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Review of the IRulu 7" KnightPad Android Tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0

Android Apps I wanted to get a 7" tablet to install in my kitchen for recipes and I didn't want to spend more than $100. I searched around for refurbished tablets and looked at other brands like the pandigital tablets sold through Kohls and a few other outlets.

I eventually settled on the iRulu 7" Knightpad with Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Model CK100) mainly for the price and feature set, but also just to see what you could really get for cheap. I paid less than $100 for the tablet. Many of the reviews on Amazon.com were positive but there were definitely some complaints. A few people complained about dropped wiFi connections (see below) and poor battery life (see below) or that it broke very quickly. Keeping in mind price I paid, I had low expectations, but actually it is "okay" for the price. The tablet does have limitations though, so below are the things you should know before you buy. Even with the things below, I might still buy this tablet.

Like almost all electronics of this sort, it is made in China. This particular one was designed by a company said to be in Columbus Ohio (USA1111). It has a capacitive touch screen--which means, among other things, that you're meant to use your fingers on it as opposed to a pen stylus.

My biggest issue with the tablet is lag time. Usually it works fine but often it does have some very serious lag--it can be very annoying. You'll click on an something and it can take up to 30 seconds before it does what you wanted.

My second biggest issue with the tablet is that when I got it was that when the tablet came back from sleeping, the wiFi connection wouldn't work right-- it was unable to see any wiFi connections at all. I think the problem only happened if the tablet wasn't plugged in. I am not sure if this is what the people on Amazon were complaining about regarding wifi getting dropped.

I emailed tech support about this (so far their response has been pretty good--about 24 hours and very friendly, they do try to help as much as they can) and they suggested that I go into settings for Android and do a Factory Reset (its in the SETTINGS menu if you have the same problem). I reluctantly did this (after all, that got rid of all of my settings) but I am happy to report that it does seem to have solved the problem. If you're also running into this problem, the reset itself only takes a few minutes...its putting in all your accounts and configuring apps that's going to take a few minutes.

The manual that comes with the device is a very small booklet. So if you don't already know how to use Android, you might want to search youtube for some tutorials for Android ice cream sandwich. As far as battery life, it depends how you use the tablet, but its been okay. One example from today -- I've been listening to Pandora for 3 hours and the battery is only just now running out--but note that I haven't done anything else while I was listening, so most of the time the screen was black.

Some people will ask whether they can install some other version of Android on the tablet. As near as I can tell, someone would have to do some coding to get a different ROM to work. Since this tablet is very specific I think that new ROMs can only come from the manufacturer.

If you want to use your Knightpad tablet on a mobile network, it is possible to do so, but only if you purchase a 3G adaptor (aka dongle) seperately. I am told that the dongles made by HUAWEI (models: E220,E230, E169G, E160X, E1750, E173 AND W8) are compatible with the tablet. Prices start about about 40 dollars and go up from there and you will have to figure out which ones will work with your mobile network/data plan provider. I don't believe there are any 4G speed dongles available that would also be usable.

The camera that is built into the knightpad is 0.3 megapixels. The picture quality is therefore poor. If you were thinking of using this device for quality photos or videos, don't buy it. It might work for videoconferencing, although I can tell you that skype is not useable.

Apps I've Installed on the Knightpad

One of the problems I have found is that some of the apps that I wanted to install from the Google Play android market or amazon.com's marketplace aren't available--this is a common complaint and below I will explain how you can get around it so you can install most apps on the tablet. Here are a few that I did install from the Google Play android market without problems:

Pandora - This works fine and the sound that comes from the tablet is "okay" (again, keeping expectations low) -- don't expect a Bose experience or anything like that.

Skype with Video--Skype did install, but the video that it sends is really poor quality and has stripes through it. Of course the camera in the device is only .3 megapixel and its not an approved skype device, but I was just "hoping". So basically you can't really use this device for skype. (It also doesn't work on Google+'s Google Hangouts.)

Google+ -- This is a great app, for a great (but under-used) social network. One of the best parts is the Google Hangouts, where up to 8 people can interact with Video Conferencing for free (actually an unlimited number of people can join, but only the first 8 can be seen and heard--all for free). In general this app works well. I haven't had a chance to try Google Hangouts yet though.

Evernote - Evernote does work fine

Swype Keyboard Beta - If you've never tried swype, you should. Its awesome. You just run your finger across the letters of a word and it knows what you are trying to "type"...much much faster than typing. You have to go to swype's website to sign up for the beta.

Kindle App - I was succesfully able to download the Kindle app from the google play store (Free) and run it, download a book. Although the tablet isn't the best screen I've ever used to read a book, its not that bad either.

Flipboard - This is a great app for reading the news and facebook updates. I highly recommend trying this free app.

YouTube - The strange thing is that initially I could not install this app from the Google Play marketplace. After I reinitialized the device because of the wiFi problem I had, I went back and it was there. I am not sure if it is because initially I got it from the 1mobilemarket (see below). Unfortunately though, I still have trouble with certain kinds of video. For instance, I installed Google+'s app but I can't do a Google Hangout (something very cool--better than Skype which doesn't work right on the knightpad tablet either) and live streaming video on youtube doesn't work either--you just get an error message.

Examples of Apps I could NOT install (because they weren't even shown to me in the Google Play Android marketplace): Vonage, Line2, , Facebook. You CAN get around this problem though. Its a little bit of a workaround but it seems to be fine--there is an alternate Android marketplace called "1mobileMarket" -- once you download their app -- I got mine from CNET's website but you can get it directly from here, you'll see an "alternative" curated marketplace for android devices (that have sideloading enabled--not a problem for the iRulu Knightpad that comes this way already so if you don't know what I mean, you don't have to worry about it).

So through this marketplace, the above-mentioned apps were installed from there with no problem. One note: I am not so sure how trustworthy they are. I would probably avoid giving my facebook or google password to them. Just skip that when asked.

Do you need a cover / case for your 7" iRulu tablet? Here is a case with a keyboard. For $14 not a bad choice. I haven't ordered one because its not going to work for my kitchen installation application. Someone in another review said they got a Kindle cover from the dollar store and it worked fine--I am guessing that would cover up the camera though.

Helpful URLs:

The manufacturer's sales website: http://www.pigPony.com

Last Updated: 12/7/12

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