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Monday, September 30, 2013

Product review: Budget tablet Pyle Astro PTBL9C 9-Inch 8 GB Tablet

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In case someone reads just the first few lines of this review, let me start by saying that the technical specs for this tablet under Amazon product description contain several errors, the main one being the number of cores in the processor of this tablet. I note the errors and corrections at the end of the review and I notified the seller.

As a background for this review, I am a fairly heavy tablet user. We own three tablets: Nexus 7, Galaxy 7.7, and iPad Mini which we use for navigation, music streaming, game playing, reading, browsing, listening to internet radio and so forth. I received Pyle Astro Tablet from the manufacture for testing, evaluation and review. In my review I will compare my experiences with these tablets, especially the Android tablets, to Pyle Astro Tablet.

Given the price difference between the tablets (the Pyle Astro Tablets is under $100 at the time I am writing this review) any comparison must start with a price. Pyle Astro Tablet is less than half of the cheapest tablet listed above. It is a real bargain. The question is what are the main practical differences between the Pyle Astro Tablet and the other three tablets I mentioned.

✔ 1. The display resolution (which is 800 x 480) and brightness. In practical terms it means that even though Pyle tablet has a larger physical screen it will fit less on the screen than a display with a higher resolution. Reduced brightness means it is harder to read in the bright sun. I found that the image on the screen looks washed out at more angles than my other tablets. However, if you hold the tablet at the right angle and not in the bright sun the screen is acceptable. This is the biggest difference, and given the price difference it is a reasonable compromise.
I am attaching a collage of 2 photos, showing Pyle Astro tablet next to Galaxy 7.7 tablet (which has screen resolution 1280 x 800 pixels) so you can compare the display.

✔ 2. The processor of this tablet is not as powerful as the processors in my other tablets. It also comes with a relatively small amount memory (512MB). In practical terms it means it is a bit more sluggish than the tablets I compared it to. Doing the same operation on Pyle Astro Tablet and Galaxy 7.7 tablet (which runs the same version of the operating system) Pyle tablet took longer. To be specific, things take longer to display. For example, when I need to enter something the on-screen keyboard takes a bit longer to appear than with the other tablets. When I install something it takes a bit longer and so forth.

✔ 3. This tablet does not have a bluetooth capability. In my day-to-day usage of the tablets I use bluetooth quite a bit. I use bluetooth speaker when we use the tablet to navigate, for streaming music or audio books. I also use a bluetooth keyboard when I am doing a lot of typing on my tablet during travel. Whether missing bluetooth functionality is a deal breaker depends on whether you plan to use bluetooth devices.

✔ 4. The tablet is running Android 4.0.4 operating system. I tested many of the apps I use on my Galaxy 7.7 tablet and most of the worked with the exception of TuneIn Radio which gave me a message that it is not compatible with this device. Surprising! Pandora radio did work just fine. The error tells me that there is a potential that some apps will not work on this tablet even when they work with other tablets running Android 4.0.4.

✔ 5. I found the touch screen to be a little less responsive than my other tablets. Perhaps this could be explained by the slower processor rather than the screen itself. However, the responsiveness of the touch screen is something that you get used to and learn to use effectively relatively quickly.

With the price tag of under $100 Pyle Astro tablet performed rather well for a budget tablet. Whether you are on a budget or want to get a tablet for youngster this tablet will do a serviceable job.

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Technical specification errors as of 6/11/2013
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I am an engineer so several mistakes in the technical spec jumped out at me and caused me to look for another version of the spec, which I found on the Pyle Audio web site. This second version of the spec appears to be accurate. I am including that version after noting the errors.

1. Errors in the manufacture and processor description.
Processor Brand: Intel
Processor: 1.2 GHz A-Series Quad-Core A8
➨ ➨ A8 is an ARM processor and Intel does not make ARM processors at the current time
➨ ➨ The processor in this tablet is unlikely to be a high end quad-core based on performance and price of this tablet.
When I looked up the processor on the Pyle web site, the processor was descried as "1.2GHz Cortex A8 Processor Chip"
not mentioning the number of cores, which typically implies one core.

2. Hard Drive Rotational Speed 5400 RPM
➨ ➨ Tablets do not use hard drives that rotate, they use flash RAM

3. Hard Drive 8 GB
➨ ➨ This device does not have a hard drive, it has is 8GB flash RAM storage capacity
The difference between hard drives and flash RAM is that hard drives are mechanical devices that rotate, flash RAM is solid state memory (no moving parts). This makes flash RAM shockproof, which makes it very useful for a mobile device which is being carried around. If this tablet actually had a hard drive it would be bad news. But the spec from Pyle web site does not include a mention of the hard drive and refers to 8GB Storage Capacity instead.

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Here is the spec from the Pyle web site
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Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Operating System)
1.2GHz Cortex A8 Processor Chip with 3D Graphic Acceleration
2 Built-in Cameras: .3 Megapixel Front & 2 Megapixel Back Cameras
Multi-Touch Capacitive Screen with 4-Direction Gravity Sensing
High-Speed Wireless Network: 802.11 b/g/n
TF card Port (Supports up to 32GB)
8GB Storage Capacity
Integrated Flash Player
Multi Language Support
512MB DDR3 RAM
Pixel Resolution: 800 x 480
Up to 8-Hour Battery Life (4000mAh Battery)
Headphone Jack & Side-Button Volume Control
USB wall charger adapter, USB charging cable

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


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