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OT: Tablet Advice


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Initial post: 27 Apr 2012 11:51:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 11:53:06 BDT
I've been looking for a new toy and this has caught my eye NATPC M009S RTB ULTIMATE 7" 16GB Capacitive Android tablet PC - Android 4.0 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich)- now with DOUBLE storage (16GB) and DOUBLE system ram (1GB) for ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE - WiFi - Compatible with BBC iPlayer

I want a tablet for general internet use and playing avi/mkv files etc. I've had a netbook for a few years a netbook; but as I use it as my sole source of internet access etc the battery is pretty screwed and its not as portable as I would like.

I am concerned about speed, compatibility issues (with assorted file types, software etc) so any advice would be appreciated or alternate tablets on the market for about the 100-120 range.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 12:37:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 12:44:54 BDT
I cannot offer much advice in answer to your questions. I've a Blackberry Play Book Tab (7") and a Samsung Galaxy HD Tab (9") and both are good. All I would say is that 7" is a bit on the small side so although the NATPC is cheap, I'd say you'll soon want a bigger screen. A 9" screen is much better for surfing and watching video, i.e. my Samsung, but is still light and manageable to hold compared to a 10" tab.

Software wise. As far as I am aware you're really stuck into the bundled software already on the device and of course the Android apps. Don't think you have many software alternatives. IF you don't like the built in browser then I think you are F'ed. As the Android browsers aren't that good for tablets as they seem to be designed for mobile phones - with portrait display. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong - as I'd like to try alternative browsers if they do exist for Android tabs (that can be displayed landscape).

If you're gonna be transferring a lot of files onto your tab then you really need a tab with a mini/micro-usb. Or at least an SD card slot. Which I think the NATPC has. Whether Android tabs are compatible with the file formats you mention I have no idea. I'd say you're probably OK - but don't quote me:-) You could try a quick google:-)

Also. You get what you pay for. The Play Book can be found for approx 170 but that's because BlackBerry heavily discounted it. So you get a lot of quality for the price with the PlayBook - although it has next to no decent apps as it's not Android (officially). Not so sure about the NATP though - just seems cheap to begin with but I could be wrong.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 12:50:26 BDT
Nessy says:
R, always going on about his 9 incher ... ;).

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 12:52:55 BDT
"As the Android browsers aren't that good for tablets as they seem to designed for mobile phones - with portrait display"

Sadly can't correct you - I have an Archos 101 internet tablet - my only gripe with android for tablet is that all the apps are decided for phones and it is pretty much luck if they transfer well to tablet or not. My tablet plays movies I load on to crystal clear but get a podcast manager on there and the thing looks like an etch a sketch. I have tried the android version of Firefox and that is rubbish compared to the one that was allready loaded onto the device (which is in itdelf not very good).

For movies though the tablet is superb.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 12:55:15 BDT
For "specialist" movies though the tablet is superb.

Fixed that for ya.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 12:57:49 BDT
And before I forget. And so there is no confusion in case anyone is enticed by a BlackBerry Playbook. The Blackberry Playbook is pretty good for surfing and using the browser however for things like Netflix it is rubbish - as it doesn't have the apps. Works well with Youtube though through the browser - and BBCi Player. Just thought I'd get that out of the way.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 12:58:39 BDT
That's about average I believe.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 13:01:02 BDT
AndyBSG says:
I thought the new 'Ice Cream Sandwich' version of Android was released specifically to be for tablets though?

For that sort of price range it does seem like a pretty good tablet and unless you're willing to spend in excess of another 100 quid it seems like a pretty good choice.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 13:07:58 BDT
I thought the new 'Ice Cream Sandwich' version of Android was released specifically to be for tablets though?

