Look and feel
The Disgo 8104 tablet has a distinctive budget look and feel, but is solid enough to survive regular trips
Ease of use
The spacious and responsive touch-screen of the Disgo 8104 is a fine way of navigating through Ice Cream Sandwich and the internet
At this low price point you can’t expect too many features. The Disgo 8104’s bog-standard front-facing camera does the job for video chat, but the lack of Google Play support is a massive blot on the tablet’s otherwise clean report card
Ice Cream Sandwich runs well, as do the limited apps. Web browsing can be a little jittery though, and video and audio often refuses to stream. However, HD video plays perfectly
We managed five hours of mixed usage, including a movie and some web browsing. Average for a budget tablet
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/18/2012 3:21:10 PM
Smooth, stress-free HD video, responsive capacitive touch-screen, plenty of ports
Piddly amount of apps, issues streaming video and audio
Everyone at Mobile Choice HQ was excited to hear we were getting a Disgo tablet in for review, mostly because they thought we said ‘disco tablet’. Sadly the Disgo 8104 doesn’t spit out coloured lasers or some funky soul, but it can boast Android Ice Cream Sandwich at the incredible cut-down price of £140. But does that low cost mean the tablet makes sacrifices?
From the thick plastic build it’s obvious that the Disgo 8104 is a budget device. It has a stoic black design similar to most other tablets, and the front of the Disgo has only a single button. You’d expect this to be a ‘Home’ button, but in a break from tradition Disgo has opted for a ‘Back’ button instead. This operates as expected, albeit with a startlingly loud clicking sound every time it’s pushed. You’ll find the ‘Home’ button on the side of the tablet instead, beside the menu, power and volume controls.
Weighing around the same as the new iPad and Acer Iconia Tab A200 tablets, the Disgo 8104 won’t ache your arms on the daily commute, but neither is it particularly light. Build quality is decent – the tablet doesn’t pull apart like the woeful ViewSonic ViewPad 10, and the back and front plates are firmly melded together. There is a little flex in the centre, which causes some creaking, but nothing too troublesome.
Ice Cream for cheap
The Disgo 8104 is one of the cheapest tablets around that runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Google’s latest and most delicious version of its popular mobile OS. In fact, the only other two tablets we’ve reviewed – the Acer Iconia Tab A200 and the Asus Transformer Pad TF300 – cost over double the price of the Disgo.
Google’s OS runs perfectly on the 1.2GHz processor, even with a live wallpaper in the background. You get five desktops to populate with as many apps and web shortcuts as you like, but you only get a limited number of widgets to play with, which thankfully includes the ever-useful email, bookmarks, calendar and power control widgets.
Lack of apps
Unfortunately, you aren’t able to take full advantage of Ice Cream Sandwich as there’s no support for Google Play, the online Android apps store. This means you can’t download and play with the huge number of available apps - a pretty major reason for owning a tablet device.
Instead you’re stuck with Disgo Apps, a browser store that appears to contain a massive 19 apps. So that’s around 549,981 less than Google Play. And while the likes of BBC News, Facebook and Skype are all very useful, it’s kind of galling that some of those precious 19 slots are taken up by ES File Explorer, Adobe Reader, and something called Lottery Results. We reckon most Disgo owners will get sick of Angry Birds Rio pretty quick too, as it’s the only game we could find for download.
You get very few pre-installed apps on the Disgo 8104 (which at least means you don’t have to uninstall a huge amount of bloatware), so you’ll need to make full use of the Disgo Apps store if you want to play with something more exciting than a calendar or a clock. More technically-minded users can of course find alternative means to download apps onto their tablet, but most owners will have to simply put up with the lack of support.
As mentioned, the Disgo Apps store does include Skype, so you can video chat with friends using the front-facing VGA camera. It’s a little laggy, but the picture quality is certainly sharp enough for a natter online. You can also record video if you like shooting random monologues for your YouTube fans.
The 10.1-inch touch-screen responds well to swipes and prods, whether you’re playing good ol’ Angry Birds or browsing the web. Multi-touch gesturing is also supported, so you can zoom with a pinch of the fingers. The Disgo’s a decent tool for browsing the net, quickly loading webpages over Wi-Fi and providing a good amount of viewing space for even complex websites. The only time we ran into issues was when trying to view video or listen to music online. Most often this resulted in blank pages and error messages, with the sole exception being BBC’s news website, which streamed video perfectly.
With streaming video pretty much a no-no, you’re limited to chucking films on the 4GB solid state drive to carry around with you. Transferring files is a simple case of connecting to your PC via Mini USB and dragging your stuff across, thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich’s simplicity. We found only 3GB of storage space was usable for your files and media, but this can be expanded via the microSD card slot.
Ice Cream Sandwich is also compatible with a large number of video formats, so we had no trouble playing our assorted collection of test movies. HD films run smoothly and look surprisingly crisp for a budget display. You’re obviously not getting the razor-sharp and vibrant visuals of more expensive tablets such as the new iPad and Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition, but if you’re simply after a cheap tablet to keep the kids or yourself entertained on long journeys, you could do far worse. An HDMI port even allows you to hook up to a TV.
On a single charge we managed five hours of battery life – that was a full two-hour film, plus three hours of web browsing and apps. You’ll get better from more expensive tablets, but this is a fine effort that’ll keep you amused on the daily commute.
We’re really torn over the Disgo 8104 tablet. At £140 this is a bargainous Ice Cream Sandwich device, and will satisfy anyone who wants to simply browse the web or watch some videos on the go. However, the lack of Google Play support means you have virtually no apps to play with, unless you figure out the various backdoor methods of getting them downloaded and working. If apps aren’t your bag then the Disgo 8104 is well worth a look.