The Scroll Excel has potential, once you get the Android Market installed, and its HDMI output and USB host are welcome features, but the hardware is disappointing
7 in 800×480 display, 366g, 1GHz Cortex A8, 512MB RAM, 4GB disk, Android 2.3
Android tablets just keep getting cheaper, and Storage Options’ latest is one of the least expensive we’ve seen. The Scroll Excel is a follow-up to last year’s £145 Scroll 7in Tablet PC (see What’s New, Shopper 283), and is £15 cheaper. It’s not that much different from its predecessor: it still runs Android 2.3 and has a 1GHz processor, but has twice as much RAM and storage space, weighs much less and supports faster 802.11n Wi-Fi.
The lower weight is due to the rear casing being made of plastic rather than the Scroll 7in Tablet PC’s metal, so as a result the Scroll Excel feels slightly less durable. It’s not unattractive, and reminded us of Samsung’s original 7in Galaxy Tab. You get a good selection of ports, including a USB host port, microSDHC card slot and Mini HDMI output. The host port is Mini USB, but Storage Options includes a Type A adaptor in the box so you’ll be able to plug flash drives straight in.
You charge the tablet with a DC adaptor, and it won’t charge over USB. There are Menu, Home and Back buttons underneath the screen, but strangely, Storage Options has also coded these controls into Android’s notification bar. This forces the notifications themselves into an overflow which you have to drag the screen down to see, which really defeats their purpose. You also can’t use the below-screen buttons to wake the tablet, so have to reach for the top-mounted power button.
Despite a more advanced processor – according to Wikipedia, the ARM v7-based Cortex A8 handles roughly twice as many operations per clock cycle as the ARM v6-based ARM 11 – the Scroll Excel still feels quite sluggish compared to more expensive tablets. It’s faster on the whole than the Scroll 7in Tablet PC, but sometimes it will hang for no apparent reason. These pauses seem random – at one point, iPlayer will sit there loading for ages, and the next time you try it will load immediately.
The tablet has enough grunt to play HD videos, though, and the HDMI output even supports HDMI 1.4, so you can attach the Scroll Excel to a 3D-capable monitor or TV to play 3D content. Sadly, Storage Options hasn’t included a Mini HDMI cable in the box to make this easier. 3D works fine, although our Viewsonic V3D231 test monitor (see What’s New, Shopper 290) didn’t automatically recognise the 3D input so we had to select it manually from the on-screen menu.
When you first plug the Scroll Excel into a Full HD monitor via HDMI, the Scroll Excel’s screen is mirrored on the monitor – you see exactly the same picture. Content from YouTube or iPlayer will also be mirrored, although it’s up-scaled to fit into the monitor’s 1,920×1,080 resolution, which produces quite a blocky image. 1080p video files, on the other hand, are played only on the monitor’s screen, and so are displayed at the monitor’s native Full HD resolution. In our tests, Full HD video ran smoothly as long as nothing else was running on the tablet in the background.
There’s a single, low-resolution, front-facing camera, which is next to useless: we tried using it with Skype, but despite being able to connect, neither our image or our correspondent’s were visible on the Scroll Excel’s screen, and our image didn’t appear on theirs. Shots and video are extremely blocky, with lots of noise.
|Processor clock speed||1GHz|
|Viewable size||7 in|
|Total storage capacity||4GB|
|Optical drive type||none|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||none|
|Wireless networking support||802.11n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||microSDHC|
|Other ports||3.5mm audio output|
|Operating system||Android 2.3|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Software included||Aldiko, Amazon Kindle, BBC iPlayer, ES File Explorer, TuneIn Radio|
|Warranty||one year RTB|