Fancy a tablet, but can’t stump up the cash for an iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1? The Andy Pad Pro is a 7in device running Android 2.3 Gingerbread for just £179. We took a look to see how it stacks up.
Andy Pad claims to offer the iPad experience at a fraction of the price, but with a 7in resistive touchscreen – nearly 3in short of the iPad 2′s 9.7in – it’s clear that some serious compromises have been made to meet the device’s lowly price point.
Despite being made entirely of plastic, the Andy Pad Pro feels solid enough – and, at 348g, is comfortable enough to hold in a single hand.
Unlike its cheaper sibling, the £130 Andy Pad, the Pro’s 1024×600-pixel screen is capacitive, which means you get the same multitouch gesture functions as the iPad.
The LCD display itself leaves a little to be desired, appearing rather washed-out and difficult to view in bright sunlight. Above it is a frankly terrible 0.3-megapixel front-facing video camera, but the 2-megapixel resolution still camera on the rear is a little (if not much) better.
While Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ is one of the most up-to-date versions of Google’s mobile OS, it’s one that’s geared towards smartphones, rather than the tablet-specific Honeycomb 3.0 or upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0, which unifies the two. Because of this, the Andy Pad Pro feels a little like an oversized phone – but with a relatively small 7in screen, that’s not an entirely bad thing.
As it is, the version of Android installed is pretty much stock-standard, without any of the bells and whistles added by premium vendors – but to our mind, that’s no real problem. Best of all, there’s full access to Google’s Android Market – something of a rarity among Android tablets at this price.
You get five homes screens for app shortcuts and widgets, but with the addition of an expanded dock at the bottom to provide quick access to settings, music, apps, wireless settings and the device’s web browser.
There’s 512MB of RAM available on the Andy Pad Pro, and 16GB of built-in storage – identical to the entry-level iPad 2′s spec – but unlike Apple’s device, that can be supplemented with MicroSD cards of up to 32GB.
Combined with the device’s single-core processor, it’s enough to provide a reasonably smooth experience. Interestingly, though, although Andy Pad quotes the chip as a 1.2GHz, Qualcomm’s Vellamo benchmark reports its maximum speed as just 1.08GHz – perhaps underclocked to address heat issues. On the plus side, unlike the iPad 2, the processor does support Flash, giving you access to a much greater proportion of video content online.
Using the Andy Pad Pro is a surprisingly comfortable experience, too. While the relatively meagre allocation of RAM means it’s occasionally a little unresponsive to touch, it comes bundled with the excellent SwiftKey Tablet X keyboard, which features excellent predictive facilities.
In addition to the MicroSD card slot, the Andy Pad Pro comes with a mini-USB port, used both for charging and to attach external storage devices. You also get a standard headphone jack socket and mini-HDMI connector, enabling you to connect the device up to a large display – handy, because in spite of its lowly screen resolution, the Andy Pad Pro supports 1080p Full HD video playback , something it did with aplomb in our testing.
In terms of wireless connection, you get WiFi and Bluetooth, but no 3G.
The Andy Pad Pro’s creators reckon the tablet will manage six hours of every day use between charges, and in our tests, it fell not far short of that. Again, it’s not in the same league as an iPad 2 – but then it does costs less than half of the price.
Company: Andy Pad
- Capacitive touchscreen; 16GB storage; 1080p video playback and Flash support.
- Lacklustre build quality; Android 2.3 isn't best suited to tablet devices.
Whatever Andy Pad's makers say, the iPad 2 it ain't. But that doesn't mean it's easy to dismiss. Sure, build quality could be better, and we'd have liked a bit more RAM to make applications zip along smoothly. But to our minds, the compromises that have been made to keep this tablet within its £179 budget are the right ones. It won't please those who are after the slick experience of a high-end Android tablet, most especially because it's hampered by the Android 2.3 operating system. But for those eager to see what the tablet world is all about - or as a starter pad for youngsters, the Andy Pad Pro is on to a winner.