The Nexus 7 isn't officially available in India, but other Android tablets will keep flowing in by the dozen. The latest to hit our labs is the HCL ME Tablet Y2, possibly one of the very few tablets to pack in an IPS display with a higher resolution. The biggest failing point for most tabets in this price range is the sub-standard display, but HCL is here to bust that trend. Can it deliver on other fronts as well? Let’s have a look.
Video Review of HCL ME Tablet Y2
Design and Build
We can easily slot the Y2 tablet amongst the most well-built budget droids in the market, at least in this price range. It’s fairly slim and lightweight at 370g and looks very presentable. It’s quite ergonomic too with a column of capacitive buttons placed along the edge for easy access with your thumb. There’s a front facing VGA camera and a 2MP snapper on the back. The 7-inch IPS display is surrounded by a relatively thick bezel, which makes the screen appear a bit smaller than it actually is.
Decent build quality
For connectivity, we have a 3G SIM slot, miniHDMI, miniUSB, headphone jack and a microSD card slot. You also get a volume rocker and power button on the side. The tablet, however, appears to be lacking USB OTG support. Overall, HCL has done a good job slapping together a well-designed and sturdy tablet. The Y2 easily looks like a tablet from a bigger brand and is really comfortable to use on the go.
The Y2 comes with stock Android 4.0.3 with no real customisation from HCL on the UI front other than some custom apps. Despite having a 1GHz Cortex A9 CPU and a Mali 400 GPU, the UI, unfortunately, is plagued with lag and stutter. Scrolling through the menus and apps is far from smooth, which is quite a letdown. There’s also an annoyingly long gap from the time you hit the power button to the time the tablet actually wakes up. Apps don’t really suffer much thanks to the 1GB of RAM, and the CPU seems to run most of them just fine. Another little annoyance we came across is that you can’t really use the tablet while it’s charging, as the screen goes berserk.
Stock ICS but still laggy
Our biggest problem with the Y2, however, is that there is no Play Store app. In its infinite wisdom, HCL has decided to deliver apps through its own custom designed store. While the popular ones such as Whatsapp, Twitter etc. are preloaded, you don’t have the option of downloading others like Instagram etc. This severely limits the functionality of the tablet and will be a major dealbreaker for many. The one area where the Y2 does excel over the competition is the screen. The 7-inch IPS display packs a resolution of 1024 x 600, giving you sharp images and text with very good colour reproduction and good viewing angles. There’s hardly any colour banding noticeable in varying shades of colours, so props to HCL on the display.
For some reason, HCL has used the music player from Gingerbread instead of the one that comes with ICS. The audio quality through the bundled earphones is about average, but the loudspeaker wasn’t too impressive. You get 8GB of internal memory to play around with as well as a microSD card slot for expansion. The video player is not stock and supports AVI and MP4 formats. The ME Y2 will easily play 1080p MP4 files and thanks to the high resolution screen, the Y2 doubles up as a very good PMP. You’ll easily be able to watch movies on your commute and enjoy them with friends, as the wide viewing angle lets multiple people see the screen without much shift in colour.
The tablet supports 3G HSDPA up to 3.6Mbps as well as voice calls. You also get Wi-Fi ‘n’ and Bluetooth. Websites are rendered well although zooming and panning a web page is not the smoothest. The miniHDMI connector comes in really handy when you want to watch something on your HDTV. There doesn’t seem to be any USB On-the-go (OTG) support though. HCL has bundled a variety of apps like File Browser, Hungama.com, Ninja Rush, HDMI Switch, Notes, Saavn and Thinkfree Office for multimedia and file management.
The cameras on this tablet are mostly for show as you’ll never want to use them. The 2MP snapper on the back captures below average pictures and as expected, you don’t get auto-focus. The resulting picture has a lot of noise and there’s barely any detail captured. The same goes for the front facing camera. This being ICS, you get the basic editing and tweaking options like scene modes, exposure etc.
With the 4000mAh battery, we managed to get a life of 3hrs and 20min which is slightly below average. We also noticed that the tablet tends to run out of juice pretty quickly even when idle. The low battery life could be due to the higher resolution screen.
Verdict and Price in India
What HCL has inadvertently created is a very good PMP for watching movies on the go. However, as a tablet, it just doesn’t make the cut and is simply too expensive at Rs.14,999. Apart from the good quality screen, good media playback and decent build quality, the Y2 tablet doesn’t really have anything going for it. If you are looking for a good tablet in this range, then we still recommend the BSNL Penta T-Pad.
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Oct 21, 2016