I recently purchased the Marshmallow 7G, an Android 4.0 tablet that has Wifi and 3G, supports USB hosts with HDMI output, and other features.The Marshmallow 7G is distributed through w3gear, a Singapore company, and is available for purchase online via w3gear’s official website at a price of 289 SGD at the time of writing this article (Sept 2012).
The tablet has a home button, side volume buttons and a front camera:
On first look, this Android tablet is cheaper than the Dreambook W7, which I have mentioned in details in a previous article, and is also much lighter (345g compared with 500g or more for the Dreambook) and thinner. I decided to perform a thorough test of the tablet and share my finding here, which I hope will help others who intend to buy the tablet.
The default screen orientation is landscape and an accelerometer will rotate the screen to portrait appropriately. However, should you decide to turn off auto-rotation, the screen will default back to Landscape and there is no option to set to Portrait mode.
Same as the Dreambook W7, there is no restart option on this device. You can only turn the device off and turn it back on.
Call & SMS
As a 3G Android tablet, the device has the Android default Dialer and Messaging applications. Although making or receiving calls as well as sending/receiving SMS works fine, the default dialer has problems dialing USSD code. For example, if you are on a prepaid card and dial your network provider’s USSD code of *100# to check account balance, the dialer would hang forever at the “Dialing” screen. No 3rd party dialer I tried would help, since the problem seems to be in the radio firmware
The loudspeaker volume is also too soft even at maximum output. There is no headset option and calls are made on loudspeaker.
The device supports 3G, which works fine with my SIM card. However, it takes up to 5 minutes upon a cold boot for the device to lock on to a network provider. Once registered onto a network, 3G reception seems stable.
The default browser user agent defaults to a PC browser, which will just make loading web page slower. To overcome this, I use Opera Mobile.
Tethering works well in all my tests. Wifi reception is reasonable and the device connects to my home router with no issues.
There is neither GPS support nor a compass on this device. Approximate location via Wifi/CellID is also not available, even though the device supports 3G and should, in theory, know its approximate location via the cell network. The Nook Tablet, however, can identify its approximate location as long as it is connected to a Wifi network.
Bluetooth & Peripherals
In my test, I am able to send a text file from a phone to the PC via Bluetooth. However, the device is unable to receive a file via Bluetooth – the PC reports timeout despite numerous attempts to tweak the Bluetooth settings. Playing audio via Bluetooth works fine, however.
USB host, one of the feature that convinced me to buy this tablet, works well. Mouse, keyboard and FAT16/FAT32 thumbdrives are supported, either independently or via a USB hub. The device comes with a proper adapter which would allow you to connect your USB devices to the micro-USB port.
I did not test the HDMI output. To stand any chance of having the Android screen projected on your LCD TV, however, you would need to have an appropriate HDMI (Female) to mini-HDMI (Male) converter.
Most of my tests with the device have been positive so far and I was intending to use the tablet for daily needs when I realized that the battery level was decreasing very fast. With 3G on, in standby mode with no major application running, the tablet battery is dead within a day or so. Try to play a video with both the phone radio and Wifi off, using your headset, 15% screen brightness, full battery and the battery is dead within 2.5 hrs. Although I can understand the battery drain while playing video, I do not understand why the device consumes so much battery even in standby mode with no other applications.
All this indicates poor battery capacity, which I can tell from the weight of the phone. It should have been heavier to support a higher capacity battery.
Given that I explored the Dreambook W7 a year ago and was pretty disappointed, I was pretty surprised when testing the Marshmallow 7G tablet for the first time – almost everything worked as described. However, the excitement did not last long when I realized that the poor battery is a show-stopper for this device – the short battery life would not allow you to use it for anything other than experimenting. On that basis, I resold the device and purchased a Nook Tablet, which although does not feature 3G, can still serve me well due to its excellent battery life – a month on standby and up to 8 hrs of continuous usage.