Monday, January 20, 2014

I bought a $37 tablet -- what did I learn from that?

I few days ago I got my new Ubislate 7Ci that I ordered online. I do not need another tablet, I have an iPad and an iPhone so this was more out of curiosity. How can anyone design, produce and sell a 7 inch tablet for $37? The company that makes Ubislate is called Datawind.

So, now I have tried the Ubislate for a few days or at least tried to use it.  It has an Android system. Actually most of the manual and support language present the device as if it is a phone. The Ubislate has a camera, apps, and an app store, it has most built-in functionality that you would expect from a tablet.

First impressions are that is is very, very slow, really, really bad screen, it is far from intuitive to use. It is still quite amazing (and somewhat disturbing) that something like this can be produced and sold for $37. I will not review the tablet per se here, I suppose there are many reviews online already. Instead I have been testing this device just to see what kind of observations and questions it may lead to.

First of all, if this can be built for almost no money, it means that devices like this will soon cost almost nothing and will be pervasive. You may get one for free in the store, school, movies, etc. Devices that work as "windows" into the world of information and content will be everywhere. Of course, I knew this already, we have said that for years, but having this device in my hand really makes that clear.

It is also quite obvious that this kind of functionality will be built into every other thing. We knew this too, but again, seeing this device makes that very real.

It is also obvious that we are entering a time when the way to handle devices like this has become as normal as using a car. To make someone read a manual, to go through very detailed descriptions of how to use it is not going to work. I can imagining myself spending some time learning a new device if it is expensive but for $37 I do not want to have to learn anything new (btw, this device does not satisfy that requirement).

So, what have we learned here. Well, I realized that being face to face with this device, trying to use it, have helped me to ask some questions and to realize things about where we are with our technology today--things I already knew in a way but that became quite real. And it was quite fun to try to understand the device and to see if I could use it for some practical purpose (for now, the answer to that question is 'no' :-)


Comment made three months later:

Well, if anyone is interested to know what happened to my experiment with the cheap tablet, I can let you know that it has not been used at all since the day the post above was posted. It is obvious that the tablet is useless and requires to much effort to be able to use for anything. So, that was $37 and some natural resources wasted.


David said...

An interesting experience for me was buying an older Boost Android Phone (Samsung Transform Ultra) on clearance for $30, and rather than using it as a phone (I never activated service) seeing what else I could do with it. It is now attached to the dashboard of my car, and has replaced my GPS (using the excellent CoPilot GPS app with all offline maps for $15), my music player (use Google Music Player and store music on a 16GB SD card I got for $5) and to some extent my hiking GPS (using Backcountry Explorer app). Being a phone it has a surprisingly accurate GPS built in. So my $30 android phone is replacing a $100 GPS unit, a $50 music player and a $200 hiking GPS. Plus at a pinch I can check email etc. if there is a wifi nearby. I just bought 2 newer clearance Kyocera Hydro phones for $10 each so I'll see what I can do with them!

Vincent Diaz said...

I've been picking devices up at the cheapest prices I can as well and running these experiments. I am more willing to learn with the cheaper price. I consider it working for the bargain. I have 7 devices and four plus OS s that I have mastered and I enjoy working with them as I try to design all their best qualities into a single OS.

Halman Freud said...

I don't know nothing about tech, it is very hard form me. Yesterday I baught a smart phone but yet I don't know how to download whatsapp. So imagen with a tablet...

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