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back to article Dixons Advent Vega

I had not had the Advent Vega out of the box for more than half an hour when I felt a very strong urge to fling the thing across the Reg Hardware office. Advent Vega Dixons' Advent Vega: rather long and thin I took receipt of the 10.1in tablet on the day Apple was due to announce the iPad 2. If the Vega is anything to go by, …

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Anonymous Coward

I thought...

that homescreen rotate was missing from the standard Android homescreen anyway? Its one of the reasons I moved to another homescreen app.

AFAIK the Vega is not a phone, so does not pass the Android minimum spec, so does not haev access to the market. Unless I'm wrong a bit of basic research would have been nice for both these issues.

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Stop

so?

Thats ok then, now that you have explained that too me I can forgive it for not having acrobat reader, or some mapping software, or perhaps a different UI that I can download, or maybe a game.

Wait a min I cant install anything from marketplace so it is practically useless....

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Anonymous Coward

Crap?

All I have heard for months is that this is the 'go-to' Android Tablet. Cheap *AND* good.

Without rooting the thing it looks a little crap to me?

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Slightly dodgy

Not to mention that by installing the custom firmware with the Google marketplace you're effectively installing unlicenced or pirated software.

Google marketplace is only available to devices made by manufacturers that have licenced it. The Advent does not have a licence to use it, hence it isn't there. The custom firmware has obviously had a copy of the Google marketplace application copied into it and that software has been lifted from a licenced device.

So not only do you need to be a techie to use this thing properly you also need to infringe on a software licence to get it to run decent software.

There's another reason why it is £250.

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Crap? ?

What part of "Dixons" did you not spot?

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Paris Hilton

Hacker?

Sticking some extra apps on the tablet hardly counts as hacking - as well call someone a hacker for installing MS Office on a Windows PC while putting a custom ROM on is about as tricky as a reboot.

All that said, thanks for the poor review, it might get the thing discounted quickly and in time for my summer holidays ;-)

Does it have a GPS? (or a-GPS)

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Anonymous Coward

Worse than hacker, pirate...

Google's apps, including Android Market are closed source and licensed by Google.

In the case of Cyanogen mod Google started but agreed not to pursue further legal action because it could be considered that these apps were restored from a backup of the original firmware.

In the case of the Advent Vega these apps never came in the original ROM, you don't hold a license from Google, so by adding them later you're effectively pirating Google's software and may be legally prosecuted for copyright infringement.

Plus the apps are even telling Google you're doing it.

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does it have gps?

No but you can tether it to a built in gps on your phone or bluetooth it to an external gps

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What I love about Android

If you don't like the current OS build you can change it yourself.

http://android.modaco.com/content/advent-vega-vega-modaco-com/324099/modaco-custom-r6-discussion-archive/

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Sounds good to me

Actually sounds like a great device for the money, especially since installing a custom ROM is easy now I have done it a couple of times. For the money and a little time spent reading how to root it it seems like a bit of a rare bargain!

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I cry foul!

A quick scan of the archos 101 review reveals that one of the reviewers biggest gripes - lack of market support - is also an issue with the archos tablet, yet the reviewer skims over it as it is easily installable via a third party website. So, the outdated single core archos with only 256MB ram gets a higher score than the vega.

Secondly, this thing is unbrickable, so not matter if you put custom firmwares on there, or even linux distros such as ubuntu, you can ALWAYS get back to stock if you need to send it back. So you don't have to worry about the warranty. Not that I expect it would be an issue anyway as DSG are well aware of the vega community as modaco and are actively encouraging it, as it helps them to sell more devices without breaking googles android apps licensing restrictions.

Thirdly, the actual hardware is made by shuttle, and as such there are are various companies rebadging this thing, several of whom have promised Honeycomb within the next few months. And given the Tegra 2 chipset, the vega is just as capable of running Honeycomb as the Motorola Xoom, but at half the price.

I had a vega myself for a while but one of the speakers failed and after getting it refunded I decided to wait and see what the xoom would be like. Overpriced is the answer, so I will be picking up a new vega as soon as I have the funds again.

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Go

hmmmm

I was waiting for the Xoom but if it is true about exploring the potential of the Vega I may just have to jump in and buy one. I resisted rooting my NexusOne because it is pristine and official. But at this price I can afford the hardware and fix the software!

