The tablet market looks like the place to be for manufacturers at the moment with quite a few of the major players releasing slate devices in the run up to Christmas, presumably with the aim of breaking Apple’s stranglehold resulting from the currently unassailable iPad.
Samsung’s recent foray into the tablet space, the Galaxy Tab, was generally well received although its price tag didn’t really deviate that much from that of the iPad, meaning the idea of it becoming a genuine alternative to the Apple machine were hopeful to say the least.
Unperturbed, other manufacturers have their efforts lined-up, with releases from the likes of Toshiba and Archos recently hitting the shelves, each attempting to carve out a niche through their differing specs and applications. The latest company to have a crack at what is shaping up to be a lucrative market is British firm Elonex, who with their eTouch slate, are hoping to offer an affordable tablet for those who want to be part of the burgeoning scene, but don’t want to break the bank.
The Elonex eTouch does its best to ape the style of its beautifully-designed Apple competitor, almost to the point of plagiarism. A sleek frame with fluid lines and a nicely curved rear panel betray the tablet’s modest price tag – this could easily pass as a high end piece of kit at first glance – it’s only upon closer inspection that its budget credentials make themselves known.
An expansive 10″ LED backlit screen offers a vibrant colour display perfect for viewing photographs and video content and is surprisingly responsive given the cheap-feeling material it’s constructed from. Various connectivity ports and control buttons (Power On, Volume and Reset) are neatly incorporated into the sides of the device whilst the front mounted ‘Home’ button crafted in exactly the same way as that found on the iPad (and situated in exactly the same position). If it works for Apple…
At just 16mm thick and weighing in at 695g, the eTouch is not in any way cumbersome and its svelte body make it perfect for use on the move. However, whilst not exactly frail and delicate, the materials used make you think twice before considering any extended period of heavy use – one or two light knocks could well see external damage quickly appearing.
The Elonex eTouch employs Google’s Android operating system, and although the 2.1 version it runs is not the latest OS, it’s still more than adequate for the somewhat limited functions of the eTouch. When you consider the affordable price of this machine, the fact that it contains a powerful 1GHz ARM processor, makes the value for money aspect even more astounding.
One particular drawback however is the noticeable absence of a 3G chip in the tablet, meaning that any web surfing must be done within the vicinity of a Wi-Fi connection – not the best situation if you want to use it whilst travelling and aren’t in range of a hotspot. That said, the eTouch is probably designed with light home use in mind, its cheap price and reasonable specs making it perfect for keeping your social media in check whilst relaxing in front of the TV.
Some useful embedded apps such as Google News and Google Maps make the user experience a pleasant one, although the actual interface could be slightly more polished visually.
What Else Can It Do?
- Android Market is embedded to give access to a wider range of apps, making personalisation easy.
- A 3.5mm audio jack allows external speakers to be connected, useful if you intend to use the pleasing multimedia functionality to watch videos and play music files.
- Accelerometer automatically adjusts the display depending on the position in which the device is being held and the virtual QWERTY keyboard makes typing in search terms simple.
- Search bar anchored to the home screen enables quick access to the web and the fully customisable desktop allows for convenient quick launch of apps.
- 2GB of flash NAND solid state storage embedded with the option to expand upto 32GB via Micro SD card slot.
- USB conectivity, Li-ion re-chargeable battery provides 3hr battery life (9v-2100mA DC/110-240V AC)
The slightly flimsy build-quality does let this tablet down slightly, as does the lack of 3G capabilities. A camera would have been a welcome addition also but at around £200, you get what you pay for with this more than adequate bargain slate.
A perfect buy for the casual user who wants multimedia functionality and not much more. If you want an easy to use but fairly limited tablet device for an affordable price, you could do far worse than investing in an Elonex eTouch.