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We weren’t impressed with what we saw and the Smart Pulse M9010 can be described as a desperate attempt by Spice to launch a smartwatch just for the sake of it.
Nokia recently added another budget-friendly handset to its Asha range of smartphones featuring a new single-swipe user interface thereby bringing monoblock touchscreen interface to users and developers alike.
The Asha 501 has a 3-inch TFT display with 320 x 240 pixel resolution, 64MB RAM, dual-SIM support, 3.2-megapixel camera on the rear, FM radio, Wi-Fi, microUSB, Bluetooth 3.0. The Asha 501 is definitely not the best of handsets you can buy from Nokia, but being available for as low as ₹4,744 there is hardly anything to complain about. Here is what we think about the smartphone.
Right out of the box, Nokia Asha 501 is a phone that is made specifically for the young crowd – probably first time smartphone buyers – and the candy bar form factor with a monoblock design is definitely something that would appeal to the next-gen budget savvy crowd. Nokia has used stronger material to form the back panel of Asha 501 and is placed such that it doesn’t come off even if the phone accidentally slips from one’s hand.
The phone has a glossy finish, is 12.1 mm thick and weighs less than 100 grams even though it looks heavier. The volume rocker is on the right side of the phone below which are located the power/sleep button. There is only one button below the display but, I was surprised to find out that it is a Back button rather than the Home button.
Users have the option of buying the phone in six different colours – Black, Bright Green, Bright Red, Cyan, White and Yellow – all of them having a glossy finish.
Nokia hasn’t built the Asha 501 with high-performance in mind. It is for those users who want a handset that delivers mediocre performance and are not bothered about the need for a high-end quad-core processor. With just 64MB RAM one shouldn’t expect a rock solid performance from the handset.
Images are not so bad from the 3.2-megapixel camera and frankly speaking I wasn’t expecting much anyways. Nokia has however improved upon the camera app and the bundled editor that comes along with it. I tried to record videos but at 15 fps there isn’t a lot that the captured video will deliver. Audio quality wasn’t that great either.
Asha 501 comes with multiple local language support specifically targeted towards Indian users and it was particularly easy to change to a different keyboard layout using a simple swipe gesture. Messaging interface has changed to a great extent and is rather minimalistic giving an unclogged appearance.
There is no company in the feature phone and budget-friendly smartphone segment that could beat Nokia when it comes to battery performance and Asha 501 uphelds Nokia’s dominance. I had a single micro-SIM with me to play around and the 1200mAh battery lasted two whole days with a single charge with average usage involving a few phone calls, about 100 odd text messages, a dozen or so emails and about 2 hours of web browsing. I tried listening to music only as and when I found time and the battery clocked out juice for nearly 2 days.
Probably one of the best phones one can for less than ₹5,000, the dual-SIM Asha 501 with headphones and charger is definitely value for money handset. There is no 3G support and that is one bit that would deter quite a few buyers. Having said that, Nokia is offering 4GB card and 50 preloaded apps to get you started and there is Wi-Fi connectivity option to make up for lost 3G mobility.
Coolpad Mi-515 powered by a quad-core processor was recently launched by Spice in Indian market with a budget-friendly price tag of ₹9,990 to rival other local as well as international brands in the 5-inch smartphone segment.
The smartphone has been manufactured by Chinese brand Coolpad and is packed with a quad-core Meditek SoC clocked at 1.2GHz complemented by 1GB of RAM, 5-inch qHD display, 5-megapixel rear camera, 4GB of onboard storage expandable to 32GB using a microSD card, dual-SIM capabilities and Android 4.1.
The plastic body encased Spice Coolpad Mi-515 features a metallic blue paint and is 9.9mm thick and weighs just over 160g. The 5-inch smartphone does look good because of the metallic paint however if your hands are sweaty given the Indian weather conditions, chances are it might fall out of your hands because the surface is slippery.
