Monday, January 14, 2013

Listen...

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

112

The People's Uprising came and went, and I didn't pay any heed to it. Due to the fact that my entire day was taken up with meetings, and that I was totally unaware about it until a customer told me about it 2 days before the event. I would have known sooner if I've not muted Pakatan Zombies in my Facebook news feed. Even if I did know about it, it still won't reignite my enthusiasm like what Bersih 1 did.

First off, the rallies preceding the first Bersih is very politically motivated, from my point of view that is. Especially the some of demands in Bersih 3 is downright ridiculous. The People's Uprising is no different either. But what differs this time is that there's no aggressive police intervention. Seems like BN is adapting to the situation well, though the same should've been applied to the earlier rallies. I guess better late then never.

Source
How the next general election plays out is anyone's guess. There will be die hard BN supporters, and there will be Pakatan Zombies, like the name suggest, mindless drones. And there will be people like this dude. Kudos to you.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

China Tablet (Q8 A13)

================19 April 2013 Update================

As of date the tablet has gone wonky. It's horrendously slow with the wifi on. Performance picked up when the wifi is off. Sometimes when the wifi is on it's unable to get internet connection (wifi icon grey instead of blue). Manage to fix it once by restarting the router, but I doubt it's the router's fault as my other devices seems okay.

I saw the messages and request, thanks for the feedback and inquiry, will try to get to those as soon as possible

======================= unnecessary introduction=======================

 China tablets is not an unfamiliar thing. It's been flooding the market ever since the iPad and Galaxy Tab became an instant hit with consumers. What kept me away from China tablets is the piss poor performance of slow processors, resistive touchscreens and running on dated Gingerbread when every other android tabs are running on Honeycomb.

Then came IceCreamSandwich.

The first time I demo the new slim, "dual core", capacitive touchscreen, ICS China tab was probably mid 2012 at Giant hypermarket. It was being marketed as a Taiwanese product. And I was really amazed at how fluid the performance of that tablet was. A 4GB unit was selling for RM299 that comes with a tab cover with integrated keyboard and 2GB SD card for "free". The price really caught my attention as it's cheaper by its older siblings by at least RM100 minus freebies. Since then, I've been on a mission to seek the cheapest "dual core" china tablet and give it a go. I can afford to lose RM300 for a play thing.

After many months of searching online, I've finally found one dealer near my place. Though not the cheapest as its advertised at RM199 for a 4GB unit. The cheapest I ever came across is RM170 with terms and condition, which normally means bulk buy and a zero return policy.

=======================/unnecessary introduction=======================

So I responded to this advertisement which advertise the following spec:
Processor A13 power
Dual Core GPU/CPU 1.3Ghz
Ram - 512 - DDR3
ROM - 4-8 GB / SD card - 32 GB (tak termasuk)

7" HD inch LCD Screen
Brand : Hannstar Taiwan
800*480 HD resolution

Android 4.0.4 ICS boleh upgrade ke 4.1, touch screen 5-point Glass smooth like ipad

Almost all the other tablet advertisement of the similar price range list the same A13 processor. They probably got it from the same supplier.

Anyways I paid RM230 for the highest spec version which is the 8GB tablet with front and back camera. The RM199 is for 4GB tablet with single front facing camera. The sales person also promoted the leather case (without built in USB keyboard) for RM25 and a capacitive stylus for RM10 which I politely declined.

What you get:
Tablet
Manual
Charger (ala nokia port)
USB data cable
Reverse USB for keyboard/mouse interface

The first thing I did when I got home was download and launch Android hardware info and did a hardware check.

