What am I supposed to do with a manically depressed tablet?
February 12, 2015 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought a new Alcatel One Touch 7 Tab, running Jelly Bean. It has a lot of problems, often it takes several seconds to respond, apps freeze, it has graphical issues with some games that aren't necessarily new, some apps don't even run, and it hangs when going from one app to another.

My Nexus 7 broke and it will be a while before I can have it fixed because reasons, so I had to buy a cheap tablet to use in the meantime. I didn't have time to research, I just bought from a brand I had heard, hoping it wouldn't be a piece of crap.

At first the only issue was that the facebook app timed out trying to log in (I can only log in if I uninstall the updates, leaving me with a very old version), Subway Runners animations where all jumbled up, and that it has some pre installed apps taking precious internal storage space that can't be uninstalled.

As days gone by it's gotten worse. No apps run smoothly for more than a few minutes. Firefox and the gmail client freeze all of the time, usually when I want them to load something, but sometimes also when scrolling down a page and also when switching to another tab. Whenever I launch an app it takes up to a minute before it shows me anything other than a blank screen. Too often I will type or Swype several words and then have to wait about ten seconds before they appear on screen. If I hide the keyboard sometimes it freezes in the middle of the animation of going down and stutter for several seconds. Games with 3d are unplayable, sometimes some surfaces extend to the infinite, sometimes models joints don't follow the animation, some animations are out of sync (i.e. the subway surfers guy moves his arm in front of a subway car, the can of spray paint flies in front of him instead of being in his hand), and in some games either some models or text are missing. The latter is also true for some 2d games, and I'm not even taking of new games meant for a much more powerful tablet.

While I do occasionally play some games, my main interest is using it to browse the internet and email, but even that is a pain in the neck to do as it is.

A previous asker had similar issues with a laptop, and apparently the cause was malware pre installed by the manufacturer, so I installed avast but it found nothing.

Do you have any ideas of what I should do? I was just going to run stock Android, but will I have no choice but to install a mod?

posted by Promethea to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and I forgot, the launcher stops working often too, forcing me to reboot if I want to use an app I haven't already open. And occasionally the notification bar and the back, home and recent apps buttons disappear as well.
posted by Promethea at 2:06 PM on February 12, 2015

That tablet is just plain out not going to be very fast, unfortunately. The specifications for the Alcatel list a 1GHz single-core Rockchip processor. That is your problem. The Nexus 7 has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor in it. Just on the face of it, you're used to a tablet that has 3 more processors in it, and all of them run 500MHz faster. Not to mention the Snapdragon has been designed far better - unless your chip comes from Qualcomm, Apple or NVidia, you've got bargain-basement design going into your chip, and that's rather important as well. Even if it had the extra 500MHz and the 3 extra cores, it still wouldn't be on par. And, there's no info on what kind of graphics chip is in it, so it could have some seriously old thing in there that only just barely supports the things newer games are trying to do.

You may, however, want to try restoring it to factory defaults - maybe something's screwy with the software installed on it. You could also try to see if there's a CyanogenMod port available for it. Some quick googling did not return results that were very encouraging but there may be something out there. I'd have my doubts that it'd make the machine much faster (especially if you have to stick with Jellybean - later versions of Android tend to be a bit speedier) but it could potentially make it more stable.
posted by mrg at 2:24 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've looked for a minimal OS for low end tablets but just don't see anything, no one seems interested in eeking out the best from a basic unit. There are versions of Linux that would run on much smaller specs but that just does not seem to be in the android culture. I would suggest removing every app you don't absolutely need and disabling any that are not in active use.
posted by sammyo at 3:21 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't mind not being able to play certain games, I described those issues in case it was relevant.

Improving my emailing and browsing experience up to normal, with glitches and freezes being an exception, not the rule, is what anyone would minimally expect from a tablet. Of course, launcher shouldn't be expected to stop working two minutes after booting, should it?

