Sponsored Adverts

Author Topic: Android tablets - the cheap VIA wm8650 powered kind  (Read 55847 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline kat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2361
Android tablets - the cheap VIA wm8650 powered kind
« on: April 02, 2011, 03:05:12 AM »
Ever wondered what one of those cheap Chinese Android Tablets looked like inside? No? Me neither. One just kind of assumes it's 'junk' from the get-go. I had a punt (risked buying) one recently to potentially use for testing Android Apps, turns out you can't even do that because although it's "Android" OS it's not "Android" OS, if that makes sense. Being made in China, these cheap tablets PCs don't have the correct type of licensing to allow use of, or access to, Googles official "Android Market Place" (interesting news on this just the other day - Google is going to 'lock down' the core OS), as a result the OS is locked out. Well, that's not quite right, they're not "locked" per-say, the functionality just doesn't appear to be there to begin with.

This was the predicament had with a recent purchase of a VIA King WM8650 7" tablet, the aforementioned low risk 'punt' which didn't quite pay off. The material quality was decent enough, but it appears that they were either not paying too much attention during the initial design prototype stage, or they've jury-rigged some higher spec'd parts into the mix at a later stage in manufacture to bring it up to spec with modern kit that don't quite fit the way they should (which is odd because the chip-set itself is relatively new).

This means, with the screen being resistive (as they often are this low down the scale), any bumps or warps these mismatched parts cause in the casing and screen surface result in inaccurate touch triggering, exacerbated by the odd way the plastic bends under pressure as it is - the closer a finger/stylus touch is to the edge of the device the less flexible it is because it's more firmly supported, and the greater the disparity between activation point and resistive reaction. A very awkward and frequently frustrating combination.

In terms of the VIA wm8650 chip in Real Life™ use, the aforementioned blocking of access directly to 'official' Google App's pretty much kills it's usefulness in that department, certainly to an English Speaking demographic; because of this you can't really load up 'proper' alternatives to the included (Chinese) app's, browsers for example. Generally speaking, yes it's a cheap bit of kit, but the clumsiness with which it's been put together means as a low end device it's pretty much nothing more than glorified digital photo frame.

Ironically, there's is a huge potential market out there for a decent quality 7" (inch) tablet PC devices, not every one wants to buy into the Apple brand, cart around something the size of a business laptop, nor do they want to spend that much cash on something that's not much more functional than being an overgrown iPod (I jest!).

WARNING: Obviously it goes without saying that breaking open an Android tablet like this very thoroughly voids any and all warranties!... but it does fix the problem associated with warped surfaces (the price of the unit meant it costing more to send it back). Oh, the screws to separate the top and bottom are under the black outer cosmetic cover with the logo on it, that has to be peeled off (which pretty much knackers it). Use a small screwdriver on the watchmakers screws, then with a bit of teasing the parts should separate to reveal the gubbins shown below. Careful with the battery, the contents are loose and simply wrapped in plastic shielding.

Anywho, the Pros and Cons;

Pros
  • Nice size
  • Cheap price
  • WiFi reception is relatively strong
  • LAN connection as Internet gateway available (see below)
  • Plays YouTube (not sure if this is natively or with some background conversion)
  • Can use MicroSD cards, max to 32 GB
  • Standby pretty much all day (effectively in "sleep" mode)
  • Does support PDF, DOC and other files (see below)
  • Video calling support through back facing camera (software/server dependent)
  • G-Sensor supported (works)

Cons
  • Multi-touch not supported
  • Resistive Touch work better with a pointing device other than fingers
  • Poor iteration of the Android OS
  • Can't access Googles Android Marketplace*
  • Can't associated any of these devices with a Google Android Account*
  • Slow and Choppy, especially on 'modern' websites (BBC, MSN, etc.)*
  • Only c.300MB available on HD for users files (based on 2GB HD)
  • No easy way to transfer files as OS doesn't see networked devices*
  • Warps and distortions in the case
  • Quite heavy for the size
  • Battery life very short at 2+ hours
  • Can't upgrade internal memory or HD space (see MicroSD above)
  • Can't upgrade OS*
  • 800 x 480 screen
  • Converter box doesn't fit securely so data connection is drops in-and-out intermittent. The box itself is prone to falling out under it's own weight or if tapped during use
  • No internal or external 3G or 4G devices. Wireless networking only

* indicates a greater likelihood of the highlighted problems being the result of a poorly optimised and locked out version of the Android OS platform and not the feature/hardware itself.


