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HANDS-ON VIDEO: Samsung Ativ Q review

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Bringing together the best of Windows 8 and Google's Android OS in one touchscreen device is Samsung's new Ativ Q convertible laptop/tablet hybrid.

Powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and featuring 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, Windows 8 virtualises Google's operating system, allowing you to switch between the two instantly.

With a hinge allowing the touchscreen to fold down over the full-size keyboard, you can convert the Ativ Q from laptop to tablet device in a matter of seconds.

Due out later this year (pricing to be confirmed) check out Tech Digest's first hands-on test in the video above!

You can see images of the ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3 in the gallery below.

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Samsung Electronics has unveiled two new tablets, the ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3. Both are powered by Windows 8, with the ATIV Q able to run Android apps while the the ATIV Tab 3 is billed as the world's thinnest tablet.

A convertible device with the ability to change modes between Windows and Android (Jellybean 4.2.2)the ATIV Q (right)  can be used as a notebook or tablet. It sports a hinge design that allows you to transform it into four functional modes. You can lay the display flat over the keyboard for tablet mode; raise the display upright to type just as you would a laptop; float and adjust the display to a comfortable viewing angle; or flip the display to place in the stand mode to watch movies. 

Boasting a 13.3 inch touch screen, the ATIV Q offers QHD+ (3200x1800) resolution which Samsung claims is 2.8 times higher pixel density (275ppi) than full HD displays. 

A tablet with the power of a PC, the ATIV Tab 3 is, claims Samsung, the world's thinnest Windows 8 tablet - as thin as many popular smartphones. Measuring 8.2 millimetres thick and weighing 550g, the ATIV Tab 3 offers 10 hours of battery life. 

The ATIV Tab 3 runs Windows 8, has the ability to run all Windows apps and programmes and comes preloaded with Office Home & Student.

The ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3 will all be available to buy in the UK from selected retailers later this year.

Says Simon Stanford, Vice President of IT & Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland:

"We're committed to offering our customers choice and convenience in personal computing, and the convertible nature of both these new tablets delivers the freedom and versatility our customers demand. These innovative devices have been designed with busy people in mind, and the adaptability they offer is better suited to busy lives than any tablet on the market."

For more information go to www.samsung.com/uk/ATIVBookQ

You can see our video review of the Samsung ATIV Q below:

You can see pictures of the ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3 in the gallery below:

Just giving logo.pngOnline giving platform JustGiving has revamped its mobile donation process in order to make donating to causes faster and simpler, it claims.

The new 'one-touch' process remembers your details and preferences when you donate on your mobile so you don't need to use a debit or credit card when giving on smartphones/tablets.

There's also a Gift Aid opt-in process, recognised by HMRC, which JustGiving believes will drive up the rate of Gift Aid donations.

In April, mobile traffic to JustGiving overtook desktop traffic for the first time, with over half of users now visiting JustGiving on a smartphone or tablet. JustGiving anticipates that by 2014, around 70% of all traffic will come from mobile devices.

Says Lee Marshall, Product Manager at JustGiving:

"The way that people give is changing - more than ever, people want to give wherever and whenever they want, on any device. In a world full of distractions, it's vital for us to continue to make giving as easy and intuitive as possible."

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archos-titanium-97b-top.jpgIf a high resolution display at a low cost is your priority when looking for a tablet device, cast your gaze on the new Archos 97b Titanium Android slate. Set to be an exclusive to Dixons and Currys stores in the UK, its 9.7-inch screen boasts a Retina iPad matching display resolution of 2048 x 1536 for a penny shy of £200.

Running Android Jelly Bean 4.1, the tablet is powered by a 1.6GHz dual-core A9 processor backed up by a quad-core GPU and 1GB of RAM.

Though there's no Bluetooth, let alone NFC connectivity options, you've got access to a 4G connection as well as 3G for on-the-go browsing of the full span of the Google Play app store. And though only 8GB of internal storage is offered up, at least you can expand this by as much as 64GB with a microSD.

DLNA networked streaming of media content is also supported, along with a pre-installed copy of OfficeSuite Viewer 6 for getting a bit of work done on the tablet.

Click here to grab it online from Currys, priced £199.99.

Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-06.JPGWe're a fickle bunch us tech heads - first we're dying to throw away our digital stylus pens in favour of finger-sensitive controls, now (somewhat egged on by the success of Samsung's Galaxy Note mobile range) we're all for them again. Toshiba this week revealed new stylus-equipped Android tablets, and now it's Sony turn to show the pen is mightier (or at least as useful as) the finger with the unveiling of their latest Sony Vaio Duo convertible laptop/tablet. We had a brief hands-on play with the 13-inch device at a press preview event yesterday.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-07.JPGA little larger than last year's 11-inch model, the Vaio Duo 13 offers the best of both the tablet and ultrabook worlds, with a sliding hinge mechanism that lets the device's touchscreen sit upright behind a full-size keyboard, or flat across the keys for something akin to a traditional tablet experience.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-10.JPGWeighing in at 1.35kg it's reasonably light, though should be seen as an alternative to carrying both a notebook and tablet around, rather than being on a par in terms of size with the thinnest individual tablets or ultrabooks. 13-inches for a tablet may prove a little unwieldy for some too, though it's great to have it as an optional set up.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-05.JPGRunning Windows 8, the Sony Vaio Duo 13 also comes with a digitiser stylus pen for scribbling down handwritten notes. Updated to include a clip to house the pen when its not in use, removing the stylus from its housing automatically fires up Sony's Note Anytime app, allowing you to start writing straight way without having to first fire up the appropriate app. Paired with a lovely, vibrant 1920 x 1080 display enhanced by Sony's X-Reality, Bravia and Triliminos technologies, the pen proved responsive to our inputs, and also felt comfortably similar to a standard ballpoint.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-01.JPGLikewise, despite being relatively small, the Vaio Duo 13 had a comfortably spaced keyboard with good travel. What seems to have been compromised as a result however is the size of the trackpad, which is just a thin slice below the keys. With both touch and stylus input also supported, and the ability to plug a mouse into the device's USB port, perhaps that's not such a big problem, but may cause difficulties when trying to hammer some work out with the Vaio Duo 13 on your lap.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-02.JPGThose worried about the sturdiness of the supporting slider hinge should be able to rest easy. In our brief test it seemed solidly constructed and moved smoothly from one position to the next. Sony reps at the event also showed us a video of the vigorous stress testing the design has undergone, showing the Vaio Duo 13 hinge withstanding some pretty mean twists and bends. Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-08.JPGMultiple configuration of the Vaio Duo 13 will be available, and can include 4th-gen Intel Haswell Core i7 processors, as much as 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. There's no option for a discrete graphics solution though, with only Intel's HD4400 offered at the top end. Connectivity as standard across the range includes USB 3.0, HDMI output, an SD card slot, NFC, GPS and 4G LTE too. Battery life is quoted as 15 hours, but we weren't able to confirm that during our brief test.Sony-Vaio-Duo-13-slider-hands-on-09.JPGIn a clever feat of engineering, the Vaio Duo 13's battery pack also houses an Ethernet port, which then allows you to turn the charger into a router, acting as a Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple other devices.

Set to launch in black and white colour options, Sony have yet to reveal pricing for the Vaio Duo 13. Early impressions however are positive, making Sony's latest slider one to watch.

sony-vaio-duo-13-slider.jpgSony have today announced a new and improved Vaio slider, the Sony Vaio Duo 13.

Doubling up as both ultrabook and tablet, the device features a sliding screen that can lay flat while facing upwards over the keys to act like a traditional slate device.

Measuring 13.3-inches and packing in a Full HD Triluminous touchscreen display with X-Reality picture processing technology, the Vaio Duo 13 can be configured to include Intel's latest Haswell 4th generation processors, as much as 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Running Windows 8, the 4G-enabled slider also comes with a digitiser stylus for handwritten note taking, with the device's Note Anytime software allowing you to scribble whenever you like rather than hunting for an associated app.

The Vaio Duo 13 also features an 8MP rear-facing camera that is capable of character recognition alongside built-in software, making the device also a sort of on-the-go document scanner too. There's also a Wi-Fi router included, allowing the ultrabook to act as a hotspot for 5 other devices.

15 hours is the stated battery life, one that, if true, would put it in the upper echelons of laptop power packs.

No word on pricing yet, but expect a June release.

