Linx Commtiva N700 review

Can this cheap 7-inch Android tablet compete with the iPad?

Linx Commtiva N700
It's a lot cheaper than the iPad, but is it as good?

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If the N700 was just the sum of all its parts, it would be exceptional value for money. For the most part, where there are flaws they aren't devastatingly bad ones. The screen doesn't have the wide viewing angles of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but it does the job. You have to put the tablet down flat and lay down next to it before it becomes unreadable.

Likewise, you'll never use the N700 for professional photo editing – as you could just about get away with on the iPad. You do get some bland colours and a noticeable flicker while scrolling around images, but it actually isn't as distracting as you might imagine.

Linx commtiva n700

There's seamless integration with email, calendar and contact databases and plenty of messenger apps such as Fring and Skype in the Market.

Linx commtiva n700

There's no forward-facing camera, mind, which is a let down for video calling – although Android won't fully support that until the next release, and it's unlikely the N700 will be eligible for an upgrade to Android 2.3 Gingerbread because of the CPU used.

Linx commtiva n700

While it doesn't outright stink, there is something of an odour about the processor. It's an ARM 11-based Qualcomm MSM7227 running at 600MHz, which might be fine for a smartphone but is the root cause of any real problems you'll have with the N700.

Not only is it unlikely to meet the minimum specification for Gingerbread, Google has set a barrier of 800MHz as the least amount of power that a device must have before it's allowed to run the native Flash player.

Linx commtiva n700

As far as online video goes, that means you can watch YouTube using the pre-installed app, but any Adobe-based animations are out. So no iPlayer, no 4oD: no nuffink, guv. There's the Skyfire browser, which is a workaround for some sites, but iPlayer simply returns a 'phone not recognised' error when you try to access it in this way.

The problems don't end there, either, because it isn't just Flash and Google restrictions that hold the N700 back. The cheaper Advent Vega has a dual-core Tegra system-on-a-chip with dedicated video processing capability, but the CPU in the N700 really struggles with the moving image in all its various forms.

The default Android movie player chugs along and DVD rips quickly lose voice sync, and while there are some less resource-intensive players available in the Market that can just about keep up, they aren't without the occasional frame drop, or worse.

Linx commtiva n700

The slow processor also means some lock-ups and freezes when something is happening in the background, such as mail downloading.

In terms of battery life, the N700 exceeds expectations. In moderate use, with Wi-Fi and push mail left on, you can get several days' worth of life out of a single charge. And if you do need to top up, the standardised USB port for charging is a Godsend.