The UbiSlate 7C is the commercial version of the Aakash 2 tablet PC, which can be bought off-the-shelf. It’s an enhanced version of the UbiSlate 7+, which had a resistive touchscreen; the 7C has a capacitive one. Other than that, the 7+ and the 7C are powered by similar hardware – 800 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 CPU, 256MB RAM, 4GB internal storage and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
The UbiSlate 7Ci with its powerful hardware is significantly different from the 7C. Let’s find out what it packs under the hood and whether it’s a worthy consideration as a budget tablet.
A thin frame contributes to the compact form
Design and build quality
If you’ve already checked out the Zen UltraTab A100, you’ll at once be able to tell that the UbiSlate 7Ci is made by the same OEM. They are identical, except for the branding stamped on the rear. The UbiSlate 7Ci looks tough thanks to the matte finish of the shell. However, when held, it doesn’t feel too sturdy – you will realise that the quality of plastic used for the construction of shell is just average. A tougher shell would have lent a premium feel to this tablet. The back panel is fastened to the body with tiny plastic clamps. We could easily manage to detach it without using any special tools. We used our nails and it didn’t take more than a minute to expose the guts of this tablet. Now this was a shocker – we found that the components inside were haphazardly taped together. The exposed tip of the Wi-Fi antenna was tucked under the battery, and the cables were managed by a piece of carelessly torn masking tape. Not to mention the icing on the cake – some lint stuck on the battery. Notice that large empty space around the battery? Datawind could have easily used a slightly larger battery pack. It would have added some bulk, but improved the battery life.
Carelessly managed cables and taped components
The UbiSlate 7Ci is one of the most compact tablets in its category because of the thin frame around the 7-inch display. There’s just a 1.3 MP camera on the top and there are no other physical or touch-sensitive buttons for Home, Back, Menu and Search. With the device held horizontally with the camera on top, you’ll find the power button, microUSB port and a jack for charging. The volume up/down rocker and the headphone jack are located on the top right. Moving down, you have the micro SD card slot with a push-in/push-out mechanism. Turn the tablet over and you’ll notice that the buttons are labelled on the edges for easy identification. A tiny mono speaker for audio output is placed on the rear panel behind a tiny grille.
A mono speaker sits behind the grille
The overall quality of display is good enough for videos and photos and the minor issues it does have, are forgivable. For example, when held horizontally, tilting the device slightly forward affects the viewing angle; colours tend to deviate. So, videos and photos look best when the screen is right in front of your eyes.
Features and performance
The UbiSlate 7Ci is better than the 7C in many respects. The latter had an 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8 CPU and 256MB of RAM. The 7Ci is much faster with a 1GHz CPU and twice the amount of RAM. The storage space of 4GB has remained unchanged and you get Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Out of the total built-in storage, 2.25GB is used by the ROM. So, you get 1.75GB for storing all your data and installing additional apps. If that’s less, you can use up to a 32GB microSD card to expand the storage. Like most other budget Android tablets with wide displays, the UbiSlate 7Ci too features a 7-inch display with a standard resolution of 480 x 800 pixels.
1GHz CPU and Mali 400-MP GPU
The scores reported by the UbiSlate 7Ci were among the top in comparison to other tablets in its category. Linpack logged 14.59 MFLOPS in single thread test and 13.27 MFLOPS in the multi-thread test. Quadrant and AnTuTu logged 2480 and 3073 points respectively. NenaMark 2 reported 27.7 fps. On the whole, this tablet performed better than the Zen UltraTab A100 despite both having similar hardware.
The Mali 100 MP GPU makes a huge difference when it comes to fluidity of the user interface. We didn’t feel any lag or sluggishness while operating the device even for prolonged durations. Datawind has chosen to keep the user interface simple – thankfully, the stock tablet interface is devoid of fancy icons and unwanted widgets.
Stock Android ICS tablet interface
Like most other budget 7-inch tablets, the available connectivity options are Wi-Fi and 3G (via USB dongle). The microUSB port plays an important role here. Apart from Internet connectivity, it also provides PC interface, USB and host interface. The package bundles a USB host adapter, which allows using peripherals such as input devices, USB flash drives and Ethernet dongles with the tablet. The absence of an HDMI port is a drawback, but then you can’t expect much from a budget tablet.
The UbiSlate 7Ci supports all popular audio and video formats natively – AVI, MP4, FLV, 3GP, H.264, DivX, XviD, MKV, MP3, WMA and WAV. Full HD video playback is a bit challenging for budget tablets. However, the UbiSlate 7Ci does it with great ease. We found no stutter at all while playing 1080p videos. The sound quality of the mono speaker isn’t too great, but not too bad either. It’s sufficiently loud and crisp, but the output lacks warmth. You would be better off with earphones or a portable speaker.
We have tested several budget tablets in the past and the average battery life we have noted is between six to eight hours. On a full charge, the UbiSlate 7Ci lasted for just 2 hours and 8 minutes with just a 720p video playing in a loop. Play a full length movie and you will have to charge the battery, whereas with others you can watch up to three movies back-to-back. In the second round of battery life test, wherein we also threw in a bit of music playback and media streaming, the battery exhausted after 3 hours. This is one of the lowest figures we’ve seen.
Verdict and Price in India
Priced at Rs. 4,399, the UbiSlate 7Ci is one of the cheapest Android tablets you can buy. It’s a good deal provided you are fine with the absence of an HDMI port and the dismal battery life. The fluid user interface, stutter-free media playback, compact form and good aesthetics are the strengths of this 7-inch tablet. If you are willing to spend more to get something better, we suggest going in for the Lava E Tab, which costs Rs. 5,500. It too doesn’t have an HDMI port, but the battery life is much better and so is the sound quality.