Thursday, June 20, 2013

New IndieGoGo Campaign that deserves your attention (Root 101)

I was scanning through one of my favorite android sites, android authority, today and found something rather interesting that I think you should know about. I still am a little in shock that it's coming into existence and it may be one of the best crowd-funded projects I've ever seen. A very young company by the name of Tronity is undertaking the task of building the first tablet to be shipped with root capabilities and it seems as though the bootloader will also come unlocked, although I'm not 100% sure. They're calling this tablet the Root 101 and what makes this story even more impressive is that you can reserve yours now for $169.

If this thing is so cheap, it must be made of terrible parts and be small and have Android 2.1 Eclair, you say? Nope, in fact, this device will quite resemble the Nexus 10 in a lot of ways and comes running Android 4.2.2 Jellybean. Here are the actual specs of the Root 101:

  • 10.1" IPS HD display with 1280x800 resolution
  • Multi-Touch capacitive screen
  • AmLogic  AML8726-MX Dual-Core 1.5 GHz CPU
  • Mali-400 Dual Core GPU
  • 1 GB of RAM 
  • 16 GB of internal storage, expandable by up to 32GB with Micro-SD card
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Mini HDMI
  • VGA front facing camera and 2MP rear facing camera
  • 7000mAh battery
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 2 rear facing speakers
  • Microphone
  • aluminum body

Software Support

Tronity has also done something for the Root 101 that you will never see any other manufacturer do with their devices. Not only do they promise a Nexus-like experience if you leave it the way it is out of the box but they also have custom ROMs available on their website. The most popular custom ROMs in the business, in fact. Cyanogenmod and Paranoid Android are both going to be officially supported on the Root 101. I'm not sure what that will mean in terms of updates and whether CM or PA will pick up support for nightlies, I guess it really depends on how popular the tablet ends up being but at least you know that you can use non-stock firmware if you wanted to on the cheapest 10.1" tablet I've ever seen.

My Concerns

You'll notice that I highlighted a few things that leave me a little disappointed. Obviously the speakers facing the wrong way and low quality camera won't do anything to performance but the 1 GB of RAM will. 1 GB is just about the bare minimum for a device running a new-age version of the Android OS, anything 4.0 and up. However, the Nexus 7 also has only 1 GB of RAM so if you've ever used a N7 and it was able to handle your needs then this might still be for you. Honestly, even though this is the list directly off of the indiegogo campaign page, I don't think it's complete only because in the video they show the tablet being turned upside-down and reacting to the change in orientation so I have to guess that there is a gyroscope of some sort which means that other things like the accelerometer and GPS might also be on board. At the end of the day, I believe they plan on selling the tablet for $189. I'm not sure how much money is left to be made but I guess that remains to be seen.

With this tablet, I only have one main concern and it's mostly for the creators. I, and perhaps you can be trusted with a rooted device because we know how to use it and what not to do. However, there are many people who should never touch a rooted device and since this will debut as a 10.1" tablet with decent specs at a lower price point than most 7" tablets, a lot of people that have no business holding a rooted tablet are going to be proud owners of the Root 101 and because of that I think Tronity might regret their decision to make this rooted out of the box. It would be very simple to include the superuser binary but disable it somehow and require the user to input a command or accept an agreement to reactivate it. When a device like this comes rooted out of the box, you expect that the end user will be doing things with root which means that there should be some type of warranty that covers the device being broken even if the user does something dumb with root - which most device manufacturers won't cover because they consider it "voiding the warranty" to root the device. 

What now?

Personally, I'm still debating over whether I want to get one. I already have a nexus 10 which will be supported by Google for at least the next two years and then the development community some time after that. On the other hand, I really want to support this project and it can't hurt to have an extra tablet around for toying around with. That's also where I'm calling on you, if you're in the market for a new tablet, especially a 10" tablet, I really don't think you can go wrong with this one. The one downside of the Indigogo campaign is that if they don't reach their goal, all of the money is refunded to the supporters and in most cases since the people asking for the money can't get the capital, they won't be able to build the product. This is something, that even if I can't support them myself, I would really like to see get off of the ground so I'm calling on all of you to get the job done. Act quickly, because they are only offering the $169 deal to the first 100 supporters and then the next level up is $179 and then lastly full retail price at $189. The worst thing that could happen is you will get your money back and in the best case you get an awesome tablet for a really great deal.

What do you guys think? Would the Root 101 be a problem for users, would you buy one? Answer these questions and start a discussion in the comments below or on the original post on Google+ or Facebook. 

Source: Ingigogo