Friday, November 26, 2010

New Case Turns Android Tablet Into Netbook

[ Empty Haipad case (left), Pandawill case (right) ]

Well it took forever to get to me, but I finally got the new case I ordered for my Haipad Android Tablet from Here's the link: (they also sell it in white, btw).

[ Haipad case (left), Pandawill case (right) ]

The case that came with my Haipad Tablet is ok. It's very compact, light weight, easily fits in my purse, and does a good job of protecting the screen. What I didn't like about it was it's pretty much the same dimensions as the tablet itself, and with the little manufacturing defect on the tablet that makes the microSD card stick out a bit it's in great danger of being cracked off. Also, it uses elastic bands at the corners, one of which I always have to leave under the tablet or it presses on the button that wakes the tablet. Leaving one strap undone, though, means the tablet isn't really secured in the case very well. For general use, and when I'm putting that case inside a handbag or backpack it's fine I guess. Here are the specs on the one that came with it:

Covers: 5" x 8"
Thickness (closed): .75"
Maximum Tablet Size: 7.75" x 4.75"
Closure: Tab in Loop (friction holds it in place)
Material: Textured leather outside/Suede Inside sewn over heavy card
Tablet Holders: elastic bands

However, I discovered that my tablet touch screen sucks for playing games. You can either move or shoot - not both - and when playing a hardware accelerated game the touch screen isn't as responsive. Result? Most games, especially emulator ones, are completely unplayable on the tablet. It NEEDS hardware buttons to control it. Initially I thought I'd just hack apart some cheap USB keyboard and wire the controller board to an old NES gamepad (or buy one of the USB "Retrolink" ones and see if it worked). But then I saw a "leather" case with a built-in USB mini-keyboard on for under $25 shipped!

This is a pretty neat case actually, because it effectively turns my Android Tablet into a Netbook - or actually it's more like a UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC), what they used to call a "Palmtop" computer. And, yes, the games are playable now that I have actual buttons to push. Unlike the photos on the web site, mine has a mini-USB plug on the end, not a full-size USB. Here are the specs:

Covers/Keyboard: 5.5" x 9"
Thickness (closed): 1.5"
Maximum Tablet Size: 4.75" x 9" x .5"
Closure: Vinyl tab (magnetic catch)
Material: Textured artificial leather (aka "vinyl") inside and out
Tablet Holders: vinyl covered Metal Tabs

Another nice feature of it is the kickstand on the back so it can be propped open for use like a netbook:

[ Kickstand on back of case ]

I had to bend the top tab with a pliers a little to get it to catch the edge of my tablet. Mine is a Haipad M701-R, which isn't actually listed as one of the models on Pandawill's site - even though some of the ones listed are often referred to as interchangeable rebrands the actual tablet dimensions can be different. Once I adjusted things a bit, though, my tablet is VERY secure in this thing (I can barely slide it out at all in fact). Knowing it was for a tablet a little larger than mine, though, was part of the plan, as I mentioned the extra space means I can leave my micro-SD card inserted without worrying it will hit anything and it's actually enough space to leave the keyboard plugged in and not have the cable sticking out of the side (would be even better if they had put a 90 degree connector on it though).
It may be a little larger and heavier, but it's still better than lugging around my old HP Pavilion laptop!

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