I amnot an expert but I think it is down to the app makers - in the case of another popular maker of tablets they insist that apps are suitable and taylored to each platform (phone and tablet) and that menus and details are upskilled etc. Google is more free and the app makers just don't bother making there apps look good on the tablet.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 13:17:39 BDT
Thanks R (and everyone else) I may have a look at the Blackberry Play Book. I think you may be right about the 7" being small for video files, even if it is very portable. Definite food for thought.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 13:20:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 13:20:56 BDT
Be aware though. Playbook is not Android. And it has very limited apps. So all it's good for is browsing but as a browser it is very good, slick and fast. Of course you can play you tube etc. Though for microsoft silverlight for example it doesn't work. That's where the lack of Apps on the Playbook let it down as you don't get the alternatives (apps) for video streaming like Netflix. My advice would be to stick with Android - especially at that price.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 13:22:34 BDT
Sir Rodders says:
Take 3 a day with water before meals. You can drink alcohol with them but don't blame me if your kidneys fall out.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 13:49:21 BDT
I think you could be right, I'll have a bit more of a snoop around but stick with the android OS.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 13:55:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 13:56:29 BDT
Nessy says:
You will struggle to get a decent tablet for 120.

This tablet got a very good review on Eurogamer -

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/df-hardware-scroll-extreme-review

"Scroll Extreme Review

A 9.7-inch IPS screen and Android 4.0 for under 200 - is this tablet too good to be true? Digital Foundry finds out.

History has a habit of repeating itself. Google's Android operating system is now one of the most popular in the world, and while a large portion of that success is thanks to top-tier phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC One X, it has just as much to do with the plethora of budget-level handsets which have flooded the market in the past few years. While Apple's iPhone has achieved popularity thanks to its luxury status, Android has gained market share because it offers the cheapest route into smartphone ownership.

It's taken perhaps longer than it should have done, but the same situation is starting to manifest itself in the tablet sector. The iPad remains the premium choice for serious buyers, but the legions of casual consumers - mums, dads, grandparents, pre-teens - are being serviced by a handsome array of low-cost Android-based slates. Most are technologically handicapped or run an outdated version of Google's OS, making them poor substitutes for a shiny New iPad, but the disparity in quality is slowly starting to change.

The Scroll Extreme is unashamedly gunning for prospective iPad buyers who perhaps aren't quite ready to make the commitment of 399 for an entry-level model. It offers the same screen size and resolution as the iPad 2 (something that sets it apart from other Android tablets) and even bears an uncanny similarity to Apple's best-selling slate, with rounded edges and a metallic back. One major difference is that it costs less than half what you'd pay for the shiny new third-gen iPad.

Single Core in a Dual Core World

One of the many ways that the manufacturer has cut costs with this device is to include a single-core Cortex A8 chip, clocked at 1.2GHz. With a low production cost and reasonably decent performance, it clearly makes economic sense, but the decision does mean that the Scroll Extreme lags behind more recent Android tablets like the Xoom 2 and Asus Transformer Prime - then again, it's in a completely different price bracket.

The weak nature of the processor becomes glaringly apparent when you're navigating around the Android 4.0 interface and switching between applications. You'll experience plenty of pauses and stutters, usually when there's a process running in the background (such as syncing mail or downloading an application). Android 4.0's new multi-tasking menu is often brought to a standstill if you've got a lot of programs sucking up CPU time simultaneously.

This is very much a worse-case scenario, however. While heavy users are likely to hit the ceiling of the single-core CPU's powers quite quickly, less demanding individuals may not even notice. If you're sticking to just a handful of moderate tasks - such as reading email, browsing the web or poring over an eBook - then the lack of oomph becomes a less distressing matter.

Some of the strain is taken off the CPU by the Scroll Extreme's Mali 400 dual core graphics processor. Again, this is a low-cost 'off the shelf' chip, so don't expect it to replicate the blistering performance given by NVIDIA-powered slates like the Transformer Prime, but on the whole we were fairly pleased with how the Scroll Extreme coped with 2D and 3D games.
Ice Cream Sandwich, With a Few Caveats

The fact that the Scroll Extreme is rocking Android 4.0 - the latest version of the OS - is impressive, no matter how you look at it. With big-budget slates like the Xoom 2 still stranded on Android 3.0, this low-cost alternative is very attractive indeed. There are some issues, however.

Google's new operating system has been designed with dual-core processors in mind, and there are times when the Scroll Extreme's CPU genuinely seems to become overwhelmed with what is expected of it. Another curious niggle is that the Google Play app store (previously known as the Android Market) does not come preinstalled; we quizzed UK distributor Storage Options and were told that all device manufacturers must obtain a licence from Google in order to have Google apps on their products. In the case of the Scroll Extreme, that hasn't happened, but there are very simple workarounds to overcome this problem. Still, it's an oddity which is likely to confuse casual users - the very people that this tablet is aimed at.

