Next 7in media tablet review
The worst tablet PC we’ve yet seen, it's frustrating to use and symptomatic of the droves of Android hardware being produced on the cheap
Review Date: 23 Nov 2010
Reviewed By: Tim Danton
Price when reviewed: £84 (£99 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Even if the iPad hasn’t quite changed the world, it’s certainly created a new industry: the Android imitators. Visit a site such as alibaba.com and you’ll literally find thousands to choose from – all with different processors, standards of wireless, memory configurations, webcams, screen sizes, and much more. It’s astounding.
This freedom of choice allows entrepreneurial British companies to sign wholesale deals, ship over their chosen tablets and then resell them. This can be to individuals, but Elonex has gone one better by signing a deal with Next to supply its 7in media tablets: so it’s Elonex that prints the Quick Start Guide and mans the tech support phone lines.
As it happens, the Quick Start Guide is probably the best thing about this tablet. It explains in clear detail how to use the home screen, switch on security settings, set the date and time, and connect to a wireless network. In fact, there’s only one statement we’d disagree with: “Your new tablet is a great new way to experience the web”.
No, really, it isn’t. And the reason boils down to a 300MHz processor that isn’t fast enough to do the job, further crippled by 128MB of RAM. Together they mean that pages crawl into view, even when you’re on a fast Wi-Fi connection. The BBC homepage, for instance, takes 55 seconds to appear. Just to reiterate: you’ll have to wait almost a minute before it loads. It’s certainly a new way to experience the web, as you spend most of the time looking away from the screen in frustration.
Nor is the screen itself much to look at. We don’t expect a capacitive, multitouch display in a sub-£100 tablet, and we can live with an 800 x 480 resolution, resistive technology and graininess. But the fact it’s so unresponsive just adds to the infuriation when all you want to do is follow a link. Next – or Elonex, or whichever company actually designed this tablet – would have done better to include a stylus.
We might normally express our disappointment at the lack of Flash support, due to the Next tablet using Android 1.6, but frankly it’s not fast enough to cope. Potential buyers should, however, note the lack of support for Android Market. Instead you’ll see a link for "App Market" on the homepage. This bears more than a passing resemblance to the Android Market, except for the quality of the apps on show. That’s if you’re lucky enough to download them: the App Market consistently crashed in use.
...you and Ars Technica may have suffered similar tablet mishaps: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/reviews/2010/11/wor
By nichomach0 on 23 Nov 2010
There's a whole load of horrible and cheap Android tablets out there, and I suspect many will be bought as xmas presents.
And that, potentially, has the potential to damage too separate markets: tablets and Android. People will play with one of these and suspect that things like the iPad are just as bad. And you can be pretty sure that their next phone won't be Android powered.
In my ever-so-humble opinion, Google *really* needs to do something about their OS. I know it's supposed to be 'open' to everyone, but this is just causing a mess. We need a properly authorised version and a cheap/hackable version, with clear brand distinction. A bit like Chrome and Chromium.
By PaulOckenden on 23 Nov 2010
sorry - "too separate markets" should obviously say "two..."
By PaulOckenden on 23 Nov 2010
...Google could adopt something similar to (no bursting into flame at the back) the Beast of Redmond's "Designed for..." logo; a device must satisfy certain minimum requirements to qualify for the logo. It wouldn't stop people bunging what is, after all, a freely usable OS on inadequate hardware, but it wouldn't have Google's "certificate of awesome" on it, so people would be less inclined to buy, especially if the Mountain View mob put a bit of effort into promoting the logo?
By nichomach0 on 23 Nov 2010
There's a 10" Next tablet as well. When you select it at the Next online store, the website shows "Customers Also Bought... Black Full Length Leggings" however, so this one might be even worse :-))
On the other hand, PCWorld's Advent Vega should be sort of ok?
By Lomskij on 23 Nov 2010
Nearly fell over when I saw hardware store Robert Dyas flogging a tablet which, on closer examination was an Android 1.6 tablet with a 500MHz processor (slower than my 18 month old HTC Magic smartphone)and selling at £199. I don't think this is Google's problem any more than the slew of cheap, rubbish Netbooks last Christmas was Linux's.
The real disappointment is the lack of a credible alternative to the iPad which, even if it is offered at £200, is crippled by lack of Flash support.
By KevPartner on 23 Nov 2010
I completely agree that Google needs to do something about this, and the logo idea (and Paul's Android/Androidium idea) is an interesting one.
In the end, though, I think Google will have to quality stamp every device that's shipped - I don't know if anyone's taken a look at the Alibaba site I link to in the review, but the number of Android tablets out there is stunning - and I suspect the quality of 99% of them is very poor.
Even if there was a logo scheme or different names for the OS, punters would end up with a product like the Next tablet in their stocking...
By TimDanton on 23 Nov 2010
Being open source it's going to be almost impossible to implement a benchmark for quality standard. Furthermore, with the cheaper Android devices less emphasis will be placed by manufacturers on long term updates and technical support.
By Duggie on 23 Nov 2010
Try a Thinkpad X40
I bought a Thinkpad X40 off eBay for £100 last week. A laptop that used to sell for £1500!
It has 512mb ram, wifi, a great keyboard and a Pentium M processor.
