The Augen GenTouch78 tablet has been getting a lot of attention for the past few days. That’s not because this cheap Android tablet is the fastest, highest resolution, or most powerful iPad competitor to hit the streets. It’s for two reasons: It’s cheap. And it’s available in stores in the US.

I stopped by a KMart in Philadelphia this morning just about 20 minutes after they had received a small shipment of the new tablets from Augen. In a few days KMart will regularly stock the tablet for $169.99, but if you pick one up by Saturday (or get a raincheck), you can grab one for $149.99 plus tax. Mine cost about $162.

I haven’t had time to thoroughly test the tablet yet, but while it’s made of plastic, it feels nice and sturdy. It has dedicated buttons for all of your usual Android functions, including back, search, home, and menu — but they’re located on the back of the tablet. I have a feeling you’ll be able to press them by feel after using the GenTouch78 for a few minutes. But I was caught off guard by it at first, as you can see in my unboxing and first impressions video (shot one-handed while using a cellphone), after the break.

The tablet does indeed run Google Android 2.1, and you’re greeted by a live wallpaper on the home screen when you first boot the device. And much to my surprise, there’s an Android Market button on the home screen — although it reportedly doesn’t work properly just yet.

The included plastic stylus feels very cheap — but it definitely comes in handy, since the resistive touchscreen responds better to stylus (or fingernail) input than fingertips.

I’ll have more details once I have a chance to spend some more time with the Augen GenTouch78, but I wanted to share some quick impressions right away. You can check out my video after the break.

Update: I’ve also uploaded a first look at the user interface with a closer look at the software and touchscreen responsiveness. The short version? It’s a mixed bag.

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22 replies on “First impressions of the Augen GenTouch78 Android tablet”

  1. The Augen gentouch 78 is a piece of junk the android market is not the same as on android phones i had mine about two months and dropped it and cracked the screen now its garbage cause i cant find a screen any where and cense Augens seems to have gone out of business i guess im screwded

  2. I can not get on my market and runs really slow.  I was excited to get it but its faster on my android phone than the tablet. Needs a little more work.

  3. I got the Gentouch78 in Sept 2010 and I loved it from day 1.
    I can get apps from 3rd party sites just fine, I can surf the web just fine, the battery life is fantastic 5+ hrs, and its the perfect size.
    Ive been using mine on campus and at Mcd’s without issue.
    The browser is fine, there is an office suite preinstalled, as well as an e-reader. the unit has survived 4 months being tossed around my bag and has never failed me. I bought mine at Kmart.com and it was on my doorstep in 2 day. Its not only good enough, its good.

  4. I just returned my gentouch for a refund. My issues with the product are as follow:

    1. There is no audio input. You cannot connect a headset with microphone. Strangely, the device comes with Skype installed – at least it has an icon on the screen. How do they think you can use Skype, if you can listen only?
    2. No headset is included. The headset connector is a 2.5 mm jack. Product support offered to send a free headset. I found out that no microphone is included, so decided to give up.
    3. Android market does not work. Augen provides a “fix” consisting of access to an “alternate market” with a few hundred applications, many of which seem low quality.

  5. I bought one for $149. It would not charge. I had tried to get it exchanged for another for a week but the K-Mart I bought it from did not have any. I was able to get to charge and it works.

    It has a background of stars that move. I think that is cool. I just wish it had a normal size USB port instead of a mini USB port. It does come with an adapter cable.

    1. From full charge it’s about 3 hours, but I’ve heard that when they ported the Android OS they didn’t clean up the cellular connection code resulting in the device wasting power on trying to make a cell connection which doesn’t exist. I’m assuming a patch will fix this and increase battery life.

      —————————————
      https://www.gentouchforums.com

  6. Lucky! My local Kmart was out so all I got was this lousy rain check…

    Apparently they got 7 in on the truck but sold out in a matter of hours. Thank you Engadget.

    1. If it makes you feel any better, my first impression is that the touch input
      is awful. Entering text with the stylus is a hit or miss experience at best,
      and even if it was perfect, it would still be slower than using a capacitive
      touchscreen device because you’re limited to poking one letter at a time
      with the stylus instead of thumb typing.

      You *can* theoretically press with your thumbs, but your typos will increase
      four-fold.

      On the bright side, I’ve managed to connect to WiFi and the web browser
      looks good. There’s also a Skype app, but it only seems to support chat, not
      voice.

      1. It almost seems like a job for a ‘finger stylus’ like a TrueTip® . We want to use our fingers, but we need something hard with leverage to get decent (not great but decent) input. It sounds like all the companies need to toss in a nornal stylus and a finger-tip one….it three cents of extra cost yet would make these devices bareable.

        https://store01.prostores.com/servlet/truetip/Detail?no=1

        And not I don’t work for these cats….it just seems to be the cheapest solution.

  7. Guerilla reporting at the mall. Another reason why Brad is one of the best in the business. I love it.

    Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” He was of course talking about cheap-in-every-possible-way computers (not really, but it still applies).

    This is your computing future folks. Think of cars. Go do research about the best cars that money can buy, or even the top of the line cars from each manufacturer. The next time you’re out driving or at the mall or grocery store parking lot pay attention to what people actual buy and drive. There’s a big difference. Pretty soon you’ll stop bemoaning these cheap devices with your “why can’t they make a cheap device that does everything that I want it to exactly like I want” and start bemoaning yourself with a “why can’t I change my behavior and expectations so that one of these cheap devices is good enough?” Your present is filled with cars with sluggish acceleration, sloppy steering, garish materials, and oafish handling, and your future is filled with grainy video playback, choppy animation effects, glitchy software, and flimsy build quality. It’s OK though because these devices will only cost a couple of bucks and because fewer people will be buying the “good stuff” they will be even more expensive to makeup for the depressed demand. Learn to live with the least possible computing firepower, and you will be the happiest amongst us all.

    1. The only reason I argue this to be untrue is that people forking out $100,000 compared to $15,000 – $25,000 is far different from $150 for something that gets bad reviews instead of something for $600 that gets rave reviews. I think people won’t settle for a ‘lesser’ touch tablet that doesn’t work as well. Its a far lighter investment than a vehicle & the depreciation is less/slower as well.

  8. Good start. Have rain check at KMart. If it is as good as advertised, this is a good deal.

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