The Augen GenBook 74 is an Android-powered mini Netbook. Since the Android 1.6 operating system was really intended for telephony devices, potential users need to know what apps come with this miniature netbook and how well they work. This review covers my experiences as a new user with some of the major applications offered right from the Augen GenBook 74’s launch pad. Additional applications are available on the machine and they will be covered in further articles.
The Augen GenBook 74 netbook has a Linux-style launch pad along the bottom of the screen. It has apps for e-mail, maps, contact management, web browsing, and maintaining a calendar. These apps are generally a mixed bag. Some work fairly well and others I need to learn more about and configure properly. Unfortunately, at first impression, documentation doesn’t seem to be a strong point for the Augen GenBook 74 or Android apps.
The e-mail program on the Augen GenBook 74 can retrieve your e-mail from multiple accounts. I set mine to retrieve e-mail from my gmail accounts and a couple of old AOL accounts. However, yahoo mail was not retrievable through this e-mail client. I thought it was extremely convenient to be able to check several gmail and aol accounts in succession without going to each individual website.
When I started the map application on the Augen GenBook 74, it determined my city from my ISP and all I had to do was set up a starting location in the system settings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the system setting to enable my address to be found. Thus, I couldn’t use the Google My Location features. This was fine with me, because it isn’t anyone’s business where I am. I generally find location features creepy.
A more useful app is represented by the a rolodex-style contact card on the launch pad. The contact manager allows you to search through all the e-mail addresses in your e-mail account address books and create a more detailed contact list. Then you can double click on a contact and compose an e-mail to a contact and send it with your default e-mail account. I can easily see this evolving into a very powerful app. I simply need to sit down with my address lists and create a comprehensive contact list with phone numbers and names to supplement the e-mail addresses.
The globe on the launch pad is simply a web browser. I found the web browser to be convenient and work well. At first, it was difficult to figure out how to set bookmarks. However, once I found out that I could right click on the menu bar across the top of the device, life became much easier. Instead of having to type in URLs multiple times using the smaller keyboard, I could simply enter the URL once and bookmark it. Many destination websites recognize Android devices as phones and direct you to mobile websites. With a mobile format, you lose some of the functionality that many websites provide. But, sometimes, you get content in a much more streamlined and accessible way on mobile sites.
The final launchpad app provided is a calendar app that should synchronize with google calendars on the web. It is easy to set up appointments and reminders on your Augen GenBook 74. Unfortunately, for some reason, my calendar app seriously believes that it should be synchronizing with my AOL e-mail account rather than my google gmail account. The app won’t let me add my gmail account even when I delete my aol account information. Each time I go to add my gmail account it wants me to add my AOL account and no other. It’s frustating, but hopefully, it’s something I can overcome with the help of people on Android Forums. Ultimately, I may reset the machine to factory fresh settings and start over with only one gmails account until everything is working correctly.
So far, I’m fairly pleased with the Augen GenBook 74 and it’s ability to process e-mail, pickup wireless networks, and surf the web. Since I intended the machine as a quick e-mail and web surfing station, it continues to be useful.