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Qooq - The First Culinary Tablet Made For The Kitchen

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A tablet that's right at home in the kitchen, but it's far too expensive for such a limited device

It’s always nice to see a product step out of the mainstream and do something different, and that’s something the Qooq does from the word go. This is a tablet designed solely for one task - to provide a kitchen-proof, digital recipe book for budding Masterchef contestants.

At first blush, you might think that’s daft, but actually it isn’t such a silly premise. Whenever we want to cook something special at home these days, rather than trawl through a book, our first instinct is to pick up a tablet and hit the internet for recipes and expert advice. Admittedly, this isn’t always a brilliant idea: the kitchen is a messy and hazardous place for the average tablet - but the Qooq is designed to take such dangers in its stride.

Qooq tablet

Qooq tablet

For starters, it’s both splash-proof and heat-resistant. At each corner, there are curved metal feet tipped with rubber, so the Qooq can be laid flat on a smooth surface and stay put, keeping the body of the tablet raised above the surface, so you don’t have to worry about spills seeping into open ports.

There’s also a handy kickstand, and, rather than having to hunt around for recipes on the internet, the Qooq comes preloaded with 1,000 from more than 100 “top French chefs” (none of these are household names, however). Recipes can be filtered by a number of parameters: ingredient, dish type, seasonality, difficulty and preparation time. Accompanying each recipe is a list of the equipment you’ll need, and by increasing the number of servings required, the ingredient quantities are adjusted automatically.

More importantly, many of the recipes are accompanied by video instructions on how to carry out tricky techniques.

More importantly, many of the recipes are accompanied by video instructions on how to carry out tricky techniques

It’s like having a recipe book and TV cooking show combined in one. For keen amateurs, this is a boon and can save guesswork and research. The first recipe we tried it out on was a Thai prawn curry, which calls for the preparation of raw tiger prawns: a quick trip to the techniques section found a video demonstrating the correct method for removing the head and shell, and de-veining the crustacean ready for cooking. It’s crammed with similar tutorials, from de-boning a chicken thigh to preparing a Bechamel sauce.

As a kitchen aid, the Qooq is a well-thought-out piece of kit, then. Even its rather clunky-looking Linux-based interface is well-tuned and reasonably light on its feet, and offers useful additional tools such as a kitchen timer that sits in a pull-out side bar, a meal planner and a shopping-list builder.

However, cooking is the limit of the Qooq’s usefulness. It has an email app, internet radio and video and MP3 players, but these are all basic and there’s no way of adding more apps. There’s a web browser as well, which supports Flash, but it scores a mediocre 1,958ms in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark (most modern tablets score 1,500ms or faster), and you’ll soon tire of its slow-motion scrolling and lack of multi-touch zoom support.

However, cooking is the limit of the Qooq’s usefulness

Even if you could load games and other apps on this tablet, the chunky, flexible plastic chassis will put you off whipping it out in public. No matter how rugged Qooq insists it is, the shiny red plastic feels cheap, and the poor quality of the 10.1in, 1,024 x 600 resolution TN screen compounds this impression.

Viewing angles are such that the colors shift significantly when you move away from straight on, and the maximum brightness is only 169cd/m2 with a woeful 245:1 contrast ratio. Battery life is appalling as well: in our looping video test, it lasted a mere 3hrs 13mins with Wi-Fi off and the screen set to half brightness; in the kitchen, we had to leave it plugged in.

The biggest issue with the Qooq, however, is the price. At $462 inc VAT, it’s almost as expensive as a proper 10in Android tablet such as the Nexus 10 (web ID: 378280), and pricier than compact tablets, too. This might be explained had it included an ongoing subscription to new recipes via the internet, for example. However, Qooq expects its customers to pay for that privilege via a $16-per-month, Spotify-style subscription. It’s possible to save money by paying for a year upfront, but that only serves to highlight what poor value the whole package is: paying $158 for extra recipes seems like throwing good money after bad.

The biggest issue with the Qooq, however, is the price

The biggest issue with the Qooq, however, is the price

That, in combination with the rest of its shortcomings - the cheap build quality, the terrible display, the awful battery life and the high purchase price means the Qooq tablet isn’t something we can recommend to anyone other than the most gadget-obsessed cooking fanatic. It’s a shame, since we very much like the idea of a sensibly designed, robust kitchen tablet.

Specifications

·         1GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual-core CPU

·         1.5GB storage

·         101in 1,024 x 600 TFT

·         SD card slot

·         USB

·         10/100 Ethernet

·         Linux-based OS

·         1yr RTB warranty

·         280 x 29 x 183mm (WDH)

·         856g

 

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