The Arnova 9 G3 joins the growing ranks of cheap, large screen tablets running the latest version of the Android operating system - Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0). See also Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC?

So far this emergent market hasn't exactly thrown up any champions and the Arnova 9 G3, while usable, does little to upset the balance.

Sporting an iPad sized 9.7in, 4:3 format screen, the Arnova 9 G3 is quite a handful. A grey plastic case is the home for micro USB and micro SD slots, plus the unusual option of a USB 2.0 connection. See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC?

Plugging in a flash drive we were able to watch moives with no trouble at all: this is a welcome addition if you don't want to fill up the tiny 4GB internal storage with large video files.

The Arnova 9 G3 display has a 1024x768 resolution but as with the iPad 2, it lack crispness. Text is readable in larger fonts but falls foul of pixelation when browsing text-heavy websites. See also: Group test: what's the best Android tablet?

Video playback can also look patchy at times with colours not blending seamlessly. Colours weren't as vibrant as on the best budget screens, such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2.

We managed to squeeze only 5 hours of viewing out of the Arnova 9 G3 before the battery gave in. That's not to say you couldn't use it for a spot of casual YouTube perusing, but you'll have to do this via the browser as Arnova hasn't installed the Google Play app store and no YouTube app is pre-loaded. There's no BBC iPlayer app either and streaming from the BBC site resulted in very choppy, unwatchable programmes.

Arnova 9 G3Arnova provides an alternative App store - AppsLib - but it has very few good Android apps and this seriously holds back the Arnova 9 G3 in the usability stakes. It's one thing to not have the power to run apps, but it's another thing altogether to be prevented from installing them.

Thankfully Skype is present, giving you the opportunity to use the front-facing camera to make video calls. It suffers from lag but gets the job done. Among the other few premium apps are various Angry Birds incarnations which play fine.

Arnova 9 G3: Specs

  • 9.7in 1024x768 display
  • Android 4.0
  • 4GB storage, + Micro SD (Up to 32GB) 802.11 b/g/n
  • 1.2GHz single-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1080p Playback
  • Micro SD, Micro USB, USB 2.0
  • 239x184x12.5mm
  • 630g
  • 1 year return to base
  • 9.7in 1024x768 display
  • Android 4.0
  • 4GB storage, + Micro SD (Up to 32GB) 802.11 b/g/n
  • 1.2GHz single-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1080p Playback
  • Micro SD, Micro USB, USB 2.0
  • 239x184x12.5mm
  • 630g
  • 1 year return to base

OUR VERDICT

The Arnova 9 G3 could have been a decent low-cost tablet for general use, but the lack of the Google Play store is a big stumbling block. We like the ability to connect USB flash drives for movies and music but it's not enough to make up for the lack of decent apps.

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