EE has just announced the UK’s cheapest 4G tablet. Dubbed the Eagle, it’s an 8in Android slate available from £200 PAYG or £50 on a £15/2GB, 2-year monthly contract.
The Eagle, which has been manufactured in partnership with Huawei, offers a 1280 x 800 resolution, 1.6GHz quad-core processor, Android Jelly Bean with a gently optimised interface, 5MP camera and 16GB of expandable storage.
EE gave us some hands-on time with the tablet earlier today. It's a solidly made and attractive aluminium and plastic tablet with screen proportions that make one-handed grasping realistic. Jelly Bean runs smoothly on it, and apps open quickly, although those craving a bang up-to-date Android experience will miss KitKat's visual polish. An update is promised but at the moment there’s no indication as to when that’ll happen.
We tried the Eagle out in quite a brightly lit room, and the screen was still legible and colourful - not approaching the standard of a Google Nexus 7 or iPad Mini, but certainly workable. The compromise is resolution. As with the original iPad Mini, pixels are clearly visible - so against competition like the iPad Mini with Retina Display or a 4G Nexus 7, it feels quite old-fashioned.
Then again, you'll pay at least £420 for a 4G-enabled version of the iPad Mini and £300 for a 4G Nexus 7. If you need 4G in a tablet – for on-the-go video-on-demand, say – and don't crave the most cutting-edge large-screen experience, the Eagle’s worthy of consideration. It will be available from 28th May.
4G for more
EE also announced plans to bring 4G to larger swatches of the country. Its double-speed service offering speeds of 24-30Mbps will be in 40 cities by the end of 2014 (it's in 20 for now).
And it's not just targeting cities: EE reckons its standard 4G network now covers 2,588 rural towns and villages, each with populations of between 500 and 10,000 people.
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