June 26, 2012

Best cheap 7-inch tablet ever (Polaroid PTAB7XC)

***Sorry if you've been directed here when searching for cheap, reliable tablet. As you can see, this blog post is several years old, so while at the time this claim held water, the winds of time have dried up any chance of it still being true. Godspeed on your hunt for a good tablet.***

Original Post from June, 2012:
I like to skim the circulars every weekend, occasionally stopping to laugh at the cheap tablets that are advertised since they would probably only be good as paper weights IMHO. However, this one caught my eye in a June ad from Kohls: a Polaroid 7-inch tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), front facing camera, micro SD slot, and multi-touch screen for only $99. With a lucky 30% off coupon, it was on like Donkey Kong. Of course, the local store was out. But the next closest store had one and they held it for me. I paid them back by giving high marks on ubiquitous survey that seems to be on all store receipts now. This little bugger is quite a deal for the price. While it is no Kindle Fire or obviously $500 iPad, it does enable me to save my phone battery when I just want to fool around at home using wifi. Plus, there are several forum discussions that explain how to make the tablet fully customizable, i.e., not be locked into the Amazon app store, which is still a pretty good app store (the free app of the day gives me something to look forward to everyday; yes, my life is that exciting [Updated December 2012 that the updated Amazon app store v4.0+ is apparently not compatible with Poloroids; what you have to do is find an old version of the appstore  as an "apk" file and download it to your table; it took me a long time, but I found a 2.x version on a very sketchy site that I won't be linking to here due to culpability; just keep searching until you find it and then DO NOT UPDATE when the app store asks you if you want to). The screen resolution is horrid (only 800 x 480 pixels as compared to an iPad that is 1024 by 768 pixel), but I don't really mind since I am not looking to run any high end graphics-guzzling games on this thing. The camera could be better on the front, though it does Skype fine. Who would have thought Polaroid would make, or lend their name to, something like this: no more instant film, so why not affordable tablets? The official model number is a very non-sexy PTAB7XC. You think they could have sprung for a cool name. They should have named it after one of their old instant cameras, thus I am dubbing thee the "Impulse"...on second thought, the "Swinger," no, no, the "iZone!"  Rock on.
Updated in November 2012 to include a picture above with apps on the screen; the original picture below is a better shot of the tablet as a whole. The tablet is still going strong after months of steady use. I  highly recommend using Opera Chrome (Chrome not working on this tablet as of 28Nov2012 - I've sent a strongly worded email to Google) or another browser other than the stock, though even then the tablet will lag when surfing the internet as Opera is pretty fast on this tablet when surfing the internet. Also, looks like Kohls is now selling an 8" version of this tablet with the same general specs. 
polaroid 7-inch tablet computer

Linkage:
Instructions for installing the Google Play Store (takes rudimentary computer skills; try at your own risk)
Case purchased for use with tablet (for everyday use and protection)
Keyboard and OTG USB Cable purchased for use with tablet (for use when you need to type at length)
What to do if you get locked out of the tablet without wi-fi on