Review - Advent Vega 10/1" Android Tablet

Discussion in 'Hardware - PCs, Consoles, Gadgets' started by Disco, Jan 3, 2011.

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  1. I had been looking at the Apple iPad for weeks, although we have multiple laptops in the house they are not the best device to sit on your knees all night while watching strictly and they take too long when you just want to google something on the fly. I tried a netbook and while it was functional and fairly fast it still wasn’t the internet/media device we were looking for. My iPhone is awesome out of the house but not really good for long term browsing etc.


    So it was back to the iPad, but the over £400 price tag was smarting when you looked at its shortcomings especially that I couldn’t even tether it to my iPhone! Why should I be forced to buy a 2nd mobile data contract when I have perfectly good one? When the Samsung Galaxy arrived it sparked my interest into what Android were offering but again the Galaxy tablet came in at a whopping £450, seriously if I wasn’t going to pay that for an iPad why would I buy the Galaxy! However the Galaxy showed me that the Android ROM was capable of running a tablet, so it was back to the internet for more research.

    There was quite a range of cheap 7 & 10 inch internet tablets on the market selling at up to £200 but all had resistive screens instead of capacitive. You need capacitive to get good pinch&drag features and also to move pages and photos fluidly along the screen (giving you that iPad/iPhone experience). A little more reading on the web revealed a buzz over a new tablet from Advent at £250 which would be fully capacitive, run a powerful CPU with Android and have a bunch of connectivity features. So it was on to YouTube and tech web sites and finally down to the high street to get my hands on the Vega and give it a road test. Once in my hands for 10 minutes I was sold but then had to wait out as they were like hens teeth not surprisingly at £250 this device is a bargain!

    A quick look at its stats;
    • Processor NVIDIA T20 Tegra 2
    • Operating System Android 2.2
    • Graphics card T20 Graphics Card Model
    • Screen type Capacitive LCD
    • Screen resolution - WSVGA- 1024 x 600 pixels
    • Screen size 10.1"
    • Screen features LED backlighting
    • Hard drive 512MB NAND Flash Drive (4GB microSD card supplied for expansion)
    • Memory card microSD card slot (expandable to 32GB)
    • USB 1 x USB port
    • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g WLAN
    • Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
    • Video interface HDMI output
    • TV output HDMI
    • Sound Realtek audio codec
    • Battery Li-Polymer 2-cell battery
    Battery life:
    • Play Audio (LCD off): 16 hr
    • Play 1080p Video: 6.5 hr
    • Stand by: 4 days
    Additional features
    • Microphone
    • Webcam (1.3Mp)
    • 4GB microSD card
    • Size 275 x 178 x 13.6 mm (W x D x H)
    • Weight Approx 700-750 g
    Main points to pick out here are;
    • The large capacitive screen and the resolution.
    • The expandable microSD slot to 32 Gigs.
    • The USB port and HDMI which gives a staggering full 1080p HD output.
    Once out of the box it was up and running in less than a minute. First thing you notice is the Android interface is the general mobile phone release so the task bar and some menus could do with some attention although the enthusiasts out there will be release enhanced HD interfaces by the dozen. The splendid backdrops are there and look very nice on this screen. They have done a good job in tweaking the interface into a tablet and Android should be releasing a more tablet friendly ROM early 2011. All the usual icons are there such as media settings but the device is a little bare out of the box same as the iPad. However 2 issues hit you straight away. First one being there is no Android marketplace as Android have yet to accommodate tablets so excluded them. However this is easy to flash back in from the chaps at Modaco giving you access to thousands of working apps. The second issue was the removal of Adobe Flash by Advent. The one in the shop was fully working however due to the device not yet being certified; Adobe pulled the plug so it had to be removed from the ROM. Advent will release an official Flash update in January but again those nice chaps at Modaco can help you get it back. Personally I used Modaco’s R6 ROM build, easy to download and flash in, giving me lots of extra power and compatibility tools. Be aware flashing can be tricky and although the chaps at Modaco say it cannot be bricked think twice before you go for it, owners risk is all I’m saying! So now I am up and running I placed the tablet on the table and you notice the viewing angle is not the best. With the iPad you can put it fully horizontal to say browse and take a drink and you will not suffer any loss of viewing quality. The same cannot be said for the Vega. While the screen is responsive and of high quality the viewing angle is quite limited meaning you would have to lean it on something such as a couple of coasters or fag packet. It’s one of those moments when you think “bugger” but come on, it was half the price of the iPad, oh yes now I’m thinking “winner”.


