How to root / install custom roms and add Android Market for CVS Craig CMP 738a $75 Android tablet

I just got a very cheap Craig CMP 738a tablet from CVS, and, after the $25 coupon code, the total came to be $75 before taxes. CVS is not a place where you would expect to find hi-tech items, but I wanted a cheap tablet to play with and, after I got bored, to give to my 7 old son without the fear that if he breaks it I’ll be too upset. I played with it for about a week (a full review to follow) but the included software sucks: Slow, no official Google Android market, outdated apps. There are some custom ROMs available (that also come with root access) so I decided to try them, and, since the process of installing a custom ROM is not always easy, I decided to write this tutorial and post clear and easy to follow instructions, documenting each step with screenshots. The benefits of adding a custom ROM is mainly better app compatibility, speed and official Android Market.

1. What is Craig 738a?

Craig 738a is a very cheap tablet that can be purchased at CVS pharmacy for $99. There is always a coupon for $25 off available around the web, so you’ll probably be able to get it for $75. It is an excellent price for the features, although you shouldn’t expect an iPad, Nook Color or anything else like that in terms of quality. For the price however, it is an excellent toy. Here are some technical specs: (interesting to note the microSD slot up to 32GB, HDMI out and USB host capability).

General:

  • 7-inch (800×480, 16:9) with Resistive Digital Touch Screen
  • Screen: 6″ x 3.5″
  • Weight: 13oz
  • CPU – Rockchip RK2818 ARM9 at 622MHz
  • Operating System Android version 2.1 (Froyo)
  • 4 GB Built-in Flash Memory
  • Built in 256MB DDR-ll RAM
  • Built-in WiFi (802.11 b/g)

Connections:

  • Mini HDMI output
  • Mini USB
  • USB Host (Full size USB)
  • Micro SD Card Slot (Support Max. 32GB)
  • Built-in Rechargable Battery (up to 6 hours continuous use)
  • Built-in Speaker and Microphone
  • 3.5mm Stero Headphone Jack
  • 3G Ready (via the included USB Host Connection)
  • 4 Way Accelerometer

2. What is available in terms of custom ROMs?

Currently, there are two custom ROMs available to install on the device, one based on Android 2.1, the other based on Android 2.2. Both of them include the official Android Market and a set of other goodies like Zeam launcher, SpareParts, Amazon Market, ADBWireless, Live Wallpapers, etc. With this occasion, I would like to express my thanks to flushback666 who created the Froyo 2.2 custom ROM (currently at release 0.2) and shad who created the custom ROM based on Android 2.1 (currently at release 4.3). We can enhance our toys thanks to the work of such dedicated people and they deserve our thanks!

I installed both ROMs on my Craig 738a device and after playing for several days with both of them, the Android 2.1 based ROM is faster than the other one, but Amazon Android app store doesn’t work on it. It starts but you can’t use it to install applications. The official Android Market works equally well on both of them. If you need Amazon Android app store, I would recommend installing  Froyo 2.2 based custom ROM, if you need speed, I recommend installing the 2.1 version. The process of installing a custom ROM is the same for both versions so i’ll detail the installation of the first ROM and indicate differences for the second one.

3. Enough talk, show me how to do it

Step 1: Download rktools.zip. rktools is a package that contains a special driver for the devices built RK2818 ARM 9 chip which is what Craig 738a is and also the required tools to upload an image to the above mentioned device. After download, unzip it on your desktop. (Note: Windows only).

Step 2: Download CMP-738a-update-2011-03-15-rls4.3.7z firmware update Release 4.3 for Android 2.1 or the flushs_custom_froyo_rom_cmp738a_v0.2 for Android 2.2 Froyo, depending of your needs. To make things simpler, unzip them in the same folder you unziped rktools.

Step 3: Power off your Craig from the power button. You might also need to turn the power slider in the OFF position. Ensure the USB cable is disconnected.

Step 4: Enter in flashable mode by simultaneously holding down both power and home buttons (middle and bottom while holding the tablet in landscape orientation with the buttons on the right side) then plug the usb cable. The first time you do that it will install the driver. Most probably Windows will not find the proper driver, so when prompted point to the place you unziped rktools->281xDriver folder. If successful, Craig tablet will boot but the screen will remain blank. If it boots normally, go back to Step 3.

cvs_craig_cmp_738a_root_a

cvs_craig_cmp_738a_root_b

Step 5: navigate to the folder containing the rktools and start RKAndroidbatchUpgrade.exe from the folder with the same name. If your Craig tablet is in firmware update mode, you’ll see a green indicator.

cvs_craig_cmp_738a_root_e

Step 6: Select one of the image files you downloaded at Step 2. The extension of the unziped file should be .img.

