Micromax Canvas Tab P650 review

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One of the most remarkable trends in the Indian tablet industry over the past year has been the rise of the budget segment of tablets. Micromax is one of the major players in this segment, and can take credit for kick-starting the demand with its Funbook tablet, which claimed to combine entertainment with education.

Micromax's Canvas Tab P650 is a tablet with 8-inch display, a segment which has been dominated by Apple and Samsung for quite some time now. But can the Micromax Canvas Tab, the company's first 8-inch tablet and also the first flagship tablet in the Canvas series, repeat the success of the first Funbook, and get ahead of the competition? We try to find out in our review.


Design/ Build
The Micromax Canvas Tab is built along the lines of Micromax's high-end smartphones, like the Canvas Doodle 2. On first look, the Canvas Tab looks like a stretched out or bigger version of the Funbook tablet. However, that is only the case for the front panel of the tablet.

The front of the Canvas Tab features a broad bezel around the screen, similar to Funbook tablets, although this makes the display look a lot smaller than it actually is. It comes with a glossy screen and therefore attracts more than a fair share of fingerprints; we would recommend carrying a cloth to keep cleaning it. Apart from the screen, the tablet's front houses a 2-megapixel camera placed in one corner alongside the earpiece that sits in the centre.

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The back of the Canvas Tab has a brushed aluminium finish which gives it classy looks, with a section at the top which looks removable (The back panel cannot be detached as it has been screwed on), though is not. Micromax has got rid of the cheap plastic body and equips an aluminium body at the back, which does feel better to hold than the Funbook tablets. Lodged in the back is a 5-megapixel autofocus camera at the top left corner and the speaker grill.

The tablet's rear also houses Micromax logo branding embossed in the centre with the model name - 'Canvas Tab' along with inbuilt storage capacity printed at the bottom, something we have seen on Apple's iPad models.

At slightly over 10mm, the Canvas Tab is not the thinnest tablet we have seen but is comfortable enough to hold with both hands. In terms of weight, the tablet stands on the heavier side which is due to the aluminium back panel.

We tried to use the tablet with one hand but failed because of the squarer form-factor of the Micromax Canvas Tab, while we think using the more rectangular Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 311 (8-inch model) with one hand was much easier task than the Canvas Tab.

The Micromax Canvas Tab is available in two colour variants - Marine Blue and Pristine White, we received the former one. Physical keys on this tab comprise just the volume and power buttons - the rest of the controls are on the 8-inch tablet.

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We have been using the Canvas Tab for quite some time now, but still have not been used to the odd positioning of the power button on the top, and the awkwardly small volume toggle on the right side. Often, we ended up pressing the volume rocker keys to unlock the tablet and at times while watching videos we struggled to adjust the volumes. The power key is on the top panel of the tablet almost above the earpiece grill, which we feel was very inconvenient for right-handed individuals. The 8-inch form factor sometimes feels too big for reaching out to the power button.

There is 3.5mm audio jack and Micro-USB port sitting at the top of the Canvas Tab, while the left side is bare. Just below the volume rocker buttons is a flap which is removable and reveals the SIM card and microSD card slot.

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The flap covering the two slots is connected by a rubber material which doesn't look durable to survive in long run. The company has chosen regular SIM for the Canvas Tab, instead of the smaller forms (micro-SIM / mini-SIM). We also felt the Canvas Tab to be a bit too heavy, with a weight of 425 grams in this form factor, more than a hundred grams heavier than iPad mini and Galaxy Tab 3 211.

Display

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The Micromax Canvas Tab comes with an 8-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1024x768 pixels, which translates to a pixel density of 160ppi (pixels per inch). The display resolution of the Canvas Tab is comparable to Apple iPad mini (1024x768) but lower than some of the 7-inch tablets which are available at lower prices, such as the Nexus 7 (2012) and Kindle Fire HD, which have a resolution of 1280x800 pixels.

