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.
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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.
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 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.
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.
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.
First off all, here are some links you may need for support should something go wrong:
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:
- Connect your tab to your computer via USB, make sure USB debugging is ON
- Turn on USB mass storage when your tablet prompts you
- Move the Z4 Root .apk over to your tablet and safely remove before disconnecting
- Open your favorite file manager, such as ES File Explorer, go to the root of your SD card, find Z4 Root and install it
- After it installs, click open, run the app, sit back for a minute, and enjoy root access!
Now that we have root, download the ROM of your choice:
From here it is another simple process:
- Reconnect the G Tablet with USB debugging ON and mass storage ON
- 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
- Disconnect the tablet and power it down
- 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.
- 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!
Also be sure to keep checking those XDA threads for new updates and fixes!
And now enjoy your completely reborn Viewsonic G Tablet.