WiFi Internet Radio Media Player Touchscreen Display REVIEW Convenient combination device
I have been a fan of Star Trek since I was a young child. I loved dreaming of handheld tech and touch screens in, let’s be honest, in everything. Aluratek has built on their WiFi internet radio model and provided a new/upgraded option compared to the previous AIRMM03F device. The football shaped device arrives packaged in a very bright, attractive, retail packaging. The device is well depicted on the cover, with a full-size color image of the device. The middle of the device is a 7″ diagonal touchscreen display and has Dual surrounding 5 Watt speakers. Using the android based touchscreen, you have instant access to photos, music, videos and a variety of social media sites. Additionally, you have the full access to the Google Play Store. The packaging promises touchscreen access, direct transfer of music/video to the built-in 8GB built-in internal memory, Micro-SD card support, external 3.5mm jack for private listening and a front facing built-in VGA camera. With a 1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor and 1GB Ram, this could be a fun bedside table device.
Opening the package, I found the fully assembled speaker encased in form cut cardboard. The device is wrapped in plastic and there is a thin layer of foam material across the entire box. Along the periphery, you will find cutouts for each of the accessories: AC adaptor with 60″ cable, 35″ USB-A to USB-micro cable, and dual language instruction manual. I do like that there is a built-in universal adaptor feature, with type C (Europe, South America and much of Asia), Type A (USA, Mexico, Canada and Japan), and Type I (China, Australia, Argentina). To change between the prong types, press the small black button just beneath prongs and twist counterclockwise. Despite the multiple prongs, I am not a fan of the large wall plug (2 1/2″ tall by 1 5/8″ wide by 2 1/8″ thick. You can use the type A plugin either wall outlet port. However, some surge protectors will require you to use the bottom most port or you will block spaces. In 2017, I am disappointed when the AC adaptor design and ultimately wall space are not considered as important as the device.
The speaker/tablet device measures 13″ wide by 5 3/4″ tall and 4″ deep. It rests upon a base measuring 5 1/4″ long by 3 1/2″ wide. The base is very secure and it is not likely to topple. The 1024 x 600 screen is 7″ diagonal and 6″ wide by 3 1/2″ tall. Along the top of the device, you will find a power on/off button and volume +/- buttons. Just above the touchscreen is a VGA forward facing camera with 640×480 resolution (weaker than expected). Along the back, just above the base, you will find DC 12V input power (AC adaptor), Line out (3.5mm output, not included), USB micro port, and a microSD port. The port on the device seems odd as it should be a female USBA port to be able to have a phone plug into the device or a USB thumb drive. There are adaptors available through Amazon and other sources to solve this problem. This is a USB micro charging port and it seems that they put in the wrong port. It comes with an AC adaptor with circular prong and thus does not need the micro USB input. There should have been micro USB input and USB-A input and no circular power adaptor port. This is wasted real estate and will require you to purchase another dongle to use your USB thumb drive for music.
There is a cutout for HDMI but it is not functional on the device and is not fully cut out. Internally, the device has built-in in Wi-FI and quickly connects to WiFi 802.11 B/G/N networks. As stated above, it has 8GB of internal memory and 1GB of Ram (this is personally too low for a modern tablet device, above entry level). The internal battery is a 1600 mAh Li-Po and has up to 5 hours of use. Weighing roughly 2lb, the device is a little heavy for carrying and is thus more inclined for a bedside table or office desk space.
If you are an avid user of higher end tablets, you may be dissatisfied with the tablet specifications and utility. Plug in the AC adaptor and turn on the tablet. The power button received a lot of complaints on the last Aluratek Wifi device and the current button is well done. It has a nice click feel and is responsive. Once powered on, you will be taken to the tiled main screen. From here you have a variety of options. You can adjust date/time, brightness by touching the settings cog on the touchscreen. Or you can add WiFi information, utilizing the same settings button as mentioned previously. The screen is bright and you can adjust this up/down to your liking. You can adjust the length of time the screen remains active, before resting. You can change wallpapers, you can check storage (not enough) and so much more. Setup of WiFi was as easy as going to the section in settings, selecting the network and then adding the password. The date/time updated automatically based on the network, which was convenient.
The initial main screen has chrome, play store, play music, video, settings, and photos. Along the bottom of the screen, you have a volume down icon, backward triangle, circle, square and volume up icon. The backward triangle will take you back, the circle will take you to the main screen and the square will open up your apps. If you press the circle again, you will be taken to a secondary window, which is adjustable with a variety of widgets. If you have an android tablet/phone, this device will be second nature to you. However, the 1GB of RAM is minimal and you will notice significant lag. This device (any modern device really) should have a minimum of 2GB of RAM to be competitive. The device is essentially a basic tablet with built-in speakers.
