It seems almost every day a new entry level Android Tablet is hitting the streets, and they all appear to be copying the iPad design with no buttons except for a single button or ball on the bottom bezel. Enter the Nationite ROCKtab and another button-less Tablet is released that offers a similar design to throw into the mix.

There is a difference in this new low end tablet compared to many we’ve seen… It’s good!

I’ve included a few photos throughout the review and a full gallery can be found at the bottom.  I also recorded a quick look video that can be found a little way down the review. Unfortunately, I had issues with sound so you’ll only be able to see whats going on and not hear what I had to say.  Not too important as the details I talked about in the video are included in the review itself.

 

Overview:

Nationite have released the ROCKtab, the latest in the 7″ Android Tablets offered to the masses.  This device is available through MP4Nation for world wide distribution.

The immediate area I noticed was the packaging was much better than some of the tablets I’ve received of late.  A good, solid box with slide off lid and some pretty graphics made for a nice start to my experience.  Some of the devices I’ve received recently have arrived in very flimsy boxing and some are even in plain white or brown boxes with no indication as to what is inside.

Here’s a quick look at the base specifications for the Nationite ROCKtab:

  • Processor: Rockchip RK2808 600mHz + DSP
  • RAM : 128MB
  • Internal memory: 4GB / 8GB
  • Expansion memory : micro SDHC up to 16 GB
  • WIFI connectivity – web, facebook, etc etc
  • Operating System : Android 1.5 (customized and optimized)
  • Access to Android Marketplace for app downloads (users will manually have to install this on their own)
  • Supported Languages: English, Chinese, others
  • Display : 800×480 7″ LCD
  • Input : Resistive touchscreen (this is not multitouch screen)
  • Audio output : 3.5 mm jack, integrated speakers
  • Networking : 802.11 Wireless b/g/ – built in
  • Peripheral Support: USB HOST (mouse, keyboard, memory stick, etc)
  • Video formats : MKV (H.264 HP)/RMVB/MPEG-4/FLV/MPEG-1/MPEG-2 up to 720p
  • Audio formats : MP3, WMA. FLAC, AAC, AC3, OGG, WAV
  • Image formats : JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF
  • Body color: white only


Quick Look Video:

I haven’t done a complete video review of the product and the camera I was using had sound issues, so there is no sound, but the video below will give you a quick look at the performance and responsiveness of the Nationite ROCKtab.  The video really doesn’t do the device full justice as the colors on the video are a little washed out.  You’ll have to trust me when I say that the display on this entry level is tablet is very clear.


Unboxing:

Inside the box, below the ROCKtab was a power adapter, USB cable and headphones.  These items where loose in the bottom of the box, which was a let down give the initial packaging experience but not a big issue.

The first thing noticed was the lack of external buttons or softkeys, which is always a concern.  The power button is a spring loaded slider on the top of the device.  This seemed weird as I’m so used to having a push button for the power switch, but it worked well.  The slider has an Off, On and extra spring loaded position that acts as the long press of the normal power buttons found on other Android devices.  Also along the top edge you’ll find a Micro SD card slot and a volume rocker.  All the buttons felt solid and worked well.

 

On the right side of the device you’ll find a USB connector, the power adapter plug and a 3.5mm headphone socket.


Build Quality:

The build quality of the Nationite ROCKtab feels pretty good.  The case is solid. There are no creaks and cracks from pressing or twisting the case.  The trackball at the base of the Tablet is a little loose and can easily be moved around in it’s hole.   I don’t mean the trackball can easily be rotated in it’s mount, I mean that whole trackball assembly appears to be slightly movable.  It’s not really an issue, but weird that it can be moved in this way.  Everything feels good about this Tablet as far as the body of the device goes and they’ve done a good job at creating a surprisingly well built device for $169.50.  The overall finish is nicely finalized with the slightly contoured edges of the front and back of the device making at less sharp around the edges of the bezel.

Build Quality [rating:5] 5/5


Software:

The Nationite ROCKtab comes with a heavily optimized Android 1.5, which is a bit of a letdown for this period in the Android life cycle.  It’s was an even bigger let down for my wife who could not play Angry Birds on the ROCKtab.  Before I even turned the device on, the choice to run the Tablet from Android 1.5 gave me a negative feeling towards it.  Happily, after using the Tablet for a few days, I can say that I am pleasantly surprised that it runs incredibly well.  The entire experience was very responsive and using the normal array of applications like Facebook and Twitter was very acceptable.  Of the current batch of entry level Tablets we’ve had the opportunity to test, this is by far the best yet.  They have optimized Android 1.5 sufficiently for this tablet that it makes it usable for your everyday browsing, tweeting, liking experience. It still has it issues, and loading multiple apps does have a definite negative effect on the experience, but I immediately installed a task manager and made sure I killed anything not being used on a regular basis and it made a significant difference.

