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One Great Tablet...with a Couple of Issues
on April 20, 2011
LG has put together quite a nice little 8.9 inch tablet to compete with the slew of 10.1 inch tablets now coming out in droves. Like its brethren, it's running Honeycomb, but thankfully without any type of branded layer... this is pure vanilla Android here, thank you very much. But can the G-Slate stand on its merits and rise to be considered the cream of the crop? Let's dive in...
The G-Slate is pretty much the same as any other Honeycomb tablet we've seen to date, except with a couple of key differences, some to its detriment. It has the same Tegra 2 chipset,, 32 GB of RAM, 1 GB of memory, a micro USB port, a mini HDMI port, and a screen resolution of 1280x768 (32 pixels short of the "standard" resolution). It stays in line with a clam shell form factor with a big slice of polished aluminum on the back emblazened with the Google logo, and a silver trim accent around the front bezel. It looks and feels well constructed and of high quality, save for the plastic back. It has a remarkable, crisp, clean, IPS screen with excellent color and contrast which is a definite plus, and a 2 MP video chat camera on the front.
Where the G-Slate differentiates itself is in the dual 5 MP cameras on the back which have the ability to shoot 1080p video or 3D 720p video, either in red/blue anaglyph mode (they even throw in a pair of colored glasses for this) or a 3D HDTV mode suitable for playback on the big screen with LCD shutter glasses. While this is great in concept, the execution leaves a little to be desired. The problem is not the 3D...it looks sharp and pretty amazing as long as you have adequate lighting... it's the fact that your limited to 32GB of storage space (30 minutes worth of video), unless you transfer 3D files back and forth to your PC. You aren't going to be able to film much of anything, in other words, because the majority of life's precious moments tend to run well over half an hour. The end result is that the 3D becomes pretty much a fun feature to play with that's not particularly useful. That 30 minute time limit also applies to 1080p video, so that pretty much nixes that feature too. Like the Apple iPad 2, there's also a severe quality penalty in low light conditions resulting in dirty artifacts (especially bad at high resolution), and even a nasty little "flicker" bug that pops up (turning off auto-white balance seems to cure that, however). It would be great if you could expand the memory and makes this baby more useful in the video department, but alas, no memory expansion slot... another bad mark on an otherwise nice tablet.
Another interesting feature is the THREE speakers on this unit (two on the right, one on the left), which seem to boost the sound quality up to a nice level (but obviously a little short on bass). In fact, the sound is quite excellent, with good separation and no crackling at full volume. While not an audiophile's dream, it makes music listenable and movies/videos pop. Coupled with the great screen, the G-Slate excels in the multimedia category.
Overall interface performance is fast and responsive, although there's a noticeable delay when switching between portrait and landscape modes... we're talking a good 2 seconds... which isn't a killer but certainly curious when everything else is instantaneous. Web browsing is fast, with flash-loaded sites loading without much wait time and virtually everything from videos to games working fine, save for the occasional stutter due to the beta version of Flash. Battery life is excellent, with varied usage bringing 8-10 hours between charges.
The other major drawback is the price for off-contract (prepaid): a whopping $750. I really like this tablet alot, but not $750 worth, especially when the Asus Transformer is just around the corner at $399. Of course, this is great for those who don't mind the two year commitment and excellent 4G speeds for mobile ventures, where the price drops down to $429.
The bottom line is that this is a very nice unit with a couple of disappointing shortcomings. You really want to love this, and some undoubtedly will (it's definitely worth $429 bucks). I can see the draw of it, enough so that if only it had memory expansion, I'd probably make this my primary tablet, even at full retail price.
Nice comfy size and weight
In low light, the camera blows
Limited video recording time
No memory expansion
High priced without a 2 year ball and chain
I wound up returning this because of the camera issue. Technidroid. com