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There had to be something that let the Commtiva N700 down. If you want a cheap Android tablet and envision yourself using a tablet to catch up with old episodes of Dr Who in bed, you'll want to look for something like the Advent Vega. Otherwise, the balance of judgement is generally in the N700's favour.
It's small, good looking and exceptionally smart. Most of all, though, it's well-connected and cheap. Every type of wireless connection you could possibly need is on board, including a 3G modem and GPS receiver, and all for cheaper than a SIM-free smartphone!
The screen isn't the sharpest or most colourful around, but it's comfortable enough on the eyes for reading email, PDFs, web pages or eBooks, and full access to the Android Market gives you a decent range of games to play on it, too.
It's a lovely device for tuning in to online radio, and if you're feeling particularly brave, you could even use it as a phone – although we'd recommend a Bluetooth headset.
What's more, the battery life is good and there's a 4GB microSD card thrown in where more expensive rivals are memory-free.
We also like that it has the Swype keyboard pre-installed.
There's just one thing that lets down the N700, but it's a serious problem: the processor is too slow. It's not that you can't get around the tablet quickly, although it can feel sluggish if you don't close down apps carefully, but it limits what you can with video to, well, almost nothing.
Not being able to use the Android Flash player is bad, since that remains the Google operating system's biggest advantage (after cost) against the iPhone 4 and iPad. But the N700 struggles with local movie files too.
It's not that we wanted it to be an all-capable HD entertainment device, but not having the option to watch even basic DVD rips without some dirty workaround is a let down.
So much about the N700 fulfils our expectations of a low-cost iPad alternative that it's almost painful not to be able to fully recommend it. We don't mind that it lacks the sophisticated design of the Galaxy Tab or even that the screen could do with being a bit sharper: the crippled video capability is going to be a deal breaker for a lot of people.
Realistically, though, if you're going to pay £300 or less for a tablet, you're going to have to compromise, and you've got be honest about what you're prepared to give up.
If you want a large screen, the fastest performance and top notch video, then you should be looking at the Advent Vega. But you won't get a modem or GPS with that.
If it's a cloud-based workhorse that can connect from anywhere and has built in GPS, however, the N700 is a tablet with which you'll be practically pleased, rather than passionately possessed.
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