Editor's note: This device may or may not be available in Australia; our M-003 was purchased from a Shanghai market.
With its white shell and large screen this device could be the iPad that never was. Unfortunately, its plastic resistive screen with wavy edges, plastic body and 750RMB (AU$120) price tag mark it out as something inspired by the designers from Cupertino, California, but not actually from the house that Steve built.
The M-003, as its makers have dubbed it, stands 220mm tall, 180mm wide and 18mm thick. That makes it smaller, but fatter than the real thing. The differences in dimension come largely down to the smaller 7.9-inch screen — a real first-gen iPad has a 9.7-inch display. The fake iPad's display isn't only missing inches from its resume, it also does without the clarity, vibrancy and sheer number of pixels of the original — 800x600 versus 1024x768. There's an accelerometer on board to judge when the device is being held in landscape or portrait mode, but orientation switching is a lucky dip with long odds of success.
The resistive display requires a firm finger before the M-003 will register the user's intentions. Swiping motions are hard to convey, especially on screens — such as the applications tab — that are filled with buttons. Though the keys on the unit's virtual keyboard are quite large, typing is a laborious task for even the simplest of URLs with extreme care and lots of fingernail use the order of the day.
The required level of force and the frustrating number of errors makes using the M-003 an extremely tiring experience, both on one's patience and one's fingers. Given the difficulty operating the device with a single finger, it's almost a relief that it doesn't support multi-touch gestures, such as pinch to zoom.
One of the few plus points for the M-003 is its packaging. Despite the fact that it promises a real iPad, and the printing and image quality aren't up to scratch, it is significantly easier, with its side-hinged top, to open than the real iPad's box.
The back of the fake iPad proudly boasts 64GB of storage, but unfortunately the reality is that the M-003 has between 1 and 1.5GB of usable space. This can be expanded via a microSD card or USB flash storage, the connectors for which lie along the bottom edge of the device. Unlike Apple's iPhone and iPad range, the file system is open to user exploration, both on the device itself or via a connected computer.