What did we, as consumers, end up getting? A mix of low and high priced tablets with iPad at the top of the summit and the highly talked about, hyped Indian Aakash tablet. Pricing seems to have dominated the marketing strategy in Indian tablet market with every other company trying to come up with a variant of a tablet that is cheap.
Internationally, even companies like Google with its Nexus 7 and Amazon with its Kindle Fire are trying to be on the lower end of the pricing scale. It is understandable though from the perspective of Google and Amazon that despite selling their tablets with either very less margins or no margins at all, they have a huge collection of services that they can rely on to make their profits. And, considering that these giants haven’t put any road side out of date components in their tablets, consumers will not have to compromise on performance.
But, when it comes to other cheap tablets; oh my! They are just an utter waste of money. Be it $100 or $80 or $60. The tablets are just dull and poor, if I may, when it comes to performance. Let’s drill down to where I am coming from to be motivated to give such an opinion. Keep in mind we are talking about cheap tablets. I am not going to pinpoint any specific brand here but, I guess you all are intelligent enough to know what I am talking about.
Screen & Display
First of all if we talk about the most basic thing; it’s the touch screen and display panel. Resistive touch screen technology coupled with 7” screens; just a deadly and pathetic combination that would make even a kid know that it is some cheap Chinese stuff that has been thrown at them as an excuse for their demand for an iPad.
No doubt the video quality on most of them is good. But, the dim screen makes your eyes overwork while you are reading an eBook and if you try to increase the brightness; well it is just a scroller that goes from left to right with no real effect.
Capacitive touch screen based tablets are no good either. Tilt the tablets at an angle or just hold them in your hand and it seems that tablet doesn’t understand what you are trying to touch. Give or take a few minutes and you will end up banging on the screen just to start the browser.
Here mostly all these sub-$100 tablets are like that toy that overdoes everything with fresh pair of batteries; give or take an hour or so, they just die coz the batteries are drained. These cheap tablets are just messed up in this department.
None of the tablets that I have tested have managed to impress me. 3 hours was the maximum a tablet lasted when I had Wi-Fi on and was viewing YouTube videos. That’s what you will end up doing right?
Have your Wi-Fi on and either view videos or make a couple Skype calls or watch a movie or something. If you read eBooks, well then maybe it might cross the 3 hour barrier. I am not into eBooks and why would anyone purchase a full-fledged tablet if they just want to read eBooks? What are eReaders for?
To be able to play around with such a tablet for longer hours, I had to sit near a power outlet and keep feeding electricity to it. After a few hours I got the feeling that I was hooked to the power outlet and not the tablet!
Next in the line of fire is audio quality. What should I say? I could hardly hear anything from all the tablets I tested. In a room with just me in it, the audio output was such that I was able to make out whether the tablet was trying to sing to me or deliver a dialogue. But, get another person in the room and with a little chatter, the tablet just went mum. I was like – did I press mute or something? One thing that wasn’t bad though was the audio output through the headphones. I must say, in almost all tablets, it was better than average.
Moving on, it’s the processor that I got my eyes on. Most of the cheap tablets don’t have a high speed processor and some tout that they have such a processor in the range of 1.0 to 1.5 GHz. Has anyone even bothered looking at the manufacturer of the company? These processors are from companies that I haven’t heard about and I have been in the IT news industry for about 2 years now.
Try to run angry birds on one of these tablets and it just takes ages to load. I mean c’mon, if the tablet can’t even play angry birds, would any kid even look at it? Try running a few productivity apps like office suite or other document processing apps and you would start getting the feeling that the tablet is dragging along.
Worse thing is that each and every of these tablets just start getting hot when you play movies or play some resource intensive game. A couple of tablets just went off because of overheating. You may need to keep an ice pack below these tablets I guess just to make them feel comfortable to allow you to do your work.
Finishing & Overall Quality
Don’t want to dig deep on this as I actually am very disappointed. Plastic casing, on a tablet, that gets hot? Call me crazy but, I prefer something of an eyecandy if I am going to shell out nearly $100 being an Indian.
I will try to continue on this topic with some follow ups and if possible brand wise analysis. But, till then please, leave in some comments and let me know your experiences about such tablets if any.
[Note: Images used are just for illustration purpose only. I am not pointing to any of the brands through these images.]