ZaTab: ZaReason's Open Tablet

Quite a few options exist as far as Android tablets go. Some of them are great choices for personal entertainment and media consumption. Google's new Nexus 7 is a powerful little beast designed to serve up media from Google Play. Amazon's Kindle Fire is a great device for tapping Amazon's extensive content offerings. Undoubtedly, these tablets were designed to direct more of your money to the tablet-maker's on-line content marketplaces. The glaring lack of SD card expansion on these devices confirms this. The ZaReason team designed a tablet that can be what the user wants it to be—one that supports users' own content, that is not necessarily tied to a particular content store and that can be used as far more than a simple consumption device. Have they succeeded in creating the world's first open tablet? Let's find out.


  • Cyanogenmod 9 Android 4.04.
  • Allwinner A10 SoC.
  • 9.7" IPS 1024x768 display.
  • Five-point capacitive touchscreen.
  • 16GB internal storage + microSD for additional storage.
  • 1GB of RAM.
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n).
  • Front-facing and back cameras.
  • Sturdy metal back.
  • High-capacity 8000 mAh battery.
  • Ultra-light (630 grams).


  • Headphone.
  • MicroSD card slot.
  • MicroHDMI video out.
  • 2x microUSB ports.

As you read over the stats, a few things should catch your attention. First, the ZaTab comes loaded with Cyanogenmod 9, based on Android 4.04 Ice Cream Sandwich, and is rooted out of the box. I feel like I need to say that again—it is rooted out of the box! You can open a terminal and explore your device with root permissions in a matter of seconds. There's no need to run an exploit to get root access, no need to flash another ROM, no voided warranties. Second, there is 16GB of internal Flash storage for apps and media, and a microSD slot that can accommodate an additional 32GB of storage. So, there's ample storage for your content, stored locally, on your device—no need to rely on "the cloud" or streaming media services.

Opening the Box

The ZaTab arrived packed well inside a corrugated shipping box, with bubble wrap surrounding the retail box. The retail box is generic OEM fare. I would love to see ZaReason produce a branded box for the tablet, but that is another expense and surely would raise the price. Snuggled in the box under the tablet, you will find a micro-USB-to-USB cable, a micro-USB-to-female USB adapter for connecting USB-based accessories, an A/C adapter and a small generic Android manual. The tablet feels sturdy but not too heavy—definitely not cheap. Unlike most Android tablets out there, the casing is not plastic. The back/sides consist of a solid piece of matte aluminum, with a large ZaReason logo silk-screened on the back of the unit. The port and button labels also are silk-screened on the back just below their respective buttons/ports. Along the top edge, you will find the power button, 5v DC power input, micro-HDMI out, two micro-USB ports, an 1/8" headphone jack and three small vents to keep things cool. Along the right edge, you will find a back button, which takes you to the previous screen in the Android interface, and the volume up/down buttons. On the back of the ZaTab is a paper-clip-style recessed physical reset button, the main camera and a small grill protecting the speaker. The front of the ZaTab is mostly screen with a 1/2" black bezel, with a front-facing camera in the top-right corner.

The ZaTab's Generic OEM Retail Box


Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too much time tinkering with gadgetry.


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I like it very

Modelos de Elite's picture

I bought one and am very happy with its performance

Cyanogenmod 9, based on

Unlock HTC One X's picture

Cyanogenmod 9, based on Android 4.04 feature is attention seeker but like any other chinese product bluetooth option is missing.Is the screen reinforced chemically.

$349? Really

Anonymous's picture

With those specs? Single core from what I can find of the A10. Low end Mali GPU. 1 GB of RAM? ouch Ports, good. Battery size, good. This is a budget spec'd tablet. I like the open nature of the offer, but it's not worth 350 bucks. This is a Nexus 7/Fire pricepoint device. performance will be less than the N7 and Fire HD but adds the ports and storage upgrade options. But only 32GB supported with 64GB cards becoming very affordable? Another fail. Not a bad deal if it was a couple of hundred bucks. With those specs 150-200 is the range.

MicroSD still?????

JELaBarre's picture

Come ON, folks: it's understandable when you're dealing with a phone that you have limited space for expansion, but a *tablet* has way more space, and there is no reasonable excuse not to include a *FULL SIZE* SD/MMC slot. I would like to use SD for *collections* of files (perhaps different projects, different sets of audio/video, etc,), but using MicroSD is just plain unusable in that respect simply because of the miniscule sixe and easy lose-ability of teh storage medium. I'm not asking for PCMCIA, floppy diisk or even CF, but something that you have at least SOME chance of finding when it drops on the floor or falls inside your carrying satchel would be quite appreciated.

Toshiba and Sony use full

digi_owl's picture

Toshiba and Sony use full side SD in their 10" tablets, iirc. Toshiba even included a full size USB port in their Thrive, but went with micro only on the Excite. Note that there are two 10" Excites out there, and the 10LE do not have the full size SD slot.

Hope you bring some to Ohio Linux Fest

Chris E.'s picture

I hope you bring some of these for sale at Ohio Linux Fest!!!

seven inch

psikeyhackr's picture

so where is the 7 inch version?

No mention of chemically reinforced glass...

JaseP's picture

There's no mention that I can see as to whether this thing has chemically reinforced glass or not. That's a huge concern for a device that is going to see a lot of handling...

Nor is it mentioned whether the bootloader is unlocked. That is also pretty big. Tinkerers will want an unlocked bootloader to try to put other OSs on the thing...

The Bootloader is unlocked

Kevin Bush's picture

I'm not sure whether the screen is reinforced chemically, but the bootloader is unlocked. It's a slightly modified version of clockworkmod.

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

I have bought ZeniThink A71

Anonymous's picture

I have bought ZeniThink A71 (7'', A9) tablet directly from China for $100. It is rooted as well, has similar specification and I can't complain about build quality. The larger C92 (10'') is for $160. Isn't $350 little bit to much?

As is typical with the

digi_owl's picture

As is typical with the repackaged Chinese products, there is no bluetooth to be found what so ever.


Paul_L's picture

Had same toughs as Jon_T :

I have an Acer IconiaTab A100 (7` tablet with all these ports; ex. usb, hdmi, microsd, audio jack....) and purchased it because of a soldout at 160$.

And mine has a Tegra2 dual core!!!

It is for my daughter (4years old) and always work like new after 6 months usage, multiple drops and multiple app / multimedia installed.

So one can find a very good tablet under 200$ (i know, for a 7" size!).


Anonymous's picture

What kind of GPU does this tablet have?
Can't seem to find it on their website either.

digi_owl's picture

You forgot to mention the

Jon_T's picture

You forgot to mention the price. Looks like it's $349, which, while not bad, is a bit high. I suppose if you put a premium on the hackability, then it's not terrible.

But I just have a hard time putting down more than about $300 on a tablet. Folks who drop a year's worth of food for a starving family in Africa on an iPad are just nuts.