I next visited the play store and downloaded amazon prime music, video and audible. These downloaded fairly quickly and I replaced the preset play music, video and chrome icons with my desired apps. To do this, select the bottom right of the app and hold for 3 seconds. It will take you to a list of applications. Select the one you want and it will replace the icon on the main shortcut screen. You cannot change the clock/time. If you hold the circle, this will bring up a google icon, select this to access google search. You can say “OK Google” to search the internet. I really like this feature as it gives an amazon echo like feel to the device (speakers not as good, assistant not as good and it took about 10 seconds to load). Unfortunately like the Echo and now the Google Home, this device is not always listening.
Next, I navigated to settings, storage, and apps. I noticed that there was total space 4.87GB available, 1.52GB in apps. You can also see/manage your Micro SD card and USB storage options (not included). Touching apps, you will notice that Facebook uses 244MB, Google Play uses 140 MB, Audible 75.17MB, maps 70.80MB, iHeartRadio 62.34MB and the apps diminished in size beyond that. You can clear your cached data in this same method. Returning to settings, you can tap apps and see the downloading options. Pandora, iHeartRadio, Facebook, and Spotify come preinstalled. Again, I downloaded audible, amazon prime video/music apps.
Remaining under settings, if you tap “Battery,” you will be able to see the percentage and the remaining time for the battery. Scrolling down, you will have access to personal and system subheadings. Adjust location/accounts, backup and reset, security and language/input through personal and then date/time, printing, accessibility, and about the device from the system. To return to the home screen tap the circle. Tapping the circle icon again will take you to a customizable window. Here you can add widgets, live wallpapers and adjust the window to your desire. I selected Blackhole live wallpaper and found it to be very attractive. The tablet is mediocre and feels somewhat entry level. As you will see below, techies and audiophiles will probably prefer a separate tablet and speaker option. This is a convenient blend of so/so tablet with so/so speakers.
The dual 5W speakers are on par with many of the sub $100 Bluetooth speakers. I do not like the USB 2.0 connection in 2017, as USB 3.0 is becoming the norm. You can access music through a variety of apps, MicroSD card, and USB 2.0 input. I navigated to audiocheck.net and tested the bass. Using The Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer AudioTest (10–200Hz), the speaker became audible at 40Hz. The human hearing will go down to 20Hz and thus you will miss out on some of the deeper bass in the 20–30Hz range. This was noticeable with listening to “Why So Serious” Joker Theme from Dark Knight Rises and the Gladiator soundtrack. Using the High-Frequency Range test (8–22KHz) on audiocheck.net I then tested the high range. Humans lose hearing, in the higher frequencies, as they age. I can hear about 15KHz on most speakers. This is actually pretty good for a 35-year-old male. ON this speaker my 33 yr old wife was able to hear 14 KHz and I was actually able to hear 16KHz. My two sons, eight and five, are able to hear to 18 and 20 KHZ respectively. Do not be a fool, protect your hearing!.
Amazon prime music was not bad, youtube videos were not bad. The speakers are mid-level and are not going to appease audiophiles. Some of the higher volume sounds proved to be tinny. There was minimal staging and the fullness just was not there in instrumental music like Far and Away and Braveheart soundtracks. If you are looking for a way to have some tablet functions with an included speaker, this may be a device for you. To summarize the device again, this is a mid-range speaker system with relatively basic android tablet/phone capabilities. Do not misinterpret my meaning, the device works and will serve many people very well. I have an iPad Air 2 and a portable speaker from iClever, the iC-BTS08. This speaker has dual 10W output and provides great sound in the ~$50 range. Again, there are stronger/better systems if you desire to pay for them. If you have a tablet already, consider purchasing a good pair of speakers. If you are looking for a convenient all-in-one device, the Aluratek device would work well for you.
The device could be so much more, but at what cost? It has a partial cutout for an HDMI port, it only has 1GB ram and is laggy when using apps, moving between apps and with web searches. Additionally, it has the wrong USB port. At a minimum, it should have a USB A port and not the USB Micro port or it should not have the AC adaptor port, instead opting for charging via USB micro input. For ~$60 you can get an entry-level Amazon fire tablet with 16GB memory (~$40 with 8GB memory) and 1GB RAM. This would give you a very similar grade of tablet to the Aluratek and added ALEXA functionality as well. You could then buy a set of speakers and save about 1/3 of the cost of this device for something else on Amazon. The sound is passable and should be better at this price point. Again, assuming the tablet is worth ~$40–50, the speakers on this device should run approximately $80. You can get a lot more speaker in the ~$75 dollar range on amazon. For this to be viable, it would need 2GB of ram, minimum of 16GB of internal storage (passable as you can add up to 32GB microSD or USB storage), 10W speakers, an HDMI port and USBA 3.0 port with USB micro charger input. This is my first WiFI radio and I had to rely on numerous reviews of the previous device to understand the earlier devices limitations.
This is clearly a step up from the last device. However, as you see with jack-of-all-trade like devices, you usually can get better components at similar prices. If you want a single device for your bedside multi-media needs, I actually would recommend this device, as I could not find a better option. Personally, I will continue to use my iPhone 7 plus and my Bluetooth speakers. Similarly, you can use your android phone with Bluetooth speakers. I would rate the overall device at 3/5 stars.
BUY FROM AMAZON
Originally published at macsources.com on April 10, 2017.