There is nothing peculiar about the phone and feels like any other China made smartphone with buttons and slots as you would find in any other smartphone. On the down side the quality of plastic does seem to be low and finish of the product is also not up to the mark. Further, the handset we received had a paint chip issue and the headphone did seem to be sticking out a little even when inserted with full force. I believe this interfered with the radio thereby decreasing the reception capabilities of the handset.
The Mi-515 is equipped with a 5-inch qHD display with 940 x 560 pixel resolution and is quite lower than even 720p never mind the 1080p resolution you would find in many handsets today. The pixel per inch (ppi) intensity of 218 may be described as above average as the display does not suffer ‘much’ pixilation. I don’t know if it was just my handset or is the case with every Mi-515 out there but, colours were saturated and a bit bright too, which doesn’t always give a comfortable picture quality.
Having said that for a ₹9,990 smartphone (₹3,000 less than other 5-inch smartphones) the display is quite good and the viewing angle is also near perfect.
With Mediatek 1.2GHz processor powering the handset, the Spice Coolpad does rake in higher points when it comes to performance. The processor is known to perform well without any heating issues and apps seemed to be opening without much lag.
The Coolpad Mi-515 managed to score decent 12923 score on the Antutu benchmark probably because of the 1GB RAM and 1.2GHz processor. The smartphone did handle all the games properly as well – even those which were graphics intensive.
Even though the Coolpad has only a 5-megapixel rear camera we were surprised to find out that it is even better than the 8-megapixel ones found on quite a few other handsets. The camera worked great when capturing photos outside due to ample lighting conditions but, the indoor low-light photography didn’t disappoint either.
Zoom in function does render visible grains but, the overall colour details were much better than on few of the smartphone cameras we have seen. Some of the features of the camera are auto focus, HDR (high dynamic ratio), auto ISO and white balancing.
We didn’t like the front camera at all. You may carry out video calls but, that’s about it. I wouldn’t even recommend trying to get a self-portrait.
Connectivity & Battery
The smartphone is loaded with 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – which is what most consumers would be looking at now a days. All these three options worked fine without any issues. FM radio did work fine as well.
The 2000 mAh battery supplying juice to The Spice Coolpad Mi 515 is more or less in line with what most other smartphones of this range pack. But, the battery didn’t impress us much as it even didn’t last a whole day on moderate use – 15 calls (5 min avg. duration), 30 min of 3G browsing and 10 min of Wi-Fi browsing. You could try and lower the brightness to save a little more power but, I don’t think there will be a lot of improvement.
Display and camera did surprise us and Mi-515 managed to score well on performance as well. But, design and battery is where the Spice Coolpad Mi515 lacks seriously. Inferior plastic body is a big No from us.
All-in-all an average smartphone with average specifications!
Sony hasn’t been having a lot of luck when it comes to tablets despite the fact that some of the tablets it launched were brilliant while having a distinctive design. Further, Sony has been a late entrant into the tablet market where even Microsoft is having a hard time. Sony launched tablets powered by Tegra 2 SoC while everyone were launching Tegra 3 powered tablets and those featuring resolutions as low as 1,280×800 pixels as compared to 1,920 x 1,200 or above being released by others.
Xperia Tablet Z is the latest from Sony and is definitely a strong contender as it packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor instead of the Tegra 3, features a ultra-slim and ultra-light body and boasts of 1,920 x 1,200 10.1-inch display.
Sony hasn’t done anything fancy this time around like it did with Xperia Tablet S, but has kept the design such that the overall weight of the tablet is just 495 grams making it incredibly light allowing most adult users to hold it comfortably using just one hand while use of two hands will allow for easy viewing of movies or videos or web browsing for hours at a time. Further the tablet is just 7mm thick, making it incredibly thin.
These two things might not the appealing to everyone but, business users would appreciate the portability this tablet brings because of its weight and slim design. The thin design may give you a feeling that the tablet is flimsy and would be a ‘handle with care’ object but, it is quite the opposite. The tablet is rock-solid when you hold it and has a scratch-proof glass. The tablet is water and dust resistance just like its smartphone siblings the Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra and according to Sony can be immersed in water for about 30 minutes without any damage.
