I love to cook. I store most of my recipes in Evernote, so when making unfamiliar dishes I always need access to a smart device. Usually I’ll walk back and forth between the kitchen countertop and dining room table where my laptop sits, checking ingredients as I work. That’s all changed since I got the Astak Neos Android Tablet.
The Neos is a 15.6″ touchscreen multi-angle screen orientation tablet for people “who want more than a tablet but less than a PC for their shared home space”. It is great for internet browsing, playing games, listening to music, watching or listening to streaming content, making video calls, and yes — even as a high-tech cookbook.
|OS||Android 4.1 Jelly Bean|
|CPU||TI OMAP 4430 1GHz|
|LCD||15.6 inch wide 1366×768|
|Wireless LAN||802.11 b/g/n|
|Card Reader||1 for SD and MMC|
|I/O Ports||USB x 1, 35mm stereo audio jack|
|Camera||5 M Pixels, autofocus with tilt|
|Speakers||Onkyo Stereo Loudspeakers 5-Watt|
Included in the box are the Astak Neos tablet, a power cable, and a microfiber screen cloth.
The Neos is an all in one product — it’s a tablet with dual 5-watt Onkyo speakers and a 5 megapixel camera — that can be set up in a high horizontal position or turned around for a lowered horizontal orientation. Each way that you can use the screen comes in handy, depending upon what you are doing and whether you are sitting or standing while using the Astak Neos.
Measuring 15.25″ wide x 10.2″ tall x 4″ deep at its widest point; the Neos weighs 7.3 pounds, making it substantial enough to be poked and prodded by little (or big) fingers without being knocked over. The body is composed of glossy white plastic, and while it does attract fingerprints, dust, and lint, so far it hasn’t been quite as obnoxious as a black glossy case would be.
On the back there is 3.5mm audio jack, an SD/MMC card slot, the power port, a USB port (for connecting to peripheral devices such as a mouse or Keyboard (but not an external memory device), a LAN port, and the power button.
The Neos is meant to be plugged in and left on, it is not designed to be a mobile device, and there is no internal battery. When the need arises to turn it off, you should always hit the power button rather than simply pulling the cord. Just as you could with any other Android tablet or phone, the screen can be set to turn off after a certain period of inactivity, or you have the option of it always being on.
Neos can download and work well with just about any Android app in the Google Play store — if the app renders properly in landscape mode, it will work well on the Neos. I did run into a couple of Indian food cookbook apps that were for portrait orientation only, so I’ll either have to keep looking for another Indian food app, or I’ll just search the web for my next curry recipe.
Standing in its tallest position, the Neos is fantastic for video chats, watching movies on Netflix or HBO Go (or whatever streaming app you prefer), or simply listening to Pandora or Spotify. Neos is also a great kitchen timer, picture frame, and family calendar. It’s great for playing games like Plants vs. Zombies or Cut the Rope, and if you have kids or grandkids in the house, they will love having access to such a treasure trove of (mostly) free Android games. Don’t expect too much from these speakers, though; while they sound much better and louder than any other tablet’s (or laptop’s, for that matter), and while they are great for gaming or for listening to music while cooking, they aren’t going to produce the deep, rich, bassy sound that you would get from a higher-end speaker dock.
When you are standing at the counter, cooking and checking ingredients, answering email, checking Facebook, or whatever it is that we all do when looking at a tablet screen in the kitchen, the Neos really shines in its lowered position. The screen rotates to the correct orientation almost immediately when the device is turned, and the screen is now easily viewed and tapped on from above.
I’ve used the Neos in both the higher and lower positions while cooking, I guess it just depends on what you are doing and how much counter space you are willing to give up at the time as to which you’ll prefer. What I am really looking forward to is using it while cooking Thanksgiving dinner. We usually have anywhere from 15 – 20 people over, and while Kev cooks the turkey outside, I’m in charge of all of the side dishes, casseroles, and desserts. It can get crazy in our kitchen. (understatement)
The Neos press release calls the device “durable and spillproof for use in the kitchen, family room/den or in any room of the home,” but of course care should be taken not to get it wet. I’ve already used it as a cookbook several times, and the one time batter splashed, it was easily wiped right off.
The Neos is, in some ways, the perfect device for a variety of users in a variety of situations. If you have kids or grandkids that you don’t quite trust with your iPad or Android tablet, then this is a device that you can set them up on and walk away without worrying too much about it being dropped or manhandled; it’s not really portable, so they aren’t going to be walking around with it. If you have an elderly parent or grandparent who doesn’t understand computers, but who wants to be connected to email, Facebook, Pinterest, and Words with Friends, then this is a near bullet-proof setup to put them on. If you want a family device that everyone can check shared schedules upon or even to take into a different room for watching a show when the family television is tied up, then the Neos is an excellent option.
And if you are in my situation, where you have a computer or tablet that you don’t necessarily want to use in the kitchen, but you still need access to all of your apps, documents, email, social media, etc. while you are cooking, then this might be the perfect device for you. So far it has been for me.
The Astak Neos is not just a 15.6″ Android tablet on a stand; it is a multi-purpose all-in-one smarthome device that can educate, communicate, manage, and entertain without the assistance of a stand, an external keyboard, or a separate set of speakers. The Neos looks great, it sounds good, and it works extremely well in this capacity. I don’t have a lot of spare counter space in my kitchen, but I’ve made a permanent place for this device.
The Astak Neos Android Tablet is available starting today through a network of online retail partners including Amazon, Ebay, Sears and at Astak.com.
What I Like: All-in-one device that consolidates a huge Android tablet with speakers and a built-in stand; perfect for the kitchen or family room; great mini-computer for someone who doesn’t need anything complicated; can accept external SD/MMC memory cards
What Needs Improvement: The speakers aren’t as loud as I would like