EE really wants you to sign up for 4G. So much so that it has launched its first own-brand tablet, the EE Eagle. A repackaged edition of last year’s Huawei MediaPad M1, the 8-inch tablet features a 1280 x 800 screen, 16GB internal storage and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. But the feature that EE really hopes will lift the Eagle from their shelves into your trolley is 4G compatibility.
Is that enough to justify its asking price of £199? We took a first look at the EE Eagle to judge for ourselves.
Tablet reviews – our test lab verdict on all the latest devices
EE Eagle – three key features
4G compatible – if superfast mobile internet is something you need, on a bigger screen than your smartphone, then EE’s Eagle is here to help. Unlike the iPad Air or Nexus 7, you’ll only to have the choice of one network when getting this tablet on contract. That’s EE, of course, meaning you won’t be able to shop around for more competitive deal.
A respectable screen – the Eagle’s screen has a 1280 x 800 resolution, which is better than Apple’s original iPad mini but not as good as the 1,400 x 900 offered by Tesco’s Hudl. It’s also significantly inferior to the Nexus 7’s 1920 × 1200 touchscreen, which dazzles when playing the latest blockbusters. So, although the Eagle has a high-definition display, it won’t have the same wow factor as other tablets – even cheaper tablets – when playing video.
Powerful processor – impressively, the Eagle packs a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, meaning it’s well suited to all your app multitasking needs. You shouldn’t have to worry about slowdown when switching between BBC iPlayer and Gmail or using any of the latest apps.
Which? Expert Verdict – ‘4G? I’d rather have a wi-fi only Hudl’
Since the Tesco Hudl flew off supermarket shelves last Christmas, everyone wants a piece of the budget tablet pie. Both Vodafone and EE have launched their own tablets today, and you can expect O2 and Three to follow suit before Santa Claus rides into town this December. Why? They’re an easy way to tie customers into a contract.
What’s good for your mobile provider, isn’t necessarily good for you though. The Smart Tab 4 from Vodaphone looks pretty low rent on first impressions, offering little in the way of value despite its £125 price tag. Thanks to its 4G compatibility and speedy processor, the EE Eagle is a better proposition, but I’d still rather get a Nexus 7 or Hudl.
Although the Eagle is reasonably priced on a SIM-free deal of £199, EE will be encouraging customers to get in on a contract when it launches on May 28. That’s an expensive business with 2GB data costing £50 on a pay-monthly plan. You could choose to get less data with your Eagle, but then you’re going to miss out on the best of 4G when streaming video and downloading bumper-sized apps on the move.
Most importantly, you don’t really need 4G on a tablet. For the majority of tablet users a wi-fi connection is all they need. Video streaming wherever you are on a big tablet screen sounds great in theory. In practice, it’s an expensive luxury.
Rob Leedham – Senior Researcher