The world is suddenly awash with tablet computers, and not just awash, but swamped by a sea (enough water?) of ultra cheap models. Every day the price reduces and/or more performance and features are added in for the same price.
But are these bottom of the pile products actually worth investing in, or should they be treated like angry drunk polar bears, and avoided at all costs? We take a look at one to find out.
Our choice of tablet is the Yeah Pad Pillbox7 7 Inch Android Tablet model, which comes with a range of conventional features all wrapped up in a bottom of the barrel price which would make a bargain hunter blush.
We had our review tablet shipped in directly from the Chinese outlet and the first thing we noticed is the sad fact that somewhere along the line, the box had been sat on by a large elephant. We think. Luckily the crushed exterior didn’t translate into any damage to the contents, and we were relieved to see everything in as-new condition and working fine.
The package contains the tablet itself, a small 16 page user guide which is surprisingly well written, a charging block and a OTG USB adapter so you can connect standard USB peripherals and/or external 3G cellular dongle for remote computing (more on that later). It’s sparse, but it’s actually all you need to get the job done.
The first thing you notice when you switch on the tablet, apart from a fairly lengthy boot time which is normal for this type of product, is the very fancy splash screen. Someone in YeahPad Inc .cn is a child of the 60’s, and who are we to complain?
Once you’re booted into the home screen, everything is as you would expect. The system runs Android 4.0.4 (although for some weird reason the web page says 4.0.3), and there are no real surprises. The screen is surprisingly responsive, at least compared to some of the older Android tablets we have seen, and you can move around quite quickly, which is nice.
The system supports the full Google Play app store, and so you have access to all the 700,000 apps or whatever the number is today. There’s a 0.3 megapixel camera built in for video calls, 4GB of internal storage, WiFi, accelerometer, 3.5 mm headphone port and support for up to 32GB microSD card.
The unit plays games with no problem, the graphics are crisp and the touchscreen responsive enough to cope with conventional controls. The only real question about the performance of the product comes, as you can see from our video hands-on below, when you start to do web browsing. Read on for the hands-on video reviews and more details and specifications.
The problem is there’s not really enough RAM (only 512MB in these models) to cope with the increasingly image heavy nature of the web today. The result is you can spend a few seconds waiting for pages to load, as the processor, cache and memory all work like crazy to deliver your request.
If you’re patient, you’ll be fine, but if you start to press reload buttons, or repeatedly jab at the back button in anger, you’re going to confuse the poor thing and the penalty will be an even longer wait. Is this a deal killer? Well only if you’re desperate, for small kids or adults with more time on their hands, they’ll probably have a good enough experience surfing at a more leisurely pace.
Battery life is acceptable as long as you realize or remember that this is not a high priced item. If you use it for games and browsing, you will probably get around 2 hours of action out of it. If you start hammering it via 3G, then expect battery life to suffer accordingly. Oh yes, it does work with an external 3G cellular dongle, as you can see in our second video below.
That on its own is pretty amazing, because it means that for around $50 you can have a mobile phone equivalent which can make and receive calls, and access the web while and about. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Oh and to clear up a point of confusion. There are reports that the tablet can only be charged with the mains block and not via microUSB. Well we beg to differ, since we only charge via microUSB. All you have to do is make sure the screen is not running at the same time and it charges perfectly.
Is this a viable alternative tablet to a Samsung, Nexus or Apple product? No way, Jose. But if you ask whether it’s a nice little secondary product which you can sling in the car for the kids on journeys, or use on the couch for TV listings or even as a game console during a morning train commute, then we would have to say absolutely.
If you buy it expecting top quality build quality and performance, then you’re going to be disappointed. But if you buy it for what it is, a cheapo mobile computer, then you’ll probably enjoy it as much as we do.
Pros: Price, price, price. How do you say ‘not bad at all’ in Cantonese?
Cons: You gets what you pays for. Patchy performance under load, battery life that could be better and build quality that is definitely not Apple standard.
$63.39 / £39.70 (before discounts – see below)
SPECIAL: The supplier of this tablet has gone a bit crazy and offered a couple of coupons for Red Ferret readers.
REDFERRET10OFF gives $10 off the first 10 orders only
REDFERRET gives a 10% discount on unlimited quantities.
Product Type 7″ Android Tablet PC
Operating System Android 4.0.3
Solution Architecture Cortex-A8
Processor Type AllWinner
Processor Model A13
Processor Clock Speed 1G up to 1.52G
RAM/Technology DDR III
RAM Cache Memory 512MB
Graphics Integrated graphics
Display Technology TFT
Display Diagonal Size 7.0″
Max Resolution 800×480
Storage and Expansion
Hard Drive Type NAND Fast Flash
Hard Drive Capacity 4GB
PCMCIA Expansion Supports an external TF card up to 32G
Battery & Power
Battery Type 2000mAh rechargeable battery
Working Time Music: 5 hours, Video: 3 hours
Power Device Type AC Adapter
Voltage Required 110V/220V
Input/ Output Connectors
USB Port 1 x OTG port
Audio Port 1 x 3.5 mm headphone jack
Video Port 1 x USB
Card Slot 1 x TF card slot
DC Input 1 x DC 2.5mm
Networking Supports external 3G
Wireless Connection Wi-Fi
Wireless Protocol 802.11 b/g/n
Touchpad Touchpad pointing device with 5 point-touch control
Keyboard Virtual keyboard
Camera 0.3 mega pixels front camera
Games 3D games
Product Details (without package and accessories)
Dimensions 18 x 12 x 0.3 cm
Weight 278 g