Novo 7 Basic

The Ainol Novo 7 Basic (here's our review) has an updated build of Ice Cream Sandwich available, but you may want to think twice before flashing it.  Funny how drama and issues follow these Chinese sub-100 dollar tablets around, ain't it?  Here's the whole scoop.

Our old buddy Dieter Bohn (Hi, D!) put up a short review of this one at his new home The Verge.  And I noticed in said review that his model was running a different version of software than mine, so off to I went.  What used to be broken links now had a full-blown update file for Ice Cream Sandwich in place (and kudos to Ainol for that one, nice and fast is how we like our updates) with instructions to flash it.  You know I had to try this.

Well, the download took a little longer than I had expected, so I spent a few minutes looking for folks who may have already flashed it, and sure enough I found a few -- and they weren't very happy.  The folks who updated from Honeycomb (yes, this tablet shipped last year with Honeycomb as well) noticed they no longer had Flash support, and most people were saying that the new update didn't have Google's apps (Gmail, Market, etc.) included.

And here's where things get sticky.

Because the Novo 7 Basic is MIPS-based (that means it uses a different architecture than we're used to) applications compiled for ARM processors won't work -- ever.  That's half of the reason the Android Market that is (barely) working in the original version looks so bare.  This means that even though the Gmail.apk file would work, we can't just flash Gapps from the usual places, because the needed framework files are built for ARM, and not MIPS.  That makes things a bit more difficult.

Of course, since the newer build has sideloading fixed (yay!) and includes a cool-as-hell looking SpiderMan game, I'm bound and determined to sort it all out using framework files from the OS that shipped with this thing, the files from the new update, and Gapps from that secret place you can download Gapps from.  In the meantime, you might want to hold off updating yours if you spent the Benjamin on it.  I'll be poking around, and of course anything I find will get posted in the forums.  Let me be the guinea pig on this one folks.


Reader comments

Updated Ice Cream Sandwich available for the Novo 7 Basic, but think hard before you apply it


My Micro Cruz tablet has a mips based processor. It was a pain to root it and install all the gapps. I has to do it AOL through adb.

AOL through ADB? I bet that was rough. AOL was bad enough when it just used dial-up...

{sorry, I had to}

Thanks Jerry for being the man and being the guinea pig. I'm glad I didn't rush to get this for the wife. Hopefully we can get an HTC Flyer type of tablet for the $100-$150 price range eventually (maybe CES?).

What's the point of running things in Dalvik in a managed environment if the framework is going to require a specific hardware architecture? This kinda defeats the WHOLE purpose of managed code...

Nice question :)

In this case, we need to change system files so we can add the Google account to the phone for syncing.  These files were built with the rest of the system compiled for MIPS.  We shouldn't have to change these under normal use, because when we add gapps to a device not supported we're stealing IP.  Yeah, we all do it anyway.

As for regular apps, anything that runs purely under dalvik should work.  Other apps that interface with the actual system could easily be cross compiled for multiple arch. (x86, MIPS, ARM) and when we start seeing more devices using other processors, I think we will. 

I bought it. Hundred bucks to get an early shot at ICS. It came today. Easy to get going if you have used droid before, even eaier if you know Chinese. I don't. I will play with it and report in a day or so.

I find a lot of apps are not available for ICS or don't work on it. I am wondering what will happen when the upgrade hits our various tabs. Will it obliterate our honeycomb stuff? Anyone around here reading this? Does anyone know about ICS compatability on tab with honeycomb? I will continue to report on the novo7 if anyone is reading this at all.

Does anyone know where i can get the best HC download and flash instructions for my n7b?

Mine came with ics but i really need to downgrade to have Flash.

Im a noob so any help is very much appreaciated :)