    The stock programs are good, the inbuilt browser handles websites fine and it is easy to get Iplayer and other TV streaming channels working. The quality was surprisingly very good. The video player works very well with no lip/audio syncing problems. One of the first things I did was put onto the SD card a digital HD copy of The Watchmen, and then hooked the Vega through HDMI onto my massive Sony Bravia. Now that gave me wood right there! Full 1080p HDMI output, iPad my arrse! Avi’s and MP4’s work but not Mpegs or MKI. No doubt there will be a tablet VLC player along soon and the existing player software on the market will give access to other file types. A bonus of course was not having to import my video and mp3 via iTunes, it was a simple drag and drop. I did notice some lag on my home mp4 videos from my camera, this will be down to codec issues. Some owners have suffered some Mp3 skipping in the stock media player. This could be down to their mp3 files but they have switched to 3rd party programs such as Winamp which has solved this issue. The Vega has 2 speakers on the rear which are not the loudest but sound clear. It has a standard headphone socket and while the sound was good you will need a software player with a good equaliser to get the best out of it, there are some on the market and more will become available aimed at the tablet market.

    Moving onto games, there is a growing list of compatible games but you should always try the free or lite version first. Angry birds and flight control are all full screen and feel just as good as on the iPad. The inbuilt NVidia chipset makes light work of 3d modelling on more demanding games and the tablet has already started to open 3D MMO style mobile games.

    The stock keyboard is good although I have had some issues with double taps. This needs extra work from Advent and I will be looking on the apps market for a replacement. These are rare though.


    The USB port works with my USB sticks and other owners have been able to use external hard drives too. I have yet to try this on both my self-powered 3.5inch and my USB host powered 2.5inch but I am confident they will work (although there maybe issues with NFTS formatted drives). There is a growing list of USB devices that work such as keyboards and web cams etc. What I look forward to is an app to use my O2 USB 3G dongle on the tablet increasing its connectivity. While I can easily tether the Vega to my iPhone, Vodaphone kindly charge me £4.80 a day for the privilege to do that (gits).

    Wifi is only b/g but that won’t matter as n is not widely used especially in public places. There is some chat that the device cannot see wifi channels above 11. There are 3rd party apps that will solve this but no doubt Advent will probably address this in a future ROM release as they are keeping tabs on what the new Vega community are saying.

    The Vega has been a great device to get on with. Very easy to use and browse without the drama of having a laptop on your knee then wanting move around the house. It is a discrete device so easy to use to view movies or iPlayer while doing other things such as cooking or working with your hands as you do not need the footprint of a laptop.

    Overall a fantastic device for its price. It embarrasses the iPad on so many fronts yet lacks the professional polish you get with the Apple device, however it only costs £250 and at that price it can be forgiven. Looking ahead 6 months from now the apps market will be very strong and there will be a rush of Android tablets for sale from the main PC suppliers.



  2. Thanks this has been very helpful in my on going quest to try and talk myself out of getting an iPad. I've not seen one of these before but I have a HTC Desire and much prefer the usability of that over any iDevice I've ever owned. The only thing that really lets it down is the battery life...
  3. Android is going to open up the tablet world just like it opened up the smartphone market out of Apple and Microsofts hands. The new ROM Honeycomb aimed at tablet is due shortly and the specs are very high (using the TEGRA2 dual chip). The best part is the new market will have and entire range to suit most people whether it is cost, tablet size etc. Motorola/Dell/Acer are all due to release their own tablets based on this ROM.

    I have been impressed with the battery life on the Vega, going 3 days before bothering to charge just from solid browsing, a bit of Kindle (and the odd 3d pool/angry birds). Although I have lost access to USB host for some reason so time for some geekery as this is down to the custom ROM rather than the device (the USB host/slave mode isn't on the ROM as standard yet).
  4. I bought an ePad at Christmas for my wife and I although the reviews were mixed I've been very impressed. It works out of the box, the screen is stunning, and the touch bit works fine once you take the protective plastic off. It's got a slot for SD cards and a usb port as well as a wobbly RJ45 connector. The WiFi is pretty good although I suspect the antenna is not the biggest.

    At £140 (or less on ebay) it is very very hard to justify the entry level iPad at £425. No doubt about it that Android slates are going to kick a hole in the iPad and laptop markets.