Cosmo Lavish: The $10 Tablet

Last Sunday, while shopping at our local grocery store, I wandered back into the sale section. This is the section where the fruit is almost spoiled, the bread is stale, and really random things that won’t sell appear. Sunday, nestled close to mostly dead flowers, I found several Proscan 7″ tablets for $10 each.

I picked it up thinking I must be misreading the box somehow. Maybe it was only a case? Nope, it claimed to have Android Jelly Bean installed. I read the box specs very carefully. The biggest downside seemed that it only had 4 GB of space. However, it claimed to be expandable an additional 32 GB via a microSD card. I pulled out my phone and looked it up on Amazon. I had just time to see it got a full 2 1/2 stars before my phone died. I debated with myself how bad a tablet would have to be to not be worth $10. I had been considering getting a tablet for a while for trips so that Calvin could play his videos on it while I could use the iPad for other things. After too much waffling, I decided to buy it and see what happened.

I got it home, pulled it out, and was pleasantly surprised by the case and keyboard it came with. The keyboard is cramped and itsy-bitsy but feels pretty nice. Of course, it also makes the tablet at least twice as thick. The tablet itself is obviously very cheap. I have named it Cosmo Lavish because it’s an extremely cheap imitation of the Google Nexus.

After I confirmed there really was a tablet inside the box, our family took an outing where I picked up a 32 GB micro SD card. This micro SD card cost about three times what the tablet did. On the other hand, it came with an adapter so if this came to naught, I could probably re-purpose it for something else.

The next day, after the tablet was fully charged, I loaded the SD Card with most of Calvin’s movies/TV shows. The video player works fine though the resolution is terrifying (800×480). Fortunately, Calvin has not yet inherited his father’s high standards when it comes to video display. However, the biggest downside I noticed was the battery was draining at an alarming rate. The box claimed it had 4 hours of video playing time. Naturally, I took this with a grain of salt. However, I managed to go from a claimed 100% to 75% battery in 15 minutes. This was moderately worrying.

My first real-life test of the tablet occurred on Tuesday. Since I started working on Mondays, I no longer was able to get my hair cut while Calvin was in preschool. So, I took Calvin to the salon with me and handed him Cosmo to play movies on. The interface is moderately different from the iPad so Calvin had to fiddle a bit to figure out how to make the video do what he wanted1. However, about 30 minutes in, the battery managed to die completely, cutting Calvin off mid-video. Fortunately, my haircut was almost over so I didn’t have to figure out how to entertain him for the rest of the time.

So, Cosmo failed his first test. I was unclear whether that was because the battery was pathetic or if it was also power hungry. Once home, I hooked it up to one of my portable batteries to see how long movies could run on that. I ran out of time that night to wear it down, but I got it to play 4 hrs of video without getting a third of the way through the external battery. So, I think it’s just the battery itself that is substandard. As a result, I think I can still use this for travel since I have two portable batteries. With the battery, it’ll play video longer than any of my laptops.

I would have felt ripped off if I had paid $75 for Cosmo. However, at only $10, I think it was a reasonable deal. If nothing else, it has a pretty standard Android interface so I can decide whether or not I like the OS enough to consider a Nexus later on.

As an aside, the Proscan manual has an amazing amount of exemplary Engrish in it. Excerpts on the first page:

  • Do not drop or crash the device to prevent the violent impacting between the display and the capacitive touch screen. Or the customers have to take the consequence by themselves.
  • Please choose the suitable volume and never make the too loud volume .If you feel uncomfortable please turn down the volume or stop to use the device soon.
  • Do not disconnect the device while formatting, downloading or uploading, or it may make the error.
  • Please operate the device according to the user manual rightly and backup the important data in time2.
  • Do not use this device while walking and driving, avoiding traffic accident.
  1. In retrospect, I probably should have given him time before then to play with it when I could help him
  2. Because I always know when my device is going to fail . . .

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