The tablet wars are approaching at a frenzied pace as the latest entrants viz. Beetel’s Rs. 9,999 tablet and Reliance’s 3G Tab price at Rs. 12,990 are sure to make a killing, if they perform well enough. Keeping that in mind, we naturally wanted to see just how good a Rs. 13,000 tablet would be and what it would offer. The Reliance 3G Tab made it to our labs and we got to work. Here’s a closer look.

 

Reliance 3G Tab

Form Factor
Although it’s not unlike any old tablet including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the simplistic and no frills look of the 3G Tab made me feel quite comfortable. It’s equipped with a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, which makes for pretty accurate control and it sports a 480 x 800 pixel resolution, which keeps colours and images reasonably sharp. ZTE are the OEM for this device, which is quite a backing considering the fact that these guys work with companies like Dell. On one side is a 3.5mm handsfree socket and a micro USB port for charging and PC interfacing is on the other. A power/Sleep button is placed on another side just above the volume rocker. The 3G Tab's Linkpack score showed an MFLOPS read out of 7.0 which is not as high as most high-end smartphones but almost at level with some of the lower end devices.

Quite like the Galaxy Tab but way cheaper

Quite like the Galaxy Tab but way cheaper

The 3G Tab comes with 8GB of internal space and supports up to 32GB via micro SD cards. Reliance even throws in a 4GB card with the device. A minor issue is that this may be the only tablet that requires you to remove the battery to access the memory card. Bad move. Other than that, the 3G Tab is quite well designed, and weighs in at 389g, which is just a few grams heavier than Samsung’s Galaxy Tab P1000, but it won’t really bother you.

Slim and easy to manage

Slim and easy to manage

Features and Performance
Interface
With an 800MHz processor backing it up, the 3G Tab runs Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread. It doesn’t however, manage to do it seamlessly. There’s a touch of lag that’s quite evident when it comes to transitions between screens, changing orientation and opening apps. Things ran just a little smoother after we installed Go-Launcher making it the default UI, but it still wasn’t as slick as we expected. Nevertheless, the 3G Tab ran quite well and managed to do almost everything well enough considering the price. Reliance has neither offered any major customization to the UI nor any substantial amount of free apps preloaded. Notifications for the number of emails, messages or missed calls shows up on the lockes screen, but can’t be accessed individually.

Not a very customised UI

Not a very customised UI

Media
Reliance has equipped their 3G with Dolby Mobile Audio Enhancement technology to boost its audio capabilities and it does so with panache. The music player’s settings, under the Dolby Mobile section include seven presets and two customizable options with an eight band graphic EQ three preset Environment settings, as well as three more of adding Natural Bass enhancement. It might not be as intense as a Cowon’s, but you will never ever have to peak the volume on this device, even if you’re in a crowded train, unless of course, you like pushing your eardrums till the limit. At three quarter of the volume, the music is crystal clear with just a tiny bit of a hiss in the background. Although the bundled handsfree kit is quite comfortable and provides decent audio, I highly recommend a better set of earphones and believe me that investment will pay off in spades.

Superb music quality with Dolby Mobile thrown in for effect

Superb music quality with Dolby Mobile thrown in for effect

Video playback support is not as high-end as some other devices out there. For example, the list of formats that are compatible with this device include MP4, H.263/H.264 and 3GP, of course. You can, of course, easily get a player off of the Android market to play any and all other formats. The 3G Tab is not however capable of playing full HD or even 720p videos. The maximum resolution that works best with the 3G Tab is 800 x 480. The Dolby Mobile settings also help boost the audio quality for videos, as well.

An FM radio is also on board and although it didn’t really provide the very best signal reception while commuting through the city, it was pretty good when stationary. A sound recorder and Google’s Voice search is also available.
Connectivity
The Reliance 3G Tab comes ready to handle any and all Reliance connections, since it’s a tie up. We tried inserting other SIM cards into the device and it doesn’t really compute. You’ll get an error message asking you to enter a SIM unlock code. You’ll need to subscribe to a Reliance connection to get this tab working to your benefit. Speaking not of the plans themselves, but of the services rendered, after a few days of testing the device out, we were not overly impressed with the speed of the connection. With a large screen like this, and Adobe Flash support, surfing the web was bliss. Pinch zooming does come in handy and response time to links is easy even for stubby fingers. The 3G Tab offers WiFi, 3G and EDGE support for net connectivity as well as Hot Spot creation and tethering. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support and of course USB 2.0 for PC connectivity are also supported. Although 3G connectivity is restricted to Reliance, we were able to very easily use the handset without a SIM card over WiFi.

We browsing is an easy task

Web browsing is an easy task

All of Google’s goodies are loaded up of course – YouTube, Google Maps to work with the onboard GPS module and supported by GPS, Latitude, Gtalk and the Android Market Place for apps. Reliance also has their RWorld option available for VAS and more. Social networking options include a preloaded Facebook, Twitter and Orkut (that just refuses to shut down) apps. Of course, they’re easily available via the Marketplace.

Misc. Features
A few extras like a file manager, Documents to Go and a Task Manager are thrown in. Basics like the calendar that can sync to your Google account for keeping track of appointments, anniversaries etc., alarm clock, strop watch and a few more are all accounted for.

Space for quite a few apps

Space for quite a few apps

Camera
A 3 megapixel fixed focus (official website states 2MP) camera with basic features is strapped onto the rear of the device with a video calling VGA camera located in front above the display. Features include Sharpness adjustment, Saturation, ISO levels up to 800, colour effects, location tagging and White Balance. Video records at a maximum of VGA quality and it’s not too bad all things considered. Image quality is not the sharpest and in low light conditions it’s quite grainy when viewed at native resolution. On the device itself it’s ok and of course for Facebook and other social networking sites, it’s quite passable.

Average 3MP camera

Average 3MP camera

Battery
Equipped with a 3400mAh Lithium-Ion battery the 3G Tab manages functionality extremely well. It fared quite well in our video test where we ran videos non-stop with 3G active and without 3G for 4 hours and 4 hours and 55 minutes respectively. In our tech2 loop tests it ran a full round with 2 hours music, 2 hours video, 2 hours of internet usage via 3G and 1.5 hours of talk time. In the second round, we ran it for 1 hour with audio and also managed to squeeze 40 minutes of video out of it. In total, it ran for about 9 hours non-stop with relatively heavy usage. In real time, we were able to use the tablet for about a day and a half with 3G switched off running on 2G, but got just about a full day’s use on 3G and Wi-Fi.

The Bottom Line
With a price tag of just Rs. 12,999, the one possible thing we could say is lacking in the Reliance 3G Tab is the lack of substantial internal memory. Nevertheless, the 3G Tab should do quite well for itself considering it offers tremendous amount of functionality albeit just a little slowly for our taste, but we didn’t expect too much considering the price bracket. For those who need the features only a tablet can provide like large screen internet and email browsing on a 3G connection, the 3G Tab is a great choice if you're willing to go with Reliance's 3G plans of course. If you're not into the whole 3G bit, it's perfectly usable without a SIM card. Its only competition is going to be Beetel’s tablet, so stay tuned for a showdown once we’re done reviewing that.

Publish date: August 24, 2011 6:11 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 8:23 pm

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