Unlike Tesco's Hudl, the launch of which was widely regarded as being successful, Argos' introduction to the world of tablets with its MyTablet brand was nothing short of a dud. Launched back in December 2013, it garnered only two stars out of five in our review, and was criticised for its laggy performance, low-resolution screen and poor battery life.
Argos however didn't give up and launched a Windows version of MyTablet late last year for £130 alongside a 7-inch Android model. The former, sold under the Bush brand, quickly dropped in price to £99.99, an indication perhaps of the fact that it was not doing fantastically well sales-wise.
At £99.99 and without offering any extras (bar maybe a longer battery life), it is a slightly more expensive alternative to the likes of the Linx 7, Tesco Connect, HP Stream 7 Signature Edition and the Toshiba Encore Mini, all priced between £70 and £90.
Like most other Windows tablets, this one is engineered to be held in portrait mode – the front facing camera (a 0.3-megapixel model) is located at the top if you look at the device's screen.
As with the other Windows slates, all the buttons and ports are located either on the top edge (headphone, microSD, micro-USB – which is used for charging as well – and micro-HDMI), or on the right (Windows button, power button and volume rocker).
Furthermore, a 2-megapixel rear camera and one speaker are located on the back of the device. The quality of both can best be described as mediocre, but unfortunately, that's what I've come to expect from sub-£100 devices. Note that this slate comes with a charger, a USB cable and some leaflets.
What sets the Argos MyTablet aside from the competition is an 8-inch display. It sports the same resolution as the 7-inch models (1280 x 800) which translates into a lower pixel density. That may put off a few potential buyers looking for a sharp display – in practice though, the difference is hardly noticeable.
The rest of the hardware is essentially the reference platform doled out by Intel and replicated ad-infinitum by its tablet manufacturing partners: An Intel Z3735G processor clocked at 1.33GHz (overclocking to 1.8GHz), 1GB of RAM, 32GB on-board storage, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
The IPS screen is bright and has decent viewing angles, but falls short on two counts. Firstly, it is a real fingerprint magnet, probably more than any other tablets I have recently tested. Then there's the fact that the screen flexes a lot when some pressure (not a lot) is applied to it – that translates into the dreaded rainbow/oil patch effect.
Bar the display, the MyTablet has a reasonably good finish. That said, I dislike the silver back; not only is it matte, it is also a fingerprint magnet. Why Argos didn't choose a classic black finish that's less prone to greasy fingers is anybody's guess.
As for the form factor, I am not convinced by the choice of an 8-inch display. The additional inch has its advantages, especially for those who find smaller touchscreens challenging. But it also means that it is a bit too big for single-hand usage.
As is the case with all other entry-level Windows tablets, this one comes with a year's worth of Office 365 Personal, which is worth about £50 on its own. Add in Windows 8.1 for Bing and you're essentially getting the hardware for free when buying the software. Not a bad deal.
Don't expect miracles with this tablet. Like others, it runs reasonably well under light usage; that includes using it for Office work, playing decade-old games, watching YouTube, reading emails or basic web browsing.
Anything more complex than that is likely to make it crawl to a standstill. Bear in mind that the 1GB system memory it is using is shared with the graphics subsystem.
The MyTablet scored 1064, 1472 and 822 on PCMark 8 Home, Work and Creative tests respectively, which is roughly on par with the Tesco Connect tablet. As for the battery life, at just over four hours and thirty minutes on the PCMark 8 battery test, it isn't a headline grabber but is better than most Windows 8 tablets we've played with. Expect actual battery life to be higher under normal circumstances.