Review Price £179.99
Budget tablets were once depressing things. They had rubbish displays, often terrible touchscreens and none of the high-end feel of the tablets budget buyers wished they could afford. The Disgo Tablet 9104 wants to change that. It's a 9.7in Android 4.0 ICS tablet that uses the same display panel as the iPad 2 - according to Disgo at least.
Also very iPad 2-like, the Disgo Tablet 9104 has an aluminium rear. There's something about the cool touch of metal that seems so much snazzier than dull old plastic, and it helps to make the tablet feel a bit more upmarket than the majority of cheap Android tablets.
However, closer inspection reveals that it doesn't look or feel quite like a top-end device. A tap on the rear rings a little hollow, where premium tablets tend to feel denser, more solid, and there's little-to-no careful styling going on here.
What premium tablet would slap a big "2.0MP CAMERA" label on its rear, when a 2MP camera hasn't been something to shout about since 2005? And what premium tablet would clumsily signpost each of its connections with text, each crammed unceremoniously into one edge of the tablet? Not many, not many.
There's a whiff of compromised pragmatism here - Disgo seems to have exhausted itself packing-in the fancy back and "iPad 2" screen panel, lacking the extra energy needed to really make the most of them.
These slight missteps continue on the front, too. There's an odd double bezel, the glass front popping out of the aluminium rear by approximately 2mm. Those used to gazing (possibly longingly) at iPads will exclaim "what's going on here?", but it's actually something we got used to pretty quickly during testing.
What we found less easy to forgive is another aspect of the glass front. The Disgo 9104 does not used toughened glass, and a half-firm press on it causes an "oil slick" effect, which happens when layers within the screen come into contact with each other.
The Disgo Tablet 9104 represents a step up from the plastic-bodied budget Android tablet standard, but the same limited design methodology remains - it lacks cohesion.
What budget tablets like the Disgo Tablet 9104 often do better than big-name alternatives is in including plenty of connections. Along the right edge - when held horizontally - the tablet offers a pinhole mic, microSD card slot, headphone jack, miniHDMI, miniUSB, separate power jack and physical buttons for power on/off and volume control.
A couple of these once again show the Disgo up as a cheaper model. Hardly any tablets use the miniUSB/cylindrical power jack combo seen here - most big-name tabs feature a proprietary socket that handles battery charging and data transfer.
Also, the most prominent of the lot, the 3.5mm headphone jack - which sticks out a bit - rests under where you hands naturally rest when held in landscape. This is, of course, doubly annoying as there's a good chance you'll want to connect a headphone cable too. In portrait aspect the tablet feels pretty great in-hand, though. It's 600-odd grammes, making it suitable for one-handed use for short periods.
From a purely function-led perspective, the Disgo Tablet 9104 provides the goods. It comes with 16GB of internal memory - a lot at this price - and with a memory card slot on-hand, boosting that by an additional 32GB will only cost roughly £20-30.
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