Performance and battery life
The company rates battery life at six hours, and in our test (WiFi on, Bluetooth off, video looping) it actually went over that benchmark by a few minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. Six hours of battery life puts it in the same ballpark as the Galaxy Tab 7 and you feel as if this could go a full day, maybe two, without a recharge if it's only being used casually.
We can't be as effusive about the general performance of the device. Running the show is a Rockchip RK2918
Cortex A8 1.2GHz with 512MB RAM, and while it's a budget chip, it's no slouch. In general, apps run smoothly and video playback is fluid. Punctuating it all, though, is that lingering annoyance with the home screen, where performance slows to a crawl. Button pushes and swipes take far too long to register, and the icons have a habit of disappearing momentarily. It's worth repeating that the home screen's lagging performance makes a poor impression, even though it's otherwise an adequate performer.
The AndyPad Pro runs a barely-modified version of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
, Swiftkey X replaces the standard Android keyboard as default, although the split layout in landscape mode takes some getting used to. Aside from Dropbox, Evernote and Facebook, the majority of the apps are free or demo versions of popular Android market games (Chess, Drag Racing
, Checkers, Four in a line
, Glow Hockey
, Mouse Trap, Move it!
, Reversi, Jewels
, et cetera), which at times makes the device feel cluttered and bloated. You also get Android Market access to download most anything you want.
Aside from UI tweaks, Verticool has bundled the Andy App, its own software designed to hold the hand of novice users. It can handle OS updates, install apps and includes a series of short video tutorials that explain how to use the device -- something we wish came with all devices to teach impatient relatives.
The browser contains no surprises -- nearly everything renders quickly over WiFi, apart from element-intensive sites like, erm, this one. Trying to load the desktop versions of many sites means waiting for everything to load before you can commence browsing. We expected the device to collapse at the idea of a full-Flash page like GetTheGlass.com
and yet it actually ran it, nearly keeping up with the constant stream of animation that the California Milk board threw at it.
When reviewing an Android Tablet, the question to ask is "Why this device over another?" In this case, it's because for the price of an iPad 2
, you can have two £180 ($280) AndyPad Pros with enough change left over for a meal out. It's wise to mention that UK gadget prices are substantially higher than in the US. In sterling, the 16GB AndyPad Pro is very aggressively priced: £90 cheaper than the 8GB Iconia A100 (£273; $328 on Amazon), £100 cheaper than the 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 (£280; $345 on Amazon) and nearly half the price of the 16GB HTC Flyer (£330; $499 on Amazon).
This is a device that high-end users will struggle to appreciate. Suspect build quality, fussy with accessories and the operating system all detract from the tablet's strengths. There are performance issues with the AndyPad Pro, nearly all of which can be laid at the feet of Gingerbread. The company is currently investigating porting Honeycomb
onto the device. If it can achieve that and improve the build quality without inflating the price, it would be hard to justify the higher prices of tablets in the same class. Until then, this is a budget tablet that will appeal to price-watching novices only.