My new computer: A chinese tablet

@ 2012-01-13 by João Paulo Pizani Flor

Yeah - I just bought a chinese tablet (a.k.a “chinapad”) running Android. Specifically, it is sold by DealExtreme, has a 7-inch screen and runs Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) - with an Android 4.0 ROM already being developed by the manufacturer. And WHY did I buy it? Recently I have been a bit frustrated with my good old Atom netbook, since it has lost its battery life completely and accumulates several small glitches. It has become - put simply - an expensive desktop from the beginning of the past decade :P

So, thinking about what to buy in order to mitigate this frustration, I seriously considered a tablet. Of course tablets are “trendy” nowadays - I know - but I sincerely think that a tablet can fulfill most of my “use cases” for a computer, besides being very cheap and much more portable.

I wanted a tablet that allowed me to do ALMOST everything I do with a PC, except for the most creative/productive tasks. These “productive” use cases are, mostly:

  1. Programming (C++/Python/Haskell :D)
  2. Writing stuff in LaTeX (papers, presentations, letters, etc.)
  3. Posting on this blog

These specific tasks would still be accomplished with the help of my old netbook/desktop. The rest is taken care of by the chinapad:

With a usage scenario such as this in mind, I decided I needed a powerful tablet - but NOT SO MUCH. It needed to be better than my current netbook (almost NOTHING can be worse), but not necessarily running at the speed of light… So I did a lot of research in bizarre east-asian forums and blogs until I decided I would buy THIS ONE:

Rena3 / Haipad M9
Rena3 / Haipad M9

I chose the Rena3 for two fundamental reasons:

  1. Very cost-efficient (sells for US$165,99 on DealExtreme)

  2. Has an active developer community and is easy to customize

Here are Rena3’s detailed specs:

I will plug in a fast 32GB microSD card, so that I can leave a lot of media files in the tablet itself (my entire music collection and a lot of videos). I plan to listen to music and podcasts with it, as well as watch movies and TV shows using a good stereo bluetooth headset. Also, this tablet will be my e-book reader. HDMI-out is a plus, and will be mostly useful to watch some videos with my family and perhaps even play some SNES games on the living room TV /

There is, in fact, already a vibrant developer community around this tablet, and several good custom ROMs are available for download on its page.

As well as a lot of research over the tablet itself, I also spent a considerable amount of time searching for the best applications to suit each of my use cases for the device. After some 2 weeks all over the Android market, reddit and specialized blogs, I came up with this list:

Now I just have to wait (a lot) until my new toy reaches Brazil, with a leather case and a 32GB microSD. Wait and pray, so that nothing wrong happens during shipping… As soon as I get my hands onto it, I will post a review here with some photos and videos :)