On most fronts, the miScroll Android tablet offers fewer features than its higher-price rivals. However, it’s way above average in video codec support. It’ll play MKVs, Xvid and DivX files among others, and thanks to its 1GHz processor it can handle HD content with ease. It refused to play very high bit-rate content, but will breeze through most content downloaded from the web.
The video player software is painfully basic though, with no resume, picture customisation or advanced playback options. You don’t have much more control than starting, stopping and dragging the progress bar to navigate through a video’s run time. A little more gloss would have gone a long way here, as it fast becomes one of the tablet’s key strengths.
The mini HDMI output lets you output this video playback to a TV simply and easily (no cable is included), and the 4GB of internal memory will store 2-5 movies at standard definition quality. Plug in a healthy-sized microSD card and this figure will increase dramatically though.
Watching videos on the tablet itself isn’t as successful. The miScroll’s screen isn’t of very good quality, with poor viewing angles leaving the picture looking very dim and bereft of shadow detail if viewed in the wrong way. When held at the optimum position, the picture quality doesn’t compare with that of more expensive tablets, as the resistive touch layer acts a quality-reducing barrier between your eyes and the pixels. Top-end tablets have set a very high water mark for screen quality though – easily eclipsing laptops, netbooks and most computer monitors – and we think the miScroll’s screen is good enough to watch the odd movie or TV episode on.
From a full charge, the tablet’s internal battery will last for three hours when playing video – comfortably enough for a movie and a US-style TV episode but not quite enough for most double bills. For longer trips away from a charger, extra batteries are available from Storage Options direct for £19.99. Plugging this onto the price starts to push the miScroll’s cost up close to more capable rivals including the Archos 70 and Storage Options’s own capacitive touchscreen Scroll model – every tenner counts at this price.
Budget tablets are starting to shed some of the compromises that can make them such a pain to use. The miScroll is still weighted-down with a few too many. The 1GHz processor is meaty enough, but the poor screen, resistive touchscreen and lack of apps don’t merit the money saving when far better sub-£200 alternatives like the Archos G9 80 are already on the horizon.
The Storage Options miScroll tablet may be one of the cheapest Android tablets around, but the penny-saving cuts make it too much of a chore to use. The resistive touchscreen, mediocre display and lack of the Android Market drain the fun out of what should fundamentally be something fun to play with. Unless your budget really can’t stretch any further, you’d be better off saving up more money and opting for one of Storage Options’s more expensive models, or the upcoming Archos G9 80.
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