Friday, 31 May 2013

MoneySupermarket Inspect-A-Gadget Tablet Review.

Even though the weather still might disagree some days summer is fast approaching.  With summer soon dawning on us along with the prospect of holidays for many people, MoneySupermarket.com have been considering popular travel gadgets for entertaining yourself and your loved ones on holiday.  MoneySupermarket.com have realised that popular travel gadgets such as e-readers, portable DVD players and tablets often have a hefty price tag attached to them and as such they are looking for affordable alternatives.  With an aim to find out if cheaper travel gadgets can live up to their more expensive counterparts MoneySupermarket.com have devised a challenge called Inspect-A-Gadget.  For their Inspect-A-Gadget challenge, MoneySupermarket.com have enlisted the help of a number of bloggers to review cheaper travel gadgets to enable them to collate a list of the top travel gadgets for 2013 in time for the summer holidays.  With each blogger being asked to review one of the current markets most inexpensive, yet effective travel gadgets from a selection of the top 5 most packed holiday tech gadgets, they will be able to give readers the run down on cheaper alternatives to expensive travel gadgets and a choice of affordable travel gadgets all of which will be under £50 and tried and tested by a host of different bloggers.




As we are a family who love gadgets I could not resist the offer of taking part in the MoneySupermarket.com Inspect-A-Gadget challenge.  I also thought the challenge sounded exciting and being a family with a limited budget I was keen on seeing whether there really are gadgets on the market that are within our price range that are worth the money and work well.

For the Inspect-A-Gadget challenge I was given the choice of 5 travel gadgets, all under £50 –
*  Philips Esee HD CAM295BL Camcorder
*  Kobo Mini eReader
*  Essentials C7PDVD12 Portable DVD Player
*  7 inch LélikTec® Android Tablet
*  SONY Walkman NWZB173 4GB MP3 Player

I was very tempted by the portable DVD player for entertaining Bug on the long trips to see his family on Lee’s side over 200 miles away and for long journeys in the car on our little holidays and other adventures away from home.  In the end I opted for the Android Tablet as I felt it met the needs of our family the best plus I have been lusting after a tablet for ages, being especially envious of my mum who has a snazzy iPad.  I thought the tablet would get a through testing from all members of our household with all of us testing out the various functions.  I hoped it would be perfect for us all in different ways; Lee loves YouTube and watching shows online via sites such as BBC iPlayer, I use social media a lot and being able to blog and write and even though he is still young Bug loves playing children-friendly games and watching cartoon shows.

The 7 inch touch screen Allwinner (LélikTec®) A13 Android Tablet is available on Amazon for under £40 and comes in 6 different colours; red, white, black, blue, pink and purple.  I was very tempted to get either the pink or purple but being kind I put my girly taste to one side and I decided to opt for a colour I thought the men in my life would appreciate too so I got the blue instead.  Being a tad late to the game I opted for the express delivery from Amazon for £8.99 so that it would come in time for me to have a play and thoroughly test it.  Thankfully the tablet arrived exactly when it should have, with quick efficient service and even a text or two to keep informed of the progress of the delivery of the family’s new toy. 



The tablet arrived in a small box with a funky design; inside the box was all I needed for using the tablet –
*  7 inch touch screen android tablet
*  stylus
*  charger
*  micro usb to usb cable
*  micro usb to usb adapter cable
*  instructions


The instructions tell you the basics of how to operate the tablet (even though it is very easy to use without the instructions especially if you have used an Android device before) but the writing it quite small and I could not see the little icons very clearly, this however was not an issue for me as I could operate the device without needing to refer to the instructions as would in my opinion most people.  I am not sure why there are two cables and what purpose the micro usb to usb adapter cable serves but if I ever need it at least it is there.



The tablet is a good size at 7 inches and is lightweight, weighing approximately 300 grams.  It looks and feels of decent quality, not appearing cheap or tatty.  Personally I think it looks fairly stylish and I love the blue colour of the shiny plastic casing.  Even though the tablet does not cost a lot I am going to order a screen protector and a case to protect the tablet as I think the screen and plastic casing will scratch easily and I wish I had ordered a case and screen protector when I ordered the tablet.



Some of the technical specifications of the tablet include –
*1 GHz processor speed
*512MB RAM size
* 4GB hard drive
*Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system

The tablet arrived with half a battery of charge which I was pleased with as I could have a play straight away.  I have not used a tablet before really apart from a quick dabble on my mum’s iPad however as I have an Android smartphone I immediately felt comfortable and familiar using the tablet.  The touch screen response is swift and smooth and the tablet is easy to navigate.  The screen quality and picture is adequate, clear and good for the price of the tablet.



It is amazingly easy to use and straightforward to set up.  The tablet is WiFi enabled and within seconds of inputting our WiFi password I was connected to the internet and the WiFi connection has been reliable.  The tablet is also enabled to allow connection via 3G, personally though as with my phone I avoid connecting via 3G due to data charges that mount up surprisingly fast.  I have found it easy to connect to different WiFi connections when out and about which I think is a bonus for when using the tablet away on holiday where you can connect to WiFi provided by hotels, public WiFi spots and if with BT their WiFi hotspots.

