Next 7in Media Tablet

25 Apr

Even if the iPad hasn’t quite changed the world, it has created an industry: the Android imitators. This tablet has nothing to do with clothes retailer Next electronic gadgets other than the logo stamped on its rear and on the Quick Start Guide. And that guide is probably the best thing about this tablet. It explains in clear detail how to use the home screen, set the date and time, and connect to a wireless network. There’s only one statement we disagree with: “Your new tablet is a great new way to experience the web”.

No, really, it isn’t. And the reason it isn’t boils down to a 300MHz processor that isn’t fast enough to do the job, further crippled by 128MB of RAM. Together they mean pages crawl into view, even when you’re on a fast Wi-Fi connection. The BBC homepage, for instance, takes 55 seconds to appear. Nor is the screen itself much to look at. We can live with an 800 x 480 resolutions, resistive technology and graininess. But the fact it’s so unresponsive just adds to the sense of infuriation when all you want to do is follow a link.

We might normally express our disappointment at the lack of Rash support – but frankly, this tablet isn’t fast enough to cope. Potential buyers should, however, note the lack of support for the Android Market. Instead you’ll see a link for “App Market” on the homepage. This bears a strong resemblance to the Android Market, except for the quality of the apps on show.

The only app we were taken with was the Magic Album. Despite its name, this is more like a bedside alarm, showing a weather forecast, the date and the time. Press “Light” and it rotates through different brightness settings, and there are shortcuts to email, music and the Android alarm clock too.

Should you decide to place the Next tablet beside your bed, make sure you plug it in. Battery life is appalling, lasting for 1hr 50mins in our light-use testing, due to the tiny two-cell battery you can see for yourself if you undo two screws located on one of the tablet’s edges. These screws are all that tie the electronic gadgets to the grey plastic chassis, which is why it has a tendency to creak whenever you press the single button adorning its front.

The button works differently to Apple’s too: really it’s a Back shortcut, not Home as you might expect. There are only three other physical buttons – two for volume, one for power – but because the status bar sits permanently atop the screen, that isn’t an issue: the Home, Back and Menu buttons are always available. In between those screws sit a micro-USB port and microSD slot, the latter of which supports cards up to 16GB in capacity.

There are some good things about the Next tablet electronic gadgets . For such a cheap device, the speakers are surprisingly respectable. It’s easy to navigate through Android thanks to the permanently viewable bar at the top; and, at a real push, we could just about see it replacing a bedside clock.

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