======================= tablet hardware specification=======================

UNKNOWN Q8 A13

SYSTEM (Android 4.0.4)
 Model: Q8 A13
 Manufacturer: Unknown
 Device: Nuclear Evb
 Product: Nuclear_evb
 Brand: Q8 A13
 Android Version: 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
 API Level: 15
 Fingerprint: softwinners/nuclear_evb/nuclear-evb:4.0.4/IMM76D/20120917:eng/test-keys

DISPLAY (800x432)
 Size: 800x432
 Refresh Rate: 84.82 Hz
 Default Orientation: Landscape
 Physical Size: 5.68" (14.42 cm)
 Density: 160 dpi (Medium)
 Pixels Per Inch: X: 160; Y: 160.42

PROCESSOR (ARMv7)
 Processor: ARMv7 Processor rev 2 (v7l)
 Cores: 1
 Max Frequency: 1008 Mhz
 Instruction Sets: armeabi-v7a, armeabi
 NEON Supported: Yes

MEMORY (353 MB)
 System RAM: 353 MB
 JVM Max Memory: 48 MB
 Internal Storage: 782 MB
 External Storage: 3375 MB

BACK CAMERA (1.9 megapixel)
 Effect: None
 Effect Values: None, Mono, Negative, Sepia, Aqua
 Exposure Compensation: 0
 Exposure Compensation Step: 1
 Focal Length: 3.43
 Focus Areas: (0, 0, 0, 0, 0)
 Focus Distances: 0.10, 1.20, Infinity
 Focus Mode: Auto
 Focus Mode Values: Auto
 Horizontal View Angle: 51.2
 Jpeg Quality: 90
 Jpeg Thumbnail Height: 240
 Jpeg Thumbnail Quality: 90
 Jpeg Thumbnail Size Values: 320x240, 0x0
 Jpeg Thumbnail Width: 320
 Max Exposure Compensation: 4
 Max Num Detected Faces Hw: 1
 Max Num Detected Faces Sw: 0
 Max Zoom: 6
 Min Exposure Compensation: 4
 Orientation: 0
 Picture Format: Jpeg
 Picture Format Values: Jpeg
 Picture Size: 1600x1200
 Picture Size Values: 1600x1200, 1280x1024, 1024x768, 800x600, 640x480
 Preferred Preview Size For Video: 1920x1080
 Preview Format: Yuv420sp
 Preview Format Values: Yuv420sp, Yuv420p
 Preview Fps Range: 5000, 60000
 Preview Fps Range Values: (5000, 60000)
 Preview Frame Rate: 30
 Preview Frame Rate Values: 15, 30
 Preview Size: 640x480
 Preview Size Values: 1600x1200, 640x480
 Prop Facing: Back
 Prop Orientation: 0
 Recording Hint: False
 Rotation: 0
 Smooth Zoom Supported: False
 Vertical View Angle: 39.4
 Video Frame Format: Yuv420sp
 Video Size: 640x480
 Video Size Values: 1600x1200, 640x480
 Whitebalance: Auto
 Whitebalance Values: Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Warm Fluorescent, Daylight, Cloudy Daylight
 Zoom: 0
 Zoom Ratios: 100, 133, 166, 200, 233, 266, 300
 Zoom Supported: True

