Today, I tried upgrading to a newer SlateDroid than what came on the device.
BTW, a small tip for use on Ubuntu:
sudo apt-get install p7zip p7zip-full p7zip-rar
Find the new firmware at: http://www.slatedroid.com/downloads.php?do=file&id=99
Stupidly, to get the download link, you must create an account on the SlateDroid forums to do so. Did I mention that many aspects of the Android community are really aggravating? Would it really be that bad to use github or sourceforge for this sort of thing?
Anyway a direct link is: http://www.mp4doggie.com/calver/M001%20Slatedroid%20Mercury%20Beta%202.7z
Note, by using this, you may miss out on newer versions. Also, this seems to be on a rather slow server, which would raise reliability concerns.
Once you have the file, extract it some where. In the long directory created, there will be a text file and a script folder. Copy the entire folder to the root directory of a SD card, then move the card to the M001, and reboot the M001.
You will get a message indicating that it will re-install in a few seconds, and if you do nothing, it just runs for about 2-5 minutes, then ask you to remove the SD card, and when you do it turns off. Turn it back on and it takes a very long time to boot the first time, about 10 minutes for me. Easy Peasy, but I would have felt better if the process was described.
How Is It?
After booting into the updated OS, the first thing I noticed is that screen rotate is no longer working. I checked the settings for this, but nothing jumped out as wrong. I didn’t put much more effort into why this was mis-behaving.
Since battery life was supposed to be one area of improvement, I tested that out with a full charge. What I found was that with light usage of contacts, web browser, flipping around through menus and ebooks, but not playing any audio (other than default system sound effects) or any video, the battery lasted under 2 hours. 2 hours is about double what the battery life was was before.
While I ran through various menus, web sites and so on, I paid attention to the responsiveness of the system. It may be a bit more responsive than the ealier SlateDroid firmware, but it is hard to be sure. The M001 is still is rather tricky to navigate. Scrolling in particular is difficult. Half the time I try to do so, it registers a click as I swipe across a list item, which means I enter a new menu, have to hit the back button, then try scrolling again. I haven’t a clue why this behavior exists. Is the touch screen not good enough? Is the processor too slow? Is the software too un-optimized? Or is it that there are ill timed software pauses that cause it to miss a beat? I don’t know, but if someone would work this out, it would be really nice.
This software upgrade brought the Aldiko e-book reader. This program is nice. You swipe to flip pages, and unlike general list scrolling, this actually works reliably. If you had decent battery life and wanted to use only this program, this could be worthwhile. Certainly if that was the goal, you could turn off wifi, which would help a little.
One weird note is the continued inclusion of the phone dialer. Why? There is no phone here.
I think that is about it for me and this device. I could load Debian on it still, but I just don’t feel motivated to try. While I could then try using it as a music player, I still have the problem of major noise on the output. With Debian I could use it to show pictures, but the screen still sucks even compared to my bargain basement picture frame. Of course, on Debian there don’t seem to be any polished enough WebKit based web browsers, so using it for the web doesn’t seem realistic (at this point Firefox on 128 megs of RAM is not pretty). I don’t see a lot of point.
I could keep it as a platform to hack on, but it doesn’t seem to be as open as other choices like the OMAPs, so if I was to get around to it, time would probably be better spent on my HawkBoard.
So, I say Adieu. Maybe I’ll try some Android 2.1 (or better still 2.2) tablet in the future.