Take care when ordering Android Tablets from China...

This is a warning to those who see cheap tablets imported from China as an alternative to buying from a local supplier.

A good friend recently purchased a tablet from a company called Shenzhen Jienuoda Technology Co., Ltd.  It was for his daughter, and she spent her long-saved and hard-earned pocket money to buy it.  It was recommended by them as a good tablet, which would be soon upgraded to Android 3.0 (it had 2.2 installed) - but this was just the first of their broken promises.  

Almost immediately after the nearly-$300NZ tablet arrived things started to go wrong.  It was advertised as having a 1GHz processor, but it seemed to be quite slow.  I benchmarked it for him, and found it was about 2/3's the speed of my old LG-P500 phone, which performs reasonably well despite its 600MHz CPU.  Essentially, there was nothing in the benchmarks comparison data that came close to being as slow as this device... and that was consistent with use.  Angry Birds, a popular app for Android, was slow and clunky, UNO was unplayable, and many apps just wound't install - or would install, then lock the device up when you tried to run them.

The tablet also has GPS built in, but Google Maps would not install at all, and the market was an old version that could not be upgraded - this is common on Chinese tablets since, while the Android operating system might be open source, the market needs to be licenced from Google - and so many tablets from China just have a hacked version to allow users to download apps.  This was one of them.

This was all on day one.  The battery went flat despite having it plugged in - so it was left on charge overnight.  The next day - dead.  I discovered after a bit of fiddling around that the charge socket, or the charger, was faulty and giving it a wiggle got it to charge.  My friend immediately told them about these problems, to which they replied: "You have installed too many apps on the tablet, this is why it is slow".  They totally ignored the charger problem.  When he told me about their fix for the tablets speed, I laughed.  We both have Android experience, and are both relatively conversant with the platform, and programming in it.  I did some more research, and benchmarked the Zenithink ZT-180 CPU itself - to find it was running around 780MHz, not 1GHz.  I then found some posts on Android forums saying that this was done to try and get better battery life from these cheaper tablets.  Yes, they have a 1GHz processor as advertised, but they don't use it at that speed... I doubt any local retailer would get away with advertising like that.

Well, I told him he should return it - and he went back to the company again (and again, and again) asking for some resolution.  By this stage his daughter was pretty upset as well - realising that she had bought a lemon.  She tried using it anyway, but within another few days the screen had stopped responding to touch over about 75% of the surface.  

The company kept stalling - for nearly 4 months!  Often saying, "please take a video of the problems".  This was done, showing the screen unable to be used... then they wanted more videos... another one was sent, clearly showing the problems with charging.  They wanted videos of the problems with the speed - which he tried to point out he couldn't do, since the tablet was unable to be unlocked due to the touch screen not working - but they didn't (or pretended not to) understand... despite having the videos clearly showing it not working.  They kept requesting new videos, saying that they couldn't do anything until they had more proof.  Effectively, they were calling him a liar, and he didn't take kindly to it.

Repeated promises were made by the company to have their technicians provide a solution, but nothing was ever done.  Every time he made contact, the company just asked for more videos.  Whats more, the person he was dealing with kept changing... but not to a new person, just two people.  He would talk to someone called Vivi, then next time he would have to start again because apparently Vivi no longer worked there.  Ivy would be the new person.  The next time Vivi would be back, and now it was Ivy who had left the company.  All-in-all, I'd give them a B- for stalling tactics.  They're doing it, but not that well.

Eventually he gave up on getting any support, or any help from them.  The money is gone, and he shelled out more money and got his daughter an Ainol 7 Paladin tablet with (a properly licenced) Android 4 on it which is blazing fast, and quite nice to use - and cost much less.  This came from another supplier in China (One I have dealt with) who has turned out to be quite good, fortunately.

So, this is a warning.  As Forrest Gump would say, "Chinese tablets are like a box of chocolates..."