EE launch fresh own brand tablet
MOBILE operator EE have added a fresh self-branded tablet to their expanding line of bird themed products.
The Jay follows on from last year's child friendly Robin tablet (£130), the short lived Harrier tablet (£200) - now only available from EE on an "as new" basis - and the long gone Eagle tablet, released in 2014.
It's available on both pay as you go for an upfront cost of £119.99, with 6GB of starter data that's valid for 90 days, or on a two year pay monthly terms for £29.99 upfront.
Those signing up to a pay monthly deal with a 4GEE Extra data plan before 26 May will also get a three month Now TV Entertainment Pass thrown in.
Priced to compete
EE say there'll be a range of pay monthly plans available, with prices starting from £16 a month once the £29.99 upfront fee is paid; at present however, there's just one EE Extra plan on sale:
|Data||Upfront cost||Monthly cost|
(plus 100MB EU roaming data)
Note that this tariff includes a small EU roaming allowance as well - which is the case with all EE Extra plans.
Existing EE customers will find the upfront fee waived and the monthly prices discounted by 10%, making the tablet even less expensive.
The Jay's appearance is more premium than its £120 price tag might suggest, with a silver metal body, an iPad-like positioning of the home key, and a 7.85-inch screen.
Under the bonnet, the tablet has a 1GHz quad-core processor running Android 5.1 Lollipop - but it has just 16GB of internal memory - with the option to add a further 32GB via the micro SD slot.
The cameras are not hugely impressive: the one on the rear boasts 5MP, while the front facing camera is just 2MP.
EE say the 3,600mAh battery - the same capacity as we'll find in various smartphones - should offer up to seven hours of "full use".
Being 4G-capable, it should be able to offer download speeds of up to 150Mb - if we happen to be in one of the cities where EE's double speed 4G+ is available.
The wireless support, however, is limited to the slightly slower 802.11b/g/n protocols.
In all, the specs are OK for the price.
But it's not just EE who can offer their own tablets and smartphones. Vodafone have also entered the game, with two 4G-capable own brand budget tablets.
The Tab Prime 6 arrived last summer, offering rather less than the Jay can - for a higher price tag.
For £150, customers get a tablet with just 8GB of internal storage, and although the 9.6-inch HD screen is a decent size, the pixel density of 157ppi means that icons and text show a little fuzz round the edges.
Since then, Vodafone have released the Tab Speed 6, which is basically a smaller and more affordable version of the Prime 6.
The pay as you go deal costs £125 with 6GB of 4G data thrown in, while pay monthly options start from £16 a month for 3GB of 4G data:
|Tablet||Data||Upfront cost||Monthly price||Contract length|
|Tab Speed 6||3GB||£0||£16||24 months||Visit Vodafone|
|10GB||£0||£21||24 months||Visit Vodafone|
|Tab Prime 6||3GB||£19||£16||24 months||Visit Vodafone|
|10GB||£0||£21||24 months||Visit Vodafone|
The Speed would appear to be in direct competition with EE's Jay.
Its processor is 1.3GHz, compared to the Jay's 1GHz. It also boasts a marginally larger screen than EE's latest tablet, at eight inches.
In terms of storage, the two both offer 16GB, though the Speed 6 is compatible with micro SD cards of up to 64GB.
The battery has a capacity of 4,060mAh, although Vodafone are coy about how long it'll last in full use - and it's far smaller than the 6,470mAh battery found in the likes of the iPad mini 2.
The Speed 6 and the Jay tie when it comes to cameras. They're both the same resolution, and nothing to write home about.
It's 4G, silly
Despite being marketed as entry-level tablets with prices to match, it's worth stopping for a moment to consider the competition.
Samsung and Apple are clearly in a different league with their tablets, but it's worth noting that it's possible to get a fairly well regarded name brand tablet with similar specs for around £115.
Then there's Amazon's six-inch version of the Kindle Fire, which famously costs just £50 - though users have to put up with its custom version of Android.
This supports no Google apps - meaning no Play store, no YouTube app and no Gmail.
The Kindle Fire also lacks 4G connectivity - but then again, so does pretty much every tablet under £200.
This is ultimately what makes the EE and Vodafone tablets different. They may not have the best specifications of devices in their price bracket, but they offer greater connectivity than their similarly priced - wi-fi only - branded rivals.
If users are happy to stick to using hotspots, then there are better value options available - but for those who want to be able to get online everywhere - on a budget - the own brand tablets are definitely worth a look.