New version of the Nexus 7

new nexus 7

The Nexus 7 was an ultimate success last year, a low priced mini tablet with great games, excellent apps and a lightweight design. A winning combination for the emerging tablet makers, but now on the 30th of july you will be able to buy an updated version. Just over a year after the first was released, this version has an 5-megapixel rear camera, a display that beats the ipad mini and improved processor and RAM, making this the fastest of it’s class so far.

We will have a review of the tablet as soon as we can.

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Android increases Tablet market share

So it has finally arrived, Android with all their many platforms are now within touching distance of apples tablet market share. According to the website, iOS platforms, including all the 4 ipads and ipad mini make up 48.2% of the global market followed by Andoid tablets that account for 43.4 percent of the market.

Considering android has been stregthened  by the nexus and Samsung range over the last 12 months, it was inevitable that they were going to take a big share of the market eventually. This data is only for the sales of tablets in Q1 of 2013, not the actual market share of tablets in total. Interestingly Windows tablets accounted for just 7.5% of the market.

Can Apple tame the uprising of Android with their new iOS 7, planned for later this year or will the huge volume of tablets using the Android OS be too strong for apple to manage?

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The LeapPad Explorer 2 Kid’sTablet Review

So let’s face facts, your kids can (and will) eventually get hold of your tablet. The lure of it being a “grown up” toy, combined with the fact that it both lights up and has buttons, not to mention the many, many warnings you’ve given them not to touch it will by now have made it an irresistible goal. In all probability, they are planning to grab your prize technological possession as you read this. 

So what can you do?

Well, our advice is to look into getting them their own tablets. That’s right, they make tablets for kids.

I’m talking about tablets that look good with rice crispies and snot smeared across the screen, tablets that can be thrown down the stairs twenty-three times a day and still function happily, tablets with buttons that are specially designed for little fingers to press.

Not only are these tablets wonderfully designed and made, they also come complete with a vast (and growing) collection of educational apps. So the kids will be learning something at the same time as playing.

I reviewed one such tablet, the LeapPad Explorer 2, and this is what I thought.


The tough screen, thick outer casing (described on at least one site as “tantrum proof”) and heavyset design of the LeapPad 2 all speak to adult concerns about technology in the hands of children. However, the bright colours and toylike plastics demarcate this model very clearly as your child’s tablet, setting it apart from your own version.

The screen’s resolution (480 x 272) is pretty terrible, but perhaps not so much when you consider the mess your boy or girl probably makes of a bowl of spaghetti. Screen wise, the major screen problem here is not low resolution, but is, in fact, the stylus, which can often miss the target completely (spaghetti or no spaghetti).

Elsewhere, the 500MHz processor isn’t really up to much and tends to be prone to odd slip up here and there, even when its only processing 2D puzzle game apps.

The LeapPad runs on four AA batteries (up to nine hours), or an optional charger, although the amount of charged stored is, frankly, abysmal.


£62 is a great price for a tablet, but is perhaps a bit much for a children’s toy. However, if you want a decent junior tablet, then this price (and up) is what you’re likely to be looking at, I’m afraid.


Reading all that back to myself, it does seem like I have a bit of a downer on this tablet, but honestly, I really don’t.

All told, the LeapPad Explorer 2 is a fine little device. As a junior tablet, the LeapPad is fun and uncomplicated in all the right ways and its special kid-friendly operating system is a great first step towards the more demanding worlds of iOS, Windows or Android.

The apps are generally good, with rudimentary puzzle games and learning software based around science, music, maths and even foreign languages. On the downside, the apps, while mostly very good, can be a bit pricey. To make matters worse, a lot of them are depressingly simplistic, even for a five year old. Being shown what to do at the start of every turn quickly becomes depressingly repetitive, no matter how old you are (which also serves as a sorry testament to how many times I had to go back and restart them during testing).

Aside from the minor niggles, however, this tablet generally performs very well.


As a way to prevent little hands from finding their way to your iPad or Surface, the LeapPad is an excellent purchase. As a learning tool, it is both well designed and fun, but as a tablet, it leaves rather a lot to be desired.

