A month ago, I wrote about what I was looking for in a tablet and why I thought the Teclast X16 Pro was the right choice. Now, the tablet has arrived and I have had a chance to play around with it. So in this post, I’m going to talk about getting the tablet shipped form China and what I think of it so far.
I ordered from GearBest and I had no issues with the ordering process. The total cost was just a bit over $300 for the tablet, keyboard case, and stylus as well as “insurance”. I ordered on January 21 and received a shipping notification e-mail 4 days later. The shipping notification included a tracking number that began with “UF” and interesting for me, a picture of the item shipped. I couldn’t figure out how to track that number. Later the same day I received a second message with a second tracking number and this one was 34 characters long. Whoa. But as I learned later, that number is actually a combination of an 8 digit Chinese tracking number and a 26 digit USPS tracking number. And googling for that USPS tracking number showed when the package arrived in New York. It took a bit for it to clear customs (there was a delay from when the USPS said that the shipping info had been received to the time that the package started getting updates on the USPS site) but it was good to see that it had made it to the US. (Past experience with shipping from China has involved things that are super cheap from eBay so if they don’t show up, I don’t worry so much.) I ordered on January 21st and the item was delivered to me on February 1st. That’s pretty darned good shipping speed from China. Good job, GearBest.
In case anyone is interested, here is the tracking info from the GearBest site. The ???? are placeholders for Chinese characters that apparently didn’t copy and paste well. I was able to copy and paste some of the Chinese characters into Google Translate and see things come back like “Goods leave the departure port“. And I’m assuming the “undefined” is a field that they put in the form but never set up a mapping to the field.
- 2016-02-01 16:11:00Delivered undefined
- 2016-02-01 08:55:00Out-for-Delivery undefined
- 2016-02-01 08:09:00Arrival at Unit undefined
- 2016-02-01 07:14:00Accepted by USPS undefined
- 2016-01-31 16:05:00Shipment Shipped undefined
- 2016-01-31 15:50:00Electronic Shipping Info Received undefined
- 2016-01-31 15:50:00Outbound Manifest Created undefined
- 2016-01-31 10:55:00Initial Package Scan undefined
- 2016-01-28 20:47:00?????? undefined
- 2016-01-28 20:47:00?????? undefined
- 2016-01-28 15:14:00??????? undefined
- 2016-01-27 17:11:00???????? undefined
- 2016-01-25 21:45:17??????????? undefined
- 2016-01-25 21:45:17??????????? undefined
- 2016-01-25 21:38:34??????????? undefined
- 2016-01-25 21:38:34??????????? undefined
- 2016-01-25 20:09:00Package Shipped From Client undefined
- 2016-01-23 16:48:12??????? undefined
It’s worth describing the packaging of the item. The product was in the original box and that box was wrapped in a couple layers of bubble wrap then put inside one of those stretchy plastic envelopes and taped like crazy. There was no outer box – just the original product box. So it was strange to receive what looked like a squishy brick of heroin. (At least if movie depictions of drug bricks are to be believed!)
I was really anxious to see if I had gotten anything for my $300 other than a headache. I got a little worried when I went to turn the tablet on and it showed me a dead battery icon. On the plus side, what I received did appear to be a legit tablet. But why did it arrive out of battery and would I be able to charge it? I plugged the charger in right away and waited.
And waited. Nearly 24 hours later, I was still getting the low battery icon when I tapped the power switch. I eventually discovered that I wasn’t pushing the power connector in all the way! Oh! So sometimes it was charging and sometimes it wasn’t. In my defense, I didn’t want to break the tablet and the connector was pretty stiff. Now I know that the connector has to go all the way in so the plastic base of the connector is up against the tablet body. I also discovered that tapping the power switch only does a battery check. To actually turn the tablet on, you need to press and hold the power button for about 4 seconds. So in hindsight, I don’t know if I could have turned the tablet on when I got it and I don’t know how long it should have taken for the initial charge.
With it now turned on, I was able to begin exploring. First of all, it does boot well into both Android and Windows. I think my primary use of it will be with Android but that’s only because I know things I’ll use on Android already and I don’t know about Windows yet. It’s a little slow to boot to either and unfortunately, switching requires a full reboot. The boot process is a little strange because you see the Teclast logo, then you see Intel logo, then you see the Teclast logo again, this time with a little animation. Then you see “Android is starting”.
The Windows side looks pretty clean but the Android side has lots of stuff on it in Chinese that I can’t figure out. Some of the apps appear to be duplicates of apps that are in English too, like a special web browser. Others I just don’t know what they are. I was able to group all the initial stuff I don’t understand into a single group and stuff it away. If I run out of memory at some point, I can start deleting stuff. But since I don’t know for sure that it is junk, and since the tablet is new and I don’t have a way to restore stuff if I delete it, it seemed wise to hang onto it for a bit.
I can say that I’m not the first person to turn this tablet on. I get the impression that new Apple devices arrive in the box never having touched human hands as though it was plopped out of the magic Apple machine. This tablet has been clearly been turned on by somebody at the factory. In fact there was a picture of the inside of the factory on the device, presumably testing the camera. (Note to Teclast: the factory looks pretty dark – turn on some lights!) There was also a brief audio recording of just some ambient noise with some rustling near the mic. Again, presumably to system check things. And finally, there was a stored WiFi network in both the Windows and Android systems named “ceshi2”. And I’m guessing this is also for testing. (I tried googling that but didn’t find any conclusive location info so my guess is a network at the factory named after a location.)
