Android tablets are flooding the market to fulfil the burgeoning demand for them. Recently, we reviewed the Zync Z990 - one of the first tablets to come with Ice Cream Sandwich on board. Now its successor, the Z999 Plus, has made its way to our labs and comes with a few additional specs including 3G and GSM calling capabilities and that ‘hefty’ price tag. Is it worth a purchase? Let’s have a look.
Design and Build Quality
The Z999 comes in a familiar 7- inch form factor. It has a matte black finish at the back while the front is a fingerprint magnet. The uneven amount of bezel gives it a rather shabby look as the right bezel is wider to incorporate the three capacitive buttons. The front also consists of the earpiece and a front camera. The volume keys and the power button are located on the top,while the right consists of the adaptor slot, the microphone, a mini USB slot, a microSD card slot, a micro HDMI slot and a headphone jack. The SIM card slot is located at the bottom and the back has a bump for a two megapixel snapper.
For that price tag, the build quality is definitely not impressive. The overall frame of the device is creaky and even the slightest bit of pressing showed signs of it giving way. The chassis of this device could have been much better. Negative points to the Z999, at least in this department.
Features and Performance
The Z999 is powered by a 1.5GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor with a Mali 400 GPU, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The Plus runs Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0.3. The interface is stock ICS, which is good, but it’s not exactly butter smooth. There are a few ocassional lags here and there but thankfully nothing that brings functionality to a complete standstill. The touchscreen quality isn’t the best though and that compromises the overall experience. The tablet did have its occassional hiccup where only a restart would bring it back to its normal functional state. If you run memory intensive applications, a noticeable lag creeps into the performance.
In our benchmark tests, the tablet had an inferior score to the BSNL Penta T Tab that wereviewed earlier. AnTuTu gave it a score of 2980 as compared to the 3504 on the WS802C. The Milagrow Tab Top 7.4 had a similar score.
This is one department that sells most tablets these days - the media consumption bit. The Z999 comes prebuilt with a Super HD Player that plays most of the formats you’ll throw at it. 1080p files played without a hitch and the only format that couldn’t be rendered from our test files was FLV. Music via our test headphones was a decent experience. The speakers did tend to start cracking a little at high volumes.
The screen isn’t the best to watch videos. When you’re looking straight at it, it’s pretty average, but even a slight tilt will reveal the poor viewing angles. The brightness levels at max weren’t impressive too. Even though the Z999 Plus has powerful support for media formats, the poor display and questionable speaker quality were let downs.
One of the key points of the Zync Z999 Plus is that it allows phone functionality via the inbuilt SIM card slot. Connectivity options include 3G, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, Bluetooth and TV out via HDMI. The voice quality via the earpiece was good but again the speaker didn’t impress us.
Browsing via the inbuilt browser is a mediocre experience as the tablet is slightly slow when image heavy sites are loaded. Typing is awkward in landscape mode and with the uneven amount of bezel on the right, you’ll find yourself stretching to reach the middle letters. The portrait mode offers a much easier typing experience.
Preloaded apps include Angry Birds, Astro File Manager, BBC News, BigFlix, Fruit Ninja, Facebook, iBiBo Games and Skype. You have the Play Store for all your other content. Some of the apps we downloaded didn't exactly scale to our liking.
7-inch form factor
The back consists of a 2 megapixel snapper while the front has a VGA camera for video calling. The camera frames a lot and though images appear bright enough on the screen, it’s absolutely not recommended for video shooting. Photo shooting is at best restricted to casual snaps.
THe Z999 Plus comes with a 4200 mAh battery that will give you about a day’s usage if you’re not using it much for phone calls. In our video test, it ran for four hours before giving way. The lesser the connectivity options enabled, the more juice you’ll be able to get from the device.
Worth a buy?
Verdict and Price in India
The Zync Z999 Plus is priced at Rs. 11,990 (MOP). Given its specs and capabilities, the Z999, on paper, isn’t really a bad proposition. However, in the real world scenario, the build quality, the screen and the niggles we had with this device prevent us from recommending it. If you’re on the look out for a decent budget tablet, there’s the BSNL Penta T Tablet, and if all you want a tablet for is media consumption, then you also have the Ainol Novo 7 Paladin, which is much cheaper than the Zync. If none of these appeal to you, we’d suggest you hold out till something better hits the market.
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