Monday, April 20, 2015


This is just a post where I vent frustration over the weird things my tablet does, and argue to no one why I don't want to sell it to buy a new one.

The overly-long video above shows what happens in Chrome 42 when I scroll down the comments in Ars Technica. In version 41 and earlier, I used to make it through several pages' or tabs' worth of comments (I like reading them; they're usually thought-provoking and often educational beyond the article) before any weirdness occurred.

Now? I can't get through half a page before it takes the entire system down.

EDIT: It seems that Chrome in general dislikes Ars. The tabs freeze on my netbook roughly halfway down the comments. At least I can kill those and keep going.

The rest of the video is me showing the boot time (granted, I have a lot of apps installed) and some system info. To be clear, it's an Acer Iconia Tab A200, which has a Tegra 2 SoC and 1GB of RAM. (Device enthusiasts may be raising eyebrows; I'll address that in a bit.) It originally shipped with Honeycomb (Android 3.0), but was officially upgraded to ICS (Android 4.0.3). I am running an unofficial OmniROM with Android 4.4.4 - the only known KitKat ROM available for the device.

This clip demonstrates a quirk that I assume is due to both the hardware and the driver (I had issues with it in ICS). With certain networks, the tablet will often refuse to connect whenever I come in range (or after rebooting), and the one at work gives me the most trouble (sometimes it will be connected as I put the tablet to sleep; when it wakes up, it refuses to reconnect). To connect, I must forget the network, toggle Wi-Fi off and back on, then establish a new connection to the router.

Regarding Chrome, I can only assume that it has something to do with implementing (more?) NEON instructions; a while back, when I updated Google Maps to version 9, it would crash on startup (and logcat made it clear that NEON was to blame; I now run an unofficial Maps 6). The Tegra 2 is one of the last non-NEON chips to be released, lacking an instruction set that current Android devices sport.

Between issues like the above, and the fact that the device is constantly sluggish while running today's apps (software bloat, anyone?), life with this tablet has been rife with frustration. I want to get a newer device - but I refuse to get rid of the A200.

Why? Well, it was a gift, for starters. Christmas present at the end of 2012. It's hard to argue with getting something for free; I could have no tablet at all.

Also, with a Bluetooth keyboard, it's pretty nifty to write on; it helps that my laptops' batteries are all toast, so my tablet is my sole utility for writing in, say, a waiting room. For added productivity, the device has a full-size USB port, letting me plug in a wired mouse/keyboard, gaming controller, or flash drive - without an adapter. (Heck, sometimes I charge my Clip Zip with it.) I doubt whatever replacement tablet I go with will have one (come to think of it, is there ANY tablet for sale with a full USB port that isn't a Surface?).

Also, the ten-inch screen is nice. It's not as vivid as current displays, but I like the extra breathing room it affords over the plethora of 7" tablets on the market (never mind my phone's 4" screen!). The only caveat is that the resolution sucks by 2015 standards; it's 1280 x 800 pixels. Still, it's good enough to read comics or show funny pictures to others in the room.

So yeah, it's often frustrating to use, but I'm keeping this thing until the battery goes under. Hopefully I'll find a good deal before then, though.