GTabComb vs Illuminate HC vs Flashback HC


Outdated Article!

This entire series of articles is deprecated! Newer ROMs and advanced procedures have replaced (or made obsolete) the information in these articles. This article is retained only for archival purposes.

Please check out our NEWER series of articles on the ViewSonic G-Tablet: http://bishoptec.com/series/gtab-2/

Which Honeycomb ROM works best on the GTab?

I have not tried every version “out there” but I can give a brief review of the comparison of three primary ROMs: Flashback (version 9.0) developed by TLBardellJr,  GTabComb beta 3.3 (HC 3.0.1) developed by Zyhong, Illuminate Alpha 3.0 (HC 3.0.1) developed by LinuxBoxSolutions (in order of preference.)

UPDATE October 17, 2011: After upgrading to Flashback a10.0, I have added it’s benchmarks (and removed FB 7.0).

UPDATE October 12, 2011: I switched BACK to Flashback (version 9.0) and it is fast. However, it does NOT take any benchmark records! To be fair, I am running it at 1336Mhz against the others which were running at a full 1400Mhz. This is due to the Clemsyn Kernel #66 which does not allow for even numbered speeds. The next click up from 1336Mhz is 1472Mhz and since I have previously had overheating issues, I chose to take the lower value. See my review of Flashback 9.0 here: http://bishoptec.com/2011/10/flashback-9-0-for-gtab/

UPDATE August 5, 2011: I have been running the Flashback Alpha 7.1 (HC3.0.1), developed by TLBardellJr, for the past day or so and I will add its benchmarks. I will also add a paragraph at the end with my observations of Flashback compared to the others.


For the past week or so, I have been using the Zyhong version of Honeycomb. Although I was having some “lockup” issues, I was pretty satisfied with it. However, some users have questioned WHY I chose that version rather than the Illuminate version? Well, last night, I did a full wipe of my GTab (formatted the System, Data, and Cache) then loaded the Illuminate version to see if it is any better.

One interesting thing about the Illuminate ROM, is that it comes in a different format from most other ROMs. It is packaged into a RAR file (vs the normal ZIP file). In order to install it (after the full wipe mentioned previously), I extracted the UPDATE.ZIP and RECOVERY folders from the RAR file. Then I copied those files to the 14Gig INTERNAL SD Card’s root (which I had formatted.) After moving the files, I turned the GTab off and then rebooted into recovery (Power and Vol + buttons). Either the STOCK recovery or the ClockworkMod recovery would work to flash the Update.zip file. Since I did not format the “Boot” partition, my copy of ClockworkMod v3.0.2.8 was still working and I used the “apply sdcard:update.zip” option to flash the ROM.

After the flash, Illuminate booted up much quicker  than I expected. I did not measure the time but it seemed to be about 2 minutes. The initial flash of GTabComb takes about 6 minutes (measured). The second thing that I noticed about Illuminate was that it opened into the normal home screen. With GTabComb, you are presented with the Android setup. I don’t know if it was an intentional programmed decision or if my install failed in some way. In either case, a day later and I have not gotten any responses back on the XDA forum for Illuminate.

The support on the Illuminate forum appears to be a bit more “agitated” than in other forums. There was an on-going argument about whether the developer had “stolen” some of the code from another dev. It became pretty difficult to follow any real thread due to the battle that generated more posts than the support issues did. Perhaps that is why I never seemed to get any response from any of the existing users or the developer.

The problem of Illuminate NOT using the initial Android setup is that none of “MY APPS” from the Market were restored. I tried to link my account in the “privacy” settings to “backup” and “restore” but it would not allow me to assign my account. I tried to use the online version of the Market to REMOTELY install my apps but that also failed. Some apps just did not seem to want to install at all. After a few hours, I determined that the apps would install only if I cancelled all prior downloads and installed them one at a time. Very frustrating. Also, some of the Google apps (e.g, gallery)  would not work correctly even after I connected to my Google account. Some of my Picasa albums were displayed while many others showed zero pictures.

One app that was nice was Netflix. It appeared on the Market and installed and worked properly without any “tricks.” However, although Pulse would install and appear to work, when you try to read individual articles, it just displayed a blank screen. I could not get YouTube to display any of my videos (or any others). Nothing using Flash appeared to work for me.