VIA's "WonderMedia" wm8650 CPU chipset


Battery and WiFi cards original position warped casing


Yah, somehow me thinks this *isn't* an official Apple product


Android Market effectively blocked by 3rd party Chinese store


Size comparisons w/ 2.5" HD and A5 diary

Offline kat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2361
Re: Android tablets - the cheap VIA wm8650 powered kind
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 10:31:41 PM »
Whelp, they didn't post my semi-anonymous review so that qualifies for some treatment here then!

The VIA "King" 8650 was purchased from brandsdragon.com (not live linking to them so copy past any URL's from here on in). If you do a bit of due-diligence on them you'll find a lot of posts under the name "davismicro.com" (also look out for "everbuying.com"); there is speculation the owners changed the name not simply to re-brand but to try and shake off what appears to be quite a substantial amount of bad karma through what appears to be their poor handling of customer support, certainly with respect to selling into the Western Market. And that's the key issue here, selling into a Western Market.

Although these cheap Android tablets do work, the odd defective unit aside and relative to ones expectations and budget of course, they tend not to be set up properly for use by Western consumers because the applications and software typically installed by default are Chinese; Chinese menus, Chinese options, Chinese online stores and markets, none of which can be customised or changed due to licensing issues with various European and Western services, Googles Android Marketplace isn't the only one 'blocking' these devices, and it's likely they may never authorise them either due to pressure from big brand investments made over the years to get Android up-to-par. All of this has repercussions on usage confidence in the Western Market; would you submit your credit card details to an unknown site in Chinese? It's doubtful.

Before continuing I need to preface this next bit with a disclaimer to the effect that what follows is expressly an opinion based on what's been my observed experience. This issue of 'trust' or 'confidence' can also be applied to the hardware itself in that in certain instances you may very well find yourself inadvertently buying what appear to be "grey-goods", i.e. lookalikes, unofficially branded hardware, or items just not correctly or fully licensed by the brand holder. The VIA "King" 8650 "Apple" Android tablet above is a good example of this with its "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China" and "Apple" logo on the back (which looks to have been photo-edited out of the product shots incidentally). A couple of other products of exact same design are also on offer - the UPad ZT-180, DropPad M7009 and the DropPad D10 - so one does have to wonder if they too are equally as "grey" (with accompanying photo-edited product shots). Need to contact Apple about that me thinks.

I found the experience with BrandsDragon itself a bit odd, they only seem to work Monday - Friday, a little peculiar given the 27/7 World we live in; not sure about anyone else's experiences shopping online but if I order something from Amazon on Saturday and it's in stock it'll be ready for shipping on Monday, meaning someone has done the packing and processing necessary for that to happen. The people at brandsdragon don't appear to do the same, and here I thought only Christians didn't work on Sundays!. Make sure you don't put an order in on Thursday or Friday then, because it may not see any actions until the following Monday or Tuesday, potentially four or five days from point of ordering. I also find it odd that they need to "check" items they have in stock to make sure they work etc., surely if it's in stock it should have already gone through some form of quality control before being put on the shelves? And with regards to taking so long to process orders, does it really take two days do those item checks before shipped out? What do they do? Play poker in the stock room?.

I'd be cautious about using credit/debit or other payments that require you to enter personal information because whilst seems legitimately Secure Scanned by McAfee they don't appear to have a secure certificate in place for those critical areas of the site that require user input; pages are served up as plain "http" instead of the more secure "httpS". This may or may not be slightly moot to them because generally speaking, if the *site* is secure then the payment system similarly follows, I wouldn't necessarily bet my hat on that though. It would help end user confidence however, to get a secure certificate sorted out; if those things are good enough for Amazon, then I'm sure they're good enough for BrandsDragon. The upshot is to; 1) if you're going to punt on something and buy from davismicro/brandsdragon/everbuying, spend only as much as you can afford to loose. Period. You will have hells own job getting a refund, and what refund you do get may be subject to re-stocking fees and/or postal charges for sending the item back (both of which seem to vary and irrespective as to your being in receipt of a broken item in the first place). And 2) and, use PayPal or other offsite and secure service where ever possible.

