Launching a new tablet is a difficult thing to do today, considering the variety in the tablets that are being sold in the market. At times, tablets from even well established brands fail, though they may have state of the art technology in their products. But, for a brand to have their first product as a tablet and to price it competitively, kudos to them. Swingtel, the company who has launched their first product – a tablet – has entered this sphere with a 16GB tablet called Hello Tab, running on the Android OS and sporting a 7-inch form factor. Here is a closer look at the tablet and what it has to offer.

The rear has a rubberized look

The rear has a rubberized look

Design and Build Quality
Considering it’s Swingtel’s first product, it’s still a solid one. The Hello Tab has a good, sturdy feel to it. We’ve seen other brands launch their tablets at a similar price, but with way shoddier build qualities. Well known brands, such as Spice had launched their MiTab and the tablet had an inferior build quality. Unlike them, Swingtel have not compromised on the design and quality here.

 

On video: Swingtel Hello Tab 16GB

The tablet is available in two colour options – silver and black and the one we received was the black variant. The Hello Tab features a fairly large bezel, but this does not affect its looks in any way. The tablet has a glossy finish on the face and besides the capacitive buttons, the front features a speaker that is located at the bottom left. These capacitive buttons are stylish in appearance and they help in elevating the looks of the tablet. Apart from this, there is a front facing, VGA camera located above the screen.

MicroSD card slot and 3.5mm jack at the side

MicroSD card slot and 3.5mm jack at the side

Connectivity options are located at the sides and these include slots for a MicroSD card, 3.5mm audio jack, SIM slot and a magnetic charging port that doubles up as a USB connector. The volume rocker and the power button are featured to the left of the display and these buttons have a silver finish. The rear of the tablet features the five mega pixel auto focus camera along with the Swingtel branding.

Overall, though it is a tad bit heavy weighing 401g and a bit chunky, the brand has not compromised on the build quality and this is one sturdy tablet that could take more than a few accidental drops.

Features
Interface
The Swingtel Hello Tab features a 800MHz Qualcomm MSM7x27 SURF processor, along with an Adreno 200 GPU. The brand has fitted a 512 MB DDR SDRAM and for internal storage added a 16GB MoviNand Flash. Apart from this, the memory card slot allows storage expansion capabilities of up to 32GB extra using a MicroSD card. The screen featured on the tablet is a 7-inch WVGA display, which has a resolution of 800 x 480. The tablet runs on Android 2.2 Froyo and there is no option to upgrade to Honeycomb, yet. With it running on this operating software, the interface feels very sluggish and scrolling through it feels laboured.

The interface feels very sluggish

The interface feels very sluggish

Swingtel throws in a number of apps to compliment the device. These include games, social networking sites as well as social entertainment sites apart from standard Android apps. The apps featured here include Live TV apps like Yupp TV, and IBN Live. News related apps are also bundled here, which include TOI and NewsHunt. Apart from this there are apps like ES File Explorer, which is a file manager, games, such as Ninja Rush, Eagle Nest, Chess, etc. A chat application, MIG33, is also present and it helps connecting to sites, such as Yahoo!, MSN,etc. Swingtel have done well by adding many apps in the tablet, but alternatively, if one wants more apps, then the Android Market is also found where they can find countless number of apps. During the Linpack test, the Hello Tab gave a score of 8.264 MFLOPS for single thread and for multi-thread a score of 7.046 MFLOPS. The AnTuTu benchmark for the tablet recorded a score of 1726, which is a score similar to most tablets running this configuration.

Media
For media, the brand has fitted stock players on the device. This is done for both the video player as well as the music player. Usually, brands tend to customize the interface slightly, but Swingtel has not done anything different here. The tablet can read various audio formats, such as MP3, M4A ,OGG,WAV, MID, AAC, AMR, etc. These are pretty common formats that are associated with most audio tracks. As for video, the tablet can read popular formats, such as MP4 H.264, 3GP, AVI, FLV, MOV, RMVB, VOB and WMV.