Toshiba-WT310-tablet-1.JPGWindows 8 as a desktop OS hasn't quite had the impact in the enterprise or education markets that Microsoft had hoped for, with new stats revealed today showing the operating system has only had 0.53% penetration in the enterprise sector. But we're living in the post-PC age, right? It's all about the tablet for the future of Windows, right? Right? Toshiba certainly believe so, showing off today their new WT310 Windows 8 Pro tablet. We had a brief play with it a little earlier.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-4.JPGA 11.6-inch tablet with a full HD touch screen, it's a highly configurable tablet aimed at both the education and business sectors, which can be equipped with either an Atom chip or the latest Core i5 Haswell processors.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-6.JPGSSD storage in every imaginable capacity (within reason) is available, as well as the same DigitizerPen for text input and handwriting recognition that we saw earlier in the Android-based Toshiba Excite Write tablet.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-2.JPGThough it's not the most exciting design, the WT310 did offer a wide variety of useful ports in a chassis that looked as though it could withstand the rigours of both business trips and the classroom. Measuring 229mm x 189mm x 12.4mm and weighing 825g, it has a single USB 3.0 port, a microHDMI output, an SD card slot and internal support for LTE mobile data connections and Intel WiDi screen sharing. Silver-coloured plastic edging also houses a docking port. But though the majority of the tablet seemed sturdy, the home button however can be described as flimsy at best, and looked worryingly loose on the demo model at today's event.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-7.JPGAn optional docking cradle is also available for the WT310, folding down for maximum portability. It houses an additional USB 3.0 port, as well as an SD card slot and Ethernet port. It's pricing has not yet been disclosed, but looks like a sensible add-on for those intending to use the tablet as a laptop or desktop replacement.Toshiba-WT310-tablet-8.JPGPricing will vary wildly depending on the specifics of the configuration, maxing out at around the £700-£800 mark according to the Toshiba rep on hand today. Expect to see these up for sale before the summer is out.

Toshiba-Excite-Write-10.JPGAs well as a range of laptops and an all-in-one PC, Toshiba took today to refresh their tablet line-up, bringing their Excite range to the UK for the first time. Though the company has had a chequered history in the tablet space, they seem to be on the right track with their new top-end models, the Excite Pro and Excite Write. Each packs in a high-resolution display, while the Excite Write with stylus support targets the market cornered by Samsung's Galaxy Note range, being particularly similar to Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1.Toshiba-Excite-Write-05.JPGMeasuring 10.1 inches in size and running Android Jelly Bean 4.2, both the Excite Write and Excite Pro are essentially the same tablet, powered by Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processors and employing a very attractive 2560x1600 resolution display. 8MP rear camera's feature on both too.Toshiba-Excite-Write-06.JPGWhere they differ however is in the Excite Write's support of stylus input and handwriting recognition. Adding a digitising layer to the screen and coming complete with a stylus pen that (thankfully) feels very comfortable due to it closely resembling a standard ink ballpoint, you can scribble notes and sketches on the display. Toshiba's pre-loaded TruNote application (though worringly unstable and prone to crashing during our short hand-on time with a pre-release model) seemed particularly promising, accurately turning our spider like scrawl into typed text and allowing us to search the web with handwritten notes of export them to the tablet's mail app. Input was recognised with only a split-second delay, making writing at speed reasonably comfortable on the tablet.Toshiba-Excite-Write-01.JPGHowever, with both tablets sharing the same 260mm x 179mm x 10.5mm casing, there's no slot to tuck that digital pen safely away into, so you'll have to be careful not to lose it. Likewise, the overall design lacks inspiration, weighing a considerable 632g and featuring a thick black border around its edge. A nicely textured chrome-look back panel does make the tablet comfortable to grip though.Toshiba-Excite-Write-02.JPGOver specs include 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB storage options, micro USB and HDMI ports, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G, LTE support in the 32GB version, microSD storage expansion and a 3.5mm headphone socket.Toshiba-Excite-Write-08.JPGSet to be exclusives to PC World and Currys a little later this summer, the Excite Pro will command prices starting at £349, while the Excite Write will start at £499 (the higher price seemingly justified by pen input). That's a fairly premium price, but it's also a relatively premium spec sheet. That screen in particular is gorgeous, making the Excite Pro a slightly pricer alternative to Google's Nexus 10. Toshiba-Excite-Write-09.JPGA sturdy, optional keyboard case will also be available for the pair, though pricing hasn't been announced yet.

We'll have more hands-on first looks at Toshiba's latest gear throughout the day, so keep checking back for more details.

acer-iconia-w3.jpgAcer have confirmed the rumour that they are to release an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet, today lifting the covers off their Acer Iconia W3 tablet.