Keyboard [rating:4.5] 4.5/5


Interface:

Nationite has customized the experience by adding the usual quick keys such as Home, Back, and Menu to the notification bar.  It works pretty good, but I miss having  access to the usual hardware or touch sensitive buttons separate from the screen itself.  The application launcher button has been moved to the left hand corner and they added a recently used application list on the right.  This actually works really well and is better than adding something to the notification bar and taking up space that could be put to better use.

The settings menu has been customised to make better use of the Tablet’s display with the categories of settings always shown down the left hand side of the screen and the settings shown on the right.

Interface [rating:4.5] 4.5/5


Display:

The display is 800 x 480 pixels of video displaying niceness.  while it’s not the top quality displays found in the likes of the Samsung devices, it does a great job for the price point.  The display is also very responsive for a resistive display.  Easily the best resistive touch screen I’ve used to date.  Still no multi-touch capability, although that’s a limitation of Android 1.5 as well as the display itself I would guess.  With the brightness turned up, the display quality was pretty good.  Watching 720p video clips was a pleasure and cranking the volume made this an excellent portable media player.

Interface [rating:4.5] 4.5/5


Performance:

So it’s not the processing power house as far as regular CPU processing goes, the Rockchip RK2808 processor inside the RocketTab is more than capable of processing audio and video with ease.  If you display is responsive, it makes the entire experience feel so much better and that’s what you get with the RocketTab.

Performance [rating:4] 4/5


Battery:

I haven’t had time to fully test the battery life, but as soon I have the device running for a longer period I’ll be sure to update this info.


Summary:

Overall the nationite ROCKtab is one of the best entry level Tablets I’ve had the pleasure of receiving and I’d recommend it to any one wanting to get into the Android Tablet scene without a large expense.  I’m sure once some of the developer get their hands on a device, we will see some upgrades and newer versions of the Android OS.


The Good:

  • Responsive
  • Great touch screen for an entry level device
  • Full Google Application Suite

The Bad:

  • Android 1.5
  • No Quick Keys ( Home, Menu, etc)
  • Soon slows down with multiple applications loaded


Overall Device [rating:4] 4/5


If you want to purchase a Nationite RockTab, you can head over to MP4Nation and get your hands on this descent entry level Tablet for $169.50 as at the time of writing this article.  There are also lots of discussions going on in the MP4Nation forums for those of you looking for more information.



  • Cheapo

    Do you really think that 800×480 is 720p?

    Uhhhhhhh

    • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

      I wasn’t trying to say that the display is 720p resolution, I was stating that the device can decode 720p content and display this on its display. Sorry if that confused you.

  • Mcb12705

    Your review indicates” Access to Android Marketplace for app downloads (users will manually have to install this on their own)”

    How do you manually install the marketplace?

    • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

      It has the Android Market application built in. No side loading required.

      • Mcb12705

        Oh, i have another brand of a tablet using android 1.6 but it does not have the market place preloaded. Do you know how I can download it to my device?

  • VidMan

    But it can still play a movie that’s been encoded to 720p.

  • Gg

    128MB RAM…? Is that a typo…? My G1 has more than that. Granted part of the RAM is used by the radio, but 128MB…?!

    • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

      That is correct. Hence the reason I installed the Task Manager.

  • chuck

    So this is way better than Eken M001 ?

    • Model4us2

      Much better then the Eken M001, M002 or M003 in my view. More responsive screen
      and better build quality. Its pre-sale price point of $129.00 from Mp4Nation was fair.
      Currently at $169.00 isn’t so fair and there are better faster devices for the same price or
      a few bucks more.

      Overall, I agree with the author. Its a solid well built MID but frankly 1.5 will be too limiting
      for many users and while 128 ram isn’t horrible 256 and Android 2.1 or 2 is much better.

  • http://www.tesztelo.hu Tesztelo.hu

    Bluepanther Thunder is far better. It has 800MHz CPU, 256MB RAM, hardware buttons, Android 2.2(!) and built-in GPS! Only for +50 bucks.

  • WiLLoW_TieN

    Now $ 109,50 @ MP4nation 😉

    • WiLLoW_TieN

      Now $ 149,50 again @ MP4nation ??