It is easy to imagine children getting annoyed with the slow response times, occasionally choppy animations (due to lack of processing power) and apps that, whilst generally fun and likeable, can also be annoying and overly patronizing. The other worry here is that your little ones may well outgrow this tablet before you finish paying for it.

However, all things considered, this is a fun little device that should, at worst, provide a few weeks’ distraction and, at best, give your children a helpful leg up into multiple scholastic areas, as well as information technology.

Tablet sales soar as Blackberry boss predicts market’s death

Editors Note – Blackberry boss recently stated that tablets will be obsolete in 5 years, claiming that they won’t be going down the tablet route for the foreseeable future. Speaking on the release of their new Z10, he obviously has something up his sleeves, or is he missing the whole story?

Tablet computer shipments soared in the first quarter of 2013, growing by 142.4% compared with the same period in 2012, according to analysts IDC.

Figures suggested more tablets were shipped from January to March 2013 than in the entire first half of 2012.

Apple remains the biggest brand in the market with a 39.6% share.

The figures come just days after Blackberry boss Thorsten Heins predicted tablets would be dead by 2018.

In an interview with Bloomberg, the chief executive said: “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet any more.

“Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

According to IDC, there were 49.2 million tablets shipped in January, February and March.

Apple’s iPad range accounted for 19.5 million of those devices.

While that was nearly 8 million more tablets than for the same period last year, it still meant that the US firm no longer dominated the market with the 58% share it used have.

“Sustained demand for the iPad Mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple,” said IDC’s Tom Mainelli.

“In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March.”

Other analysts have noted that many newer tablets – particularly 7in (18cm) models – were selling at almost cost price, leading to minimal profits despite the boom in units shipped.

Samsung proved the second most popular vendor with 8.8 million tablets shipped and a 17.9% market share, according to IDC.


Blackberry’s own tablet, the heavily delayed Playbook, has failed to meet sales expectations since being launched in late 2011.

Mr Heins told Bloomberg that Blackberry would only consider releasing another tablet if it could be profitable.

Instead, the company is focusing on its revamped smartphone range.

“I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat,” Mr Heins said.

But IDC’s figures suggested that it would be unwise to write off the tablet format just yet.

“With growth fuelled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, tablets have shown no sign of slowing down,” the analyst firm said.

It pointed out that Microsoft, a relative newcomer to the tablet market, was making modest yet promising progress with its Surface range of tablets – 900,000 units were shipped in the first quarter.

However, the analysts warned that other Windows-powered tablets were struggling to gain traction, with only 1.8 million units sold across all vendors.

VTech Innolab: The Kids Are Alright

Last night I found myself in the grip of a nightmare. In my dream, a Woman dressed like a Victorian widow was drowning me under a sheet of thick, impenetrable ice. Before that, I’d had a series of other nightmares involving a fire, a group of shadow-like stick figures slashing me with long nails and an attack by large tanks aimed at either shooting me or squashing me, whichever came first.

However, in a lucid state of dreaming, I was able to call on a ‘Dream Guardian’ of sorts, who furnished me with a magical suit of armour that allowed me to beat all of the challenges. I ‘burst’ the spindly shadow-men with a blast of light, I doused the fire with water, and I disabled the tanks with a single punch.

Yep, imagination is a powerful thing.

That’s what worries me about tablets for kids. When I was a little boy, we played Sega Mega Drive, but I also had a leftover 70’s Pocket Simon that I adored. Mostly however, it was playing with toys that allowed me to foster and develop the natural imagination that I now use every day in my other life as a contemporary fiction writer.

I immersed myself in comics, books and ghost stories and, in the process, found a career path that felt right to me (although, looking back, I probably should have paid attention in maths and been a banker).

Today’s kids, growing up with tablet PCs, video games and blockbuster movies, may not have as much need for an imagination, or at least, that’s what sometimes bothers me. I worry that kids who grow up with ‘interactive literature’ at their disposal, might become deathly bored with ‘grown up’ literature when they come of age, and that they might even grow to reject the printed word outright.  Not only does ‘Crime & Punishment’ not have pictures, but the only options for playable mini games would have to be desperately macabre.

