Review: $99 IdolPad Android Tablet
The IdolPad isn’t the first budget Android tablet, and it’s not even the first one to sell for under $100. But like I said in my first impressions post, it is probably the best one on the market today.
My experience with the IdolPad was pretty good. This is easily the best sub-$100 I’ve had my hands on.
The basis for this review is the time I spent with the IdolPad over a several day trip to NYC. I loaded the tablet with my usual apps and was using it as a replacement for my Samsung Galaxy Tab (the original 7″ model).
Some might think that this isn’t a fair comparison, given the vast differences in components, specs, and build quality. This is perhaps true, but the IdolPad was more than adequate for the job. It worked well. Given the price disparity, I would actually rate the performance as excellent.
Idolian launched the IdolPad about 3 weeks back. This is a 7″ (800×480) Android tablet running Android 2.3 Gingerbread on a single core 1GHz CPU. It has Wifi, 4GB Flash, and a microSD card slot along with USB Host, speakers/mike, HDMI out, and a VGA webcam. The touchscreen is 2 point resistive, but most apps don’t seem to recognize it.
All the ports and slots are on the one edge (next to the back button). There are 3 buttons on the upper edge: power, home, menu. The back is silver, with a rough pattern (makes it easier to grip).
It ships with the usual basic apps as well as the Android Market. The IdolPad is running Gingerbread, and I didn’t have any trouble installing apps. Youtube, Kindle, WordPress, and the Google apps suite all run fine. Angry Birds installed okay,too.
It’s also running a custom homescreen. Normally I wouldn’t mention it, but I like how Idolian added some of the details from later versions of Android. It’s nice not having to remember where things are on the earlier versions of Android which I switch back and forth. On a related note, the IdolPad is scheduled to get an update to Android 4.0 in May.
Given my experiences with more expensive tablets, I’d say that the IdolPad has excellent battery life for the price. I took it on on my NYC trip and it lasted just over a day before I had to charge it again. This was fairly intensive usage; I was mobile most of the time so I used the tablet more than my laptop.
In comparison, I took my Samsung Galaxy Tab to CES and it lasted just over 2 days of similar use. Considering that the IdolPad costs a quarter the price, I think it offers excellent battery life.
PDF Stress Test
Mike Cane has been using a couple old scanned-page PDFs to torture the various tablets he’s had his hands on. I couldn’t get either one to load in Aldiko or on the browser.
Video & Youtube
It has the usual Android video player, but it also a better one with more display options. I didn’t have any videos on hand to test other than the usual 650×350 TV quality, and they displayed without dropped frames, artifacts, or getting out of sync.
It’s a cheap tablet, so don’t expect too much when you get one. But I do feel that the overall feel of the IdolPad was a lot better than most other cheap Android tablets.
It’s difficult to explain why, but the IdolPad just looks and feels nicer than its competition. It certainly doesn’t have much better specs, and some others are as solidly built. But it just has a better vibe to it. This is probably part of the reason that I like it so much.
Actually, it is better in at least one respect. The viewing angle for the screen is wider than most budget tablets. It also has decent camera, and that is certainly unusual in this price range.
This is a nice tablet, but with great price does come great quirks. The button arrangement on the upper edge takes little getting used to. It can also sometimes take a moment or 2 to wake up properly. The notification bar at the top of the screen is sometimes hard to grab, but I’m not sure if it’s me or the tablet.
Hands On Video
This video was shot by Idolian; you might want to turn off the sound before you watch it.
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread
- 7″ (800×480) resistive touchscreen
- single core 1GHz CPU
- 4GB Flash, microSD card slot
- USB Host
- HDMI out
- VGA webcam