Monday, February 28, 2011

Viewsonic GTab - custom ROM

I tried the stock GTab for a while before breaking down and installing the TNT Lite custom ROM. TNT Lite is a variation of the stock Tap N Tap but with some important changes.

Installing the ROM is easy. The steps are exactly the same that I used to upgrade my phone to Android 2.2. You download and unzip a file, copy it to the Android device, reboot while holding the volume up key then use the volume, home, and back keys to navigate. I actually had to do this three times, once to install a backup utility, once for the current version of TNT Lite, and once for some patches.

The result of all of this is a faster device with some of the stock android apps restored. The most important of these are GMail and the Android Market (although by default you only get a  fraction of the available apps). The speed increase really shows up when watching Youtube. In Tap N Tap the sound and video stutter. With TNT it works beautifully.

TNT is not as polished as Tap N Tap but it works better. Tap N Tap's clock, news and weather apps are gone and the email app is a harsh black and white instead of wood-tone. All of my settings and passwords transferred over which was nice.

With TNT is is possible to view Hulu although there are some extra steps. You have to edit a library to change "AND" (for Android) to "WIN" (for Windows) and you have to remember to set the browser for "desktop" instead of "tablet".

I really got this tablet as an ereader. I don't want to be locked down to one vendor's format. Free reader apps are available from Amazon (Kindle), Barns and Noble (Nook) and Borders that support their formats. There are also readers available for public domain books. I have been using FBReader for those.

For now I am using the Kindle app. I have downloaded several public domain books and a few 99 cent ones. It is a good experience.

Over the years my eyesight has gotten worse. At the same time, publishers have reduced the type size in order to save on paper costs. The result is that text is about the same size on a paperback book as on my phone. On the tablet the text is much larger and well-lit so it is much easier to read. Kindle automatically synchronizes the devices so I can pull out my phone and read without losing my place (as long as the tablet is near a WiFi spot the next time I start reading with it).

Our public library supports loaning books in the EPub format. Kindle does not support this but the other readers do so I will have to check out that feature soon.

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