Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cherrypad Review: What You Get for $188

I'm going to put my shipment issues to the side and review the actual device. I've been putting it through its paces and I think I have a pretty good grasp on what its capable of doing. $206 shipped is a fraction of what you'll pay for other tablet devices, but I think its surprisingly worth it if you're a particular type of user. Let me set the scenario for you: you've got a dumbphone and you need a little something extra- you contemplated getting a Kindle, but then decided you wanted to be able to surf the web, watch videos, listen to music maybe...
The Cherrypad is made of a lightweight aluminum, which gives it an impressive look but the edges can dig into the hand after a while. It has 3 side buttons (power, volume up and down) and 3 front buttons (home, back and menu- curiously missing is search). The screen is resistive, but also has some movement to it-pressing firmly feels like you might 'crumple' the top layer. There's also a lot of bezel which makes you wish they had made the device slightly smaller. The resolution isn't awful and when videos playback they are crystal clear and bright.
Battery life is impressive- with wifi on and medium brightness I am getting through a day of assorted tasks including streaming videos and podcasts. The Cherrypad comes with an AC charger and a USB sync/charge cable only. The charging port is proprietary, although I don't have any other chargers at the moment to confirm if there is some crossover.
Android Market is what sets the Cherrypad apart from its similarly-priced competitors. You can even download the Google voice app and you will be able to send and receive texts over wifi (no voice calls as far as I could see). Most apps are present in the market, but a few -such as Slingplayer) aren't there. And then there are some oddities with running apps- mainly weird layout issues. Angry Birds runs, but there is no visible text and all the glass and cages appear white. I tried to install the apk for Slingplayer (using the handy included 'App Installer') but the app simply wouldn't launch once installed.
Audio is ample but at the highest levels it becomes a bit tinny- could be because of the aluminum body. There is also over 1 GB of internal storage space which is great for being able to store items onboard. Today I did a hard reset and the items in storage space remained- good to know in case of any critical crashes!
The first thing you'll need to know is that you will not want to load this up with a bunch of apps. I did that initially and it finally slowed to a crawl. You should plan to load it up with a few critical apps- an ereader, newsreader and battery watch app at most. You'll have Google Maps, Talk and YouTube preinstalled along with the usual staples. Initially I had it loaded up with LauncherPro, BeyondPod and other high-overhead apps and finally today I was forced to do a hard reset.
So, what's the verdict? That's a tough one- for a hundred dollars more you might be able to pick up a full-fledged netbook....but how much fun would you really have with that? In my opinion, I'd say that the Cherrypad is a perfect alternative to those higher priced tablets. For $200 you'll have a portable device capable of handling your multimedia and running your favorite Android apps, and in this holiday season where so many are cash-strapped I'd say you could do worse. No carrier contract, no next day buyers remorse if you know exactly what you're getting in to.
What will I be doing? Well, sadly I'll be sending my Cherrypad back as Zecozi was so kind as to process a refund for me already. I'm hoping I can ship it back next week so I can get some side-by-side shots with the Galaxy Tab. I really wanted to keep the Cherrypad, but then the 3 week shipping ordeal soured me on the experience. Zecozi and Cherrypal have indicated that they would be willing to reprocess the transaction....jury is still out.

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