I recently bought myself a cheap android tablet.

As technical kinda guys are, they want to get the most out of their product, so I started fiddling around with it.

First of all : base specs of the machine.

Brand : Novitab

Android 4.0 ICS
“GetJar” marketplace
10.1″ capacitive display
cortex A8 1.2Ghz cpu
1GB RAM
Tilt sensor
8GB storage
Slot for micro SD
7 hours video play
Wifi b/g/n
HDMI 1080P
2 xUSB
Front camera , 300K
2 speakers
microphone
270x163x12mm

(more tech specs on http://www.novitab.com/NoviTab-10-1/)

Not bad at first sight. Especially when you know I paid less than €200 for this gadget.

On with the tweaking and upgrading :

First of all, the built-in GetJar marketplace (shared by awesome brand names such as Trust, Medion, Yarvik etc.) sucks donkeyballs, but seeing as the machine itself costs tons less because of Google not interfering in the production process, all is still well.
A simple Google search (ah the irony) brought me to the ever so classic XDA Developers forum, where I found a creative solution for the GetJar problem.

If you want to check it out : I have provided a download at http://www.zupertails.be/stuff/Novitab/Novitab–GooglePlay.zip including a manual on how to make your cheap-ass tablet Google-ready and include the Google Marketplace (now known as Google Play) for your app downloading needs.

The RunMe.bat inside the zip file is not necessarily designed for this specific model, and deletes telephony, SMS and Bluetooth functionality (they’re a battery drainer even if the hardware is not inside the actual machine). If your cheap-ass tablet does have Bluetooth inside, just remove the Bluetooth part in the batch file and so on and so on.

Let me state by now, that neither I nor the original designer of this batch file have any responsibility of you f*cking your tablet up while performing the so-called upgrade to Google Play.
This is something you do at your own risk.
If ever you’ll need to send this tablet back to its manufacturer for RMA procedures or similar, please be aware that they might void your warranty because of this (eventhough adding Google Play support does not actually mod the hardware or the existing factory ROM)

The steps are basic : unzip the zip folder in an easily accessible folder on your computer and read the instructions provided in the Word document. Should you not know how to unzip a folder (double-clicking it is not always unzipping), if you don’t know how to open a .docx file, or if you’re using a translation program to even read this text in your native language, then STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW and leave this to a (semi-) professional.

Hell… I’d even advise you to buy an iPad at that moment, seeing as that’s a tablet designed for “mommies and daddies”.

After the upgrade, sign in with your Google account, and you’re good to go.
If you have an Android phone and have already bought certain apps there, you’ll be able to download them again for free onto your secondary device.

The first thing that came to mind during this process : will this thing play my games that appear to be laggy and stutter’ish on my HTC Desire (first gen phone)?
On with the test : let’s install The Sims Freeplay from our newly acquired access onto Google Play.

Result : runs like a charm. Not as fluid as on a PC with 8GB RAM, a GTX 580 and a Core-i7, but nevertheless smooth for a tablet that doesn’t even support 3D acceleration in a native way.

As more ideas start to pour in on what to do with this fun trinket, the 10” gps seemed the most interesting.
Now keep in mind that this Novitab tablet does not have a gps module nor does it have Bluetooth inside to hook it up to an external gps module.

If any of you have experience in connecting an USB gps module to an Android ICS tablet, and making it work, then please let me know.

As the average human being is creative in finding workarounds, so am I.
My smartphone that has everything on-board (Bluetooth, gps, wifi, 3G, …) should be able to share its gps location over Bluetooth. But can it do so over the only form of communication my tablet provides : wifi?

Jup.

TetherGPS is a program available on the Google Play Store in either Lite (free) and Normal (€2,22) mode. The difference being that the Lite version stops sending gps signals every 15 minutes or so.

First of all, I setup wifi tethering on my phone in which I share my phone’s 3G connection over its wifi channel. Most Android 2.0  machines or higher can do this through the Settings –> Wireless menu.

