Revised: 7th June 2012
Related review: Google Nexus 7 Tablet
For those who are interested in a mega cheap tablet PC you could do worse than check out Conrad.de (they also ship outside Germany) who currently have an 7-inch Android 4.0 tablet on sale for €99. This is a rather basic tablet but is a nice way to see if you are interested in taking the plunge from moving from IOS to Android – I am considering dumping Mac/IOS after a near 10 year relationship. Hence my interest in this topic.
As I said this is a cheap and not surprisingly basic tablet but does seem reasonably responsive. Indeed it was happily switching between apps and playing movies without any problem. Although it should be said that the display sometimes feels a little sluggish especially when scrolling through your email folder. The display itself is generally ok but is certainly not the best available, as the resolution is a rather low 800 by 480. This means that while it is suitable for occasional reading of content or viewing videos it is not anywhere near as pleasant to read from as either an IPaD or Amazon Kindle. Pictures are also quite grainy which is a bit of a disappointment. That said it is much cheaper so you cannot expect miracles. In general though I would always favour the Kindle for reading books or newspapers, while the IPaD is ok, I generally do not enjoy using it for reading ebooks etc.
In terms of raw speed I carried out an informal benchmark using the AnTutu took which returned a score of 2866. This puts the tablet on a level with HTC Flyer from 2011, and about 20% less than other more expensive tablets that were available in summer 2011 (source: Techradar.com) therefore this is no speed demon but is fast enough for everyday tasks. Slowness is best personified when using the default browser, it frequently seems to stop at the end of downloading and rendering a page. However, downloading the free and excellent Opera Mobile Browser soon rectifies this problem. In general through this is a seven inch tablet so browsing pages is not always so pleasant given it’s size.
The user experience is overall very pleasant but this is down to Android 4 rather than the device itself. The light weight of the device makes it more pleasant to hold than larger tablets and ideal for watching a video in bed. The case is also quite solid and it feels significantly better than the Archos Tablet I played around with recently.
Surprisingly the Xelio does not work out-of-the-box with the Google Play store and instead you are forced to use AndroidPIT to download applications. This is especially annoying as often AndroidPIT directs you to Google Play then you are unable to do anything. However, it is possible to easily install Google Play which will let you download and pay for apps should you wish to do so (click here for more info).
The hardware is basic, there is for example no 3G (although that can be added via a stick) and bluetooth and GPS are also missing. The hardware itself is far behind what you will get with more expensive tablet being a single core Arm Cortex A8. That said it’s performance is adequate for most tasks although the final stages of rendering some more complex websites (in particular those with live video feeds) can at times seem slow. That said full screen video playback is generally much better than my rather old Linux based Atom N270 netbook except with certain live video services such as LiveStation. Wifi connectivity is generally ok and was markedly better in one part of my apartment which used to cause chaos with my IMac.
The device also supports up to 32GB on an external SDHC card, this works fine when installed at around around €30 is a worthwhile investment. The only issue is that often finding the SD card within the file browser can be problematic. You can also use the device via HDMI although I cannot vouch for this feature as I have yet to try it.
- Quite responsive for basic spec machine
- Video playback seems ok, standard TV resolution playback is fine.
- Uses Android 4, not 2.x as found in most other similarly priced tablets
- Screen is quite sensitive
- Not listed in the spec but it does have a microphone
- Reasonable build quality for something so cheap
- Setting up Google basic services is a breeze
- Looks nice too
- Requires hack to get official Google Android store to work, otherwise choices are very limited
- Small screen with a low resolution can make reading a little less pleasant, a tablet of this size is also not perfect for web browsing
- Skype audio works, the video sent from the tablet however is covered in lines (apparently a Firmware update fixes this)
- The standard browser is unresponsive (replace it with Opera!)
In short this is a good buy if you want basic Internet browsing and email device that is also capable of playing videos. For me and many others it is also a good device to buy if you plan to dip your toes into the Android and cross-platform development world – more on that soon.
It now seems to have broken down, when the device is unplugged from the main power supply it cuts off. I have contacted the manufacturer who provided some advice, so far no luck. That said their customer service rep responded within one day which is pretty impressive for an email response in this day and age. One tip was to reflash the device, sadly this does not seem to be working right now. However, that may be due to my computer and not the tablet.