Review: Next3 Android Tablet

Last Updated Jan 12, 2011 12:27 PM EST

Beware cheap Android tablets.

First came the $188 CherryPad America, which never overcame its myriad performance and operational problems. Now, having spent some time with the $229.99 NextBook Next3 tablet, I have newfound respect for my iPad. The latter is fast, versatile, and effortless -- traits that do not, I'm afraid, apply to the Next3.

It does make a solid first impression, starting with a colorful 8.4-inch screen and slim, 1.1-pound physique. I really love the form factor -- not too big, not too small.

Alas, it has a resistive touchscreen, not a capacitive one. That means input requires a bit of pressure -- not much, but tasks like scrolling and tapping feel awkward and unnatural. Plus, no multi-touch.

Though powered by Android 2.1, the Next3 doesn't include Android Market, instead saddling you with the vastly inferior AndAppStore. It has a sparse selection, and many of the apps I tried wouldn't run properly on the tablet.

I suspect Nextbook is trying to position the Next3 as a Kindle or Nook competitor, as it comes with built-in links to the Borders bookstore and a couple dozen public-domain books. But I found the reader app limited and unwieldy, and I couldn't even access my Borders account to download previously purchased titles.

I could go on, but what's the point? The Next3 has an attractive design and price tag, but functionally, it's a train wreck. It has no place in business and doesn't really work as a consumer tablet, either. (I could argue that Android itself is not yet ready for tablet duty, but that's a topic for another day.)

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.