The screen display is a bit fuzzy which is disappointing. I can’t tell if it is the screen protector that comes with the tablet or if it is the screen itself. It does look worse on Android which has me thinking that there might be a software component too. Anti-aliased text is where I think you can see the fuzzies the most. Occasionally the screen will blink like there is a screen connector problem but I think it has only happened in Android and it may be the result of background updates. So far, the problem has been infrequent and goes away quickly. I hope that it doesn’t mean the display will be short-lived. The touchscreen is okay in Android but in Windows it is a bit sluggish and not very sensitive. It makes typing really tedious.
As expected, it comes with a power adapter that has a fixed cord. I have no idea why they didn’t do a USB connector on the power adapter – perhaps it doesn’t output a voltage that is acceptable for USB standard? Regardless, I bought a USB power cable from Amazon. Only $3.88 including shipping so that was a no-brainer. It charges the Teclast tablet well with a high-power USB power supply that I also got from Amazon, though maybe not quite as fast as the original equipment one. It’s also too bad that you can’t charge through the micro USB port (AKA OTG) since that would avoid needing a special wire for charging. But that appears to be the case for all of these larger tablets so I suspect there’s some limit to the juice that is allowed to go through a micro USB and the amount (amps?) required to charge these tablets is more than the limit. And besides, now that I have the special wire to use with a USB charger, I won’t be blocking the micro USB port when I’m charging.
The WiFi works well but it is only the 2.4 Ghz band. The 5.0 Ghz band doesn’t work at all. I have checked the specs and confirmed that it should work with the 5.0 Ghz band. I don’t know if I have defective hardware, if there is a driver problem with the Teclast image, or if the particular hardware used in the tablet doesn’t include the 5.0 Ghz capability despite the specs saying it does. I’ll have to work on figuring out what to do about this one.
The speakers are horrible. Just awful. It is at least partly due to a limitation of the physical speaker devices – they are small and clearly an afterthought. I’ve seen (and heard) better speakers in a greeting card. But I think it may also be a software issue since all the sound has an almost garbled sound to it. As though all the sound is being pushed through a filter. It may be that the internal analog amplifier is seriously underpowered. Fortunately, I don’t plan to use the speakers often. So far, I’ve only needed them once after getting the Bluetooth headphones setup. Sound from the Bluetooth headphones works well. I haven’t tested the wired headphone jack yet.
Probably the biggest problem I am having is battery life. If I sleep the tablet by hitting the power button and the display goes off, it can drain a full charge in a bit over a day without me doing anything with it. Two days, and it is so dead it can’t turn on. Battery life when actually using it is pretty good – so far I haven’t drained the battery more than half way after using it for a few hours. But the standby thing is a big deal since I’m not too thrilled about having a device that needs such constant attention. And since the power connector is a fussy little connector that goes in a tiny port and that is a special connector. Oh, and you need to be careful to not plug the power connector into the headphone jack. No harm should come to it since the outer part of the power connector is the ground and not the positive side, but still – best to avoid doing that.
I love the keyboard case. The tablet pops right into the magnetic holder easily and comes right off. No ejecting, no unclipping. And the way the keyboard cover folds to position the tablet is very clever. The whole unit is designed quite well. The keyboard has a nice feel to it – better quality than I was expecting. It works really well in Windows. It’s even pretty good in Android though you can tell the Android OS isn’t quite as smooth with the touchpad. Both OSes are pretty smart about knowing when there is a keyboard connected so they don’t display the onscreen keyboard.
Unfortunately, I’ve been getting some marks on the screen where the keys touch it. They aren’t scrapes so much as just the oils from my fingers that were on the keys or on the screen getting pushed around in a keyboard shaped pattern. For the most part, it cleans up easily. But for protection, I’ve ordered a keyboard cover/screen protector. It’s one that is intended for the Apple Macbook Pro 13″ but works perfectly for the Teclast keyboard case – just an 1/8″ too wide on each side and if it bothers me, I’ll trim it down with scissors.
The exterior of the keyboard case is a somewhat odd fuzzy felt deal. The review of the tablet at TechTablets pointed out that the surface probably wouldn’t wear well and I can see why that’s assumed. But in practice, it is actually doing pretty well for me.
One other thing worth mentioning is that I have a Asus portable second monitor. It’s just an LCD panel that hooks up to a laptop through USB. It serves me really well for work travel. I was able to confirm that it also works well with the Teclast X16 Pro so I can effectively double my screen size. Why do that for a tablet? Because when I travel, I can set up a video on one screen and check e-mail or do things like blog posts (!) on the other screen – all from one device. I don’t plan to travel with the Teclast tablet when I am already bringing the laptop. But the fact that the tablet can do so much for me means fewer trips will need the laptop and that means less weight and smaller bags.
In summary, I’m pleased with the purchase. I have a good-sized tablet that can run both Android and Windows and has a very functional and clever keyboard cover. The main problems are battery life and inexplicably missing 5 Ghz WiFi. Not as important to me but still worth noting are that the speakers are junk, the screen could be a little sharper, boot-up is slow, and touch sensitivity should be better in Windows. Overall, it seems like it is going to do what I want and I made the right choice for purchase but at the same time, I need to remember that you get what you pay for and all this for only $300 means I shouldn’t rely on it. In fact, I should probably anticipate a short device life which means I shouldn’t ever really rely on it or store things on it that I don’t have stored elsewhere. Next for this tablet is seeing what I can do about the battery life and WiFi.