Binatone's HomeSurf 705 is the cheapest Android tablet we've seen so far, costing less than £100. On first impressions, you wouldn't guess that it was so cheap; it feels well-made, with a glossy plastic case that's light and thin. The tablet runs Android 2.1 - not the latest version, and not even a tablet version - and to keep costs down, Binatone has left out many technologies that are standard on other tablets: there's no Bluetooth, no camera, and the screen is resistive, rather than the more responsive capacitive type.
Still, we approached the HomeSurf 705 with enthusiasm, as an Android tablet at this price seems an unbelievable bargain. Binatone is keen to stress that it's designed for basic web browsing, eBook reading and watching videos, and with the bundled Mindings app. It's also aimed at those who aren't comfortable with technology.
At this price you can't expect luxuries like a camera
Mindings is an app and a cloud service that lets you push photos, reminders and social updates to the HomeSurf, turning it into a cross between a Facebook wall and a digital photo frame. The idea is that you'd give it to an older relative to stay in touch and keep tabs on them. It's currently in Beta and so may not be available when you read this, but it's an interesting concept. However the HomeSurf 705 needs to be easy to use and reliable if Mindings is to be successful, and this is where it may fall down.
Resistive screens aren't always bad, but the HomeSurf's is particularly stubborn, and increased the rate at which we made typing errors on the Android keyboard. Image quality isn't great either; the low resolution 800x480 screen means that images aren't very sharp, and small text can be hard to read without zooming in. The resistive screen also adds a grainy sheen that doesn't help improve things. Viewing angles aren't great either, although colours are strong. We found it annoying that the bundled Photo Viewer app doesn't help picture viewing, buy stretching everything to fit the screen's resolution.