Measuring 8.1 inches across and 11.3mm thick, the tablet is powered by a dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 processor, clocked at 1.8GHz.

Housing a display running at 1280x800 resolution, the tablet comes equipped with rear and front cameras (both 2MP), with storage options varying from 32GB to 64GB.

Looking to court those aiming to do some serious work on a tablet, the Iconia W3 also comes with Microsoft's Office Home & Student 2013 pre-installed.

Ready to hit stores later this month, expect to pay somewhere around £320 for the 64GB machine and £280 for the 32GB edition, providing Acer keep pricing close to the conversion rates from the price in Euros given so far.

Galaxy-Tab-3-2013.jpgSamsung's Galaxy Tab 3.0 now comes in two new sizes, with 8-inch and 10.1-inch Tab 3.0 tablets revealed today, joining the already available 7-inch model.

However, though sitting at the top-end of Samsung's tablet range, the spec sheets leave a little to be desired.

The 8-inch model for instance has just a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, while the 10.1 has a marginally faster 1.6GHz dual-core processor.

Both share a 1280x800 resolution, which isn't even all that sharp at 189ppi on the 8-inch tablet, and is set to look even worse blown up at 149ppi for the 10.1-inch version. Looking at RAM, the 8-inch model again seems the more desirable, with 1.5GB compared to the 10.1-inch's 1GB, as well as a 5MP camera compared to a 3MP snapper on the larger slate.
GALAXY-Tab-3-8-inch.jpgBoth do share some attractive features though, including an IR blaster for controlling a TV, LTE variants, microSD storage expansion and advanced Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections . Each uses Android 4.2 Jelly Bean as its operating system.

Regardless, it's pretty uninspiring stuff for what should be Samsung's premier tablet line. No word on pricing yet, but we'd hope they'd match the middling specs on offer here rather than being inflated to match the enormous sway that the Galaxy branding now carries.

Whether or not you buy Microsoft's message here that their Windows 8 tablet platform is better than Apple's iPad, you've gotta hand it to Microsoft's ad department here - this is pretty funny.

Using (an admittedly voice-overed) Siri against Apple's own tablet, Microsoft hammer home Windows 8's multi-tasking capabilities and office document creation smarts. If this advert was to be believed, you'd think all the iPad was good for was playing chopsticks on a digital piano, and playing it badly.

Buuuuuuuuurn.

ipad-3-details-revealed-apple-15.jpgApple's next-generation iPad may be the company's thinnest and lightest yet, according to a new report from supply chain sources.

Speaking to DigiTimes, Taiwanese supply chain sources are claiming that the iPad 5 will weight 33% less than the current top-spec iPad 4 model.

To hit the new target weight of 437g, Apple are said to be employing a new manufacturing technique that uses a thinner 0.2mm piece of glass for the screen and one LED light bar for backlighting, allowing them to shave a few grams off the overall weight while still retaining the 2048 x 1536 Retina display resolution.

That's compared to the current gen iPad 4's 0.25mm glass substrate and two LED light bars.

Other areas where the tablet will go on a diet will include the tablet's bezel, which will be thinner around the edges and closer to how the iPad Mini looks. Display panels will be sourced from numerous manufacturers (including LG, Samsung and Sharp) to help ease any potential shortage issues too.

If DigiTimes sources are to be believed, the iPad 5 will enter production in July, ready to ship between 2 and 3 million units in time for a September launch.

samsung-galaxy-tab3-leak-top.jpgIf the latest Samsung-related tablet leak is to be believed, the South Korean tech giants may be on the verge of releasing a new 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 model, with alleged press shots and an accompanying spec sheet hitting the web.

Spotted first by SamMobile, the tablet is said to have a codename model number of SM-T310 for the 3G version, with a Wi-Fi only edition picking up the SM-T311 identifier.

Running Android 4.2.2, the tablet is said to have an 8-inch TFT display running at a 1280 x 800 resolution, with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor backed by 1.5GB of RAM (unusual since RAM usually comes in whole numbers). Built in storage is rumoured to be 16GB, with a further 64GB available through microSD expansion if you've got one of the memory cards lying around.

In terms of imaging, the tablet is said to have a 5MP rear-facing camera and 1.3MP front facing snapper, while all the standard Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and A-GPS connectivity options should be present. Charging over a USB 2.0 connection, the tablet's battery capacity is said to be a healthy 4450mAh.

