There is a great variety of tablets on the market right now, from the high end iPads and Samsungs, right down to the lower end ‘budget’ tablets from Google and Archos. It can be hard to know where to start, especially if you don’t want to spend the large amount of cash an iPad will set you back.
Sweet Tablets may have another option for you.
Sweet Tablets are a new brand of tablet PC, based in the UK. They sell directly to the public via their own web site, as well as via Amazon. They say that their aim is to offer great tablets that do everything you want them to do for a fantastic price – this review is going to look into that a little further as we review two of their models: the 7” Midget Gem and the 9.7” Kola Kube.
The 9.7” tablet, the Kola Kube, has exactly the same screen size as an iPad but only costs around £180. Or, if you’d prefer something smaller to fit into your pocket or bag, or as I did to give to your 5 year old child, then the 7” Midget Gem is going for an amazing £80.
Sweet Tablet’s Kola Kube looks a lot like an iPad. It has a similar 10 points capacitive, 9.7in screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1024 x 768 (the same as the iPad 2). The back features a nice branded logo.
The Kola Kube features a Dual Core Processor running on Google Android’s Jelly Bean, and is reasonably quick. Browsing the web is zippy, as is scrolling around Google maps. There’s Flash support in the browser so most sites should work as they do on a desktop.
The tablet comes with full access to the Google Play Store giving you a huge choice of apps to download. Installed by default is a handy file explorer app which is invaluable in swapping between the default drive, any installed SD card, and even USB drives. In terms of ports you get a headphone socket, microUSB port, microSD slot, microUSB host port, and mini HDMI.
You get both front- and rear-facing cameras, each of which has a 2-megapixel sensor. Photos and videos from the Kola Kube aren’t great, to be honest, especially in poor lighting, but if you are buying this as a main camera then you are doing something wrong.
There are two areas where there are areas of more obvious weakness, when compared to an iPad for instance, and that is battery and connectivity. The Kola Kube manual states that you should get approximately 6 hours use but with brightness up high, and WiFi left on, I only managed about 4 hours. However this isn’t a major issue, to be honest. I found that, unless I specifically required WiFi, that the tablet lasted much longer when in airplane mode anyway so got used to turning it on and off when required. In terms of connectivity itself the Kola Kube doesn’t come with 3g – though you can plug in a 3g dongle if you like – and the WiFi chips onboard are definitely not as powerful as laptops, some other tablets (iPad again) or even some smart phones.
In my case I found that the Kola Kube required a firmware upgrade as the WiFi was really bad; the upgrade arrived really fast from the support guys and definitely helped things to some extent.
The Midget Gem, as I said above, was bought as a present for my 5 year old (nearly 6 as he likes to say) son. This was actually the first tablet that I purchased from Sweet Tablets, and led to two other tablets (9.7s) being bought based on the quality.
It is an excellent 7” tablet which is slim, lightweight and fits comfortably into a bag or pocket or – more importantly – into a child’s hands.
It has a 5 points touch capacitive 7″ 16:9 screen (800×480px. It features a 1.5Ghz (Single Core) running Google Android’s Jelly Bean. Like the Kola Kube it comes with full access to the Google Play Store giving you a huge choice of apps to download; Kindle is installed by default which, as a gift for an already avid/rabid reader, was wonderful as it is just the right size to function as an e-reader.
Only a single front facing camera which, while a pity, is pretty standard for this size of tablet. The memory is only 512 Mb RAM with 4Gb Flash memory, again upgradeable via SD card.
The battery life on this one is actually better as it lists approximately 4 hours of use and it does get that regularly, even when used heavily as an e-reader of portable media player. This may be because, by default, I’ve turned WiFi of on this device. When it is turned on – for downloading apps, for instance, or purchasing new books from Amazon, the Wifi actually seems slightly better than the Kola Kube (at least before the firmware upgrade).
So, the bottom line for these two devices, and Sweet Tablets as a whole, has to be that when you buy one you are not getting a top of the range tablet and you are not getting an iPad. What you are getting is a great device, that does anything a more expensive one can do (though, perhaps, not quite as well) for a fraction of the price. As someone who has used a Nexus, a Samsung, an iPad and iPad 2 I am extremely pleased by how well the Sweet Tablets hold up against these others.
The support from customer service (Sweet Support as they are called) was exceptionally good from answering questions honestly before purchase, through to assisting with the firmware upgrade. Phil especially is worthy of a positive review just for his helpfulness.
Final verdict: thoroughly recommended as a non-wallet breaking alternative tablet that does everything, and more, that you need it to.
4 out of 5 nerds.