One thing you will notice out of the box is that all the ports (inputs / outputs) are concealed by small plastic flaps – for waterproofing. So, if you want to charge the tablet you will need to remove the plastic cover that hides the micro-USB connector – same goes for microSD slot, the microSIM slot (for the model we reviewed) and even the headphone socket.
Sony has left out the HDMI output – the reason we believe is that the Japanese electronics giant doesn’t believe in wired connections and it wants the tablet to connect to its Bravia TV siblings through the Wi-Fi screen mirroring option or through NFC transceiver for one-touch mirroring. In case you do want to connect using a cable Sony has the micro-USB port that supports MHL video output. We didn’t have a Bravia TV at our disposal to test this feature so we can’t tell how well this works but, this feature would definitely appeal to those who already own a Bravia TV.
Screen & Sound
Xperia Tablet Z’s 10-inch screen has a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution with 224ppi (pixels per inch) and is definitely a good working resolution for an Android tablet. The ppi of Tablet Z don’t match that of Google’s Nexus 10 but, that shouldn’t be a deterrent I believe. You can movies at 1080p and gaming experience is better than that on the Nexus 10. All in all, the vibrant, sharp and crystal clear screen provides you a gorgeous display.
Sony has started including its Mobile Bravia Engine 2 in its smartphones and the Tablet Z also features this engine that adds a little to the display. If you are watching a HD video or high resolution photos they do look stunning while the blacks kind of leap out of the screen. And if you fancy catching up on those TV shows you have missed, then this tablet would definitely fill in.
There is not much in the sound department to write about as the volume is limited and so is the bass but, the stereo spread is definitely better than most of the tablets out there and more or less equal to that of the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle HD 8.9.
Sony has decided to go with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean for its Xperia Tablet Z and has customized the basic UI putting in a few enhancements keeping in mind functionality and design. Tablet Z comes loaded with Apps like Sony Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited, Sony movie player app, Walkman-branded music app, photo album app, a Sony Select app, and Sony’s Socialife app.
Sony hasn’t probably worked on the keyboard as Tablet Z doesn’t offer a lot of improvements over the standard Jelly Bean model and I did err a lot while typing a note. What is worse though is that standard Android model has been removed but, its not that you are stuck with that. You can install keyboard apps available on Google Play store like Swiftkey for tablets and they should work just fine. On a special note Sony’s mail client works great with Exchange ActiveSync and Google Sync but, may need a little tuning as the account setup process is rather clunky.
Sony has touted the capabilities of the Xperia Tablet Z’s cameras since its launch and has been saying that the 8-megapixel rear camera branded Exmor R for mobile provides a great performance in low light conditions. In our tests though, the tablet hasn’t been able to perform that well in low light conditions. Natural colours and detail to come out prominently but, there is a lot of noise in pictures taken indoor and the outdoor photos aren’t all that impressive either. The good thing is that there is software that provides a full range of scene modes, some nice built-in effects and an intuitive UI. The front camera may be deemed good for voice chats only. Nothing else!
The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro clocked at 1.5GHz powers the tablet and is the same SoC that can be found on Google Nexus 4. With 2GB of RAM, the UI elements of the tablet just feel like a breeze when interacted with and apps load in an instant.
Xperia Tablet Z scores 2001 on Geekbench 1.2 benchmark which puts it ahead of its Tegra 3 powered sibling Xperia Tablet S and just slightly behind Nexus 4 and Samsung Exynos 4412-powered Nexus 10. Gaming may be considered as Tablet Z’s forte as it managed 13 fps off-screen frame rate in the GFXBench T-Rex HD benchmark, and 32 fps in Egypt HD. These numbers can be considered the best you could get up until Tegra 4 and Snapdragon 800 officially arrive on some tablets / smartphone.
