08
Dec
IMG_20101130_111823

Like so many of you out there, I have been holding out for an Android tablet that would be well worth my saved pennies, one that I could be proud to stack up against the uppity iPad owners that loiter around the local Starbucks. I'll be the first to admit that this year has been disappointing to say the least – cancelled devices, resistive touch screens, underpowered hardware, and carrier only options have plagued the community thus far, and even while optimistic for 2011, it was clear that I needed a tablet now.

Let me save you the trouble of scouring the internet in search of a tablet. If you're like me and do not want to have to buy a carrier subsidized tablet with yet another data plan (I'm talking about you, Samsung), then your three top options are the Archos 101, the Advent Vega, and the Viewsonic G Tablet. The decision for impatient people such as myself is simple – with the Archos 101 on back order until further notice from Amazon, and the Advent Vega on back order as well, Viewsonic's G Tablet begins to look quite attractive, especially because it is available at your local Sears whose return policy happens to be 30 days, just in case you change your mind. Instant gratification is a beautiful thing.

The Viewsonic G Tablet

Now I will warn you beforehand that you will absolutely hate the Viewsonic G tablet out of the box. My initial thought was something along the lines of, “worst Android device I have ever handled.” Seriously, it was that frustrating. Let me explain.

The box is reminiscent of a cheap one hundred dollar knockoff from China, the device comes with no charge, forcing you to plug it into the wall for first use, the boot animation is forgettable, Tap 'n Tap is not only an ugly overlay but is so lagged up even after rebooting that it is almost unusable, and the accelerometer will flip orientations on you for no reason, even while flat on a table.

IMG_20101130_111823

Now with all of the ugly initial impressions of the Viewsonic G Tablet out of the way, we can focus on the good that comes with the device, and how you can harness it to become a powerful Android tablet with speeds rivaling those of the iPad. Though the out-of-the-box experience is dreadful, the technical specifications of the G tablet put it at the top of tablet hardware this year.

The Specs

The Viewsonic G Tablet packs:

  • 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2
  • 512MB RAM
  • 16GB internal memory
  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • 10.1" screen with 1080p playback  and 1024x600 resolution
  • 3650 mAh li ion battery
  • 1.3MP front facing camera
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi

Not many tablets this year can boast such powerful specs, and yet Viewsonic has completely failed to highlight the raw power of their device with their painfully slow and ugly interface: Tap 'n Tap. Seriously, it's an awful overlay, but don't let that dishearten you. True Android supporters pride themselves on not being  typical end users, and so part of the fun that comes with the G Tablet is the ability to hack it up into the tablet we see fit. Our friends over at XDA, who always do brilliant work, have truly astonished me with how they have turned this tablet 180 degrees to become a fierce competitor in the Android tablet game this year.

IMG_20101130_111549

Supercharge Your G Tablet

The three custom ROMs that are being actively developed and supported for the G Tablet are:

They bring the appeal of stock Froyo to the tablet that purists will thoroughly enjoy and speed up the device greatly. All three have their respective followings, but no matter which you choose, it will improve the tablet tenfold. Angry Birds looks native to the device, a fact that will appeal to many Angry Birds lovers out there. Swiping between home screens and running apps becomes so smooth in contrast to the sluggish Tap 'n Tap interface that you get the feeling your tablet may have been secretly switched out for something completely different.

Benchmarks

After installing a custom ROM on my G Tablet, I got a score of 2419 in Quadrant, which is kind of a de facto standard of Android benchmarks nowadays! For comparison, the stock Galaxy Tab only scores about 1060. The G Tablet doesn't seem so horrible now does it? Let's get started.

Instructions

First off all, here are some links you may need for support should something go wrong:

Root

Now that we got that out of the way, we need to gain root access. You need to sideload Z4 Root to your G Tablet. This allows us to modify all of the necessary files and use apps which require super user access.

