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ASK 731SP 3G Smartpad Review

Tablet El-Cheapo

March 6th, 2011

Recently, the market has been flooded by a number of cheap Android tablets - most of them rather iPad lookalikes than iPad killers. I recently picked this one up in Hong Kong, where it sells for around 1700 HKD, which roughly equals 160 EUR. A quite reasonable price, considering that it features a 7 inch capacitive multi touch screen. So is the Smartpad the gem in the pile of chinese plastic junk, or is it rather the other way around? Let's find out.

The device

The Smartpad looks quite typical for a tablets; glossy front with nothing on it, a metal frame, and a white plastic back.

From the left: USB host port, mini-USB for data transfer, charger jack, 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroSD-slot, ESC-button, menu-button, power, and reset.
From the left: USB host port, mini-USB for data transfer, charger jack, 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroSD-slot, ESC-button, menu-button, power, and reset.

In the side of the tablet, there is a regular USB port. According to the product sheet, a 3G modem can be connected to this port, thus the inclusion of 3G in the name (just to make this clear: the device itself lacks any 3G capabilities). The USB port can also be used for USB sticks, a keyboard or a mouse. By using a USB hub, several devices can be connected - both a keyboard and a mouse, for instance. Using Android with a mouse feels a bit odd though.

The included case has a built-in keyboard. It is also sold separately and should work with most 7
The included case has a built-in keyboard. It is also sold separately and should work with most 7" tablets.

The included case, which contains a keyboard, transforms the device into something that resembles a flimsy netbook. Thumbs up.

Using it

As we start navigating around the menus, we do notice that things are a bit sluggish. Everything works, but it definitely lacks the smoothness and snappiness of the iPad. This is much because of built in low-cost CPU, a Rockchip RK2818, running at 660 MHz. The display feels good though and can tell tapping from flipping quite accurately.

When using the browser, web pages show up as expected. Scrolling and pinch-zooming both work, although a bit slow - especially as the page is still loading. In general, this pretty much sums it up - web pages work, but it feels a bit slow and and will require some patience. Note, also, that since we are running Android 2.1, flash does not work out of the box.

I cannot say much about video playback. It just works with no problem, and watching movies on the 7'' display is very comfortable.

I was surprised to see that the battery life was quite acceptable. Watching a full length movie eats up about 30% of the battery, which means that watching two and probably even three two-hour movies should be possible.

Apps

Downloading and installing apps from the Android Market usually works without a hitch, but there are a few problems. Here is a dealbreaker for many: Angry Birds does not work. It just doesn't start. Moreover, I am unable to sign in to Skype, it just says "Signing in..." forever.

Conclusion

So do I recommend it? Well - it wasn't terribly expensive and it does most of the things I expect of it. For watching videos, reading e-books and doing some web browsing, the Smartpad does well. I am missing a few things however - a webcam, Android 2.2 preloaded and a faster CPU would have been great. Angry Birds would have been a plus as well. But for me, this is a good start.

Now, I happened to notice that there is an A-Pad (MT2818) with the exact same specifications as the Smartpad, but with HDMI out added, selling for about 10% less. Something to consider first.

The box.
The box.
March 22nd, 2011 16:32
Raphael

Hia,

I have the same thing, i got it when i went to hong-kong, but i hate android 2.1

is there a way to root this thing?

Thnx!

March 23rd, 2011 18:44
Erik

Well, I'm not sure rooting it will really solve any of the inherent limitations of 2.1 - the lack of flash support is a major flaw, and I have yet to find a working solution.

But rooting is fun, so why not? I recommend you head over to the nice people at android tablets, they have a lot of good tips:

http://www.androidtablets.net/forum/

As for myself, I may do it sometime in the future. However, I'm not risking bricking this thing yet. ;)

April 9th, 2011 01:25
mark

I purchased the ASK smart pad at HG as well. Have the keyboard as well. Can anyone tell me how to activate it?

April 9th, 2011 01:25
Erik

To use the keyboard, you need to activate USB Host mode. Go to Settings, select "USB Mode Select" and tick "Host Mode". The keyboard (or other USB devices, like USB sticks) can now be connected.

After a reboot, the setting is reset and need to be reactivated. Apparently, it draws a lot of power so this should be a "good thing".

April 28th, 2011 16:28
julie clarke

I have one, my husband just brought it back from Hong Kong. Its an ASK 741 SP if that helps. I cant wait to get playing on it but I cant get it to log in to our wifi at home. It finds it but then says its weak and drops off. I know our wifi is strong and so I dont know what to do to get on and start playing. Please please help

April 28th, 2011 19:48
Erik

Hi Julie,

tough one. I had zero problems setting mine up. The router was set to use WPA2 with AES and a pre-shared key. My network showed up in the list (Wireless & network settings), I chose it, left security to auto, entered password and it just worked.

