The Creative Ziio 7 is one of just a few big-name tablets to arrive ahead of the Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 3.0 Honeycomb waves of devices set to square up to the iPad 2 later this year. This tablet runs the Android 2.1 operating system, but retailing for around Â£199 it significantly undercuts the Â£329 clearance price for the first-gen iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The Creative Ziio 7 is a plastic-encased device with a very simple construction. There are two plastic body plates that clip into each-other, leaving a subtle seam running across the length of the tablet's sides. There's a slightly pearlescent finish to the white plastic used, but this is low-key enough to only be noticeable when it catches the light close-up.
Although not as immaculately constructed as the Apple iPad, this tablet is stylish and well-made - a cut above the many no-name Android tablets littering the market, and Archos's low-end offerings. The battery is non user-replaceable, meaning there's only a handful of side sockets to interrupt the Ziio 7's lines.
On the left side is an exposed microSD slot - a potential dust magnet that we'd advise clogging-up with an inexpensive memory card before too long. On the other side of the tablet is a volume rocker.
A mini-HDMI slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, miniUSB slot, mic and power button sit on top while the bottom houses the power jack. The styling of the front is based on that of capacitive-screened mobile phones like the HTC Desire HD, with a touch-sensitive set of four soft keys below the screen - Android standards to direct you to the menu, search bar and home screen as well as the always-useful back button.
The other conspicuous addition to the Ziio 7's front is a camera lens, sitting above the screen. It's a basic VGA (640x480 pixel) sensor, designed for video chat over apps like Skype - although that app wasn't available from the tablet's own app store at the time of writing.
Unlike a top-end smartphone though, both the soft keys and main 7in touchscreen use resistive touchscreen technology. This type of touchscreen uses two screen layers, the top of which flexes onto the bottom under the pressure provided by your finger or a stylus, telling the tablet what part of the screen has been pressed. These screens tend to feel less responsive than a capacitive model in normal usage. Also unlike an Android smartphone, the Creative Ziio 7 doesn't offer 3G connectivity. You have to make do with Wi-Fi.