Pedantic and repetitive explanations don’t necessarily teach children to use computers, either. Anybody can do anything if they have someone telling them over and over again how to do it. So, with more and more interactive toys and less and less cause to take up a cardboard box and ‘just add wonder’, it is easy to play a prophet of doom to a predicted generation of mindless kids, most of whom don’t know how to actually be kids anymore.

However, in my capacity as a tech reviewer, I’ve found considerable cause to hope for better. After extensively reviewing the latest crop of kid’s tablet PCs, I’ve actually found them to be, potentially, an exceptionally useful learning tool. In fact, provided that they are used as part of a ‘balanced diet’ (that also includes traditional picture books, regular play and stimulating creative exercises), a children’s tablet can be a really enriching product.

With literally hundreds of apps available for cheap download, kids tablets can offer anything from reading and writing programs, to maths, elementary science and even foreign languages. The sheer variety available on tablets like the VTech Innolab or the Leapfrog LeapPad is actually amazing. Some of these tablets (such as the LeapPad) even have specially designed operating systems that give children a basic introduction to the underpinnings of MAC OS, Windows, or Android.

In fact, there’s a lot to be said for interactive activities being better than more enriching than ‘passive’ activities like watching TV. Of course, there will be those parents who don’t take the time to use the tablets with their children, but those parents are no different from those who use the TV as an all-purpose babysitter or those parents who never make the time to read to their children.

However, if you want your child to gain a basic grasp of computers and have access to an array of interactive learning facilities, then I can honestly say that you could do a lot worse than getting a kid’s tablet.

In moderation a children’s tablet can be a passport to excitement, adventure and a high degree of preschool learning. Remember though, I said moderation. Drawing, writing, reading and traditional play are still very much number one in my opinion.

After all, without a little imagination, the adult world can be one nightmare after another.

HP Unveils Desktop PC That Leaves the Desk Behind

Editoral – HP have for a while had touch screen PC’s called the touchsmart range. If anyone has used one in the past the it is a responsive and compact PC that is happy on any desk or small workplace. HP have announced a new range of touch smart PC’s including a 20 inch tablet called the HP ENVY Rove20 take it with you around the office, showing off to your workmates! Available in July, ready for the holidays!


PALO ALTO, Calif. — HP today announced the HP ENVY Rove20 mobile All-in-One PC, the company’s first mobile All-in-One PC, which frees the desktop PC from the desk and allows families and friends to enjoy a shared entertainment experience with a built-in battery, unique design and advanced touch technology.

HP also announced new consumer notebooks, all-in-one PCs and printers that give people more flexibility in how they access and share information. With affordable touch technology and new form factors, HP’s new additions provide seamless integration of technology into customers’ busy lives.

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“Customers are looking for mobility and flexibility in their computing devices to give families new ways to bring generations together,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer PCs and Consumer Solutions, HP. “HP is evolving to meet our customers’ needs by designing next-generation form factors, like the Rove mobile All-in-One PC, which will enable people to connect, share and create in ways they never imagined.”

The desktop that leaves the desk behind

The HP ENVY Rove20 can easily move from upright to completely horizontal for a tabletop entertainment experience. Using advanced multitouch technology, multiple users can interact with games and more at the same time. Multiplayer games such as Electronic Arts’ Monopoly™, Fingertapps™ JigsWar Puzzle, Fingertapps Musical Instruments, and nsquared makewords are an ease to play when the PC is laid flat.

In addition to sharing games, families and friends can enjoy multimedia content on the  20-inch 1,600 x 900 IPS LED panel that enables wide viewing angles, rich colors and sharp graphics, while built-in Beats Audio™ offers crisp, clear sound. Powered by 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors, Intel HD graphics and 10-point touch, the HP ENVY Rove20 packs power for productivity tasks and an immersive entertainment experience with the ease of touch interaction.

Additional information about the HP ENVY Rove20 is available on The Next Bench.

Affordable touch for every task

HP offers an intuitive Windows® 8 touch experience at great value with new all-in-one PCs and powerful consumer notebooks that feature multitouch display technology. With products at a range of price points, touch has never been more accessible. Users will benefit from new design elements that enhance durability, usability and performance.

The new HP Pavilion 20 TouchSmart All-in-One PC and the HP Pavilion 23 TouchSmart All-in-One PC offer a great user experience for the value-conscious consumer. The HP Pavilion 23 TouchSmart features a 23-inch diagonal full HD(1) display and an IPS panel with wide viewing angles for a stunning view of websites, videos and movies.

The HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart Notebook provides an excellent Windows 8 experience with 11.6-inch, 10-point capacitive touch screen, and is the most affordable HP touch-enabled notebook.

The HP Pavilion 14 TouchSmart Sleekbook is the best-value touch-optimized HP Sleekbook, ideal for work or entertainment. Movies and gaming come alive powered by AMD A-series processors.

To enable hassle-free printing at home and on the go, HP also is introducing two new sleek, compact printers, the HP ENVY 4500 and 5530 e-All-in-Ones. Ideal for printing professional color photos and documents, the HP ENVY 4500 e-All-in-One and HP ENVY 5530 e-All-in-One offer mobile printing solutions via HP wireless direct(2) and HP ePrint.(3) This allows family members to print from virtually anywhere. Customers also can print photos, tickets, emails and more from their iPad®, iPhone® and iPod

touch® using AirPrint™.(4)

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HP also introduced additional HP TouchSmart PCs and a selection of stylish, reliable notebook PCs that offer performance for everyday computing, at a reasonable price.

Enhanced solutions for an intuitive experience

HP also announced a suite of exclusive solutions and services that enhance the Windows 8 experience and help users create, organize and print the content that matters.

Box and HP will provide students and professionals with a cloud-based collaboration solution for storing, managing and accessing content from wherever the classroom or work takes them.(5) HP ENVY and HP Spectre users will receive a 50GB Box account, valued at up to $19.99 per month. HP Pavilion users will receive a 25GB Box account, valued at up to $9.99 per month. The Box offer is valid in the Americas only.

Customers can receive greater phone and online support, beyond the standard product limited warranty, for these and other new products with the new HP Care Pack. HP CarePack offers an easy-to-access suite of services including Accidental Damage Protection and HP LoJack to help consumers breathe easier when theft or accidental drops, spills and surges occur.

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Lenovo ThinkPad 2 Tablet Review

Lenovo’s influential laptop designs are legendary. Despite being, in most cases, re-branded IBM computers, there was a time when the Lenovo laptop was the only model to be certified for use in outer space (I’m not joking). The Lenovo ThinkPad 2 tablet is hoping to take this tradition of quality merchandise and trusted branding into the world of the tablet PC. In the process, Lenovo are hoping to exercise the demons awakened by this tablet’s predecessor…

Yes, the original Thinkpad was a bit crap. It wasn’t stunningly awful, but it certainly wasn’t anyone’s tablet of the year. Why not? Well, for starters the battery life was shorter than Mini-Me’s understudy. Secondly, the general operation of the computer was slower than Wayne Rooney’s Sudoku record. Thirdly, Android doesn’t really do that many ‘pen friendly’ apps.

So, how is this new version different? Let’s find out…


The first major difference between the Thinkpad 1 and the latest model is the OS. The original model ran Android, but not especially well. This new version runs Windows 8 and is, dare I say it, much better for it. Lenovo principally make computers for Windows, so having them back on home territory can only be a good thing.

The second thing you’re likely to notice is that the bodywork has been completely overhauled. This new ThinkPad now comes complete with a rubberised finish that feels comfortable and pleasing to touch, a vastly improved screen (1366 x 768, nicer, but still not HD) and a cute little keyboard that is fantastic, both to look at and to use.

The ThinkPad 2 is lighter than the older model (from 1.58lbs to 1.3 lbs) and you get about 8 hours of battery life.


Available at around £430, this is actually one of the cheaper Windows 8 tablets around. It’s a bit pricier than other hybrids, of course, but is probably worth the extra money in the long run. If you really want Windows 8 on your tablet, but you don’t want to pay the funny money, this one could be a decent choice.

NOTE: Sadly, the keypad itself will set you back another £80, bringing the total up about £510. This is still a decent price compared to some of the others out there, however.


This tablet performs pretty well. The processing speed is suitably fast and the general look and feel of the tablet implies comfort, durability and professionalism. It handles the Internet with no problems at all and the apps also work well without hiccups.

