- Editor's Rating
The Velocity Cruz Micro tablet features a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with Android 2.0, 256MB of RAM, and Wi-Fi wireless networking. It is currently available for $249, with some online stores such as Amazon and Wal-Mart selling it for around $220.
BUILD & DESIGN:
The Velocity Cruz Micro measures 7.5-inches tall, 5.6-inches wide, and 0.57-inches thick. It’s a good size, allowing for a relatively large screen, but it somehow “feels” bulkier than it really is–that’s mostly due to the large black bezel around the screen.
The Cruz Micro is very solidly built, which I appreciate. All of the corners are rounded and it fit comfortably into my hand; due to its weight and width, though, I opted to use two hands to hold it. The back of the device is finished in a soft touch material that is comfortable to hold and provides a a nice surface to grip, so it’s not likely to slip.
It’s definitely too large to fit into a pocket, unless you’re still wearing cargo pants. You’ll most likely want to carry it in a purse or gear bag.
The display runs at 800 x 600 resolution, and while it isn’t the highest quality display I’ve ever seen, it’s still pretty good. Some text, especially the smaller text, can appear somewhat faded and jaggy.
The worst issues relate to glare and viewing angles. While my iPod Touch, iPad, and NOOKcolor screens are all readable when they are laying on my desk (which is close to a window), the Cruz Micro is not. I can’t say that the screens on those other devices are completely immune from glare, because they’re not, but they don’t completely wash out either.
The only way I can easily read the screen on the Cruz Micro is to hold it straight up in front of my face; trying to view the screen at any sort of angle makes the display completely unreadable. I tend to read a lot during meals and such, so not being able to lay the device on a desk or table and read makes for a miserable and uncomfortable lunchtime reading experience.
You’ll be using an onscreen virtual keyboard to enter text and web addresses. It works fine for short entries, but I wouldn’t want to use it to create long email messages or memos. There’s just enough lag between tapping a “key” and seeing the results onscreen that you’ll have to type slowly in order for the tablet to keep up with your input.
Other Buttons & Controls
The power button, pinhole reset button, USB port, and SD card slot are on the top edge of the device. The stereo speakers, charging port, LED charging status light, and headphone jack are all on the bottom edge while the volume up/down button is located on the right side.
The device comes bundled with a 4GB SD card, an AC adapter, and a very nice desktop charging stand/cradle. A protective carrying pouch made of Neoprene is also included, so you won’t have to buy a case for this device unless you need something extra protective.
The Velocity Cruz Micro performed well during my testing. It doesn’t offer anything close to knock-your-socks-off speed, but it is responsive and satisfying to use. I didn’t experience any crashes or strange behavior, and didn’t suffer from any long delays launching or switching apps.
I didn’t have any trouble connecting to my home or work Wi-Fi networks.
The focus for this product is squarely on entertainment, so there isn’t too much to talk about in the way of productivity. A basic OfficeSuite app is included, which allows you to view Microsoft word and Excel files. It is possible to upgrade to the full Pro version that also allows editing, or you can just visit the Cruz Market to download other apps.
The web browser and email experiences were somewhat basic, but certainly usable. Email setup is straightforward, and the browsing experience is pretty good. There were a few times where I had problems with the app thinking that I wanted to follow a link when I was trying to use pinch/zoom to resize the view, but that didn’t happen too often.
It should also be mentioned that the Astro file management utility was included, and made finding things on the SD expansion card much easier. You’ll also find the Dr.eye dictionary app, based on the Concise Oxford American Dictionary, in case you need to look up a definition.
There are several entertainment apps included with the Cruz Micro. The Amazon Kindle for Android app comes pre-loaded, and it’s a simple matter to log in and access your library of Kindle books.
The built in Music app is somewhat basic, but it gets the job done. View your music by artist, album, or song. Since the speakers are located on the bottom edge of the device instead of on the back, the audio sounded good when the device was laid down on a table. The sound quality from the external speakers was very good, and even at very loud volumes, there was no distortion. If you have a Napster subscription, that app is also pre-loaded on the device.
The Gallery app for viewing photos is also rather basic, though you can pinch/zoom to zoom-in on your photos. It also automatically changes the view to landscape mode when you rotate the device.
Due to the display limitations noted above, some photos can be very hard to see unless you’re in the viewing area “sweet spot”–some of my vacation photos that included sunsets, for example, didn’t look anything at all like they should have. Simpler photos of people and other subjects looked pretty good, but some photos may require you to tilt the display back and forth in order to get the best viewing angle.
There are a couple of social networking applications included as well. eBuddy allows you to log in to all of your chat/messaging services at once, from GoogleTalk to AIM and Yahoo! Facebook is also included, so that you can update your status on the go.
I got good results in this category, and was able to use the device freely for several days before the Cruz Micro needed to be recharged. If you’re planning to travel with it, you’ll need to carry along the AC adapter; the Cruz doesn’t charge through USB. On a good note, the battery is user replaceable, which is a relative rarity on anything larger than a phone these days.
The Cruz Micro is a nice little device, solidly built, and of better quality than many of the other small Android tablets that are currently flooding the market. Unfortunately, it suffers from a relatively low resolution and low brightness display that needs the best of lighting situations to read in. It is responsive and easy to use, but that doesn’t matter much if you can’t see what you’re doing.
For the same price, you’re much better off getting something like the Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor, which is thinner and lighter. The NOOKcolor may be sold as an eBook reader, but it still runs Android, has a much better display and has a browser for web surfing. It doesn’t have access to the full Android Market, but hackers have already rooted the device. In other words, the Velocity Cruz Micro isn’t a bad device, but there are better options out there if you’re looking for a small Android-based LCD eReader.
- Solidly built
- Included desktop charging stand is handy
- Good battery life
- External speaker has good sound quality and volume
- Low resolution display with inadequate brightness and viewing angle issues
- Relatively large and heavy considering the screen size