Review: Scroll Engage 8” Android Tablet PC
The 8” Scroll Engage Android powered Tablet PC, from UK based Storage Options, recently appeared on the review desk and certainly looks the part as it holds its own against the general styling of other, similar, devices available.
The general styling is along the lines of what we have come to expect of a tablet device, although there are no buttons on the surface of the device, whilst the promise of the latest version of Android on the inside is indeed a tempting proposition.
Where the Scroll Engage really raises an eyebrow however is with regard to the price, currently £129.99 (price checked 8th August 2012) direct from the company website.
The price is right but is there a place for a budget tablet in a market dominated by high end alternatives? It is with this in mind that in this review we will be taking a closer look at the Scroll Engage 8” Tablet PC Android 4.0 ICS (Model: 54693).
In the box: Scroll Engage 8” Tablet
In the deep and neatly presented box of the Scroll Engage you get the tablet itself, a 31 page instruction manual, a mains adapter (with UK and US fitment), ear phones, a long micro USB cable, a short micro USB adapter cable (called a Micro On-The-Go, or OTG, cable) for connecting USB devices, and a warranty registration sheet.
The tablet incorporates 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal memory and this can be extended through a Micro-SD card (up to 32 GB).
The Scroll Engage has two cameras: a 0.3 megapixel front camera and a 2 megapixel rear camera which, whilst adequate, is a hint of where some cost savings have been made however this is balanced by the addition of features not seen on other devices. For example, included on the tablet itself is a mini HDMI port allowing 1080P and 3D output which is a nice touch particularly as the processor is a Cortex A8 running at 1.2 GHz with a Mali-400 dual core graphics processor handling graphics delivery at an acceptable pace. For the operating system the latest Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, is included and so too is Flash support.
The physical dimensions of the tablet are 200mm x 153mm x 10mm and the case is described on the company website as “Slim Aluminium Casing” – it certainly feels quite solid in the hand and you would be hard pressed to spot its budget nature from a distance.
As the product description alludes the tablet itself is 8” comprising a multi-touch capacitive screen with a resolution of 1024×768 (XGA) and the usual, expected, touch responses are available including touch, touch and drag, and pinch zoom. Whilst not up to the pixel resolutions of the latest iPad (2048×1536) or the GALAXY Note (1280×800) the display is usable and easy on the eye and matches the resolution of the previous iPad.
In operation: Scroll Engage 8” Tablet
The first step with the Scroll Engage, after unpacking, is to put it on charge overnight which will give plenty of opportunity for familiarising with the array of buttons and connectors available on the device.
There are soft buttons on-screen (Return, Home, and Menu) and five physical buttons along two edges. On the right hand lower edge of the tablet is the escape button, and two dual buttons for volume (short presses) and home/menu (long presses), whilst the power button and a small recessed reset button sit along the base of the tablet. In terms of connections there are sockets along the base of the tablet to include earphones, micro USB, Mini HDMI, mains power (DC 5V), and a Micro SD slot (up to 32GB).
Once charged the device can be switched on, it takes around one minute from power off, after which the device is ready for use. An included setup wizard walks through some of the essential settings after which the Scroll Engage is ready for operation and the first stop is most probably going to be to connect the device to a wireless hotspot and download some apps.
I initially experienced some difficulty connecting the device to a BT HomeHub 3 as the tablet seemingly ignored connection requests to the wireless network however it seems I was being a little too keen to fiddle with things as it takes a little longer to connect than might be expected of a more expensive device. In operation I found the tablet can take quite a few seconds after identifying the network to actually connect to it – once you are aware of this you can allow for it and once the tablet connects to the network it works well – and consistently.
For downloading applications access to the Google Play store is accessible however there is an interesting caveat through the inclusion of SlideME Marketplace and Wild Tangent. As it stands, according to Storage Options, the tablet cannot be officially used to access the Android Marketplace. As the website says,
“Due to licence restrictions, Scroll Extreme cannot officially be used to access the Android Marketplace. However applications can be downloaded from the SlideME market place and a number of other free App Stores. Also included on the tablet are a number of pre-installed apps including Adobe Flash Player, BBC News, Facebook, MSN Talk, Twitter, YouTube, Aldiko Book Reader, WildTangent, 7 Digital, Games, and more**
**App availability subject to suitable android 4.0 versions being made available by their respective publishers.”
Fortunately, many of the applications I might head to were available from these other market places so it was not a particular issue – only heavy users of the Google Play services may find it a distraction.
Also, applications appeared to scale well on the screen and I did not experience any display issues with applications downloaded from the various app stores.
The interface is nicely presented on the Scroll Engage with a toolbar across the bottom, with soft buttons and notification area, and access to Google Search and quick access to the apps/widgets along the top. Once you get to grips with where the various soft buttons are users of Android devices will feel right at home whilst users of Apple based products should latch on to the different ways of accessing things quite quickly.
Web browsing is made much easier through the larger 8” screen particularly if your current device is something the size of, say, an iPod Touch, and mail is easier to handle too. Another area that will benefit from the larger screen is Google Maps
In summary: Scroll Engage 8” Tablet
There is more to the Scroll Engage than I could cover in this review including the 3D video output, firmware ugprades, eBoook capabilities, and the external memory card so I will aim to cover some of these in a future look at the Scroll Engage. Probably the biggest edge the Scroll Engage currently has, over alternatives available, is the microSD card support which adds potentially limitless storage.
In summary the Scroll Engage is a tempting device for budget conscious people who are looking for a device smaller than an iPad but larger than a smart phone. It is not quite as zippy as higher end tablets on the market but in everyday use it would be difficult to see much of a difference. In addition, the Engage is worthy of consideration for those currently looking at the iPod touch as the larger screen is much easier on the eye – something for parents to consider perhaps.
For more information head over to the Storage Options website.