[ REVIEW ] Curtis Klu 7″ LT7028 Android Tablet
At first glance, the Curtis Klu does not have the attention drawing packaging that many of its competitors display. A plain white box covered in tech specs and a product photo houses the Klu. The unit itself has the initial impression of quality based on the solid structure, a well-balanced weight, and a very smooth textured backing.
- ARM 600MHZ + DSP 400MHZ
- 256mb DDR2 RAM
- Android 2.1 ‘Eclaire’
- 7” TFT Touch panel LCD, 800×480 (160k colours)
- 4GB internal flash memory
- Up to 32GB external memory (MicroSD Card)
- Video Support: MAX 720p, MKV,AVI, RM, RMVB, MP4, MOV, VOB, DAT, FLV, 3GP, H.246
- Picture Support: JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF
- Audio Support: MP3, WMA, OGG, APE, FLAC, AAC, WAV
- EBook Support: TXT, LRC, PDF, HTML, HTM, EPub
- Built in Wireless IEEE 802.11 b/g
- Microphone (Records WAV)
- 1 x USB 2.0 Port with support for 3G Dongle
- HDMI output (mini HDMI port)
- Auto screen rotation (G-sensor)
- Support stereo output on headphone jack
- Multiple Language Support
- 3.7v@3700mAH Lithium Polymer Battery
The Klu feels quite solid in its construction. There are no gaps in the joining seams between faces and all the materials seem to be respectable quality.
Surrounding a 7” TFT Touch screen is a thin, polished black bezel. The back and sides of the devices are wrapped in a quality feeling, satin smooth, rubberized plastic. To the right hand side of the screen, is a single, blue-backlit, trackball / button. The trackball is very smooth rolling and gives a great tactile click when pressed. While the trackball is a nice feature in terms of functionality, it does appear a little bit out of place on the shiny black bezel. There are only three other physical buttons on the Klu (ESC, MENU, and POWER). A port array along the edge of the unit features a USB 2.0 port, microUSB, DC Charger plugin, 3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI out, and a MicroSD slot. The upper left corner has a small slide-out stylus that can be used to do fine work on the screen. Although the stylus is made of steel and plastic and feels sturdy, it also feels too small to be comfortable for extended use.
The screen is very fingerprint resistant due to its matte texture and slight haze. Any fingerprints that do happen to get picked up are hardly visible and easy to wipe off. While it’s little bit more of a fingerprint magnet, the black bezel is also easily cleaned. The same cannot be said about the rubberized backing. The satin texture sucks oil off your fingers like a vacuum and it’s this same texture that makes it very difficult to wipe clean. That being said, the smudges are a small price to pay for the great feeling of the smooth plastic.
The screen’s touch response is not as good as I would have liked. Use of the stylus helps to relieve this, but for a device like this, you should not HAVE to rely on a stylus.
During normal use, the screen is bright and vibrant enough for use in a dimly lit room, but it is nowhere near the level required for use in bright or outdoor viewing. When around bright lights, the haze created by the resistive touch layer creates a massive amount of glare which makes the screen nearly unusable. If held in portrait mode, the device is easily viewed from every direction except for an upward angle. As soon as the Klu is tilted back, the screen quickly fades to black and becomes impossible to use.
Software and Features
Out of the Box
The Klu comes pre-equipped with Android 2.1 codename ‘Eclaire’. It sports no flash support, no android market, very few useful apps to speak of, and several glitchy menus. Because our testing would be cut short by the lack of the Android Market, we began to research what could be done. It turns out that Curtis released a Firmware upgrade to fix a few bugs and bring in some much needed apps.
The upgrade was relatively quick and painless, and turned out to be well worth the time. While Curtis decided to stick with Android 2.1, the upgrade gives access to the Android Market, and bundles in some convenient apps like: Gmail, Facebook, YouTube, and the Weather Network.
This gave us the ability to explore the market and play around with installing different kind of apps. Most games tested were completely unplayable. Some were extremely laggy but still considered playable. Solitaire was the only game we installed that proved to be moderately enjoyable. Angry Birds was unplayable slow, exhibiting sub 1 FPS graphics. Only after disabling background animation was it even close to playable.
There are many great apps available for the Android 2.1 OS, but a lot of these are not well ported to the tablet platform. After browsing through the market place for some time, a few apps did standout such as the Bloomberg app for stock watching, Google Maps, Facebook, Gmail, and the YouTube app. These few installed and ran smoothly with little to no fuss.
Although business style apps that require very little computer power run decently on the Klu, the touch screen is nowhere near responsive enough to be used for long bouts of touch-typing. So we could only succeed in making the functionality of these apps slow and frustrating.
Web, Email, and YouTube browsing is much quicker than any of the other functions that this device performs. Pages load quickly and navigate effectively with the help of the trackball.
Playback using the built-in player is less than extraordinary, but it does perform adequately. What does NOT perform is the internal speaker. The poor quality and low output volume of this speaker makes the device useless as a standalone listening device without headphones.
Watching video on the Klu is more like what you would expect. There are multiple choices for video player apps, most of which present fairly basic playback controls. Video playback is smooth but does have the odd hiccup from time to time. Brightness and Contrast are sub-par, but overall the experience was a positive one. As with audio playback, the internal speaker will do nothing for you, and you will quickly find the need for headphones.
File transfer to the unit is relatively straight forward. Files can be transferred to a USB stick from your computer, then using the ‘explorer’ app on the Klu, transfer the data to the internal Flash. Some video files we tried to copy were corrupted en route to the Flash memory and we were unable to watch them so we resorted to streaming off the USB to reduce headaches.
The battery life was tested using a sample .avi file. Running the file off the USB stick at a resolution of 720×400, with brightness on max, and volume on max (which is still just a whisper), the battery performed for 3h : 45min before shutting down. Annoyingly, a battery warning pops up at seemingly random intervals 15 minutes prior to the unit completely shutting down. We could not find a setting to disable the warning.
The primary mod for this tablet is one that is available off the Curtis website in the form of a Firmware upgrade. The upgrade is fairly straightforward and quick to perform. The download comes with step-by-step instructions and visual aids.
While the upgrade does help with a few glitches, in the end we wished it had provided the more refined Android 2.2 instead of sticking with 2.1.
There are a few experimental mods on the internet that can potentially upgrade the Klu to Android 2.2, we opted out of performing this mod because we wanted to test the unit AS IS for the consumer that may not know how to perform an OS mod.
The Curtis Klu has very modest specs, and an operating system that is quickly becoming outdated. The audio output leaves much to be desired, and the screen is far from the best on the market. All that being said, the unit is only $140. From the aspect of a media player, the unit is more than adequate. Fast playback, easy navigation, and the ability to play many formats makes this a very attractive unit for a user than just wants to watch movies or read the odd article online without spending $600. The fact that on top of being a great media player, the Klu is also an entry level tablet, and is only $140 is very intriguing.
While the apps are limited to tablet Android 2.1 , and the games are a little slow, there are still plenty of apps available on the Android Market, and you are bound to find a few that you find useful. With a decent battery life, the unit can keep you amused for several hours.
If you are looking for an entry level tablet that can play movies, music, read the odd book, and surf the web, then spending a little more than the standard eReader on this product might be for you. If mobile movies are your primary concern, check out our review of the HipStreet HS7. The Curtis Klu is decent for the price, but the power user, the gamer, the app collector, or the mod enthusiast may want to look past this one.
|Company:||Curtis International LTD|
|Launch Date:||March, 2011|
|Author:||K.Russell - Progizmo|
|Firmware Update DL|