Was the best affordable tablet launched already this year by Velocity Micro without you paying attention? Possibly depending on what you value in an Android tablet. The Velocity Micro Cruz T408 tablet has been available through retailers like J&R and Amazon.com for around a month or so now and it’s priced rather affordably at $199 (lowest price from reputable retailer). However at such a price are there crucial features missing from the T408 package?
If you’ve drudged through the Internet in search of a low-cost tablet that isn’t total rubbish all year then you’ve had you work cut out for you. Most of the low-cost tablets that have been available thus far have lacked in one area or the other that made them troublesome to use as a tablet device. Some of them have really poor quality displays with only resistive touch support (need a stylus or a finger nail to have your touch register properly), others have really shoddy build quality, and others have really slow ARM processing chips that make doing anything take forever.
Is the Velocity Micro Cruz T408 tablet any better than the rest of the bunch? First off the T408 features Android 2.3 Gingerbread –if you want Honeycomb out of the box it’s not offered in low-end sub-$200 tablets–, an 8-inch 800 x 600 capacitive touchscreen, a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor (single-core), 512 MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (microSD expansion up to 32GB), micro-USB, a Gyroscope (necessary for mobile gaming), Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, and there is a front facing camera. For applications the Cruz T408 tablet ships with Amazon’s App Store for Android pre-installed, no official Google Android Market or Google applications (G-Mail etc.) pre-installed.
The specifications for the Velocity Micro Cruz T408 don’t touch high-end Android tablets, but for the $199 price point right now they’re spectacular. However specifications have looked good before with electronic devices (especially tablets) and real-world performance failed to live up to those specifications. Brad Linder has an in-depth review of the Cruz T408 tablet up on his website Liliputing, and Linder reports the following about web browsing, Android apps and games, as well as playing videos online and offline with the T408…
On the application performance:
The Cruz T408 was able to run virtually every app I threw at it without complaint.
On performance in other areas like video playback and Android games:
While the Cruz T408 certainly isn’t the fastest Android tablet around, it turns out you don’t need the fastest tablet around to play video, stream music, surf the web reasonably quickly, or play most Android games.
As more powerful apps hit the market and take advantage of the features in newer tablets, that will likely change. But for right now, there’s not ahuge performance app between a pretty good tablet like the Cruz T408 and a very good tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The only thing about performance that is concerning about the Cruz T408 tablet is the battery life, Brad writes:
I only managed to get 4 hours and 1 minute of run time while streaming music from Pandora with the screen turned on and set to maximum brightness the whole time. Once the battery level dipped below 10 percent, the WiFi turned off and there was no way to turn it back on, so if you need internet access, you should probably subtract a few minutes from that estimate.
Performance for the price is good, but the display isn’t the best according to Brad Linder:
On the other hand, the 800 x 600 pixel display isn’t nearly as sharp as, say, the 800 x 480 pixel display on my smartphone. If you’re looking for a tablet with a high pixel density for great-looking photos or videos, you might want to look elsewhere.
The screen has a glossy finish and it will reflect some glare when used outdoors or under bright lighting — but it’s not that glossy and I found the tablet reasonably easy to use while sitting next to the window of a coffee shop and reading an eBook.
Brad Linder has a video review that includes demos of the tablet running various applications (even Netflix), moving through Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and doing general web browsing; also in the video review Brad goes over some quirks of using the Cruz T408 tablet over other Android tablets. You can check out the video review below.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire will be a better buy if you like Amazon’s services
The Velocity Micro Cruz T408 is a good tablet for the $199 you’ll pay for one, but it does get bested by the Amazon Kindle Fire in display quality and processing power. Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet will be launching on November 15th in the U.S. (available for pre-orders now) with a 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS LCD, a dual-core CPU, Wi-Fi, 8GB of internal storage and it’s going to cost you $199 just like the Cruz T408 does now.
Now the Amazon tablet won’t have cameras, a microSD slot, or a mini-USB like the Cruz T408 tablet does, and the Kindle Fire tablet won’t run a stock Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS like the Velocity Micro tablet either. Also the Amazon tablet is, by design, centered around Amazon’s services.
With the Kindle Fire you get cloud storage to expand your 8GB internal storage (you get unlimited storage for all your Amazon purchased content with the purchase of your $199 Kindle Fire), movie streaming (Amazon Prime –free months access with tablet purchase), e-books and digital magazines (Kindle books), music (Amazon MP3 and Cloud Drive), and web browsing (Silk Browser). Really if you’re an avid Amazon.com customer or you want to be the Kindle Fire will satisfy you in ways the Cruz T408 simply cannot.