One minor annoyance is the pen. That stylus just doesn’t want to come out of its friggin’ holster. Ever. It’s actually embarrassing when you’re in public and struggling to pull the f****r out.

As a negative point, I wouldn’t say that there was anything especially exciting about this tablet. It works fine; it’s not the fastest tablet in the West, nor is it the most energy efficient model ever. It is neither great value nor a ripoff and it runs Windows 8, which is a plus or a minus, depending on your perspective.

It is, however, miles better than the previous model. It represents a genuinely huge improvement on the ThinkPad 1.


Generally speaking, I liked this tablet. I don’t know if it will feature on anybody’s ‘best of the year’ lists, as I said of its predecessor, but that doesn’t make the ThinkPad 2 a bad tablet.

All in all, it’s just a standard Windows 8 tablet. Don’t expect a dazzling Retina display, don’t expect the hardware of the Microsoft Surface, don’t expect the brand pull of some of the other tablets out there and don’t expect a major bargain. What you see is a nicely made, reliable tablet at a reasonable price.

And what you see is ultimately what you’ll get.

The Sony Xperia Z Tablet Review

Sony are sort of perennial outsiders, or ‘nearly men’ in the tablet PC marketplace.

They’ve tried very hard not to be, in fact, they’ve ploughed millions into the development of various tablets. From the underrated Sony Tablet S to the pretty dismal Sony Tablet P and onwards to the mis-step of the first Sony Xperia, it seems like everything they touch is doomed, inexorably, towards slow sales and mediocre reviews.

In preparation for this review, I dug out a few of my own reviews for the aforementioned products. I believe I can narrow down a few negative points common to all Sony tablets.

1)      The price – even when the tablet is generally sound, Sony lack the reputation required to charge as much as they do for their tablets.

2)      Branding – A single letter name and an offbeat design can make the branding a little too ‘high concept’ for the average consumer and a little too ‘hokey’ for the expert.

3)      The screen – Let’s face it; the screen is, in some respects, the only aesthetic feature a tablet PC has. It is also the first thing that the average customer gravitates to. Sony’s screens have been, by turns, slippery and awkward or just far too polished for its own good (definitely the case with the Xperia).

So, this is the criteria we’ll be looking at as we review the new Xperia Z.


The screen is, sadly, not much to write home about. It looks nice enough and has a polite 1920 x 1200 resolution, but when measured against the Google Nexus, the Microsoft Surface Pro or the iPad’s Retina Display, it just comes off as inadequate. Of course, this isn’t to say that the screen is bad, just that it is a mid-range, average display.

On the other hand, at 6.9mm, the Xperia Z is the thinnest tablet in the world and exhibits a smart, modern design that really looks the part. Sony’s earlier S and P models indicated a great desire to play with the aesthetics of the form (the ‘rolled up magazine’ model was a personal fave) and, although these desires have since been scaled back somewhat, Sony sure knows how to design a handsome product.

The Xperia is also completely waterproof (and can be dunked into a fishtank if you don’t believe me), this makes it very useful for use in the rain and eliminates the worry that it’ll blow up if a few drops somehow get inside the casing.


The Xperia is being released to compete with iPad on price. Oh, Sony…


Personally, I loved the infrared port, this allows your Xperia to work like an all-purpose remote control, meaning that it can change the channels on your telly if you can’t find the remote. It’s kind of gimmicky, but hey, I like it.

I like Android Jelly Bean as well and there is an opening for a truly brilliant Android tablet to swoop in and become ‘The Android iPad’, however, the Xperia just isn’t that tablet. It is likeable enough, uses good, fast processors and runs reasonably well, but this is, simply, an average tablet. It is not the iPad beater that the inflated price tag is forcing it to be.

When I was at school, I had a friend who was a nice enough guy (if a little annoying at times), but who was, at best, an average student. He wasn’t especially bright, wasn’t particularly athletic and certainly wasn’t an academic. His parents, however, pushed him to believe that he could do anything; in fact, they pushed him so far and so hard, that if he wasn’t a self-made millionaire by his late teens, they would possibly have died of shame. Of course, this friend did his best; he worked as hard as he could, but eventually it all came undone, as it was always going to. Sony, I feel, are like my old friend’s parents, telling him he could crack Unified Field Theory on his lunch break and then getting upset when he failed to do so and proved to be, well, average.


