Voda­fone Smart Tab N8

Take this magic tablet and you’ll save money – but things will slow down

Computer Active (UK) - - Contents -

This new An­droid tablet is the cheap­est to in­clude a SIM slot, so you can use the in­ter­net any­where with a mo­bile-phone sig­nal rather than only where there’s Wi-fi. It sup­ports 4G net­works as well as older pro­to­cols.

Of course, Voda­fone’s rea­son for throw­ing in this fea­ture – up to £100 ex­tra with other tablets – is that it wants to sell you a mo­bile-data con­tract. This starts at £12 a month for 24 months, which adds up to at least £288 and throws the whole ‘bud­get tablet’ con­cept out of the win­dow. Opt to pay as you go in­stead, though, and you can top up five or 10 pounds at a time just to cover those sit­u­a­tions away from home when you re­ally need to get on­line and can’t find Wi-fi.

Like Voda­fone’s smart­phones, the Smart Tab N8 comes locked to the net­work, but if you pay as you go and top up once for £10, then wait 30 days, you can un­lock it free of charge and shop around for a Sim-only data plan from an­other net­work. Al­ter­na­tively, for­get the whole 4G thing, switch off Mo­bile Data un­der Data Us­age in An­droid’s Set­tings, and just en­joy your £129 Wi-fi tablet.

For this price you can’t ex­pect many cor­ners to go un­cut, but first im­pres­sions are good. The tex­tured black plastic chas­sis is easy to grip and rea­son­ably solid, and there are ba­sic cam­eras front and back as well as two speak­ers. The touch­screen is big­ger than an ipad, at 10.1in, but the dis­play is very coarse, with less than Full HD res­o­lu­tion and colours that are both dull and in­ac­cu­rate. Con­trast is de­cent, but it’s not bright enough to use out­side on a sunny day.

The cur­rent An­droid 7 Nougat is in­stalled, and as usual Voda­fone has avoided mess­ing about with it too much, which we ap­plaud. But the plod­dingly slow pro­ces­sor can’t re­ally man­age multi-task­ing and strug­gles with more de­mand­ing apps like Google Maps. Candy Crush is about the level of game that will run smoothly. Bat­tery life is fairly good, at least, last­ing nine hours 44 min­utes in our video-play­back test.

All this means it’s a us­able tablet for ba­sic tasks, if you’re pa­tient, and stan­dard An­droid makes it more ver­sa­tile than Ama­zon’s Fire HD 10, which hasn’t been up­graded this year and seems to be dis­ap­pear­ing. On the other hand, 4G is its only ma­jor ad­van­tage over Asda’s cheaper RCA Saturn 10 Pro (£109 with key­board from www.snipca.com/25264, see our re­view, Is­sue 509) or Ar­gos’ Alba 10 Inch Tablet (£90 from www.snipca.com/ 21040, see Is­sue 480).

A us­able, ver­sa­tile tablet if you’re pa­tient, with op­tions to use with­out Wi-fi

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