With Tablets slowly replacing laptops everywhere nowadays, we thought we would check out how the low price end of the spectrum fairs against our tablet requirements. So, we got a hold of the comfortably priced JoyTab Duo 9.7 from UK company, Gemini Devices.

To try and compare this to the leading, well known tablets would not be fair, because of course using this is going to be a very different experience, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. But what exactly, is missing from the tablet experience, and what does it surprisingly manage to pull off?

The Specs:

  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) Operating System
  • 9.7" Capacitive IPS Multi-Touch Screen
  • 1.5ghz ARM Cortex A9 Duo Core Processor
  • 1gb DDR3 SDRAM
  • Mali 400 Quad Core Open GL VE 2.O Graphics Card
  • 16gb Storage, Upgradeable to 32gb
  • 0.3 Megapixel Front Camera & 2 Megapixel rear camera
  • Mini HDMI Port
  • Mini USB Port
  • Built in speakers & Microphone
  • 3.5mm Headphone output
  • Wifi & Bluetooth Connection
  • Robust metal design
  • Weights around 632g
  • 10 hours Average Batter Life (we did not test this)

The Pro's:

  • This device comes with Android's Jellybean OS, which is something we're warming to more and more. This means you can get all those amazing Android apps such as the popular games, TV & Movie apps, music apps and more. Not to mention the cool widgets.
  • The Processor, RAM and Graphics Card in this tablet might not be able to compete with the high end tablet market, but it can still run most of the latest games to a decent standard. Though it might have taken a while to install a new and power demanding game such as Real Racing 3, it did still run and we raced a good few laps without any problems other than the obvious graphics quality limitations.
  • The screen is pretty responsive, games such as Angry Birds played perfectly and typing was fine, we noticed the tilt response sometimes seemed a bit off when playing racing games but that could have been down to some processor lag due to the game being pretty demanding on its requirements. It can also sometimes seem like it's not picking up your selections in the browser but really it's just taking a few seconds to load the page (this could have been a fault with our connection though - we'll give it the benefit of the doubt).
  • There is a MicroSD slot to expand your tablets memory, a feature sadly overlooked by the most popular tablet on the market and that always plays such a big role for those that do have it. Saving files to memory cards allows you more space to keep adding more and more to your tablet, rather than hitting limitations.
  • The screen quality is described as "Ultra Sharp" on the box, and though it has a decent 1024 x 768 resolution, we feel the pixel per inch rate (PPI) lets it down. Those that have used a high end tablet would definitely argue against the ultra sharp statement, however, to those new to the tablet world, once you've replaced the horrid default background with a high res image, you wouldn't really notice much pixelation when you're using an app and doing more than just staring at the screen. Plus the device offers 1080p HDMI output via its Mini HDMI port so you do supposedly get the option of better quality if using an external TV or monitor.

The Cons:

  • The JoyTab has attempted to follow suit when it comes to tablets in general and has gone for the stereotypical look, however despite claiming to be ultra lightweight, it's a bit heavier and bulkier than most (almost double the weight of the new iPad Mini) leading it to fail most in the looks department.
  • As mentioned, the screen is one of the main areas that highlights why this device is on the cheap side when it comes to tablets, and another thing aside from the PPI (pixels per inch) that really lets it down is that if you're not facing the tablet head on, the picture can be hard to see, so those expecting to watch a movie with you in the car will have to huddle in that little bit closer (this could be used to your advantage though in certain situations).
  • The audio is what you would expect from small home computer speakers or low end smartphones, so don't plan on using this with high end music apps expecting to be impressed. The sound is clear enough to play music and watch movies to a degree, but decent headphones would be a smart investment.
  • The Mini HDMI port as mentioned above may be a great feature, but the package does not include the cable so we didn't get to try it out. If you do wish to use this feature you're going to have to purchase your own Mini HDMI to HDMI cable. Don't go to the shops for this, some can be found on ebay for as little as £3 if you're savvy in your searching (try search Micro HDMI also).

Overall, we would personally probably rather save and pay the extra cash to get the most popular mini tablet out at the moment, mainly for overall build quality, the improved graphics, processor and audio etc but then we would be wanting it for more than just casual use. If you were buying this JoyTab for a young kid that keeps stealing your phone to play games, or if you were a casual browser that only uses the odd app such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype or Emails to catch up with friends etc then this is an ideal cheaper alternative. The cutbacks due to the price would be highly noticeable to someone who say, was brought a JoyTab as a replacement for their lost or broken iPad or Samsung Note, but to a first time tablet buyer on a budget, most wouldn't know better....until they experienced it.

The JoyTab also offers a Pro version which includes a Bluetooh keyboard (for those that hate typing on a touch screen) and is available from Argos for just £179 here.