Step 7: Click Upgrade. It will take some time to send the image file to the device then will perform a second step to verify it.

cvs_craig_cmp_738a_root_g

Step 8: That’s about it, Craig will start installing the new ROM and reboot itself when it is done. Read Step 9 for the initial configuration.

The first boot with the new firmware will take longer so don’t panic. After reboot, you’ll be prompted to re-calibrate the touchscreen sensors and you are good to go. If you are using windows, you’ll also notice that the SD card is mounted automatically and you’ll be able to use it right away in Windows Explorer (for the Android 2.1 image only). You’ll also notice that the device is much more responsive than before.

Step 9. After the first boot, you’ll be prompted to create / configure a Google account. be sure to have one before proceeding. This account will enable you to use the Android Market.

Step 10: You should now have a fully functioning (and much more responsive) tablet for a very low price. Please post your experience / issues for the community use.

Note: It might take a couple of reboots until everything works well. In my case, the Android Market did not work well the first time, and after a reboot it prompted me to agree with the conditions. After this step it started to work.

4. Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Tom

    Do you know if Aldiko and Kindle apps will install on the Flush custom ROM? I rooted 2.2 with (cmp738a_firmware2.2_rooted_marketv2.update.img.zip) recommended by Craig, and All of my favorite apps work except Aldiko.

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com RH

    Hi Tom,

    No, i actually tried both custom ROMs and Aldiko only worked on the 2.1 based version. I also decided to stick with that one as it seems more stable and faster than the 2.2. The downside is that Amazon Market doesn’t work but at least everything else does.

  • Joe

    Hi RH,

    Thanks for your instructional post. Perhaps you can help me.

    I have attempted to installing Shads 2.1 on a .never used Craig with OS 2.1. I got
    as far as step 6 but each time I attempt to load the the image CMP-738a-update-2011-03-15-rls4.3.img, I get the following error. “Getting information of Boot file’s head failed”. I select the file using the browse button to the right of the location window. I can drill down to the file but it never fills the window with the location, date and version. I am not able to manual enter the file location manage into the window. This is my second device. My first was up upgraded to Craigs 2.2 and I gave it to my grandson since I can’t get the apps I want from Amazon. If its ok with you you can call me on my cell to discuss or directly to my email.

    Thanks,

    Joe
    Cell 917-856-1793

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com RH

    Hi Joe,

    At this point, the only thing that comes into my mind is a corrupt file or a problem with your SD card. Re-download and see if you can duplicate the issue.

  • Anonymous

    Hi RH,

    Thanks. I successfully rooted the Craig with the Shad ROM. It worked perfectly well for 2 weeks, Android Market and other all there. Thanks. Except just last night the unit no longer boots up. It hangs up on the start-up Android screen, the last one before it goes to the sign in page. It just keeps cycling the white ‘android ‘ lettering but never boots up. Holding the middle and home button does not doing anything either. Is this an indication that it is bricked? It was great for two weeks. What possible could have happened. It worked during the day then in the evening, nothing, just the repeat lettering. Also when it was working I can’t get HBO GO? Does this need a higher level flash? Can’t seem to download any. Any hints on any of the above issues.

    Thanks,
    Joe

  • Anonymous

    RH,

    The following two notes from me are in the wrong order as first one posted the same day as the second. There should have been a two week difference. So currently, my Craig does not boot up after working successfully for two weeks after rooting with Shad. Please read the the notes that follow.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  • Anonymous

    RH,

    The following two notes from me are in the wrong order as first one posted the same day as the second. There should have been a two week difference. So currently, my Craig does not boot up after working successfully for two weeks after rooting with Shad. Please read the the notes that follow.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com/ soricon

    Hi SpacePro,

    I wonder if there is a way for you to repeat step 3-4 and re-attempt the flash from the SD card. Can you power off/restart in flashable mode as per step 4?

  • Anonymous

    Hi RH,

    Thanks for the reply. WITH GREAT JOY I GOT IT WORKING. My problems was directing the image file in step to the wrong field (boot field) on the screen in step 6 instead of the lower field labeled “setting” and image field toward the middle of the screen. It took the file and all went well. It took several reboots to get successful downloads from the Android Market. At first it would say starting to download, then give and unsuccessful download error message. But today it suddenly started working. The other good news is that I can still download apps from the Amazon App market. It all is relatively faster than my first craig with 2.2; I am Wi FI connected to my HTC Thunderbolt hotspot which has incredible download speeds (10 to 26 Mbs. I now can get Slacker and Sirius radio and CNN apps.

    One other problem I encountered now is that I installed the app for Skype but can’t sign-in because it says the browser is incompatible. Do you know if there is a browser that can be swapped out or added to so Skype can work?

    Also the HBO Go app does not bring up the same app that my Thunderbolt phone and other tablets do. Does that have something to do with the version of flash that is in the Craig? Can we upgrade Flash and the browser?

    Thanks again I am very happy with it now but need these extra tweaks.

