I know it's starting to feel like Tablet Central around here, but hear me out.
On many occasions I've warned against buying cheap, off-brand tablets. That's because most of the models I've tried were terrible. They had slow processors, resistive (as opposed to capacitive, which is what you want) touch screens, old versions of Android, and crummy app stores.
But something is starting to change. Yesterday, Ematic announced the eGlide Steal, a 7-inch Android 4.0 tablet priced at $119. (Stay tuned: I'm working on getting a unit in for review.)
And today only, Geeks.com has the Kocaso M860W 8-inch Android 4.0 tablet for $134.99, plus around $8 for shipping.
Kocaso? Nope, I never heard of it, either. But the specs would seem to indicate a reasonably robust tablet, one that could be worth a look. For starters, there's the 8-inch multitouch screen, which might prove "just right" for those who want something a little bigger than the 7-inch Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet but don't want to expand into 10-inch iPad territory.
The M860W also sports a 1.2GHz processor, 4GB of available storage (expandable via microSD), a front-facing camera, an HDMI output, and Android 4.0. It even comes with a carrying case (of the zippered variety).
Arguably the most important "feature" here is Google Play, meaning you should be able to install just about any third-party app. Previous cheapie tablets didn't provide access to that or any other decent app store.
There are a few shortcomings here, most notably a lack of Bluetooth and GPS. What's more, the screen is a little on the low-resolution side at 800 x 600 pixels. (The Kindle Fire, by comparison, runs at 1,024 x 600 pixels.)
So, buy or no-buy? I can't give this the official Cheapskate Seal of Approval, if only because I haven't yet had the chance to try it -- or any other new breed of no-brand tablet. But on paper, they seem much improved over their clunky, borderline useless predecessors.
If you've used a "knockoff" Android 4.0 tablet like this one, hit the comments and give me and your fellow cheeps the scoop. And if you decide to roll the dice on the Kocaso, I'd love to hear your feedback after you get it.
Bonus deal: The only thing better than music? Free music. In some sort of partnership with summer music festivals, USA Today is offering a free 10-song playlist via iTunes. There's some nice stuff here from the likes of Bon Iver, Feist, The Band Perry, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.
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