Versus TouchTab 10.1 review
Versus may not be a very familiar name in the UK, but its budget range of TouchTab tablets shouldn't be overlooked. At £170, the TouchTab 10.1 is less than half the price of both the Apple iPad 4 and Google Nexus 10, but its superb screen and build quality make it feel anything but cheap.
Standing at just 11mm high, we couldn't find a single weak point in its sturdy metal chassis and its smooth, rounded corners make it very comfortable to hold for long periods of time. It's one of the prettier 10in tablets we've seen in recent months and at 650g, it weighs roughly the same as an iPad 4.
Unlike an iPad, though, the front of the tablet is completely featureless save for a small 0.3-megapixel webcam. A small power button and volume rocker is located on top of the tablet, but you'll find its wide selection of ports concentrated on the right hand side. You can only charge the TouchTab with the bundled charger, but you'll find a 3.5.mm headphone jack, a microUSB port for transferring files to your PC, a mini-HDMI video output for connecting it to an external display and a microSD card slot for expanding its 16GB of internal storage up to 32GB. It's quite rare to find all of these on a tablet at this price.
Unsurprisingly, the screen's 1,280x800 resolution won't deliver quite the same level of clarity as the 1,920x1,080 screens of more expensive rivals, but its bright IPS display is easily one of the best budget screens we've seen. Its wide viewing angles make it very easy to see the display no matter how you hold it, and while colours are a little on the cool side, the screen's glossy finish really helps to bring out their depth and vibrancy. Its contrast levels were good, too, as we were able to see a good level of detail in both the light and dark areas of our test photos.
The touchscreen is very responsive, but the TouchTab 10.1 also comes with a stylus if you'd prefer to keep fingerprints to a minimum. Its soft cushioned nib is only good for tapping icons and using the onscreen keyboard, though, as we had no luck trying to drag icons from one side of the screen to another and trying to scroll up and down the screen was equally frustrating.
This is a great score for a dual core tablet, and it even managed to run both of our demanding 3DMark graphics benchmarks as well. Its respective scores of 2,915 in Ice Storm and 2,196 in Ice Storm Extreme are a long way behind other 10in tablets, but we were able to play games like Real Racing 3 without so much as a hitch in the frame rate, so you shouldn't have too many problems playing 3D games.
The tablet's only major flaw is its rear 2-megapixel camera. We wouldn't expect to see anything above a 3-megapixel sensor on a budget tablet, but we wouldn't recommend taking pictures with the TouchTab 10.1 as all of our photos lacked detail even when we were outdoors in bright sunshine. Images looks blurred and muddy and our indoor shots didn't fare any better. It struggled to pick out a good level of detail even when we had our test room was fully lit and the image only descended into a noisy mass of black when we began turning lights off.
The tablet's battery life was also fairly average. It lasted 5 hours and 58 minutes in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness, which isn't fantastic, but it's in line with other budget tablets we've tested.
In general use, though, the TouchTab 10.1 felt smooth and responsive. Its tweaked version of Android Jelly Bean 4.1.1 may take some getting used to, though. Instead of a swipe-down menu at the top of the tablet, the TouchTab's settings are all congregated in an onscreen task bar at the bottom of the screen alongside the usual onscreen home, back and menu buttons. There are also onscreen controls for the volume and camera here, as well as a clock and icons showing the tablet's remaining battery life and the strength of its Wi-Fi signal.
The main app tray is located in the top-right corner of the screen and includes a whole host of pre-installed programs. Thankfully, most of them are fairly useful, such as BBC iPlayer, Documents to Go, Google Docs, Flash Player, YouTube, Skype and Google Chat, so you shouldn't have to spend lots of time deleting unwanted applications.
The Versus TouchTab 10.1 is an impressive, if slightly unusual tablet. It's far from being the very best 10in device, but at this price even its sub-par camera and battery life can't detract from its great value. It wins a Budget Buy award.
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