Large screen budget Android tablets seem to be gaining momentum and dual-core processor-based tablets are in higher demand. HCL has introduced a new large screen dual-core Android-based budget tablet for the masses and it seems it can give the other manufacturers a run for their money. Here’s why.
Design and build
The ME Tablet G1 closely resembles the iPad second generation to quite an extent. The front panel looks identical except for the camera placement and the missing home button. The edges and curves are similar and so is the thickness. The chassis is made firm and strong thanks to the IPS panel on the display. The rear panel is made of a very glossy white plastic and it can be tarnished in no time. The entire tablet looks very aesthetically appealing and anyone would definitely want to opt for one. The only place where the looks get a little compromised is the rear panel where the manufacturer has printed a large ME logo in the centre and a few other details of the tablet on the bottom half. It would have been nice if the tablet was entirely black with minor etchings about the product instead of the print.
9.7- inches IPS panel, 1024 x 768 resolution
Moving on, the G1 has a uniquely placed power button unlike any other tablets—it is placed alongside the rear camera and neatly camouflaged. The rear panel sports a mono speaker grille and a port flap that opens up to the microSD card slot and the micro USB and mini HDMI interfaces. The right side of the tablet is the only business end—a power and audio jack along with four buttons for Back, Menu and volume control. We found a minor flaw here—the control and volume buttons are identical to each other and placed in close proximity to each other. Also, the buttons are a bit tiny. This cuts down on the ergonomics and also creates confusion between the buttons while operating the tablet.
Looks closely resemble an iPad 2
Features and performance
The ME Tablet G1 from HCL is a powerful large screen tablet built using a Cortex A9 dual-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz. Coupled with 1GB of RAM and a MALI-400 GPU, this tablet seems very promising on the performance front. The display featured here is just short of a 10-incher—it's an odd 9.7-inches. It sports an IPS panel and a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The G1 runs on the Android ICS operating system, however, we did expect to see the latest Jelly Bean installed on it. Hopefully, the manufacturer will release the update sooner or later.
1.2GHz dual core processor overclocked to 1.6GHz.
The storage within the tablet is 8GB and this can be extended using the microSD card all the way up to 32GB. There are two cameras featured here—the rear camera is a 2 MP while the front facing video calling camera is a 0.3 MP. Connectivity options on the G1 are micro USB interface for PC connectivity, wireless 802.11 b/g/n for Internet, USB OTG for 3G data cards and USB peripherals and a Bluetooth interface for data and audio. Lastly, the tablet incorporates a 7000 mAh battery, which promises a good battery life. The manufacturer has bundled a few accessories along with the tablet in the packaging. A micro fiber cloth for cleaning the glossy surface, a pair of earphones, an OTG cable, a USB cable, a charger and a protective sleeve.
Volume, Back and Menu buttons, power and audio jack on the right
As usual, we did the battery of tests on the tablet to analyse the performance and compare it to other similar products in the line. AnTuTu scored 12032, Quadrant scored 4424 and NenaMark2 gave us a result of 54.3 fps. Linpack scored 45.711 MFLOPS in the single-thread tests and 80.779 MFLOPS in the multi-thread tests. The tests revealed that the tablet performs almost four times faster than conventional single core tablets. Though these scores are from tests run on an overclocked processor (overclocked from 1.2GHz to 1.6GHz), as long as the tablet works without any glitches, the performance is what matters. We hope the manufacturer has thoroughly tested the device after overclocking it to confirm that it works best at the set speed.
As slim as an iPad, looks sleek too
The G1 runs the Android ICS with a stock user interface and launcher. The UI is smooth and does not slow down or get sluggish at any point. The processor is a dual-core 1.2GHz and surprisingly, the manufacturer has chosen to overclock the CPU to run at 1.6GHz by tweaking the kernel. This could be one reason for which the tablet seems to be working smoothly and swiftly. However, we have observed that overclocking the processor to run at higher than normal speeds tends to heat up the tablet a little above the normal temperatures. You can bring down the processor speeds back to normal by installing a CPU overclocking app if you wish, but we don’t find it necessary as long as the tablet behaves well and performs smoothly.
We did encounter one major drawback, which might be a put off for some. HCL has excluded the Google Play Store app on the installed operating system and implemented its own version called the ME Apps. The ME Apps has quite a few apps featured on the market, but it does not have all the Google Play Store apps, which can be irritating. Though you can copy regular APK files to the SD card or the internal storage and install them on the tablet, it is not comfortable as it involves a longer procedure.
Power button is located next to the 2 MP rear camera
Display and media
As far as the display is concerned, we were a bit disappointed. It features an HD resolution display panel, which means regular HD 720p media plays without any glitch. But the quality of the videos are not up to the mark. The LCD has an issue with the viewing angles. If you watch the video from a straight 90-degree angle, you will notice the left one-fifth of the screen darker than the rest of the area. Deviate your viewing angle a little from the left and everything is normal. Deviate to the right and all is negative. Though the resolution is a 1024 x 768, there is a mild pixilation that is visible from a short distance. We also noticed that the brightness levels are below average and could be better. Playback of HD videos was smooth and we had no complaints here.
The audio volume of the tablet’s built-in speaker is loud enough, but the quality is below average and it could have been better. Audio quality from the bundled earphones is slightly above average and works well with casual movies and music. If you want to enjoy better audio from music and movies, you would have to switch the earphones with a superior pair.
Rear panel is glossy white with a large ME logo
Miscellaneous apps and freebies
HCL has loaded a few too many free apps to begin with. Apps such as 3D weather, BigFlix, Bollywood Hungama, Crosswords, Panzer Panic, ThinkFree Office, Saavn, Free Book Reader and a lot more productivity and entertainment apps are installed. Though these might prove useful to some, others might find it useless and space occupying. Fortunately, they can be uninstalled.
We ran our procedures to test the battery life of the HCL ME G1 to check the approximate time the tablet can last on a full battery. A continuous video loop playback lasted us 4 hours and 20 minutes while casual usage of the Internet using the wireless interface, playing a few games, using some productivity apps and other similar activities gave us approximately 5 hours and 25 minuutes. The battery life we got in our tests is not necessarily a final verdict on the power time. The entire battery life of any product will depend on the amount of usage and the types of apps running on them. Gaming apps that use the GPU take up more battery life while regular media playback like videos and music take up lower battery life.
To sum up the whole experience with the tablet, we would like to conclude that the tablet performs very well in terms of usability and the interface. The only glitches we found were the display quality, which is average, and the missing Google Play Store app. If HCL can fix these issues, the tablet is worth considering. A large 9.7-inch HD display, dual core processor overclocked at 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM and Bluetooth interface at a price of Rs 14,999 is a nice deal. We recommend this tablet if style and performance matters to you. If you are not in a hurry, we would advise you to wait for a few more weeks as there are a few other manufacturers– perusing the dual-core large screen area – who will stand up to the HCL ME G1
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