Finally, I got a reasonable number of my apps installed and began to test it. The first thing that I noticed at that point was how SLUGGISH the entire system was. When entering data in the search box, I could thumb type a full word before the first character appeared in the box. I did a bit of checking and found that Illuminate did NOT overclock the CPU. It was running at 1000mhz. So, I loaded up SetCPU and turned it up to 1400Mhz. The system picked up but still seemed to be less responsive than GTabComb.

With the CPU set to 1400Mhz, I did some benchmarks. They were all over the place. Here is a comparison chart:

Benchmark   GTabComb - Illuminate - Flashback9.0 - Flashback 10.0
      SmartBench 2011

If you can make any sense out of that, please tell me.  I continue to be confused by the mixed benchmark results of the various ROMS on the same hardware. All tests were done with a full charge on the battery and with the CPU set to 1400Mhz. GTabComb won with Quadrant big-time but Flashback won LinPack! And the Smartbench marks are divided with Illuminate winning the Index tests by a wide margin but Flashback winning 3 of the 5 Application Tests. But, WHY? Why are the results so unclear?

After boosting the CPU frequency to 1400Mhz, I began to get the “lockup” issues on Illuminate that I had previously experienced while using GTabComb and later experienced with Flashback. With that bit of insight, I determined that the problem is likely overheating due to overclocking. After the benchmark tests, I dropped the frequency back to 1200Mhz and I have not yet had it happen again. Even at 1200, the Illuminate ROM began having random shutdown issues. I saw on the forum that others were also experiencing the issue and it had been present in previous version of Illuminate.

Bottom Line: I found almost everything about the Illuminate ROM to be less desirable than either of the other ROMs. I am hard pressed to find a single thing that to complain about using GTabComb. Flashback was about the same as GTabComb and even though it won out with most of the benchmarks, it felt a bit less responsive than GTabComb.

  • Even after overclocking, Illuminate seemed to be sluggish. I cannot explain the good benchmarks but it FELT slow and everything seemed to drag.
  • Applications did not restore automatically and some were very difficult to get to install manually. Several apps that work fine on the other two ROMs would not work in Illuminate.
  • Random shutdowns interrupted use at odd times.
  • The Illuminate support forum seemed less-than-friendly and no one there responded to my requests. The debate in the forum appeared to be at least partly because of a confusion over how to get support for the ROM.
  • PURELY subjective! I did not like the look or the feel of the Illuminate ROM.

Flashback Summary: 

I felt that the Flashback ROM was just a little less responsive than GTabComb and a bit more responsive than Illuminate. But all of that is entirely subjective.

  • I experienced one lockup with Flashback, while playing a YouTube video (@ 1400Mhz).
  • It seemed that Flash works a little better in Flashback than with the other two ROMs (subjective)
  • The initial setup went pretty much like it did with GTabComb and all paid apps were restored.
  • Bluetooth works properly.
  • Netflix, Pulse, and all other apps that I tried worked.
  • My USB keyboard works.

All-in-all, I found very little difference between Flashback and GTabComb. It is just my feeling that GTabComb is a bit more responsive. So, I would recommend EITHER GTabComb or Flashback to any users who wish to flash a Honeycomb ROM on their GTab.

ADDED: If you want to try a new ROM, it is pretty simple. 

Do NOT attempt to follow this guide if you have never flashed a custom ROM to your device before. Instead visit our “How to Flash Honeycomb” page to start.

  1. Be sure to download a version that uses the same bootloader that you have installed (1.1 or 1.2)
  2. In ClockworkMod, do a full BACKUP & save it to some external storage device
  3. In CWM, Reset to Factory, Wipe the Cache, Wipe the Dalvik, Partition the SD to 2048/0, & Format System, Data, & Cache
  4. Copy the new ROM to the root of the internal SD Card
  5. In CWM, Flash the new ROM & Reboot
  6. Setup the new ROM and check it out

If you don’t like it

  1. In CWM, Reset to Factory, Wipe the Cache, Wipe the Dalvik
  2. Copy your Backup files back to the internal SD Card
  3. In CWM, do a RESTORE & then reboot

You will be right back where you were when you did the backup – no setup needed.

Your comments are always welcome.

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