This is a post about my first impressions of my new toy.
First, the unboxing.
The packaging is a simple bubble mailer with a box inside that has no tape around it. It looks like it was haphazardly thrown together and offers no real protection to the sensitive electronic components inside. There's not even any tape on the box, and when I pulled the box out of the envelope it was hanging half open and the box had two corners smashed in. Honestly, I'm surprised the device made it to me from China without being destroyed in transit.
Here we have the presentation of the device. It's packaged inside the carrying case, as you can see in the next image. No bubble wrap padding, no styrofoam. Just the carrying case with the device in it.
I've got to say that this is the most underwhelming unboxing experience I've had for something I paid $300 for.
Next we have the chargers and battery. Also simply thrown into the box with no padding or packaging material to prevent damage. It's like someone at the factory just grabbed a wad of components and threw them in the box.
Here is the device itself.
Upon picking it up the first time it became immediately apparent why all of the pictures only show the front of it. It's because it's as thick as an average paperback novel, which means it's by no definition a "tablet."
The Midnite does not come with any instructions or drivers for connecting it to your computer. There's not even a quickstart guide. Because of this, it took some time for me to figure out how to turn it on.
At first I thought maybe the battery wasn't charged because nothing happened when I pushed the power button. So I tried plugging it in. Still no joy.
At the point where I was about to give up and return my new Midnite, I decided to try holding down the power button. It was then I realized you have to hold the power button down for five seconds to power on the unit. Some instructions would have easily prevented this frustration.Here is a video of the first boot
. It took about 30 seconds.Display Responsiveness
After the device finished booting, I thought the screen was broken because no matter how hard I pushed on the display the unlock slider wouldn't respond. I poked and prodded at it for a minute or so, then I finally tried taking out the stylus to work the display. That was a chore, as well. The stylus was stuck in so I couldn't pull it out. I had to remove the battery cover and pry the stylus out.
After getting the stylus out I was finally able to get the slider to respond so I could unlock the screen. Then I tried using my finger again to work the device. Input response was laggy and slow, when it worked, which it didn't most of the time. I have to use my fingernail or the stylus to get any response out of the display. This makes me worry that I'm going to destroy the display because I have to scrape on it like I'm scraping ice off a windshield to get any response from it.
Scrolling in the app drawer is cumbersome and slow. I found I was accidentally launching apps as I tried to scroll, having to go back over and over. I know this isn't normal because my Motorola Cliq also has a resistive display and its touch response is worlds better.
Trying to scroll inside applications is no better. It's cumbersome and awkward to use the tiny stylus to scroll in apps. Playing Flash games is right out unless you enjoy losing.
Since the back of the device is rounded and smooth, and the unit is quite thick and heavy (think car GPS unit), it's hard to hold it steady with one hand and operate it with the other. Some simple rubber grips would have helped a lot, but based on the design I would guess this device wasn't meant to be held. I've dropped it onto my lap several times. I have to be extremely careful when standing up and using the device to avoid dropping it on the floor. A quick weigh-in with my digital scale indicates the device is 13 and 5/8ths ounces or .85 lbs.Text Input
Input on the keyboard is also frustrating, inaccurate and sluggish. I have to press the keys on the onscreen keyboard slightly below center for them to register, then wait a tick, then press another key. If I try to type at normal speed the key is either wrong or doesn't register at all. Often the key will register correctly on one tap, but then register wrong when tapping again in exactly the same spot. With a device this fast, I don't understand why input is so sluggish and inaccurate.Display Quality
On the upside, the display quality is superb. The screen is bright and high contrast. Youtube videos are beautiful, text is bright and well defined. If it wasn't for the nightmare of the input, this device would make a nice little SSH terminal with ConnectBot.Sound Quality
Sound quality is meh. I've heard better audio. The device's stereo speakers aren't very loud and they're kind of muddled and tinny. Plugging in headphones doesn't help much.Display Driver Problem
Problems. Oh yes, there are plenty of them. Goodness, where to start. Oh I know! Hosed display. That's a good starting point.
When I read the product page for the Midnite it was all about openness and how MP4Nation encouraged ROM hacking and improving the software for the device, so I was excited! Of course one of the first things I did when I got my device was flash a new ROM that everyone else had been enjoying on their devices for some time, which was purported to be stable and useful.
So I tried to flash the ROM using the provided instructions, which didn't work. I tried over and over. I went through the steps at least six times. Format the card, copy the files, hold the buttons. Format the card, copy the files, hold the buttons. All I got over and over was the pretty little Android logo and then the lock screen. No flash. Then I figured out, eventually, that with my particular hardware revision
you have to take the battery out, hold the buttons, then plug the device in while holding the buttons to get the flash loader to work.
Awesome, I thought, here we go. Time to flash. I thought I was on my way.BZZT. FAIL.
As soon as the flash loader started up half the display stopped working. So I went online and read on the forums here
that other people were having this problem as well.
The response from MP4Nation? Oh right, some newer devices might require a new display driver, so installing a custom ROM might hose your screen.Hey MP4Nation: Think you could have told us this BEFORE shipping the devices??
I gave you my email address. Fifteen seconds to send off a quick e-mail letting me know that flashing a custom ROM might hose the device completely would have been excellent
MP4Nation's response to the problem was wait until a new ROM is released. Maybe tomorrow.
Not one to sit around and wait for other people to fix my problems, I found this ROM
which resolves the issue."Marketplace" is not really "Marketplace"
Yes, the device does come with the Android Marketplace like it says on the order page. Haha, sort of. It comes with the Marketplace with no protected apps, which means that essentially you get all the fart apps and "install this app to get a Jay-Z ringtone" apps. I can't fix that because fixing it requires you to root your device, which I can't do. So all I can do is sit around and wait for some nice guy to have the time to figure out how to root a ROM that works on my hardware revision. Or manually copy over the apk file for the application I want to install, which means no updates unless I do them myself.Flash
Yes, Flash works. Sort of. I had to install it
The video quality in Flash applications is good, but the sound skips and glitches and sometimes cuts out altogether. Again, the horrible input renders most Flash games and apps useless.Some applications don't display fullscreen
Some apps, like the Slideme Market, only take up a third of the display. I think there's a fix for this in Froyo but I wasn't able to find it using Google.Overall Impression
If I had to choose between using this device regularly and being kicked in the balls, I'd say "step on my cubes."
Seriously, this thing is more frustrating than a rich two year old in a grocery store.
If it was just shitty input, I could probably deal with it. If I had received the device in packaging that made me feel like a cheap whore, but the input was okay, yeah that'd be fine. If Flash worked normally, I'd be delighted with the other problems. If it really did
have the Android Marketplace like it says on the order page, yeah, maybe I'd be fine with the other problems.
However, all the problems combined make this device out to be what it truly is: A washed up Windows CE MID re-purposed to be an "Android tablet."
If I had gotten this device for fifty bucks, or as a gift, I'd probably be delighted. But for the amount I'd paid, I probably could have waited a couple of months and got a much better product.
If you'd prefer to watch rather than read you can watch my video review on Youtube