A quick install of Crunchbang Linux and Google Chrome gives a superb netbook type experience with Flash working just fine for videos.
By susweb on 23 Nov 2010
All it needs is an Apple logo
..and then it would be on the A list...
By ianreid99 on 23 Nov 2010
Increase the price first.
Can have to imagine the sizeable 'cheque' that PCPro would receive for a favourable review.
By Duggie on 23 Nov 2010
A crying shame
Why turn a sensible series of comments about a proper problem - the dragging of Google Android's repuation into the mud - into the usual anti-Apple/pro-Apple nonsense? Is it too much to hope that one review's comments doesn't get taken over by this rubbish?
By TimDanton on 23 Nov 2010
I wouldn't even buy clothes from Next
I wouldn't even buy clothes from Next let alone a tablet. At £99 I am tempted to say that anyone buying it is getting exactly what they have paid for and what they deserve. But then a lot of IT innocents will buy this, possibly as a Christmas present, and they will have wasted their money. Next are abusing the trust they receive form their customers and proving themselves to be a high street retailer to avoid.
By JohnHo1 on 23 Nov 2010
To be fair to Next you can return just about anything for almost any reason if you are persistent. So if someone does mistakenly get one as a Christmas present it's easy to take it back.
By franchise on 23 Nov 2010
already have a scheme and a minimum specification for being an official Android device - without it, they can't use the Google name or have access to the App Store...
Which is totally ridiculous, as it means, for most users, that the first they know about it not being an "official" Android device, is when they get it home and they can only access third party app stores. :-S
By big_D on 24 Nov 2010
Since Next is selling it with black leggings, it would actually make more sense to get a tablet made with no innards except an AA battery to illuminate a picture of a home screen: then you could pose with it at gallery openings...
By dick_pountain on 25 Nov 2010
Firstly, I think some people seem to have the idea that everything costs 50p to make and the rest is just profit - the price of the Samsung and Toshiba tablets and iPad (selling for £250 in US branches of TK Maxx)
suggests the cheapest realistic price for a decent tablet is probably between £200 and £250.
The 3 basic components - decent battery, large touch screen and a Snapdragon or higher class CPU are all new and relatively expensive, compared to bottom end PC components.
On the other hand . . . my first computer was a ZX81. Compared to the Atari 400, Apple 2 or Commodore machines, it was limited, cheap, nasty, slow, black & white, etc. But it was, unlike those machines, affordable by parents.
As for Flash - the Samsung tablet suggests the current implementation isn't all that (seems to stutter with the larger resolution of tablets). And to be honest I don't know if it really matters (i.e. I still think it's an issue brought up purely because of Apple's stance). I run with Click2Flash, and the number of times I actually click to enable Flash content is minute.
By JulesLt on 25 Nov 2010
This is not a Google issue
I think you are wrong to say this is a Google issue. The release of poor hardware with a poor implementation of the OS is not something that Google could or should control. If a wintel manufacturer releases a poor desktop PC that performs poorly and uses Windows 7 do we say it is a Microsoft problem? Of course not. The issue is that a lot of manufacturers are jumping on the tablet/Android bandwagon and inevitably some of the releases will be poor. That's life. As regards the comments re Apple, I guess they would be less likely if there was a less obvious pro-Apple stance in this magazine (ref comparing the Galaxy 3G with iPad WiFi to criticise on price, touting the 11.6 MacBook Air as the best ultraportable simply because it looks nice). I think you really need to think about how you do reviews and use a proper scoring and assessment approach (like AHP).
By ianreid99 on 25 Nov 2010
One thing's for sure
PC Pro are going to need a new tab on their navigation system at the rate these things are flooding the market. They're hardly 'smartphones'.
By survivalskills on 25 Nov 2010
is this the lowest socre ever?
I know from the previous reviews the stars seam to have random values but is this the lowest score ever?
By SimonCorlett on 25 Nov 2010
@survivalskills You're not wrong about the need for a tablet category. We've asked our tech team, but no ETA for a tab yet.
@SimonCorlett It's as low as we go, and I can't recall anyone else getting a straight set of 1s. But my memory isn't my strongest point!
By TimDanton on 25 Nov 2010
Same device @ Maplin
I bought one from Maplin (it's branded MID on the rear) and would completely agree with the review. It's going back...
By filkett on 6 Dec 2010
Hate to be pedantic but...
..." you’ll literally find thousands to choose from"
As a writer, you should probably find out what literally means!
By alexbowden2 on 3 Feb 2011
"media" tablet has to be false advertiseing
i received one of these just before Christmas and knew it wasn't going to be spectacular but i did think with the word media in the title it should at least run videos of some sort. i was proved wrong. it came with the YouTube app pre-instaled and the app logo looks pretty but that's about all it does. the WiFi signal is intermittent with even a very strong signal and it takes forever to load anything, that's if the battery doesn't go flat before it's loaded. the only thing I've managed to run is the kindle app. so all in all it's a very expensive outdated kindle reader, and that's only when the WiFi lasts long enough to sync it. i would avoid this like the plague and spend the money on anything else.
By tweety21 on 23 Jan 2012
my daughter bought one of these , not clued up on these things , can say it is totally rubbish , it will only work when plugged in , did not come with operating instructions ,
By dacky on 17 May 2012
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