Just to clarify, brandsdragon.com/davismicro.com/everbuying.com are not in of themselves out right scams, although you could be forgiven for thinking they are simply because of what appears to be a disproportionate amount of negative feedback littering the Internet, ostensibly posted by angry customers who have not had what they consider fair or reasonable recourse to the problems they've encountered with orders and/or product purchases.

There is a genuine and definite demand for tablets, Android OS or not, alternative to the main Apple, HP, Dell, Toshiba et-al 'cartel'. And yet companies like this constantly fail to properly capitalise on these opportunities be being woefully short-sighted, obsessing too much on 'managing' their online persona in stead of addressing customers problems; having affiliates or employees sign up to forums so they can post variations on a theme that "davismirco is good service, buy last week, arrived good. Buy more" doesn't help build customer confidence or business reputations. Nor does it help to leave customers so frustrated with their experiences that they post "davismicro/brandsdragon/everybuying is a scam" because their issues never see resolution. You don't fix that by changing your company name.

Would I punt again? Maybe. I'd be more inclined to do so if the products had proper 'Westernised' versions available. I wouldn't necssarily recommend buying from davismicro/brandsdragon/everbuying either (unless you accept the risk involved), not until they address the issues raised above at least.

Offline kat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2361
Re: Android tablets - Import Duties & Tax
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2011, 02:23:25 PM »
I forgot to add that generally speaking if you're buying anything from China it means you're "importing goods" so there is an increased likelihood you'll need to check to see if there are any Import Duties or Sales (VAT) Tax due on the items or shipment. For the UK, "importing" these Android tablets from China means a VAT charge is due by default (currently at 20%) but not necessarily Duty - the Commodity Code generally applied to these types of products is "847 19000 00".

Rather than relying on the above info, makes sure you do your own due-diligence before buying anything from these Chinese tech wholesalers so you don't get any surprises; Duties and Tax change and Customs (usually via the shipper used - DHL, UPS et-al) will hold item until all monies are paid in full.

Offline kat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2361
Flat batteries & 'bricking' android tablets
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2011, 06:18:23 AM »
Oh dear. It seems that these wm8650 tablets 'brick' if the batteries completely drain of power. I've not used the one being 'reviewed' in this topic for a few days, went to turn it on and as expected it didn't, dead battery and all that.

However, plugging the tablet into mains for a while to charge it up results in the thing only showing the 'Android' start screen when powering up, it simply refuses to fully boot no matter the combination of buttons (hold speaker up+power on, hold menu+power, menu then power etc.. etc.. etc..). And as there's no reset button on the device anywhere to be found that's not available as an option either.

Looks like these things need to have a charge in them at all times, else they stop working. And judging by the number of topics on this subject on line, seems like it's a very common problem with these cheap, low end tablets.

Offline kat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2361
Android tablet innards M009S_V5 main-board (Oops I broke it!)
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2011, 01:40:01 AM »
Whilst investigating how the power system works I broke the tablet ::) Here's a bit more of a tear-down (breakdown) in terms of what's inside. First though, the reason it appears draining the battery bricks these tablets is that there's no other source of power, they have to be charged. So whilst the core memory appears to remain flashed, something else happens that causes data loss somewhere which results in a brick.

Anywho, the main-board is unbranded but marked as an M009S_V5 - 2011.02.22, if you search that online it turns up in an number of these really cheap Chinese tablets so the 7" VIA King isn't unique in that respect - different outward design and presentation, same internal hardware. It looks like the board is being used as a generic base which OEMs can configure systems using the SDRAM socket and board mount as a mechanism through which a certain, limited, degree of system customisation can be had so the same 'device' could in fact have any combination of a Via, RockChip or Samsung CPU with any combo of SDRAM without changing anything else. The main-board also houses the main system memory, a Samsung unit, alongside a couple of other Via branded other main chips (audio and lan controller).
You ever wonder why resistive screens are so naff? It's because there's a gap between the two contact sheets which introduces far too much intolerance in terms of accuracy, it's why you have to use a stylus of some description because a finger creates such a broad contact point the device can't correctly find a point of origin. Whilst we're on the subject of the resistive screens, the bottom contact plate is a sheet of 1mm glass so if you're breaking down one of these Chinese tablets be aware of that, they break easily because the double sided sticky-tape holding both the two contact sheets together and the subsequent resistive unit into the housing of the case, is pretty adhesive and doesn't have much give - using a dry heater on the stuff doesn't work the same way it does with normal 'glue'.

