Cruz Tablet Review

As much as I love hanging out at root, there is no way to justify doing so for the sake of a piece of shit eReader.

Velocity Cruz…Android 2.2, awful firmware, and laughable hardware…

useless tab is useless

-1


…sum to a bunch of bullshit. This tablet is the worst.

I’ve made this thing usable by removing the stock apps via ADB, disabling javascript (really?) from the stock browser, and manually pushing the strangely nonexistent Google app set over via the SD card.

The confusing part is the fact that Velocity’s latest firmware update fails to solve the issue that chokes both the stock Android browser and Dolphin HD…I updated thinking my refurb was dated. Nope. Apparently this is exactly the product that the clowns at Velocity intended to hit the market.

Hats off.

I’ll extract function out of this thing..the price-point pretty much ensures that. I tracked down a MIPS version of Opera that should work out, and have some ideas with respect to custom ROMs. It will browse, eRead, and serve some games with a great battery under the hood. A bunch of hacking later.

IOIO Bootloader Update

Well, I made some progress this weekend with respect to hardware, firmware, and bootloaders. My bluetooth IOIO implementation is still giving Eclipse shit-fits. I am seeing an error with the bluetooth library…it fails on compilation. Unfortunitely, I am running out of weekend, so will cut this one short and make a statement about the backend.

In order to replace that pesky USB cord with a sleek virtual cord, aka a bluetooth connection, one must update not only the IOIO application, but also the IOIO bootloader. The application is easy enough to flash, but he bootloader requires a programmer for updating. Luckily, Ytai was kind enough to design a ‘programmer by second board’ option, and incorporate that into the same UI as he utilized for flashing apps to the board. The first step was off to SparkFun for a second IOIO.

ioio android bootloader

clamptastic

I kept the second bare bones, except for the pins I would need to do the actual programming.

soldering stuff

ugly but functional

The key was to have both boards up to date enough to function as programmer and target, so I first loaded the newest application versions to each board. The rest was a matter of utilizing the IOIO Manager app on the Android, and letting the programmer do its thing.

two ioios

ginger ale? no.

For reference, the setup was power to power, ground to ground, pins 37|38 to pins 37|38, and pin 36 to mclr…with mclr being on the target board. USB connected to the programmer board…that is that.

Unfortunately, my IOIOSeek app ended up stroking out when I attempted to load the bluetooth library. It works fine with the newest general library version, so I know that my bootloader indeed was a success. Back to the Java drawing board before I can demonstrate the new feature.

Upgrade to CyanogenMod

My relationship with Motorola’s firmware has ended. It was a good run…well, no. That is a lie. It was certainly better after rooting my Droid 2 and wiping out Verizon’s boatware, but the Moto* junk had to go too. I finally decided to gut everything and install Cyanogenmod yesterday.

It is plus one awesome.

Although the process of flashing Cyanogenmod’s firmare involves a little work, it is no more difficult than rooting the phone in the first place. Since I did that a while ago, I really wasn’t concerned with blowing up my warranty…I figured bricking the thing would either result in some sweet haxxing or a new phone. Win / win.

I would suggest an upgrade to anyone. My phone finally screams, as it should have from day one. My battery life is better | everything imaginable is configurable | my apps and Google accounts all work | and, wait for it, I don’t have to kill processes all day. In fact, I don’t have a stand-alone task killer going…that is pretty surreal still.

Well, as with any exercise of this nature, backing up is imperative. Astro File Manager is great…Titanium Backup is great. The other players are the same too…ClockworkMod Recovery makes snagging the MODs easy. I am actually running a daily build, since there is not an official stable build for the Droid 2 yet. No memory leaks though, and everything so far has been functional.

Anyhow, on to the actual firmware stuff. I downloaded the zip file, and booted into recovery mode…

cyanogenmod 7.1 install android

lousy picture is lousy


…during game one of the World Series. Not sure if that is Pujols or Furcal in the reflection. Either way.

Great picture, huh? This is the first time I have used my webcam since upgrading to Ubuntu 9.11. Whoops…screwed up the camera, fellas.

On the screen is a ClockworkMod selection for Google’s bits. I imagine that this was done for legal reasons. Anyhow, I had to go back and install this from recovery, as I missed it at first.

CG7.1 android installation droid 2

Katie's guest cameo


Hi Katie. ^

I also managed to get stuck in a boot loop of sorts during my first attempt. It turns out that I cleared the data but not the cache from the recovery menu. No good. A pulled battery and some troubleshooting and we were good to go.

cyanogenmod boot loop

post boot loop

I spun up the Android market, and did fresh installs of my apps. For the important stuff (the Angry Birds Trilogy, 9 Innings Pro Baseball, et. al.) I pulled the backup data back over top of things. No issues.

I had been wanting a landscaped workspace since I got my phone. .. now I know why…

landscape mode on cm7

at long last

It just makes sense. CM7 allows this to be configured. Like basically everything else. Want your menu on the bottom? Put it there. There are options all over the map…like the camera exposure, for instance.

camera function CM7.1

choice laden

Sweet. It is tough to beat the performance gains in general, but it is wholly possible. Check this out:

Cyanogen Warning Dragons Ahead

here be dragons

One stop overclocking. Disregard that popup and go nuts.

One part of me wishes that mobile carriers would take note of Cyanogenmod’s presence and push Android updates to customers. The other part of me likes to void warranties and do things that the clowns from Verizon frown upon. Either way, my phone is now awesome…that is all that matters.