advent vega

As you might expect from a tablet that costs about £200 less than the iPad, the Advent Vega is not what we'd call jam-packed with features.

But let's start with the Vega's physical form.

The bezel is large – about in inch in all directions. But what you perhaps don't expect from an Android tablet is the complete lack of a Home button.

There are no buttons on the front of the device at all. The only physical buttons to be found are three tiny silver ones on the top side and a volume dial on the right.

advent vega

The buttons on the top are totally infuriating. There's a Power button, which you can use to either turn the screen on and off, or to power down the device completely. There's also a Back button, and an ultra-fiddly orientation lock between them.

Words cannot describe how small, annoying and painful these buttons are to use. They're poorly designed, and the lack of a Home button goes a long way towards destroying the Android experience.

Most of the pre-loaded apps have an on-screen home icon built in tothe top left of the screen, so if you're just planning on surfing the web and reading your emails, it's not too much of a problem. That's not true of the media app though – if you're watching a video, there's no obvious way to quit back to the Home screen so you end up just mashing any button you can find until something works.

And as soon as you start installing additional apps, things get even more tricky. More on that in a bit.

advent vega

Also on the right-hand side is a flap, under which sits a USB 2.0 port, a full-sized HDMI-out port and a microSD slot – the device comes with a 4GB card as standard.

The HDMI port will only output in the same resolution as the device's 1024 x 600 screen, so plugging into a big TV is slightly futile. Still, though, it works flawlessly and so if you find yourself in need of playing a video on a bigger screen, the option is there.

Screen

The screen is actually quite responsive. We were ready to recoil in horror when we first switched the device on, but actually it's not too bad at all.

The viewing angle is dreadful though, but as long as you're fairly square-on, the screen is bright. Colours are not as vibrant as the screen on the iPad or the Galaxy Tab, and we'd have enjoyed a higher resolution, but it's a decent effort for a product that costs half the price of those other options.

advent vega

That said, there's no fingerprint-resistive coating on display here. It's only after you use a screen like this that you realise how effective the iPad's screen is at resisting finger grease. if you buy one of these, you're going to need to carry a cloth and some cleaning fluid.

Speakers

There are two small speakers on the back of the Vega, and they're pretty good, too. For playing a game without headphones, they do a great job. Music playback is less impressive, but that's also true of speakers on every other tablet we've tested. The speakers on the Vega are probably the best we've seen on a device of this type.

speakers

Software

As previously mentioned, there's no Android Market app on the Vega, so you'll find yourself significantly handicapped when it comes to installing apps.

advent vega

The are, however, a selection of pre-installed apps that handle the basics pretty well. The standard Android internet browser is included, as well as Calculator, Camera, Clock, WHSmith eBook store, Email and Media for playing music, movies and viewing photos.

advent vega

advent vega

advent vega

advent vega

On the dock at the bottom of the Home screen, Advent has included hotlinks straight to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – presumably to paper over the fairly large cracks where you might otherwise want to install Tweetdeck or the official Facebook app.

It is possible, though, to install apps by bypassing the Android Market, and we'll cover that on the next page

Camera

The Camera is an extremely low-grade front-facing 1.3-megapixel affair. In truth, it's absolutely shocking and totally unworthy of inclusion. The quality is so low, it can actually be quite hard to recognise yourself in photos even if you took them yourself and know for a fact that the blurry form in the centre of the frame is indeed you.

James rivington

But if you simply must take photos of your own face, or even record low-res videos of yourself, the option is there and it works.