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(Pocket-lint) - If you're looking to get your little 'uns into the tablet party this Christmas and you can't see a £400+ iPad 2 or Motorola Xoom 2 lasting too long in their grubby, and clumsy, little hands then maybe you should consider the PlayBase from Karuma.

If you thought that the Kindle Fire would have killed off the budget Android tab market, then think again because Karuma has its own plans with the PlayBase, which comes wrapped in a shock-absorbent silicone cover to prevent damage from drops and also protects against rain, spills, dirt, scratches and screen marks.

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Pocket-lint has been taking the 7-inch Gingerbread tab for a spin over the last week or so and we have to say we're mightily impressed - especially given the £169 price tag. Sure, if you sat it side by side with a big budget Android tablet then it's going to show a number of shortcomings but, for a first time tablet kid, or at least one who isn't fluent in the art of iPad, this is going to be more than a stop gap.

It is a great little tablet with a decent engine packed in. It has a 7-inch (800 x 600) multitouch capacitive screen and is running Gingerbread via a 1.2GHz single-core processor and 1GB of DDR 3 RAM. It is this generous RAM offering that means that Karuma is promising Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich updates in the near future.

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You get a generous amount of onboard storage - 8GB and upgradable with microSD - and battery life is an okayish 4 hours. We hammered it pretty hard and got well over 3. 

There's also a front facing camera, built in Wi-Fi, an accelerometer and stereo speakers and it's all packed in a chassis that is 9.7mm thick and weighs 325g.

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The software is a skinned version of Android 2.3.1 but there's no official Googledom on board. However, there are native email, video, photo apps and the like and there's access to loads more downloads courtesy of third party app stores.

The PlayBase is available direct from Karuma, with promises of a pre-Christmas delivery. It costs £169 and for that sort of money - we'd say it's well worth every penny.

Writing by Paul Lamkin.