Oioo Model 2 Review

Even with the included 200MB T-Mobile Free Data For Life plan, you can go wrong with the Oioo Model 2. It really is that bad.


The first thing ‘wrong’ about the Oioo is that it is sold almost exclusively through Kmart. Ordering online would not have been bad, but they were sold out for home delivery, requiring me to go to Kmart to pick this up, and really, that’s where things started to go wrong. If you’ve ever picked up an order from a Kmart, it’s weird. The order-ready email you receive tells you to simply go to any register for pick up, but…, well, that’s weird. The cashier keys in my number and checks my ID, and then we’re both left waiting for someone to go grab it.

The surprise came when I got home and noticed something funky with the way the package was taped up. It had clearly been opened and retaped on one end. And when I open it up I find… the SIM card is missing. Stop for a minute and think about this. This T-Mobile SIM card is pretty much worthless to whoever stole it. The whole ‘free data’ thing is tied to the device, not to the SIM. So, why did someone jack the SIM out of this box, and why did Kmart shelve a tampered package? Because people are stupid, and, well… Kmart kind of sucks and sold me a tampered package. So, some idiot has a worthless SIM, and I have a project finding another SIM that I can use. Luckily I had another SIM I was able to cut down and use, but still… not cool.

Initial impressions

My first impression after I had calmed down from the SIM card incident and started to use the thing was that this tablet was truly terrible in pretty much every respect. Let me explain. When you buy a low-end tablet like this, you don’t expect much. My expectations were certainly low, and the general look and feel was what I expected. Giant bezel, plasticy, bulky. A weird back cover (basically an extra piece of plastic that attaches to the back). (There’s nothing extra you can get at by removing it). That all, in my mind, is fine. That’s what makes it a cheap tablet.

There were things wrong with this tablet that should not be wrong with any tablet. The most glaring problem is that it hurts, honestly hurts, to look at the screen in portrait mode. The viewing angle is just all off, there are shadows and reflections, it’s just bad. Really, really bad. This kind of problem with displays was solved years ago. A cheap display is one thing, a display that just doesn’t look right is another. That said, these issues are confined to portrait. Looking at the screen in landscape is completely usable, and does not have the reflections and generally wierdness that I described above.

Bad Software, and more… weirdness

The software is painfully slow, and includes a bunch of bloat (weird bloat) that is difficult to avoid and impossible to remove at this time. Launcher is slow to load, app switching is slow, applications are slow, graphics are slow, everything is well, just slow. Things are probably slower than they should be. Despite its shortcomings the device has 1GB RAM and a dual-core Marvell processor. It’s not the fastest thing, but there are plenty of devices with similar specs that are able to function. At this point, it should be obvious that this thing is a dud, but for $60 any device with free internet is nothing to sneeze at. The question is then how can I make this $60 POS usable.

Making Lemonade

The situation is bad, you’ve just bought a $60 POS tablet for the free internet (which you can’t use right off the bat because someone stole the SIM card), the screen is barely usable, the software is horrible, you can expect absolutely no software updates, you’re out-of-luck when it comes to rooting, and you can definitely forget about a custom ROM (there is zero user community around this thing, so forget about Cyanogenmod anytime soon, or ever really). Any improvements you’re going to have to do your self.

Step 1: Down with ‘Launcher’

I don’t know what “Launcher” is, but I can tell you that (while it may vaguely resemble other launchers) it is no Launcher that you’re familiar with. While it cannot be removed, it can be ignored. I chose the Google Now launcher as my replacement and the usability of this thing went up substaniatlly. “Launcher” is not the only problem, but it is an easy problem to fix.

Step 2: Developer Settings

Unfortunately there is little more you can do without root. If I could, I’d freeze all the random bloat. Luckily, you can get into developer options by tapping the version number in settings 10 times. Once there you’ll notice a lot of stuff. I don’t know how useful any of it is, but again, there’s little else to do, so you might as well do what you can. I turned off window animations, clicked this box to optimize the DVM, checked some of the GPU overrides. All-in-all I can’t say it made much of a difference.

I tried checking to not keep activities and to limit background processes. This will hamper multi-tasking, but I found it to speed up single-application use. And let’s face it, you’re not going to be able to keep a lot of apps open with this tablet with the state it is in anyway.

Step 3: Locking down the network

I recommend using a firewall to restrict your data usage when not on wifi. No Root Firewall is going to be your best bet, since there does not seem to be a root option for this tablet at this time. You can read a full write up on how to limit your data here, but basically a firewall will keep you within your 200MB so that you can always enjoy email, chat, maps, and light browsing.

With whatever is going on with this tablet, I would say do install a firewall, even if you don’t imagine using mobile data. It is hard to say whay many of the apps and background services installed by Oioo are doing (one of them wasn’t even translated into English, so I literally have no clue what it does, even if it is innoculous).

What I will use this for

This is not going to be the device I use daily. I had not really hoped for that from a $60 tablet. What I did want was another device with mobile data where the total cost of ownership is locked at the initial purchase price. I have my 200MB a month for life and that’s what I am in this for.

The GPS makes this usable as a travel tablet. I could strap it to a bike or keep it in the car and say, hey, this is going to be my GPS tablet. And the free data certainly goes a long way for that.

For those on low-end plans like Tracfone or Pageplus, or without a smartphone at all, this can act as your supplemental device. You can use it with Hangouts (I made a video call, it actually worked), use Hangouts dialer, browse, whatever. It won’t be the most pleasant experience, but you can’t beat the price.

I cut low-end devices a lot of slack, but at the end of the day you need to actually be able to use them. And this is completely unusable out of the box.


Oioo Model 2
Reviewed by Cheapest Data Plan on
Stay away. Even at bargain bin prices, you can go wrong with this tablet…