Binatone HomeSurf 705 review -

1.5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati, 12/12/2011 4:01:53 PM

2out of 10
Performance
2 out of 5
Look and feel
4 out of 5
Ease of use
2 out of 5
Features
5 out of 5
Battery life
Pros:

It can be used as an ereader, it?s under £100

Cons:

Terrible screen, medieval CPU, no Android market

Most people will tell you that you get what you pay for. It's a cliché that - more often than not - rings true. Economy baked beans never deliver the same succulent sweetness you'll get from Heinz, and a new outfit from Primark will get you less wolf-whistles than one from Hugo Boss. And being cheaper, your expectations are lowered accordingly, so you're rarely disappointed.

 

But sometimes, you have to ask yourself if there's really any point in bothering at all if you can't afford a decent example from a product's field. Food and clothing are essential - tablets are not. And after spending considerable time with the Binatone 705 - we've decided we'd rather go without having a tablet altogether than make this a long-term arrangement.

 

Smoke screen

The first thing that hits you is how dreary and grey the display is - this seven-incher looks like it's got mercury trapped under the 800x480 screen it's so gloomy and dank. Turning it on doesn't improve matters - once it flairs up it omits all the brightness and vibrancy of a 40-watt light bulb covered in dust, and even just a smidge of external light will make the screen almost invisible it's so light-reflective. It's a resistive type - expected considering the price -but it's so heavy to use that, when swiping your finger around the screen, you start to feel like you're trying to mix cement with your finger.

 

The top of the chassis holds the on/off switch, with the right flank giving residence to a power socket, 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD slot (should you want to up the internal 2GB of storage to 32GB). Sat on the front to the right of the screen are three Android keys - Settings, Home and Back. They are masquerading as touch-sensitive - true, there is no physical button protruding from the case, but you can certainly feel it "clunk" under the surface. It's an ugly beast for sure, but we can't criticise it for that - Binatone was never going to employ the likes of Coco Chanel to design a sub-£100 tablet.

 

Closed market

Android 2.1 Éclair is in charge of orchestrating operations, and it doesn't have access to the main reason you want Android in the first place - the market. In its place is the GigaStore, an appalling digital shop plumped-up with games and apps you've never heard of, virtually all of which have been given half-star ratings. There is no structure to the store, just longs lists of apps cobbled together with no thought of departmentalisation, and if you're used to the Apple or Android store, the GigaStore is like walking out of Selfridges and into a pound shop.

 

Surprisingly, we found Angry Birds, the perfect game to test any tablet's processing power. After the eternity it took waiting for it to download, install and open, we fired off our first bird. It was so jerky and slow we thought we were have a stroke - this is not a tablet for even simple games, so if gaming is your passion - move along, you've nothing to see here.

 

It's trying to sell itself as a web browser, E-reader and movie player - all of which it does providing you can get the thing online (it took forever to connect to our office Wi-Fi). Browsing is a slow, tedious endeavour, one that requires both the patience of a saint and the arms of Hercules to navigate the sticky screen. Films look washed out and ugly due to the etch-a-sketch screen, and as for reading and email, well - it can do them both. If you can get it online, that is.

 

Conclusion

The only function this device does to an adequate level is let you read books - it's too under-powered to deliver even remotely acceptable 'multimedia' offerings. So, if you're really short on cash and like reading - go and join your library and leave this well alone. 

Dan Curley