Buying a cheap Android tablet is fraught with pitfalls, because most cheap tablets running Google's OS are terrible. With poor-quality screens, clumsy resistive panels and processors that can barely run Angry Birds, they suck all fun out of using a tablet. The Time2Touch side-steps these key issues, but in doing so prices itself above a lot of the competition. At £179, this isn't quite the ultra-budget option. But if using it is a joy, it's worth paying the extra for. Let's found out if it is.
Every time we see a new Android tablet selling for under £200 from a no-name manufacturer, our hearts sink a little. We so want them to succeed, but they invariably fall flat on their faces. The Time2Touch HC701A gives us hope though. It packs some seriously impressive specs, while still staying below the £200 price barrier.
It offers a dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9 processor, 512MB of RAM and a capacitive screen, putting it in a similar league to devices that cost two or three times the price - devices like the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2. Miracles rarely happen in the tech world though, and there are several compromises at work within in the Time2Touch tablet.
The whole of the tablet's body is decked-out in plastic. It's glossy black plastic that attracts fingerprints from the first flick across the touchscreen, and the touch layer is covered with hard plastic - rather than the tough Gorilla Glass you'll find on some top-end models. We'll hand it to Time2Touch, though, it's a sturdy little number that doesn't creak or flex much at all under pressure, and feels reasonably compact.
Using a 7in display rather than a 10-incher like the majority of big-name tabs, it's fairly well-suited to one-handed operation. It only weighs 358g too, much lighter than the often-praised 601g iPad 2. At 18mm thick, it's chunkier almost all of the famous tablets, but aesthetically it trumps most budget models.
The left edge of the Time2Touch HC701A is curved for added comfort, which comes in especially handy when reading an ebook or webpage, resting this edge against your palm. The other sides have harder edges, with a slight lip that affords the tablet an almost book-like vibe.
All the exposed sockets and connectors are kept on one edge - the bottom when the tab's held upright. These are the power socket (sadly it doesn't charge over microUSB), miniHDMI video output, miniUSB data transfer socket and 3.5mm headphone jack.
The tablet comes with 4GB of memory on-board, including just over 500MB of internal memory that any apps can be installed to (others require the "install to SD" feature, not present in all apps), but there's also a microSD slot. This sits on the left edge, the curvy one, and is covered by a rubber seal. Next to this there's also a space for a SIM slot, but in our review model this was a gaping empty hole.
You're best off plugging a nice big microSD card into the slot, then leaving the rubber bung in place. It's only held on with a little 1mm rubbery tentacle, and that smooth side won't look or feel nearly as neat if you accidentally rip it off. Time2Touch is kind enough to include a tough little neoprene case with the tablet - a rarity in this sector.