We presumed that the Tablet Z, because of its slim design, would be packing a battery that wouldn’t be able to provide much backup. But to our surprise, it did manage to pull off a descent 10 hours through mixed use and about seven and a half hours at constant HD movie streaming over a Wi-Fi connection. However, gaming takes a toll on the battery and about half an hour of Real Racing 3 drained 15 per cent of the battery, which is not surprising.
Xperia Tablet Z is probably the best Android tablet out there in terms of design – it is light and powerful and would take anything you throw at it – well computationally. The battery life is very good, screen is great, and resolution excellent.
Speed and capacity are the two parameters used to gauge a portal hard drive. In most cases there is a tradeoff wherein either one of these would be weak in the HDD which consumers would need to accept but in case of the Western Digital My Passport 2TB portal HDD, with USB 3.0 connectivity and ample of storage space, consumers are definitely in for a surprise and ample of satisfaction.
Design and Features
The 2TB hard drive is definitely not as sleek as a passport, but considering that Western Digital is providing 2TB storage a little thick HDD shouldn’t be an issue. The HDD weights around 200g adding to the portability factor to a great extent – just pop it in your laptop bag and you are ready to roll.
If you compare the My Passport with its anodized aluminum sibling My Passport Studio, you may find that the former is quite light thanks to its plastic chassis. The feel of the My Passport is pleasingly smooth and with matte finish on its edges and underside you won’t be disappointed even if you like HDDs with metal chassis. The drive is quite sturdy and has smooth rounded edges with dotted pattern on the lid.
At the rear of the drive is the USB Micro-B port for connectivity and the supplied cable can be used to connected to either the USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 port. There is this activity indicator right next to the ports which flashes bursts of white light as and when the drive is in use. When it comes to connectivity that’s about it as the My Passport doesn’t support FireWire 800 like its metallic sibling My Passport Studio. But, considering the support for USB 3.0 and 2.0, most users shouldn’t mind absence of other connectivity options.
The drive comes with pre-installed software on the including WD Drive Utilities (Diagnostics, Sleep Timer, Drive Erase), the WD Security app for hardware encryption, and WD SmartWare, which is effectively an easy-to-use backup program with revamped interface that not only allow for backing up of data but also retrieves deleted files for you. Even though it is not that great as Seagate Dashboard software that comes with Backup Plus, the WD SmartWare is there.
The My Passport 2TB drive has come out as an exceptional HDD when it comes to performance as in our PCMark 05 tests it managed to score 6,016 via USB 3.0 and 3,078 via USB 2.0. These scores are within close range of that of Seagate Backup Plus which managed to garner 6,436 (USB 3.0) and 3,125 (USB 2.0).
I put the My Passport to test by connecting it using its USB 3.0 port and managed to copy a 1.22 GB test folder in just about 15 seconds – the same time as our test Backup Plus’ with USB 3.0 took. USB 3.0 transfer speeds of My Passport 2 TB outperformed those of My Passport Studio’s FireWire 800 by a huge margin of 15 seconds.
USB 2.0 turned out to be slow and yielded slower transfer speeds for the same amount of data – 38 seconds. But, the drive did manage to outperform Backup Plus by 2 seconds.
Western Digital, it seems, has tweaked what it already had in terms of technology rather than reinventing the wheel. By addressing the two primary concerns of most of the consumers out there – speed and capacity, Western Digital has certainly put out a mammoth of an HDD. Though it is not as versatile as the Seagate Backup Plus, which has more features the My Passport 2 TB is definitely an option worth going for if you are OK with sticking to USB based data transfers.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD (₹15,999 for 16GB, ₹18,999 for 32GB) is finally launching in India from June 27 directly from Amazon and that too with HD screens.
The 7in Kindle Fire HD (KFHD) is equipped with a well-designed interface that is a direct door to the already launched Amazon’s music, books and other services. This makes the Amazon KFHD not only highly entertaining but also potentially the best tablet around worth buying that offers a complete package.
The first thing you would notice is the solid and well-built feel of the Kindle Fire HD. The tablet is definitely not built from left overs of the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet as many believed. The tablets measures 137 x 10 x 193mm (WxDxH) and weighs 395 grams and if compared to the original Kindle Fire that launched in the US last year, the HD is slightly bigger yet slimmer and lighter.
