I know it’s a little early to be abandoning the reviews of not-quite-new games already and hop on the gismo reviewing bandwagon but I wanted to write something about the device on which I’m currently writing this on…yeah I’m confused too. You see I tend to write much of this blog on long train journeys up the North of England and up until now I’ve been using an old Asus Eee PC netbook loaded with Ubuntu 11.04. Perfectly fine for writing a blog once you’ve loaded Open Office but a total ball ache the rest of the time. It’s not Ubuntu’s fault, the machine just doesn’t have the grunt. Simple things like switching tasks or program windows takes forever and it just becomes quite a frustrating experience after a while. So after much deliberation and hunting around on various electronics web sites for the right tablet I finally settled on the Scroll Extreme 9.7″.
If you’re not familiar with it (and even tablet enthusiasts may not be) it’s essentially an iPad 2 knock off. It’s manufactured by a company called storage options, no I’ve not heard of them either. The form factor is almost identical to that of an iPad 2, though I did try a couple of cases out and found the fit to be a little tight so perhaps that extra millimeter or two do make a difference. It has a gorgeous sleek aluminium back to it and an impressive 9.7″ IPS capacitive screen. It has many ports including two USB, a micro SD slot, mini HDMI, DC in, and a 3.5mm jack for headphones. Under the hood it sports a single core 1.2GHz ARM A8 Cortex CPU with 1GB of RAM, a dual core Mali GPU and 8GB of internal storage. The single biggest thing though is that this tablet sports Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich…something which very few tablets do right now and this thing only set me back £179.99. I have to say Ice Cream Sandwich is a joy to use with an extremely sleek and highly useable interface. I’d only ever used Gingerbread (2.3) on tablets before and this is simply leaps and bounds beyond (though I gather it’s not too disimilar from 3.0 Honeycombe).
Now onto the downsides. There is no bluetooth as standard…I know at this point that’s a little hard to believe but for whatever reason Storage Options decided to make do without. This may be a deal breaker for some people, in my case I can do without it but I appreciate that it’s far more important for others. I’ve also found that typing can be a little slow either by using one of several on-screen keyboards available from the Google Play store (I still want to call it Android Market!) or when using a USB keyboard (as I am doing now). Even when using a program like Quick office Pro this problem persists. I tried out a number of other office suites and the same problem occurs. I later found out that this is a fault with firmware concerning Android 4.0.2 (although the Scroll Extreme runs 4.0.3 and it still hasn’t been fixed), looks like I’ll just have to hold out for an update. In all other areas the performance seems fine. So as you’ve guessed, there are some short comings but what do you expect for a £179.99 tablet, and at that price, I think it’s still value for money. Whether or not I’ll learn to live with it remains to be seen…I’ll keep you posted.
Edit: I have now found a case that fits the Scroll extreme perfectly. It’s an HP Touchpad 9.7 Leather case from a distributor called Asa supplies. You can get it from ebay here for £9.99