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).
- 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.