Review: Astro Tab A10

by Brad Nelson5/28/16

A couple of days ago my Acer A500 10” Android tablet died. I tried all the tricks I could find online to revive it but it remained stuck at the boot screen. You could power it on or off and get past the Acer logo screen to the Android boot screen which even animated the logo as usual to show that something must be happening. But nothing would happen no matter how long you waited. It was clearly a case of not completely dead but only mostly dead.

However, it was long past time for a new tablet anyway. The Acer A500 was over 4-1/2 years old. Technology does tend to move on. The Acer still performed admirably as a book reader but it could not longer handle the typical bloated web page. (Your friendly Editor tries hard not to turn StubbornThings into bloated beasts such as NRO and others sites which bring most web browsers to their knees).

Also, there were some power issues I was having that certainly presaged that something may have been wrong with the Acer.

But now it’s dead and gone and I had to find a replacement. And it had to be a 10” tablet because anything smaller, why bother? — just use a phone, although the 7” Kindle Fires are nice. Still, for sane use of the web, you need a larger screen.

I figured I would again spend at least $400.00 or so. I’ve had my eye on various Samsung tablets which are very nice, if somewhat expensive. The iPad was not a consideration. Despite having a 27”AstroTab iMac for my main work computer, I dislike the inability to customize the iPads. And they are much more expensive.

So I did a quick search on Amazon for a 10” tablet to see what had changed in 4-1/2 years. The Astro Tab A10 popped up at or near the top of the search results. $79.00? 10” screen, bright and clear (according to reviews) screen? Full-size USB port? Ability to take external micro-SD card? All of this sounded up to spec for me. I have no need of running the latest and greatest power-hungry games.

Granted, it’s underpowered by the standards of other mainstream tablets. It has only 1GB of ram, 16GB internal flash memory, and only a 2.0 GHz Octa-core (whatever the hell that is) processor. But it was bound to be wildly faster than my old dual-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A9 of the now defunct Acer A500. And for $79.00 (with free shipping), what was there to lose? I don’t want to be a member of the narcissistic gotta-have-the-latest-and-greatest disposable society, which is surely why I owned the Acer A500 until it literally died. But if the Astro Tab (love the Jetsons-like name) does keel over in a year, I’m not out much.

I don’t ever use the camera (I have a Nikon DSLR) so I don’t care about it, but it does have them front and back. I don’t care about the speakers either (they’re crappy, at best). I just want something that works. And so far this one seems to work very well. It’s running Android 5.1 which I think is “Lollipop.” And I thought Apple gave their operating systems stupid names.

I’ve somewhat painlessly added back in the apps I had on the other one. I didn’t have most of it backed up. I’m not even sure that was possible. But this new one does allow you to back up to the “cloud” (a silly name for “remote server,” but what the hell) and does so by default.

My old Acer A500 was running Android 3.2. I couldn’t update it any higher. And there are some interface changes with the Lollipop 5.1 version. Overall, I think you’ll still find that Apple’s iPad interface is heads-and-tails above what Android has generally kludged together. For instance, Lollipop has a row of icons that collect (notifications or something, I guess) on the left side of the menu bar. And from what I can see, they are totally useless.

But some of its conventions are just different and you can get used to them. And that’s the nice thing about Android. You can do much more customization than the Apple Nazis allow. (Google is totally libtard, so it’s a matter of choosing your poison.) I’ve got it set up with most of the apps I want and am settled in. And many of the apps I’ve used on the old Acer tablet now run better on the Astro Tab.

Also, the Astro Tab is about a half pound lighter than my old Acer A500. It weighs in at 1.2 pounds. There are lighter tablets, but this is light enough and as light as the comparable Galaxy Tab 10.1”.

And, of course, the Astro Tab plays all my Sinatra just fine. And FYI, I don’t think you can find a better music player for Android than NRG Player. And I junked my old file browser and discovered a much better one: X-plore. It also (via WIFI…couldn’t get anything else to work on any other program) makes moving data to and from the tablet a snap. Anyone interested in how do do this, just let me know and I’ll give you the details. You can always, of course, use the Android Transfer program (still stuck at version 1.0) for a wired USB connection. But its a buggy program, at best.

So if you’re in the market for a new tablet or your first tablet, you’ve got nothing to lose buy $79.00. So far I’m very happy with this one. It must be my inner Jew. I really love finding a good deal and getting a lot of bang for my buck.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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6 Responses to Review: Astro Tab A10

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s another review, generally glowing, but noting the crappy cameras. I almost never use the camera for anything but snapping shots of QR codes (using the fairly popular QR Droid).

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This QwerkyWriter extension keyboard for tablets is way too pricey. But it’s got a nice old-fashioned, perhaps even steampunk, look to it. What say you?

    • Gibblet says:

      What? Something that doesn’t look like it came out of a cereal box or toy store? How very adult! I like it.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Very expensive and impractical. But looks neat.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’m a sucker for retro. But that’s much too expensive for a keyboard….unless it is the sweetest, best, easiest, most comfortable keyboard in the world to type on. The novelty aspect of it suggests “probably not.”

        Reminds me of the old Underwood manual typewriter I had as a kid. I don’t remember the exact provenance of this hand-me-down, but I think it belonged to my mother in college. It was a beast. It was difficult. It took real effort to get those keys to strike. It took real timing to make sure two keys were not struck too consecutively close or else they would entangle. All this under the umbrella that if you made a mistake, it was hell to fix.

        So the nostalgia is definitely for the looks, not for the operation of these old beasts. Very skilled people could do good service on them. I was not one of these people.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          We had an old typewriter when I was growing up and I would sometimes play with it, (my parents didn’t use it much) but I only learned how to type when I was 37. It was at this point that computer software became “user-friendly” enough for me to decide the time had come to start using one.

          There was some typing program which was essentially a game which taught one how to type.

          It took real timing to make sure two keys were not struck too consecutively close or else they would entangle.

          That was one of the attractions of playing with the old typewriter we had. I loved to hit several keys at one time and watch the letters get stuck together.

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