eReader or Tablet? iOS or Android?

If you're buying a tablet, it might be worth exploring e-readers. Some offer the same functionality of tablets at a lower price. Cruz Reader has technical specs very close to its tablets, and Barnes and Noble's Nook Color, for example, is one e-reader reviewed favorably alongside tablet devices [source: Bell]. And while the specs of some readers and tablets can be pretty close, their operating systems aren't. Android and iOS are two choices with separate followings, with Apple's iPad being the most noteworthy iOS example and devices from Samsung, Velocity Micro and others using Android power.

What can Velocity Cruz tablets do?

Cruz tablets stand out from similar devices mainly because of their low cost, but they do offer what most tablet users look for: the ability to browse the Web, listen to music, send and receive e-mail, view photos, log onto Facebook, watch videos and movies, play games and read books.

All of the tablets come preloaded with a variety of apps, including Facebook, ASTRO (for managing files), a Web browser, Cruz Sync (for wireless storage) an e-mail app and Office Suite and several more. One other app, the Cruz Market, offers about 30 additional free apps, including one for the Amazon Appstore for Android. Amazon offers thousands of apps and is in competition with the Google Android Market. However, Velocity Micro devices can't access Google's Android app offerings, which is frequently something mentioned as a downside of the Cruz Tablets.

Despite the fact that the tablets are loaded with apps, and have access to thousands more, their downfall could be the way the tablets handle some applications. A 2011 CNET review found that downloading apps and games didn't always work and graphics weren't handled well by the Cruz T301 tablet. Additionally, speed was singled out as the "worst strike" against it, earning it the description "sluggish." Overall, the Cruz T301 earned 2.5 out of 5 stars [source: Bell]. In its roundup of "Best Budget Tablets" in July 2011, Cruz didn't make the top five, however, two of the top five earned only three-star ratings, making the Cruz tablet just shy of the number five spot landed by Archos, which was also described as "sluggish" [source: Bell]. Maybe a lower price point means sacrificing speed and graphics capabilities, but those are most noticeable when gaming and accessing image-intensive apps, and tablets do much more for the average user.

So how does the Velocity Cruz fare with e-reading and communications, and are the consumer reviews more than fair for this fair-priced tablet? We'll look at how it looks and feels, next.