Constructed mostly out of matte plastic material that gives you a grippy feel, the corners of the KFHD are more rounded while the back is tapered. There is a shiny black strip along the back housing two powerful, dual-driver, room-filling stereo speakers. The bottom-mounted power button has been moved to the side now next to the volume rocker.
Display is definitely the area which Amazon has concentrated upon as once you start the tablet all you can say is WOW! KFHD’s 7-inch IPS LCD display gives only 1,280 x 800 resolution, which is fairly standard and available with many tablets, but it is non-reflective and the great colour balance it provides makes it a better display as compared to even Nexus 7.
You have the 1-megapixel video camera just above the screen that would allow you to make video calls and along the bottom you have the micro HDMI and micro USB ports. Amazon hasn’t provided any expansion slots for storage so you will have to do with whatever inbuilt storage comes with the tablet.
The battery isn’t removable and when we tested it out through a looping video at full brightness with Wi-Fi turned on, the tablet lasted for over 7 hours. This is a lot better as compared to HP Slate 7 but, lower than Google’s Nexus 7.
Interface, Ads and Apps
Amazon has worked up a custom operating system to power its Kindle Fire HD range of tablets based on Android Ice Cream Sandwich but, the customization is so extensive that you wouldn’t realize that the OS is Android up until you play with it for a while. All Android apps from third party vendors work just fine with the KFHD but, the main focus of the tablet is to allow users to play with content they have downloaded from Amazon.
Instead of the lock screen, when you start your tablet, you will notice a full-screen ad. Amazon feeds such ‘offers’ to your tablet instead of showing the standard lock screen and while you are using the tablet two-line text ads also appear at the bottom of every home screen. If you are not too keen on such ads, and hate them like I do, you could pay a flat one-off fee of $15 (₹870) and get rid of them permanently. Hopefully this option will be available in India as well.
The home screen is lined up with text options such as Shop, Games, Apps, Books, Music, Videos, Newsstand, Audiobooks, Web, Photos, Docs, and Offers (the aforementioned ads). I don’t know if all these options will be available in the Indian version of the KFHD as Amazon.in only offers music and books for now. Anyways, we will see what all options have been made available in the Indian version of the KFHD when it launches. Below the text options are large, rotating carousel of the most recent icons you’ve used. There is no obvious way to switch between apps running at the same time but, the music option stays in the notification bar allowing you to pause it as and when required.
If you are connected to the internet through Wi-Fi, clicking on any category brings up a virtual bookshelf of your content divided into Cloud and Device sections. While connected, you will have the option of moving content from the cloud to your device and vice versa as required. If you aren’t connected you will only see the Device section.
Amazon has loaded the Fire HD with its Silk browser which it claims is super-fast thanks to its seamless cloud acceleration. But, according to reports and our experience web browsing says otherwise. No doubt the browser is great but Google Chrome on a Tegra 3 based device is faster and allows for smoother scrolling. Amazon has promised that the browser will speed up over the next few months as its servers optimize various web pages.
The Kindle Fire HD is quite useful when it comes to viewing documents emailed to you like Word, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, etc.
You can load you own apps by plugging in KFHD into your PC and the tablet appears like any other Android tablet out there. You can extract apps from an Android phone or tablet and install them on the KFHD using the Easy Installer found in Amazon’s Appstore.
Kindle Fire HD doesn’t allow you to install apps from Google Play Store and that seems to be a bit of over restriction. Anyways, looking for popular apps in Amazon app store also yield results. According to Amazon there are over 10,000 “Kindle Fire compatible” apps on its App Store and this certainly offers a range of apps for you to try your hands on.
The tablet plays AAC, M4A and MP3 audio files, and AVI, MPEG4 and H.264 video files without any problems but, there is no support for DivX, Xvid, or WMV.