Sony does not have a great reputation with tablets. What they need is an innovative, affordable 7” tablet in the vein of the Kindle Fire HD or Nexus 7, something that can build a customer base and then attract customers to the next big, well-branded release.

Releasing their tablet against the iPad will probably doom it to the same ignominious fate as its predecessor. Let’s face facts: the iPad is the best branded, most visible and most popular tablet in the world today. If the average person is going to spend their money on a top-range tablet, what are they going to buy? An untested model that is an update for a low-selling and underwhelming series, or the world’s most famous tablet? Answers on a postcard, please.

As a stand-alone model, I would say that this tablet is a fine computer, like most of its predecessors, but also that it isn’t anything particularly special when held against the rest of the marketplace. As usual, a mediocre screen, branding that is better recognized as a smart phone model and a, frankly, silly price tag have conspired to sink a promising ship.

Microsoft said to be planning next-gen Surface announcement for June

Editoral – Windows 8 has been a breath of fresh air for the windows platform, the aesthetic improvement has been lead by the tablet revolution. On that note, windows 8 tablets have got off to a slow start in life and it is still waiting for that entrepreneurial tablet to break the seal. We thought that the surface would be that product, and eventually it may do. But for the time being android and iOS are the preferred platform, so Microsoft’s decision to create a 7 inch version is probably a bit premature…. who knows? maybe it will be the kick start the platform needs.


Microsoft has long been rumored to be working on a 7-inch version of its Surface tablet, but a new report suggests the company may be preparing to unveil it in June. DigiTimesclaims that second-generation Surface devices, with 7- to 9-inch displays, will be announced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in late June. If the report is accurate, then it suggests Microsoft may be preparing more than one Surface device.


An Xbox Surface device emerged shortly before Microsoft’s official Surface tablet announcement last year, and we understand the Xbox and Surface teams have been working closely on the company’s 7-inch plans. Microsoft is expected to launch a 7-inch Surface-branded tablet, with the company recently changing its Windows 8 tablet specifications to support smaller screen sizes. Microsoft has confirmed it’s working closely with OEMs to bring cheaper and smaller Windows tablets to market. A leaked 8-inch Acer tablet suggests these types of devices are imminent.




Microsoft’s Build conference will focus on itsWindows 8.1 upgrade and the improvements for 7- and 8-inch tablets, we understand. It also follows shortly after Intel’s planned Haswell launch on June 3rd and the annual Computex event where OEMs typically announce devices. Intel’s new Haswell chips are designed to improve battery life and graphics performance, andThe Verge understands Microsoft will continue to update its Surface Pro with the latest Intel chipsets.


With Microsoft’s continued insistence that it is a ”devices and services” company, there has been a distinct lack of devices. Microsoft originally announced its Surface tablets almost a year ago, launching the Surface RT in October, but the company has remained silent on any further plans. Continued smartwatch and Surface Phone rumors suggest the company is investigating additional devices, but a focus on smaller 7-inch devices appears to be the more immediate plan for Surface.


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Game Diversify their market and add tablets to their stores

Having been saved from the clutches of bankruptcy last year, the UK’s premier game shop has done very well and will hopefully be on our high streets for years to come. They are obviously an astute bunch, in the management offices and they are jumping on the tablet pc bandwagon and they will start stocking tablets, they had a complete sell-out in october 2012, when they started selling the Nexus 7.

GAME exec Charlotte Knight said, ”Tablets are an increasingly popular gaming platform so it’s a natural step for us to be at the heart of providing these to the UK gaming community,”

The Tablets that will be available in GAME shops are listed (and priced) below:

  • DGM T-704S (£59.99)
  • DGM T-909 (£89.99)
  • ARNOVA 10D G3 (£99.99)
  • ACER Iconia B1-A71 (£99.99)
  • ARCHOS GamePad (£129.99)
  • DGM T-1006 (£149.99)
  • ASUS Google Nexus 7 32GB (£199.99)
  • Apple iPad Mini 16GB (£269)
  • Apple iPad 4 16GB (£399)

Aiming for the cheaper end of the market, they are looing to create a new tablet market, compared to other retailers that provide a full range.

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