eFun Nextbook Next4 and Next6 hands-on

Believe it or not, the tablet world hasn't all turned into a Honeycomb / Tegra 2 monopoly. Some manufacturers, like industry newbie eFun here, are sticking with ye olde Froyo and looking to conquer a slice of the thrifty consumer market. The Nextbook Next4 is a 10-inch panel aping the iPad in offering a 1024 x 768 resolution and what will be a brushed aluminum back (ours was made out of plastic, but it was just a display prototype). Unfortunately, that's pretty much where the similarities end, as this device's software really wasn't up to scratch. It's almost stock Android 2.2, by the looks of it, but eFun opted to take the familiar Android soft keys into software, leaving the only capacitive touch for the panel. The biggest problem for us, aside from some instabilities and a random reboot, was lag when navigating through menus and an atypically long load time to get Angry Birds running. Performance might be an issue, in spite of the 1GHz Cortex A8 processor inside, but price likely won't be. The Next4 is launching in the first quarter of the year with a price somewhere around $350.

Its 7-inch sibling, the Nextbook Next6, is also joining it in Q1 and also eschews Android keys for a software implementation. Its designed primarily for reading ebooks and has a pair of physical keys on the side for flipping pages, which worked well. It had similar issues, however, to its bigger brother, but maybe its target audience will be more forgiving of its lack of immediate responsiveness than we are. It'll be a Home Shopping Network exclusive for a week when it launches, with an MSRP of $300 that will likely be discounted to $250. Hit up the gallery for the hands-on action!