Review: Zenithink ZT-180 ePad

The release of the iPad has inspired many copy-cat devices, mostly originating from China. The Zenithink ZT-180 ePad is one of these devices, recently released with Android 2.1 as it’s OS. Being a Google fanboy, the idea of a 1Ghz tablet running Android had me very intruiged and I ordered one for $AU280.

I was excited to receive it and have a tinker. I quickly discovered that it is an absolute piece of garbage and here is why:

1. It does not in fact have a 1Ghz processor as advertisied, it is an ARM11 CPU with a coreclock of 800MHz. The OS is sluggish and it often freezes for 5-10 seconds as it catches up with what I am trying to do.
2. It has a resistive touch screen, not a capacitive one like the iPad. This makes it frustrating to use. It is also not multi touch. (Explained here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touchscreen#Technologies)
3. There is no access to the Android Market out of the box. You can get access to the market by following a series of unnecessarily complicated steps, which I did and they indeed work a treet. I have a lot of respect for the people who hacked this together. (http://bobhood.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/android-market-and-the-zenithink-zt-180/)
4. The wifi antenna is on a PCB, and about the size of a match stick. This causes the wifi to drop out if you walk more than 5m away from your access point.
5. It is called an ePad, with the ‘e’ of their logo directly ripped off from the Microsoft Internet Explorer logo.

But like a puppy with only three legs, it is impossible not to simultaneously love this device. It shows so much potential and I can’t wait for an Android tablet from a decent hardware manufacturer. Even with the above major flaws it is much better than an iPad in the following ways:

1. It has USB ports, allowing you to plug in a wide variety of peripherals such as web cams, USB sticks and 3G modems.
2. It has a MicroSD slot which means you can upgrade the memory whenever you damn please. You can also have more than one storage device for it allowing you to copy movies or music to it without having to bollocks around with itunes or DRM. At the time of writing 16GB and 32GB microSD cards cost $60 and $110 respectively.
3. It plays a wide variety of formats like Divx, and it allegedly does this in 1080p.
4. You can install apps from the internet without having to go through the market place. Just click on a link on the developers website, or even have a friend email the application to you.
5. It multi-tasks quite well.
6. If you use the Google cloud, then this is a perfect companion for checking your emails, calendar or documents when you’re on the couch and can’t be bothered waiting for your laptop to boot.
7. Using apps from the Android store, you can access file shares from other computers in your house using Wifi.

You have to hand it to Apple though, they’ve once again found a piece of technology that has existed for many years and re-invented it as something that excites people. I thank them for re-launching the tablet PC world with the enthusiasm it deserves.

At the end of the day, considering ZT-180 is 1/3rd the price of an iPad, you really can’t expect much. It shows excellent potential and will continue to keep an eye on the Android tablet PC market. There are some exciting projects in the pipeline from people like Samsung and Asus which will be worth a look.

I love living in the future.

UPDATE::
Since upgrading the device firmware to the latest version the device is infinitely more stable and the touch screen is somehow a lot more responsive.



4 Responses to “Review: Zenithink ZT-180 ePad”

  1. harry chay says:

    ta v much for the info. just won one on Ebay and was hoping it was a good call!looks fine to me, will upgrade software as you suggest. cheers!

  2. paula says:

    i got one of these with android 2.2 but everytime i go to install a app is said failed??? please help

  3. Louis says:

    The ePads with the IE symbol are fakes. Therefore they bear no similarity to genuine Zenithinks. One would have thought anyone writing a review would have checked this first?

  4. Max says:

    These devices are certainly not worth the money. Performance is slow, resistive touch screen is poor to bad. Memory claim is incorrect, as once up and running there is less than 100MB available. Android Market wants background sync turned on which makes this device nearly unusable. Very poor, don’t waste your money or time.

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