Will these budget Android tablets ever stop coming?
The Energy Sistem Energy Tablet x10 Quad is a curious melding of the cheap, the super cheap, and the actually rather good. If it was a little bit cheaper, it could almost represent a ‘suck it and see' purchase, but as the 10-inch tablet's retail price seems to hover around the £180 mark, it's in serious danger of losing its competitive edge as the market begins to fill with similarly priced, yet rather more robust, alternatives.
Things begin quite badly when you first turn on the x10, as you're greeted with a badly-translated splash screen that asks you to connect to one of Spanish company Energy Sistem's servers to download a bespoke Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 build. For us, the connection to the server was agonisingly slow, cut off completely on two occasions and, one of these times, crashed the tablet to the point where it hung completely for nearly 10 minutes before forcing itself to reboot.
After we got the message "Congratulation upgrade succeed!" we were asked to delete a file (presumably the cached data used to install the update, but this wasn't explained), by which time we were becoming distinctly wary of what was to come.
Happily, the tablet was nothing like as bad as we feared. Its 1080x752 - not 1080x800 as advertised, note - screen is bright, colourful and has very good viewing angles. It doesn't suffer from some of the contrast shifts and weird colour biases of other tablets and, though its 160ppi clarity doesn't compare to the Nexus 7s of this world, it's extremely impressive for the price.
The tablet itself is light and plasticky without feeling cheap. Its buttons, as well as its unique slant on Jelly Bean, are bizarrely laid out, though. The power button and home button are side-mounted (in portrait mode), look identical, and are thus easily confused. Between them is the volume control – a single button that has to be pressed in the right place to control the sound.
Meanwhile, the UI's software touch buttons are slapped down to the bottom left, with largely unnecessary screenshot and volume buttons cluttering up the screen at all times. Strange.
The quad core ARM Cortex A9 and 1GB of RAM that lurk inside the tablet do a fair job, with Open GL ES 2.0 on hand to offer a significant boost in graphics processing. It ran our old friend Grand Theft Auto: Vice City at full detail and draw distance and barely flinched, jerking in intensely overcrowded situations, but remaining more than playable throughout.