Can Budget Android Tablets Compete in New Tablet Market?

by Reads (9,069)

Overview

  • Pros

    • Responsive touchscreen
    • Android Market access (for now)
    • Decent battery life
  • Cons

    • Awful performance
    • Dull display
    • Flimsy design

Quick Take

This budget Android tablet has too many flaws to justify the purchase, especially when better, brand name alternatives cost less.

There are hundreds of off-brand and budget Android tablets on the market. They typically cost less than the brand name alternatives, but that’s usually because they are awful by comparison, with dull and unresponsive displays, underpowered processors, and lousy designs. Many run Android Gingerbread, which was designed for smartphones, and almost none have the stock Google apps and access to the Google Android Market (only Google-sanctioned devices receive that honor).

The team at TabletPCReview typically ignores such devices, but every so often we like to check in on the budget Android tablet market to see what the knockoff makers are offering. Could there actually be any decent offerings? And in the new tablet market in which brand name tablets from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lenovo and soon ASUS are launching for $250 and less, can buget Android tablet makers remain relevant?

Android budget Android tablet is the Vital ASC Club-ST1010 from the American Sunrex Corporation, which is based in Taiwan and builds in China, but has offices in America. Priced at $259.99, it’s not exactly cheap – and there are brand name alternatives that cost less. But does it deliver in the all-important bang-per-buck ratio, or is this just another case of “You get what you pay for”? Hint: it’s one of those two.

BUILD & DESIGN

At first glance, the ST1010 looks like your typical, everyday, run-of-the-mill Android smartphone, only built for a giant, and with a few differentiating characteristics.

The entire top and left edges of the ST1010 are bare, and only the presence of an on/off/sleep button and what looks curiously like a volume rocker on the lower right edge of the tablet break up that bare monotony.

Vital ASC Club-ST1010

The bottom edge of the tablet is where you find its treasure trove of connectivity goodies, complete with a USB 2.0 port, mini-USB 2.0 OTG port, 5V DC jack, 3.5mm stereo earphone jack, HDMI port, and Micro-SDHC card slot with 32GB capacity. The screen itself, which measures 10.1-inches from edge to edge (actual dimensions 5 x 9 inches) is framed by a .75-inch  border on three sides, and a 1-inch border on the bottom face where the Menu, Home, Back and Search buttons reside. The aforementioned buttons that bear a striking resemblance to an external volume rocker are actually Back and Home buttons, which makes little to no sense. The back panel of the tablet is made of the kind of plastic that wouldn’t fare well against an accidental drop.

Vital ASC Club-ST1010

Screen and Speakers
The one thing the ST1010’s got going for it is its comparably enormous and responsive touch TFT LCD display. Its dimensions lend it a cool 16:9 aspect ratio that makes it an ideal screen for watching letterboxed movies on the go. The problem is there are two things that’ll probably ruin the viewing experience for you. One is the fact that the display is very glossy and not bright enough to cut through any glare. The other is the tablet’s surprisingly slow speed, which eventually causes the audio and video to fall out of sync and makes watching video (whether online streaming or USB-loaded content) an incredibly frustrating experience. Even listening to music without ear buds is a challenge, as the single speaker on the back of the tablet produces insufficient volume levels.

This calls to mind yet another deficiency: the lack of an external volume rocker. If you want to adjust the volume of a video, audio file or game, you’ve got to back out of whatever you’re in the middle of in order to access the media volume controls which can be found on the tablet’s Home screen. Sure, the display boasts a five-point multitouch system. But that’s far from enough to make up for the inconvenience of having to experience mismatched audio and video. The tablet claims to be equipped with a 3-axis g-sensor that enables 4-direction display when auto-rotate is enabled, but testing this produced wildly varying results that were slow at best and completely non-responsive at worst.


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