FRONT CAMERA (0.3 megapixel)
 Effect: None
 Effect Values: None, Mono, Negative, Sepia, Aqua
 Exposure Compensation: 0
 Exposure Compensation Step: 1
 Focal Length: 3.43
 Focus Areas: (0, 0, 0, 0, 0)
 Focus Distances: 0.10, 1.20, Infinity
 Focus Mode: Auto
 Focus Mode Values: Auto
 Horizontal View Angle: 51.2
 Jpeg Quality: 90
 Jpeg Thumbnail Height: 240
 Jpeg Thumbnail Quality: 90
 Jpeg Thumbnail Size Values: 320x240, 0x0
 Jpeg Thumbnail Width: 320
 Max Exposure Compensation: 4
 Max Num Detected Faces Hw: 0
 Max Num Detected Faces Sw: 0
 Max Zoom: 6
 Min Exposure Compensation: 4
 Orientation: 0
 Picture Format: Jpeg
 Picture Format Values: Jpeg
 Picture Size: 640x480
 Picture Size Values: 640x480
 Preferred Preview Size For Video: 1920x1080
 Preview Format: Yuv420sp
 Preview Format Values: Yuv420sp, Yuv420p
 Preview Fps Range: 5000, 60000
 Preview Fps Range Values: (5000, 60000)
 Preview Frame Rate: 20
 Preview Frame Rate Values: 20
 Preview Size: 640x480
 Preview Size Values: 640x480
 Prop Facing: Front
 Prop Orientation: 0
 Recording Hint: False
 Rotation: 0
 Smooth Zoom Supported: False
 Vertical View Angle: 39.4
 Video Frame Format: Yuv420sp
 Video Size: 640x480
 Video Size Values: 640x480
 Whitebalance: Auto
 Whitebalance Values: Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Warm Fluorescent, Daylight, Cloudy Daylight
 Zoom: 0
 Zoom Ratios: 100, 133, 166, 200, 233, 266, 300
 Zoom Supported: True

SENSORS (1)

MC32X0 3-AXIS ACCELEROMETER
 Vendor: DMT
 Range: 29.41995
 Resolution: 0.114030816
 Power: 0.5 mA

OPENGL 1.X (Mali-400 MP)

GENERAL
 Renderer: Mali-400 MP
 Version: OpenGL ES-CM 1.1
 Vendor: ARM

LIMITS
 Texture Size: 4096x4096
 Texture Units: 8
 Viewport Size: 4096x4096
 Modelview Stack Depth: 32
 Projection Stack Depth: 32
 Texture Stack Depth: 32
 Lights: 8

COMPRESSED TEXTURE FORMATS
 ETC1, Paletted

EXTENSIONS
 GL_OES_byte_coordinates GL_OES_fixed_point GL_OES_single_precision GL_OES_matrix_get GL_OES_read_format GL_OES_compressed_paletted_texture GL_OES_point_size_array GL_OES_point_sprite GL_OES_texture_npot GL_OES_query_matrix GL_OES_matrix_palette GL_OES_extended_matrix_palette GL_OES_compressed_ETC1_RGB8_texture GL_OES_EGL_image GL_OES_draw_texture GL_OES_depth_texture GL_OES_packed_depth_stencil GL_EXT_texture_format_BGRA8888 GL_OES_framebuffer_object GL_OES_stencil8 GL_OES_depth24 GL_ARM_rgba8 GL_OES_EGL_image_external GL_OES_EGL_sync GL_OES_rgb8_rgba8 GL_EXT_multisampled_render_to_texture GL_OES_texture_cube_map GL_EXT_discard_framebuffer 

OPENGL 2.0 (Mali-400 MP)

GENERAL
 Renderer: Mali-400 MP
 Version: OpenGL ES 2.0
 Vendor: ARM
 GLSL Version: OpenGL ES GLSL ES 1.00

LIMITS
 Texture Size: 4096x4096
 Texture Units: 8
 Vertex Textures: 0
 Combined Textures: 8
 Viewport Size: 4096x4096
 Renderbuffer Size: 4096x4096
 Cubemap Size: 1024x1024
 Vertex Attributes: 16
 Vertex Uniforms: 256
 Varying Vectors: 12
 Fragment Uniforms: 256

VERTEX NUMERIC PRECISION
 Int: [-2^24, 2^24]
 Float: [-2^127, 2^127], 2^-23

FRAGMENT NUMERIC PRECISION
 Low Int: [-2^11, 2^11]
 Medium Int: [-2^11, 2^11]
 High Int: Not available
 Low Float: [-2^15, 2^15], 2^-10
 Medium Float: [-2^15, 2^15], 2^-10
 High Float: Not available

