The budget tablet market has been getting a new member almost every month now. The newest addition comes in the form of the Mercury mTAB, a 7-inch tablet priced just under the Rs.10,000 mark. Back in the nineties, Mercury were pretty popular for their computer peripherals, mostly speakers. Today, the company has expanded into the tablet market as well and why not, with all the the hype surrounding these new gadgets, it’s only natural for a company to want to cash-in on some of the limelight. So, let’s find out if the mTAB is really worth your while.
On Video: Mercury mTab Reviewed
Design and Build
Taking it out of the box, the mTAB is pretty lightweight at 400g and is very comfortable to hold, too. It’s not particularly slim, though, which may be a turn off for some. The mTAB is built entirely of plastic, with a black bezel and white back. The front has a glossy finish, which easily attracts fingerprints. There are two physical buttons on the front, for ‘Options’ and ‘Back’. The front-facing camera is placed in the bottom corner, which we felt was a rather odd place. Overall the mTAB is decently built with no creaking parts. It may not score many points in the looks department, but what more can one expect from budget tablets?
Not much of a looker
It has a decent set of connectors including mini-HDMI, microSD card slot, mini-USB with On-the-go functionality and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There are physical buttons for volume, home and power. For some reason, the mTAB simply refused to reset to the default settings. We even tried a hard reset using the button on the back, but to no avail.
The mTAB is powered by a 1.2GHz single core processor and runs Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread. The 7-inch screen is capacitive, so using it is not too painful. It responds well to touch and two finger multi-touch is present as well. Unfortunately, the resolution is pretty low and also the colour gamut is not very wide, which causes major banding in photos and videos. The screen, while bright is not able to display rich colours, so the end result is a washed out image. Also, since there’s no ambient light sensor, you’ll have to manually adjust the brightness.
Not much of cutomisation
As expected, Mercury haven’t tampered too much with the stock UI except for some shortcut switches in the notification bar, whose same functions can be done through the physical buttons making them pointless. Linpack gave a score of 15.4 for single threaded and 14.6 for multi-threaded, while AnTuTu spat out a score of 1983, which is very near to the Google Nexus One.
HDMI is present
Although there’s no SIM card slot, Mercury claim that there’s support for a 3G modem, but since they didn’t send the USB adapter along with it, we could not verify that. There are options in the settings for a 3G modem, as well as TV-out resolution settings.
The stock music player supports only MP3 and a couple of other formats like WAV, depite Mercury’s ambitious claim on their site, which even mention FLAC. Of course, you can expand this by installing a third party music player. The same goes for videos, too. 1080p MP4 videos play smoothly out-of-the-box without any stutter or lag. Moboplayer helps extend the format support even further. There’s built-in 4GB of memory, but only 219 MB is actually available to the user. The tablet does, however support 32GB microSD cards (even though the site states 16GB).
The stock music player is basic at best
The audio quality of the built-in speaker is decently loud and clear. But even with good in-ear earphones like EP630, the audio from the stock player is average at best. PowerAmp does help a lot in cases like this.
There is no 3G connectivity, but you do get Wi-Fi, however it’s only limited to b/g and not n. Due to this, the tablet sometimes struggles to get a strong signal, even if you’re in the vicinity of the router. HDMI-out lets you share content straight onto an HDTV, but you’ll have to buy the cable separately. Furthermore, you can configure the output in the settings, as well. We could not test the USB On-the-go functionality, since the cable was missing, but we guess only pen drives are supported.
Webpages look good
You can drag and drop files in the tablet by simply connecting it in mass storage mode. Other than the stock apps like Gmail, Gtalk, YouTube and Latitude, there aren’t any Internet ready apps pre-installed.
You get one or two apps bundled like ‘appInstaller’, which lets you manage all your apps. ESFileExplorer lets you browse through all the folders in the tablet, which is quite helpful.
The mTAB is fitted with a 4000mAh battery, which managed about 4hr 30min, which is strictly average. Compared to the other 7-inch tablets we reviewed, it’s pretty much on par, but we expected better numbers. In the loop tests, it came up just shy of 4hrs.
For a price of Rs. 9,500, we feel it’s too expensive and would have made a decent buy, if it was around 5-6K. The mTAB does fire well in the multimedia department and it’s well equipped, too, with HDMI and USB On-the-go functionality. But it doesn't feel like a polished product. It’s missing some key features like Wi-Fi ‘n’, ambient light sensor and average battery life. Worst of all though, is the screen, which is of really poor quality causing horrible banding in the menus and worse, while watching videos. Overall, we’d say give this one a skip.
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Oct 27, 2016
Oct 27, 2016