The tablet comes pre-loaded with a few apps including ‘Angry Birds’.  It also comes with Google Play Store where you can download additional apps as well as games, movies, music, books and magazines.  As with other Android devices you simply login in to the Play Store and download whatever you desire.  There are lots of free apps available and lots of free child friendly games for Bug to enjoy.  I have downloaded and connected to a number of apps including popular ones such as Facebook and Twitter allowing me to stay connected at all times.  Lee has also commanded a portion of the tablet with YouTube, iPlayer and 4OD to name but a few apps he has downloaded.  All apps work well on the tablet and easy handles apps when used solely.  The tablet also comes loaded with web browsers ready for connecting to the internet, with websites loading fairly quickly and in ample time for my needs.  The only thing I have noticed is if multiple windows are open the tablet does slow down.



According to the specifications the battery life is approximately 3 hours, with heavy use I personally do not think it would last quite that long as the charge does seem to drain quickly from the battery.  Apart from when Lee is watching a programme on the tablet the poor battery life does not bother me and for mine and Bug’s usage the battery life is more than adequate especially for Bug who I would not want to be using it for long periods of time anyway.  The charger is a little awkward and weirdly the power adapter does not plug into the tablet all the way, it sticks out with a bit of metal connector exposed.  I have also noticed with the awkward charging connection that even went plugged into the hole it is not always charging so I have to gently fiddle with it until I see the charging symbol on the battery icon.

The tablet has an inbuilt front facing camera which is of poor resolution with low megapixels.  Even though it is not the highest quality camera and I will not be ditching my trusty Sony Cybershot camera for it Bug has had fun taking photos and it is easy and entertaining for him to take his own photographs.

The tablet does not come with a huge hard drive which is not surprising with the small price tag compared to high end tablets so a big plus point is that it comes with a micro SD memory card slot providing the option of additional storage space for large files, songs, photos and videos.

The sound quality is decent on the tablet and there is a headphone slot for listening to videos and music via headphones.

Lee has enjoyed using the tablet to connect to YouTube and for watching programmes on TV catch up sites.  He was particularly grateful to have the tablet to watch The Apprentice on BBC iPlayer after missing the latest episode working overtime and having a terrible fiancée who forgot to record it (oopppss!  Bad, bad fiancée).



The tablet does everything I need to do and even though it is a times a tad slower loading and connecting than my smartphone it is good to be able to have a bigger screen to view and connect on.  It is a great portable device that won’t break the bank that allows me to stay connected, use a variety of social media and stay on top of my emails and blog.



Bug is a little techno freak, he loves gadgets and phones.  He loves playing on a few child friendly games on my smartphone and on a number of occasions I have found he has unlocked my phone, gone through a number of windows to find one of his apps, opened it and started playing all by himself.  Even though I do not mind him playing on my phone I was looking forward to him being able to play his games on a tablet, having a bigger screen to play on and being able to watch a few of his favourite cartoons and shows on too.  As soon as Bug saw the tablet he was intrigued and when we got to play a few of his favourite games he kept repeating ‘wow’ with a big smile on his cheeky little face.  The tablet is a great size for Bug; it is great that it is a bigger screen than my phone without being too big for him to handle and hold.  Another benefit of him using the tablet over my phone is that I do not have to worry about him texting or calling anyone which he has done a few times before when playing on my phone.



As well as being very happy playing apps and games on the tablet Bug has also been over the moon at being able to watch some of his favourite cBeebies shows.  For some reason it won’t play clips from the cBeebies website, coming up with an error message but fortunately it does play cBeebies shows via BBC iPlayer.  I plan on getting Lee to investigate why it won’t play shows from the cBeebies site as it may just be a case of not having the correct media player but I am not sure. 



A big bonus of it being a cheap tablet is I do not have to worry too much about Bug accidentally breaking it; I am not worried about Bug using it compared to when we are over at Mamgu’s house where I make sure I keep Bug well away from her iPad as I could not afford to replace it if he accidentally broke it.


I am more than pleased with this tablet so far, even though I love it for my own needs and think it is great that Lee is enjoying using it to, the best thing for me is that Bug gets to enjoy a little bit of technology with a tablet that I think is great for children.  Bug is delighted he gets to play with a proper ‘computer’ compared to his toy ones (which are great in their own way), looking very pleased with himself that he is a big boy and getting to play with what mummy and daddy use.  I love that it keeps Bug entertained and even though we are huge fans of playing outside and not getting spellbound by technology and sitting in front of screens all day I think it is good for him to get used to technology in a small way, playing and learning with it especially considering the technological era we live in.

I think this tablet is perfect for taking on holiday; allowing you to keep in touch with your nearest and dearest when away on holiday via social media and skype, check your emails and social networks and be entertained via apps, games and videos.  Its small, compact size is perfect for slipping in hand luggage when going on holiday and the ease of use and portability makes it a great little travel gadget with a low price tag.

The tablet is a great way to keep children entertained and a much more affordable option compared to other tablets on the market.  It may not be as snazzy, fast and have as much storage as high end devices but for the price it is a great piece of kit and allows you to do so much.  For the price I think you get a very decent tablet and it is what it is, an affordable tablet that is a decent all-rounder and a great alternative to expensive tablets especially if you have a tight budget.  I would recommend this tablet and think it is particularly good for children of all ages.  It has a bargain price tag and is a perfect entry level tablet.  I love it and look forward to using it on lots in the future and I think it will be especially useful for entertaining Bug on adventures away from home where long car journeys are undertaken and perfect for when we travel to visit Lee’s family.

*  I received payment for the tablet from MoneySupermarket.com in return for an honest review.  This post also forms my entry into the Inspect-A-Gadget competition where 1 lucky blogger from the Inspect-A-Gadget challenge will win a fabulous prize of £1000 to put towards their summer holiday *

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