COMPRESSED TEXTURE FORMATS
 ETC1

EXTENSIONS
 GL_OES_texture_npot GL_OES_compressed_ETC1_RGB8_texture GL_OES_standard_derivatives GL_OES_EGL_image GL_OES_depth24 GL_ARM_rgba8 GL_ARM_mali_shader_binary GL_OES_depth_texture GL_OES_packed_depth_stencil GL_EXT_texture_format_BGRA8888 GL_EXT_blend_minmax GL_OES_EGL_image_external GL_OES_EGL_sync GL_OES_rgb8_rgba8 GL_EXT_multisampled_render_to_texture GL_EXT_discard_framebuffer 

GRAPHIC MODES (RGBA 32bit)
 RGB 16bit (565)
 RGB 16bit (565), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit
 RGB 16bit (565), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x4
 RGB 16bit (565), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x16, Non-Conformant
 RGBA 16bit (5551), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit
 RGBA 16bit (5551), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x4
 RGBA 16bit (5551), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x16, Non-Conformant
 RGBA 16bit (4444), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit
 RGBA 16bit (4444), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x4
 RGBA 16bit (4444), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x16, Non-Conformant
 RGB 32bit (888)
 RGB 32bit (888), Depth 24bit
 RGB 32bit (888), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit
 RGBA 32bit (8888)
 RGBA 32bit (8888), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit
 RGBA 32bit (8888), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit
 RGBA 32bit (8888), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x4
 RGBA 32bit (8888), Depth 24bit, Stencil 8bit, Samples x16, Non-Conformant

FEATURES (22)

GRAPHICS
 OpenGL 2.0

ANDROID HARDWARE
 android.hardware.bluetooth
 android.hardware.camera
 android.hardware.camera.autofocus
 android.hardware.camera.front
 android.hardware.faketouch
 android.hardware.location
 android.hardware.location.gps
 android.hardware.location.network
 android.hardware.location.provider
 android.hardware.microphone
 android.hardware.screen.landscape
 android.hardware.screen.portrait
 android.hardware.sensor.accelerometer
 android.hardware.sensor.compass
 android.hardware.touchscreen
 android.hardware.touchscreen.multitouch
 android.hardware.touchscreen.multitouch.distinct
 android.hardware.usb.accessory
 android.hardware.wifi

ANDROID SOFTWARE
 android.software.live_wallpaper

GOOGLE
 com.google.android.feature.GOOGLE_BUILD

Created with Hardware Info 2.1.0


=======================/tablet hardware specification=======================

It's not a surprise that the its not as advertised. Not only the model name is not the same, the manufacture is not named in the hardware. Even the user manual stated a dual core 1.2ghz tablet with 512mb of ram. The results is also verified with Antutu




======================= Antutu Benchmark =======================



=======================  Comparison with Galaxy Tab =======================


============================== Multitouch =============================


This tablet has 5 point multitouch. Though tracking and accuracy is much to be desired. Using the stock developer option under settings I was able to demonstrate the 5 point multitouch. However when in actual use, like pinch zooming in BBC news, Opera and Little Dragons it take a second or two for the gesture to be recognized.
It could most probably be the fault of software as live tracking shows acceptable lag where the displayed input was trailing a few mm from my fingers.

============================== Dissected  =============================

Taking apart the tablet is a fairly simple process of running a fingernail along the part where the top frame meets with the bottom cover. I had the opportunity to witness how it was done while at the shop. For someone who's not used to opening electronic devices, they would definitely think that something will break by opening the tablet. So here it is, opened up. the circuit board is screwed onto the front frame, along with the screen. The battery is mounted at the back of the screen and as you can see, there's no label on the battery. capacity is anybody's guess.

The main processor is an Allwinner A13 chip as printed on the chip itself. The QC sticker is blocking the "Allwinner"
Taking a closer look at the circuit board and there's two memory chips labelled 256XDDR3 which suppose to deliver 512Mb RAM, however Antutu and hardware info tells otherwise. It could be undersized RAM and intentionally labelled 256. Even though the video processor of my laptop is using shared memory from the RAM, hardware info will state the correct amount of RAM and at what slot. Then again, I'm comparing a laptop with a tablet of dubious quality.

