The TeleRead Review: Visual Land Prestige 10 Internet Tablet
By Howard Whitman
I’ll freely admit that when it comes to tablets, I’m more familiar with the kind The Flintstones wrote on than the newfangled, touchscreen, sorta-computer-thingy ones.
Yep, I’m a technology curmudgeon—a man who didn’t start using an iPod until 2011 (although I do love it). But when it comes to tablets, iPad or otherwise, I didn’t have one, didn’t want one, and didn’t see the day when I would.
The Prestige 10 has a sweet 10-inch screen (an eight-inch model, logically named the Prestige 8, is also available) and runs the Android operating system (this was, of course, my first encounter with that). FYI, this uses the latest version of Android, 4.0, which has been named Ice Cream Sandwich. I have no idea why it’s called that, but it seems to work well, and, anyway, I like ice cream sandwiches.
It has 16GB Flash memory and 1GB Ram, for those who care about such things. It has an extremely thin ½-inch design and is light and portable, weighing in at under 20 ounces. And best of all, it’s sheer fun—it offers an incredible variety of cool things to do, and at a surprisingly low price.
Setup was quick and simple. Upon firing the unit up, I’d connected it to my home Wi-Fi network (just click on your network, punch in the password, and you’re done).
The first thing I tried (of course, something I’d never before tried) was to download and read an e-book. The Prestige 10 certainly made it easy. One of the many apps that come pre-loaded on the unit is Amazon Kindle, so I simply called that up and, by logging into my Amazon account, was able to download some wonderful e-books from the vast selection of public-domain books available totally free.
I opted for some spooky classics: the original Dracula (and its little-known sequel, also by Bram Stoker, Dracula’s Guest) and Frankenstein; an anthology from Edgar Allen Poe; and a ghost story. Nice. Since I’d never before read an e-book, I wanted to sample a variety of them to see how they would differ in layout, etc., when viewed on this new device. They downloaded quickly from Amazon, and then were on the tablet, easily accessed through the icons on the Kindle app screen. All I had to do at that point was touch the icon of the book I wanted to look at, and soon it was loaded.
A note about that: I learned that the uploading time depends on how well the tablet is accessing Amazon’s cloud system: At home, e-books popped up in less than a minute; in my office building, which has a sketchy record for Wi-Fi and cell signals, it could take up to five minutes or sometimes failed to sync altogether—although that’s not the tablet’s fault.
My first test subject, Frankenstein, came up nicely. The screen seemed a bit too bright at first, but that was easily adjusted through the Prestige 10’s settings app on its Utilities page. Type size was also easy to adjust, but the smaller type was just fine for my eyes. I was able to turn pages easily and quickly by just tapping the page I was on. Reading this way on the Prestige 10 was definitely comfortable and user-friendly, and I could see myself enjoying books like this on a train or plane instead of lugging around bound volumes—the main appeal of the e-book approach in the first place.
The pages available on the Prestige 10 include Home (Appstore, Kindle, Wi-Fi setup), Lifestyle (recipes, calendar, etc.), Productivity (Adobe Reader, notes, calculator), Social (Web browser, Email, Skype), Entertainment (Netflix, YouTube) and my kids’ favorite page, Games (loaded with free versions of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Sprinkle and Scramble). There’s also an applications page where the apps I (and my son, who’s much better at this kind of thing than I am) loaded reside. (While Google Play is not currently available on the Prestige 10, the device is Amazon app store compatible. Additionally, the tablet comes installed with the GetJar and 1Mobile markets. –Ed.)
To test the unit’s video capabilities, I went to Netflix. Accessing my account was easy—just log in with your email address and password one time and you’re good to go. The movie I picked loaded quickly—faster than Netflix loads on my Blu-ray player, for the record—but the resolution was less than ideal. The picture was blocky and pixelated, not perfect, but the speed of loading and seamless play was appreciated. Also, navigating the Android version of Netflix was on the challenging side—what came up were recommended picks in a variety of categories based on my viewing preferences, but I wasn’t able to access my Instant Queue and choose from all of the titles I’ve already selected. I’ll bet there’s a way to access this list, but I didn’t see it and didn’t feel like putting in the time to locate it—of course, that’s a Netflix flaw, not a Prestige 10 one.
I’m not a gamer, but my son sure is, and he had a great time with the unit’s games, especially Angry Birds. Picture was decent—not Xbox-level, but the graphics came through well and the colors seemed true.
Navigating the Web went pretty smoothly. Transition between different sites moved quickly; no problems there. The toughest part—and I’m sure this is typical of any tablet—was operating the touch keyboard to enter URLs and text. That certainly will take some getting used to, but hey, it’s not a laptop and isn’t necessarily intended to replace one, right?
It comes with most of the bells and whistles you’d expect from an iPad or another more expensive tablet: a built-in camera good for stills, video or webcam; a fully functional touchscreen; capability for playing music or video, and much more. Battery life was very impressive—the specs say it lasts for eight hours on a full charge, and a full day of usage by my son seemed to bear that out. It came with every hookup you’d ever want, enabling connection of USB devices and other formats.
I had a good ol’ time with the Prestige 10. Its varied functionality and overall smooth performance made it a great asset for passing the hours away—and getting some work done, too.
My only qualm about the unit was the screen resolution, particularly in the case of Netflix. From what I’ve seen of the iPad, the Prestige 10 does not offer the same level of performance in this regard. But who expected it to?
The Prestige 10 will sell for a fraction of the iPad’s cost. It has a $499.99 list price, but should be available at retail in the $215 to $250 range. That’s an amazing price for a versatile 10-inch tablet that offers so much.
For further information, including a full listing of model specs, a handy FAQ section for tablet newbies and downloadable (PDF) user manuals, visit www.visual-land.com.
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Howard Whitman is the managing editor of Home Furnishings Business, which is published by the North American Publishing Company’s (NAPCO) Consumer Technology Publishing Group. Howard is also a highly-accomplished musician, and currently plays bass for the Philadelphia-area prog rock band Shadow Merchant.