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market

I have the Archos 101 and put Market on it. No doubt it will be just as easy on this. Looks like a bargan to me.

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Spotted that as well

Just read the review of the Vega and went and checked the Archos review also. Has the author deliberately slated the Vega due to the fact in almost every tablet story there are comments recommending the Vega and critiscising El Reg for not reviewing it?

There is no consistency between the two reviews at all, the Archos scores 85% without Android Marketplace and is even praised for a workaround to get access. the Vega is slated for having a workaround. The Vega is also slated for having a widescreen display, doesn't the Archos 101 have a widescreen display yet where was the mark down for it? I couls have sworn that most tablets are widescreen so will they ALL get a mark down for this?

Out the box both of these tablets can NOT have the marketplace as they are tablets not phones, so therefor do not have 3G or GPS.

If you want a capacitive screen 10" tablet, I'm sorry Reg, but the Vega seems to be far and away the best value for money device out there.

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XOOM

to be fair the XOOM has a very nice screen. Better than the iPad2.

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Anonymous Coward

Hacking

>Installation is straightforward on a Mac or Linux box, less so under Windows

Even under Windows its not really all that difficult download a zip file and reboot. Since it notably ships already rooted, seems like they almost want you to do this.

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FAIL

Don't wait for a software upgrade...

There's no point saying this thing could be improved by shipping it with marketplace. Google won't certify an Android 2.2 device that doesn't meet their minimum hardware requirement, so it'll never get marketplace. Further, Dixons/Advent won't be updating the firmware to a later version of Android because there is no money to be made in doing so...

They're relying on people not understanding what is present, what is missing, and how hard it will be for Joe Public to work that out before the opportunity to return it has been lost. I think the reviewer is being too kind.

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Gulfie

Tit.

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Anonymous Coward

@Gulfie

>Further, Dixons/Advent won't be updating the firmware to a later version of Android because there is no money to be made in doing so...

MoDaCo is already better than anything they were likely to come up with - aside from better performance, newer version of Flash etc it also includes all the Google Apps which Advent will never be allowed to put there.

>They're relying on people not understanding what is present, what is missing

Perhaps they are shipping it pre-rooted to people who actually understand what Android is - certainly the case for the half-dozen folk I know who've bought one and are rather more than happy with the deal.

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Heard that before

"They're relying on people not understanding what is present, what is missing, and how hard it will be for Joe Public to work that out before the opportunity to return it has been lost"

Same business model, then, as flogging axle-grease spreads "made with buttermilk for a butter-like taste" and relying on the punters not knowing that buttermilk is the stuff you throw away after making butter.

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Stop

Sorry don't buy that...

People who know what they are doing will root/reflash or just add marketplace manually. What does the majority of DSG customers do - you know, the ones who aren't computer savvy like the El Reg readers?

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soda bread

needs buttermilk, as do scones. mmm, scones, mmm.

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Is it "normal" DSG customers who're buying the Vega though?

Or do they continue to flock to the fruity-themed section of the store, leaving the path to the Vega shelf clear for those of us who recognise a serious bargain when we see one...

As tech-savvy individuals I suspect we all could tell a tale or ten about overpriced/underspecced tat being flogged to the unwary by DSG, but from time to time they do actually punt something which is genuinely decent value and worthy of a second look. The Vega is such a thing.

The only concern I have for the future of the Vega and similarly reasonably priced Android tabs is that with the release of iPadeux, there's going to be a fair few first-gen iPads hitting the second hand marketplace at prices that will be tempting to anyone who was only put off getting one because of the RRP, and doesn't care too much about how much control they have over their devices. We're even seeing the price of brand new first-gen iPads dropping to the point where they're starting to encroach into this sector - only £60 between the price of a 16GB Archos 101 and a 16GB iPad, that's going to tempt more people to pay the extra for the Apple than when the difference was into three digits...

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Flame

Why widescreen?

As it's widescreen, it's now too damn narrow for portrait usage.

All designs are a compromise. Obviously this compromises on day-to-day usability for watching films.

Meh.

