Guest Post: My XO Tablet Technical Review and First Impressions

   
   
   
   
   

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I am Mr. Guest Post, and I have been a fan of OLPC ever since Nicholas Negroponte made his ideas known. I still have an XO-1 Laptop from the G1G1 in late 2007. I stuck by my green machine during the hiccups until the software stabilized. I even disassembled the bottom half to add electrical tape to fix the sticky keys. Gnome was a nice feature as well. The last few updates have made my XO-1 slow, and I think the thing is getting long in the tooth.

What I would love is a trade up to the XO-4. I know that isn't going to happen. So, I bought a XO Tablet and have been playing around with it for a few days. Here what I think:

My first impressions of the XO Tablet are positive. I love this thing.

It is snappy. I have no problems with its responsiveness, zooming, video playing, music, and ebooks. In direct sunlight, you can't see the screen, but in the shade I can see the screen.

Other observations include:

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  • Memory: The tablet has 8GB of space, but the installed software already takes half up. That is where the micro SD comes in handy. I plugged in the micro USB adapter, and then plugged in a flash drive. The XO tablet was able to see the mp4 video that was on it, and even was able to play it.
  • eBooks: The eBooks are from Project Gutenberg, but I happen to like that site. There is an option to search from the tablet, and I typed "Dracula". So, I can read Dracula online, or download it to read offline. The tablet ebook reader allows bookmarks, background and font color, font size, and orientation. Just turn the page with a finger swipe. I found reading from the tablet easy on the eyes. If you want more books, use the Amazon Kindle app. It is on Google Play Store.
  • Google Play Store: The tablet is Google certified, so Google play store is a great benefit, since it has a boatload of apps. Go wild for apps that are both free and paid.
  • Cameras: Let's talk about the cameras. I know both cameras function. There is a camera app, that can switch between either front or back. I even hooked up a Kodak C813 with its USB cable through the micro USB adapter. The XO tablet can see the pictures, and even download them.
  • Phone Calls: I tried skype. That involved installing the skype app from the Google Play Store. The app ran without any problems. Once I signed in, it configured itself. A call to echo123 had excellent sound quality. The final test involved a video chat with one of my contacts. Skype on the XO Learning Tablet received a passing grade. For those who live in the USA, Gmail allows phone calls through its site. I was able, with the help of one the many phone apps, to configure the tablet to make and receive phone calls.
  • Audio and Video: Out of the box I tried videos. From the home screen, tap upper left, and then tap on My Videos. I tried to play various files. The XO Learning Tablet played all of them. Here are some examples: Video Encoding: H264, xvid, mpeg-4, divx, Video Containers: mkv, avi, wmv, mp4, flv, Audio Encoding: dts, mp3, aac, Frame Rates: 23.97, 25, 29.97. Some videos were 720p, and those played smoothly. I would rate the video quality as excellent, and the audio as very good. I will mention Youtube had no problems. I tried audios. From the home screen, tap upper left, and then tap on My Music. I tested mp3s, and the tablet sorted by albums. The audio quality is very good, and even better with ear buds connected to the 3.5mm port.
  • User Guide: The only problem that is starting to bother me is the manual. A Quick Start Guide" was included, and it is also available here. I want the real user manual. It is not on the website, and I have called the support number 4 times now. They tell me that the manual is going to be emailed each time. After the 5th call to technical support, I was told by a supervisor, the XO Learning Tablet user manual is not available yet. When it is ready I will receive it by email. Well, I don't have it. I probably don't need the users manual, but I want it just in case I have to troubleshoot, or help someone else deal with a situation. For now, I am using google searches to answer specific question on android.
  • Ports: The specs for the XO tablet don't completely explain USB-LAN adapter. It works on XO-1, but not the tablet. I am presenting trying others options. I ordered the BobjGear USB to RJ45 Compact Fast Ethernet Adapter (Not an endorsement). Here comes the tricky part. I hook the lan adapter up the micro USB, mentioned earlier, and nothing happens. The tablet shows me an icon next to the clock that looks like a computer and a unplugged cable. I check my router, and the it says the tablet is connected. The tablet is connected since I can perform a speed test. I go back and check the zoltantech ZU-80, and it does connect to the internet, even though the tablet tells me otherwise. So, I verified 2 USB lan adapters.

So I will say it again: the XO Tablet kicks-butt. I am still getting to know my XO Tablet. You can let me know if there are others things I can investigate on the tablet in the comments below.

Disclaimer

I ordered the XO Tablet from Amazon, and I also bought some accessories. The following products are meant as information only and not as an endorsement. They worked for me just fine.

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5 Comments

Hi, Guest Writer.
Thanks for the comprehensive review.
I am trying to get XO1s but have 2 XO tablets. Have not had all that much time so I appreciate your review. I am going to order the accessories you mentioned. Pardon my ignorance but do any of these allow a connection to a projector so I can do professional development for teachers? There is a small device at Brookstone that projects an image. I will buy that for my PC but would love to be able to project the tablet too.
Thanks!
Joanne

I looked at projectors that Brookstone offers. If the projector uses HDMI, the XO Tablet will work. I looked at a few of them, and as long as they come with a mini HDMI adapter you should be good. Please let us know if you get a projector that works with the XO Tablet, so others can benefit from the information.

Very grateful for this meaty review and intend to chew on it thoroughly in due time. Interested in reading what Joanne (teacher) has written, to. August 4 and returning August 18 our team of fifteen adults took one G1 G1 late 2007 XO (both yellow insignia parts - thus named "jaun13") and left with the programme P.C.E.A. Njoro orphans and vulnerable children (just over 32 count) - out of hundreds in the Njoro area, Nakuru County, Kenya. The earliest I would have been able to get two (or more) XO Tablet was (when we were packed and ready) August 6 - however, our flight left August 4. Two days make a huge difference. I bumped into the new re-flash within about a week of our leaving and re-flashed all few of our G1 G1 vintage 2007 "green machines." The Yellow is the only one of the set with all keycaps intact (the membrane). These "take a lickin' and keep on tickin' " - hoping I can purchase at least one XO Tablet at the nearby (walking distance) Target store.

Review addendum

A friend asked if a keyboard or mouse could be hooked up the XO Learning Tablet. That is a good question, I thought. Here are the results:

I attached a USB optical mouse via the micro USB adapter. A small pointer appeared on the screen. The movement is smooth. The left click is just like the tap. The scrollbar functions when browsing websites. The right click varies from program to program on what is does.

I next attached a USB standard keyboard to the XO tablet via the micro USB adapter. At first nothing happened, until I did dug through the settings.

Tap on clock
Tap on clock settings icon
Tap on Settings
Tap on Apps
Swipe to see Running
Tap on Android Keyboard (AOSP)
Tap on Settings
Tap on Android keyboard (AOSP) settings icon
Tap on Advanced Setting
Tap to check, Switch to other input methods
Restart XO tablet.
The USB Keyboard works now.


Great questions: projector, optical mouse, standard keyboard. Not yet familiar with mini- USB connector so am still at age 69 learning a lot 3 decades in IT

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