Creative ZiiO 10in review
Creative has not one but two tablet models available for purchase, and they're both dirt cheap. We reviewed the Creative ZiiO 7in a while back, and this larger model, with a 10in 1,024 x 600 screen, is almost as reasonable. It will set you back a mere £200 – a full £199 less than the cheapest iPad 2.
Despite the low price, the ZiiO doesn't look bad. It comes in a subtly sparkling matte-charcoal plastic case, with the ZiiO logo etched tastefully in the bottom right corner below the screen.
Inside, though, the ZiiO has clearly been built to a budget. The 1GHz Creative ZiiLabs ZMS-08 CPU is an old single-core design, and it's backed up by a mere 8GB of storage (though this can be supplemented thanks to a full-size SD card slot).
Such mediocre hardware yields predictably poor performance, with a generally laggy feel to menus and browsing operations. The ZiiO’s SunSpider score of 8,158ms isn't as quick as recent dual-core Honeycomb-based tablets, and its BBC desktop homepage load time of nine seconds is again slow. A score of 2,219 in the Android-specific Quadrant benchmark wasn’t bad, though, and the ZiiO proved perfectly capable of playing most current games smoothly.
The processor isn't the only place corners have been cut. There's no 3G option, and battery life is well below average, managing just 6hrs 53mins in our video loop test. The system software is behind the times too – a Creative-modified, but smartphone-oriented version of Android 2.2. There’s no access to the Android Market, and Creative's ZiiO Space service is no substitute.
The biggest disappointment, however, is the screen. Image quality leaves an awful lot to be desired, with viewing angles so poor you must take care to hold the tablet directly head-on – tip it even slightly away from the perpendicular and the image fades rapidly from view. It’s very drab too, reaching just 157cd/m2 at maximum brightness, while colours have a noticeably yellow cast to them.
Worse, the ZiiO's touch controls are implemented with cheap resistive technology. It responded poorly to our prods and pokes (the navigation and multimedia controls below the screen are particularly frustrating), and it doesn't support multitouch, so you can't pinch to zoom.
The ZiiIO’s one distinctive feature is support for Creative’s Bluetooth-based APT-X wireless audio codec, which connects to a variety of the firm's wireless headphones and speakers.
Overall, though, the ZiiO 10in is simply unpleasant to use, making it a poor choice despite the low price. If you’re looking for a bargain basement tablet, we’d recommend the Advent Vega instead, or Creative's own ZiiO 7in at a now very cheap £150.
Price when reviewed: £167 (£200 inc VAT)