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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

[Review] LG GPad 8.3 tablet

Recently, chance and good fortune happened to land me a 1st generation iPad mini.  While very grateful for such a princely gift, I (of all people) had no use for such an Apple product.  So, armed with some courage and a good story, I found a local merchant that was willing to swap me out for my choice of Android tablet.  I had thought to find myself the proud owner of a 32GB Nexus 7 (2013) but at the 11th hour found myself going with the LG GPad 8.3 instead.  As those of you who follow this blog might know, I am rather fond of LG's most recent tech products (see my review of the G2 here) and thought to give their new tablet a try.  Is it as outstanding a product as their flagship superphone?  Read below to get my thoughts!

How It Looks:

The GPad is sharp looking device.  The screen is bright and sharp, and is a great size at 8.3 inches.  The white version is very clean looking and the aluminum back gives the tablet a very futuristic look.  The power and volume buttons are well positioned and the LG logo on the bottom gives it the look of a supersized G2 (which isn't a bad thing at all)  It's a little unusual looking at first, since it resides somewhere between the ultra portable 7 inch tablets and the first generation 10 inch tablets like the iPad.  But the GPad is anything but a left over device.

How It Feels:

As I just finsihed mentioning, the screen and overall size of the device are great.  The GPad is a light and easy to hold device, and has that  premium feel.  The edges are nice and rounded and make this a 1 handed device if you have average to larger than average hands.  Its easy to view in both portrait and landscape positions and the device is very pleasant to hold for long periods of time watching a movie, TV show, or other video content.  The aluminum back also had a nice tactile feel that gives you a good grippy surface to hold onto.

How It Works:

The GPad is powered by a Snapdragon 600 processor, and is plenty quick to keep pace with most activity.  Even though the S800 is the current standard for mobile procesors, the GPad holds its own.  Its got a very large capacity battery which lasts and lasts and lasts.  In standby, its not unusual for me to get well over 100 hours off of a single charge.  The 16GB of internal storage is a bit of a downer, but the GPad does have an external SD card slot which helps with things like photos and music and other things you don't want taking up your precious internal memory.  And speaking of internal memory, the LG UI isn't exactly bloat free, but most of the extra features aren't annoying to the point of unusability.  The device ships with Android 4.2.2, which should get upgraded to Kit Kat (Android 4.4) very soon.  The device is simple to root (much like the G2 itself it) which opens the door to a host of other options for the power user group.

The camera is just so-so, but for a tablet, it should suffice when you don't have any other type of way to snap quick photos around.  But it also does have both a front and rear camera, something the earliest generation of the Nexus 7 lacked, so there's that. There aren't a whole lot of accessories available for this thing still, and LG seems to have not had enough money in their marketing budget to make a huge push for this.  In fact, at the time of this publishing, they've thrown down the gauntlet by adding 3 more tablets to their line up (some notes on that from the folks over at Droid-Life here) and the other competition in this space is fierce (Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 info and iPad mini retina) so some more differentiation would probably serve LG quite well.

Final thoughts:

Overall, this is a great tablet to use, great size, and if the pricing were about $50 less, it would be THE tablet that's not called Nexus.  Since I got mine for basically free, its a great buy.  Perhaps the new generation of LG's tablets might get a bit more marketing love than the GPad 8.3 did, and it seems that the G2 (and the soon to be released G3) got LG moving in the right direction.  And while LG had previously had a reputation for slow updates, I got a notification that Kit Kat was available for my GPad the other day, and I was very excited.  This also is a great thing for LG.

While I might feel differently if I had to pay full price for LG's GPad 8.3, at it's current price, its almost worth it.

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