If you were in the US you could have benefited from unlimited streaming of movies through Amazon Prime movie streaming service but, unfortunately this service isn’t available in India yet
Amazon, it seems, went a little overboard while promising things with the KFHD as the tablets under performs as against the promises made. Jeff Bezos, in his launch speech, in a way implied rather strongly that the TI OMAP4460 processor clocked at 1.2GHz is faster than the Nexus 7’s Nvidia Tegra 3. But, tests yielded rather something completely different.
We used a range of benchmarks and apps including AnTuTu, Geekbench, Basemark OS, Browsermark, and others. Google’s Nexus 7 beat the KFHD in overall scores and on graphics tests while the KFHD triumphed Nexus 7 on some memory access tests and the Basemark system tests. KFHD was slightly faster in the Basemark OS and AnTuTu tests if we look at per core performance but, the results will be different if all the cores are put into action and Nexus 7 may have an edge.
Kindle Fire HD is much slower when it comes to launching apps and it does create a perception of lag. I found the user interface being noticeably slow and it takes a couple of seconds before thumbnails on Amazon’s video and apps pages load. Now this is a bug that Amazon says it will resolve soon. If you launch too many apps at one go and make the KFHD go through heavy multitasking, the UI starts showing jerkiness. To my surprise, plugging in an HDMI cable also showcases the same kind of UI behavior. Amazon’s OS is definitely not as smooth in operation as Nexus 7’s Android 4.1.
Kindle Fire HD performs a lot better in the 5GHz as compared to the 2.4GHz. The tablet managed to garner an average download speed of 5.8Mbps as compared to just 3.7Mbps on the Nexus 7. Because of multiple antennas KFHD again comes out on top in areas with extreme reflections. Went down to areas with stoned walls and on a 2.4GHz network KFHD managed to register an average download speed of 2.4Mbps as opposed to Nexus 7’s 1.8Mbps.
Kindle Fire HD has a lot going for it all in all. It can be dubbed as an easy-to-use media consumption tablet and the 7-inch tablet will impress you with its gorgeous display and boosted Wi-Fi performance.
If you can’t be bothered about setting up the tablet when you get it out of the box like configuring widgets, home screen, etc. and want to start using it straight away the Kindle Fire HD is definitely for you. Geeks may not be too impressed with the rigidity Amazon has adopted with its “no messing with Home Screen” stance, but I bet there are millions of people out there and thousands of them would be reading this right now are want to watch and play with stuff rather than sitting there settings things up.
Microsoft launched its Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers yesterday and has received a lot of media attention both because it was released without any prior announcement and secondly such an app was on the top of the wish list of many iOS users.
The app is free! Wait, there is a catch – it can only be used if you have an Office 365 subscription. The feature list is limited for now and considering that it requires a subscription there isn’t much on the plate that Microsoft has offered.
The app focuses on Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents you would have worked on recently – even those on your computer letting you start again from where you had left off last time. This is something that would appeal to many as they wouldn’t need to browse their online storage to find the last document they had been working on. The icon set on the left indicates the type of document you are looking at.
At the bottom of the screen you will find buttons that allow you to connect to either your SkyDrive or Sharepoint; create a new document; and settings section.
Tools come up at the top of the screen when you open any document. Swiping through when a Word file is open allows you to read through the document and using the buttons on the top would bring up text-formatting options allowing you to highlight, change font size, and apply other format options. All you need to do to edit a Word document is tap and start typing. Editing in Word is as easy as tapping on the screen and typing. The app doesn’t offer any palette to choose the colours from. All you have is three colour options – very primitive don’t you think? Once you are done with the edit, all you have to do is save to SkyDrive and you will have your document available to you through other devices for futher updates and edits.
The tools option while in an Excel document allows you to edit your data and the tabs on the bottom allows you to switch to other spreadsheets and charts associated with a project. You can enter formulas in a cell and if you edit the cell, the values would automatically update – same as it would happen in a desktop version of Excel. To create charts all you have to do is selected data by highlighting fields, open the editing tools, and tap on Create Chart. Microsoft has provided six different chart options for you to choose from and a chart is automatically created in a new tab.
