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Last Updated: August 8th, 2010

What with the fuss that the KMart-exclusive Augen GenTouch 78 has been getting lately, it seems like an opportune time to release a budget-oriented Android tablet that is actually purchasable. MP4Nation.net, an online store with a penchant for Asian PMPs and audio players, has had its Nationite-branded line of products for quite a while now, and on their blog today they unveiled the latest addition : the Nationite MIDnite, a 7” tablet rocking the latest version of Android. It is based on the WITS A81e, and unlike the RocketFish tablet tweeted by Best Buy CTO Robert Stephens it has some pretty hard specs to pore over.

CPU : Cortex A8 TI OMAP3530 @ 800 MHz

RAM : 256 MB DDR

Screen : 800 x 480 7” LCD

Storage : 2GB Internal Storage & microSD Expansion

Connectivity : WiFi*

OS : Android 2.2 w/ Android Market support

Battery Life : ~5 hrs Wireless Internet

The MIDnite also has three hardware buttons on the front, power and volume keys along with a headphone jack and USB connectivity around the edges, a removable (!!) 3000 mAh battery and a kickstand. Other highlights include USB peripheral support via miniUSB to USB-A dongle and the ability to load custom ROMs.

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Browsing shown off on the WITS A81e upon which the MIDnite is based.

Sounds pretty enticing for two-hundred bucks, right? There’s got to be a catch somewhere, some corners cut… and there are. The biggest one is probably the use of a resistive touchscreen rather than the capacitive technology found on most smartphones and more notably the iPad. However, unlike the rather numb touch panel of the seemingly-extinct $150 Augen GenTouch, this resistive panel appears to actually be quite capable. As MP4Nation founder Raz says in his video demo “I don’t think anyone’s going to be complaining about the responsiveness”, and having seen some user-interface demos it’s hard not to be impressed by the device’s performance.

Another downer is the lack of an accelerometer which strikes out any chance of playing motion-controlled racing games or the like, and means you will probably have to look for a software solution to rotate the screen manually. A final niggle is the lack of a camera and a microphone, but at this price point there are always going to peripherals shaved to save on cost . Perhaps the USB host mode touted on the MIDnite product page will enable external cameras and mics in the future, as well as (hopefully) keyboards – something that would be great to use with that included kickstand.

The final bit of bad news is that the software isn’t ready. It may seem ironic, but MP4Nation’s MIDnite is struggling with audio and video playback on the current build of its Froyo ROM. With just over two weeks to the August 23rd release, there is still time to sort out these issues, and it is good to know that WITS, the OEM, is committed to providing updates for the A81e/MIDnite tablet.

We still have a couple of questions about the hardware that we’d like to find out, and if we get more info about the internals of the MIDnite we’ll be sure to let you all know. In the meantime fire away with your insight, desires and misgivings in the comment section below.

You can see some more photos of the device, and a hands-on video at the MP4Nation store and blog. Discussion of the device and ordering is going on in the MP4Nation forum.

* The MIDnite also includes a Bluetooth chip but it has yet to be supported in firmware. There is also  an optional GPS module which is so far not enabled.

Source : MP4Nation.net Blog

Brian O'Toole
Having learnt his writing techniques reading e-Books of Sherlock Holmes, Brian now spends his time /kicking, lurking, SSHing and encoding.
  • Sam

    Another thing about the firmware is that the developers at Slatedroid are just as, if not more, committed to making custom firmwares than wits. There's already a beta firmware by one dev who got an OEM model. So you can probably bet those software issues will be fixed, one way or another. Plus, mp4nation already loads the custom roms onto their android 1.5 apads, so it might get the latest and greatest firmware without you having to do anything.

  • Vic

    "The Nationite MIDNite with come with Android 2.2 and Google Marketplace preloaded."

    Something is wrong here, the market isn't open, and or for tablets.

    • Sam

      Some slatedroid people found out how to get a unique deviceid, and mp4nation is doing that to every unit, along with the latest firmware.

      Plus, the market and most apps just scale up to the screen size.

  • Vic

    "For future production runs and deliveries, Augen will block and remove the Google Mobile Services Application Suite from the current devices until further notice. We are currently in communication with Google Inc. to obtain the required licensing for upcoming products, and will announce in our future statements the timelines and availability of these products as it will become available to us. However, for your convenience Augen will add applications to accommodate the absence of the Google Mobile Services Application Suite."

    • Sam

      So that's what happened to the Gentouch. Google needs to chill about their apps, imo.

  • Vic

    Maybe, but if you look back Google has said that scaling and other issues would be dealt with in FroYo and Gingerbread. My guess is waiting a few months more would be prudent.

  • Nemo

    Linked page says the CPU runs at 600 MHz, not 800.