Wifi chip is a Realtek and the motor socket for vibration is unused.

The circuit board is properly anchored with screws onto the case with the screen in between. I will need to remove that to take a look at the opposite side of the circuit board.When the time comes.

============================== Connectability =============================

It only has wifi, no bluetooth, no 3G. I was able to install bump, but didn't manage to get it to detect the device i'm bumping with.

The only plus point about this tablet is how it manage to get connected via wifi so effortlessly and manage to maintain good connection. I've had problems with my Samsung galaxy Y and S2 to get a stable connection with my home unifi router. The Samsungs will connect but data transfer is painfully slow, sometimes none at all. Oddly enough, no problems with laptops, and this china tab. Streaming via pps.tv that came preloaded with the tablet is lag free. Speaking of preloaded apps, this tablet came with abundant of it, mostly cracked or free versions.

But when the tablet is in hibernate, it turn off its wifi. When the tablet it awoken it will re-establish connection, which will cause a brief moment of unresponsiveness.

============================== Usability =============================

The stock rom for this Q8 A13 tab is sluggish especially at cold starts when its been hibernating for a long time, like 4 hours. Launching applications directly waking from hibernate will result in that app not responding and having a "App is not responding, wait/close" notification. But once it had warmed up, its quite usable, with allot of patiences.

Also, the stock rom does not come with swipe keyboard, so a separate app has to be installed for it which will only lag the performance of the tablet further. Typing regularly for me is quite a challenge as I've grown too used with swipe. The predictive text that comes with the stock rom is really pathetic.

It comes with Play Store and it works with my account for both free and paid downloads. At the moment I've yet to receive any unverified transactions in my credit card bill, so far so good. It's rather unfortunate that I'm unable to tell if the stock rom is embedded with any malware as I don't know programming.

The tablet does play 3D games smoothly as advertised, however only selected ones like Raging Thunder which seems to work well with low end devices. Play Store won't allow me to install NOVA or Modern Combat. I was able to install Eternity Warriors and Frontline Commando but the loading time is a real let down. Even where's my water took forever to load when the app is launched. Its not something that I'll play during breakfast as breakfast will always be served before the level loads. At the moment children software does not demand the latest and greatest hardware, and its able to perform modestly well on the Q8 A13. So it make a cheaper alternative to the iPad or Samsung Tab for toddler use.

============================== Final Verdict =============================

For RM230 it's an okay deal if you are not expecting Galaxy S2 performance.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

1 Year Hiatus

So it's been a year since I last blogged. Actual-wise, it's an unplanned hiatus.

Did I missed blogging?

Definitely.

There are times where I've came across of some thought provoking topics, normally from radio discussions, like liteFM and in the later half of 2012, I switched to BFM which suited my taste of serious dialogues and discussions and oldies in between. Also I like to think of it as Bieber Free Music.

2012 marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I got married a day before 2012. And became a father in late October. During the wedding I realized that I'm really lucky to have friends that I never thought I had. Were were mere aquatints and facebook buddies during the early car club days. Then I MIA for a good 2-3 years before inviting them as my wedding buddies at moments notice. Been hanging out with them since the wedding till the day my wife given birth to our beautiful daughter. Then fatherhood came, it totally changed me as a person. Now my daughter's needs come first, children are no longer annoying noisy beings. If a child cries, it's always a reason, deciphering the cries is a challenge. Thinking back, its rather amusing that I vowed not to have children, then flip flop back and fourth on that topic with my wife as my age nears 30. Past that age, supporting a child financially through university, and having the energy to keep up with a child that's constantly on a sugar high will be many folds tougher.

So here it is, the first post of 2013, finally dusting off the virtual cobwebs in this blog.