Next, I start the TetherGPS server module on my phone, in which the gps signal is sent over wifi to anything connected to my phone through the tethered network.

On to the tablet, which is about to become a 10” gps (no more peeking at a small screen !). Yeay!

Luckily the people at Novitab (*mumbles something about a well-known brand not wanting to have people know they make cheap tablets*) left the Developer Options on in the Settings menu. This allows you to turn on the ‘Mock gps locations’ option in which you tell your device to receive fake gps statuses from any connected device wanting to do so.

Start the GPStether client (we already bought it, so no double payments on the tablet) after having connected to your phone’s wifi and it should say something like ‘connected’ or so.

Next, start your favorite gps software (I’m still a sucker for Google Maps with Navigation, but when I’m abroad and not willing to pay shitloads of money for an internet connection to stream my maps, I have Copilot Live) and it should put you on the location that your phone (the tether server) is located.

Next mission : to find a car kit for this relatively huge tablet :-)

Oh and if anyone knows how to extract the current ROM in an easy way to an .img file, please let me know, as Novitab does not provide a downloadable stock ROM on their site, unlike bigger brands such as Samsung and HTC do on their websites.

I haven’t gotten to experiment sufficiently with ClockWorkMod ROM manager to be able to backup my current ROM.

11 Responses to “Getting the most out of your budget Android tablet”

  1. if you don’t know how to open a .docx file, or if you’re using a translation program to even read this text in your native language, then STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW and leave this to a (semi-) professional.
    Hell… I’d even advise you to buy an iPad at that moment, seeing as that’s a tablet designed for “mommies and daddies”.

    I love this! Tears rolling down my cheeks while reading this piece.

  2. after the update as described as above, the home button does not respond anymore :(

  3. Hi,

    I’ve bought this tablet also and am glad how it runs, only that when the batery is around 25% or less the touchscren becomes unusable. Presing a button will trigger that key and others at random.

    Do you get the same defect on your tablet also?

    Thanks for your reply.

    Nick

  4. ItalianPanda
    21:26, 27.08.2012

    tnx 4 the guide! worked perfectly until i restored factory settings. now the home botton is not working and no screen lock ;( any ideas?

  5. Hey,

    What’s the graphics core on that tablet (mali, gc)? Could you run Android system info on it, and find out? :)

    Thanks

  6. You are a legend mate:)
    Thanks a lot for this post:)

  7. I have a small problem. My home key is not doing anything. When I press it, i hear a click if sound is on, but nothing happens.
    Any ideas?

  8. I’m trying to get a working Bluetooth stack for this device. After some investigation, I’ve found that the NoviTab 7 should be a rebranded Eken A70 (www.eken.com/a70).
    I had to open it to fix the front camera (which was poorly attached with some glue) and I realized that it’s an A10 powered device (I thought that it could be a W70 clone, WM8850 based).
    On Eken website I’ve found the firmware for A90 (choose the 2 axis accelerometer version). I haven’t tried the .img and I don’t know if that firmare is suitable for a different display size).
    I’d like to know how to make CWM work. I’ve just backed up my NAND using ‘dd’ from ‘adb shell’.
    GC

  9. Wow, after haven’t logged onto my own WordPress stuff, it seems a lot of peo seems people have tried my trick, after which the Home button appears broken.

    First of all, thanks for reading my blog posts. Didn’t expect anyone to read this :p

    Now concerning the home button : does this work again if you unplug the power? I’ve tried a factory reset on one of the testmodels I had at my disposal, and that fixed it for me (had to reinstall all the apps, but that didn’t take too long)

  10. BluePrint
    15:54, 10.02.2013

    Hi!
    I have this one problem … after enabling Google Play, my Novitab 7.0 can nolonger see my 3g dongle usb modem.I guess that it has somth to do with deleting telephony, functionality . Do you think there’s a way to undo my stupidity? :d thanks alot

  11. Very late reply (finally got back @ my PC). :
    If you can find the apk files for telephony, you can easily add them again

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