Digiland DL718M tablet: a review

The Digiland DL718M tablet is an inexpensive (sub-$40) tablet sold at consumer electronics stores like Best Buy. Make no mistake, it’s a basic tablet for basic needs. But given reasonable expectations you can buy one of these and be happy with it.

This isn’t a new market by any stretch. But it seems like tablets in this price range are usually Black Friday specials, or only available on online marketplaces far abroad. The Digiland DL718M is one you can get today if you want.

Digiland DL718M specifications

Digiland DL-718M box
The Digiland DL-718M comes in minimalist packaging but it lists all the features worth noting.

I’ve said before what minimums you should look for in a tablet. Unlike many tablets in this price range, the Digiland DL718M meets or beats all of them. It has a quad-core 1.3 GHz Mediatek CPU, a 1024×600 screen, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and a micro SD slot for expansion. Officially it supports up to a 32GB card. Unofficially some devices can go higher than that; I don’t have a higher-capacity card to try.

For networking, it can do 802.11b, g, and n at 2.4 GHz. It runs Android 5.1 (Lollipop), which is a version back but not as far behind as some Android devices I see at this price point. And it’s about as close to vanilla Android as you’ll find. That’s a big plus.

This is also the first Android device I’ve seen that has a reset button, or at least has it accessible and labeled as such. That’s not something you should need very often, but it’s a nice touch.

The box contains a tablet, a charger, USB cable, a slip of paper with the details of the 90-day warranty, and a quad-fold user manual that amusingly warns your tablet might get fever if you play intensive 3D games on it. I think it means the tablet will get warm.

Digiland DL718M First Impression

Digiland DL718M
The Digiland DL718M features stock Android and meets all of the minimums you want to look for in a tablet. It won’t knock your socks off but it’s a good value at $40.

My initial impression wasn’t good–the keyboard was very inaccurate. What I eventually found was the factory-installed film over the screen interfered with it; once I removed the film, typing improved considerably. The film does a nice job of protecting the tablet in shipping. But clearly isn’t designed to double as an in-use screen protector. If you get one and can’t type on it, take off the film.

I loaded some games on it and handed it to my youngest son to try it out. His favorite Angry Birds and Minecraft games worked OK on it, which tells me for a child still in primary school, it’s fine, and they’re a good target audience for this anyway.

The screen’s resolution won’t wow you and the system’s speed is best described as adequate. It’s nearly stock Android, which is a plus. OEM bloat is usually the reason for poor-performing tablets. The box bills the screen as being an IPS panel. I don’t know about that, but the viewing angle and color fidelity was much better than I expected.

The cameras, on the other hand, are so bad my kids won’t use it. They’re there, but don’t bother.

Second impressions

One thing I had to keep reminding myself is that the Digiland DL718M cost 40 bucks. At that price point, the main question is whether the tablet makes you feel like you wasted 40 bucks. I wouldn’t say this tablet does that. If this tablet had existed three years ago and cost $99, I would have recommended it at that price. My kids’ games run on it, and it’s powerful enough to read e-books on, play music or watch movies. For occasional web browsing or checking e-mail or social media it would be OK, though not great. When I launched Chrome and viewed several of my favorite sites with it, rendering was noticeably slower than any PC made in the last decade or so, though they did all work.

If you need something to compare it to so you can set your expectations, it’s slightly slower than the original Nexus 7 tablet and the screen resolution is a notch lower. But getting something almost as good as the Nexus 7 factory-new for $40 is an achievement.

Caveats

Quality control on a $40 tablet isn’t likely to be optimal. So if you get a bad Digiland DL718M, boot it by holding down the volume down button with the power button and wipe the device with the second from the last menu option, then exchange or return it.

If you get a chance, try to open the box in the store before you purchase. If the tablet isn’t in a white protective bag, it was probably returned. Get another one, rather than settling for something that someone else wasn’t happy with. (That’s normally called a refurb.) Since these are sold without shrinkwrap, it’s easy to repackage them and put them right back on the shelf, and some of them probably have been.

I normally say not to buy extended warranties, but for tablets like these, it’s not so bad of an idea, even when it costs half as much as the tablet. I don’t expect DL718M parts to be easy to find. For $20, if you need a replacement screen, battery, or micro USB port within two years, getting and installing parts is someone else’s problem, not yours.

When it comes to accessories, there isn’t a lot in the store, but there are some inexpensive cases available on Ebay. I would think Best Buy would move enough of these tablets to make it worth their while to keep a case for it in stock, but they didn’t ask me.

Pluses

I’ve seen enough cracked screens that I don’t recommend giving kids a tablet that costs hundreds of dollars. At this price point, you don’t have to worry much.  It would also be a good device to pack in a travel bag, and at 7.5 x 4.3 inches and less than a half-inch thick, it won’t take a lot of space. Load up your favorite media on a micro SD card, and you can read, watch, or listen to whatever you want at the airport or on a plane while saving your phone for business-related purposes.

Don’t expect comparable performance to a $150 tablet from the Digiland DL718M. But that said, I’ve seen tablets with nearly identical specs that sell for twice what this one sells for. All things being equal I’d prefer a name brand to a no-name brand. But I don’t think a big name brand is worth double the price.

Durability

It took right about six months for my youngest son to crack the back of his tablet. But it’s better the back than the front. Admittedly, I think the back cases of these tablets are a bit flimsier than some others. The presence of Digiland backs on Ebay suggests this happens to other people too.

If you’re going to get one of these tablets for a child, get a case too.

The Verdict

I’ll be honest. For $40, I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s hard to find a better tablet for twice the price. I looked. This is a good tablet for the money. I found worse $40 tablets out there competing with this one. I wish someone would make a comparable tablet at a couple more price points, with incrementally faster CPUs, more memory, and higher-resolution displays. But until that happens, I see no reason not to recommend this one. Just don’t buy this one expecting to get the performance of the $100 Acer Iconia tablet that’s probably right next to it on the display. I’m sure one of the reasons they stock this is to help sell Iconias.

I don’t expect the Digiland DL718M to be as durable as the Acer, but if one or both of the ones I bought fail in a year or two, the $40 tablets that replace them will likely be better in at least one regard.

I bought two of them, and I’m happy with the purchase. If you go in knowing what you’re getting, I think you will be too.

One thought on “Digiland DL718M tablet: a review

  • June 9, 2016 at 12:21 am
    Permalink

    Darn you, darn you, darn you (again)!

    My boys are too old for this, but I’m not…

    (Think Home Automation touchscreen)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: