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back to article Review: Vodafone Smart Tab II 7 budget 3G tablet

Tablets with 3G connectivity continue to command what I think is an unreasonable premium over their Wi-Fi only siblings. Granted, the 3G Google Nexus 7 is only 40 quid more than the equivalent Wi-Fi model but you can’t have 3G at all with the cheaper, 16GB tablet. The 3G iPad Mini, meanwhile, carries a £100 mark-up. Vodafone …

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Anonymous Coward

If all you want is web browsing and email it's probably ok - but if you are going to the cost of a mobile data contract you may as well have something 'better' to run it through. it is cheap as chips but I'd want a device that was capable of playing video properly.

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Fonts Too Small To Read = Interface Difficult To Use

Android and iOS are now on smaller tablets, where fonts appear smaller, and yet neither have rejigged the UI to use a larger minimum-size font (even if only for the built-in apps at first), one that you can actually read easily, in mobile and sofa situations. This device, from the screenshot, appears to have the same issue.

I recall Psion doing this when they just shipped the Series5 software in the smaller-screen Revo - whoops, some fonts were really hard to read. At least Psion had the excuse of not having the people or the money to fix it. Not sure of the excuse for Apple and the Android firms.

Maybe Apple&Android don't want to sell to over-45's - a shame, as they're the people with more disposable cash, and they're clamouring for easy-to-use tech. But if they can't read the screen...

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Re: Fonts Too Small To Read = Interface Difficult To Use

(Actually my v1 iPad has some ludicrously, insanely small text in places - maybe Apple's minimum-size is just for under-45s.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fonts Too Small To Read = Interface Difficult To Use

Don't blame Apple, they were the ones who said 7" tablets were DOA and not usable. In the end they caved in to demand and did release a smaller tablet, but not as small as a 7" tablet. The lower resolution means larger fonts too.

What seems to be happening in tablets is a race to the bottom. This Vodaphone tablet has a single core CPU running an OS that people seem to think needs a quad core to run well on a phone.

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Re: Fonts Too Small To Read = Interface Difficult To Use

Well Android is available on those even smaller tablets known as smartphones :) Do you mean that Android smartphones also hard (or harder) to read? Or are the larger devices using a smaller font, which ends up being physically smaller on a 7" device than a 4-5" device?

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Why 3G?

Tablets would be considered secondary mobile devices after a mobile phone/smartphone, right? I you agree with that why would 3G be necessary on a tablet? Oh yes, 'cause the cellco's want to up their subs count.

A MiFi (unlocked, of course) or a tethering phone is a much better plan.

We need to get back to network operators operating networks and nothing else.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why 3G?

Probably because carrying two devices instead of one isn't convenient. A MiFi's battery life isn't great compared to a tablet, a tablet can be left on all the time unlike a MiFi.

A MiFi has both 3G and WIFI to power up, with a tablet it only needs to power up the 3G chipset (which is power efficient).

A 3G chipset typically features a proper GPS chip as well, WIFI only tablets don't.

There's so many reasons why you're wrong.

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Re: Why 3G?Quite a

My Huawei E586 will fit comfortably in a trouser pocket, and the battery lasts at least 4 hours. It's removable so a spare would give up to nine hours.

It means that neither of my tablets need to be 3G. Or my Kindle e-reader. Quite a saving. I even reduced my phone tariff considerably last year as it can use the E586 for data.

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FAIL

Re: Why 3G?

A 3G chipset typically features a proper GPS chip as well, WIFI only tablets don't.

There's so many reasons why you're wrong.

You mean like the wifi-only Nexus 7, which has wifi, bluetooth, NFC and GPS?

Maybe you should check your facts before you say people are wrong?

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Re: Why 3G?

Most 7" tablets offer 3G only as an option, not a baseline.

If you do have a 3G Tablet for internet and maps in your car or briefcase, you might find you don't require an expensive smartphone in your pocket, and will be perfectly happy with a clamshell 'dumbphone', with long long battery life.

This is a good option for older folk who identify themselves as having poorer eyesight and and less dexterity.

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Re: Why 3G?Quite a

And assuming there will be a 4G MiFi when Three start providing 4G, I will only need to buy one to give two tablets and a smartphone 4G.

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Linux

The Huawei Ascend G300 of 7" tabs?

If it's straightforward to SIM-unlock this for £10-15 and it doesn't have some awful signed bootloader this could be a nice cheap 3G tab to hack and put a custom ROM like CyanogenMod on.

