OPINION: Cheap Android tablets - Fooling you since 2011
- — 22 September, 2011 00:14
So, you have a small amount of money to spare and have decided to buy that neat Chinese Android tablet that you saw the other day? Let me tell you exactly why that's a pretty bad decision.
1. Seriously underpowered hardware
Google has been very liberal with laying down the minimum system requirements for the devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) or lower, and just because a tablet's hardware meets the minimum requirements, doesn't mean it's ready to leave the stables running. Have you ever been frustrated by not being able to run a game or an application properly on your PC although it meets the minimum system requirements? This is very similar to that.
If the Chinese tablet has a 7 to 10-inch display and offers you a resolution of 800x480 pixels or higher, then to get any semblance of good usability, it will require at the very least a 1GHz processor, which most of these tablets do not offer. Also, you probably won't be able to get a good experience playing games that are any more taxing than your regular 'Angry Birds' equivalent.
2. Touchscreen? Okay, if you say so
I'm not getting into the entire capacitive vs. resistive touchscreen debate here. While I agree a resistive screen is best if you like using a stylus, the Android OS is designed to be used with a capacitive display that supports swipe gestures and multi-touch. Having an Android tablet with a 7 (or higher) inch display that's not the easiest to use with fingers and doesn't support multi-touch is pretty pointless.
3. No zupport
Everyone has horror stories to do with customer support so I guess in a strange way having no guaranteed after-sales support for a Chinese tablet may be just what you wanted. However, if you are one of those people that unfairly want sales support for a device you just spent your hard-earned money for then you are out of luck (unless of course the seller is your husband, brother, father, sister, mother, son, daughter, uncle or aunt. You'll get the support but future family dinners may be a bit awkward).
4. Do you really need a tablet?
Most of the time when I ask someone why they want to buy a tablet, it mostly devolves down to the fact that it runs Android and so it's like getting a huge-screened Android phone. The fact is that you probably won't be using the device as a phone anyways mainly because of its bulk and to avoid looking stupid. A lot of people also want it to browse the Web or to watch videos on. Sure it'll play your regular videos but don't expect it to play 720p or 1080p ones. Also, an average Chinese tablet will offer a terrible browsing experience on account of the aforementioned faulty touch input and hardware limitations when it comes to relatively heavy websites.
The tablet is also not a laptop replacement because it's just not built to be able to do all the things that you regularly use a laptop for. So before you actually go ahead and shell out money for a tablet, ask yourself first: do you really need a tablet?
5. Okay, so there are exceptions
Right, after having said all of that, I will admit that there are certain things that a tablet (even a cheap Chinese Android tablet) may be good for. If you're really interested in the Android OS and want to play around with different custom ROMs without worrying about bricking your device then a cheap tablet may be a good investment for you (of course, such people would have called me an idiot and stopped reading this article a while back). Also, the large display means that the tablet is useful in reading eBooks. However, you may have to suffer through inconsistent battery performance and a display that's not conducive to long stretches of reading.
Have you recently bought a Chinese tablet? What's been your experience? Voice off in the comments section below or on our Twitter, Facebook pages.