In an era when manufacturers are showing off their tablets powered by dual-core and quad-core processors, HCL has bravely put forth a single-core tablet with calling features in the market. Is the tablet different from others or will it face the brunt of being an outdated technology? Let’s put it to the test and see how it fares.
7-inch display, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution
Design and build
The HCL ME Tablet Y3 is a 7-inch Android tablet and sports a rugged build quality. The shell is quite tough and definitely does not feel cheap from any angle. The tablet sports a matte finish silver back and edges with a black-bordered display panel. The tablet looks pretty decent. The rear panel sports the speaker grille, a reset button and the 3.2MP camera, but is a bit messy with lots of text markings for the ports, model number and the large company logo. Though this might not be a major concern, nobody likes an untidy looking tablet. The right side features the mini HDMI port, mini USB PC interface and charging port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a small opening for the microphone. The top is seen equipped with the power and volume button along with slots for the microSD card slot and two SIM cards. The tablet measures 11 mm in thickness and weighs 322.5 grams. You get a charger, headset, mini USB cable and a small micro-fibre cleaning cloth bundled along with the tablet.
Rear panel is matte finish; a 3.2MP camera is featured here
The HCL ME Tablet Y3 is a calling tablet with dual-SIM support. It sports a 7-inch WSVGA HD screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. The Y3 is powered by an ARM Cortex A9 processor clocked at 1GHz and features a PowerVR SGX531 graphics processor. The system is given 1GB of DDR3 RAM and an internal storage of 4GB. The operating system installed is Google’s Android ICS v4.0.4. The battery provided within the tablet is a 3100 mAh. Connectivity options available are 3G via SIM, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS and mini USB for PC interface, USB OTG and charging.
Mini HDMI, mini USB and headphone on right, volume, power, dual SIM and microSD slot on top
The Y3 also features a built-in FM radio with RDS and recording capabilities. Also included is an FM transmitter that can transmit all audio on an FM frequency. It can also automatically scan for unused FM channels in your area and set a frequency for you apart from your own choice. The feature can be useful as you can transmit music over FM for use at home or in a car. You can also enjoy videos while transmitting the audio over FM. However, in order to get the audio purely from an alternative FM radio source, you need to keep the headphones plugged in as they act as an external antenna for both FM receiving and transmission.
1GHz single core processor, 1GB RAM, 4GB storage, Android ICS
On the performance front, the Y3 did not let us down. Since we are so accustomed to dual-core processor performances we have been witnessing with present review tablets, we did initially expect the Y3 to also perform as fast. But since it is a single-core processor powered tablet, we went a bit light on it. We did our standard benchmarks on the tablet and AnTuTu scored 3773, Quadrant scored 1961 and NenaMark2 resulted in 16.2 fps. Linpack scored 36.817 MFLOPS and 32.33 MFLOPS in the single-thread and multi-thread tests respectively.
Stock Android ICS user interface
The user interface is stock tablet-based and is perfectly smooth thanks to the 1GB RAM provided for the system. The speed is decent and we have no complaints here. The tablet can be used for making regular phone calls via Bluetooth or the bundled headset. The Y3 is pre-loaded with a few apps for productivity and entertainment. HCL’s ME Apps, which is a market place from the manufacturer itself, is additionally installed. It features quite a bunch of applications and is almost similar to the Google Play Store, but the UI looks a lot different.
Few extra pre-installed apps for productivity and entertainment
Display and media
The Y3’s display is a 7-incher with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. It has a good balance of colours and sharpness with images looking crisp and clear. We did notice a few flaws on the display front, though. The display’s brightness was just about average and it could have been a bit more brighter. Playback of standard definition videos are flawless, but we did notice 720p videos playing a bit sluggish and jittery along with a few audio track lags. Full HD 1080p videos are almost useless with heavy framing and audio lags. The picture quality of 720p videos is a bit distorted too—we could notice small transparent boxes all over the screen due to the downscaling of the videos. This causes a disturbance whilst watching videos, making it irritating especially when the images are with a brighter background. The viewing angle is pretty good, except when watching from the bottom angle with the display inverted a bit.
Built-in FM radio and transmitter
The headset provided with the tablet has an in-line microphone for voice calling. The audio quality is sufficient for voice calls, but is not acceptable for enjoying videos or music—you will need to switch to a better pair of earphones. The build quality of the headset is also below average and the length of the entire wire is just one metre, which is a cause of concern. Fortunately, the tablet has a Bluetooth feature, which could help in wireless audio by pairing a decent set of Bluetooth-enabled headphones. The onboard speakers sound good and have a loud audio volume, which is beneficial for making voice calls or watching casual videos.
HCL's own market place to download free apps
The tablet comes equipped with a 3100 mAh battery and one would expect it to last a long time before reaching for the charger. But we were disappointed—our video loop test resulted in the battery lasting just 3 hours and 25 minutes. Surfing the Internet, gaming and casual voice calls using the Wi-Fi or GSM would further decrease the battery life. The manufacturer should have increased the battery rating for the tablet to last at least 5 hours, if not more, considering the Y3 is a dual-SIM calling tablet.
System information; voice calling on tablet available
Verdict and Price in India
To sum up the whole experience with the Y3, we would state that the tablet has minor downsides. Though the user interface is smooth with no issues or bugs reported as yet, the tablet is not good enough for HD movie entertainment on the move. Since most people today have a mobile phone for voice calling, it is difficult to say that anyone would consider opting for a dual-SIM calling tablet. The price of the Y3 is Rs 11,999, which seems pretty steep since there are numerous dual-core 7-inch tablets retailing at almost half this price. A few benefits such as dual-SIM with voice calling, FM radio, FM transmitter and GPS does not justify the price. If you are looking for a branded tablet with voice calling, dual-SIM support, Bluetooth and a smooth user interface, the Y3 is worth a consideration. But if you are not going to use the voice calling feature, we would recommend trying out other 7-inch tablets that sport a dual-core processor and are available at almost half this price.
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Oct 27, 2016