When we first heard about the CherryPad America from the eco-conscious tech company Cherrypal, we experienced flashbacks to the underwhelming Augen GenTouch78 and other low-cost Android slates. How much Android tablet do you really get for $188? Like the Augen, the CherryPad America features a 7-inch resistive display, an 800-MHz Telechips ARM 11 processor, only 256MB of RAM, and 2GB of onboard storage. Uh oh, right? No, this tablet actually works, and the design is much better.
Here are our initial impressions.
- The aluminum back actually feels pretty sturdy, and it doesn’t exactly hurt that it makes this 1.15-pound tablet look like an iPad from behind. You get a 3.5mm jack and mic up top, a power button and volume controls with good feedback on the sides. Down below is a microSD card slot, proprietary power connector, and speaker. The physical Menu, Home, and Back buttons beneath the screen worked fine in our early testing. The device is 0.5-inches thick, which is pretty good for this price.
- While the resistive display (800 x 480 pixels) doesn’t have the accuracy or sensitivity of a capacitive touch panel, we didn’t have to stab at it to get it to work. Yes, we had to use more force than we wanted to unlock the screen and slide down the notification panel, but we can type on this thing without that much effort. You don’t need a stylus. Just keep in mind multiouch is off the table.
- Running Android 2.1, the CherryPad America accesses the Android Market. I repeat. This sub-$200 tablet can actually download apps you’d want to use; you’re not relegated to third-party app stores. To test this out we downloaded Pandora without an issue. Does Google approve of this device tapping into the Market? We’re not sure, but it’s accessible on our unit.
- This tablet isn’t very speedy. We noticed some lag when moving around menus and launching apps, so that’s definitely a trade-off you’re going to have to make. On the plus side, we didn’t encounter any issues getting connected via Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g only) or when setting up our Google account. Cherrypal claims the CherryPad can handle 1080p video playback, but we’ll have to see about that.
- You don’t get a camera or video output, or Flash (for now). If you’re interested in taking pictures with your tablet or video chatting, you’re better off with devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab. You can also forget about HDMI. Cherrypal promises an update to Android 2.2, which will bring Flash support, but we’re not sure the guts of this tablet will be able to handle it.
Overall, the CherryPad America (for now available exclusively through online retailer Zecozi) is not meant to compete with the iPad, and the company admits as much. It’s a low-cost tablet for getting online and enjoying Android apps. And as long as you keep your expectations in line with the sub-$200 price tag, this slate might satisfy.
Unfortunately, some customers who have ordered the CherryPad America and were promised delivery have not yet received their shipments, which has some questioning whether the company is on the up and up. We’ve reached out for comment and will bring you our full review shortly.
Update: The founder and CTO of Cherrypal just shot us an e-mail, saying “We started shipping 10/15 and as of today we are current. Any domestic orders get shipped within 24 hours.”