Most Android tablets tend to favour a 16:10 aspect ratio for their displays, but the Scroll Extreme has taken a leaf out of Apple's book and gone for a 4:3 form factor. This makes it rather unique when compared to its Android brethren, but that uniqueness comes at a cost. While the vast majority of apps and games are quite happy to run on the Scroll Extreme, we noticed a handful showcasing display errors due to the unorthodox resolution.

No complaints can be levelled at the quality of the screen, however. The capacitive IPS LCD panel handles colour well and features a decent level of brightness. The all-important viewing angles are also good, allowing you to tilt and turn the tablet in your hands without loss of clarity or detail.

Games, Apps, Expansion, Storage and Battery Life

The Google Play marketplace continues to lag behind Apple's App Store in terms of variety and volume, although we've seen some notable titles making the leap over recently. Gaming hits such as Temple Run, Anomaly Warzone Earth, Another World, Canabalt and Shogun: Rise of the Renegade are all available on Android now, as are apps such as hipster favourite Instagram and social networking darling Path.

It's still slow going, however. There are precious few Android-exclusive games, and those that do exist are usually of quite a low calibre. It's clear that Apple is getting the lion's share of developer support at this moment in time, so potential Scroll Extreme buyers - or buyers of any Android device in general - should be aware that they won't be enjoying the same depth of choice as their iPad-owning chums.

Another negative point concerns onboard storage. With just 8GB of internal storage, even the most careful of users are likely to fill up the Scroll Extreme's memory pretty quickly. This issue can be alleviated somewhat by making use of Google's cloud storage services, such as Picasa and Google Music - although the latter requires you to jump through some hoops to gain access here in the UK, where it hasn't officially launched as yet.

Another choice is purchasing additional storage in the form of a microSD card. The Scroll Extreme accepts cards of up to 32GB in capacity, giving you a grand total of 40GB - not too shabby, but the extra expense is something you'll need to take into consideration when comparing to other Android slates. For example, the Motorola Xoom - which has been heavily discounted of late - comes with 32GB of onboard storage, as well as a microSD card slot.

Thankfully, the distributors of the Scroll Extreme have ensured that you won't have to shell out too much cash for other accessories. The tablet comes bundled with a HDMI cable and a vital microUSB-to-USB female adapter, which means you can plug in all manner of peripherals, including keyboards, joypads and even USB pen drives - another way of expanding on that paltry 8GB of memory.

The Scroll Extreme is rated for around six hours of battery life, which correlates pretty well with our tests. Naturally, heavy tasks are always going to erode that figure, but with casual usage you can expect to hit that advertised half-dozen hours.

Although the Scroll Extreme's rear-facing camera is listed as a 2-megapixel variant, it's actually capable of taking 2592x1936, 5-megapixel snaps - not that the increased pixel count is worth celebrating - the quality of the pictures is depressingly poor, with noticeable blockiness and compression effects. Finally, it's worth noting that Bluetooth has been omitted from the tablet's spec-list; another cost-cutting procedure no doubt, and one that shouldn't cause any serious headaches unless you intend to use wireless keyboards or headphones.

Scroll Extreme: The Digital Foundry Verdict

It's easy to focus too intently on the Scroll Extreme's shortcomings; that dire camera, the occasionally sluggish CPU, the puzzling lack of the Google Play market out of the box. These are all unfortunate problems, but not deal-breakers - at the end of the day, this is a large-screen tablet with Android 4.0 for under 200. When you consider that similar products cost more twice that amount, it's easier to forgive the little issues.

The Scroll Extreme is by no means a unique device, however. In fact, this unit is simply a rebadged tablet from the Far East, and other UK distributors are already offering what look to be the same model but with different names - and even cheaper prices (though battery spec looks lower, according to that ad). At the 150 level, the tablet becomes much more tempting even factoring in all its limitations. It's also worth remembering that the Scroll Extreme is merely the first in what is sure to be a veritable flood of low-cost Android slates; the way things are going, it's likely that we'll see a dual-core tablet for under 200 in the not-too-distant future.

As it stands, the Scroll Extreme is the ideal 'training' tablet for casual users who have yet to see the benefit of such a device in their lives. While it doesn't handle tasks with the assured performance of a quad-core slate, it will happily allow you to browse the web, play games, watch HD movies and much, much more. And when the periodically spotty user experience threatens to dampen your enjoyment, all you need do is remember that magical price point."

