Just how cheap can they get?

Android Tablets span the entire price range. From amazing pieces of kit like the Asus Transformer Prime or the Asus PadFone, through to mid range devices like the Acer Iconia range or the Archos range. Then you have the under £200 range where you can pickup older devices in firesales lke the HP TouchPad or HTC Flyer. Then you get the under £100 price bracket. This is where I think Google has made a mistake.

This bottom bracket of tablets is a double-edged sword.

One side is that cheap tablets are good, they get Android into the hands of the masses, who then might buy a bigger better more expensive tablet at a later date, or even an Android phone at a later date. My wife is a prime example of this, after using my bargain bin HTC Flyer (which I got over Christmas from Dixons) she has decided that she can probably live with a HTC phone when she next upgrades.

The other side is that some cheap tablets are so bad that they make Android as a whole look bad. The user buys a cheap tablet from Ebay or Amazon. The tablet comes from abroad, barely has any memory, it sometimes has the Android Market and sometimes doesn’t. The device will often never get any updates to fix bugs. There will be little or any community support for it. Everything you try and do on the tablet will be met with lag or force closes. Playing games is a chore. You get the picture, I am sure you have all been there. How many people after using a device like this have thought “ooh I think I will go and buy an Acer Iconia now” or was it more like “ooh I guess I could afford an iPad”.

Google by allowing manufacturers to use the basic Android OS for free have opened the doors up to a whole host of dodgy tablets. Which seem to have crossed into mainstream outlets. There are no end of online shops selling these tablets.

Luckily the problem does not seem to have spread to phones yet, although some manufacturers’ phones are pretty poor. There is nowhere as big a problem as with tablets.

Is it even a problem? I feel it is, you may feel differently, that’s allowed! Ask yourself what you would do if you accidentally bought a rubbish device.

If you are wondering what got me thinking about this then take a look at this tablet on Amazon.

NATPC Primatab 4GB 7″ Capacitive Android Tablet PC – Android 4.0 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) – WIFI , Compatible with DRAW SOMETHING and ANGRY BIRDS £79.99 

  • CPU : All Winner A10 – 1.2GHz / GPU: Mali 400 MHz dedicated Graphics Processor
  • Genuine UK Android Market / Google Play Store with hundreds of thousands of apps / games etc
  • Super Clear and responsive 5 point touch capacitive screen – no stylus required
  • Compatible with latest Flash Player and BBC iPlayer etc
  • Full 12 months UK warranty from our own UK service centre

NATPC is synonymous with quality android tablet PCs at down to earth prices. Our PRIMATAB should be your first choice if you are dipping your toes into tablet PCs. The android 4.0 operating system proves fluid and intuitive and is clearly designed to get the best out of this very powerful hardware at an astonishingly low price.

Facebook, Kindle, Play MP3s, Watch video on your tablet or through an HDMI cable (not supplied) to an HD TV – there seems to be no limit to the abilities of tablet PCs and, what was once scoffed at, now has become an essential part of any modern home.

CPU : A10 1.2 GHz
Graphics Processor : Mali 400 MHz
Touchscreen : 5 point multi touch capacitive resolution 800 x 480
Operating System : Android 4.0 ICE CREAM SANDWICH
Memory : 512mb DDR II / 4gb NAND Flash – upgradeable by Micro SD memory card (max 16GB)
WiFi : 802.11 b/g/n
Connectivity : 1 x Micro SD slot, 1 x AC Jack, 1 x 3.5mm Earphone Jack, 1 x Mini USB, 1 x HDMI out
Battery : 3600 mAh
Camera : 0.3mp Front facing
Contents : 1 x Instructions, 1 x OTG Cable, 1 x UK Charger, 1 x USB Cable
Android Market / Google Play Store : YES
G Sensor : YES
3G : Requires HUAWEI E1750 Dongle available separately
Dimensions : 198 x 117 x 9.8mm
Weight : 365g

Ask yourself if you think this can be good. I have never used one, I just think this really sums up these low end devices. All of the reviews are very positive, strangely positive actually. Take a look at some of the reviews. 

Received this tablet on the 28/04/12, and playing with it right now. Amazing specifications and its easily handling any heavy duty tasks I’m throwing at it right now.

Perfect for home use and as a portable device cause of the size. Will be using this device for news feeds, games and browsing from now on.

– Running on the latest Android ICS 4.0.3 firmware.
– Butter smooth with an excellent Wi-Fi module.
– Mali-400 GPU is capable of running high end 3D games easily.
– Skype works perfectly (with Video Calling)

– No GPS or Bluetooth
– Some applications are not compatible (like Google Chrome Browser for Android)
– Developer support for future firmware updates (Android ICS 4.0.4+)

 Or the next one 

Ok, so im no tech wiz but found this really easy to set up, much easier than my iphone. I have bought it for my daughters birthday (7th) and I cannot wait to give it to her.

Comes with charger, usb cable, earphones and UK INSTRUCTIONS.

I have checked out the basic things,
wifi connection setup was so simple,
the camera is ok,
the sound is much better than i expected,
youtube runs smoothly,
the app shop is fantastic as you dont need to input bank info to download free apps (unlike itunes) so no suprise bills,
skype works great and video quallity is not that bad,
draw something is a little bit delayed in the drawing but im used to iphone and dont think my daughter will notice,
kindle is fast to download, no delay in turning pages, very responsive.

The tablet its self feels nice and solid and think it could handle been dropped a few times, nice bright clear screen and very responsive. Oh and the back is white!

Im that impressed I have just bought one for my mums birthday, hope she returns the favour when its mine :)

 Of course I could just be a bit jaded by these cheap tablets, having spent so much money on tablets over the years. These people all seem happy with their purchases. How many people have bought something similar and not been so positive. Should Google do anything about this “problem”? Let us know your thoughts below or pop over to the forum here.

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  • Those reviews are obviously written by the supplier, the tablet is most likely to be rubbish. It’s true you get what you pay for!

  • Anonymous

    I disagree that the reviews are done by the supplier. The reviews of that particular supplier are exceptional (and there are hundreds) I have also read elsewhere users comments on this device and they are mostly impressed with such a cheap gadget. £49 is very cheap indeed and even if you just used it’s HDMI out and streamed movies from it or propped it up in the kitchen for recipes or gave it the kids to draw on, or maybe it can be rooted in some way and become an interesting developer project .. I think it’s great value.

    At least it has a capacitive screen and not resistive (one thing that plagued low end tablets) and a decent OS. The lack of bluetooth is unforgivable but otherwise I am curious enough to order one of these. I might eat my words but I reckon it’ll be worth the small amount of cash.

    • James Pearce

      yeah there are some even worse than this. Supermarkets tend to have some utter rubbish ones as well

  • Hawkeye

    Can someone answer a question for me? If I wanted a media player… can I hook one of these cheap tablets up to my TV and then watch iPlayer and stream from my PC? I mean, are the specs up to the job of doing that? 

    • James Pearce

      It would probably struggle to output at hd resolutions. It would work better with locally stored media. Streaming would be down to your wifi strength and resolution of the video. The tab may not handle certain codecs either.

  • None

    The specs dont look that bad taken at face value, looks about on par with my desire HD in terms of power, which I only retired last week when I bought an HTC one x.

    I’d have to try it out, but it looks like it would be ok for email, web browsing and casual gaming.