An impressively up-do-date feature of the miScroll tablet is its Android 2.3 software. We’re used to seeing budget Android tablet rock up with ancient editions of the OS, complaining that their light coffers wouldn’t extend to the bus fare to get them to the store shelves in a timely manner, but for now at least this tablet is as de rigeur as Lady Gaga (and if Gaga isn’t hot news anymore, neither will Android 2.3 be).
The downer is that Android 2.3 Gingerbread isn’t officially a tablet OS. It was designed for smartphones. Basic navigational compromises are less significant than you might imagine on a 7in screen, when Android 3.0 Honeycomb is meant to devices with screens of 10in and above. You have home screens. You’re free to fill, or litter, them with widgets, and Android’s notifications system will keep you informed of any new updates – emails, status updates and other such modern day flotsam – from third-party apps.
You won’t get these apps from the Android Market though, because it doesn’t feature on the miScroll tablet. It’s a casualty of trying to run a smartphone OS on something that’s not a smartphone, and it seriously limits the usability of this device. A miniature Scroll app store is pre-installed, and covers basics like Facebook, Twitter and TuneIn Radio, but offers almost nothing compared to the Android Market – a mere few thousand apps.
You’re not left entirely stranded on an app-less island beyond this though, as Android lets you install apps manually, and there are plenty of freeware websites that you can browse through using the built-in browser. Still, this demands more patience and effort than many are willing to give, especially when every cheapie Android smartphone has access to the Market.
The miScroll tablet uses a resistive touchscreen, instead of the more popular capacitive type. This senses pressure rather than conduction, and therefore doesn’t respond to very light touches. Compared with an iPad, this makes the tablet feel clumsy and unresponsive. It benefits from use with a stylus, but none is included here.
A limitation of the resistive panel used here is that it doesn’t support multi-touch, ruling-out the popular pinch-to-zoom gesture. Matched with the iffy responsiveness of the touchscreen, this leaves browsing feeling compromised and slow, although the actual speed will depend on the speed of your Wi-Fi connection. There’s no 3G connectivity packed-in here.