When I see the words "8-inch Android tablet" paired with the
numbers "$129.99," I sit up and take notice.
After all, Apple's new 8-inch (well, 7.9-inch) iPad Mini just
debuted with a starting price of $399. A tablet that costs a
whopping $270 less must be a hunk of junk, right?
That was my thinking as I approached the Ematic
, a new tablet that, on paper, seems a little too good to
Available in your choice of black, blue, gray, or red, the
EGP008 looks like most other tablets in its class. It's nicely
tapered at the rear, and its gently rounded edges make for a
comfortable grip. It also feels reasonably light, weighing just a
hair over one pound.
The backside also has labels for the various items along the
bottom edge, which include the power button, headphone jack,
microUSB and microHDMI ports, and microSD slot. (The tablet comes
with a minimal 8GB of storage, but you can easily add more via
Missing, tragically: volume buttons. If you want to raise or
lower the volume, you have to rely on onscreen controls. Dedicated
volume icons appear on the toolbar when you're running an app that
involves audio, like a game or YouTube, but if you merely want to
raise or lower the system volume for things like notifications, you
have to venture into Settings--a fairly annoying hassle.
Equally annoying, the EGP008 can't charge via the microUSB
port, which is how the vast majority of Android tablets do it.
Instead, you need to use the supplied 5V AC adapter. That's very
close to a deal-breaker in my book.
I could almost live with that if not for the tablet's 1,024 x
768-pixel screen. That's the same resolution as the original iPad
Mini, but the EGP008's display just has a fuzzy overall look, and
it's relatively dim, even with the brightness cranked up to
maximum. In lower-light environments it's passable, but when viewed
alongside, say, a Kindle Fire, the difference is significant.
I also found the Ematic fairly slow at loading apps,
downloading files, and streaming video--most likely the result of a
weak Wi-Fi antenna. However, the games I played and videos I
watched all fared smoothly.
Needless to say, this is a budget tablet, and it shows in the
screen and overall performance. I do think you get a decent amount
of bang for the buck, but I'm not convinced that extra inch of
screen estate makes this a better buy than, say, the $139
Kindle Fire HD
. That mode lacks the dual cameras and expansion
slot found on the EGP008, but it's a much zippier tablet with a
brighter screen and the various benefits afforded by Amazon's
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The sad part is, with a few very simple tweaks, Ematic would
have a killer tablet on its hands--and possibly in yours.Veteran technology writer Rick Broida
is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his
money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC