As more Indian brands explore the Android tablets segment, consumers are getting access to devices that sport decent specifications, and run the latest version of the OS, at attractive price points. We've recently seen Acer launching a 7-inch budget tablet running Jelly Bean, and now we have Lava launching its first Jelly Bean tablet, the Etab Xtron, in the Indian market, for Rs. 6,499. We take an in-depth look at the tablet.
Unlike the Acer Iconia B1, the Etab Xtron exudes a feeling of durability, with its solid build. The 7-inch tablet looks compact yet sturdy. The front of the tablet features a 7-inch screen, which is surrounded by a large bezel. You'll also spot a front shooter right at the middle.
The back of the tablet is made of polycarbonate but has been given a brushed aluminium finish. The frame extends to the front, and adds to the design of the tablet. A microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top, while there are no ports on the bottom.
The power button, a volume rocker, and a refresh/'return to home screen' button, a micro-USB port and a microphone are located at the right hand side of the tablet. There are labels or markings for these ports and buttons at the back. There's some Lava branding at the bottom left corner of the back and Xtron branding at the middle. The speaker grill is also placed at the top left corner of the back.
The 7-inch TFT display comes with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels, which is decent compared to other 7-inch budget tablets in the segment. Images and videos looked good but text, specially with smaller font size was not very legible. The screen brightness is average, and although we found that it's reflective to some extent, visibility under sunlight was not bad. The display has an IPS panel that facilitates wider viewing angles, which essentially means that more than one person can view content playing on the screen properly, even from different angles. We found that this holds true in the case of the Lava Etab Xtron, and we were able to view media playing on the screen from different angles. The touch sensitivity is good, and we didn't encounter any issues while using the device.
The Lava Etab Xtron runs Android 4.1 - Jelly Bean, the latest iteration of the operating system, and doesn't include any custom skin. It's a stock build of the OS bundled with a few third party apps including music streaming app, Saavn, a file browser, an app for Video-on-demand service, BigFlix, education app EduKart, PingPong- a game, a video player and a local deals and search app, UAhoy. We like the fact that there's no bloatware.
The Etab Xtron is one of the few tablets that runs Jelly Bean. Unlike the Nexus 7, the tablet's onscreen controls are on the bottom left instead of the centre, and the notification panel and quick access settings (for Wi-Fi, Screen rotation, brightness, sound and shortcut to settings) are located at the bottom right.
During our use, we didn't notice much lag while navigating through menus, and Google's much touted 'Project Butter' makes the overall experience more responsive than tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich.
The other major feature that Jelly Bean brings is 'Google Now', a voice based information assistant and an extension of Google search. You can ask questions and the tool returns answers or search results. It uses 'cards' which are essentially small boxes that offer different sets of information ranging from weather forecast, directions, traffic information, scores, appointments, and currency conversion, among others. Google Now collects information based on the user's behaviour, location and even email to offer information, automatically.
We're not sure if the tablet will get updated to Jelly Bean 4.2, but if it does, features like multi-user accounts (different profiles and access for different users) and lock-screen widgets would also come to the tablet.
The tablet comes with a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Although, personally we're no fans on using tablets for clicking needs, some may miss having a rear camera that can be used for taking casual shots or just for scanning some documents. The pictures that we clicked with the front camera, indoors, were decent. The camera does a decent job when used for making video calls over Skype or other video chat apps.
Performance/ Battery Life
The tablet is powered by a 1.5 GHz Cortex A9 dual-core processor, a Mali-400 GPU and 1 GB of RAM. We did not encounter any crashes while working on this tablet and multitasking was comfortable. We also did not notice much lag and were able to play tablet optimised games and HD video clips, without a hitch as the bundled video player supports all major video file formats. The tablet comes with the native Android browser and renders all webpages well. Adobe Flash is pre-installed allowing the browser to display Flash videos, banners and other elements. The speakers on the tablet deliver good quality sound at even high volume levels but the output through the speaker grill was not very loud. There's no voice calling but the major omission is Bluetooth connectivity. We're not sure why Lava had to exclude it since most major Android devices offer this functionality, and consumers might use it for wireless file transfers or for connecting a wireless input device. However, we see a lot of budget tablets these days ship without Bluetooth and we're not convinced it's a good trend.
The tablet comes with a 3,500 mAh battery and we were not very happy with the backup that it offered, specially when playing multimedia files. We were able to get around 3.5 hours of video playback, with the display on full brightness levels. The standby time with push notifications and emails on was decent, though. With intermediate usage during the day, we were able to get a day of backup.
The Lava Etab Xtron is a decent tablet. At a price of Rs. 6,499, it offers a good package with decent hardware, compact form factor, a screen that supports wide angled viewing and the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean. It's a good value for money proposition. It's also interesting to look at if you're looking for an e-reader or for a device for browsing the web.
Looking at competing devices, the Acer Iconia B1-A71 is also an interesting 7-incher, which also offers Bluetooth connectivity, but is inferior in terms of build quality and costs more. If you're looking for a tablet that also offers voice calling, the Huawei Mediapad Lite is another good option available, but you'd need to shell out around Rs. 7,000 extra. The Wickedleak Wammy Desire is another 7-inch tablet running Jelly Bean, available at a price of Rs. 6,800.
Price: Rs. 6,499