When it comes to PowerPoint the mobile app is limited as you cannot create a new presentation. You can still view and edit the presentation – like move the slides around, edit speaker notes, etc. The get a feel of the presentation you can switch to landscape mode. Complex operations like adding transition, creation of new slides, etc are not available but, the app would come in handy if you are on the move and need to practice for a presentation which is due in a few hours.
Because of the dependence on Office 365 subscription your documents which are available on the cloud through SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro or SharePoint will all be accessible to you from anywhere. Recent documents – as we mentioned earlier – which you worked on last on any other device would be right there in the Recent Document panel. In case you have Office documents attached with an email, you can even edit those.
Despite the limited set of features, I must say that the documents do look great – in their own way. As the app has been optimized for phone, all the documents – be it a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file – look stunning even in small screen. With presentation view while viewing a PowerPoint slide, you will be able to browse through the slides faster.
Even though there is only one limitation as of now – a need for Office 365 subscription, it is a huge one. Considering that the app isn’t too extensive when it comes to editing features, I am of the opinion that the app should have been free for all users. I believe it would have been great if that app would have been a supportive app and had been tied with the Web apps and a more feature-rich app should have been built and tied to the Office 365 subscription.
Do try it for a while as you can sign-up for a free trial of Office 365 at Office.com. If you don’t subscribe to Office 365, the app will work up until the trial period is over.
Microsoft shouldn’t just limit itself to the current feature set and it should come out with different versions targeting different users. The app in its current stage is useful for Office 365 subscribers who are always on the go and need something that would allow them to make small edits while on the move.
All in all, Microsoft took a great step by dishing out a mobile Office app for iOS and I believe this is just the beginning.
The HP Slate 7 (currently available for as low as ₹13,999) showcases lot of speed in terms of processing and performance and is surprisingly a better tablet as compared to its competitors in the 7-inch segment.
Positives of speediness are overshadowed by its not so good display as compared to Google Nexus 7 that boasts off a better display coupled with faster performance, and visibly more up-to-date software.
HP claims that the tablet gives you a different feel is a bit artificial if not too forced as the native wireless printing support, even though comes in handy, is currently limited to HP printers only and despite the big label Beats Audio, the audio performance is none too impressive.
All in all the Slate 7 can be deemed as a good budget-friendly Android 4.1 tablet that is definitely competitive in terms of pricing and performance but is not the best in its category.
Design and Features
HP has definitely put in some efforts when it comes to designing the Slate 7 – sturdy frame, soft-touch plastic back, and stainless steel accents along its perimeter, give the tablet a distinctive look and feel. The tablet measures 7.76 x 4.57 x 0.42-inches (HxWxD) and weights under 400 grams placing it right there with the likes of Asus MeMO Pad and Nexus 7. HP has put the speakers along the bottom of the tablet flanking a micro USB port for charging and syncing with the included cable and power adapter. The top edge of the tablet has 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card slot, and Power button, while the Volume rocker has been placed on the right edge.
I won’t be going into the Beats Audio part as of now, but just a heads up that the enhancements are meant for headphone output only and if you are playing something through the built-in speakers you won’t be impressed if not disappointed as the sound output, even though loud, is tiny as you will find in most other tablet speakers.
The LCD display, not an IPS panel, can be rated as OK with its 1,024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 pixels per inch density. The resolution is lower than that of Nexus 7 and based on HFFS technology, which does produce a wider viewing angle as compared to its other 7-inch competitor – the MeMO Pad’s display.
Connectivity options are none too shabby but the absence of 3G does reduce the portability aspect of the tablet to a great extent. Slate 7 connects to 802.11b/g/n networks on the 2.4GHz frequency only. You can easily connect to Bluetooth headphone using the Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. The 8GB onboard storage may not be too great of an offering but, a 32GB card in our case worked fine as mentioned in the spec sheet. We went overboard a little with 64GB card but as expected it didn’t work. Well, fair enough! Can’t complain, can we?
