EZPad Platinum 830DC

A month or two ago I was going through my usual set of emails for online shopping catalogues and I came across a dual-core, 8-inch, HDMI, Android 4.1 for $99 + $8 shipping (http://www.dealsdirect.com.au). I have been interested in trying out some of these ‘cheap’ Chinese tablets after being VERY impressed with my SmartQ T15 9.7-Inch tablet. Unfortunately, this one didn’t impress me anywhere near as much as the SmartQ.

Specifications:
Android 4.1.1
Amlogic 8726-MX ARM Cortex-A9 1.6GHz (although 1.5GHz is the max according to most apps I’ve tried)
8-inch Multitouch (5-finger) Capacitive LCD Touch Screen (1024 x 768), 4:3, 16 million colours.
Mali-400 MP Dual-Core GPU
1GB DDR3 Ram
3200 mAH Lithium Polymer Battery
2.0 Megapixel Rear facing camera
0.3 Megapixel Front facing camera
1 x microUSB port
1 x HDMI Out
1 x 3.5mm Stereo Headphone Jack

Let me start by saying that I’m on my second one of these, the first had a ridiculously bad viewing range (basically you couldn’t move the screen without it going inverse). Instead of replacing the unit themselves, DealDirect forwarded the complaint onto SpotBuy (the distributor of the EZPad range). They informed me that I should do a factory reset (how did they think that is that going to fix the screen?), which I did just to humour them, and then to send it to them if it didn’t fix the issue.

A week later I send it to SpotBuy (which cost me in postage charges) and another 2 weeks later I get a request from Australia Post to come and pick up a package and pay a COD delivery fee (which was more than $20).
When I open it up, there’s a work note which said “customer is wrong” but also that they had replaced the unit anyway.
Low and behold, the new one is much improved – I can actually read from the screen.

Aside from all that, there are general issues with the device:

  • The screen is still pretty limited in it’s viewing range – given it’s not an IPS screen, I’m not too annoyed by it.
  • The speaker is on the back – and it’s not very loud.
  • The preinstalled apps cannot be removed, and they cause issues when Google does updates (multiple force-closing issues).
    • Since I’m a geek, I knew what to do. So I proceeded to root the device with Crystal Root and deleted the apps from /data/myapp
  • Battery life is shockingly bad (less than an hour of gaming/movie). Subsequently, I discovered this was caused by ‘Cell Standby’, which is interesting considering it has no cellular radio. Either way – changing hw.nophone = false to true in the /system/build.prop file (root needed of course) fixed that and I now get a fair bit better battery, still bad though.
  • Charging sometimes just doesn’t work. I’ll put it on charge at night and wake up with it at the same level and it still says Charging (AC)
  • Graphics performance is great on the first reboot  (Sims FreePlay, Angry Birds, Carmageddon), but if you come back after it’s been on a while, games are VERY choppy. So if you will want to reboot fairly often.
  • Build quality appears to be okay, but not shock proof; DON’T drop it. I did once from about 30cm onto concrete and it almost popped the screen out (I was able to bend it back into shape. The metal on the back is very soft and it already covered in nicks and scratches.
  • The touch screen responsiveness is good, but there are definitely some annoying glitches where the screen suddenly locks on the same point you touched last and doesn’t respond correctly to anything. The only way to unstick it is to lock and unlock the screen.
  • Wi-Fi performance isn’t exactly stellar. I’ve found the range to be at least 5m less than my other Android devices.
  • Despite what it says you CANT charge this device via the microUSB port, forcing the use the charger it comes with (or a hard to find connector to USB)
  • Finally, the Android customisations done are really annoying – specifically, they’ve put a button on the status bar which takes a screenshot. It’s the most ridiculous ‘feature’ I’ve ever seen on an Android device. I find myself constantly hitting it instead of the app switch button which is next to it.

On the ‘Pros’ side of the argument:

  • It’s cheap!
  • The screen is a good size for reading
  • The dual-core processor is reasonably good, quite smooth
  • It’s pretty good for gaming (with the exception above)
  • HDMI output works really well!
  • Happily plays 1080p H.264 MKV files without glitch
  • Cameras are as good as you could expect for the price
  • It’s thin
  • It’s lightweight
  • Did I mention it’s cheap?

UPDATE November 2013:
Well, after a grand total of 4 months the EZPad 830DC is dead.
In the last week I had been getting more random reboots than usual and I also noticed it was getting difficult to charge it.
A few days ago it decided to not charge at all; so I decided to investigate.
It is actually quite easy to break into, but it’s certainly very fragile inside (As I soon discovered).
After breaking out my iFixit kit and prying open the case with a plastic spludger, I found the power connector had broken sheer off the motherboard taking with it 2 of the 6 solder pads.

Luckily, the two that broke were redundant so it could be re-soldered and glued down with super glue.
After that it was never quite the same, it still didn’t work right and even worse the connector didn’t ‘click’ anymore.

After a while the glue on the bottom of the battery let go, causing the battery to move around, which seems to be what was causing it to randomly turn off.
Something else which has always bugged me is that there was a hair in the glass, probably from the manufacturing plant. So I thought I’d kill 2 birds with one stone and get the hair out at the same time as I glue down the battery.
Unfortunately this was not a smart move. I managed easily enough to remove the motherboard and screen, but when it came to putting the LCD panel back in, I encountered some difficultly and long story short; I broke the right side of the glass and at the same time managed to damage the LCD itself.
So that’s it.
So long little EZPad, you won’t be missed!