SamMobile's sources have this Galaxy Tab 3 variant pinned down for a June launch, but between the odd sizing (so small a difference between it and the 7-inch Tab 3) and the weird RAM count, we're a bit skeptical. We'll file this one away under "rumours" and let you know if Samsung lift the covers on this unlikely tablet.

hp-splitx2-top.jpgHP have revealed two convertible touchscreen successors to their Envy x2 hybrid laptop/tablet mashup, one a standard Windows 8 machine, the other running Android.

Looking first at the HP Split x2, pictured above, it's a Windows 8 touchscreen PC with a detachable keyboard, powered by a choice of either Core i3 or Core i5 processors.

With a screen measuring 13-inches in size with a 1366x768 resolution, each component has its own storage space and battery power, with the attached keyboard boosting on-the-go battery life and giving users access to a 500GB hard drive.

Audio is covered by HP bessie-mates Beats Audio, while Wi-Di screen mirroring is also onboard.
hp-slatebookx2-mid.jpgNext up is the HP SlateBook x2, the Android machine.

It runs version 4.2.2 Jelly Bean of Googles OS with a 10.1-inch touchscreen running at a Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution.

It too has a detachable keyboard, with the SlateBook x2 powered by the powerful Nvidia Tegra 4 mobile processor, meaning intensive TegraZone optimised Android gaming apps should run like a dream on it.

Launching first in the States (UK availability details are to follow), the SlateBook x2 will be available from $479.99 and the Splt x2 will sell for $799.99. Both hit stores in August.

8400g.pngreview-line.JPGName: Disgo 8400G

Type: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean tablet

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: £149.99

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The race to the bottom of tablet pricing continues, as Disgo offer up their 8400G tablet for a mere £149.99. Considering its 3G connectivity it's a steal, but can this budget offering stand up against its premium rivals? Read on to find out!

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Design
disgo-8400g-tablet-1.JPGThough an uninspiring design, the Disgo 8400G packs in enough compelling hardware features to make it a cut above the budget tablet competition. Packing in 3G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, the tablet also has GPS and A-GPS capabilities (making it a reasonable alternative to a dedicated sat nav)  and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity with Disgo pulling in some low power elements of Bluetooth 4.0 in an attempt to extend battery life.

A 7.9-inch screen sits in a sizeable bezel, with the device measuring a chunky 214 x 155 x 11 mm and weighing a hefty 460g. Though it's thick bezel makes it comfortable to grip and watch movies without obscuring the screen, it's weight makes it uncomfortable to hold in one hand for extended periods of time, something that should be a benefit of the 7-inch form factor. A textured finish on the rear made the plastic casing a little easy to hold without slipping though.disgo-8400g-tablet-6.JPGWere you deciding to sit and watch many films on the Disgo 8400G you may be a little disappointed. Running at a 1024 x 768 resolution, the screen suffers from a lack of sharpness, brightness and a tighter viewing angle than its competitors offer. A tablet newbie won't necessarily notice at first glance, but pop the 8400G next to an iPad and there's a marked difference in screen quality.

Port placement is a little busy too. When held in portrait orientation, you'll find practically every connectivity port sitting along the top. These include the microUSB data transfer and charging port, a 3.5mm headphone socket, a volume rocker, a power button, a microSD port and a SIM tray. Bunching so many connections together looks unsightly and can make it uncomfortable to hold in landscape orientation.disgo-8400g-tablet-2.JPGThe tablet is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, backed by 512MB of RAM. With so little RAM and a processor speed that would be considered entry-to-mid level by today's top-end standards, performance across all aspects of the tablet is as expected a bit lifeless, with a notable lag between your input in almost all tasks, and choppy visuals on more demanding applications. It is however, performance consistent with the price, considering there's a premium 3G connection also squeezed in here.

It's worth noting too that we tested out two units over the course of our review, as the first shipped with a faulty flickering screen and an accelerometer that would lock and make certain games unplayable. The second tablet had no such issues, but in the interests of full disclosure, the review unit initially sent out was not without its problems.