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Alert

@ Tony Smith - higher score

"Had it all that functionality out of the box, the Vega would have scored a lot more highly."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How much more highly? Given the userbase here, I'd wager that most of us would happily stick a new ROM on to a device like this, especially given how clear the instructions appear to be. (.stu - agree on the Achos comparison!)

I toyed briefly with one of these in Currys on saturday - responsiveness seemed spot on, and viewing angle in landscape (i.e. the one I'd use most) also fine. It wasn't networked so couldn't test browsing/flash support.

For £250 it feels like a bargain. If they manage to port Honeycomb to it (no obvious reason why not IMO) then I will likely be grabbing one!

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Anonymous Coward

It's a consumer device...

and should be reviewed as such, which is exactly what Tony Smith has done. He has gone further by indicating what need to be one to make the device useful. Great for geeks, not so good for the average user. reading the review, 65% is generous.

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Grenade

flash.

then why does the iPad ( wont work with many websites that use flash ) get high scores?

A non-techie wont understand what flash is. Just that the iPad doesnt work.

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FAIL

If you haven't realised this yet...

most El Reg readers ARE geeks.

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Flash is proprietary

Don't you get it yet?

Why on earth should the WWW be reliant on a piece of software from Adobe? If it was Silverlight I'm sure everyone would be up in arms at Microsoft controlling the web. Adobe want to sell their very overpriced software tools, so aren't really any better.

Standards are what made the Internet usable and decent, relying on proprietary plugins, patented technology and so on just ruins things.

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Anonymous Coward

@"most El Reg readers ARE geeks."

I know! And that's my point. The tone of the article was "Alright if you are a geek, not so good for consumers *who the device is **actually** targeted at*. So, be clever and make your own own judgement based on what Tony has told you. If geeks that read this disagree and go and buy an Advent tablet then cool beans to them. It sound like a neat toy for tweaking and fiddling about with. I'd *question* a geek buying Advent kit TBH; my experiences of Advent kit have only ever been bad, as with the rest of DSG's output. It doesn't change the fact that OOTB, the thing is a slab of bolts only worthy of a 65% score, and a generous score at that!

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For £250

I think I'd probably just buy a netbook. Slower, and less battery life, but at ;east I can install any "app" that I want without having to do any rooting etc.

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Stop

Bad for Joe, good for me

In some ways the Vega is an amateurish attempt at a tablet, the Archos is presented much more professionally, I've had both and the Vega wins as long as your prepared to get your hands dirty.

For Joe public, I imagine DSG have a large returns rate, it really isn't suitable as it stands. DSG could Install and market it as an ebook reader, with extras.

But it's £250 and a bargain for me, but not for most I suspect.

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returns?

>I imagine DSG have a large returns rate

So we can get them cheaper still? Oh no, it's Dixons, who tried to sell me a returned laptop for £2 less than a new one.

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Headmaster

You only did half a review there...

.....so you got to the bit where you can install the Modaco custom rom, but didn't really explain any of the benefits. I have an Advent Vega, and went in eyes open that a little bit of time with the device and I'd have a properly flexible tablet.

With the Modaco rom you can enable the (fullsize) USB port in host mode: the benefits are numerous. Plug in any old USB key to transfer and view files - check. Plug in a mouse/keyboard - check. Plug in and surf using a 3G dongle - check. Options for expanding the memory - SDHC card and USB storage. Options for extending the iPad memory - err, buy another iPad?

All the usual consideration about openness of Android v walled Apple approach. Example: I can easily swap video content from laptop to desktop to tablet with no need for recoding and formatting, it just works.

Granted the screen isn't going to blow your mind, but it is more than good enough. The underlying hardware is futureproofed for Honeycomb. I chose the form factor BECAUSE it was 16:9, for me, video on the iPad is a bit old-school, with its letterboxing of widescreen footage.

I could not justify spending the massive fines that Apple imposed on the iPad, and nor did I want to. My use case suits the Vega, and so did the price. I would therefore change the scores as follows:

Review based on people who want a cheaper ipad: 65%

Review based on people who can operate a PC and want a decent Android tablet: 85%. (loses points for screen quality).

