Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one

polaroidtabI have mentioned more than once that Android lacks a real equivalent to the iPod Touch. Sure, there are plenty of smartphones, and there are more than a few mini-tablets, but the mini-tablets generally seem to be running version 2 of Android, which means they have no (legitimate) access to the Play Store. Since I’ve ended up switching to an Android smartphone that fills my music-playing needs, I haven’t needed one as much, but I’ve still been curious whether one might become available.

I was interested the other day when Nate mentioned on The Digital Reader that Sony was apparently coming out with a phoneless version of its Xperia Z Ultra smartphone—but on closer inspection, it turned out that the phone was a 6.4” phablet, which means as a phoneless tablet it’s only slightly smaller than the Nexus 7! (And at $500, which means it would probably be closer to $300 or $400 over here, it’s kind of too pricey anyway when you can get the Nexus 7 for $230.)

But then Thomas chimed in with a comment on one of my posts, pointing to this Polaroid 4.3” Android Internet tablet. $70 through Amazon, and apparently “cheaper” at Big Lots stores, With a 480×272 screen, it’s almost comparable to the 480×320 display of the early generations of iPod Touch. It has 4 GB of RAM, and an SD card slot for up to 32 GB of media storage. So spend $20 more on an SD card and you can have the music and video playback capability of a 32 GB (early generation) iPod Touch for just under $100. And the e-reader capability, for that matter; it should be able to run Android e-book apps such as FBReader. And while a screen that small isn’t the best for reading, the many books I’ve read from my 1st-gen iPod Touches bear witness that it is still possible.

While its Android 4.0 is not the latest version by any means, it’s better than 2.* and should have access to the Play Store. It only has a 1 GHz single core CPU, which is laughable, but you don’t need much more than that for playing music. And the specs claim it has an 11 MP camera. No Bluetooth, but it does have Wi-Fi for web surfing.

Is it worth it? Hard to say. For a little more money you could get an Android smartphone, probably with a better processor and screen besides, and just use it without activating it. Or you could get a full-sized Android tablet (though still one of the cheap and crummy ones) for about the same amount. I’m generally satisfied with music playback from my LG Optimus F3, as low-end a device as it is in other ways.

But at least it’s no longer true that there’s no Android iPod Touch equivalent phoneless mini-tablet with a recent operating system. Now it may just be true there isn’t a good one yet.

2 Comments on Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one

  1. “Should have” Google Play access is the key phrase here, but I picked up one of these devices a year and a half ago and the Play store was off limits. The manufacturer claims Play has apps mainly intended for cell phones, but more than likely they didn’t get certification for Play access.

    In many ways the device is a decent performer, but the battery life was a deal breaker: as the Amazon page says, you can get five hours with a full charge if you switch off WiFi and turn your screen brightness down. I didn’t know that’s what you had to do for maximum go time, so with the WiFi on I wound up getting two hours usage from a two hour charge time.

    Considering the price point we’re talking about, it’s worth a roll of the dice. Just hang on to your receipt.

  2. I haven’t tried one of these myself, but you may be able to improve the battery life with a bit of work. Most Android 4.0 tablets are shipped with the phone apps running, which drain the battery faster than it should. If you rename Phone.apk and TelephonyProvider.apk, it can improve the battery life quite a bit.

    Also, I’ve read that you can add Google Play to these using Nate’s method for the 701:

    http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2012/04/07/how-to-install-google-apps-gplay-etc-on-polaroi-pmid701/#.UuM7TbRMGM8

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