Interface, Apps
disgo-8400g-tablet-4.JPGThankfully, apart from a "Nature" inspired theme with homescreen imagery fitting of the title, Disgo have pretty much stuck with the core Android Jelly Bean UI experience. Five homescreens can be customised to your liking, letting you add app shortcuts across the device from the app drawer. There are also a number of resizable Live Widgets pre-loaded on the Disgo 8400G; these are larger icons spread across the homescreens that offer live updating information at a glance. Calnedar, web bookmarks and contact details are among the pre-installed widgest, though others such as condensed Twitter or Facebook feeds, email inboxes or weather reports, for example, can be grabbed from the Google Play store.

Google's Play store is a welcome addition on a budget tablet, with many manufacturers often scrimping on the effort it takes to get accreditation from Google. Over 600,000 apps are up for sale through the store, and unlike Apple, Google are open to more zany (sometimes unsavoury) submissions. Though it's slightly more susceptible to attracting hackers and dubious apps, there are also loads of really impressive apps available that can really add to your enjoyment of the Android experience. The catalogue improves all the time; whether you're a gamer, a reader, someone hunting news stories or recipes, a photographer or a blogger, there's something for everyone. Many are free too, and few cost more than £3 or so. The pre-installed suite of Google-built apps (including YouTube, Gmail and Maps), is impressive too, offering a wide array of functionality right off the bat. When it comes to mapping, Google's Maps app is far and away the best navigation solution available, particularly in comparison to the woeful Apple Maps. Likewise, the stock Android web browser is among the best on mobile devices, only bested by Google's own Chrome, itself a free download from the Google Play store.

It's a shame then that the Disgo 8400G's processor isn't a little more responsive. Whether swiping through homescreens, multitasking or downloading apps, it's incredibly easy to overload the tablet, leading to a sluggish experience. Whether jumping between apps, opening and closing apps, loading a complex web page or dragging around items to customise the interface, expect the Disgo 8400G to lag behind your intentions.

Calling and Messaging

It's not often we get to talk about calling and text messaging when putting together a tablet review, but with the Disgo 8400G packing in 3G connectivity, you can also use it to ring up your buddies and send SMS messages once you've popped in a SIM-card.

Using the stock Android contacts, dialler and messaging systems, it's a nice option to have if you've got a Bluetooth headset, though you'll look utterly ridiculous holding the chunky device to your ear for a call the old fashioned way. Text messaging though is actually rather pleasant, thanks to the larger keyboard afforded by the 7.9-inch screen.

Gmail comes pre-installed, as does the stock Android email up for connecting up an account from another non-Google service, and both are of the same high quality that Android users have come to expect. Instant Messaging is handled by the pre-loaded Google Talk app, but of course you can download the one of your choice from Google Play.

Typing away on the Digso 8400G has a nice and tactile feel thanks to its haptic feedback (something few tablets offer), but the sluggish responsiveness of the tablet made typing at speed difficult; if you can touch type at a decent speed you'll regularly overtake the tablet's ability to process your input, which can lead to spelling mistakes.

Media Playback and Gaming
disgo-8400g-tablet-7.JPGBeing an Android tablet, its easy to fill the Disgo 8400G with either your own content side loaded from a computer, or fresh movies, music and TV shows from the Google Play store. Though it's still no match for iTunes, Google Play offers a wide variety of film and TV shows at a reasonable price to buy or rent. And if you're the user of multiple Android devices, your purchases carry over across devices too.

However, the screen's low brightness, muted colours and tight viewing angle made it an unpleasant watch, with video regularly becoming choppy, even if little or no multitasking was happening. Sound over the loudspeaker was at a good volume though, and reasonably clear for a single speaker.

Though it's microSD support makes it capable of holding a large media library, the overall performance makes it unlikely to be your primary playback device. A lack of DLNA support is also notable, meaning you wont be able to access networked videos straight away.

Gaming on the tablet is at times a thankless task too. Though graphically simple games like Angry Birds are perfectly playable, the tablet became hot and performance became choppy when we tried to play more demanding 3D titles like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It's unsurprising given the price tag, and considering many Android games are less graphically demanding than our test game, it may prove serviceable in this department for casual gamers.

Camera performance

Though you'd be mad to use a tablet as your primary snapping device, the Disgo 8400G has a particularly unintuitive photo taking app. All control sit on the right hand side of the screen, with the image taking up the left.

Three different modes can be used (still, video and panorama shots), with a circular menu dial giving you control over zoom level, which is the active camera and access to the setting menu, letting you tweak things like exposure, picture size and geotagging. It's all a bit cramped and hidden away, with icons that don't clearly line up with the settings they represent.

