Everyone wants a tablet nowadays, even though most don’t really need it. Secondly, people want the “iPad experience” for cheap which is why we are suddenly witnessing a surge of sub-20K tablets flooding the market from brands you’ve probably never heard of before. Of course most of them have tried and failed miserably. We’ve even reviewed one of them like the Creative ZiiO which made a good PMP, but coudn't be take seriously as a tablet.
Design and Build
Good set of connections
Stock Froyo interface
The viewing angles of the screen are pretty bad. The color changes too much when shifted even slightly from left to right. The same goes for the vertical viewing angles. The screen does have a decent resolution though (1024x600) so it doesn’t look too bad. It’s still a resistive screen so no multi-touch support. The tablet comes with stock Froyo with no customizations done on it. Standard apps include Alarm clock, Calculator, Calendar, OfficeSuite, OI File Manager, Notepad and Google Translate. Thankfully, we get the true Android Marketplace and not some custom built nonsense.
The default video player is capable of playing 720p MKV, AVI and MP4. For other formats, it’s best to install MoboPlayer to get them going. The colors don't exactly pop out but aren't too bad either. We couldn't get the micro-SD card slot working. We tried a couple of cards but the tablet kept saying “Safe to eject” or “Checking for errors” and would never go beyond that. The built-in 4GB memory is occupied mostly by the OS and leaves you with just 650MB.
720p videos play just fine
Audio playback is decent through a good pair of in-ear phones but the external speakers are bad with a lot of distortion and tearing even at moderate volume levels. What I assumed to be a volume rocker on the side turned out to be the button for bringing up any options an application may have. For instance if you press it on the home screen, it brings up options to go to 'Settings' or change the wallpaper. You have to resort to the applications volume control. Also, you cant use the power button to lock the home screen, you have an icon for that in the notifications bar.
The Zinglife E-Pad packs in Wi-Fi ‘n’ as well as a LAN port adapter in case you don't have Wi-Fi. I noticed the right side of the tablet tends to get quite warm during Wi-Fi usage but that’s normal. There’s also Bluetooth with A2DP support for pairing with Bluetooth headphones. The standard USB port supports pen drives formatted in FAT 32 only, while the drive shows up as ‘udisk’ in the file manager.
The Zinglife supports 3G data cards but it didn’t seem to connect through the Reliance Broadband + card we used. The light on the data card keeps blinking but the tablet doesn’t seem to detect it. There is an option in Settings to enable 3G usage but enabling that and the WCDMA option didn’t seem to do much. Froyo dosen't natively support data cards since it's primarily a mobile OS so unless these 3G data cards come with some built in app that auto-installs when plugged in or the manufacturer provides an app, we dont see how the OS would know what to do with such a device.
LAN port comes in very handy
There’s one nice application though, for car owners. What it does is it gives you extra large icons for Phone, Contacts, Music and Navigation so you can use it while driving. More apps can be downloaded from the Android Market place.
The front facing camera only supports VGA resolution and has below average performance. Even in a well lit room, it fails to capture any detail and the picture appears dull as if you were in a cave or something.
The E-Pad comes with a 2400mAh battery which is very less to power a 10.1-inch screen. Naturally, we managed to get just 2 hours worth of back up time with a little Internet surfing, trying out a few bundled apps and a couple of TV show episodes. The battery indicator also doesn't give you an accurate reading. At times it will be red asking you to find a power source and then seconds later it turns yellow. After two hours, the tablet was still able to boot but if you tried to open any application, it would immediately shut down.
Needs to be priced lower
The Zinglife E-Pad carries an MRP of Rs.17,999. The street price is closer to Rs.15000. While this may seem like a good price for a 10.1-inch tablet running Froyo, it’s actually not. If it was closer to 11-12K, then it might be worth considering but then too just as a PMP and not a real tablet.
The main problem with the E-Pad is that it’s not at all user friendly. After testing a couple of resistive based Android tablets, you tend to develop a slight tolerance to the sluggish behavior but a first time user might lose his mind. The good part about it is that it’s lightweight, offers you a large screen and plays 720p files smoothly plus it runs Android 2.2 so you can customize it the way you want. Compared to the Creative ZiiO, it feels like the better pick given the larger screen, Android Market place and a standard USB port, but again not at the current asking price.
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