Hands-on review of the JLab Pro-7 7” Android tablet

IMG_8202As more and more people migrate away from desktop computers to mobile devices, a growing segment of low-cost tablets is beginning to emerge based on customer demand. Just as netbooks were cheaply made low-cost computers with little innovation, some manufacturers of low-cost tablets decided to address this segment by cutting component cost to the bare minimum. Amazon appears to take a different approach by basically selling the tablet hardware at a loss in hopes of making up the losses in future apps, music, and movie sales.

This hands-on review is for the JLab Pro-7 which has decidedly taking the cost cutting approach. Google “Allwinner Boxchip A23 Dual Core Cortex A7 1.2GHz Processor” and you will find hundreds of no name low cost tablets based on this chip, mostly selling for about $50 to $80.

As part of their Black Friday 2014 offering, Staples will be selling the JLab Pro-7 for an substantially reduced price of $39.99. There is no argument that a $40 Android tablet is an incredible achievement. Despite the low price, this is a fully functional Android tablet running Android KitKat 4.2.2 and capable of playing 1080p HD videos. However, this low price comes at a cost in the form of a low quality screen and missing gps and Bluetooth connectivity. Surprisingly, it does come with a microSD card slot so the paltry 8 GB of storage can be expanded up to 32 GB more.

The poor 7” display with 1024 x 600 resolution (170 ppi) makes it unsuitable for use as a primary tablet for most people but it’s ideal for use as a backup tablet or children’s tablet. At 1/2 inch thick, it’s not going to win any thinness contest.

Jlab Pro-7 tablet compared to Apple IPad 1

 

Specs:

  • Allwinner Boxchip A23 Dual Core Cortex A7 1.2GHz Processor
  • 7” display, 1024 x 600 resolution (170 ppi)
  • 512MB DDR3 system memory
  • 8GB with micro SD slot for up to 32GB additional storage
  • Webcam: 0.3MP Front Facing Camera
  • Integrated speakers
  • XP/Vista/Win7/Win8 & Mac OS 10.4 or later
  • Android™ 4.4 KitKat
  • 2400mAh Li-Polymer Battery
  • 1 Year warranty
  • Dimension approximately 7.5” X 4.5” X 0.5”
  • Weight approximately 7 ounces/200 grams

Pro:

  • Incredible value at $39.99
  • Android KitKat 4.4.2 installed
  • Supports multiple user profiles
  • Include microSD card slot with support up to 32GB
  • Usable battery life with 3-4 hours in usage
  • Good Wi-Fi connectivity and speed
  • Good build quality for price point

Cons:

  • No GPS
  • Poor screen with glare and very poor viewing angle at roughly 10 degrees making it unsuitable for reading or extended usage
  • Screen has slight blue color cast
  • Single tiny speaker on rear sounds like those found in low-end phones
  • No Bluetooth so it won’t work with wireless Bluetooth speakers or other Bluetooth accessories
  • No HDMI out
  • Unusable 0.3 megapixel (640×480) camera unless you pretend it’s 2007
  • Poor standby time lasting less than two days

Notes:

  • Time fails to correct for daylight saving time if automatic time zone is selected even though the correct location is set. Easily corrected by manually setting time zone.
  • The glare from the screen is internal and not from the glass so it will be present even when the tablet is used indoors.

At $40, there really is no comparison to any other tablets but that’s just the Black Friday price. The regular price is $70 so how does it compare to the Amazon Fire HD 6 which sells for $100? Well the Amazon Fire HD 6 is an inch smaller and about the same thickness. The Fire HD 6 also boast a much higher resolution screen with Gorilla glass and offers better battery life.

In the end, the JLab Pro-7 is a steal at $40, not so much at $70. If you’re in the market for a primary mini tablet for around $100, go with the Amazon fire HD 6 or one of the other larger Amazon Fire versions.

