March 25, 2011

Augen Genbook 108 10.2" Android Netbook Hands On

Thanks to a day on a woot-like site, 1saleaday.com, and another day on ebay's featured deals, for only $99 in both places, the Augen Genbook 108 10.2" Netbook running Google's Android operating system has found its way into the hands of hundreds of new owners, including one Chad W. Smith.
The sale price was for $99 with free shipping, but you can still find it online for $150 or so.

Augen 108 Specs 

First, some quick specifications.
  • 800 Mhz CPU
  • 10.2" Screen
  • 1024 x 600 resolution
  • Google Android v2.1 "Eclair" Operating System
  • 256MB DDR Ram
  • WiFi b/g
  • SD Card Slot
Now, some questions I couldn't find the answers for before I bought it, the GenBook does not have a camera - there's just some plastic nub where the webcam should be.  The GenBook does not have VGA out, (or HDMI, DVI, or any other type of video out).  There are 3 USB ports, a headphone/speaker jack, a mic/line-in port, and an Ethernet port.  There is no BlueTooth.
Something that was really weird is that both places had the system listed as having 2GB of onboard flash storage, however, my packaging, manual, and system info all say it has 8GB, so - bonus.  I'm not sure why mine is different, but I'm certainly not going to complain.  Not bad to pay half price and get 4 times the storage.
I say half price because the Augen made a splash last year around Black Friday time when K-mart started selling them for $190 - a price that made headlines.
The GenBook does not come with the official Google Android Marketplace, although there may be ways to install it - a feat I have yet to test.  And you could always just go to market.android.com.  It does, however, come with access to the Apple-annoying-named "App Store" - officially, the AndAppStore.  "And", I assume, being short for "Android", and not some attempt to be the AppStore And More, or anything clever like that.

Apps

It comes with some pre-installed apps, a web browser, a media player, the aforementioned AppStore, a file browser, and Documents2Go - a MS Office compatible mobile suite, that for some reason requires you to have the documents on an SD-card, other than on the system's flash drive.
The apps from the AndAppStore may or may not be legit - and/or not all apps will work with this system.  The reason I say that is because I downloaded AngryBirds - for free - and it didn't work right.  None of the on-screen "buttons" nor the score and other text appeared on the screen - just some blocky misshapen white boxes where the buttons/text should be.  I'm not programmer, but I use Photoshop everyday, and I'd call it a layering issue.  The top layers were missing.

Initial thoughts

The system is lightweight, 1.8 lbs reportedly. The keyboard is almost full-size, and works well - other than some weirdness I have yet to figure out with the function keys, but that could be a result of me not reading the manual and never having used Android before.  The trackpad is absolute junk.  It's bad enough that they are using an operating system that is clearly designed for a touchscreen phone on a netbook - but the fact that the trackpad stinks is truly awful.  It was less than 10 minutes of use before I gave up and plugged in a USB mouse.  Good thing it comes with 3 USB ports.
I don't know if it can be upgraded to Android 2.2 or 2.3 - but I'm not exactly sure why I would want to do that, either.
So far, I'm not sure how well I enjoy this system.  If I can get over/used to the crappy trackpad, and learn how to navigate/operate the shoehorned cellphone OS - it might be a valuable edition to my tech arsenal - if not, I'll try to install Ubuntu, fail to do so,  and then mothball it next to my Leapfrog Didj.

Add to any service

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have the same feelings about this "smartbook." It wouldn't be half as bad with ubuntu on it. If you figure out how to access the boot loader please email me at afroken3130@gmail.com.

Thanks

Altamiranus said...

A few things:

- The device has an ARMv6 processor. This puts certain limits on what applications you can use. For instance, you cannot use Firefox for Mobile with it.

- I installed the Amazon App Market and it works fine. You can install most apps, but be aware of the device's technical limitations (see above).

- I do not have the device in front of me, but the words "eval board" or "evaluation board" show up in both the browser's user agent and the Settings menu. I wonder if the OS was compiled using full optimization.

- Disabling USB debugging does speed up the netbook a bit.

- The CPU is a Telechips TC8902 with an ARM11 core. It is oriented toward multimedia applications and it shows: video playback is actually quite good.

- The motherboard is glued to the case underneath the keyboard, so hardware hacks are difficult without disassembling the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

hoping there is another survivor out there. i have one from ebay that has a 7" display on the 10" screen, as in i can read only 7/10 of a page. cursor will move to that area. otherwise, i can live with this thing. any ideas?

Chad W Smith said...

Well I still have mine with the 10" screen, so I am sure other survivors exist. But I'm not sure where to get just the screen, or how to change the resolution. If I can find my power cord, I might fire it up and see if I can find a resolution changing option.

Madelein Sanchez said...

I have an augen genbook 108.With the charger. Only problem is that it will not go past the genbook splash screen. Any help with this issue?
email me at compjobs1@gmail.com thanks!

Chad W Smith said...

Madelin, there is a Reset button on the bottom of the Genbook, near the power adapter slot. When it is unplugged, use a paperclip or something similarly small, press that button in, hold it for a few seconds, then plug up the Genbook and try again. You might want to let it charge for a little while before trying to turn it on again.

Other than that, I really don't know what else to try. I hope that helps.