    Joe

    PS: I bought two more new Craigs buried at the bottom of a shelf at a CVS in Queens NY. Great gifts, if rooted.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Soricon,

    Repeating steps 3 and 4 brings up the repeating white lettering “android” and cycles over and over on the same screen. What files do I have to have on the SD card in order to boot and flash from it. ?

  • Anonymous

    Hi RH,

    Thanks for the reply. WITH GREAT JOY I GOT IT WORKING. My problems was directing the image file in step to the wrong field (boot field) on the screen in step 6 instead of the lower field labeled “setting” and image field toward the middle of the screen. It took the file and all went well. It took several reboots to get successful downloads from the Android Market. At first it would say starting to download, then give and unsuccessful download error message. But today it suddenly started working. The other good news is that I can still download apps from the Amazon App market. It all is relatively faster than my first craig with 2.2; I am Wi FI connected to my HTC Thunderbolt hotspot which has incredible download speeds (10 to 26 Mbs. I now can get Slacker and Sirius radio and CNN apps.

    One other problem I encountered now is that I installed the app for Skype but can’t sign-in because it says the browser is incompatible. Do you know if there is a browser that can be swapped out or added to so Skype can work?

    Also the HBO Go app does not bring up the same app that my Thunderbolt phone and other tablets do. Does that have something to do with the version of flash that is in the Craig? Can we upgrade Flash and the browser?

    Thanks again I am very happy with it now but need these extra tweaks.

    Joe

    PS: I bought two more new Craigs buried at the bottom of a shelf at a CVS in Queens NY. Great gifts, if rooted.

  • Anonymous

    Saricon,

    Did not read about plugging in the USB while holding down stop and home butttons on this go around. Will try it over the weekend and see it that remedies the problem

    Will let you know how it works out.

    Thanks again,

    Joe

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tom and Soricon,

    All is well. I have Flush on one Craig and Shad on the other. Can’t get Sirius XM on Flush but can on Shad. I will go will Shad on all. Note that if the Market Place downloads, to not initially work after rooting, completely discharge battery to the point that Android icon doesn’t appear on reboot attempts. This seems to reset everything and after recharging, the downloads work.

    Thanks again for you advice.

    Joe

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tom and Soricon,

    All is well. I have Flush on one Craig and Shad on the other. Can’t get Sirius XM on Flush but can on Shad. I will go will Shad on all. Note that if the Market Place downloads, to not initially work after rooting, completely discharge battery to the point that Android icon doesn’t appear on reboot attempts. This seems to reset everything and after recharging, the downloads work.

    Thanks again for you advice.

    Joe

  • yrag01

    Hi, I’m a Mac owner of the Craig CMP738a.

    I WAS able to upgrade the unit to Foyo by downloading the file from Craig’s website just fine, but I really would like to get it rooted and running optimally.

    Does anyone know of a ROM mod that CAN be launched from a micro SD, given that the current two mods by Shad and Flush seem dependent on ‘rktools.zip’ which is Windows only?

    Thanks.

  • yrag01

    Hi, I’m a Mac owner of the Craig CMP738a.

    I WAS able to upgrade the unit to Foyo by downloading the file from Craig’s website just fine, but I really would like to get it rooted and running optimally.

    Does anyone know of a ROM mod that CAN be launched from a micro SD, given that the current two mods by Shad and Flush seem dependent on ‘rktools.zip’ which is Windows only?

    Thanks.

  • yrag01

    Hi, I’m a Mac owner of the Craig CMP738a.

    I WAS able to upgrade the unit to Foyo by downloading the file from Craig’s website just fine, but I really would like to get it rooted and running optimally.

    Does anyone know of a ROM mod that CAN be launched from a micro SD, given that the current two mods by Shad and Flush seem dependent on ‘rktools.zip’ which is Windows only?

    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t get it to find the tablet

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t get it to find the tablet

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_52TUOER5PNLNZDEL6JJCVCYTPA Lawrence M

    ATTENTION: These directions do not work wit the Craig CMP738b ..check your model or you will have a brick. (unusable)

  • jesse pope

    on step 6 i get unpacking image failed, how do i get passed this

  • Shawn Sappier

    android won’t turn back on after these steps.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QB2BRKTA6A5WOMU63EYCW6LSP4 Wicked

    copy this rom to your sd card then insert it once your device is fully booted. firmware update will pop up tap install and let it do its thing im rooted and running fine

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QB2BRKTA6A5WOMU63EYCW6LSP4 Wicked

    i kinda copied the craig websites way of doing things but it gets the job done in the end

  • Thomas Stevens

    Ok, tryed both the 2.1 and the 2.2, no problems. I know the root took because i have a zeam is now an option and it runs much faster, but neither on the market which is preloaded or in google play(android markets new face) is my device recognized. It was worth rooting just for the increace in performance, but apps would be nice