There are lots of budget Android tablets to choose between, but Advent’s new Vega is one you’ll want to add to your shortlist.
It’s actually an Nvidia tablet with Advent branding, Advent being PC World’s line of own-brand hardware.
This 7in tablet is only slightly more expensive than the Tesco Hudl and Amazon Kindle Fire HD, but look through the list of specifications and its clear the Vega punches above its weight, even to the point of embarrassing the latest Google Nexus 7 in some areas.
The highlight is the quad-core Tegra 4 processor, which is immensely fast. There’s also a passive stylus for writing or sketching, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, micro HDMI out and a micro SD card slot for expanding the internal 16GB of storage.
There are front-facing stereo speakers, plus front and rear cameras. It all runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and there’s access to the Google Play store.
If there’s one weakness, it’s the screen. The problem is only the resolution, which is nothing special these days. The low pixel density means that the Vega doesn’t have the sharpness of full HD tablets such as the new Nexus 7.
In other respects, it’s a good screen with wide viewing angles and vivid colours.
Design and build
Build quality is another area where the Tegra Note can’t match the Nexus 7. It creaks and twists where Google’s tablet doesn’t. It’s a little heavier, too, at 320g.
Around the back is a two-tone finish which you may or may not like. Soft-feel plastic is joined with smooth plastic that marks easily.
Android has been left untouched for the most part, with only a few extra apps and tweaks. One is the DirectStylus launcher which pops up when you pull out the stylus. You get a choice of Tegra Note Draw and Stylus Labs Write. Both are relatively basic, but do a decent job.
When using the stylus, you get two extra soft buttons at the bottom. One lets you put the tablet in stylus-only mode: so you can rest your hand on the screen without messing up your sketches.
The other button lets you annotate anything you see on screen and then take a screenshot of it.
You also get an extra power management utility with a slider for choosing between maximum performance or battery life.
And when you do use maximum performance, the Vega is exceptionally fast. It loads apps faster than just about any other Android tablet we’ve tested and you particularly notice the extra speed when browsing the web.
It was just as fast as an iPad Air in our game tests, no surprise given Nvidia’s 3D pedigree. It’s a slightly unfair comparison, of course, since the iPad has around 3 times more pixels to drive, but considering the Vega costs £130, it’s great news for avid gamers.
Battery life and cameras
Battery life isn’t quite on a par with the Nexus 7, but with the right power settings, you can watch videos for 10 hours non-stop.
The news isn’t quite as good when it comes to the Vega’s cameras. Photos lack detail and video footage is a bit jerky and blurry.
As long as you’re not buying a tablet for taking lots of photos and videos, the Advent Vega won’t disappoint. At this price we can just about forgive the low screen resolution and creaky build quality.
If you can afford it, the Nexus 7 is a better tablet overall, but anyone on a tighter budget should opt for the Advent Vega.