Review Price £179.99
Time2Touch HC710A - Controls, Interface and Software
There are just three physical buttons on the Time2Touch HC701A's body - two to turn volume up and down, and a third to turn the tablet on and off. The rest of its functions are accessed using the 7in capacitive touchscreen and the row of touch sensitive buttons below the display (or to the right, if held landscape.)
These touch panels are Android standards - Home, Menu, Search and Back. In Android Honeycomb, these are build into the software user interface, but the Time2Touch tablet uses the older FroYo edition. This software was not designed specifically for tablets, but smartphones instead.
In many FroYo tablets, this causes all sorts of problems - the worst of all being ruling-out access to the Android Market. However, you do have access to the official app store here. This is because the Time2Touch tablet behaves as if it has mobile internet functionality, even though its SIM card slot is empty. You only have Wi-Fi to rely on here. Time2Touch tells us that 3G connectivity can be added using a USB dongle - with the help of the bundled miniUSB-to- female USB cable.
Fudging mobile internet connectivity like this may sound like a recipe for all sorts of compatibility problems, but we'd rather deal with them and have access to the Market than otherwise. Access isn't without its own share of issues though. We found that on some networks our downloads were forever stuck on the "Starting Download" stage, and lists of app searches and categories refused to load beyond the first page.
Software niggles like these are fairly common in the Time2Touch tablet. We're used to the odd freeze bug when testing Android devices, but we had to resort to the hard reset button a half-dozen times during our review. More on these issues later.
When you first dig the slab out of its box and switch it on, the outlook is depressingly barren. It uses a completely vanilla install of Android FroYo and only the lightest smattering of apps come pre-installed. Even Gmail doesn't feature.
It doesn't make a great first impression. But give it some time and its charms slowly begin to win you over. Aside from the occasional glitchy pause (and no Android tablet is completely free of these) the super-fast dual-core A9 processor makes light work of navigation, and can handle even the most challenging apps available from the Android Market, bar those specifically made for Tegra 2 devices. The dual-core processor is an ARMv7 rev 2 model, rated at 1061MHz according to the AnTuTu Benchmarking tool. Running this software's algorithms, the Time2Touch emerged with a thoroughly respectable 2870 points.
Benchmarking reveals sub Tegra 2 power - but great results for the price
This is roughly on-par with the HTC Flyer, a device that although not dual-core (it has a 1.5GHz single-core processor) costs more than double the price of this tab. The video processor is a PowerVR SGX 530, an Open GL 2.0-compatible chipset. It's not exactly new, first produced in 2005, but features in plenty of fairly recent mobile devices including the original Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Defy.
The tablet handles 3D games like Reckless Racing with ease
The capacitive screen is also very responsive - light years more comfortable to use than the resistive screens seen in tablets like the Archos Arnova. What the Time2Touch tablet lacks in official support - many websites won't even recognise it as an Android device - is makes up for with sheer spec power.
If it had Android 3.0 Honeycomb, it'd be an incredible deal, but instead it has to make do with the simpler smartphone alternative. On a 7in screen, the OS doesn't seem stretched beyond all reason, but is does not pack information in as tightly or effectively as it could. Bear in mind that the 480x800 pixel panel is the same resolution seen in many phones, including the 3.5in Orange San Francisco and 3.7in HTC Desire.