The budget tablet market seems to be growing just as fast as the high-end space, if not faster. Just last week, we took the Mercury mTAB for a spin and while it seemed like a decently built tablet, it lacked many basic features for the price it was selling at. Like every mobile phone company, Spice has also ventured into the tablet space with the Mi-720. This budget tablet boasts of 3G functionality with the ability to make calls, all packed into a portable 7-inch form factor.
Design and Build
The Mi-720 lacks the finesse and craftsmanship of more expensive variants and comes across as crude and rushed. The plastic body is prone to fingerprints and there are plenty of creaks found near the joints, which feels cheap and tacky. It’s also really heavy at 485g for a tablet of its size. There are three capacitive buttons on the front and front-facing VGA camera. The capacitive touchscreen sports a resolution of 800 x 480, but is not scratch resistant.
Connectivity wise, we have microSD and SIM card slot, microUSB for charging and data transfer, power port, headphone jack and stereo speakers on either sides. The power and volume buttons are well placed making them easily reachable.
Good connectivity options
There’s a 2MP rear camera, but no LED flash. Overall, the Spice doesn’t score too well in the build quality department. You could tell Spice was on a very strict budget when designing the Mi-720.
The tablet is powered by an ancient Snapdragon S1 processor, based on ARMv7 instruction set. Spice haven’t mentioned the exact model, but going by the Adreno 200 GPU, it’s an underclocked version of, either the QSD8250 or QSD8650 chipset. Although the screen is capacitive, it doesn’t behave like one. Coupled with a slower 800Mhz CPU and Froyo, it feels sluggish in the menus. Spice has changed some of the stock icons, but that’s about all the customization they’ve done.
Despite being capacitive, the touch input is not very good
They have thrown in a whole bunch of apps, which is good. Some of them include ApkInstaller, ES File Explorer, Nimbuzz, etc. Many of the icons like the ones from ibibo are merely links to webpages. One major issue we had with the tablet was the overheating issue. When playing a video file, the tablet gets really warm and once during our battery test, the tablet stopped responding with the backlight on and since you can’t remove the battery, the only solution was to let it drain. One of the reasons for the overheating could be directly related to the choice of chipset. The older Snapdragons were built on the 65nm fabrication process, which is why older Android phones used to heat up quickly.
Other than taking the music player icon from Samsung, it’s the same stock player that comes with Froyo. Format support is limited to MP3, unless you install a separate player. The video player is also stock, but for some reason, it simply refused to play MP4 files.
Average sound quality
This was remedied by installing Moboplayer. The audio quality is strictly average, even through good in-ear phones, but the loud-speakers are exactly that, loud. You’ll easily hear this tablet ringing even in a noisy environment.
Apart from the lack of HDMI, the Mi-720 is pretty well-equipped. It supports HSPA 3G networks for data as well as voice. For making calls, you’ll have to use the bundled headset or a Bluetooth one. It also has Wi-Fi, but only b/g, no ‘n’. Bluetooth v2.1 is present along with EDR support.
The screen is a bit dull
Spice has thrown in some Internet ready apps as well like Facebook, Yahoo! Messenger, RailYatra, Reuters, Sulekha, etc. The resolution of the screen is not great as icon edges do appear a bit jagged, but web pages don’t appear too bad. Pinch-to-zoom is present and works fairly smoothly.
Other apps include Documents to Go, TeenPatti, which is a card game, SMS Directory, mig33, which is a chat application and ES File Explorer.
The no other way to put this, but the 2MP primary camera is just plain poor. The subject in the view finder appears warped and since there’s no auto-focus, the resulting image is always blurry with lots of noise.
Stock Froyo interface
Colours aren’t captured accurately. Basic features are present from Froyo like geo-tagging, a few scene modes and resolution.
The rear camera is barely usable
The video recording is even worse, since the tablet saves the videos as 3GP files with horrible pixelation in the videos, even when panning very slowly.
This was the most painful part, as none of the MP4 files were able to play using the default player and when they did, the tablet would overheat and lock up. Finally, we did manage to somehow run through our battery tests where the 4200mAh battery managed 4hrs and 30min in the video drain tests. It didn’t do too well in the loop tests, it just fell short of 3hrs and 50min. Overall, it was a below average performance in the battery department.
Spice has priced the Mi-410 at Rs.12,999, which would be considered decent for a 3G 7-inch tablet, but it’s not, and the main reason due to the fact that it’s not a very good tablet to begin with. Having plenty of feature simply ticks the boxes on paper, but in reality, basic things which one would expect to be perfect like the touch input or the screen quality, are simply not. I wouldn’t recommend this tablet even if Spice were giving it away for free. It’s a badly designed and executed product that should be avoided at all costs.
Published Date: Nov 23, 2011 12:48 pm | Updated Date: Nov 23, 2011 12:48 pm