Posted by Jim Martin 17 June 2013
Sweet Tablets Kola Kube review: an iPad lookalike Android tablet
If you're looking to buy your first tablet, the sheer amount of choice is bewildering, particularly if you're going down the Android route.
Sweet Tablets is a new name in the UK, the name chosen because of the codenames for the different Android versions.
Sweet Tablets Kola Kube review: design and build
The Kola Kube (£200 inc VAT) continues the sweet theme and looks a lot like an iPad. It has a similar 9.7in screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, breaking tradition with many 16:9 Android tablets.
We like this form factor as it's better for just about everything except watching movies and TV shows. The resolution of 1024 x 768 is the same as the iPad 2, and around the back is an aluminium panel with chamfered edges.
Unfortunately, the similarities with Apple's biggest iPad largely end there.
Our sample had some worrying build quality issues, one being that the plastic earth peg had snapped off the mains adaptor when it arrived. More seriously, the white bezel wasn't securely stuck to the rear tray and could be lifted up, exposing the innards of the Kola Kube.
Ripples were also visible on the screen when the tablet was flexed slightly, suggesting that the Kola Kube isn't as rigid as it should be. The screen itself is a 10-point capacitive touchscreen, but we were disappointed to find it wasn't an IPS panel. Instead, a lower-quality TN LCD screen is fitted, with poor viewing angles and a grainy appearance.
Finally, the factory-fitted screen protector had a fair few bubbles in it and a couple of pieces of trapped dust.
Sweet Tablets Kola Kube review: ports, buttons and cameras
All ports and buttons are on the top edge. From left to right, there's a volume rocker, back button, headphone socket, microUSB port, microSD slot, microUSB host port, mini HDMI, the power connector and a sleep/wake button. The USB host port can be used for a separate 3G dongle, and the microSD slot for adding up to 32GB in addition to the internal 16GB of storage (of which slightly under 13GB is available to you).
You get both front- and rear-facing cameras, each of which has a 2-megapixel sensor. The bad news is that both take very poor photos. Colours are inaccurate, detail is poor and photos from the front camera were badly distorted if there was any kind of camera shake when taking the picture.
Video from the rear camera was frankly terrible: low resolution, lots of noise and compression artefacts and poor audio.
Sweet Tablets Kola Kube review: Software and performance
The Kola Kube runs Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.1) and hasn't had any overlays or extras added, so you get the 'raw' Android experience.
There's access to Google Play, giving you a huge choice of apps to download. Installed by default is a handy file explorer app.
In GLBenchmark, the Egypt HD 3D graphics test ran at 15fps - slightly faster than most tablets at this price.
In general use, the tablet is reasonably quick. Browsing the web is zippy, as is scrolling around Google maps. There's Flash support in the browser so most sites should work as they do on a desktop PC.
Battery life is roughly six hours, according to Sweet Tablets. In our video looping test, where we set screen brightness to maximum and leave Wi-Fi enabled, the Kola Kube lasted only four hours and 43 minutes.
Sweet Tablets Kola Kube review: Verdict
As a package, the Kola Kube is understandably tempting. It looks like an iPad, and it comes with a bundle of extras including a case, a screen cleaning cloth and a pair of noise-isolating headphones. You also get the latest version of Android, access to Google Play and plenty of ports.
However, the Kola Kube is a classic example of why you shouldn't buy a tablet based on its specifications. With the sub-par screen and build quality problems, this is one tablet to avoid.
If you're limited to a budget of £200, you could buy a used iPad (or iPad mini). Alternatively, if you'd prefer to have a brand new tablet, try Google's Nexus 7 , a Nook HD+ (currently £179), or Archos' 80 Titanium.
Basic specifications: 9.7in 1024x768 screen, 16GB storage, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 190x11x242mm, 662g.
For the full list of Kola Kube specs, click here.