TangoTab is a Cheap Android Tablet with a Plethora of Ports
If you don't want to spend much on a tablet and your phone is always dying, this is a solution to both of your problems. For everyone else, there are better options.
Android tablets haven’t really taken off the way that it once seemed they might. Yes, Amazon’s Fire tablets do quite well, but most Android enthusiasts and even casual tech users don’t really think of those as Android devices.
But you shouldn’t rule out Android tablets entirely. While Apple’s iPads might get the lion’s share of attention in the tablet world, they’re prohibitively expensive for most people. Affordable Android tablets like the Simbans TangoTab are plentiful. The problem is, most of them aren’t very good. What makes the TangoTab different?
What’s in The Box?
The first thing you’ll see when you open the box is, appropriately, the tablet itself. Everything else is packed either beneath the tablet or off to the side. Underneath, you’ll the included faux-leather case as well as the manual.
Open up the box on the side and you’ll find the power supply, as well as adapters to plug it into different countries’ power outlets. Two cables are included: one for powering the tablet and another for using the tablet to charge other devices.
You’ll find a number of affordable tablets that share roughly the same hardware specifications as the TangoTab. Since the overall quality and power of parts has been rising over the years, this isn’t as much of an instant negative as it would have been at one time.
- CPU: 1.5GHz Quad-Core MTK8163
- RAM: 3GB DDR3
- Screen: 10.1-inch at 1200×800 pixels (roughly 142 ppi.)
- Storage: 64GB, expandable with micro SD card
- Battery: 6,000 mAh
- Operating System: Android 9.0 Pie
- Camera: 5.0 Megapixel front-facing, 2.0 Megapixel rear
- Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Normally, the various ports would be listed above, but there are so many that in this case, we’ve expanded them to their own section.
Build & Design
There are a few things you know not to expect in a tablet at this price point, one of which is any sort of metal or glass in the build. The Simbans TangoTab is plastic, front to back. This has benefits—making the tablet lighter in weight, for example—but it also means you’ll need to be careful with it.
The plastic on the back of the tablet is rubberized, giving it a slightly soft, grippy feel. This makes the tablet feel better in your hands as you’re using it, and certainly helps to prevent the cheap plastic feel you get in many tablets. Sadly, the screen is also plastic, so it’s easily scratched.
Simbans has tried to address this, as the TangoTab comes with a pre-applied screen protector. Since it is applied at the factory, this alleviates many of the problems with screen protectors like bubbles and not being properly aligned. Of course, as with any screen protector, you’ll have to replace it eventually if you want to keep your screen safe.
As another way of keeping the tablet protected, Simbans also includes a folio-style case. Like the tablet, this is plastic, though it has a faux-leather appearance, which looks nicer than if they had simply left the plastic as-is. The case is bulky, which helps to protect the tablet, but does make it on the unwieldy side to handle.
This isn’t the only way that Simbans sells the TangoTab. A kids version comes with an extra bulky case, while a version with an included folio keyboard is available for those looking to use it more as a work accessory.
Ports, Ports, and More Ports
So far, aside from the included case, the Simbans TangoTab hasn’t been all that different from any number of cheaper tablets. Where it does differ is in the ports included. While your average tablet has a charging port and maybe a micro SD card slot, the TangoTab as a selection of ports that would be right at home on a laptop.
One thing to note is that the TangoTab charges through a DC charging port, not over micro USB or USB-C as you might expect. The charging cable itself plugs into a standard USB adaptor, but where it meets the tablet is a DC socket. This leaves the micro USB port free, even when charging, which is nice as it can function as a USB OTG host.
That’s far from the only port you’ll find, though. A mini-HDMI port lets you plug the TangoTab into an external display or TV, while the micro SD card allows you to expand storage. Then you can plug in headphones or external speakers to the 3.5mm audio port, too.
We’re not finished yet: there’s also a full-size USB-A port, which is rare on a tablet. You can use this for additional connectivity (though don’t expect any miracles—devices that don’t work over micro USB likely still won’t work here) but that’s not all. The full-size USB port means you can charge other devices using the TangoTab. Yes, this will drain your battery faster, but considering the 6,000 mAh capacity, you can essentially use the TangoTab as a battery pack that also happens to be a tablet.
Operating System and User Interface
The Simbans TangoTab runs Android 9.0 Pie, the last dessert-themed version of the OS. The user interface is mostly stock, in the same way that most manufacturer’s interfaces are largely representative of base Android.
The good news is that, unlike a Fire HD 10 for example, you have access to the Google Play Store, which means you can install any launcher you prefer. If you’re not happy with the overall look and feel of the user interface, you can change it as much as you’d like.
Display and Sound
The TangoTab features a 10.1-inch diagonal, 16:9 screen, with a resolution of 1200×800. That’s less than HD, so you’re not looking at the sharpest screen around. Most smartphones have resolutions greater than the TangoTab, so it’s not going to look great in comparison.
On the other hand, the colors are vivid, which isn’t always a given with cheap tablets. I’ve seen plenty of tablets with higher price tags suffering from washed-out colors, so it’s nice that this isn’t the case with the Simbans TangoTab.
Sound is as you’d expect. You hear the sounds you need to hear, but nothing sounds particularly large or impressive. The speakers are tinny and thin-sounding, but that’s par for the course with most tablets, let alone those selling for below $200. That said, this doesn’t sound nearly as good or look nearly as sharp as the Amazon Fire HD 10, which only costs slightly more.
To benchmark the Simbans TangoTab, I reached for AnTuTu, which has long been the de facto standard benchmarking tool for Android. The TangoTab received an overall score of 56551, with a CPU score of 24421, a memory score of 18682, and a user interface score of 13448. That’s not especially impressive, but it does beat the ultra budget Vankyo Matrixpad we reviewed in 2019 .
Geekbench numbers were on the low side as well. The single-core score was 124, while the multi-core score was just 383. This was running Geekbench 5.1.0.
Using the Simbans TangoTab
Performance numbers are one thing, but the actual user experience is another and arguably more important. I can’t think of a tablet I’ve tried, no matter the operating system, that was slower to wake up than the TangoTab. On numerous occasions, I thought that I’d either turned the TangoTab off or it had run out of battery because I tapped the power button but the display didn’t turn on.
A second or two later, it would finally turn on. This may not sound like much, but in practice, it felt sluggish. I’d encounter the same thing launching apps, searching the Google Play Store, or clicking links on a web page. Everything worked, eventually–it just took a while to get there.
That sounds bad, and it is, but it’s not all doom and gloom. I found streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix and other apps worked fine. Yes, the display and audio issues I mentioned above are still present, and you’re not going to forget you’re not in a movie theater, but if you’re just looking for something to watch Netflix on the go, this will get the job done.
If you’re looking for a tablet for games, image editing, or other work that’s going to push the CPU, you might want to opt for something else.
Should You Buy the Simbans TangoTab?
You shouldn’t buy the TangoTab expecting it to be as handy for work as an iPad. You shouldn’t really expect that of any Android tablet. Really, that speaks to the lack of emphasis on tablet user interfaces from Android developers, not the quality of the tablets themselves.
A more realistic comparison would be the Amazon Fire HD 10, which we called the best value tablet around when we reviewed it. Compared to that, the TangoTab is cheaper, less locked down, and even includes a handy case. And all those lovely ports. But the screen isn’t as sharp and performance isn’t quite as good.
If you’re looking for an affordable tablet with a multitude of connectivity options, the Simbans TangoTab is worth a look, just know what you’re buying.
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