I already uninstalled apps I don't use, with the exception of the ones that came pre installed, because it doesn't allow me to remove them. It hasn't improved.
posted by Promethea at 3:58 PM on February 12, 2015

Yeah, with hardware that weak you're basically out of luck. Even a clean rom is going to run like junk on that rockchip.

This HP Stream 7 runs full Windows 8.1 and is currently $79 with a year of Office 365 and a $25 app gift card. It's surprisingly snappy for what it is.

If I was you, I'd return your tablet and grab that.
posted by Oktober at 4:53 PM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

My suggestion would be to return it and buy something on craigslist or online. I've seen plenty of nice galaxy tabs, LG tabs, sony xperia tablets, older nexus 7s(which are totally fine with F2FS and some mods), etc for quite cheap.

You want a slightly older high(er) end, or at least midrange tablet. Not a new bargain basement one. Get something from a real brand like LG/samsung/asus/sony/etc. The only off-brand tablet i've ever heard people praise is this one.

Buy this for $40 and forget you ever mucked around with this junk. 4.4 Kitkat, comparatively very powerful CPU, gig of ram, solid manufacturer. The 1st gen nexus 7 is also on there for $60, and is still a good deal.

Either of those will give you an infinitely better experience. It's like buying a toyota yaris vs a daewoo. It might be basic, and kind of plasticy and cheap feeling, but it's still the most basic model from a manufacturer with a solid track record that actually seems to test their stuff before they ship it.
posted by emptythought at 6:08 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can see if there is a way to root the tablet so you can remove all pre-installed apps, but a) I'm not sure you'll be able to root that random brand/model b) I'm not sure it will make the tablet that much faster, if at all. You also don't sound like you've rooted a phone before and you may not want to go through the process.

I would try to return it. You could even use an old or cheap Android phone on wifi over that tablet. Personally, I don't think tablets are a great way to browse the internet to begin with. The fact that the one you bought has such low specs makes it even worse.

Sorry, but people are right that these specs are rather awful.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:37 PM on February 12, 2015

Response by poster: It's been about two months since I've bought it, and with a tourist visa in Brazil (that means no Brazilian ID number) I can't return it anymore. Also, availability and prices are not the same as where you leave.
I'm not looking for advise on a new tablet. I want to get this one to work properly for basic stuff. If launcher crashes and the keyboard takes so long to respond when typing something on Keep or Gmail, I tend to believe there is something wrong, other than bad specs.

I have rooted my nexus tablet and a handful of phones.

I bought this tablet because Alcatel is not a random brand, although of course it's not Samsung. Maybe it's more common in the European and Latinamerican markets than in the US?
posted by Promethea at 5:38 AM on February 13, 2015

Does it have a part number on it, or some other way to identify it other than the model name? Because it looks and is specced similarly to the original Kindle Fire / Blackberry Playbook / Toshiba Encore, which isn't unusual for whitebox devices like that. That's probably the last avenue to explore, as there isn't an XDA page for it, so development of custom roms is unlikely.

Really, it could just be bad product. It looks like the kind of thing they thrown in free when you open a bank account or re-up your cell phone contract. A single core android device is going to struggle with Jellybean, as it's really optimized for 2+ cores. Hell, I have an older Xoom that shipped with honeycomb, and I'll often get application freezes when something kicks off in the background and both cores are busy.
posted by Oktober at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2015

Response by poster: I'm an idiot, it's Alcatel One Touch Evo 7, which seems even worse.

The number it has on the back cover is CE0700. Is that what your looking for?
posted by Promethea at 11:08 AM on February 13, 2015

Best answer: Sorry, no luck. Although the problems you're having seem to be par for the course.
posted by Oktober at 11:53 AM on February 13, 2015

Best answer: I've never heard of that brand, but the specs are pretty awful. With that low of specs, your only option is to root it, remove as much clutter as possible, and use the most lightweight apps available to do what you want. You may want to try to find a very basic web browser that with less bells and whistle. You could also reset the phone first and see if it helps.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:42 PM on February 13, 2015

Response by poster: Thank for looking. I guess I'll resell it and count my losses.
posted by Promethea at 1:12 PM on February 21, 2015

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