We've come to expect that a $200 tablet can be no bigger than a 7-incher like the Google Nexus 7, with things like a SD slot or HDMI left out to as too much of a luxury for such a budget device. Well, the just announced Polaroid M10 10.1-inch tablet just blew these assumptions out of the water -- at least in the brief time we got to play with one at Pepcom's Digital Experience in Las Vegas.
One of the first things we noticed is the lack of a physical home button on the front, with only the typical Android virtual keys available on-screen for navigation. Though the tablet is running the latest version of Android Jelly Bean (4.2), Polaroid uses its own skin that makes the home screen look like Windows 8 at a glance. And that's not a slam as the large, colorful tiles are more forgiving to navigate for new tablet users, who are the target for the M10.
We were pleasantly surprised that the M10 has a metallic silver back cover with soft-touch strips along both sides for grip. Some users hate the feel of glossy plastic in their tablets at any price point, so it is worth noting that the M10 feels more expensive than its price tag suggests.
All the buttons and ports you need are all along the right edge of the tablet in landscape mode: power, volume, with the micro-HDMI, micro-USB, microSD (for up to 32GB to top up the ) plus a SIM Card slot for cellular connectivity under a cover. Before you get too excited that the M10 has both Wi-Fi and 3G access, the unit we saw is an international model and the American version will exclude the SIM slot, according to the Polaroid rep -- at least the version that is coming out by the end of Spring for $200.
Considering that the M10's competitors typically don't include dual cameras, it's quite a bonus for this Polaroid tab to have a front and rear camera, even if you don't tend to use the tab for photos or videos. We didn't get a chance to try out either camera, so we can't say how the M10's 2-megapixel front or 5-megapixel rear camera measures up to other tablet cameras. But it's hard to argue against having the option to use this slate for video chat or a quick photo, particularly at this price.
It's refreshing to see a new tablet that doesn't really cut corners on the key specs like expansion ports while keeping the price affordable. From what we've seen so far, this Polaroid slate is a legitimate device that's worth keeping your eye out for.