So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Metalbox MP10 Android tablet
An inexpensive Android tablet that's useful for Web browsing and streaming videos
- Low price
- Good features for the price
- Good for basic Web and streaming tasks
- Battery isn't great
- A little sluggish
For $199, the Metalbox MP10 Android tablet is a good value proposition. It's not blazing fast, and its battery isn't great, but it's a 10.1in tablet that's fine for Web browsing, streaming video and basic gaming. Well worth considering if your budget only stretches so far.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
The Metalbox MP10 is a run-of-the-mill, 10.1in tablet that has a relatively low price point. You can buy this thing for $199, and while it isn't blazing fast, it's a very good unit for browsing the Web, watching videos and communicating online. It's also quite well built, and it felt a lot more solid than we expected considering its low price point.
It's a tablet that ships with Android 4.0.3 (we were able to upgrade to 4.0.4), and it has an AML8726-MX system on chip device, which includes a 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor and an ARM Mali-400 MP graphics processor. It also comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage. During our tests, the Metalbox MP10 was fine for general usage, but it did feel a little sluggish. In particular, accessing the tablet's settings often took a few seconds, and taps on menu entries were met with a slight delay. Scrolling in Web pages wasn't silky smooth and, again, touch inputs were sometimes a little delayed.
Despite that sluggish feel, the tablet performed well. We got used to the way it worked and we accepted its performance considering where it's positioned in the market. It's meant to be an entry-level device for those of you who want a basic 10-inch Android tablet, rather than a premium model with high-end components under the hood. We found that it handled most Web sites quite well, and it was good for browsing news sites, social media sites, and even photography sites. Streaming YouTube videos was not a problem at all, and we even had lots of fun streaming 1600Kbps (kilobits per second) video through the NBA.TV Android app.
The screen has a relatively low resolution of 1280x800 pixels, which is adequate for a cheap tablet, and it's a screen that's mostly easy on the eyes and adequate to view from the sides. Its contrast isn't great, though, which means that some fine detail will be lost when viewing photos. For example, if you're viewing photos with lots of shades and greyscale, those shaded and grey areas might just appear to be black. For casual viewing it's fine, but it shouldn't be relied upon as a viewing tool.
Reflections can be a problem with this tablet, just as they can be with other tablets that have a glossy finish, and it's not a very bright panel, which means that viewing outdoors won't always be comfortable. The tablet lacks an ambient light sensor, so you'll have to adjust the brightness manually if you want to manage the battery life.
It's a 6000 milliamp-hour, lithium ion battery that lasted us through two and a half YouTube movies (for a total of 3hr 45min) during our rundown test, and we used medium screen brightness. It took a long while to charge, though, especially as our test unit showed up without its wall adapter. Charging via a PC USB connection was a task that we left to complete overnight.
The tablet has two cameras: a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Don't expect too much out of these cameras — they supply very basic quality. You also get built-in Wi-Fi (single-band), Bluetooth, and there is support for 3G dongles should you ever need to use this thing in an area without Wi-Fi and without using your phone as a hotspot. There are a couple of speakers built-in, which aren't great; you'll need headphones while watching movies and listening to music.
Along the right side you get a microUSB port (for connecting to a PC, or for attaching a 3G dongle), and there is also a mini HDMI port, a headphone port, and a microSD card slot for adding more storage.
All up, a decent Android tablet to consider if you're on a budget and want something sturdy. It's definitely useful as a low-end consumption device, although its battery life isn't great. We should also point out that the review unit we tested had done the rounds. It came to us with a cracked screen and a substantial dent on the corner after presumably being dropped. We're impressed it still worked for us despite the damage.
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