If you’re looking for an incredibly inexpensive, versatile 7″ tablet for casual use, as a kid’s device, as complementary technology, or as something to experiment with Android, Azpen’s A746 offering provides a compelling option. The Azpen A746 7 inch Quad Core 8GB Android Tablet is available for less than $40 and provides the expected bullet-point list of features.
In the box, you get the tablet itself, user manual and other paperwork, USB AC adapter, dedicated DC charging cable for the AC adapter, a microUSB charging and sync cable, and a screen protector. The latter is a nice bonus, but these never work for me as I always get bubbles, which of course happened here for me as well. Considering the incredible low price of this tablet, I think I can risk a naked screen.
The main features of the A746 include: 840×480 resolution five point capacitive touch screen, 1.3 GHz quad-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of onboard storage, microSD card slot supporting cards up to 32GB, Android 4.4 (KitKat), front facing camera (0.3 MP), headphone jack, dedicated volume buttons, and 802.11bgn wireless. About the only thing missing is Bluetooth support and a rear facing camera.
Interestingly, there are two different ways you can charge the A746. You can charge it with a microUSB cable, which is what I prefer, or with the DC USB adapter cable, which presumably will allow for faster charges when paired with the included (or other) AC adapter. Once fully charged, you’ll get a little over three hours of battery life, which is not great, but reasonable for a tablet that’s priced like this.
Performance is reasonably snappy across the board. I didn’t notice any real delays in opening programs, text entry, or playing games or videos. While I’m sure this will not do well with the most demanding applications, there was nothing I tried where I found it particularly lacking. Of course, a few areas that I did find lacking were in the screen’s viewing angles, which are rather limited, and in the built-in speaker’s audio quality, which was thin, not very loud, and poorly placed on the rear of the unit. Again, though, for the price and what you’ll likely use this for, neither of those issues are particularly surprising nor should they necessarily be deal-breakers.
For the price, this is a pretty great deal with lots of thoughtful features, and it ranks among the best Android tablets in its class. Even the included user manual is rather extensive. If you need a tablet in this class, it’s hard to go wrong with the A746.
Thanks to Azpen for the review unit.
I own one, courtesy of local computer retailer Micro Center. It’s a replacement of my older Azpen A727, which is getting long in the tooth. Micro Center offered it at $35.
The quad-core 1.3ghz Allwinner23 CPU (an ARM Cortex 7 design) provides reasonable performance. 512MB RAM sounds low, but in practice has not been a limitation. The 8GB flash is divided to provide 2GB app storage and 2GB allocated as internal SD card, so there’s headroom. Mine also has a 32GB microSD card installed to hold data. The 800×480 screen resolution is on the low side, but adequate for my uses. (The primary use case is eBook viewer.)
The first thing I did was root it. That’s trivial. When it’s connected via USB cable to my desktop, Windows based Kingo Root recognizes it as an A746, sees that USB debugging is already enabled, roots the device, and pushed the SuperSU app that manages root requests from applications. Rooting lets me get rid of some pre-installed stuff I *don’t* want, like the Blio eBook store/reader app, and the WildTangent games store. These come installed as system apps, and don’t go away without rooting.
Rooting also lets me store apps on the expansion card and run them from there. The card id partitioned, with a 3GB slice formatted as Linux ext4. Android sees the slice when it boots and mounts it as /data/extsd2. The freeware Link2SD app lets me move apps and associated data to the external card, and places a symlink to them in the root file system. Android follows the link and runs the app. It doesn’t care that it’s actually on an external card.
There *are* quirks. Mine has currently decided is doesn’t want to boot with the partitioned card installed. If I eject the card, it will boot, and the card can be reseated after and will mount. This makes data on the FAT32 slice like my eBooks available, but apps on the ext4 slice are not. The solution is popping the card from the tablet, putting it into an adapter, plugging it into my desktop, and deleting and recreating the Linux partition. This means redoing the install and move of apps placed on the card.
It’s also decided that some apps can’t be updated because of insufficient storage. The issue is that there is over a GB of free application storage available. There are an assortment of threads on XDA Developers about the problem, but no definitive understanding of what triggers it or common solution. (One user discovered that clearing app specific data in the /data hierarchy resolved the issue and let affected apps update, but the problem recurred again later.) This means I probably have to do a factory reset to stock state and redo my configuration from scratch. I’ll get to that later.
Since I’m a power user who pushes the envelope, I’m philosophical, and tend to expect quirks. An ordinary user who doesn’t see a need to root the device will probably find it quite acceptable for normal uses.
The good part is that the A746 is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase, and you don’t care that hard if it breaks. You can just get another. If I had a higher end device, I’d be a bit more circumspect about pushing the envelope. 🙂
Good comments, Dennis. I agree that this is at that “disposable” price point, so all bets are off in terms of possible uses or usage of the thing. It’s not at the kind of price point where you should ever worry if something goes wrong.
I’ll shortly be reviewing a slightly higher priced 7″ tablet from another manufacturer that has higher performance and a few more features. It will be interesting to see what difference ~$15 – $20 or so in wholesale price makes, if any.