Performance and Android
With dual-core 1.6GHz Rockchip Cortex-A9 processor accompanied by 1GB RAM the Slate 7 is impressive for the performance it delivers for a sub-₹13,999 tablet. I didn’t expect the tablet to perform that well but, I was pleasantly surprised. The scores on the Antutu overall system benchmark for Slate 7 were close to that of quad-core Nexus 7 and did beat Asus MeMo Pad. Unexpectedly the Slate 7 managed to outperform the Nexus 7 in some of our graphics benchmarks and when it comes to Browsermark and Sunspider benchmarks, the figures were equally impressive.
Slate 7 is HP’s first go at rolling out an Android tablet and as one may understand going all in on the first tablet may have been too much of a risk for HP. However, with a price tag like this, the Slate 7 will definitely appeal to a lot many Android enthusiasts but, there may be a few advanced users who may not feel too much comfortable buying one as it lacks some genuinely useful features that other companies have added to their tablets.
Beats Audio is up next. If we look at the implementation of Beats Audio in general, it is done through two different methods. In the first method, the vendor of the smartphone would install custom hardware like an amplified 3.5mm headphone jack while others would implement a software equalizer that jacks up the base. HP has adopted the second method here but, it is more than just booming bass. HP is offering specific settings tuned for different types of headphones (on-ear or in-ear). I wasn’t able to make out much of a difference except that for in-Ear mode volume levels would go down as compared to on-ear ones.
If you own a wireless HP printer then the wireless printing feature built into the Slate 7 may prove to be handy. But, the feature comes only with a handful of native apps like the Gallery or Email app. We have a wireless printer in our labs and on testing the Slate 7 I found that setting up the tablet and printing can be achieved in a jiffy. As long as the printer is connected to your Wi-Fi network properly you will see the printer listed in the print options automatically and you are ready to roll. On a little negative side, beyond the fact that it doesn’t work except with HP printers, the wireless printing feature comes built into only a few apps and not in Gmail or Chrome. There is this ePrint app that comes preloaded which you can use with ePrint compatible printers. The ePrint feature basically assigns an email address to your printer and print jobs can be sent through the app.
Out of the box HP Slate 7 supports MP3, AAC, WMA, and OGG audio files however it doesn’t support FLAC or WAV. In terms of video files, the Slate 7 supports MPEG-4, H.264, and WMV files at HD resolutions of up to 1080p. But, it doesn’t support DivX or Xvid. Just a reminder that you can alleviate the default omissions by HP and download apps from Google Play that will enable you to play these files.
Our battery testing mechanism isn’t state of the art but, we rely on the good old video tests at the brightest screen possible while the Wi-Fi is on. We found that Slate 7 used up all its juice in about 4 hours and 10 minutes. Compare this with the Nexus 7 and it is short by almost 6 hours. HP may not be up to the mark here.
Cameras on the HP Slate 7 don’t impress much either. With noisy low quality images in indoor lightings both the front facing and rear facing cameras are more or less the same as what you may find in other tablets in the same segment. HP touts that Slate 7’s camera is better than the Nexus 7 but, I am yet to find that one out. Another thing, I am yet to find a tablet with a camera that gives me descent images which are comparable with high-end smartphones. Also capturing images through a tablet doesn’t really fit the scene – carrying a book size device around a garden or in a party snapping up images – it’s just not done. But, as many people would say, I need a tablet and that has to have a camera – so HP you have got that covered.
I would like to applaud once for HP for its effort on Slate 7 as after the TouchPad firesale it was definitely a bold move from HP to reenter the tablet arena. If given an option between Slate 7 and Nexus 7, I would choose Nexus 7. Why? Well because the Slate 7 isn’t up to the mark when it comes to display with lower resolution screen and modest battery life. At ₹13,999, I would say it is tad more affordable than Google’s Nexus 7 and it does offer competitive performance but, I would want a sharper screen and a tablet that at least last 7-8 hours at one go. If I was looking for more storage and a rear-facing camera I would go for Slate 7 otherwise, Google take my money please.