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FAIL

FAIL comparison

why would you compare the vega with the iPad 2 when:

1) the vega is made by dixons

2) the price difference is almost £150, which all your gripes against the cheap plastic back, the smudgy front glass can stuff it somewhere else.

3) as the advent vega's official website (myadventvega.co.uk) has acknowledged, the developer community is vibrant with updates to improve the system, whereas iPad is a closed box, and would not allow anyone to improve the system usability.

Your modaco comment comes too late in your review.

Majority of reader would have been switched off by your so negative comment on the 1st page.

you better average your experience out of the box with the modaco experience to get a more presentable score. 65% is a disgrace!

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Reviewing the "out of the box" experience...

....seems fair enough to me.

If you bought a wireless router and the signal was terrible, connection kept dropping out etc, and you had to go to a third party website to get some unofficial software to make it work well, then it ought to get a bad score.

If it came with duff software, but immediately connected and prompted you to do an official update from the manufacturer, then that's a different matter.

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but

why (then) did the archos score wildly better? It has *more* failings than this vega out of the box and scored higher because of tweakability?

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WTF?

Crap Advent hardware shock!

Oh Noes, surely not...

Oh hang on, you said Advent, ok, move along nothing to see...

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Except

The review said the HW was pretty good, and its was let down by the software.

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FAIL

rubbish review

If the reviewer had even bothered to do a quick google search he would find that installing a custom firmware that enables ALL of the missing features he moans about takes no more than 10 minutes (and is pretty much click-n-go). Mine is running the latest MoDaCo ROM (thanks Paul!) and it runs sweet as a nut, with a lot of added extras thrown in (Titanium Backup anyone?).

At less than half the price of an iPad or Motorola Xoom (which uses the same processor) I cant understand how this gets such a low score.

The reviewer is obviously wetting himself in anticipation of getting his shiny iPad 1.5 in a few weeks

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JDX
Gold badge

cum-tablet?

I guess now it can play video...

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Works great for me

I have had the Vega for about 2 months now. The tablet does not need rooting or any complicated upgrade procedures. Granted, I am a techie, but it took me 5 minutes to download the software and run an .exe file that did all the work. This added both flash and marketplace and it works like a charm.

One of the coolest features is the HDMI port which means that you can even watch video on any HD TVs. I particularly like being able to use Crunchyroll's Anime streaming app on my TV.

The review seems rushed and prejudiced. If I were you, I would give it another proper try before discarding it.

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Bronze badge

Maplin has an Android 2.1 tablet for about £129.

It has most of the same disadvantages, including Google actively labouring to exclude and disable your use of Android Market if you hack you way into it. But yes, you don't need Market to install applications - only most of them, that aren't offered any other way.

I think I read that many of the cheap not-a-phone Android tablets also use a microprocessor that later Android versions aren't being provided for, which seems to imply that an upgrade won't happen. Using a strange processor isn't a problem for apps which are compiled in Google's hardware-independent looks-a-lot-like-Java language, Davros, but it's liable to mean that your object of cheapskate techno-lust will not be updated beyond what comes in the box and what's already compatible.

But twas ever thus. Asus promised tablet netbooks with built-in TV receivers, Clive Sinclair told you you could strap any hardware update onto the back of a ZX Spectrum (where I think the port pins connected straight into the Z80 microprocessor itself), Charles Babbage and Hero Of Alexandria never got past the prototype and proof-of-principle stage. Not to mention Leonardo da Vinci, who if any of his stuff worked or even got off paper would have been emperor of the world.

No. What you get for your money is whe!at's in the box, and that's all.

Galaxy Tab owner (but haven't turned it on yet, I believe in the eyes of the law it is a phone, therefore illegal to use driving)

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Happy

To be fair to Sinclair Research...

What they actually said was, approximately, "You can do pretty much anything with a Spectrum you can do with any other Z80-based computer but the hardware may get in the way". The ZX81 manual said much the same thing (I build several third party expansion cards for both and designed and built a couple of my own). In hindsight we got some relatively awesome hardware for our money!

