7-inch sizes are quickly becoming the dominant form factor for the tablet market. Cheaper and more portable, the likes of Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD have been able to corner the budget end of a market where Apple’s iPads (Mini included) don’t dare to tread. However, if you’re looking to go truly portable, you’re going to want a 3G mobile data connection too, something that neither the Nexus 7 nor Kindle Fire lines offer, and only the premium 3G iPad Mini (starting at a pricey £369) has.
The new disgo 8400G tablet then is compelling on two counts. An Android 4.1.3 7.9-inch tablet, it’s both aggressively priced at £149.99 and packs in a 3G connection too.“There has been a massive premium on 3G models in the tablet market, sometimes upwards of £100,” said Luke Noonan, purchasing director at disgo whilst we went hands on with the forthcoming tablet.
“We’re half the price of an iPad, but much, much more than half the experience.”
Though budget priced, the tablet has plenty of features usually missing from the bargain-basement Chinese Android tablets that clutter this price bracket of the market. As well as the 3G connection, there’s full access to the Google Play Store and the full raft of Google services apps pre-installed, including Maps, Gmail and more.Further setting it apart is the inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapgradgon S4 processor, dual-core running at 1.2GHz with an Adreno 203 2D/3D graphics core. It’s not a lightning fast quad-core chipset that top-tier tablets now ship with, but it’s no slouch either. Though you may experience some lag when inputting text and a little judder with high-resolution videos, our short time with the tablet saw it play perfectly fine with web browsing and diving around the Android interface. If you’re reading this on a first-generation iPad, it’s a similar level of responsiveness.
Similarly, concessions are made with the 7.9-inch screen, but none that are deal-breakers. Running at 1024×768 resolution, its viewing angles are a little tight and its brightness levels average, but it’s still offering reasonable performance given the price tag.The 3G connection also allows the tablet to be used as a telephone, with Android’s stock dialler and contacts book included. Though some smirk at the idea of a 7-inch phone, the growing trend towards “phablet” devices of over 5-inches (not to mention wildcards like the ASUS FonePad) mean it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to wield a giant telephone. Even conservative users could subtly hook the 8400G up to a Bluetooth headset.
Under the hood, you’ll find 4GB of built-in storage (expandable via microSD cards), and a 4800mAh battery that disgo claim is good for 8 hours of average use (i.e a bit of web browsing, video playback and music listening over 3G and Wi-Fi.) GPS, A-GPS and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity options are also included, with disgo pulling in some low power elements of Bluetooth 4.0 to tempt B2B buyers in the health sector. Two cameras are included too; a 0.3MP front unit and 2MP rear-facing snapper.Measuring 205 x 140 x 9mm, the disgo 8400g offers a durable build that’s solid, if not all that sexy. A wide black bezel, finished with silver edging, sits around the screen, while a textured plastic composite backing adds some grip to the back of the device.There’s certainly a gap in the market for a low-priced, reliable 3G Android tablet, and though the disgo 8400g wont set pulses racing, it could prove a sturdy bargain for those looking to test the tablet waters on a tight budget. Available from this month, you’ll be able to pick the slate up from Currys and PC World, as well as select online retailers.
We’ll be conducting a full review of the disgo 8400g in the coming weeks, so check back soon for a our full, final verdict.
By Gerald Lynch | March 22nd, 2013