joojoo tablet review

Full review: Linux-based iPad rivalling web tablet

Image 1 of 4 joojoo with You Tube
joojoo with You Tube
Image 2 of 4 joojoo with Flickr
joojoo with Flickr
Image 3 of 4 joojoo main
joojoo main
Image 4 of 4 joojoo with facebook
joojoo with facebook

As the tablet war heats up, is the joojoo a contender?

First impressions of the Linux-based joojoo tablet are pleasing, it’s got a nice silver finish (not metal unfortunately) and the 12.1 screen is enormous, with a front-facing camera and USB port. At 1.1kg it feels fairly substantial and far too heavy to use with one hand, so you’ll either be using it with two hands or resting it on your lap, although we found it a little wide.

Firing up in a respectable 10 seconds, you’re greeted with an interface that looks fairly slick, but within a short space of time becomes incredibly frustrating, due to the lack of customisation and sluggish touchscreen.

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The homescreen has about 25 of what looks like apps, but are actually web shortcuts, ranging from Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, to Hula and Walmart, which are less useful outside the US. Unfortunately there’s no way of adding new ones or removing the less useful ones, although Fusion Garage (the joojoo's developer) does hope to rectify that in a future update. Scroll through or view them in categories including: social, entertain, connect, stay informed and portal.

You might not be able to add apps, but you can add bookmarks (and search them alphabetically) to a dedicated screen accessed by swiping right. Swipe left to view the third homescreen that includes a calendar.

The home screen and volume controls are located on a top menu bar, which unfortunately isn’t static. Instead it appears when you touch the top of the screen. Actually getting the menu bar to slide down in the first place often takes several jabs and once you hit 'joojoo' it’s then about four seconds to return to the main menu. We’d have preferred a dedicated menu button like the Dell Streak, because it’s really slow and frustrating and spoils the experience. It also means despite running a faster 1.6Ghz processor, the user experience of the joojoo is nowhere near as nippy as the Apple iPad and Dell Streak.

Storage is a paltry 4GB, but considering you can’t actually download programs – it’s designed as a pure browser - it’s hard to actually see how you’d fill 4GB.

joojoo: Browsing

Swipe down to access the browser. There’s no home page, instead you enter an address using a decent-sized keypad, which is fine for typing.

Despite the screen supporting multitouch, it’s not very responsive. Scroll up and down using two fingers (we found two thumbs to be the most effective method) and on some web pages it doesn’t work. Inexplicably there’s no zoom control, the thinking being because the screen is widescreen, it’s not essential. Sorry Fusion Garage, we think it is.

To close or flip between pages, you go via the dreaded drop-down menu, which means more fruitless tapping on the top of the screen, but once you get there swipe controls are fairly effective.

Websites like BBC News and Sky News load within a couple of seconds and content rich websites like T3.com take a respectable 10-12 seconds to load. Flip to vertical orientation and the accelerometer switches the screen fairly quickly, but some web pages don’t resize to fit, so you lose a column of text.

joojoo: Video

Much has been made of the joojoo’s support for Flash (version 10.01), bringing flexibility to watch videos on websites like T3.com. You've got two options for You Tube videos. Either the conventional version of Flash, or by selecting tha special joojoo version. We had issues with the former, an Autocar Audi review at 720p looked juddery. But the joojoo version, which uses a desktop version of Flash can play back HD without problems. The speaker isn't very loud though.

We struggled to stream HD content from BBC iPlayer on to the 1366 x768 screen. This isn’t really a surprise and we’ve had the same issue with netbooks with similar processors, but we managed to stream the same episode via the Flash-free iPad, flawlessly.

joojoo: Connections

Charge the joojoo via the supplied DC connecter. Yes, there’s a USB port, but this is only for charging (and you don’t even get a cable to do this) or attaching a mouse. You can’t transfer video via USB key, which seems like missed opportunity, although this will be fixed with a firmware upgrade. There’s no Bluetooth, but you do get WiFi and it’s very simple to connect. A 3G joojoo tablet is set to land in July.

The joojoo is equipped with a front-facing camera, but because joojoo is designed as an internet device, you can’t download Skype (or any other programs) unfortunately, so have to use a web-based service like Tokbox.

joojoo tablet: Conclusion

We really wanted to like the joojoo and we really feel the hardware is there to make a good product, but at the moment the sluggish touchscreen and lack of customization let it down. It’s really unfortunate that the joojoo launched so close to the Apple iPad. The Apple device's simple UI and fantastic touchscreen highlight the joojoo’s sluggish interface, which takes too long to do simple things - like return to the main menu.

If the joojoo tablet was £150-200, we could see its appeal as a netbook alternative for browsing. But £320 is too much money for a basic web browser in tablet form – for an extra £120 you can get an iPad, which does a lot more. But, speaking to joojoo’s UK PR team, it’s clear that Fusion Garage is continually updating the device, so some of our gripes - USB storage and adding bookmarks - can be fixed with a future firmware upgrade, but we're not sure when that will be. But it’s the sluggish navigation that’s the real problem, it's incredibly frustrating. If the second generation joojoo improved the touchscreen and ditched the virtual menu bar for some dedicated buttons, this could be a desireable product, but at the moment it feels unfinished. For now we'll stick to the iPad.

PART 2: Apple iPad Vs joojoo tablet

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SPECIFICATIONS
Website: https://thejoojoo.com
Price: £320
Processor: An Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz processor with Nvidia Ion chipset
Storage: 4GB SSD
Screen size/res: 12.1-inch 1366x768 capacitive multi-touch
Connectivity: WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, 3.5mm jack, microphone, DC, USB
Battery: 5 hours on WiFi
Dimensions/weight: 199x325x19mm/1.1kg

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