The thing that surprised me most on breaking this tablet apart was the amount of dead space there is; given that the screen itself is a fixed size, if these tablets were designed 'better' we'd actually have much smaller devices using far less of that odious 'black bezel' thang which serves absolutely no purpose at all - there's no support structure on the underside of the casing occupied by that border and even the reasoning behind having somewhere to put your fingers is a bit moot because of the way you 'hold' rather than 'grip' handheld devices. Maybe I should use Blender to knock up a design prototype!

All-in-all I've got a whole in my pocket and a few spare parts.

All the board components


Screen unit sat on top of outer casing

Offline kat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2361
"Restore OS [on bricked tablet] using the 'TF Card'"
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2011, 06:49:31 AM »
I'm always reading up on these cheap tablets and keep coming across a supposed 'fix' for these bricked androids, usually I have to say, told to a questioning customer by distributor or manufacturers rep; apparently you can 'fix' these dead battery boot issues using the "TF Card" and "reinstalling the OS". Now for those that don't know this (I didn't and had to look it up), a "TF Card" is short for "TransFlash", which according to Wikipeedia is the old name for what we now call "microSD cards" - you know the ones, those tiny black liquorice bombs for flash memory that are impossible to use with cold fingers (and usually need an adaptor to use elsewhere). Apparent all boot/OS problems can be fixed using one of these and reinstalling.

There are number of problems with this typically incomplete and unprofessional technical support response;
  • you might not have bought one
  • you most certainly won't have been given one for free
  • the one you bought is blank
  • the one you were supplied with as part of the deal (not free) is blank
  • non-brand android tablet suppliers don't reveal their sources
  • non-brand tablet support services aren't about to tell you where to download updates (god forbid!), never mind their entire customised OS versions
  • bricked devices don't boot, that's why we call them "bricks"
  • ...you've probably got the picture by now...
So for those of you reading this as part of your due-diligence.. clarify before you buy one of these things if the OS is supplied on a rescue disk, or there is somewhere that it can be had for free (after all you did buy the device).. they rarely are so don't be surprised if the answer is "no. you buy, ship good quick", or "you pay china send, we fix (you pay, we send fixed back (+shipping, taxes and re-import duties))". If they don't answer (fob you off), you have to pay for it, or they won't supply one, then save your money for something else - like a ten foot Easter-egg, at least eating that much chocolate will keep you smiling for a few months!

Offline NyRaised

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 1
Re: Android tablets - the cheap VIA wm8650 powered kind
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2011, 04:58:55 AM »
Actually I just bought the same tablet (wm8650) and the workaround is quite simple once you figure out how.
First download the Android market app from here http:// multiupload.com/2TRUW4L630 the set it up and register for account...close app.

Second download the Facebook App from here http:// downloadandroidrom.com/file/apk/facebook Install the Facebook app and logon.....then run the Android market app and then your in like Flynn.

Also try the Amazon.com app store...some great apps as well...get that here http:// amzn.to/getappstore Hope this helps..!!

Offline kat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2361
Re: Android tablets - the cheap VIA wm8650 powered kind
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2011, 06:39:17 AM »
Thanks for posting... no longer have that tablet (obviously, it's in bits). I suspect you bought a tablet based on the WonderMedia chipset rather than that specific so-called Android tablet (Via King). Although I can't test the steps posted, based on the experience I had, I couldn't simply download and install any file I chose to the device which was annoying, so I suspect the steps you've outlined don't necessarily translate to all devices.

Note, I've disabled the links you posted for 'safety' reasons, people can still copy/paste if they won't but I'd rather users be on the safe than sorry side of links to unknown sites. Amazon AppStore is only available to US customers according to their site, so even if you managed to get that loaded, outsiders will likely be blocked from using it.

Offline TurboBlaze

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 1
Re: Android tablets - the cheap VIA wm8650 powered kind
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2012, 09:22:16 AM »
How to burn tablet pc base on VIA WM8650 - look at this post

[EDIT]please don't post links of that nature, thanks. kat

 

Sponsored Adverts
RSS Copyright © 2019 KatsBits™. All Rights Reserved. No part of this or associated properties shall be reproduced without prior consent. AdvertisePrivacy PolicyDMCA (about DMCA) • Copyright PolicyCopyright Contact Home Blog Support About Contact Site Search Site Map RSS feed Forum YouTube FaceBook LinkedIn Twitter Instagram IMVU