ViewSonic GTab… Customization endless

| January 4, 2011 | 2 Replies

With the world of lower priced Android tablets expected to skyrocket this year with the launch of Honeycomb, the later part of 2010 saw the beginning of the Android tablet craze and the ViewSonic G Tablet is one to be reckoned with… as soon as you get that stock UI off of it.

The GTab comes stock with a “skin” overlay called TnT which is to say it nicely HORRIBLE! ViewSonic has forced users on start-up to look at what they deem important. The Lay out is poor and the speed and smoothness suffers greatly from it even with the Tegra2 underneath the hood.

Recently ViewSonic did put out a OTA update for the GTab that gives customers the choice of their TNT overlay or a more close to stock Android look and feel. I my self have not had the chance to roll back and get the OTA but have still heard that it did not help a lot and rooting is still the best option.

Sure Google has said that Android 2.2 wasn’t ready for Tablets yet but that did not stop a couple of companies, mainly Samsung to put out early Android tablets. Samsung put out their Galaxy Tab and it the only “officially” supported tablet with Android on it right now. Many other companies like ViewSonic, Toshiba and the like have put out their best versions of the Tab out but some have seen the dust pile sooner rather than later.

Apple really started the tablet crazy with the launch of the iPad in early 2010 but was met with mixed reviews due to the OS it was running and the lack of any camera.

As soon as I saw that Galaxy Tab I was sold on the whole Android OS on a tablet but like many others did not have the $600 to drop for it. So I started looking around for something similar, gave me some horsepower under the hood and of course ran Android with hopefully the latest 2.2 Froyo. What I landed on was the ViewSonic G Tablet:

  • 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 – Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU
  • 512MB DRR RAM
  • 16GB internal memory (expandable up to 32GB via SD Card)
  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • 10.1″ TFT-LCD with LED driver system and 1024×600 resolution
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • 32-bit LP-DDR2, DDR2
  • S1080p H.264/H.263/ VC-1/MPEG-2/4/WMV9/DiVX 4/5 Video Decode
  • 1080p H.264/MPEG-4 Video Encode
  • Supports multi-standard audio formats, including AAC, AMR, WMA, and MP3
  • 1.3-megapixel camera
  • WiFi : 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Built-in 2 x 1-watt stereo speakers
  • USB 2.0 (Slave)
  • Mini USB 2.0 (Host)
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone
  • Micro SD
  • Dock for HDMI/Headphone/USB (optional)

NOW for the fun part, Root and custom ROMs:

One of the best things with the Gtab is that it is UNLOCKED and you have the freedom to load any software version that will work on the Tegra2 and the GTab. The wonderful GTab community over at XDA forums has the best and most intuitive collection of ROMs, add ons, apps and more for the Tab and is where I get all my info from.

Rooting couldn’t be any easier on the Gtab as Z4Root works flawlessly! Just make sure you have USB debugging enabled in settings for it to work.

Quick guide from Android Police:

How To Root the Viewsonic G Tablet

Download Z4 Root here and then simply:

  1. Connect your tab to your computer via USB and make sure USB debugging is ON
  2. Turn on USB mass storage when your tablet prompts you
  3. Move the Z4 Root APK over to your tablet and safely remove before disconnecting
  4. Open your favorite file manager, such as ES File Explorer, go to the root of your SD card, find Z4 Root, and install it

  • After it installs, click open, run the app, sit back for a minute, and enjoy root access!
  • After you get root access the next thing to do is load ClockworkMod for easy back ups, and ROM installs

    proceeded to install ClockworkMod recovery v08, as recommended by everyone at XDA-Developers. To do this, you will need an external microSD card to store the update.

    1. Download ClockworkMod v08 here (requires an xda account) or from our mirror
    2. Unzip the downloaded file and put it in the root of your microSD card
    3. Turn off your device
    4. Press the power button and the Volume+ button at the same time and release them when the Viewsonic splash screen pops up. You should see “Detected a recovery key pressed” pop up in the upper left corner of the screen
    5. Watch it install. Your tablet will reboot when the installation is complete

    If you want to get into ClockworkMod, you need to shut down your device, then press the Power and Volume+ buttons simultaneously (the same way you did to install CWMod). To navigate in CWMod, Vol+ and Vol- are used to scroll up and down, the home button selects an option, and the back button backs up.

