"What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours…" Stanley Adams wrote these famous lyrics in 1934, but their relevance has struck once again in the world of technology. On Wednesday the Nexus 7 was unveiled as we were putting the finishing touches to this review and now Google has completely changed the game for budget Android tablets.
As such it is with new eyes that we look at the Disgo Tablet 8104. On paper the company appeared to have put together a package of excellent value: a 10.1in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet with HDMI and USB connectivity, a microSD expansion slot and 1.2GHz processor for just £150. Then again, even before the Nexus 7 appeared cracks appeared close up.
Out of the box the Disgo Tablet 8104 is immediately underwhelming, even considering its price. At just 645g it is surprisingly light (considering its screen size), though this is in part because of cheap build materials. We can compromise a great deal for a budget RRP, but the 8104 has an entirely plastic construction with a thin, textured back that does its best to make the tablet feel brittle and sound hollow.
Equally uninspiring is the unusual button layout. Disgo dumps the typical trio of front mounted Home, Menu and Back buttons in favour of a single back button with small On/Off, Menu, Volume and Home buttons positioned along the right side.
In terms of connectivity things do improve. The Tablet 8104 has mini HDMI, a 32GB compatible microSD slot and headphone jack, though the choice of mini USB and charging via a barrel power connection is bizarre in an era when it has been replaced almost wholesale with microUSB. Looking inside the 8104 gives a similar sense of unease as Disgo has decided to stretch Android's efficiency to the limit with a single core 1.2GHz Corex-A8 based processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of usable onboard memory.
Given this combination we booted up the 8104 with some trepidation and immediately saw the next compromise: the screen. Despite its large number of inches the display has just a 1,024 x 600 resolution and, while pixels aren't the "be all and end all" that the new iPad may suggest, the screen quality is also low. Viewing angles are narrow, particularly vertically (in landscape mode) and colours are dull and washed out. Again this shouldn't be a surprise and could be lived with, but a further major shortcoming is the screen's responsiveness.
While response to swiping gestures is good, the 8104 has a major problem recognising taps, either confusing them with swipes or ignoring them all together. This is particularly noticeable when hitting smaller icons or tapping links and the result is a quick loss of faith as you start to double and even triple tap everything in order to play safe. Worse still the 8104 will often register contact with its bezel as taps on the screen which totally throws off your navigation. We'd expect this from a resistive touchscreen, but the Tablet 8104's front is capacitive.
Come to terms with the erratic screen response and you will run into your next issue: the absence of the Google Play market store. This is a strange move from Disgo given the 8104 has a vanilla installation of Android 4.0 so we can only assume the company found a small saving in not including it. This comes at considerable detriment though as common apps like Gmail and Google Maps are missing and while the SlideME Market is included it is largely restricted to minor third-party submissions.