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You can give me £10-15 if you like

but "Handily, the Tab II7 ships without a network lock".

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Facepalm

Re: You can give me £10-15 if you like

Anyone would think I pompously held-forth without reading the article...oops!

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Still looks like you're paying £100 for 3G

At that spec level, without 3G, you're looking at about £50 for a tablet.

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WTF?

Tether

Why pay the extra for the 3G when most people have a 3G mobile in their pocket which can easily tether to the tablet via bluetooth and give you 'net access? I do that between my Nexus7 and my phone (a bottom of the bucket Nokia 2730) and it works a treat. Then there's really no risk of it chewing through your data allowance unless you're really careless.

Also for things like navigation - Google Maps Nav does it fine as long as you set it up on wifi first (it needs their servers to do the route calculation) and have the maps downloaded for offline use. Then as long as you don't exit the app it'll happily guide you. Or failing that spend the extra you would have put on 3G on a paid-for app like CoPilot or one of the Garmin, TomTom etc offerings

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tether

above you've got a few good reasons why people think it's not a the best option to carry two devices.

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Re: Tether

Not sure I'd agree, as for example the GPS in the wifi-only N7 is fine, at least in the couple of weeks experience I've had of it. I can't say I've ever heard anyone say it's not the best option to carry two devices before.

And as for 3G - I was researching whether to get a 3G-N7 or the wifi-one and asked the nice Google-girl in PC-World and her comment was to forget the 3G version and just tether. So if even their instore-embedded staff are routing people to the cheaper option then there must be something in it.

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Stop

Re: Tether

Seen this statement so many times. (shakes head), Sure you don't see the need, everybody is different though and thats why they offer 3G Tablets (and there is a market)

I only want to carry one item around with me and also have a better viewing experience at the same time for watching films, videos, and browsing etc so went for a 7' tablet. More than happy and it does voice calls as well if I need to..

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FAIL

Let's be honest...

...if you've got an Android phone that's got 2.3 or better, you can set up a local wi-fi hotspot for your luvverly Nexus 7 instead. Job done!

Never forget, that slight discount against the Nexus's price is far offset by the fact you're going to have to get a contract or PAYG for the extra 3G service, and pay, and pay, and pay. At which point, the Vodafone phablet starts to look painfully expensive for what it delivers.

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Re: Let's be honest...

You don't need 2.3.

".2 Froyo will let you use the, phone as a wifi hotspot. I do myself occasionally on my Orange San Francisco that's rooted with 2.2. Trouble is it whomps through the battery doing that.

Now,if I could tether using Bluetooth instead I would try that, but 2.2 doesn't have that feature.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: Let's be honest...

FoxFi on the phone, PDANet Tablet on the phone does the bluetooth thing between my Froyo Nexus 1 and my Nexus7.

Plus FoxFi can throw a proxy in to (apparently) obfusticate tethering checks

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JB
Unhappy

Re: Let's be honest...

I wish that were true here in the Land of the Free! If i want to tether on my carrier, I have to subscribe to a very pricey 4Gigs a month data tariff - try tethering on anything less and they charge you the full whack!

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1ghz single core with 1gb ram? It wouldnt have taken much of a cpu boost to make it a much much better offering.

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Slightly off topic query

I see it's equiped with voice command...

...does anyone actually use voice command on these things? (I include Siri in this too btw). I've yet to see anyone actually use it, or even talk about instances when they did use it.

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Re: Slightly off topic query

I've seen people use it for sat nav - that is an actual good use, as you can do something hands-free when you're driving. But you're right, despite all the fuss that owners of a certain type of phone make (when they got the feature years after Android), I've never seen them use it (the 4S didn't even have sat nav, unless you got a 3rd party application).

On a related note, I'm still flabberghasted at some "science" radio programme I overheard around xmas 2011, which in its review of the year said how Apple had invented voice recognition, and thanks to them we'd soon all be talking to our PCs. I can't count just how many ways that was so wrong...

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Silver badge

Re: Slightly off topic query

I use it occasionally, in a limited way, for doing Google searches on Andriod. I do sort of second-guess what phrases it will understand immediately, and which I should just type in.

For example, "Cinema listings near Cardiff" I would expect it understand on its first try... something more obscure less so, so I would just type it.

I first tried speech recognition back in 2000 (and remember forecasts of it being the next big thing, even then) and it was entertaining but rubbish, but what is different now is the huge amount of data Google have to refine their system.

