The brains behind the new Andypad tablet are also the same people behind the highly successful MattressMan bed empire in East Anglia.
What beds have got to do with Tablets I don’t know, (unless they are sleeping pills..(sorry!)), and it’s a brave move for them to launch the AndyPad in such an increasingly competitive tablet marketplace. The AndyPad has one important factor in its favour though. The Price.
The basic model is on for sale for just £129, and the ‘Pro’ version £179. For an Android based tablet that is VERY cheap. Apart from Kogan Agora (£125) and the Scroll Tablet PC (£170), there currently isn’t a lot else available in this price range .
As you might expect from a budget Tablet, it’s not going to set the world on fire with cutting edge performance and features, but both ‘standard’ and ‘Pro’ versions are powered by a fairly decent 1.2GHz Cortex A8 CPU processor and run the Android 2.3 Gingerbread Operating System. On that basis alone the AndyPad is worthy of further investigation.
The ‘Pro’ version is much better value, you get a higher resolution 1024 x 600 resolution screen with proper touchscreen controls (as apposed to a resistive touch screen), and 16GB of memory (regular has 8GB). The ‘Pro’ version also has a front AND rear facing camera.
On the outside apart from the camera, both versions look the same, and it doesn’t feel cheap like you might expect considering the low price. On the sides you have a power button, output for headphones, HDMI output for plugging into your TV etc, a Micro SD card slot and volume controls.
Power up, and because the 2.3 Android Gingerbread operating system it uses was originally developed for use on Mobiles, icons are blocky and I was slightly disappointed by the responsiveness of the screen, it can also be slow to respond to touch. Sometimes when you press the screen nothing happens so you think it hasn’t registered and you press it again, at exactly the same time as it starts to do something. It needs patience to use, something I’m not sure most kids (or adults) have a lot of.
This seems to happen more often than not when dealing with the custom AndyPad menu system as apposed to opening an App or playing games, so hopefully it should be something they can improve with a firmware update.
It comes bundled with ALOT of Apps, many of them useful like Dropbox and Evernote but there are too many, and for an Android novice it could be a little overwhelming. Because you have full access to the Android Marketplace many can be downloaded for free anyway. I would have preferred a less crowded interface to begin with (although you can get rid of Apps you don’t want or need).
With the multi-touch gestures support on the ‘Pro’ version browsing the web and checking your email is much easier and most of the usual games and APPS (including iPlayer), you can download from the Android Marketplace can be played or viewed without a problem.
The camera (or cameras on the Pro), are pretty basic, perfectly fine if you just want a quick snap, but you’re not going to win any photographic awards with them. Mind you, there are some nice retro camera Apps around and you can still create some great images, it’s just means using your imagination a bit more. This leads me on to an interesting point about the AndyPad.
AndyPad suggest their product is aimed more towards keeping your kids away from your more expensive Pad or computer, but I think there is also another market that might go for the AndyPad.
We all have a friend who has Virtual Windows running on their iPad and Ubuntu running on their PC, usually for no other reason that to see if it can be done (and usually it can’t).
What is GREAT about the AndyPad is it’s potential for modifications, and because of its semi-decent processor and the Android Marketplace, (not to mention all the information out there on internet forums and chat rooms) it is possible to ‘pimp up’ the AndyPad into a half decent machine.
Video and music players, radio stations, keyboards, skins, virtually everything on the AndyPad can be transformed by some shrewd modifications and choice applications.
Whisper it quietly, but there is even a team of crack hackers (or is it hack crackers) doing some highly experimental stuff on the AndyPad forum, there is even talk of some people running a Honeycombe UI on the AndyPad.
If you want a tablet that you can just pick up and use straight out of the box, you may find the AndyPad a bit basic in some respects (especially the cheaper version), but if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind a spot of tinkering you might be pleasantly surprised.
Ultimately choosing to buy an AndyPad over another Tablet comes down to price, there are plenty better for sale, but they are all more expensive.
Before you do buy one, take a leaf out of the MattressMan’s book, and sleep on it first.
Footnote: AndyPad have announced that their tablets will be upgradeable to the latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS
More info from www.andypad.co.uk