Android tablets have hit rock bottom. And we’re not just talking about the low, low price of the Augen GenTouch78. This K-Mart special is just that bad. We got our hands on the 7-inch slate this afternoon, and it didn’t take us long to realize that it’s not worth $149. Perhaps not even $49.
The first thing that struck us about the Augen is its resistive touchscreen. There is a discernible gap between the platic top layer and the display, which makes a little creaky noise when we pressed down. Staffers who attempted to use fingertips to tap icons or type on the keyboard had to press very hard, and even those of us with fingernails only got it to work slightly better. When trying to launch apps, the GenTouch 78 taunted us many times by making its icons move (as if we were dragging them) but not opening the app we tried hard press. It was as if it was saying “is that all you got?”
The next frustration came from the placement of the Home, Back, Quick Search and Menu buttons: on the back of the device. Seriously? Yes, the buttons found on virtually every Android device are hidden from plain view. If you used the tablet you might be able to press the buttons without looking, but why would you want to go through all that? On top of that, the buttons are tiny.
The interface is stock Android, but at least it’s 2.1. The GenTouch 78 also comes with core Google apps such as the Market, YouTube, GMail, and Maps. Right now there’s a bug in the Market, so even though you can view and search for apps, they won’t download or install. Apparently a fix is on the way. Still, the inclusion of these apps is a pleasant surprise given that Google usually restricts the Market to devices that pass their Compatibility Test Suite. On paper, this feature makes the GenTouch78 more desirable than, say, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet because you don’t have to go to a third-party app store.
We fired up a couple of apps just to try them out. Maps correctly identified our location (likely due to Wi-Fi triangulation) but YouTube wouldn’t load videos, though Augen has just issued a patch that we’re trying out. Laptopmag.com loaded pretty quickly in the web browser, but scrolling wasn’t easy due to the touchscreen’s poor responsiveness. Even sliding open the application menu was sluggish, as you’ll see in the video.
On the plus side, the plastic chassis of the GenTouch78 feels sturdy–at least for the price. The look of it is reminiscent of Coby products. Then again, this is being sold in Kmart.
We won’t give the device a rating until we’ve tried out the updates, but based on the time we’ve spent with the GenTouch 78 so far, we don’t have high hopes. Check out our hands-on video below and stay tuned for our full review.