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 14:06:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 14:08:52 BDT
This is the samsung tab I've got. Dual core. Cheapest I can find it is Currys - 279 - where I got mine from:

http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/samsung-galaxy-8-9-hd-tablet-pc-16gb-10983379-pdt.html

It was on offer for 250 on Currys but that deal seems to have ended now. I got mine for 225 in the end because they delivered over a week late - or should I say it went missing and then miraculously appeared a week late. Good tab though. No complaints.

And the same on Amazon but much more expensive:

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 inch Tablet - White (nVidia Tegra T250S 1GHz, 16GB Storage, WLAN, Front Camera, Rear Camera, Android 3.1 Honeycomb)

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 15:19:50 BDT
Many thanks both of you; the Samsung looks a bit out of my price range but I am tempted by the Motorola for 150 especially with a six hour battery life and a 9.7" screen.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 16:18:35 BDT
If you're not bothered about having 3G on it then add another 50 to that and you could get a ipad, can't really go wrong with that.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 17:42:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 17:43:32 BDT
Really not a fan of apple products; but thankyou for the suggestion. I am weighing up the 7" from my OP and the 10" one suggested which seems to be a pretty much identical spec but with an aluminium case for an extra 60.

EDIT: And the 10" will take a 32gb SDHC as opposed to the 16gb capacity of the cheaper option.

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 18:22:38 BDT
Best bet, go into curries or somewhere like that and ask to have a play with the various tablets to see which you like.

I wasn't a fan of apple really but the wife ordered a iPad to replace our ageing laptop (which half the keys have fallen off) and I have to say its pretty good.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 18:28:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 18:31:32 BDT
My local Currys/PC World tends to have a lot on display so I will have a play soon. Having re-read the review of the 9.7" I am toying with waiting as it suggests that a sub 200 dual core is only a matter of time. I suppose it all depends how impulsive I am feeling!

EDIT: Does anyone know if a dual core would effect the battery life?

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 20:47:00 BDT
I can only comment on iPads but I wouldn't worry about battery. The iPad 2 (what I have) is dual core, I've been on it pretty much since I got home from work (about 6ish) surfing the net, watching YouTube videos and generally messing around and it's used about 25-30% of the battery. Watching online videos drains the most power but you'd get a good 7ish hours of that before you'd need a recharge.

Posted on 4 May 2012 08:14:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 May 2012 08:28:31 BDT
Wayne says:
Archos 501840 Gen9 8 inch Tablet (RAM 512MB, Memory 8GB, Android 3.2) - upgradeable to Android 4.0 / Ice Cream Sandwich

Not sure if anyone's still interested in this topic but I picked one of these up yesterday from Argos for 189. I've been looking into picking up a tablet for a while now and also wanted to say thanks to everyone who posted on here as the comments helped.

I've wanted an E-Reader for a whole now but was always put off as it seems the kindle is king and the others I've looked at just don't have the support the kindle has with the library of books on offer. I never liked the fact that the kindles were black and white as its not just books I wanted it for but magazines as well. The kindle fire peaked my interest with its colour screen but seeing as it doesn't look like coming to the uk any time soon my attention turned towards a tablet pc.

Having done a bit of research I settled on the the above achros tablet for a number of reasons. Firstly the price. I was looking at sub 200 and this fit the bill nicely. Next up was the OS and this is a full android tablet with access to the android market and upgradable to the latest "ice cream sandwich" version. Having read some reviews it seemed like the HD screen was being praised plus achros have a good reputation as media players and thus thing handles music and films very well. You can add micro sd cards to beef up the memory to whatever you want really so you could store a lot of stuff.

Having spent last night playing around with it I can happily say I'm very pleased. The screen is crisp and sharp and at 8" just the right size. I would have liked bigger but that would have added a lot more cost. Any smaller would have been too small so I'm pleased with the screen size and resolution. As anninternet browser it picked up my wi-fi signal quickly and browsing was very quick and simple which was nice. The android market was easy to navigate and there's a lot more free apps than on the apple store. The tablet also came pre loaded with lots of cool video and music stuff which works really well and it was dead simple to upgrade the firmware. As soon as it detected my wi-fi a message popped up asking me if i wanted to update the firmware.

