484 of 488 people found the following review helpful
The best in its pricepoint EDIT: was!,
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This review is from: Le Pan TC 970 9.7-Inch Multi-Touch Google Android Froyo 2.2 OS (Personal Computers)UPDATE 27-08-2013: Please take into consideration this is a 2 year old review of a 2 year old device. If you still have it, great. If you don't, look for something else.
It struggles to keep up with updated apps, as it's bound to do with the obsolence all devices have built-in. If you find one cheap (under $100), and you want a large display, consider it, but keep in mind that it won't be able to run a lot of newer apps.
It's been a great device for me, and it's been passed down to other members of the family. But really, it struggles to keep up with the times. Wi-Fi has begun to drop off fairly often, support from LePan is less than satisfactory (for various of their devices, from what I gathered as an avid member of the LePan user community).
It is time to move on.
Fairly long review ahead. With lots of technical gibberish.
The Le Pan TC970 hasn't got many reviews here on Amazon.ca, and the only reason for that I think, is the fact that people are too busy enjoying it to come over and write a review. So I will, and I will provide a bit of background as well.
I've been working in computers (personal and industrial), for over 20 years. I jumped on the Android bandwagon only last year, when I got my HTC Desire, and I fell in love with it at first sight: Highly customizable in appearance, a lot of potential hardware-wise. The only difference is that back then, I paid over US$500 for my phone.
And I bought the Le Pan TC970 for less than CA$300 with shipping included. Go figure.
First, I'll address some of the issues that you will encounter on other reviews (and that didn't really help me much in deciding whether to buy this or not, to be honest).
*) Finger Smudges: Yes, they are annoying, and the screen gets pretty full of them rather easily. However, they don't affect visibility as they do on other (and smaller) devices. Thanks to the brilliance and clarity of the display, the fingerprints on the screen are only really bothersome when you turn the tablet off. If you don't care about that, cleaning it once a day with the provided pad should be enough.
*) Awesome display: Absolutely. Clarity and definition. For a tablet within its pricepoint (and many far beyond it), there is nothing that beats the display on the Le Pan. It's simply fantastic.
*) Dead pixels/ghost spots: I can only speak about mine, but I have 2 dead pixels, and to be quite honest, I don't really care. You might, but I don't. I don't use it for video editing or something of the sort, so maybe that's why I don't care. I don't have any ghost spots on mine, though.
Now, the nerdy stuff:
*) The processor is a Cortex A8 with a clock speed of 1GHz. It's really, really responsive. I've used it so far for video calling (I'll get to that later), and Netflix (also will get to that later), which are the most excruciating tasks that I'll be putting the tablet through, and it didn't even flinch, even with other stuff (like the Market and MercuryMSN), running in the background. Another good thing about the Cortex Processor is that it is not only powerful, but compatible with a LOT of important software.
*) Something (else) that's not said on the description, which I think is awesome, is that besides the 2GB MicroSD card included, the internal storage of the tablet is also 2GB (or thereabouts), so you have 4GB ready to use out of the box. Big plus for me, as with my HTC Desire, I'm constantly running out of space because the on-board storage is not even 1GB.
*) The tablet runs a pretty basic version of Android 2.2 (FroYo). This means you'll run into some annoyances if you want to do stuff like videocalls, because this device has a front facing camera, and supposedly, FroYo doesn't support it. Well, I'm able to use it, no problem. However, it's only after 2 full days of tinkering, looking for a CUSTOM version of Skype that would make it work.
Also, and following this same line, Netflix for Froyo here in Canada, with streaming, is not officially supported (as are many other applications, most of which have very good substitutes available in the market anyway). However, if you are a bit nerdy and have the patience for it, you can find the APK for Netflix that will allow you to watch movies on this (and many others) device.
I've had to contact Le Pan Customer Service already, because I wanted to do a Hard Reset on it after figuring out everything, so that I could only have the working versions installed. (you might not need to do this, it's up to you).
They replied in less than 12 hours, and not only did they provide full instructions on how to do a hard reset, but they also provided me with a link to download an updated build of the Operating System to upgrade my firmware.
As it stands right now, I'm running build 4431, still in FroYo, with Videocall capabilities (with front-facing camera) in Skype, and Netflix streaming like a dream.
It has been said that Le Pan will wait until the next major release of Android (set to drop sometime in the last quarter of this year), by the name of Ice Cream Sandwich, for a complete upgrade on the Le Pan TC970. We'll have to wait and see.
*) For a medium user, this tablet is MORE than powerful, it's well built, looks beautiful, it has plenty of storage, and it's affordable. However, you might need to be a bit nerdy to get stuff like videocalling and Netflix streaming to work, with lots of patience and (very careful) tinkering.
*) For nerdy users, this is even better. If you know your way around APKs, and don't mind spending a couple of days setting it up, you'll have a tremendously powerful device that looks, feels and works better than many of its rivals in higher price ranges, at less than CA$300.
I love mine, and I'm really, really glad I bought it. I'll continue to use my desktop computer for major computing, but for surfing, emailing, and general entertainment, my Le Pan is my Go-To device, even with my HTC Desire still in my pocket.
Sorry the review is long, but it needed to be done, I think!
Still loving this tablet. Battery life is eternal, ADW makes it look fantastic. Still super responsive. The most major change since I first wrote the review is that Netflix is now natively supported, which is good, because I was a bit tired of looking for updated APKs. If you read about compatibility issues with the official Netflix app, as I did, don't pay much attention to them. The Le Pan runs Netflix like a dream on the app you get from the market.
The Skype situation is the one that most people will be worried about, and sadly, there still isn't (and I don't really know if there ever will be), an Android-market provided app that supports the camera on this tablet. However, my modded APK works fine still, so I can't complain.
I've also spoken to Le Pan technical support again, and they've told me that even though they thinking about a more solid Froyo build, they will not be upgrading to Gingerbread, Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich.
Actually, Le Pan is already hinting (very heavily), that they are working on a new tablet that will run Honeycomb on a Tegra platform.
So, about a year after I first bought my tablet, and I wanted to update it to include more information. So here it goes: It's really great to live with. Battery is still going strong, and even after I fell asleep and let it fall, cracking the screen, it still works (don't try it, though, I'm not responsible if yours breaks and no longer turns on!).
For my own personal device, not much has changed, except added compatibility with market devices, including a version of Skype which natively supports the front-facing camera.
There has been no official OS upgrade (I did mention before there wouldn't be). However, new firmware has been released, upgrading functionality (such as Wi-Fi stability).
There is also a very great user-based community surrounding this little device. You can find them in a website/forum called "Le Pan Life", where you'll be able to ask questions and read up on how other users are making their devices better.
This includes the development of a CyanogenMod 7 port (developed in conjunction with XDA forum members), which is almost 100% functional. Only video recording doesn't work (which doesn't allow Skype videocalls, sadly), but users report CM7 runs beautifully on the LePan.
Installation of this ROM is straight forward enough for a medium user to try their hands on it, considering a Le Pan Life forum administrator was kind enough to create a very detailed installation guide (cheers, Yann!).
So, while the TC970 is a bit old now, it still receives much support from the user community. A community that is really tightly-knit and helpful towards its members.
As for my device: Yes, sometimes I wish it had a newer OS. And yes, sometimes I wish it was quad-core and had a 21" screen. But to be honest, most of the time... it just is one of my best investments in electronics of the past few years.