    Once you get ClockworkMod installed make sure to make a back up of your clean stock system!!

    With the popularity of the Gtab on the rise so are the custom ROMs for it. So far I have tried out 4 of the major ROM options on XDA forums and each provide a little different take on the main stock system. Some more AOSP (Stock Android) then others and some with more features and apps

    List of current ROMS 1/4/2011:

    Click on each name to be taken to their XDA forums thread!

    TNT lite 3.1.4

    CyanogenMod Beta4

    No current screen shots but will look like stock CyanogenMod that you know from his other work

    ZPad Clean V3

    Vegan Tab 1.0 B5.1

    For me I’m a fan of the Vegan – Tab ROM for its speed, frequent updates and overall responsiveness I have been running it for the last couple beta bumps and it is by far in my opinion the best out of the bunch!

    Vegan ROM comes pre loaded with most of the popular GAPPS, Latest Flash and includes the market right out of the box!

    Since Android 2.2 was not officially supported by Google on tablets you have to do a little hacking to get the market to work and download. It’s another simple task as outlined by Android Police:

    Well, by default, the G Tablet does not come with the Android Market, which should be no surprise to most tablet owners, as that is slated for the Honeycomb release. TnT Lite automatically loads the new Market for you in the ROM. The only issue is that it needs a small push to detect most of the apps. Here is what has to be done:

    1. Download Titanium Backup (our mirror) and copy it to your device’s SD card. Find the APK using ES File Explorer and run the installation
    2. Go into Settings – Applications – Manage Applications – and Force Stop both the Market and Google Services Framework apps
    3. Open up Titanium Backup, go to Backup/Restore and look for Google Services Framework, select it, then select “Wipe Data”
    4. Go back to your home screen and open up the Market. You should get an error. If not, redo steps 2 and 3 until you do
    5. Reboot your device. After it starts back up let it sit for a minute or two to let things in theoperating system normalize. Open the Market. Reboot your device
    6. Open the Market again and enjoy

    Now this gives you access to most of the Market. The process to give you access to the whole Market is a little bit more complicated and can be found here, but I was fine with 99% of the Market working.

    unfortunately this fix still does not give you 100% market but almost all of the apps I have on my DX I have found once I did the market fix!

    Additional apps you will want on your GTab:

    Once you have the market loaded and you have your favorite apps on the tab but you’re like me and still want to tinker around with the Tab more I have listed a couple of MUST have apps I think all GTab owners should have!

    [APP] Samsung Galaxy Tab Email Client on gTabet! – Beta1 – 1/3/11

    This ports the Beautiful Samsung Galaxy Tabs email client to the GTab and works extremely well for being in beta:

    [APP] Toshiba Home Menu [PORTED]

    This will port the Home launcher from the Toshiba Folio 100

    Kernels:

    Yes you heard me right, the ViewSonic GTab community has now even gotten custom kernels running on the tab Thanks to ViewSonic a couple of weeks back releasing the Kernel source code that we told you guys about!

    The one I recommend and seems to be the least problematic and adds the most features:

    [KERNEL]Clemsyn’s KERNEL corner, now with CIFS and NTFS[KERNEL]

    Conclusion:

    Is this the tablet for everyone? Well in my time with it I would say no since out of the box it leaves a lot to be desired and a little bit of a bad taste in your mouth. To get the full experience and to take a look at what the Tablet can actually do it does take some hacking and adding a ROM but the steps are very simple to do! If you are a big tech nut like me and like to tinker around with your new “toys” then this definitely the Tablet for you as of right now! The GTab has a huge hacking community that has even been praised by ViewSonic and they keep pumping out great ROMs and extra goodies for it!  So all in all if you happen to have the extra $400 lying around then the ViewSonic GTab is totally worth your time and money!

    Source: Android Police

    Source: XDA developers

    Happy ROMing everyone!!

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    Category: Android Reviews

    About the Author ()

    Co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of GizmoNinja.com.

    During the day I work in graphic design and also do photography. By night I try to play with programming and code of all different types. I love the opportunity to write for the site and hope to see it grow as time goes on.

  • Mrhassell says:

    3 x faster than an iPad.. 3rd of the price.. 3 times as useful.. hard choice!

  • Bobinsfca says:

    Galaxy Tab email app link no longer works. Is there another one?

    Thank you for a great article!