Aside from the $369.99 Archos 101 G9 Turbo (250GB), most of the Android 4.0-based tablets we’ve looked at recently have been—in terms of fast processors, battery life, and high-end screens—cutting-edge slates. Most, therefore, command premium prices. Even those full-size slates dubbed “entry-level,” such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) and the Asus Transformer Pad TF300, cost $400. (And, frankly, many of them—especially the Transformer Pad—are worth every penny.) To get something cheaper, though, you’d have to go with the less impressive $249.99 Archos G9 101, or opt for something with a smaller screen, such as Samsung’s 7-inch, $249.99 Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0).
Still too expensive? You can always go with a Coby Kyros tablet. Coby specializes in inexpensive electronics, and currently offers five Android 4.0 (also known as “Ice Cream Sandwich,” or ICS) slates—a 7-inch, an 8-inch, a 9-inch, a 9.7-inch, and a 10.1-inch—all with street prices under $200. We got our hands on the 9.7-inch, which you can pick up for about $199.99.
We looked at Coby’s Kyros Internet 8″ Touchscreen Tablet in March of 2011, and though we found it acceptable for the price ($249, which was quite low at the time), we had a few serious concerns. Strike one: That slate ran on the Android 2.2 (Froyo) operating system (OS), when most others were using the 3.0 (Honeycomb) version. Strike two: Android 2.2 didn’t support Flash, which meant that a big portion of Web content was unsupported. Strike three: The Kyros Internet 8″ was not Google-certified, meaning that it didn’t come with, among other important Google apps, Android Market, which we now know as Google Play Store, by far the largest repository of Android apps available.
The latest round of Kyros, including this 9.7-inch model, solves all but the last shortcoming. They all run ICS and support Flash, but these slates are still not Google-certified—still no Google Play Store. Instead, Coby includes the GetJar app store, which provides access to a small subset of the apps available from Google.
There’s also one big hardware hole: Even though the Kyros 9.7 is built well, especially for so inexpensive a slate its size, it’s built around a single-core processor, when every other 2012 slate we’ve seen has either a dual- or a quad-core CPU. Not only did the slow CPU show itself in many of our benchmark tests, it also made itself known when loading some Web pages and some apps, especially games. We found ourselves waiting far too often. (More on this in the Performance section, later on.)
The Kyros 9.7″ worked well for reading e-books, listening to music, viewing pictures, playing some games, and viewing videos, though. Bottom line: It’s workable as a low-cost media-consumption slate, but not ideal for Web browsing.
See the review at Computer Shopper.