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Alba Tablet

Alba 10 Inch Tablet review - the next Hudl 2?

Alba 10-inch tablet
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
80
inc VAT (as of 16th June)

The Alba Tablet has great battery life and won't break the bank, but its performance is somewhat lacking

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Ever since Tesco stopped making the brilliant Hudl 2, there hasn't been another great budget tablet to replace it. Amazon's £50 Fire tablet is about the closest we've come to finding a worthy successor, but that's about it. Argos, however, is hoping to change all this with its own-brand Alba 10 Inch Tablet, an £80 Android slate that offers a big screen for not a lot of money.

From the outset, the Alba's designed as an entry-level tablet. Its simple, plastic chassis feels reasonably well-built for its price, but apply too much pressure and it will bend and creak under your fingers, so it's probably not ideal for handing over to young children, even if you do wrap it in one of its two rather poorly-fitting silicone cases that come bundled in the box.

Its soft-touch rear is comfy to hold, but its weight of 568g does make it rather heavy. The similarly-sized Amazon Fire HD 10, for example, weighs just 432g, but it's still lighter than an old 4th Generation iPad, so it's not a complete disaster if you're holding it one-handed for long periods of time. It also has plenty of connections, including a Mini HDMI port for connecting it to an external display, a microSD slot for expanding the tablet's storage, a Micro USB port for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Display and sound

In addition to the 10in version on test here, you can also buy the Alba tablet with a 7in display or an 8in display for £50 or £60 respectively. They all come with the same specs, though (apart from the 7in version's smaller screen resolution), so the only bonus you're getting by opting for the 10in version is a larger screen size.

However, with a resolution of just 1,200x800, its pixel density of 144ppi makes for a very fuzzy Android 5.1 interface, and individual app icons have almost no definition whatsoever. That said, the screen's low resolution is a lot more forgiving when watching films and Netflix, for example, and text-based websites like the Guardian and the BBC were perfectly legible from a normal viewing distance. 

Alba 10-inch tablet

Still, the quality of the screen leaves a lot to be desired, even for a budget tablet. With a peak brightness of just 283cd/m2, I struggled to see the Alba's screen clearly outdoors in the sunshine, and the screen's low 76.4% sRGB colour gamut coverage also meant that colours were lacking in warmth and overall vibrancy. Viewing angles were decent, though, and a contrast ratio of 897:1 was also pretty respectable.

The Alba tablet falls flat when it comes to sound, though, as its side-facing stereo speakers are very tinny and lack any sense of depth. They're fine for the odd YouTube video, but you'll want to invest in a pair of headphones for anything more substantial.

Performance and battery life

Powered by a dual-core 1.3GHz Mediatek MT8163 processor, the 10in Alba is pretty sluggish in everyday use, but its slow speed is fairly forgivable given the price. Its Geekbench 3 scores, for instance, aren't that far behind the Amazon Fire HD 10. In the single core test, the Alba scored 605 and the Fire HD 10 scored 773, but the Alba actually pulled ahead in the multicore test, finishing in 1,792 compared to the Fire HD 10's 1,512.

This isn't bad for a budget tablet, but it can still grate on your nerves if you're using it for extended periods of time. Even opening the Android settings menu takes a second or two, and web browsing was quite jerky and juddery as well, finishing the Peacekeeper test in just 547.

As expected, gaming performance was also well below other budget tablets, scoring just 189 frames on the demanding GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 off-screen test. As a result, it's not cut out for 3D games, but simpler 2D titles like Angry Birds 2 ran much better, showing only the occasional frame drop.

Thankfully, the Alba redeemed itself slightly with its impressive battery life. Armed with a huge 6,000mAh battery, the tablet lasted 11h 31m in our continuous video playback test with the screen brightness set to 170 cd/m2, beating the Amazon Fire HD 10 by a good two hours. This should be more than enough to get a good day's use out of it, and it also means you shouldn't have to keep topping it up if you're sharing it round the family.

Camera

Don't expect to be filling the family album with photos taken on its 2-megapixel rear camera, though, as our test shots were very grainy and sorely lacking in detail. Again, this is to be somewhat expected given the price, but you'd be much better off using your smartphone for capturing those all-important family moments.

^ Turning HDR on gave a crisper picture, but not by a whole lot

Conclusion

In the end, the only thing the Alba 10in Tablet has to really recommend it is its brilliant battery life. With its mediocre screen and rather pedestrian performance, the Alba still falls a long way short of the standard set by Tesco's Hudl 2, but given its nearly £100 less than its nearest rival, the £170 Amazon Fire HD 10, it's really not that bad for the money. The Alba also gives you the benefit and simplicity of vanilla Android, rather than making you contend with Amazon's fiddly Fire OS 5.0 interface.

It might not be the Hudl 2 replacement we've been waiting for, but unless you really want to compromise on screen size and go for the much smaller £50 Amazon Fire, the Alba is probably one of the better big screen budget Android tablets currently available. It's not brilliant, but as long as you're aware of its shortcomings, the Alba Tablet is a decent buy for first-time tablet users.

Buy the Alba Tablet now from Argos

Hardware
ProcessorQuad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT8163
RAM1GB
Screen size10.1in
Screen resolution1,280x800
Screen typeIPS
Front camera0.3 megapixels
Rear camera2 megapixels
FlashNo
GPSYes
CompassNo
Storage (free)16GB
Memory card slot (supplied)Yes
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
NFCNo
Wireless dataNo
Dimensions166x266x10.3mm
Weight568g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 5.1
Battery size6,000mAh
Buying information
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Part codeAC101CPLV2

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