Download Z4 Root here and then simply:

  1. Connect your tab to your computer via USB, make sure USB debugging is ON
  2. Turn on USB mass storage when your tablet prompts you
  3. Move the Z4 Root .apk over to your tablet and safely remove before disconnecting
  4. Open your favorite file manager, such as ES File Explorer, go to the root of your SD card, find Z4 Root and install it
  5. After it installs, click open, run the app, sit back for a minute, and enjoy root access!

For the time being, since the G Tablet does not support the Android Market, any apps that you will want for it must be side loaded similarly to how we side loaded the Z4 Root. If that is not appealing to you, check out this XDA thread on how to load standard Google apps and a rough Android market.

ROM

Now that we have root, download the ROM of your choice:

From here it is another simple process:

  1. Reconnect the G Tablet with USB debugging ON and mass storage ON
  2. Unzip the ROM file on your desktop and move the two extracted files (Recovery and  Update File) over to the tablet in the ROOT of your internal sd card
  3. Disconnect the tablet and power it down
  4. Press and HOLD and volume up button and then the power button together until you see the screen go black and “android” printed on the screen in gold letters, then release.
  5. After you release you should see update package installing itself, just be patient until the tablet reboots itself, and you are greeted by a new boot animation to show you that the ROM was flashed successfully!

IMG_20101130_111450

If you opt to test out several different ROMs, side load ROM Manager by ClockworkMod - it will allow you to easily boot into recovery and flash different ROMs.

Also be sure to keep checking those XDA threads for new updates and fixes!

And now enjoy your completely reborn Viewsonic G Tablet.

  • http://www.sassy-sweet.com keithsmith22

    This sounds great and might be a viable option. I see all of this sideloading going on, even after root. Is there no Market?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Please read the note in the article regarding the Market (search for "Market" on this page").

    • http://dangerismymiddlename.coms Paul Danger Kile

      None of the tabs come with the Market OotB.

      • David

        Actually, the Galaxy Tab does

  • Tate

    I returned my G Tab within 24 hours. I agree that the CPU and memory are great, as is the USB host and great battery life. HOWEVER, the screen is utter garbage compared to anything else I've tried. CM6 definitely makes the device worlds better than stock, but it still wasn't enough to help me get over the awful, awful, awful screen. Sadly, CM6 even has its own flaws on the G Tab, though those will probably be ironed out soon (hopefully). After trying several different options, I've settled on the Galaxy Tab. It's not perfect, but it does everything I want and looks beautiful.

    • Josh Cooter

      I completely agree with you that the screen is lacking. CM6 makes the device so much better for those who are looking into an Android tablet with decent hardware. Cyanogen team provides awesome support, though, so the issues it has right now will be resolved soon, I'm sure. However, it is the best that you can currently do right now without opting for the subsidized Galaxy Tab, in my honest opinion. Personally, I will be preordering the Notion Ink Tablet, tomorrow hopefully! Be sure to check out our story on that.

  • billflick575

    Which ROM do you recommend? And what about TnT 2.2?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      The article was written a few days ago, and TnT Lite got updated to 2.2 since then.

    • Josh Cooter

      As Artem has said, I wrote the article a few days ago but it was not at the top of the priority list with all of the Gingerbread news. I would recommend the Cyanogen ROM, though. Both are fast and clean, but in my past experience the Cyanogen team has always provided the best support, if you are feeling adventurous try both!

  • jesse

    Is there any concern that the devs working on hacks, Roma, etc will move onto better devices such as the notion ink Adam leaving you with a device that has limited devsupport

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      The same concern exists for any device out there, and yet rooting and using a custom ROM has been the way to go in most cases. In case a dev abandons a certain ROM, you can always switch to the other one, and chances are, you're already better off than using the slow stock crapware.

      • jesse

        True but the way I see it is that I would rather hold out for a device that I am satisfied with it in its default state.. yeah I will root and try new roms but I know that I can always revert back to stock in the event that devs abandon it.

        • Josh Cooter

          The Notion Ink Adam is shaping up to be a real competitor when it finally drops, but that does not make it the only way to go. I consider abandonment almost a non-issue because Cyanogen especially is very good about keeping up with support all around the board. It really depends on whether or not you want your tablet now, with a plan of action already in mind, or are willing to take a chance on Notion Ink.