Having said that, the actual resulting pictures on the Disgo 8400G are at least a match for similarly priced tablet's cameras. Shooting 2MP still, it handles outdoor photography well enough to illustrate a Facebook post or tweet, but struggles with a lack of flash for low light and indoor photography. Video, captured in H264, H263 or MPEG4  formats however is choppy at best, with poor response from the microphone and a general lack of detail with the video. That 0.2MP front facing camera though is perfectly acceptable for Skype calling, and really all you need from a tablet in terms of photography.

Battery life

Though Disgo claim you'll get 8 hours of battery life out of a single charge of the 8400G, we found that in reality that figure to be closer to 6 hours. You'll need to keep the screen brightness up very high for it to look its most readable, and a combination of video playback and 3G browsing quickly take its toll on a tablet lacking any notable battery management facilities.

Thankfully, the 8400G charges over a standard microUSB port though, meaning you can plug it into a computer or laptop and charge it at work if need be without the need to carry a proprietary charger around with you.

Value
disgo-8400g-tablet-8.JPGThough we've some reservations about the performance with the Disgo 8400G, one thing that's indisputably excellent is its value for money. At £149.99, it's one of the cheapest 3G-enabled tablets around. Compared to rival tablets in the 7-inch category, that's considerably less than the 3G Nexus 7 (£239) and a hell of a lot cheaper than the 3G iPad Mini (£369). Of course, the premium you pay on those two devices bags you a more consistent user experience and premium design sensibilities, but considering the Disgo 8400G shares much of the same functionality as those two more expensive rivals, it's maybe a concession worth considering. If you simply looking for the cheapest possible tablet and can live without 3G functionality, check out Amazon's Wi-Fi Kindle Fire tablet line; starting at £129, even the entry-level model is altogether slicker than the Disgo 8400G.

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Verdict:

It ain't perfect, and it certainly ain't pretty, but the Disgo 8400G offers great value for money and reasonable performance for its low, low price. If you're desperate to get in on the tablet craze, and love to be able to access the internet when on the go it's definitely worth checking out. However, if its just the pennies you're worried about and not the added 3G functionality, you may want to check out Amazon's very cheap Kindle Fire line instead.review-line.JPG

2.5/5

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chefpad.pngTablets are the perfect kitchen companions, putting a web full of recipes and gourmet cooking apps at your fingertips. But very few are protected against the hazards of the kitchen, where ingredients fly, heat is high and steam seeps into everything. With that in mind, Archos have put together a tablet specifically for the kitchen called the ChefPad.

It's cased in a silicone covering that's totally spill-proof against water and syrupy foods, with a stand that's adjustable to the ideal reading angle for your cooking area.

The tablet also comes with an Archos-curated "Chef's Apps" selection, with everything from recipes to drink ideas, shopping list to TV cooking guides on offer.

Beyond that, the ChefPad is a pretty standard Android tablet, with access to all the regular tablet computing features you'd expect. Packing in a 9.7-inch 1024x768 capacitive touchscreen, it's powered by a 1.6GHz dual-core processor, with 8GB of internal storage (expandable over microSD), 2MP front and rear cameras, Wi-Fi and mini HDMI.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the OS of choice, with access to the full Google Play store.

Available from June, it'll be affordably priced at $209.99 (£137) from Archos's online store.

Thumbnail image for AppleiPad2.jpgA little-known issue with the iPad and its magnetic Smart Covers that can affect pacemakers has been brought to light by a fourteen-year old US school kid.

Gianna Chien discovered that the magnets in the tablet and its cover can inadvertently shut off the defibrillators keeping people alive.

Pacemakers use magnets as a safety measure to switch off the internal devices. Though an iPad's magnets are too small to affect a user when held at a reading distance, if the magnets get too close to the user's chest (the example being given if a user falls asleep with the tablet resting on their chest), the unit can be affected.

Chien's study found that 30% of patients that placed the iPads on their chests had problems with their pacemakers for a short time afterwards. And while most pacemakers will automatically kick back in once the magnets have been put to a distance, some need to be re-activated manually, leading to a potentially life-threatening situation.

Chien's findings didn't earn her first place at the science fair that she entered them into, but has lead to perhaps an even greater prize - she will be presenting her findings to 8,000 doctors at a meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in Denver.

