Binatone is known better as a maker of phones than a crafter of Android tablets, but it already has a couple of Homesurf models under its belt. The Homesurf 705 is the latest. It costs a hundred pounds, has a 7in screen and Wi-Fi. But the savings may be offset by the cost of blood pressure medication, should you choose to buy it.
The Binatone Homesurf 705 is among the smaller tablets on the market. Where the iPad 2 has a 9.7in screen, this tablet makes do with a smaller 7in display, like the BlackBerry PlayBook and HTC Flyer. That's not small enough to make it pocketable, but the Homesurf is highly portable.
It weighs just 304g too, which means it's not a great deal heavier than the 250g Amazon Kindle - a commuter favourite - and half that of the iPad 2. It's also cheaper than the majority of 7in tablets, and is light enough to use comfortably one-handed - a rarity among tablets, in our opinion.
Aside from the slightly tacky logos that adorn its front and back, the Homesurf 705 is an entirely inoffensive-looking device. The back is textured matt black plastic, which resists greasy smudges and fingerprints almost completely, and the front is tablet-standard glossy black, also plastic. In-between, forming the sides, is a strip of metallic silver - it's all very iPhone 4-like, but here this strip is plastic not stainless steel.
Below the screen sit three navigation buttons. They look just like touch-sensitive panels, but are actually traditional clicky buttons, acting as Menu, Home and Back commands within the Android OS.
The icons of these three buttons are a little too large to let the Homesurf 705 look classy or stylish, but design-wise it's a modest success in its own unambitious way. It's not too slippery, gaudy or unwieldy.
Connectivity is fairly basic, though. Aside from the power button on the right edge, all the sockets are kept down on the bottom. There's a microSD slot, miniUSB (not the standard microUSB) port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You miss out on a video output, SIM card slot and a full-size USB (admittedly uncommon in tablets), but otherwise the Homesurf 705 has the essentials accounted for.
The matt black back is entirely blank apart from a logo, a discrete reset button and four little rubber feet, one at each corner. Quite what the latter are there for, when the contours of the tablet mean they don't actually stick out beyond the backplate, is a mystery. You may also notice the lack of a camera on the back, a situation that isn't alleviated by the presence of a front camera, because there isn't one. We imagine, however, that many of you won't care a jot.
Overall, in terms of hardware we can see, the Binatone does alright. It's not particularly desirable, not perilously slim like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and it does little to stand out, but it doesn't creak like a cellar door when flexed and doesn't offend the eye with its poor design choices. So far, so good.