Clazio: My Review
What better way to start a new blog than to kick off with a review for a new device? When I saw ‘Clazio‘ (it was known as ‘Clarity’ to begin with) I was super excited. I’d never backed a project on Indiegogo before (this post is full of newness, eh?) but I was certain that this device had to be mine. A portable speaker which is actually an Android tablet which uses ‘Alexa’ and ‘Google Home’. Amazing.
The promo video for it made this device look like a big pair of shiny mutt’s nuts as you can see here:
I’ll say again: amazing.
After a seemingly endless wait – I backed the project on the first day (February 28th 2017) and was order #26. Shipments were expected to go out by the end of June – I eventually receive it…but I’m skipping ahead a bit. Checking the updates on the project page became a ritual. Poring over every comment and update like a bitter ex creeping on Facebook. As time passed, more and more people started to receive their orders. A trend became apparent – the people receiving their orders were late backers. Their wait vastly different to mine. But then the horror of folks’ thoughts.
The video above shows a seamless, super smooth, sleek and smart device. The reports from actual users highlighted a number of concerns: ‘Alexa’ & ‘Google Home’ are not integrated. ‘Alexa’ is accessed via ‘Reverb’ – an app that requires you to actually touch the screen and that limits ‘Alexa’s’ abilities in the same fashion an overbearing parent will restrict their children’s enjoyment and experiences. ‘Google Home’ fared a little better but it certainly wasn’t coming across as the device the video depicts.
After a number of communications back and forth between myself and the project owners, I no longer felt as excited as I normally do when I’ve ordered something. Days off are a nightmare if I know something is due for delivery as I feel on edge and keep watch as if I’ve been stationed at ‘The Wall’. Any sound from a vehicle pricks my ears up and the disappointment that ensues when it’s just a neighbour coming/going becomes intolerable.
I tried to talk some sense into myself by recalling times where reviews for other things that I really enjoyed but it still couldn’t distract me from the truth.
The device arrived last Saturday (14 August 2017). It’s arrival was anticlimactic. The postie hammered the door as if there were a dire emergency but by the time I got there the box was just sat on my doorstep like a newborn baby at an orphanage. The postie was obviously in a rush to clock off and enjoy his weekend as he was up the street at a neighbour when I picked up my box and wondered if it would just be left there in the event I wasn’t in…
I open it up with a heavy heart and power it on. It works. That’s a start. After a sluggish boot up, I’m in. I immediately update Google Play Services – a habit I have had ingrained with my many years of Android experience – and proceed to install my apps. Netflix is not available on the Play Store so a quick search for the APK soon resolves that. I set 14 apps to install. Two hours later they are still going.
The launcher is a customised mess. Pictured below, you see a fairly nice looking shot but in reality it’s awful. The icons cannot be customised – well, they can but the icons don’t change even if you set their actions to launch a different app (i.e. change ‘Skype’ to ‘Viber’ etc.) – and to access all apps you have to press the circle button twice. Something you have to figure out yourself.
In a sense, I knew what I was getting myself into when it comes to the supposed instructions. The responses on the IG page are of broken English. So broken that I had to turn that part of my brain off as I have internal convulsions at bad spelling, grammar and any other means of sodomising the English language. The leaflet and downloadable manual were ignored in favour of just getting ‘stuck in’ as I couldn’t handle the eye-rape that would occur if I read anything.
So, let’s recap so far – the device is sluggish (to put it politely), the launcher is an abomination and the support is virtually non-existent. Now, I’m a huge fan of the Nova Launcher – having had it on almost every Android device I have owned since my Samsung Galaxy S2 – so I installed that on my Clazio. There’s no way to change the default launcher so that was a waste of time.
In the end, thanks to a helpful chappie on a group on Facebook, I rooted my device using ‘King Root’ and then uninstalled all root-level apps such as the God-awful ‘Launcher3’, ‘Skype’ and a couple of the other built-in apps. To be fair, there didn’t seem to be much ‘bloatware’. Even after removing the launcher and some of the other crap, the device still doesn’t run very well.
Rooting is something I haven’t done in a long time – the last device I rooted was my Samsung Galaxy S4 and I’d spend hours trying out custom firmware and rebooting/resetting thanks to the abundance of glitches and errors that I’d experience. All that nonsense was long forgotten by the time I had my Samsung Galaxy S6 as there was just no need for it any more – the ‘bloatware’ was less of an impact and the device performance was top notch thus negating the need for root (in my case anyway). Rooting this was pretty straight forward – no ‘Odin’ or side-loading via ADB. It still felt quite alien having to do it and the fact it has made no immediate difference to the actual performance was really disheartening.
My main use for the device is audio streaming. The ‘Alexa’ and ‘Gooogle Home’ features (or lack thereof) are not really deal breakers for me. I just wanted it to stream my podcasts on ‘Pocket Casts’ seeing as they sync across my devices. Well, so I thought. Although, that misgiving is not the fault of ‘Clazio’ but of ‘Pocket Casts’ itself. Anyway, for the most part it does this pretty well. Aside from the sync issues, the audio playback is good.
Based on the aforementioned helpful chappie on Facebook, I also installed the ‘SquareHome2 Launcher’ which gives it a more ‘Windows’ feel. But then I ran afoul of a fairly annoying bug – if I am in ‘Pocket Casts’ and I am playing a podcasts and then press the home key, there is a very long delay with a black screen and the audio stops. After the screen comes back, the only way around it is to go back into ‘Pocket Casts’, start the podcast again and then press the virtual button for running tasks and then tab outside of any of the tiles to go back to my home screen without disrupting my audio. What a palaver.
Battery life is something I can’t make a fair comment on, purely because my device is playing audio almost all day. However, I did install’Battery Monitor’ so I can keep my eye on it when it’s off charge so I know when to plug it in – I typically leave it in the kitchen so seeing the battery remotely is very handy!
The design itself is quite nice. It feels quite sturdy and looks funky. The remote feels a tad cheap, though.
On the whole, if I had spied this in the shops I certainly wouldn’t have shelled out £114 on it. As many others have said, a Kindle Fire tablet operates better than this. I struggle with the latency between screens without really attempting anything close to multitasking and it cannot cope. The video is a great marketing technique but most of what you see is after-effects and proof of concept as opposed to actual use.
It was also touted as the first hybrid device of its nature – a claim I won’t hold them to but it’s another falsehood nonetheless as there are plenty other devices out there and the manufacturer apparently has done this a means of re-branding/publicity for an existing product of theirs.
TL;DR: it was nowhere near worth the wait, it’s worth less than half the amount it actually cost, it has put me off funding any other projects on crowd funding and it is capable of no more than what I am using – and mainly intended to use it for – a radio with wi-fi.