  • Ruben

    Hmmmmmmm. What to do?

  • Jakub Glodek

    Awesome Article, makes me completely confused which tablet to buy. Android definitely makes me sad that Netflix and Hulu are not available, and that makes me want to get a Gen 1 iPad and then get a Android Tablet when everything else levels out. But is the $200 Apple premium worth it?

  • Geeknows

    Returned my Viewsonic Gtablet. Spending $379 for the tablet at Sears and then spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars of your valuable time getting the software to work up to 50% of the simplicity of the Ipad is not good economics. Do you want to spend all your time flashing this thing over and over and saying now it's almost as good as an Ipad or buying an Ipad and enjoy your time doing something productive?

    • josh cooter

      Actually, it took me only a few hours to root and flash the whole rig. After the initial ground work, it takes about a full 30 miserable seconds to flash a new ROM, so I'm not sure where you are pulling numbers like hundreds and hundreds of dollars in time from.

      • steve nugent

        pardon my lack of knowledge...but i downloaded the dec 24 update from viewsonic and got flash , diff startup screen and so on..if i root my tablet will it affect the download? and do i put the files mentioned on my sd card and load from there...thanks for your help..steve

  • trevmar

    The Ipad is not a starter for me. I travel a lot, and with IOS4 blocking all APN other than what the carriers what you to use, Apple products have become lead weights to anybody who needs to frequently change the SIM cards and APN. I need to UNDERSTAND the OS I am using, I need it to be under my control, and I am prepared to invest a few days educating myself into the intricacies what is arguably one of the most important devices in my electronic toolkit. Yes, time has to be productive, but my time, when on the road, is invaluable, and I want no surprise updates, no changes. Rooted Android gives me that :)

    • josh cooter

      Spoken like a true Android enthusiast ;)

  • MVL

    Wow.... this is my first Android device of any type, first tablet of any type, and I can't be happier with the purchase.

    This is far more powerful than the wimpiPad: bigger, faster, has a camera, has expandable SD, tethers for free to my Nokia phone.

    It needs to be hacked first, and this is the easiest guide I've seen so far:
    http://forum.androidcentral.com/android-tablets/45626-how-install-custom-good-rom-gtablet.html

  • COPC

    All this talk of the IPAD and android, why? Only the Andorid supports Flash.

    I bought a Gtab and it did not take long to root and flash a rom.

    And waiting to buy something I like in it's default form? good luck as nothing is perfect.

    The screen is not that bad and I love my Gtab. it's on sale 11/10 - 11/11 at sears for 349.99

    I love the TNT rom, it just works. what more can I ask for flash, market, and powerful Tegra.

    Oh, does the Ipad have a USB or external SD? I think not!

  • jason

    just picked up a gtablet from sears for $349. mainly because of this article that it had a rom replacement.

    anyway, i'm a complete newb to rooting. on step 4 of the "Rooting" section, i assume that i'm supposed to be running es file explorer on the tablet to install z4 root. how do i get es file explorer on the tablet?

    thanks.

  • GentillyWoods

    I used Paul OBrien visionary+ to root my GTab.

  • Maximus

    when I am installing the z4, do I select temporary or permanent root?

  • cbmoore9

    As a newbie to Android I stepped out of the box last saturday and got the g-tab fror $349 at Sears, loaded tnt lite 2.2 as soon as it charged up, and couldn't be happier. I followed the instructions at http://forum.xda-developers.com, they are tweaking it daily and have tons of support. Took less than an hour to transform it into a wonderful tablet. Heard some complain about viewing angles and crappy screen but I think it is a bunch of whining. It's a solid product.

  • Makto

    could someone point me to that wallpaper?

    Never rooted an android.. 20 min out of the box..TnT 2.00 upgraded to 2.3.. had flash 10 and full market working in less than 30 min thanks to the guys at XDA.. probably got lucky stumbling into that site

  • Ray Sheehan

    I figure not being a techie, my chances of successfully accomplishing the above steps are slim at best. Guess I'll end up waiting for the Palm after all.