I would do the usual things; reboot the router, play around a bit with the security settings (on both ends), and, if nothing helps, try the tablet on a friend's network. Maybe the tablet just doesn't play nice with your router. Also, I have heard that there are compatibility issues between some 802.11n devices, 802.11b/g (slower/older router) should be fine though.

Hope this helps.

May 7th, 2011 10:27
Alexander

Erik, hi
I've bought ASK 741SP (not 731SP)
Device don't work, don't load OS - only start page
Serviceman say that it's necessary to upgrade (firmware is damaged) , but manufacturer refused to upload firmware in order to I can solve my problem. Have U a firmware for 741SP, can U help me?

Thanks a lot!

May 8th, 2011 13:25
Erik

Hi Alexander,

I'm afraid I will have to disappoint you. I don't have the firmware for 741, neither do I know which one it uses or how to acquire it. If it's under warranty, just exchange for a new one.

If that is not an option, you can find a lot of information on how to install firmware/fixing bricked tablets here:

http://www.slatedroid.com

Please note that you always flash at your own risk.

Good luck!

June 16th, 2011 09:39
edgar

Hi erik,
Hi bought 741 sp in HK, can you teach me how to remove the web site in the history, i want to remove some of the sites that i browsed but i don't know how. Please help. Thanks.

June 18th, 2011 10:58
Erik

Hi edgar,

to clear the history, open the browser and tap the menu button (top right of the screen, as always). From the menu, tap "more", then "Settings". Scroll down to "Privacy". From here, cache, history and cookies can be deleted.

Google also saves your search history, which you can delete separately. From the Google start page, tap the "Settings" link. Scroll down to "Search history" and tap "Clear saved searches".

Hope this helps.

June 20th, 2011 00:34
Nigel

I bought a 741 in HK and every time you swithch it on it say for all applications eg - The application AK Notepad (process com akproduction.notepad) has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again. Then is has FORCE CLOSE. what has gone wrong, any ideas ?? Thanks

June 20th, 2011 19:15
Erik

Hi Nigel,

I am not familiar with the AK Notepad myself, but I guess it's possible that it just doesn't work on the SmartPad. This just tends to happen sometimes - it is a quite cheap product with almost zero support, after all. I'm afraid the only tip I can give you is to reinstall the app, and if that doesn't work, try to find an alternative (there should be plenty).

June 22nd, 2011 14:15
Paul T

Hi Eric
I have a 7" Tablet (Optus ZTE) It came with Android 2.1 but I upgraded it to 2.2. Only problem is 2.1 had a 'Host Mode' option in settings and the Case/Keyboard worked fine, but in 2.2 there is no Host Mode option in settings, and now the Keyboard case, doesn't work when I plug in the micro usb connector?
Any Suggestions?
Thanks.

July 9th, 2011 13:21
Erik

Hi Paul,

I have yet to try to upgrade my device, and this is one reason. I have not been able to find any info on how to do this. Hopefully, a helpful soul will find your post and provide an answer.

August 15th, 2011 14:34
Kate

Hi
I also bought ASK 731SP 3G in Hong Kong. Disappointed with it but would accept even being able to use it as a Kinder! Can I download my own selection of books from Amazon and if so HOW!! Please help.

August 15th, 2011 20:25
Erik

Hi Kate,

sure thing! (Assuming you mean Kindle.) Just use the ASK and open the Android Market, then search for "Amazon Kindle" or something similar. The official Kindle app should show up. Download and install, then start the application. Log on with your Amazon username and password, and you are good to go. They have a few free samples (classics like Dracula or Pride and Prejudice) that you can try first.

The application runs just fine on the ASK, maybe a bit sluggish when flipping but perfectly acceptable.

Have fun!

September 15th, 2011 11:42
Ronald Fung

Do it has a root? My 741 sp do not run root apps. How can I fix it?

September 17th, 2011 13:47
Erik

Hi Ronald,

I've been playing around with this, but no dice so far. I gave SuperOneClick a shot but it just kept hanging. :(

October 5th, 2011 15:17
Lilac

Hi Erik,
I found the tablet turns itself back on very often. It uses more battery. I only installed Aldiko as my bookreader and juice defender. I couldn't work out what cause the problem.
Any idea?