 

Jlab Pro-7

Amazon Fire HD 6

Price $40 sale/$70 retail $99
Resolution 1024 x 600 resolution (170 ppi) 1280×800 (252 ppi)
Screen size 7 inches 6 inches
Battery life 3-4 hours 7-8 hours
Camera 640×480 .3 mp front only 640×480 .3 mp front + 2 mp rear
Storage 8 GB + up to 32 GB SD card slot 8 or 16 GB + Amazon cloud
Dimensions 7.5” X 4.5” X 0.5” 6.7″ X 4.1″ X 0.4″
(169 X 103 X 10.7 mm)
Weight 7 oz (/200 grams) 10.1 oz (290 grams)
OS Android™ 4.4 KitKat Forked Android KitKat
Apps Google Play Store Amazon App Store
Power management None Yes
Freebies None worth mentioning Unlimited cloud storage
30 days free Kindle trial

 

 

 

 

Emmylou Harris at 2014 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Emmylou Harris at 2014 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

T Bone Burnett at 2014 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Lucinda Williams at 2014 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Lucinda Williams at 2014 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Chris Isaak at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

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There may be reasons not to install Facebook Messenger App but permission should not be one of them

messengerFacebook has begun splitting out messenger from the main Facebook app. Although Facebook Messenger has been available for many months, Facebook began notifying users this week that the chat feature will be phased out and the only way to receive Facebook messages will be to install the Facebook Messenger app.

Anything Facebook does is usually accompanied by a slew of misinformation. In this case, the Internet is abuzz with talk of insidious and over reaching permission requests, much of it attributed to this article posted last year by Sam Fiorella. But as the Washington Post points out in this article by Caitlin Dewey, Facebook Messenger App is no more invasive than any other app.

My own research confirms that the Facebook Messenger app for Android actually request one permission fewer than the main Facebook Android app. So if you are already using the Facebook app, you reveal nothing new in adding the Facebook Messenger app.

There may be reasons you may not want to install Facebook Messenger but privacy and permission should not be one of them if you already use the Facebook app. As to why Facebook wants to break out Messenger, I can only speculate that breaking out Messenger gives them the ability to develop this app much more quickly and efficiently without affecting the main Facebook app. The mobile market is moving toward messenger services such as WhatsApp which Facebook bought in February 2014 for a staggering 16 billion.

For those who use Facebook Messenger much more than Facebook, having a dedicated app will use fewer resources which should translate to better battery life, lower cpu usage, and faster response times.

What can you do if you don’t want to allow these permissions? Well you can still use Facebook on your mobile browser. Just uninstall the Facebook apps and you’re good to go. Of course, you’ll lose many of the features like full integration with your phone.

To see a list of Facebook Android App permissions, go to Google Play, search for the Facebook App and click the green install/installed button. To see a list of Facebook Messenger Android App permissions, go to Google Play, search for Facebook Messenger and click the green install/installed button.

 

Facebook Android App Permissions Facebook Messenger Android App Permissions
Device & app history:Allows the app to view one or more of: information about activity on the device, which apps are running, browsing history and bookmarks
Identity:Uses one or more of: accounts on the device, profile data Identity:Uses one or more of: accounts on the device, profile data
Contacts/Calendar:Uses one or more of: calendar, contact information Contacts/Calendar:Uses one or more of: calendar, contact information
Location:Uses the device’s location Location:Uses the device’s location
SMS:Uses one or more of: SMS, MMS. Charges may apply. SMS:Uses one or more of: SMS, MMS. Charges may apply.
Phone:Uses one or more of: phone, call log. Charges may apply. Phone:Uses one or more of: phone, call log. Charges may apply.
Photos/Media/Files:Uses one or more of: files on the device such as images, videos, or audio, the device’s external storage Photos/Media/Files:Uses one or more of: files on the device such as images, videos, or audio, the device’s external storage
Camera/Microphone:Uses one or more of: camera(s), microphone(s) Camera/Microphone:Uses one or more of: camera(s), microphone(s)
Wi-Fi connection information:Allows the app to view information about Wi-Fi networking, such as whether Wi-Fi is enabled and names of connected Wi-Fi devices Wi-Fi connection information:Allows the app to view information about Wi-Fi networking, such as whether Wi-Fi is enabled and names of connected Wi-Fi devices
Device ID & call information:Allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call Device ID & call information:Allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call
 Facebook Android App Permissions  Facebook Messenger Android App Permissions