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Re: Slightly off topic query

I do at home on the tablet. Saying "Find such-and-such on Youtube" is much easier that having to type it in on a virtual keyboard

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Google Play and SD card!

It should be noted it's a cheap tablet that has both Google Play access (i.e., not locked down like Kindle Fire and Nook), and SD card (unlike Nexus 7). A shame the spec isn't so good, and with only 4GB internal memory, the 32GB Nexus 7 is probably a better option.

Are there cheaper/better Android tablets available in the UK with both of these? The other options seem to be an old Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 (also has poorer spec), a new one (much more expensive), or mail order from China. Why can't someone just give some decent UK distribution to say the Ainol tablets (which have Nexus 7-level spec, with SD card, and manage it at a lower price - though I'd happily pay a bit more than a Nexus 7 to get an SD card option). One of the main uses for me for a 7" tablet would be as a portable video player, so adding an extra 32GB for a tenner is a good feature, plus it's upgradable as SD card prices fall. I would be more sympathetic of Google's no-SD-card stance if they (a) provided a 64GB Nexus 7, and (b) didn't charge way more than SD card prices for the memory.

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Re: Google Play and SD card!

Try storage options for that, they have a dual core with decent GPU, sdcard and Jellybean for about £130. Only thing you won't get is software updates.

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Re: Google Play and SD card!

ainol can be bought in Europe, which is that bit of land past the white cliffs of Dover ;)

and no, they don't mind the brand name there, blissfully unaware, lucky bastards.

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Silver badge

Re: Google Play and SD card!

Another option is a Nexus 7, a USB on the go cable and the Nexus Media Importer app, plus either a USB stick or an SD card and USB adapter. The app is similar to StickMount, but doesn't need the device to be rooted.

Sum total for the cable and app - about a fiver or so (got mine last week) and you can then play music and movies from the stick on the Nexus.

Admittedly not quite as convenient as a built-in SD card slot, but it's do-able as a portable media player.

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Re: Google Play and SD card!

If you do as AC suggests, do check this thread first:

"The USB OTG that Do and DO NOT work with Nexus 7 Thread"

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1812609

I'm in the process of making one right now, just as soon as I find where I put my solder. Most male microUSB plugs are a bugger for this as the pins are so small, but I've found one that helpfully has a small PCB attached to it. Instructions are online, but you'd probably be better off just buying one.

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Re: Google Play and SD card!

[EDIT]- Not all recent Android devices support USB OTG in hardware, so check first if this something you are interested in.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google Play and SD card!

There are lots of tablets like

http://www.pointofview-online.com/showroom.php?shop_mode=product_detail&product_id=357

This one also uses a MediaTek SoC afaik its the MTK6575 dual core A9 variant.

I think the above is one of many devices like these

http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/7-inch-mtk6575-tablet-pc.html

Anyway, has anyone tested one of these? They are made by the bucketload and seem reasonable for a dual core A9 phablet. I'm myself am a bit worried about the overclocked but ancient SGX531 gpu.

Cheers

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Anonymous Coward

rotf

Google nexus is still the best, if you don’t care about storage expansion or mobile broadband connectivity.

- which is kind of what tablets are supposed to be about, i.e. internet on the move, with storage.

that said, nexus comes with a real gps, while this lenovo thingy doesn't.

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Alert

Re: rotf

The Lenovo thingy comes with fully functioning aGPS.

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Anonymous Coward

Why no comparison with......

Archos 80 Cobalt, sold by Tescos over Christmas for £49.

Dual core, 8gb Ram etc etc..... Deal of the year it was.

Check it out. http://www.archos.com/products/elements/archos_80cobalt/specs.html?country=gb&lang=en&#a

This one shouldnt cost more than £50 ! Period. Typical Vodafone.

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Got one just before Xmas

Wanted a cheap and cheerful tablet with 3G.

Spoke to Vodafone and as a long standing business customer I got it for free, with the data at £15 per month.

At that price I can't complain, and it does everything I need it to do.

YMMV.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Got one just before Xmas

and how long is the £15 a month for?

At just 12 months that would make your free tablet. £180!

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Re: Got one just before Xmas

At the end of the day, 3G was important for my needs. The other choice was for me to go out and buy a tablet (at £x) and still have to pay for a data contract with someone (for £y per month).

I am happy to pay what I paid and as I said, YMMV.

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