I got my original A727 from Micro Center for $20 as a grand opening promotion for the Brooklyn retail location. $20 was a “Sure!” impulse purchase. If all I could do with it was the original intent of holding eBooks and hosting an eBook viewer (FBReader for Android here), it would be more than worth the money. Anything beyond that was gravy. IT was also a cheap way to learn about Android. I’ve been in IT for 30 years, starting on IMB mainframes and working across and down , and dual boot Windows and Linux at home, but Android is a somewhat different animal.
The price point is compelling, but there’s still concern if something goes wrong. It’s cheap enough to replace, but meanwhile, I don’t have a working device, and when I get a new one I must invest the time to recreate my preferred configuration to make is usable. I’d really rather not have to go through the exercise.
(I did just remove and redo the ext4 partition on the external card mentioned upthread, and as expected, the tablet now boots with the card installed. I’d really love to know what the problem was that this solves.)
The one thing I’d really like on the A746 or comparable device is a rear facing camera. The only use for the camera on the A746 is selfies and things like Skype, but I don’t do those. The camera might as well not exist. I wouldn’t mind a higher resolution screen, either, but I don’t expect it at that price.
That Azpen units also lack Bluetooth, as a “design to cost” measure, but that’s not a problem. The main reason for Bluetooth here would be supporting an external keyboard, but the tablet recognizes and uses a USB keyboard attached to the microUSB port.
I’ll look forward to see your review of the 7″ unit from another manufacturer. When I went looking far an A727 replacement, Micro Center offered a comparable brand for a bit higher price that had front and rear facing cameras. I’d have grabbed in, save that they apparently were in stock for a couple of hours before being cleared out, and were gone by the time I tried to order.
I’m willing to pay a higher price, modulo a compelling feature set I think is worth the money.
The nice thing about the consumer electronics market is that hardware gets steadily smaller, faster, and cheaper, and you now see things like the A746 for $35 that would have been unthinkable as little as 5 years ago.
We are not quite there, but I anticipate being able to get a device in a smartphone form factor that will be a phone when carried around, but can be plugged into a dock with big monitor, keyboard, mouse, access the NAS and the Internet, and *become* my main machine because it *can*.
Hi Dennis .. Bill… I just stumbled across this website.. I’ve been researching a issue on this tablet for a while now with no success. I’m pretty happy with this unit all in all. I use it as a steaming device for Amazon Prime music at work and to that end, it works perfectly. I discovered I Netlflix wont run on it. I recently found another website that uses Vemo (I beleive, and may have that spelled wrong) as its media engine. I saw another comment from a Microcenter user with the same problem. Can anyone get Netflix to run on this unit ?
I’d like to help, but I don’t use Netflix, and have never tried to get it to run on the Azpen A746. I have no idea what the blocker may be.
Current fun here is configuring an Azpen A1050 10″ tablet from Micro Center. The intent is something that can replace a laptop when traveling. My HP 7″ tablet with 1280×800 screen could *almost* do it, but the screen size was just too small. The A1050 with 10″ screen in 1280×800, couple with an external keyboard, is a lot more reasonable.
But there are always quirks, beginning with Kingo Root that I used to root previous Azpen devices bouncing off this one. (And when the Windows host installer gives up and says Root Failed, it leaves half a dozen Shell processes on the tablet, chewing up CPU and degrading performance. I have to reboot to get rid of them.)
Fun, for suitable values of the term.
Email reaches me at dennis dot mccunney at gmail dot com if you want to continue privately. I’m always happy to encounter another Azpen user. Which Micro Center did you use to get yours? I’m in the NYC area and patronize the one in Brooklyn.
I should note this is an A748 too .. If I had to guess, I’d say its missing a codec or something like that. I get sound but no picture, media on the other app just doesnt load. Ohh well.. this is what we deal with at this price point sometimes, I wouldnt use it for watching movies anyways lol … Good luck with the A1050. I use a RCA Galileo (11.5″ I beleive) when we go camping. I’ve had good luck with it and enjoy that form factor… its a bit thick, but the keyboard layout is better than a bigger Chomebook we use. My store is in Columbus Ohio, I could live there 🙂
The A1050 is coming along. The form factor is nice, and with an external KB it looks like it *can* replace a laptop, which was the main reason I got it. The specs are adequate, with a 10.1″ screen in 1280×800 resolution as the big win. And MC had it for $80, which is a nice price point. Other 10″ devices cost rather more.
I *wouldn’t* use it for watching movies. The screen is big enough, but graphics performance is at best adequate. I get artifacts and occasional pauses trying to watch videos stored on an external card using an Android port of the VLC media player. But watching movies isn’t the use case, so I don’t care.
The biggest issue with the A1050 is that I haven’t been able to root it. It’s a new device, so I expect a rooting solution to appear at some point.
I’m aware of the RCA product but haven’t had an opportunity to play with one. I’m pleased it’s working for you.
Your Micro Center is the original, I believe. They’ve been expanding slowly and carefully. I was delighted when they opened a store in Brooklyn, which is easily accessible by subway. It replaced the late, lamented Computerland as a place I could find pretty much anything I needed. I can order on line and pick up the same day, which is a boon because I usually need whatever it is *now*, not “order online and have it shipped next week”.
I could live at mine, too. I’m there enough that various employees know me and address me by name. 🙂
Drop a note to teh email address I provided upthread and stay in touch.