Disgo Tablet 8104 review

11 May 2012

Incredibly cheap for a 10in Android 4 tablet, but it’s slow, immensely frustrating and has a very poor screen

Price when reviewed: 
161(£161 inc VAT)
3

How cheap should a cheap tablet be? The jury has been out on this question for a while now, and we’re generally agreed that while we don’t consider £250 particularly cheap, we also don’t want to put up with truly awful £99 tat. What we need is something that sits between the two: powerful enough to be usable, yet stripped of the unnecessary luxuries. Step forward the £161 Disgo Tablet 8104.

The good news is that the basics are up to date: this 10.1in tablet comes preloaded with Android 4, and it has a capacitive touchscreen. It’s a reasonably thin and light device, with a microSD slot to add to the 4GB of storage, along with both mini-USB and mini-HDMI connectors on one end. The buttons on the top edge (in landscape orientation) are a bit difficult to see and find without tilting the device, but you get Home, Power and volume controls.

Disgo Tablet 8104

Inside sits a 1.2GHz Cortex-A8-based processor with only a single core, and 512MB of RAM. We didn’t expect much more given the price, but that combination did worry us a little as we first powered the Disgo up. The Ice Cream Sandwich interface is largely untouched, but as we went to install apps we encountered the first problem: there’s no Google Play icon.

Instead you get access to “Disgo apps”, a selection of 20 apps on a single page on the Disgo website, with direct download links for APK files. Facebook, Twitter and Angry Birds are on there, but there’s no way to get your hands on anything but those chosen titles – it would be a huge stretch to call it an app store. You do also get the SlideMe app store pre-installed, which is a relief, but it's not a patch on the full market.

Happily, the apps we tried ran smoothly enough, which is perhaps due to the 1,024 x 600 resolution of the screen. Pushed with more pixels we doubt the single-core processor would keep up. It certainly struggled in the SunSpider JavaScript test, taking a slow 9,778ms to complete; by comparison, every premium tablet we’ve tested has finished in under 2,500ms. It did better in the Quadrant test, scoring 1,712, but this isn’t at all a cutting-edge tablet.

It also, sadly, isn’t the most responsive of tablets in use. We found many attempted taps registered as drags, forcing us to develop an embarrassing stabby tap action to compensate. Menus would sometimes open, sometimes ignore us completely, and sometimes wait a bit, then open just as we’d tapped on another app. The accuracy of the capacitive layer isn’t great: it often detected a casual grip of the bezel as a tap, and a couple of times the Disgo even spontaneously rebooted when we plugged in the power cable.

Disgo Tablet 8104

It isn’t the slickest of tablets, then, and anyone familiar with the iPad or any of the better premium Android tablets will find it tough going. It also has an uninspiring screen: we measured the maximum brightness at 193cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and contrast at 643:1, and the low resolution is quite jarring now that we’ve grown used to at least 1,280 x 800 on 10in tablets. It’s far from sharp, which shows clearly when browsing text-heavy web pages. There’s also no rear camera.

It all sounds rather damning, and we’d be lying if we said we particularly enjoyed our time with the Disgo Tablet 8104. But can it be forgiven for its mouth-watering price? In isolation we might say a cautious yes: it isn’t a tablet for showing your friends or whiling away a day on the sofa, and it’s immensely frustrating at times in a way no consumer device should be – but it does offer Ice Cream Sandwich for an amazing £161.

However, the tablet situation is improving by the month, with very good devices edging ever lower on the price scale. While stocks remain you can pick up a 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook for only £169 – it won’t get you Android’s range of apps, but it’s a more powerful and responsive tablet than the Disgo, with a much nicer 7in screen. We’d take it over the Disgo every single time.

Detail

Price ex VAT £134
Price inc VAT £161
Overall rating 3
Performance 2
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4

Display

Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Display type Colour touchscreen LCD
Panel technology TN

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1MHz
Integrated memory 4.0GB
RAM capacity 512MB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating N/A
Front-facing camera? yes

Other

Upstream USB ports 1
HDMI output? yes

Software

Mobile operating system Android 4