Chinavasion have recently added instructions for upgrading their cool Excalibur smartphone to Android 2.1. for anyone who purchased it early and got the 1.6 version missing the Android Marketplace. We quite liked the Excalibur when it was running 1.6, and 2.1 is definitely an improvement.
The instructions are fairly simple however they didn’t work for me, I had use the second lot of directions further down the page and reflash it using the ROM Update Tool (RUT) but 20 minutes later I was downloading apps from the Marketplace and surfing YouTube on the phone.
The ROM has some nifty stuff in it including the Astro file browser, a barcode scanner, Google Goggles, an imitation weather flipclock widget and dedicated Twitter and Facebook apps. I tried out a couple of Xvid players (ArcMedia and yxPlayer) and both of them worked … sort of. They could play the SD XviD files ok, but only at about 10 frames per second and the audio kept getting out of sync. Not really usable. Just to add insult to injury, MP4 file playback is horrendous. Recoded TV and movies won’t play with any sound and even low frame videos (from other phones) play back very slowly before the sound dies and the movies shudder to a halt. It can however play back any movies you record using the Excalibur’s camera. I’m not quite sure why the video playback support is so bad, the 600MHz CPU should be enough to run these kinds of videos. At least you’ve got YouTube videos, and even on HQ they play back very nicely.
The Excalibur feels (and looks) like a new phone, it’s much faster and to be honest Android 2.1 is showing up the limitations of the resistive touch-screen, the dragging is a bit rough and sensitivity seems a bit hit-and-miss but it’s definitely still usable. The problems just weren’t as noticeable while running on 1.6. The Bluetooth audio stuttering problem I described is gone, but unfortunately so is the tethering software that used to work quite well. The SD card mounting works fine or you can use any of the file browsers that can see your Wifi for wireless file transfers.
The photo gallery looks great with its baked-in Cooliris mojo and it hooked straight into my Picasa web albums and displayed those photos as well. Nifty and a little scary.
So there you have it, the Excalibur running Android 2.1 is pretty awesome. If you purchase the Excalibur now from Chinavasion with Android 2.1 on it I have no idea what apps you’ll be getting, as the ROM I reviewed came from a link on Chinavasion’s blog. Still definitely worth purchasing or upgrading but the lack of video support is a major downer.
If you have already bought an Excalibur before the manufacturer upgraded it to Android 2.1+ Google Apps, don’t worry, all is not lost! Soon I’m going to show you how to upgrade, but if you’re still unsure whether it’s worth doing then read on for why!