse or else you will find yourself getting frustrated.

It’s important to note that my experience with touchpads from PC or Mac laptops have never been the greatest and I always recommend purchasing a mouse for a laptop or a netbook.  I test a Logitech and Kensington mouse and it detected the mouse perfectly.  Tried a cheaper, no-name brand and while I was able to move around and right click, left-click was off.  So, I would stick with a good brand of mouse for the Genbook 108.

III.  GETTING STARTED

The first thing you want to do is update your App Store that comes with this device.  It’s important to note that this App Store is not the Google Android App Store.  In fact, I have tried to get the Google Android App Store to work with this device to no avail as it keeps saying “no device detected”.  So, you can use this App Store or Amazon’s Android App Store.  The problem with Amazon is that it utilizes one-click when it comes to purchasing things.  Because the erratic nature of this device, the last thing you want is seeing the mouse automatically clicking on an app while trying to move the cursor up or down and then purchasing an app accidentally.  So, I would stick with the App Store for now.

Updating the App Store on this device took about 15-20 minutes and when you get started, I highly recommend downloading the A+ Elite Task Killer.

The reason being is that because this device is prone to crashing or stalling, it helps to have the A+ Elite Task Killer to kill programs that may be on.  In fact, part of the problem of this device running sluggishly is that the device tries to open so many programs all at once and thus giving you sluggish performance.

IV. APPS

If you have a compact flash card, a lot of your documents, photos would best be on the flash card and not using it’s built-in 8GB flash.  In fact, it often looks for that flash card on your system, even when downloading an app.  Otherwise, if you don’t have one, you can use it’s internal 8GB flash.

As for downloading apps… for those not familiar with Android Apps is that you must be careful because unlike Apple which screens their Apps, nothing is screened for Android Apps and it may contain malicious software to steal information.   I would NOT use this device for purchasing items.

Using Augen’s own App Store that is included with this device, I was able to download the full versions of Angry Birds for FREE.  Problem was that the game may require much more memory on the Android because the backgrounds don’t show.  So, right away, I knew that this device is not good for gaming at all.  I noticed that when I downloaded Angry Birds Seasons from Rovio, unlike “Angry Birds” and “Angry Birds Rio”, “Angry Birds Seasons” featured a Chinese layout.

After looking at the many apps featured on the store, the good stuff that you want are on the Google Android App store and because you can’t download from the marketplace is a major caveat for this device.  You can’t download any major apps, watch YouTube, install Flash Player or anything because the marketplace does not detect the Android device.

In fact, I even tried downloading Mozilla Firefox for Android for this device directly and it wouldn’t install.

Also, it’s important to mention that the manual gives you three links to download apps but when you visit the sites, they are Chinese websites that are not in English.  So, unless you can read Chinese, if you can’t, you have to depend on the main app store that came with the Genbook.

V.  THE BROWSER

The browser for this device works.  You can go on any site but the more intensive that website is, their is a possibility that your Genbook will crash.  Forget accessing a site with video because if it uses Flash, it won’t work and because you can’t download from the Google Marketplace to download Flash Player, your out of luck.  So, while videos won’t work on CNN or YouTube, I was able to watch video from sites such as the Wall Street Journal.

For the majority of the time, I was able to get to the site with no problem.  But there are some sites which this browser or device does not like and it locks up and crashes on you.

Personally, I wish I could have gotten Firefox to install and I wish Opera would have a direct download instead of making a user go on the Marketplace (which you can’t access with this device).

VI.  E-BOOKS

I was able to read e-books fine with this device.  But as I mentioned, mouse can get erratic at times.  PDF’s opened fine as well.  Although, I found that using a tablet like a Kindle or Nook or even a cellphone much easier to use because you can easily increase the size with your fingers as opposed to using the mouse.

NOTE: There are several e-books you can download for free on the App Store and these do not work for some reason.

VII.  WHEN IT CRASHES

When it crashes, most of the time it restarts with the Green Android on the front (see photo above) but there are times when you get a screen that asks to restart computer or wipe everything out.  I’ve often thought about this, to see if I can install Windows or Linux to replace Android 2.1 but I believe that Android can’t be wiped out as its part of its memory.  And I’m guessing you can’t upgrade the Android OS to 2.2 or 2.3.

I tried to look on Augen’s support forums and online and haven’t read of anyone successfully installing any other OS on this device.

JUDGMENT CALL:

This device was primarily created for those to view e-Books and go on the Internet.  The positive is that the browser does load up quickly most of the time.

The negative is that an erratic onboard mouse and spotty wi-fi can make you even more frustrated.

The fact that you can’t access the Google Android Marketplace with this device (note: this is not the problem of the device as if you go on the marketplace, you will see others complaining that their Android cell phones are unable to be recognized as well) or some direct downloads will not install on this device.

This leaves you with few options and that is to use it’s own App center and again, I caution people that if you are going to mess around with the apps from app center, because there are hardly any reviews for them, I would not use this device for using important personal data.

In fact, if you were just going to use this for browsing on the Internet, reading e-books, the device works and if you purchased it for $99 or less, I guess you can’t complain. You can go on the Internet, read e-books, view photos and videos, listen to music.  But I wish it was more user friendly.

Like other e-book readers, it does a good job and going on the Internet is much faster than my color Nook.  Granted, I am able to go on the Internet with a Nook and not be worried it may crash or access Wi-Fi.

It’s not a device I would use to create Android apps but possibly one to test out apps.

But I would have not purchased this for $150 or $200.  If I was able to access the Google Android marketplace with ease, I would probably have loved this Genbook a bit more.  Because the majority of the apps I want to use are on there.  As for its erratic mouse problem, it’s erratic but it can easily be solved with a mouse.  And again, the erratic Wi-Fi really sucks.  You can by farther just using an Ethernet cable plugged in.

I would recommend purchasing a Linux or Windows Netbook and even recommending saving up for an iPad.  If your primary goal is for e-books, Augen sells its own e-book reader but you can also purchase a black and white nook with 3G and Wi-Fi capability for the same price.

But if you are able to get this device for $99 and lower, it does do its job for Internet browsing and e-book reading.  But if you can save up more to purchase a better netbook or tablet, I would do just that.  Otherwise, if money is an issue and if you need something under a $100, then the Augen Genbook 108 may be for you.

UPDATE:

We gave a few staff a chance to use the Augen Genbook 108 and here are their thoughts.

From junior reviewer, Crish:

This netbook is not cool!  I can’t even get the wireless to work in the living room and even when I’m a foot away from the wireless router, it would show a strong signal and then it would lose connection and say it can’t detect wi-fi.  I can’t go on the Internet easy, I can’t even play Angry Birds correctly.  This one is bad! Don’t buy!

From Usagi:

If there was an emergency and I needed to contact someone for help on Facebook or Twitter and Wi Fi was around, this device will not work when you need it.  It works sometimes and when it does work, your browser will crash or the netbook will crash.  Forget it!  I don’t need the frustration.






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