Back with a bang

Nov 29 2012, 04:26 IST
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SummaryThe tablet has become better than before and now comes with smart looks and features.

The “world’s cheapest tablet” is back, with smarter looks and features. Where the earlier one felt raw, this version looks more like a finished product: thinner, lighter, and perhaps a little more sturdy. The 7-inch screen is now capacitive multi-touch (800 x 480), with better response and brighter looks.

With Android 4.0, the icons are big and easy to touch and swipe. webpages can be viewed up close, with pinch and zoom support. All of this was absent in the first avatar of the Aakash. Placed alongside the older UbiSlate 7+ or the Aakash 1, the difference is stark. The 7Ci is half the thickness, and weighs 286 grams against the former’s 398 grams. The Aakash 2 will sell to college students at a subsidised R1,130. The equivalent UbiSlate 7Ci sells commercially for R4,499.

Memory and storage have been doubled to 512 MB and 4 GB respectively. There’s USB 2.0 (through a mini-USB slot), and a micro-SD slot for memory cards up to 32 GB. The original Aakash had two primitive, full-size USB slots; the UbiSlate 7+ had one; this one, smartly, has none. There’s Wi-Fi of course; the higher-end UbiSlate 7C+ adds GPRS, but we haven’t seen that model yet.

The operating system is Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). You can buy Android apps via the rupee-priced Google Play app-store (formerly called Android market). This is a good move up from the very limited and mainly phone-apps GetJar store that was available on this device’s predecessor. The front-facing camera is terrible for still photos, but it’s what you’d expect from a cheap VGA camera: adequate for video chat in good ambient light. Sound is good with headphones, and just about adequate on the built-in speaker.

The processor upgrade (from 366 MHz ARM to 1 GHz Cortex A8) is an improvement, and together with the capacitive touch makes the display quite responsive. We measured its boot-up time at 46 seconds, which is isn’t bad for this class. Application performance is a bit lower than other budget tablets we’ve tested: but then this device is cheaper than all those other budget tablets, even at its full commercial, un-subsidised price.

We conducted three benchmarks to test performance. In An3Dbench and An3Dbench XL, for measuring graphics and animation capability, it scored 6,482 and 20,543 respectively, which is a bit lower than other budget tablets we have tested. For instance, the Zen A100 Ultratab (R5,999) scored 6,585 and 20,806

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