In August 2009 leaked pictures of a 5-Inch Android tablet from the chinese company SMiT were posted in some blogs. The tablet was named MID-560. Charbax from armdevices.net then spotted in September 2009 at the IFA, gave it a first try and posted a video on youtube. In January 2010, Charbax again had his hands on that device at the CES and made another video.
The last days I checked if there are any Android tablets on sale on Ebay and I stumbled across a tablet with the name Enso zenPad. After doing some research, I found out that this should be the same device as the SMiT MID-560, which did not hit markets until now as much as I know.
And this is what the Enso zenPad 5″ looks like:
A post I found on ipadforums.net seems to be the confirmation that the zenPad is actually the MID-560. Forum member ‘enso’, identifying himself as Alberto Armandi, explains that they start selling the Shenzhen SMiT MID-560 unter the new brand Enso zenPad. He explains that they are building up a new company right now. They tend to build up a high quality customer care and technical support in proper English.
Part of their work is already done. Their well designed website enso-now.com is up. According to that site they started selling the Enso zenPad 5″ from March 20, 2010 through their website. The price is 155$ for the basich version, another 25$ are added for a GPS version and for another 35$ they offer a 3G micro USB dongle that should work with it.
Now, that price seems very decent. Let’s check the specs:
|Specs||Enso zenPad 5 Inch|
|Processor||Samsung 6410 533/667Mhz Mobile Processor|
|Screen||5-Inch / 800×400 / LED backlit resistive touchscreen|
|Storage||1GB Flash onboard / microSD up to 32GB (8GB microSD card included)|
|A/V Output||3.5mm headphone jack / loudspeaker|
|Network||WLAN (802.11a/b/g/n) / UMTS/HSDPA/EVDO/GSM/EDGE via external micro USB dongle (optional)|
|Battery||Built-in rechargeable 2000 mA battery (chargeable through USB or power adapter)|
|Extras||GPS onboard (optional) / microSD slot / touchscreen stylus / Android 1.6/2.1|
|Price Range||155$ – 215$ (when with GPS and 3G dongle)|
After a first view on the hardware, I think that could be a nice device. 256MB RAM seems to be a good choice to me and it’s more than many other tablets in the fair-priced sector offer. The option for GPS support is also positive. Even the dongle solution for 3G is not the worst thing in my eyes. If that dongle works, it could even be used for other devices, one never knows. The onboard 1GB Flash might be a bit small, but with the possibility to use a SD card as storage that shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you install your apps on that card.
Enso says that the Official Google Android Market is running on the device and that the tablet supports MP4, AVI, WMV, DIVX, MP3, WMA, AAC and OGG. I think that it could even read more file formats, if you install the right apps. According to their website, the box contains the pad, a USB cable, earphones, power adapter, a user manual and a touchscreen stylus.
All that seems pretty fine on the first view. Even the design is much better than many others of the countless new chinese tablet-makers. But how will the zenPad really do his job? Is it snappy enough? Does Android run clean and smooth on it? How about apps and resolution questions (Ok, that’s a question to ask for all Android pads.). How will support and update policy be? I do not know. But I would like to test it myself. Maybe I am gonna ask for a test sample. If they agree, you’ll get a detailed and exclusive review on it.
If Enso does what they announce on their website, you’ll better keep their name in mind: “More products will be available in the immediate future, like a 7 and 10 inches e-ink, Android based, e-book reader, a MID running Android 2.0 with embedded 3G phone. And much more of course.”
UPDATE March 22, 2010: Seems that a similar article of Engadget just crashed Enso’s website…. Don’t think that it was my article because I don’t have so many readers (until now!), as this blog is just three days old.
UPDATE March 25, 2010: Just stumbled about a french blog post about another Android device from french eviGroup called “Wallet”. It seems to be pretty the same as the Enso zenPad aka SMiT-560. See pictures of the Wallet on nowhereelse.fr. If you compare the pictures of the zenPad with the Wallet, you’ll see that they have nearly the same case with the same holes. You also see that the Wallet has a camera at the place where the zenPad has sort of a cap. There are other bloggers who think the same. Btw. eviGroup’s wallet did not hit the markets until now.
UPDATE April 10, 2010: As the Enso people report, they where flooded with orders for the Enso zenPad. Because of this, they won’t be able to ship it before May 8, 2010 as they report on their blog. But there are also good news: They will include a free update to Android 2.1 Eclair for all customers. There is also an interesting blog post of Enso’s boss Alberto Armandi, who hat some troubles with engadget.com. And here is engadget.com’s version of that story.
UPDATE II April 10, 2010: I didn’t realize how the Enso story evolved. I read a blog post I found through engadget.com’s post about them suspecting the zenPad of being vaporware at multimediawereld.be, a belgian tech blog. In an update, multimediawereld.be links to something that looks like a conversation somebody had with Alberto Armandi, the Enso boss. That conversation is quite interesting, read it here. The suspicion, that Enso has no zenPads in stock, that they probably did not work on a customization to make a 3G dongle work and that they probably did not start porting it to Android 2.1 is obvious. The conslusion of this whole story is: If you are a customer: Do not buy things you’ve never seen in a review from an independent party. If you are a producer or distributor of a wonderful device many people could want: Ship samples of your product to some tech blogs (including androidpads.com ;)) or news sites for review and make sure that your infrastructure can handle some thousand orders.