A few days ago I received my on the job the NATPC M009S Capacitive 7 Inch Android tablet in the United kingdom - regardless of the branding it's really the MID A710 tablet (the A10 also seems to become an unbranded match).
Reviews of cheap Android pills are frequently skewed by tiresome evaluations using the iPad or Universe Tab - about as helpful as evaluating a fundamental Ford having a Ferrari. Yes, both are superbly designed pills that overflow with quality features however they cost three to five occasions the cost from the NATPC M009S. They likewise have a ten inch screen causing them to be less portable, almost two times as heavy, more difficult to carry and fewer appropriate being an e-book readers - so theyâ€™re not necessarily the best choice for everyone.
CPU andÂ Graphics Processor:
CPU â€“ Allwinner A10 Cortex-A8 1.2 GHz andÂ Graphics â€“ Mali 400 MHz
The CPU is considerably faster than bargain basement tablets which often run at 800 MHz. The graphics processor has been super smooth at everything I have tried to date â€“ video quality and playback is spot on. Full HD video, Angry Birds, YouTube, Skype video etc are all very responsive with no lag. Apps start very quickly and I really have been hard pushed to tell any difference from more expensive tablets.
Touch screen, 7 inch, 5 point multi touch capacitive, resolution 800 x 480. The capacitive screen is very responsive and the multi touch works well. Viewing angles and picture quality are good (not up to iPad standard but fine). It doesnâ€™t have an anti-fingerprint coating on the screen (or casing) so be prepared to clean it every now and again.
On any 7 inch tablet the onscreen keyboard is small and a bit fiddly to use in portrait mode but much easier in landscape mode â€“ an external case/USB keyboard combo can be added cheaply for protection and easy typing if required.
The screen resolution is on the low side (e.g. the 7inch Kindle Fire is 1024 x 600) â€“ this limits the detail that fits on screen and can result in a lot of finger-scrolling around when browsing websites. On the other hand it arguably makes it easier to read with less need to zoom in when reading a webpage. Personally I find it reasonable but if you are used to a higher resolution on a phone you may be slightly disappointed by the lower resolution on a larger screen.
However, the 7 inch screen size (and light weight) does make the M009S excel as an ebook reader â€“ the Kindle app works well, text is clear and page turning is ultra smooth. Like any tablet, use outside can be problematic compared to an actual Kindle but it is possible if you avoid direct sunlight â€“ even the shadow from your own body is enough to make reading a more pleasant experience.
Overall Build Quality:
Excellent â€“ for the price. I was expecting a tablet this cheap to be poorly finished but the quality of the plastics and overall build quality on the M009S tablet are actually very good â€“ the casing feels nice and solid with no flimsiness or unfinished bits. It looks and feels like a polished product twice the price â€“ not iPad quality but not cheap rubbish either.
512MB DDR II / 8GB NAND Flash â€“ upgradeable by Micro SD memory card (max 16GB). New UK versions have 8GB memory built in rather than the previous 4GB. Whilst this is less than the 16GB+ storage available in expensive tablets, it is very cheap to add 16GB memory card(s) for extra storage.
Yes â€“ 802.11 b/g/n. Easy to connect via wireless â€“ I had no issues connecting to 2 wireless routers (wireless G and N) and gained a good wireless signal over distance/through walls, just as good as the integrated wireless in my laptop.
1 x Micro SD slot, 1 x AC Jack, 1 x 3.5mm Earphone Jack, 1 x Mini USB, 1 x mini HDMI out
The mini HDMI socket lets you quickly connect to an HDTV allowing pictures and HD video to be displayed on a large screen â€“ this works very well and could even make the tablet a cheap media center computer.
Skype calls resulted in huge echoing feedback at the other end â€“ presumably because the speaker and microphone are so close together (or poorly shielded) so earphones are a must for making calls â€“ sound is then very good quality and the microphone works well.
The integrated speakers are not up to much â€“ volume is low so if you want to listen to music the earphone jack is recommended. Sound quality and volume through earphones is then very good.
The mini USB socket is used for connecting to a computer (or for charging â€“ see below) and can also be used to plug in external devices e.g. a keyboard or flash drive etc. â€“ a USB hub can be added if you need more than 1 USB device at a time.
4000 mAh. This is good enough to last about 3 to 5 hours depending on your usage â€“ not too shabby for a cheap tablet. The MID A710 is best charged by the power supply but it can also be charged via USB from a computer, albeit very slowly.
One major drawback is that the screen is remarkably unresponsive during charging â€“ so much so that it makes the tablet almost impossible to use. This could be annoying if you wanted to use it whilst charging but the battery life is good enough that it shouldnâ€™t be a major problem if you are organized and charge in advance if required.
0.3 Megapixel Front facing. Necessary skimping in a cheap tablet like the M009S â€“ no rear facing camera so the front one is mainly for Skype video or taking pictures/videos of yourself. The quality is ok for those purposes but not great â€“ similar to a cheap and old webcam i.e. a bit grainy and needs good lighting but better than nothing.
Official Android Market:
Yes. Full official Android Market â€“ a failing of many cheaper tablets is that they donâ€™t offer the official Market and use a poor imitation with few apps and lots of problems. Happily, the A710 provides the official market so it is easy to download all the common apps like Kindle, Angry Birds, YouTube etc.
Yes. Came with the latest Adobe Flash Player 11.1 installed â€“ needed for viewing many video streaming websites and other multimedia content. iPads of course canâ€™t have Flash because Apple say we donâ€™t need it â€“ well in my opinion we do (certainly for the moment) so one up for Android!
Yes. This is the sensor that changes orientation from portrait to landscape automatically as you turn the tablet round â€“ has worked remarkably well for me, very smooth and rarely needs â€˜jigglingâ€™ to prompt the change. I have had more trouble on an iPad although it does have a larger screen to rotateâ€¦
No. Canâ€™t really expect 3G internet connection on a cheap tablet â€“ it can be optional on expensive ones. According to the specs it should be possible to use a HUAWEI E1750 (UK) or similar US external 3G USB dongle but I havenâ€™t been able to test this.
365g. Excellent weight â€“ lighter than more expensive 7 inch tablets like the Kindle Fire (413g) and Playbook (425g). Just for comparison, the 10 inch iPad2 (601g) and Galaxy Tab (565g) are obviously a lot heavier again.