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Review of Cherrypal "Asia" Netbook Running Android


Jul 3, 2010
I ordered a Cherrypal netbook because of my interest in low-cost, low-energy, low-raw-materials computers, as well as my agreement with the goal that Cherrypal professes of making available computers to the impoverished worldwide.


On first going to the web-store there was the decision of which model to purchase. I was determined to get a model running Android OS (there are as well some WindowsCE and LimeOS units). As Cherrypal is known for offering a sub-$100 computer, I briefly considered getting its 7" mini-netbook (which is the one that goes for that price). However I was lured by the styling, and white-silver color, and larger screen of its chiclet-keyboarded 10" netbook (which is $148).


I ordered the netbook using the Cherrypal web-shop and my Visa card. While doing so I mistyped something and further thought I submitted my credit card information twice. Concerned that I might receive two Cherrypals and be double-billed due to my own mistake, I emailed the company. A couple or three hours later I got the response that neither input was received, and I should try again, which I then did. There were no further problems and my Visa was billed for the single purchase, which appeared with shipping as a $166.80 line item on my monthly statement billed by "cherrypal.com."


I received the unit via USPS priority mail no more than three business days later. Opening the priority box, I pulled out a generic brown "notebook" box. Inside this box was the Cherrypal netbook, enclosed in a plastic bag, and position by styrofoam inserts. I don't think there were any printed instructions. There was a very small power adapter. The netbook was clearly new but I sensed it might have been handled or tested. That is to say it did not "feel" like the sort of packing and content typical for a mass-market item one might bring home from a big consumer electronics or department store.


The construction of the Cherrypal itself conveys a certain foreign-ness. Oh yes, it is nice looking. It is slick and smooth, silver, and has smooth flat white keys like peppermint Dentyne. It opens and closes nicely in its non-latching clamshell. But it seems to me, though I don't really know, that it is the type of electronics sold in markets on the other side of the world, in Asian markets, or some other equally distant markets. It is hard to describe, but it the unit has a character that is distinct from stuff sold in the West, including Asia-manufactured stuff sold in the West.


There are three USB ports, audio in and out, an ethernet port, an SD-Card socket (no SD-Card is included), an ethernet port, a camera, and the unit has wireless capacity. So, would it be operable? Did I actually get a $148-netbook that runs Android? Yes. The battery was not charged so I plugged it in and booted. The Android boot screen informed me that it was loading version 1.7.2. The boot time was about 45 seconds. And there was Android. I knew it from my smartphone. The screen looked fine, yet again somehow foreign as well, though it has a single flickering pixel in the upper left.


Moving on to the OS and software, I would say those are not as nice as the hardware. The desktop feels a bit awkward and unpolished. Despite the quick boot, it is a slow environment. The programs run slow. Cherrypal says "slow and sufficient." Having used it, I disagree about the second term. This OS and software are not sufficent on this hardware, at least not yet. I guess I would overall characterize the experience as just barely functional in some regards (browsing, connectivity, sound, a version of Android market, camera), dysfunctional in others (USB connectivity, I did not test everything there may be more dysfunction), and terribly slow overall. The battery seems to function okay, I guess I have since run off a full-charge like an hour and 15 minutes at least, though sorry I did not time this part and can't say for sure.


There was some eBook software available via the included "App Store" application (which further presented simple games, various programs and media players, some of which ran and some of which didn't really). I downloaded and installed "iReader" and a couple of the Chinese ones. I left the App Store and looked for some on the Web. I found "Nook" and another one or two. I know little about eBook formats but I settle on trying to load some pdb-format books, which I was unable to do. IReader seems to be ready for them but says I must get its purchased full version. Nook seems okay but won't let me operate before registering a Nook account. The Chinese ones weren't intuitive enough for me to quickly figure out. In my brief efforts I was unable to find a reader that would open my pdb eBooks without buying something or registering. Doing even the limited experimentation I did was very slow. To summarize the eBook functionality, I don't know but it looks like Nook might run.


WHAT THEN IS THE FUTURE FOR CHERRYPAL? To be a good user experience, it needs either refined and faster software or faster hardware. Because faster hardware will probably cost more and use more power, I hope it finds a way to develop the software to be more responsive instead. For now, the Cherrypal Asia is a low-cost curiosity of great slowness and very limited functioning.
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