Volume rockers have a silver finish

Volume rockers have a silver finish

Additionally, Swingtel has bundled up the Moboplayer app among the pre-loaded ones that come along with the tablet, which is not very common among tablets. This is a good addition as it helps in playing virtually all video files. Video and audio files playback on the devices without any issues and the speakers fire well too.

Connectivity
The tablet has a range of connectivity options that put it on par with many big name players available in the market. GSM, GPRS, EDGE 900/1800/1900MHz, along with WCDMA, HSDPA 2100MHZ connectivities are supported on this tablet. Wi-fi b/g/n as well as Bluetooth v2.1 connectivity are also found here. The only thing lacking here, in terms of connectivity is an HDMI connection.

A phone option available on this tablet

A phone option available on this tablet

One has the option of making calls as well from the tablet as it features voice calling capabilities. In this application found on the tablet, there is caller ID support and the option to check dialed, missed and received calls. There is also a speakerphone option and one can access contacts, too from here. Another form of connectivity found on this tablet is the USB mode where the charging port doubles up as a USB port allowing one to transfer files from a computer to a tablet and vice versa. One can access this option to store data on either the internal memory or the MicroSD card.

Misc. Features
As far as miscellaneous features go, the tablet fares well in this department. Swingtel have added a whole list of apps, which one would download once they purchase an Android tablet. The concept of preloading them nullifies the need to download third party apps, such as Moboplayer. The brand has added apps such as Facebook, OfficeSuite Pro, Moneycontrol, an ebook reader such as Moon+ Reader and the whole range of Google apps that feature on Android tablets and smartphones.

Camera
Swingtel have used a 5 megapixel autofocus camera at the back. The brand has not done anything to customize the interface of the camera and left it simple. Like any Froyo device, there are settings, which can be tweaked to get the best possible shot as per one’s liking. The picture quality is decent and though it cannot be compared to any cameras of smartphones in this price range found in the market, nowadays, it fares well. Colours appear a bit vibrant and there was some amount of image noise noticeable. The rear camera can be easily used for basic photographic needs. The front facing VGA camera makes images appear a bit saturated and there was a lot of noise present. 

The camera quality is average at best

The camera quality is average at best

Battery Life
The battery life of the tablet is one of the best we have seen ever. Swingtel has bundled a 4250 mAh Lithium Ion battery with the tablet and usually brands tend to boast that their batteries have long lasting capabilities, but they never match up. However, with the Hello Tab, the brand has rated it at 10 hours for video playback and in our video drain test, the battery lasted 9 and a half hours before finally dying. In our extremely exhaustive Tech2 loop test to drain the battery, the Swingtel Hello Tab 16GB died out after 10 hours 37 mins. This test included one hour of voice calling, two hours of movie playback, two hours of audio streaming and two hours of music playback. The tablet completed the first cycle without any problems and when running the second loop, it survived the hour of voice calling, two hours of video playback and finally went off after more than half hour of audio streaming. This test was done with Wi-Fi as well as the SIM active in the process, indicating that it has a really good battery life.

Capacitive touchscreen found on this tablet

Capacitive touchscreen found on this tablet

Verdict
The Swingtel Hello Tab 16GB is available in India at an MOP of Rs.16,900. Though the tablet is designed well with a good build quality and pre-loaded with a bunch of handy apps, it is quite overpriced. The screen, though capacitive feels like it is resistive, which we absolutely did not like. The only thing going for this tablet is its voice calling capabilities and the battery life. The tablet performs really well, even though it was put through some rigorous battery draining tests. If you are in the market looking out for a budget tablet, then you would want to check out some of its competitors like the Reliance 3G Tab or the iBall Slide, which cost a lot less and deliver almost similar performances, apart from the battery life. The Hello Tab 16GB could fare a lot better in the market, if Swingtel priced it lesser, until they do, this tablet does not get our stamp of approval.

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