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Skytex and the Problem with Cheap Android Tablets

Posted by Alan at 6:43 AM on July 16, 2012

There are many affordable (read: cheap) Android tablets on the market.  You have never heard of many and there’s a good reason for that – they are mostly sub-par hardware and running older versions of the software, frequently 2.2.  When I was shopping for an Android tablet for my children last November I found many such pieces of hardware and I was considering the Amazon Kindle Fire because of it’s combination of known good hardware and the fact it runs (an unrecognizable) Android 2.3.  However, I happened to stumble across the Skytex Alpha, a 7 inch tablet with 2.3 installed and priced $50 less than the Fire.

From Christmas morning, it was obvious we had thrown away money.  The screen was resistive, not capacitive, making it more difficult to use.  The Android 2.3 isn’t a Google-blessed version, meaning it lacks the basics like the Google Play Store and Gmail.  We got around this with a third-party Gmail app and the Amazon App Store, which is solid but lacks some of the feature apps that the Google Play Store has.

Almost immediately we had to replace my son’s charger (which is non-standard) adding close to $20 to the price.  Fast forward six months and my daughter’s tablet reboots continuously, even after doing a factory reset. My son’s simply will no longer charge because the non-standard plug is lose in the port.  Several emails back and forth with Skytex results simply in an offer of repair – if I can dig up the receipts from last November.  Meanwhile, I soon found out the reason for the good price (aside from the sub-standard hardware) – version two of the tablet was slated to launch with a boatload of improvements to the hardware and Android 4.0.

If you are looking for an affordable Android tablet then stick to the brands that have something behind them like the Amazon Kindle Fire or the recently released Google Nexus 7.  The old adage is true – if you see a deal that looks too good to be true then it probably is.