October 11th, 2011 23:05
Erik

Hi Lilac,

weird problem. My tablet only turns itself on when I plug in the charger, which seems to be a "feature". If you feel bored, you might try a factory reset, it's always a blast. ;)

October 16th, 2011 05:43
alex

Hi Eric. I have bought ASK 741 in HK this summer. Very nice item...but...the same problems with skype that you posted above. Please tell me could you solve this problem to use the skype application on ASK? Thank you in advance.

October 16th, 2011 15:52
Erik

Hi Alex,

I have not been able to resolve this issue. Skype on Android is still immature and crashes on many devices (it works great on my SonyEricsson X10 Mini Pro though). Just keep updating to the latest version, I hope they will have these issues sorted out soon.

November 10th, 2011 03:01
Bryanna

I also bought a 3gSmart pad from HK. It is okay to play games and read books but the battery life is only about 1 hour. There was a message sent to it to say to click here and upgrade your battery life which I did. I have downloaded the file and it is in the book marks but now I can't find where the bookmarks are

November 22nd, 2011 13:33
Yuifann

Hi Everyone,

Android 2.3 to 3.0 upgrade is available for ASK 741SP.
I've dropped off the device to the local technical support center 2 weeks ago...approved the wifi connection as well
***Required to drop off the smartpad for at least 3-5 days/Technician works part-time; therefore, expect pick up the other days later***

November 22nd, 2011 20:56
Erik

Sounds interesting. Is there any way to upgrade the 731SP as well? It's running 2.1 which really starts to show its age.

Anyway, post back here and let us know how it worked.

January 5th, 2012 04:24
Christopher

Hi Eric,I have a problem with my ASK 7 inch 3G Smartpad, model: ASK 741SP. I cannot unlock now for I attempted to unlock it for more than 5 times. It's advised now to sign-in with my GOOGLE account but I cannot because the unit is not activated to get WIFI signal. My other option is to reset the unit or go back to it's original factory setting....Please help me.

January 8th, 2012 21:27
Erik

Hello Christopher,

I'm very sorry to hear that! I've never had this problem myself, but this thread at AndroidTablets may be of some help:

http://www.androidtablets.net/forum/android-tablet-usage-tips-tricks/6280-forgot-your-unlock-pattern.html

If you are still stuck, try searching the forum for other threads or open up a new one. A lot of helpful people over there.

Hope it works out!

January 27th, 2012 18:26
mark

hi can u help me because every tym i open my ask 741sp only start page what im doing to do?

January 30th, 2012 22:48
Erik

Hi mark,

I'm not quite sure what you mean. If it does not boot up at all and you just got it, it may be a hardware of firmware problem. Try contacting the shop where you bought it to see if you can get a new one. By the way, a corrupt firmware can usually be fixed by downloading the latest one from the manufacturer and extracting it to the root of the SD card. I'm afraid I don't know where to get the firmware though. Try contacting ASK. Their home page address is:
http://uthk.com

February 3rd, 2012 13:38
Yuifann

Hi Mark & Erik,

You may contact the Technican at ASK (support at uthk dot com)
& I advise to upgrade your OS to Android 3.0 ....Things will be solve out >>> Remember to download it by Desktop PC & connect your smartpad by OTG later on

February 3rd, 2012 13:53
Yuifann

Hi Christopher,

The device is required to sign in by gmail's account (first time use...won't ask again) Android - free OS is connect with google's & gmail is now free for register. Afterward, you'll able to access to Wifi connection...If you need dump screens, please leave your email's contact or write to me (dreamycloset at gmail dot com)

February 4th, 2012 17:27
Erik

Hi Yuifann,

and thanks for your interest in this article. Now, you did link to a Honeycomb system image which I highly doubt will work right off the bat for the SmartPad. To avoid people bricking their devices, I removed the download link. Please let me know (using the contact form) if you have successfully updated the device to 3.0 using the image. If so, I apologize and will re-add the link.

February 4th, 2012 19:25
mark

Hi Yuifann,

Hi yuifann u have a link of Android 3.0 so i can download the file to upgrage my os thx....

February 10th, 2012 01:32
wildlizard

i have same to but there is a log-in how can i remove the log-in

June 30th, 2012 05:12
joven

how to hard reset this pad...please tell me

June 30th, 2012 09:42
Erik

Hi Joven,

you can find instructions in doing a factory reset here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqOSicNPFIY

BTW: A regular reset, that is, restarting the unit if it freezes, is simply done by inserting a pin into the hole marked "Reset" next to the power button.

September 8th, 2012 23:32
J. Lab,

Hi, I bought a ASK 750 SP in HK in May. I am looking for the owner manual, if there is one.
Glad to read you soon.
Thanks.
JL.