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Bronze badge

I really am glad you enjoyed building your own peripherals, but

Some of us just want to buy an upgrade that clicks into place. And the Sinclair accessories were late, few, and expensive. Modern readers should probably think of them as docking devices. You could buy an "Interface 1" or an "Interface 2". (They did various minor things, look it up.) Oh, and a printer. What a printer: data poked from processor register straight onto thermally sensitive paper, like some current cash registers. But not cash register width, that would be ridiculous and awful. No, the Sinclair printer output was full-size ISO toilet paper width.

Well, it was the early 1980s, and unlike IBM, this personal computer cost less than a car. And on either or both or all of the ZX series, you were encouraged, not forbidden, to use your computer to run a nuclear power station. Only, you would have to build that nuclear power station yourself - like most other conceivable accessories. Or buy a third-party accessory, of course - but that's not the point. Sinclair didn't keep promises.

It's a life lesson.

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Anonymous Coward

Simplicity

I think what most people are looking for in a tablet is SIMPLICITY, at the bare minimum it should come ready to play out of the box.

If this needs users to install a ROM full of pirated Google apps to do anything useful, along with whatever future headaches it may bring, then just get a notebook for almost the same price.

Surely no self-respecting geek hacks around with tablets, they have minimal expansion and most of the really juicy stuff is locked down inside binary kernel blobs.

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Updates required.

Simplicity is a good thing for sales to end users. Until recently the Vega has been sold on-line to enthusiasts who knew exactly what they were getting.

The Open Source nature of Android has really helped these enthusiasts.

Kernel source is made available by the best Android tablet manufacturers (Viewsonic and Advent included) in the knowledge that it will be used. New kernels are relatively easy to create if required because of this.

As has been pointed out already the Google Apps collection won't ever be certified for Android 2.2 on a tablet with no phone functionality. This is apparantly because Google do not want to be responsible for how they behave and appear on the supersized screen of a tablet. However Google do know that they will be used on tablets and take no active efforts to stop it - they could easily stop it, but they don't.

Don't be worried about the implied or potential actions of Google. They know exactly what is going on and whilst not being willing to take direct responsibility for the use of their apps on large screens there is tacit complicity that its going on.

There's an eco-system to be fed here and the market needs all the throughput that it can get even if its not officially recognised.

Screen angles and WiFi modules apart the hardware is bang up to date, at a relatively low price. Once the MoDaCo pack is installed its an iPad killer in many ways, whilst lacking the integrated Apple user experience.

So, if you know you are buying hardware that will require some simple tweaks to make the best of it the Vega is a great tablet (as are several others mentioned in the comments here).

If you want to see an iPad competitor out of the box, then wait for Honeycomb to ship on the hardware.

For the price, if you are in the UK, if you are a techie, its currently unbeatable.

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Joke

Oh dear.

Poor score. that's dreadful news. Reckon DSG will be so upset they'll be dropping the price soon...

(Yay! Bargain!)

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Bronze badge
FAIL

"Only" has 512MB RAM...

Are you kidding me? The original iPad only has 256MB, chances are that the iPad 2 has that or at most 512MB RAM yet this counts as a negative point for a budget tablet? Widescreen is a problem too somehow! Laptops, monitors, TVs, non-Apple tablets ... all new ones are widescreen. Only the iPad has a 4:3 aspect ratio in the market that I'm aware of so again you're comparing it to the iPad when it's a budget tablet and marking it down due to personal preference. It was released in November last year when Honeycomb was still quite a way off so of course it has Android 2.2 and not Android 3.0 but what do you expect?

What happened to reviewing the thing on its own merits? I can only see about half of the review doing that with the majority of the rest being nitpicking. Yes there are bad points about the Vega, it has an awful viewing angle in portrait and not much better (but usable) in landscape, the market is M.I.A. out of the box and like all touchscreens it's a fingerprint magnet. However, the screen is very responsive, it has very good battery life for the price point, it's very easy to install custom ROMs to get Market access and it comes with both a full USB port and HDMI port.

I'd consider about 70% fair for what you get out of the box at this price because if you just want to browse the internet, play videos and listen to music then it's very capable. If you want to put another ROM on it at a later time you get a very functional tablet for over £150 cheaper than an iPad. Not everyone will want to or be able to but if you buy this expecting it to have the market then you've not done your homework in reading up on it. That's not the fault of the Vega though.

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eh?

try reading it again, he's complaining about the storage, not the RAM.

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