  • Brian Farr

    I would not wait for the Palm. I honestly feel the company is doomed after the HP buyout and talk about a weak app support. As for the Ipad being easier, to me nothing us more difficult than being able to customize my machine. Running a Viewsonic G with custom Roms, live wallpapers, huge selections of apps, being able to connect it to my PC without iTunes wins and I once owned an ipad

  • Champ

    Nothing is easier than jailbreaking an iPad, you have to be comatose to not be able to. I will be buying a Gtab for a change of pace, though.

  • Dan

    I followed your instructions to the T, but I think its stuck in a boot look...HELP :( I used the latest tnt lite package, idk what went wrong?

  • Margolin

    I bricked my Gtablet for a week... & I know nothing about Androids. Here is how I fixed it. This should work with any Android OS.

    Download Clock Works Mod on you PC/Laptop.

    Download your Android OS you want to run on your PC.

    Insert your MicroSD (MiSD) into your PC. Wipe it clean.

    Unzip ClockWorks Mod on to MiSD

    Pull the MiSD and insert it into GTablet.

    Gtablet Should be powered off.

    Tap Power and immediately push Volume + and Pwr Button at the same time.

    You Should see "recovery" message. let go of the keys.

    Clock Works mode should load. Volume key neogtiates you arround clock works, "house" Icon is enter.

    Go to "wipe user data" and do so.

    LEAVE CLOCK WORKS MOD UP!

    Pull MiSD, put into PC, wipe Card.

    Unzip Your OS onto you MiSD.

    Insert you MiSD back into you Gtablet, CLOCKWORKS MOD SHOULD STILL BE OPEN!

    (working from memory, here)

    Negotiate in ClockWork Mod to the equivilent of "load from Zip files on MicroSD"

    WHALLA!

    You should be re-loading your Android OS... give it some time, you should see the Unloading from a card board box.. and is should work this time. Give it a few minutes. It should load right up into your OS after a few minutes.

  • Margolin

    Follow up message to the above.
    I loaded Tnt Lite 4.2.0 doing the above, then updated to 4.2.1 and later to 4.2.2 using the method above MINUS wiping user data.
    When I updated to the later versions & didn't wipe my user settings. It realy did update my Gtablet & I didnt haveto reset Email and the reset of my preferences.
    Please reply back if this worked for you.

    I broke down and got Iphone 4... never had one or an Android. Looked at the IPAD..... SO NOT paying for online access... and seriously.... compared to my Flashed Gtablet... the WIFI version of IPAD is SLOW!

  • Jonathan

    Wow, just flashed TnT 4.2. SOOO much better than stock"

  • bigbillh

    I bought my gtab off ebay so it had been 'worked on'. It works fine but when I try to replace the rom as per all the articles I get nowhere.

    I keep getting the following message after a power+volup key combo press upon booting.

    "Booting Recovery Kernel Image"

    I've restored the factory image via 'factory data reset'.

    Everything I've read say the ClockWorkMod should load, but it doesn't. I'm doing something wrong so if someone could give me an idea, I'd appreciate it.

    Bill

  • Bob

    I just ordered a GTab on woot for $279. I was on the fence about the purchase (despite the great price) until I read this article on how to make it perform the way it should. Thanks!

  • wwcenturion

    Same here Bob. I purchased mine on Woot today as well for $279. I have been thinking about purchasing a 16gb iPad now that the prices are dropping on used models ($350 average) just because I want a tablet for web surfing and email but I can't stand the thought of using iTunes again (had two iPhones before the 1st gen Droids came out) or the lack of control Apple allows on their devices. I have rooted both of my Android phones and the process was straight forward. I am looking forward to getting the Gtab and playing around with it. Will post my comments after receiving the unit and trying out different mods.

  • 1freedude

    Im a happy wooter too, and have loads of experience with android. I run nero 5 with dragon kernel on my vibrant. I can't wait for honeycomb roms to start showing up. I plan to use this as a media computer for the tv to replace the full-on pc hooked up now.

