GTabComb vs Illuminate HC vs Flashback HC


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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:

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:

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.

HoneycombFor 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 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” 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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24 Responses to GTabComb vs Illuminate HC vs Flashback HC

  1. Jonathan says:

    I have been running flashback HoneyComb since Nov 2011. I was on my tab for about 6hrs straight trying out didnt flash players when the system began telling me I was running out of memory. I checked to make sure and I had more than enough since I also have an external sd card plugin that I store my music, movies, etc on instead of the internal storage. I continue to surf the internet when it began lagging really bad and kept freezing. I then started to get errors and so I began deleting apps to free up space but there was a problem, even unistalling several apps, and then almost all of them the system began to read 0.00 memory then system shut down. I began to get google market place error and then I decided to just restore my backup but it didn’t work. I then decided to try another rom and before I could to that I reboot in recovery by mistake and went into a loop, I fixed that and installed GtabComb and it started after a couple of minutes. I setup and opened marketplace which began to dl all my apps and then I noticed the marketplace changed to playstore which I expected but once the apps were all installed and I accept the google terms I got an error “The application Market (process has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again.” Also if I hit the power button to turn screen off and try to turn it back on I have to try 4-5 times since screen goes back to sleep. Idk if I should reflash, try ICS rom or go back to flashback hc. I did clear data for market and still got error which also brought me back to the old android market and not playstore. It attempts to load but nothing.

    • Jonathan says:

      I got it working. I force stop market, clear data then launched it, it began to update I accepted terms but then same thing happen. I went back to settings apps uninstalled marketplace updates, clear data and force stop again. Marketplace worked then I manually updated to play store through marketplace. Apps started to make tab sluggish so I moved most of them to USB storage and its better. Still thinking about ICS as I’ve been reading a lot and it looks like the builds are coming along. I also updated playbook manually. I also forgot to mention that when my tab froze and restarted I got the wifi error. To fix it I shut down tab, waited about 30 seconds and started it up and it was gone. I noticed that when I run some apps or play store the battery will have a ? mark on it for 3-5 seconds then show battery level again.

  2. Would you consider reviewing the newest Illuminate 3.1 Beta? It would be greatly appreciated! Missing the ability to auto install apps is the major issue I see. Fixing random shutdowns would be nice. Running GtabComb 3.3 is great, but the shutdowns are rough. Thanks for all your hard work!

    • Ray Waldo says:

      If your only issue is shutdowns / lookups, then why not deal with that and not worry about switching? I have run the best custom rom for the gtab (gtabcomb b3.3) for a couple of months without lookups.

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  5. Dave Sass says:


    I spent some time with the Gtab this weekend. First I messed up GTABCOMB by Fixing permissions in CWM. This happened before – caused a recovery boot loop. I could have repaired it, but thought it was a good excuse to try another ROM. A warning to others, do not run “fix permissions” in CWM on the 1.2 version of the software or you may get a recovery boot loop like me.

    First I put on Brilliant Corners. Nice stable ROM, but I quickly missed the Honeycomb based applications along with the look and feel. I then decided to give Flashback beta 8 a try. (Brand spanking new kernel release)

    So far I am very impressed! It is just as responsive as GTABCOMB and seems a little more stable to me. (I did an overclock of (456mhz/1.2ghz) I made sure I increased the System’s partition before installing. This ROM is really coming along nicely and I like the fact that it still has active development going on. To me it feels a bit more polished than GTABCOMB.

    I’m currently trying to figure out how to get Hulu to work on it. Netflix works and Flash videos play through Opera Mobile browser. Some applications still won’t play video though and my favorite game, FARKLE – seems to only do graphics right on Froyo and Gingerbread ROMS.

    All they really have to do is fix the camera, (which really isn’t much good anyway) and get Hardware Video acceleration & (openGL) working and this thing will absolutely Rock!

    I’m going to be staying with Flashback for now since they abandoned development for GTABCOMB.

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Thanks for the report Dave!
      I also switched to Flashback 8.0 this weekend. My experience is similar to yours with a few exceptions:
      1. I did a “fix permissions” from CWM just a few days ago and it worked fine. I have NEVER had an issue with it and do it anytime I start having “force close” issues.
      2. Although I was NOT having any SOD or Lockup issues with gTabComb 3.3 at 350-1200, using the same speeds on Flashback, I *HAVE* (again) started to experience problems. When I have some time, I will do another full format and start fresh and see if it is resolved.
      Everything else is just as you say. I like that FB is still being developed and there is HOPE that the HW Acceleration, Flash, and Camera issues will be resolved soon.
      Who knows, Android 3.2 may be in our future! (Probably after IceCream is released on the big name tabs.) Regardless, the gTab is a great device. I use mine at least 2-3 hours every day.

      • Dave Sass says:


        Not sure what is up with me fixing the permissions with CWM and the recovery boot loops. I have had this happen three times now. I completely wiped the partitions and formatted per your instructions to a tee each and every time.

        If you have any ideas on what is causing this to happen, please let me know. Also – when taking the option to run recovery from the shut down menu it does not take me into recovery. If I use the power on and vol + button it does. Seems like something is messed up but I have cleared everything and formatted multiple times with ROM loads and still end up with these two problems.

