Too heavy for some at 500g but quite satisfying to hold and well built. The buttons don’t always work, which is a let-down
It’s a simple device, as you’d expect for the price, but there are some incredibly frustrating glitches in the JoyTab’s software which stop the tab from being as user friendly as it might’ve been
Five blank home screens greet you when you log in, but after some tinkering with the app menu it’ll look cheerier. There's a front-facing camera with a piddly 0.3-megapixel resolution, so Skype users will be fine but amateur photographers will get nothing out of it
At 1.2GHz the CPU of the JoyTab was a surprise. There was little in the way of lag so games and apps ran very smoothly, as did video streaming
Video content drained the battery life but the tablet lasted about six hours on light social media browsing
Budget tablet can be a term that strikes fear in the heart. There has been a rash of low-cost tablets hitting the market this year, but does the JoyTab have enough going for it to stand out from the crowd?
This is an entry-level tablet, so expect simplicity. As the JoyTab is an Android tablet, you’ll be prompted with a Gmail sign-in process and once you’re synched up you’ll see five empty home screens. It's a bit of a blank slate, but once you start adding shortcuts from the list of preloaded apps and widgets, the homepages will start to look a little more like home. The cheery striped default wallpaper will probably be the first thing to go. The eight-inch display is a capacitive touch-screen with modest resolution of 800x600 pixels. Hardly Retina display, but for that price tag, it’ll do just fine. The JoyTab 8 is available for around the £150-mark so it’s also a pleasant surprise to find it running the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, straight out of the box.
The front-facing camera is a mere 0.3-megapixels – so why on earth there’s a panorama option in the camera settings, we don’t know. It’ll be fine for Skype calls and the odd snap but won't be suitable for budding photographers.
The build is sturdy and substantial, which is a plus depending on what you’re looking for. At 10.7mm and 500g, it’s not quite as slimline or light as say, the Orange Tahiti, but the slightly curvy metallic back make the JoyTab feel rather nice to hold. In portrait mode you’ll spot two buttons at the very bottom; one acts as a Back function, the other is for Apps.
Move the tablet to landscape and the Home, volume rocker and power buttons are in the top right. They are a bit on the temperamental side, if truth be told. Down the right hand side is the 3.5mm jack, mini USB, mains charge port, mini HDMI so you can export to compatible devices like HDTVs and a microSD slot to expand the device’s memory.
With a 1.2GHz processor, the JoyTab actually has a good bit of processing power behind it to keep things running along nicely. Games and apps ran smoothly, as did video content via YouTube. Web browsing was sound and pages loaded fairly fast, but with the resolution being what it is you might have to zoom in a bit.
Where the tablet suffers is with the gremlins lurking in its software. During the Mobile Choice test drive we encountered a few niggles that might put off the type of casual user this tablet is aimed at. First off, the email app. Useful for anyone who doesn’t use Gmail as their primary email address, logging in was just a pain. After inputting a username and password, the app told us it was having server issues, but manual mode didn’t fill us with confidence.
Then YouTube, which you think would be a doddle given that your Gmail profile is already synched to the device, encountered some problems. We found that when using the preloaded app, our picture was there so some level of account recognition had occurred, but there was no record of the rest of our profile history and somehow our username had changed to a series of letters and numbers.
Now these are niggles that could be sorted with a few updates here and there but if you were coming to this tech fresh, it could be massively frustrating. You might not bother after a few failed attempts and so many functions would be entirely missed. And while the processor doesn’t slow down, the touch-screen is very fiddly indeed. Sometimes actions took several attempts to work and that is inexcusable.
When it comes to tablets, you do get what you pay for in a lot of cases. If you can invest in a high-end tablet, then you should, especially if you are looking to replace your laptop. However, if you’re a casual user who wants an ereader, or to play some casual games and watch the odd clip on YouTube, then lower-spec devices can cut it.
The JoyTab has the odd hiccup but it doesn’t slow down when you’re playing games, YouTube videos are smooth as butter and web browsing is easy enough. For a £150 tablet the JoyTab runs really well, giving you a good few hours of use on a single charge, and some admirable processing oomph. However, it does have some unforgivable bugs that prevent it from being a must-have item.
Gremlins in the software plague the JoyTab and despite a competitive price point, decent processor, and battery life, this tablet just doesn’t pack much of a punch.