What do you want in a tablet computer? Before you rush out and spend your hard-earned AU$300 on the Creative ZiiO 7, you might want to think long and hard about that question. We've had our hands on the device for a few weeks now, and it is resolutely failing to impress.
Creative has billed the ZiiO as "the next evolution in wireless digital entertainment and mobile computing". It would be good to have something nice to say about this statement, but the claim is, well, laughable. Sporting a low-res 480x800p resistive touchscreen, which may be cheaper to make but is a step backwards compared to slicker and faster capacitive screens, and the older Android 2.1 OS, it might have been something we oohed and aahed over three years ago. Now it's just a bit sad.
Out of the box, the ZiiO has a nice heft to it; at 415g, it's a little weightier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Optus MyTab, but still falls within a decent weight range. The pearlised white plastic case is fine, but the part you'll be looking at the most — the screen — looks, made as it is of glossy plastic, tacky.
Working our way around the outside, we find ports for mini USB, HDMI and 3.5 audio, as well as a slot for microSD. Two speakers are discreetly placed on the back of the device, while a front-facing VGA camera and microphone sit up the top, enabling the tablet for Skype calls (provided you're Wi-Fi connected).
The ZiiO does come with an included stylus, but, vexingly, the device itself doesn't have a slot into which you can handily place the stylus. If you don't want your stylus to go wandering off in the bowels of your bag, or get left behind on your couch, you will probably need to pony up for a protective case — an additional 50 bucks for the official one. Yikes.
Specs-wise, the ZiiO ticks all the boxes: 7-inch back-lit LCD screen, Android OS, HDMI, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, USB and microSD. Even the resistive screen, in spite of seeming like a slightly outdated choice, works well enough. It isn't running the latest version of Android and isn't Mac OS-compatible, but the Wi-Fi means you can do most things from the device itself anyway.
It also doesn't include Flash right off the bat; however, unlike the iPad, you can download it for a compatible browser. The browser included in the ZiiO is a proprietary one, but the Opera browser we downloaded and tested worked OK. We didn't really like the lack of tabbed browsing, and the touchscreen performs sluggishly at times, but that doesn't really matter — much — for typing. Any apps, however, that are dependent on touch function will probably be quite annoying to use.