        • Ray Waldo says:

          I am sorry. I don’t have a clue why you would still be having problems. AFAIK, you are the first and only person who has done the full wipe and still had problems. I have no other suggestions.
          When you say that you are still having problems with the market, what are you talking about? If I am in a weak Wifi area, the UPDATE function will sometimes fail for me. However, if I move to a stronger location and restart the Market, the update will generally complete.
          Another issue with Flashback (did not appear so difficult with GTabComb) is that it takes several hours for the Market to get all of the apps re-installed and updated. Until then, the entire tab is sluggish and almost non-responsive. You may be seeing that. Just leave it plugged up and turned on near your Wifi AP for a night and see if it works better the next day.
          It is a known issue that the extended power menu option to boot into recovery does not work. I don’t think it works on any of the Honeycomb roms and I am not certain that it works on CM7 (been too long to remember). Bottom line: You don’t have a problem with that.

  6. Bob Krause says:

    Over on XDA this morning I noticed that a new Flashback version has been released with a new Pershoot kernel. I’ve been thinking about moving over to bootloader 1.2 and this looks like it might be a good enough reason to go through all the work. Unfortunately, I’m going to be out of town the next couple of weekends and I won’t have time to work on it. If anyone tries out the newest Flashback, don’t forget to let us know what you think about it.

  7. Dave Sass says:


    Now that you have had Flashback HC on your Gtab for some time I was wondering if you could comment on whether you have found any advantages with it over Gtabcomb. I noticed that there hasn’t been any development on Gtabcomb for at least the last few weeks.

    It still seems to me that the Camera, Hardware Video acceleration, and Flash are still problematic or don’t exist on the HC ROM’s. Do you think these will ever get resolved? The reason why I’m asking is I’m tempted to go back to Froyo to have this functionality. Other than a nicer looking GUI, (and some upgraded application function like “Gmail” I don’t see a huge advantage of being on HC right now since some of the native function of the GTab is missing – mainly HD Video acceleration and the Camera. (Two things I’d like to have working)

    Anyway – I would appreciate your perspective on this.

    I see i have three options right now:

    #1. Stay on Gtabcomb in hopes it will get enhanced and development will continue again.

    #2. Move to Flashback since there seems to be more activity going on with it. (But I’m not convinced there is anything I would gain right now over Gtabcomb.

    #3. Move back to Froyo (Brilliant Corners) which has a build for the 1.2 bootloader, and as far as I can tell, supports all of the native Gtab functionality.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Ray Waldo says:


      You are pretty much on target with everything. I did run Flashback for a couple of days but it started hanging up so I retreated to GTabComb b3.3.

      I believe that HoneyComb does offer some advantages over Gingerbread or Froyo. The CyanogenMod 7.0.3 is stable and the dailies are being built. There is a dev on XDA that is converting them to 1.2bl. See

      I am confident that HC3.2 will be available for the GTab within a couple months. Hopefully, it will be MUCH sooner.

      • Dave Sass says:


        Thanks for the info. I really didn’t like the performance of CM7. (Which is what I had on when I first got the Gtab) Sounds like I should stay put on Gtabcomb 3.3 for a while and see what develops. Other than the things I mentioned in my last post, it has been quite stable. The performance is much better than what I ever got with CM7 – even overclocked.

        I may do a backup of my current Gtabcomb configuration and put Brilliant corners on with the 1.2 bootloader. I’m curious to see how it works. If I don’t like it I can always restore back.

        • Ray Waldo says:

          The CWM backup is rock solid. I have switched a couple times that way. Just Reset & Wipe all caches then Restore and you are back where you were before the backup.

  8. Steve says:

    Ray, Just a follow up. Got Flashback up and running and it is FANTASTIC. MY wife (who has the Xoom) helped me get Netflix on, which was the biggest problem. Flashback is a bit slower than my Vegan 5.5.1, but still very nice. I downloaded CPU MASTER from Market, which lets me overclock (to 1200 mhz), but I have to set it each time I boot up…small price to pay for the performance boost. Thanks for all the help.

    • Ray Waldo says:

      I switched back to GTabComb. I had several lockups with FB. I have not had any with GC. Also, it still seems like FB is a bit slower than GC.

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  10. GitBoxJim says:

    Thanks for your insight and testing between the three roms. My migration path began with Vegan GE Stable RC1 to GtabComb3.2 to GtabComb3.3. I’ve been curious about the other roms but based on your findings, I’m sticking with GtabComb3.3 and I couldn’t be more happier with this Rom! Regarding the camera issue, I use an EyeFi SD card with “direct mode” to transfer pictures from my camera to tablet without wi-fi.

    • Ray Waldo says:

      Always glad to have a happy “customer”!
      As to the pictures, I upload all my pics to with my Google Acct. That way, all pics are already in the gallery of all my devices. It only takes a minute or so to get the thumbnails and a few secs to download any pic that I choose. Same for Google Music (when everyone gets an invite.)

      Don’t envy me because I am smart and good looking… Envy me because I got my Google Music invite! 😉

  11. Russ says:

    I’ve been using gtabcomb for a couple of weeks and I’ve been very impressed with the stability, speed and overall success of this rom. I also had to slow it down to 1200 to make my grab stable.

  12. dontze says:

    did you try HC flashback?
    the development is more aggressive on this rom.
    also it seems their strength is in flash feature.

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