Group Test: Android Tablets – November 2012 (Part 2) - DisGo 9104, Samsung Galaxy Tab 27.0 Wi-Fi

12/2/2012 9:11:37 AM


Price: $280

Manufacturer: DisGo


Description: DisGo 9104

We're fairly clear about the thinking behind the DisGo 9104, which addresses the tricky problem of delivering a budget 10" tablet for less than $320 that offers decent performance.

DisGo's answer is this conundrum is to combine a 9.7" IPS panel that is, apparently, the same as the screen in the iPad 2 along with Android 4.0, and to then wrap the thing up in a silver aluminium chassis.

In fact, the specification of the screen (295cdm brightness and 720:1 contrast ratio) suggests the panel is similar to iPad but not identical.

It's impossible to miss the superficial resemblance to an iPad, and when you turn the tablet on, the initial effect of the bright, clear screen is very impressive and the colours are simply stunning.

The DisGo iPad/9104 screen uses a traditional resolution of 1024x768 with a 4:3 aspect ratio that works well for displaying web pages and photos, but is less successful at widescreen movies. As it happens, we feel that documents look peculiar when displayed in a widescreen letterbox, so we have no problem with the iPad look.

You are unlikely to confuse the DisGo 9104 with an iPad for more than a few seconds, as one edge of the screen is positively studded with buttons and connectors. With the screen held in landscape mode these connectors are positioned on the right side and consist of the power button, volume controls, a power jack, micro-USB, micro-HDMI, headphone jack, a micro-SD slot and the microphone. The two slots for the speakers sit either side of the main 2MP camera and there is a front 0.3MP camera for video chat.

That's an impressive list of goodies so you may be wondering how DisGo has managed to keep the price down to $280. Also, the 9104 doesn't have Bluetooth, which presumably saves a few pennies, but the main sign of cost cutting is the use of 1.2GHz single-core processor with Mali 400 GPU. These days, we expect a dual-core or quad-core processor so DisGo has definitely sold us short on hardware to keeps costs down. We found that the keyboard suffered from lag and it was horribly painful filling out search boxes in YouTube. It wasn't quite like a reversion to the days of hunting and pecking with a stylus, but it certainly wasn't the smooth and fluid motion that we've come to expect from a modern tablet.

We cannot point the finger at the installed Android 4.0.3, so we have to assume the processor and graphics core are responsible.

Once you start to watch a video or make a Skype call, you'll find that things work just fine, but getting the software you need might be a struggle. DisGo doesn't include an icon for the Google Play Store and instead pushes the Slideme Market, which contains an awful lot of software that is quite forgettable. We had no trouble visiting the Google Play website, signing in and downloading Angry Birds, so it's a shame that DisGo didn't play its part by fully supporting Google Play.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 27.0 Wi-Fi


Price: $344

Manufacturer: Samsung


Description: Samsung Galaxy Tab 27.0 Wi-Fi

Say what you like about Samsung, it really does have a Galaxy for every size or pocket and pretty much every thickness of wallet. Okay, that last part doesn't work so well in a world where we buy our gadgets with a credit card rather than cold hard cash, but initial impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 27.0 are extremely favourable. The dark silver casing feels lovely and solid with the minimum of protrusions and connectors to disrupt the smooth flow of the shape.

It feels natural to hold the Galaxy Tab 2 in either portrait or landscape mode, but whichever way you hold the Samsung you'll want to use both hands to avoid accusations that you have bought the most ridiculously large mobile phone. As we're talking about a widescreen device, we'll plump for landscape mode, which means that the power button and volume control sit at the top of the screen with the headphone jack on the left and Samsung's proprietary USB connector on the right.

On the bottom bezel, there's a covered micro-SD slot. Samsung supplies a USB cable that doubles up for charging and data transfer duties. While we cannot deny that the charging connector is slender and fits in admirably with the svelte nature of the casing, we find the concept of proprietary cables to be rather annoying.

As the name suggests, this Galaxy Tab 27.0 is an update of the original Tab 7 and it's very much a refinement of the original design, rather than a radical overhaul. The screen remains the same size and retains its 1024x600 resolution, so you can forget about HD video. If you want to watch 720p video, you might consider a Google Nexus or Kindle Fire HD instead.

The PLS (Plane Line Switching) technology in the screen panel is impressive and results in lovely bright colours, a decent contrast ratio and impressive viewing angles. While the screen cannot match up to a retina display, it still manages to do a fine job.

Inside the casing Samsung has changed the processor for a 1 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon and doubled the memory from 512MB to 1GB. The casing retains the original footprint but has slimmed 12mm to 10.5mm, which makes a surprising difference to the feel of the tablet, and the weight has been reduced slightly from 380g to 345g.

Using the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 was a delight and delivered a lovely balance of speed and snappy response. The Samsung TouchWiz interface adds a different feel to the Android 4.0 installation. There is no denying that a quad-core processor and higher resolution screen would improve the experience, but we were very happy with the way the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 delivered.

We found the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Wi-Fi on sale at quite a wide range of prices but came to the conclusion that the SRP of the 16GB model appears to be $360 and if you shop around you can find it on sale at $336 while the 8GB version is only slightly cheaper at $302.4.

This is a lovely tablet and while it may well be bested by the Nexus or Fire HD, we hope that simply means Samsung will drop the price even further.

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