Despite bringing it to the attention of the masses, it's not quite Chien's lone discovery. Apple acknowledge in the documentation for the iPad that the magnets can have an adverse effect on pacemakers. However, it's a danger that's been more-or-less tucked under the carpet by Apple, and one that certainly needs more widespread highlighting.

NookHD+-top.jpgMicrosoft may be looking to bolster their tablet business by buying out the Nook line of slates and eReaders, in an attempt to rival Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iBooks offerings.

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft are looking to double down on the £200 million that they've already invested in the Nook tablets, aiming to buy the company out outright. Microsoft already have a 16.8% stake in the company.

The report claims that Microsoft are looking to spend £640 million to acquire the digital assets of Nook Media LLC, the separate Nook spin-off company that spread out from Barnes & Noble last year.

"In this plan, Microsoft would redeem preferred units in Nook Media, which also includes a college textbook division, leaving it with the digital operation -- e-books, as well as Nook e-readers and tablets," reads the report.

Though Nook devices would live on, internal documents show that the Android arm of the business is set to be discontinued by 2014 in favour of a "third party partner". The obvious partner here then would be Microsoft with a Windows-based Nook, a theory that would be certainly strengthened were Microsoft to complete the buyout of the company.

acer-aspire-r7.pngEither Acer have struck gold with their freshly-revealed Aspire R7 laptop / tablet hybrid, or they've gone crazy.

A drastic re-imagining of the laptop, it's an ultrabook/tablet hybrid that features an incredibly flexible screen and an unusual trackpad placement, putting it behind rather than in-front of the keyboard.

"With the Aspire R7, Acer has redesigned the notebook with an approach that's based on how people interact with their PCs and devices," said Oliver Ahrens, president, Acer Europe.

"Its progressive design redefines the computing experience, so whether consumers are touching or typing, the R7 adapts to allow consumers to create, browse and share content in ways they never have before."

It's certainly a bold move. With a 15.6-inch touchscreen sitting on what Acer describe as an "Ezel Hinge", the R7 can be used in four different ways. There's the standard notebook set up, working like a clamshell laptop, a "Display mode" that sees the screen used like a standing tent for playing back movies and sharing presentations, a "Pad mode" that sees the touchscreen rotate so that it faces up when closed over the keyboard like a convertible laptop or tablet, and the unusual "Ezel Mode".

When in Ezel Mode, the R7's touchscreen controls are pushed to the fore, with the screen lurching over the keyboard on its arm-like hinge. Hence the unusual trackpad placement, with Acer believing you'll more likely use the touchscreen controls (and by extension, this set-up) than the trackpad in a standard configuration, preferring to give unrestricted access to the entire keyboard.

The specs under the hood sound pretty impressive too. As well as that 15.6-inch Full HD touschscreen, you've got an Intel Core i5 processor, as much as 12GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive or an optional 256GB SSD. The keyboard is backlit, while the chassis hold a HDMI port, an SD card reader, audio jacks and three USB ports, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Sound is provided by four 8 watt speakers.

It's definitely bonkers, and we're a little bit in love as a result. Windows 8 really comes into its own when used with touch controls, but no PC manufacturer has come up with a satisfying way to make touchscreen controls comfortable on a laptop-like machines. This looks like it could be a really smart answer to the problem.

Hitting stores in June, you'll be able to pick the Acer Aspire R7 up from a starting price of £899.

NookHD+-top.jpgNook HD and Nook HD+ owners rejoice! You're finally getting access to the Google Play store.

Arguably the last feature holding the slates back from being "proper" Android tablets, the duo will also get a smattering of other Google goodies, including YouTube, Gmail and Chrome apps, as well as integrated Google Search.

The update also brings the wide range of books, magazines, movies and music available from Google's store to the tablets.

"By adding Google Play to NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, we are offering our customers even more great entertainment on our award-winning tablets," said William Lynch, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble.

"Now with access to more than 700,000 apps and the best reading experience available, both are must-see products for entertainment lovers looking for high-quality tablets at incredibly low prices."

The Nook tablets currently use a highly modified version of Android, much like the Kindle Fire tablets, pushing the Barnes & Noble content to the fore.

Earlier this week, Barnes & Noble slashed the prices of their tablet and eReader ranges. A limited offer to coincide with the "Get London Reading" campaign, the Nook HD and Nook HD+ are now sitting at £129 and £179, while the Nook Simple Touch GlowLight eReader is priced at £69 and the Nook Simple Touch eReader a bonkers £29.

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