Unbricking an Android Tablet

This whole thing began innocently. D-Rock had picked up an Arnova 9 G3 tablet, and wasn’t satisfied with a few things. I wasn’t satisfied that he bought an off-brand tablet, at a truck stop, for 300% its value without asking me for advice, but that is a different story. Maybe truck stop tablets are mostly great…I don’t know. I suspect most are like the Arnova 9G3: shit.

So, the main two gripes were
1) No Google Play
2) Screen finicky at best

I figured I could have both knocked out with three steps
1) Update firmware
2) Get root
3) Push Google* apps over ADB

Things got complicated by the fact that Arnova’s support site doesn’t include firmware for this device. I’m guessing that is intentional, as the factory method of deploying firmware updates involves placing an updated image on the root of an SD card and updating via recovery. That would be nice, but the Arnova 9 G3 has a bug wherein entering recovery mode spawns a black screen. That’s it…a blank screen.

My Linux machine wasn’t seeing the tablet as a USB device while in ‘recovery’ mode anyhow, so I couldn’t mount and do a dd command. Sort of shit out of luck for my normal way of doing this.

The next resort was to blow the cobwebs off Katie’s old XP laptop and install some software to flash new firmware via Windows software. Not my wheelhouse. I located a custom firmware allegedly compatible with the device, installed some drivers, and started flashing via the Rockchip Batch Tool. Midway through the flash process, the firmware push encountered a driver error. The result was the device being stuck in the killer ‘recovery mode’ screen…aka just a blank, bricked $350 paperweight.

Since the firmware was in a borked state, the reset and power buttons were useless. My last thought was to attempt to create a short in order to get the device to reset, and in turn for the XP box to recognize the device with a new set of drivers. Here’s to that…

opening arnova tablet

access granted

I managed to locate contact points that did the trick…a small click and the device showed up as new hardware. I manually selected the drivers I tracked down, and bingo

bricked tablet

login gained

Up and at ‘em. The flash worked this time around. Worthy of mention, it worked with a nearly dead battery. I was lucky not to brick the thing again…not having a recovery screen makes stuff like that tough to gauge.

The screen seems to work a lot better with the new firmware and without the bloatware. One for two. Also, two for two

play store onarnova

play granted

Let it go on record that this is the last time I intend to work on an Arnova device. Luckily, the camera was functional, allowing me to leave Derek some custom wallpaper:

*REDACTED*

Stop buying electronics at truck stops, D-Rock. Just don’t.

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.

The Cheapest Android Tablet in the World

Fifty bucks. Fifty.

cheap android tablet

Velocity Cruz Tablet

This thing is almost as rad as a Transformer. Except that it is 7″ and *probably* too under-powered to run Flash.

It has killer battery life, so I will put this to use as an eReader. Not until I can maximize the performance…see if I can flash a ROM on this thing and overclock some stuff. Rooting and getting the Android Market will be the first step. Could be fun.

Nerd Wish List

Black Friday is right around the corner. Not to offend anyone, but going to brick and mortar stores for sales is sort of ridiculous. Getting up in the middle of the night, standing in giant lines, jockeying for position, standing in more giant lines…all for the sake of saving money on a set amount of big ticket items. The marketing is blatant…’while supplies last’ is likely to mean that there will be roughly a dozen of the cheap LED LCD TVs that look so attractive on paper. You probably got up and did all of that for nothing.

Take a note from my book: avoid the giant hassle and shop online. I popped over to my perennial favorite http://www.savings.com for a few ideas. As usual, they didn’t let me down.

I am a pretty simple nerd. I have to buy my components on a per-project basis, so my small ticket items are taken care of. I really only have three items on my list, and savings.com has screaming deals on two of three.

Item one…Android Tablet

savings nerd

tempting

For development and general coolness, I want a tab. Badly.

Item two…new Android Mobile Device

vzw

want

Read: phone. I want a new one…also for development purposes and general coolness.

Item three is the new Zelda game for Wii. I have a feeling Katie will get me that…but chances are good that she could save some loot by checking savings.com first.

Anyhow…take a look and save yourself a trip.

I Love Newegg, You Should Too

You know that part of your brain that makes you do stuff unconsciously, but slowly enough that you have to wonder if it was deliberate?

Case in point…

You are watching TV, and some botox-faced newscaster mentions something about a stolen wallet. Your find your hand checking the contours of your pockets, making sure that your wallet is still where it should be, by your junk. You feel yourself reaching for it, and try to take control from the brain stem…take charge…you got it. Nope. That was impulse, dog.

Well, I don’t rock a wallet in the traditional sense. I use a binder clip to keep my credit cards from migrating to the floor. I also have the same knee jerk reaction to computer part prices as most would have with the wallet example. Hear of a computer type product…look on Newegg.

Remember that HP touchscreen tablet I was pining about a few days ago… check this out:

newegg is nice

when did robot become a bro...nice?

That is 20 USD cheaper than I saw on HP’s website, and that is without a NewEgg promo code. Get a promo code and we make that twenty dollar savings from the HP site looks small. Small, like my wallet, which once again, is a binder clip.

Even writing about my binder clip makes me check my pocket for my binder clip. I feel for you wallet folk. Check out Newegg…it’ll work itself out. If you feel really bad, check out Savings.com on the regular. The Newegg promo codes are just one of many that those guys toss out there.

FWIW, I want that HP even more. Gutted with Ubuntu Unity…that’s the stuff dreams are made of. Nerd dreams are dreams too…nerd dreams are dreams.

iPad: iThe iDeal iB-iB-iBreaker

The iPad doesn’t multi-task
The iPad is less powerful than my Mini 9
The iPad is twice as expensive as my Mini 9
The iPad still requires tethering sans WiFi
The iPad is Flash-free
The iPad…

gay

iDo Not Want.

…ups the iTunes bullshit ante with some asinine iBooks bullshit. Dealbreaker.

Honestly, this thing is basically an entry level netbook with a touch-screen and a whole grip of proprietary junk. No HDMI out, so you cannot use your glorified e-book reader as a portable media center. No thanks. Maybe once this thing is jail-broken it will be worth a look, but as the iPad sits in Gen I, this thing is going the way of the Macbook Air…straight to obscurity.

The Apple fanboiz should be all over this stupid thing. I’ll stick to the smartphone / netbook for the time being.

Apple Buzz: iSlate

I’m not open source enough to be close minded about Apple products. They make some amazing shit. I’d drop my BlackBerry in a shake if the iPhone was out on Verizon. In a shake.

The nets have been afire with rumors of the next big thing from Jobs & Co. Well, it is a tablet PC, and it is reportedly awesome. Jason Calacanis (Engadget founder) has had one for two weeks to beta test, and he called it the ” most amazing device ever.”

iSlate

I still like The Gimp...Ubuntu Still rules ass


Shit. One more thing to get. Official word is slated for 1 PM… I’ll post more at that point.