The stout rectangular body of the Linx Commtiva N700 doesn't have the slinky slimline feel of the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Apple iPad, but then it costs a lot less than either of those two machines and offers almost as many essential tablet frills.
It's a blocky slab of a tablet, deeper and without the knife edge corners of the iPad or Archos 70, but it still manages to fit into a back pocket (just) and is best ported around in the supplied black diary type case.
Down the left-hand side of the screen (in landscape mode) there are the familiar four Android buttons – Home, Back, Menu and Search – but it's what's inside that really counts. The N700 has all the trimmings for getting online on the go, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the magical unlocked 3G-modem built-in.
What's more, it runs Android 2.2 (Froyo) and has full Market access for apps like Skype, Spotify and Angry Birds. That also means you get free turn-by-turn directions using the onboard GPS and Google Maps.
It even charges its long-lasting battery via a standard mini-USB connector, so there's no expensive docking cable to consider. And there's a 4GB micro-SD card thrown in for storage, too.
Other than a minor tweak to the desktop skin, this is exactly the same machine as the Viewsonic Viewpad 7 but for £100 less. It's an absolute bargain, and provided you keep background apps to a minimum it's a responsive as any other Android tablet around.
There is, however, one dramatic drawback. Like the Viewsonic, the N700 is built around a 600MHz Qualcomm processor. According to Google's rulebook, that means you can't install the Android Flash player. YouTube works, of course, and the proxy-based Skyfire browser will get you into a limited number of video websites, but BBC iPlayer simply throws up an error message no matter how hard you try to get in.
Non-Flash videos are a problem, too, because of the underpowered electronics. Unlike the Archos 70 or Advent Vega, the default player struggles with any slightly esoteric codecs and resolutions bigger than a postage stamp. While lightweight players apps like xyplayer can render DVD rips watchable, they're not perfect.
If it's movies you want, then, the Archos 70 not only does full-speed playback of every codec under the sun, it's cheaper, too. If you're prepared to sacrifice video playback for something that could realistically replace your netbook, TomTom and e-reader for catching up on the news or blogging from the coffee shop or train, then this is the one for you.
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