As for it's e-reader abilities, I downloaded the kindle app from the android market place and I purchased a couple of graphic novels. One ofvthecreasons unwanted a colour e-reader was the ability to not only read books but magazines and also graphic novels. I'm currently reading through a vast list of Batman graphic novels which took me about a month to put together which is basically a chronological list starting from frank millars year one in 1986 up to the modern day. The list is constantly evolving as new books come out and I discover older books to add in. I've been buying 3/4 a month for a while now and will continue to do so but the OCD in me doesn't want to cram these into my work bag and risk damaging them (I hate it if the covers get creased/dented or the slip covers on hardbacks get torn or damaged lol). Being able to carry some if my favourite books around on Anne-reader seemed like the ideal solution.

First off the kindle isn't a cheap way to buy books. On physical books theirs no vat to pay but for done reason on digital books there is. Anyway I downloaded Batkan year one and Batman: the long Halloween. Both are amoungst my favourite books. Both looked superb on my tablet. The screen was able to perfectly capture the detail in the artwork and the screen (in portrait) was just the right size that I could read all the text and speech bubbles with ease. If you double tap individual panels the app allows the panel to become bigger if you did struggle to read the text which only happened on 2 panels in the long Halloween when their was a lot of stuff on the page. Overall didn't have to do this for any of the rest of the book and not once for year one.

Overall to conclude this wall of text this tablet is a great performer for the price, great Internet browser, great book reader (you can diwnload ePub apps on android and find books way cheaper than kindle), great media player, excelkent screen size and resolution and being fully android with the latest version of the OS I can't recommend it enough.

If I didn't already have a pretty powerful laptop with a bluray drive then I would have paid the extra and picked up an iPad but with an iPhone 4 and decent laptop already this little tablet filled a gap at a great price.

EDIT: in my rush to talk about the pro's of this tablet I neglected to point out any bad points. I've only had the tablet since last night and haven't really come across anything negative except the fact that twice last night it froze on me and I had to reset the device. All that meant was I had to hold down the power button and on other button and it basically forces a reboot of the device. Both times I never lost any data and it really wasn't a big deal but thought it was worth mentioning.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jul 2012 16:13:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jul 2012 17:21:16 BDT
Nessy says:
Hows this tablet treating you Wayne, any more crashes ?.

My PC is on the verge of melting and i can't afford a new one just now so i was thinking of just buying a cheap under 200 tablet.

Cheers.

*Edit -

Nevermind mate i just went for the Scroll Extreme as i wanted the maximum screen size for the money.

Posted on 4 Jul 2012 17:36:31 BDT
Wayne says:
Nessy I can confidently say this tablet I purchased awesome.

Its crashed once or twice since my post above but nothing that can't easily be sorted and considering how much I yes it once or twice is nothing.

I've got quite a few books on it now and reading through the kindle app is nice and easy. I added an anti glare screen protector which makes the screen easy to see outdoors and is easy on the eyes reducing eye strain without compromising the crisp resolution of the screen. I've also purchased some excellent software and have ripped about 20 blu ray films onto the micro .sd card. They look and sound great great. I took the tablet with me on a training course recently, was away for two nights after a heavy drinking session the first night I stayed in my room and watched a couple of films which was cool.

Its a great internet browser, plays games well and the speaker is great for a bedroom or kitchen to listen to music.

In fact I like the android interface so much I decided to get a Samsung galaxy s3 recently when my mobile upgrade was due instead of my normal apple zombie iphone choice which I would have otherwise globe with.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jul 2012 17:43:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jul 2012 17:46:17 BDT
Nessy says:
Glad to hear Android 4.0 is good, im used to using iOS on my Iphone so i was worried it would feel very cheap compared to it, (i used the very first version of Android on a smartphone a few years ago and it was beyond awful).

The one i bought sounds very similar to the first one you bought just a slightly bigger screen, 1GB of Ram instead of 512MB's and a 16GB HDD instead of 8GB.

Will post my thoughts on here when i get it incase anyone else is interested in a cheap alternative tablet to the Ipad.
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Participants:  12
Total posts:  32
Initial post:  27 Apr 2012
Latest post:  29 Apr 2013

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