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Hands On With the New Ergo GoTab Epic

Many manufacturers have tried and failed to provide a good, cheap Android alternative to the ever-popular iPad from Apple. The latest to try is British manufacturer Ergo, who has just announced the GoTab Epic which runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and costs just £180.

The GoTab Epic will launch next week along with several other Android 4.0 tablets of all shapes and sizes, but we got some early hands-on time with the budget gadget at this year’s Gadget Show Live.

With a 4:3 screen that’s 9.7-inches diagnonally, the GoTab Epic GTB9040 has a screen size and form factor that’s identical to Apple’s iPad. However, with lower prices comes lower quality, and we have to say that the screen obviously isn’t in the same league as the iPad’s Retina Display. It is, however, a decent quality capacitive multi-touch IPS display with a resolution of 1024 x 768, which is the same resolution as the iPad 2. From our time with the tablet the screen appeared bright with good colour representation, so we’re looking forward to getting hold of one to compare fully with an iPad 2.

Running the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, along with a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU, the GoTab Epic is nippy but not the fastest tablet on the market by a long stretch. Flowing through menus seemed smooth, although when we opened up several apps and switched between them there was a little noticeable stutter. It’s worth noting that the model we tested may not have the final firmware loaded, so the product that goes on sale next month may perform better.

The device has support for MicroSD cards up to 32GB which expands upon the 8GB of internal storage. A micro USB port, HDMI-out, a VGA front-facing camera for video calling and internal Wi-Fi pretty much round up the specifications – this is really a no frills tablet that offers a good quality screen and access to the Android ecosystem for a good price.

While it’s not in the same leagues as the iPads and Galaxy Tabs of this world, the GoTab Epic was rather nice to hold in terms of lightness and a thin form factor. It may become a little uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time due to the squared edges on both the front and back, but on the whole it’s very manageable to hold.

Sat next to the 4:3 ratio GoTab Epic was a similar tablet with a different form factor: the 16:9 GoTab. Again running Android 4.0, the 16:9 version bares more of a resemblance to the hordes of Android tablets out there today, but we have to say that we prefer the iPad-alike GTB9040. If a 9.7-inch screen is a little too big for your liking, there’s also an 8-inch version of the GoTab Epic.

Both models, along with a 7-inch basic GoTab, will launch in the UK on April 16th. The GoTab Epic will sell for £180, while we’re still waiting on a price for the 7-inch model. Along with the tablets Ergo will be launching its own eBook store called GoReader on the 16th of this month. Downloadable from the Play Store, GoReader will provide access to thousands of eBooks as well as unique content designed for kids such as learning cards and interactive books.

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