September 9th, 2012 01:37
Erik

Hi J. Lab,

not sure there is one! It should work just like any "standard" Android 4.0 device though, so if you are having specific questions about the software, googling it should do it. Plenty of forums and blogs around with info on Android 4.0. Otherwise, just contact ASK directly:
http://uthk.com

September 13th, 2012 16:20
Nkay

Hello Erik,
just got an ASK 755SP and its in chinese. been trying to change to english language please can you help

September 14th, 2012 01:24
J. Lab,

Hi,
good idea. Thanks.

September 15th, 2012 20:45
Erik

Hi Nkay,

simply check out this video which contains instructions on how to change language from Chinese to English on Android 4:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_LR5mFGDsw

Good luck. :)

December 30th, 2012 01:10
Wagne

I had ASK 750SP 3G running Android 4.0. The pad contains a HDMI Out Port and the package comes with a HDMI cable. When I connected the cable to TV and changed TV source to HDMI. The TV displayed "No Signal". Please advise how to use TV as a display screen?

Thank you.

January 7th, 2013 23:28
Erik

Hi Wagne,

sorry for the late reply... and for not having an answer! I have a Gemei G9 tablet, and I have never gotten the HDMI port on it to work. Apparently, just connecting it to the TV and switching TV to the correct HDMI port should do it. Maybe another TV and cable would solve it?

January 14th, 2013 01:41
Morph

Hi, I recently got an ASK 913SP tablet and I forgot the password to my google account and the lock pattern. Are you familiar on how to reset this unit back to factory defaults. I have been googling a lot but this unit seems not popular

January 14th, 2013 19:04
Erik

Hi Morph,

I will check with ASK on how to do this. In the meantime, maybe you should simply try to recover the password for the Google account? Go here:

https://accounts.google.com/RecoverAccount

April 8th, 2013 11:13
mona

Hi Erik
My Aunt buy me an ASK 755sp in hongkong.
After using it in 2 weeks, the smart pad didnt charge and turn on.
I already checked the charger and it is properly working. Is there any possible way to address my problem. Thank you.

May 27th, 2013 19:20
Mehrad

Hi Eric I have bought this tablet ASK118sp 3g smart pad from hong kong but unfortunately Im trying to using it in Canada , Toronto and it doesnt read any sim card that i put in it I have tried every single service provider to get the reception but unfortunately non of them works I started thinking maybe its a different frequency or something would you pleaseee help me
appreciate it a lotttt

June 13th, 2013 23:37
Erik

@mona: Not sure about the 755SP, but many tablet can be charger using a special USB cable (usually provided), but also using the regular mini/micro-USB (sync) port. So if one does not work, try the other one.

@Mehrad: Possibly, the countries use different standards. But I know very little about this, feel free to post back here if you manage to solve it.

July 3rd, 2013 17:19
George

how to factory reset my ask 701sp

July 11th, 2013 13:05
Erik

Hi George,

not sure how to do hard reset, but if a soft reset is enough, it can be done from the settings menu. Here is a video of how it's done:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU_VSUAf21Q

March 30th, 2014 01:57
Nay

I brought the tablet, randomly it started asking for a password to get in to it although I never gave it one. Only option left was to reset to factory settings after finding out how to do that the options on that menu come up in chinese so am none the wiser as to how to reset it. Any advice?

March 31st, 2014 16:55
Erik

Hi Nay,

the factory reset is found under Settings -> Privacy (5th item in the list, with a fence icon). Tap the last option ("Factory data reset") and tap the button that shows up ("reset device").

If the language on the whole device changes, go to Settings -> Language & keyboard (7th item, with a keyboard key icon). Tap the first item ("Select locale") and select a language.

April 18th, 2014 16:34

i want to upgrade to another android. my device using froyo 2.2

May 5th, 2014 08:24
Erik

Hi aplikasi android,

if your device manufacturer has not released an update by now, your best bet may be CyanogenMod (Google it). Haven't tried it with this particular device, but had some luck with an older SonyEricsson android phone.

October 4th, 2014 21:38
Eric

Hi Erik
I am using android 4.2 smart pad, all works well apart from when I connect to tv via hdmi cable the picture on tv & pad turns upside down, when I remove hdmi cable from smart pad it turns right way up, do you have any ideas ?
Thank you, Eric

February 9th, 2016 19:05
alan

I a 9" smart pad with case but the keyboard lead is damaged is this easy to get fixed

February 9th, 2016 19:37
Erik

Hi Alan,

if you are sure that the connector is the problem, then it should not be a big deal. You need to crack open the USB port to check how the cables are connected (it's only three or four), then replace the connector and solder the cables onto it. A USB connector for soldering can be found in many electronics shops.

Good luck - you might need it, I assume no responsibility! ;)

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