The low-end Android tablet market is a crowded place, with plenty of models vying for our attention. To stand out, a tablet needs to exceed the expectations its price fosters.
Whether by choice or misfortune, Acme shares its name with Wile E. Coyote's favoured manufacturer of explosives and anvils. However, Acme is also Greek, roughly translated as meaning the peak or prime. So which Acme does the TB01 tablet most resemble?
First impressions aren't great. The tablet might be small, but it's thick and weighs 391g. Its 7-inch screen is surrounded by a further inch and a half bezel, making it resemble a digital photo frame.
The screen itself isn't too bad. It's responsive, though there are a few pauses here and there that leave you jabbing the screen in frustration. We feel however that this is as much to do with the low-powered processor as with the touchscreen.
There's no video player installed. Instead, we had to find and download a video-playing app. This took longer than it should due to the badly laid out app store, AppsLib – more on that later – and because some of the video apps simply crashed on launch.
Once we got one that worked, not much improved. Our high-definition test videos were pretty much unplayable, with stuttering playback that made the videos look like a pretty slide show. Standard definition files played okay.
The TB01 doesn't come with many apps preinstalled, just a music player plus camera, email, internet browser and gallery apps. The 'Video Player' app simply takes you to YouTube's mobile website. Handy for online video, but not so much if you want to play videos from the tablet itself.
Frustratingly there's no Android Market app: instead there's the AppsLib, an alternative place to download and purchase apps without any of the user-friendliness or stability of Google's own store.
Even worse, when we went to the BBC iPlayer site we were told we needed to download the Flash app. Clicking the link tried to take us to the Android Market download, but we were given a 'You do not have permission to open this page' error. Was this to force us to use AppsLib? Regardless, a search on AppsLib for the app turned out to be fruitless. Instead we had to go to the Android Market website, log in then download the app that way. It didn't even install properly after all that.
The whole awkward process typifies the user experience of the TB01. Instead of working around the limitations of a budget tablet and coming up with some innovative features, Acme has a 'this will do' attitude.
Nothing here excels, and a lot fails. For web browsing and other simple tasks the tablet is okay, so if you have very low expectations you might not be too disappointed. However for £179 and with the competition the TB01 has, that's just not good enough.
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