  • tcreaper

    <--- Another Happy Wooter!!!! Bought 4 LoL Rooted and flashed my Incredible last night and it was SO simple with Unrevoked. Flashed CG 6 =D My question is to anyone that may know, can I use Unrevoked on the gTab when it arrives or do I have to use one of the roots listed above?

  • Keith Hunt

    Just to let everyone know, you can go on e-bay and through Tiger Direct get the
    g-Tablet for $299.99 with free shipping. Just got mine yesterday.

  • brandon

    i got my g tablet for 100 dls on the pawn shop nice device!!!!!

  • neomewilson

    I tried for 2 months after purchasing my tablet to make the most of the stock Viewsonic OS and found that after my tablet would no longer boot and everything I tried including all the paths given to me by Viewsonic support that I lost faith. I returned my tablet since it was not working anymore and was lucky enough that the retailer allow me to exchange it for a new one.

    After receiving the new one the first thing I did was decide on what OS to move towards and take the advise of this post. I followed through with all the directions posted on XDA Developers and I've never regretted it since.

    I went with the Vegan TAB 5.1 OS and made sure the Clockwork MOD was installed and working. This was without a doubt the best decision made. Not only does the Clockwork MOD provide me with the ability to backup and restore or recover my G Tablet to an earlier save point if needed the Vegan TAB OS has made my tablet fast and reliable. I haven't had a single issue since doing this.

    I wrote an email to Viewsonic to tell them of my experiences and to advise them to take a look at some of the talented approaches the XDA Developers had taken towards making their tablet and how it could move them to the forefront of the war of Android vs. IPAD.

    I highly recommend that if you want piece of mind for you tablet to take the recommendation and make the dive to change if you haven't. I can't vouch for the other OS versions but have read many good post about all of them. I can say the Vegan TAB has worked for me without issues.

    My thanks to all of you who have done such fine work posting this information to allow those of us who might not have taken the dive to have the confidence to do so.

    The instructions on the XDA developers site are really good as well as those posted here on the forum.

    You can't go wrong, if you're sitting on the fence, take the dive and do it. As long as you follow the directions step-by-step everything will work.

    P.S. Additional benefit was the Google Market worked without me having to do anything once the new OS was installed.

  • Bob

    I've had my G-Tablet for a couple of weeks now, switched it over to TnT Lite 4.4 and I am constantly amazed at what a great tablet this is! I've used it for sharing photos with friends (better than carrying a stack of photobooks), checking email and FB on trips, and I love the fact the Kindle app syncs my place with the Kindle app on my iPhone. (Too bad there isn't a Stanza reader for Android that would also sync with Stanza on my iPhone....I prefer it to the Kindle app.)

    After reading about TnT Lite 5.x on XDA Developers I've decided to stick with 4.4 for now....at least until someone comes out with an alternate ROM based on Honeycomb. ;-) Thanks to Roebeet and all the others doing work on these great alternate ROMs.

  • Ali

    There is a new Guide for Gingerbread Rom:

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=865245

  • Ye Olde Farte

    Can't believe I'm a n00b after 25 years of PCing...

    Anyway, rooting my gTab was easy following guide, and I downloaded CMod7.03, and inside the zip, instead of Recovery and Update Files, I see 2 folders (System and META-INF) and a file (boot.img)
    Obviously, I have SOMETHING messed up.
    *sigh*

  • eric

    You are dead right about this tablet being much better on a different ROM.
    I got the tablet, read this webpage and flashed CyanogenMod 7 on it.
    It performs flawlessly, so far after a week, I do not see any of the hesitation or slowness that I've seen in many android phones, even droid 2.
    The keyboard keeps up very well when I'm typing fast on it.

    Loaded a full length feature film .mp4 on tablet, and was able to scroll back and forth thru the movie without losing audio/video sync and without movie player locking up or misbehaving at all.

    GREAT tablet on CyanogenMod, horrible on stock ROM.

  • Hunterbda29

    ok...i tried install and got a parse error. any ideas?