The Micromax Canvas Tab's display is crisp enough to make reading comfortable and we enjoyed watching video on the bright display thanks to the accurate colour reproduction, and deep blacks.

The Canvas Tab supports wide-viewing angles which mean users are not required to hold it in an exact sweet spot for the best viewing experience. This also means playing games that utilize the accelerometer won't get spoiled by occluded views and distorted colours. However, we noticed that the screen is very reflective and this hampers visibility under the sunlight.

The touch sensitivity of the Micromax Canvas Tab is decent and we did not encounter any issues while using the tablet. But considering the price of the new Micromax's tablet, we expected that company could have gone for a better display panel with higher resolution.

Camera

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The Micromax Canvas Tab comes with dual cameras - 5-megapixel rear autofocus camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

The rear camera takes decent pictures in well-lit conditions. We tested the Canvas Tab's rear camera in outdoor, dim and indoor environments and found that pictures were a bit washed out and grainy at edges. There is a little bit of lag between pressing the button and the actual shutter release, making it hard take pictures in a pinch.

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However, we must confess that Canvas Tab's rear camera is a little above the average tablet camera and gets a significant boost from a good camera app, which is another element that is familiar to Micromax's Canvas series smartphones. The tablet's camera app comes with same layout and much of the same functionality as seen already on the Micromax Canvas 4 smartphone and Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 phablet. Notably, there's no flash on the Canvas Tab.

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With the Micromax Canvas Tab's camera app, users can choose from a host of camera settings like Normal, HDR, Face Beauty, Smile detection, Exposure compensation, Panorama, Photosphere (multi-angle view) modes. It also offers a burst mode, letting users click 40 to 99 shots at once; users just need to long-press the camera soft key on the display to take burst shot.

The Canvas Tab is capable of recording video at 768x1024 pixels and the preloaded camera app also has the option of adding filters to the clicked images as well. The front facing 2-megapixel camera is pretty average and can be used for video calls over Skype or self-portrait shots.

Software/ Interface
The Micromax Canvas Tab runs Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, which is a very recent version of the OS and comes with some minor software tweaks like the app icons.

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Likewise, Micromax has skinned some UI elements of the operating system on the Canvas Tab and offers four themes that come with different icon sets. Even the default theme on the tablet that offers stock icons has undergone some minor tweaks with Micromax choosing a squared icon look instead of the plain that is being offered on stock Android. However, we must confess that the changes are not as radical as HTC's Sense UI or Samsung's TouchWiz but adds a few neat touches to the OS without intruding too much on its essence.

Some might consider that with Android 4.4 KitKat around the corner, the fact that the Canvas Tab still runs Android 4.2.1 is a let-down. However, we really do not mind a smoothly running Android 4.2 tablet and the Canvas Tab is that. Another fact is that in India it might take a while for smartphones and tablets based on Android platform start running on the latest released OS version, except the Nexus range of devices. The OS update will take some time to reach domestic OEMs.

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One can get lock-screen widgets on the Canvas Tab, which is an Android 4.2 feature. For unlocking the device one can choose from the clock, camera, Gmail, Google Now, messaging and additionally widgets offered by third-party apps installed on the tablet. This Android 4.2 Jelly Bean feature enables users to perform certain app actions even when the device is locked. One can also launch the camera direct from the lock screen by pressing the power button and then swiping screen on the right.

Much like Micromax's Canvas 4 and Canvas Doodle 2, the Canvas Tab also comes with FOTA (firmware over the air ) feature that allows to wirelessly downloading firmware updates directly to the device. There are five customizable homescreens - a very standard Android affair.

There are shortcuts for calculator, native browser, gallery, menu, dialler, messages and calendar on the homescreen of the Canvas Tab. Similar to other Android 4.2 Jelly Bean-based devices, the notifications tray on the tablet features settings shortcut and a clear all button. However, the Canvas Tab much like other Android 4.2 tablets come with two separate notification trays - one with Quick settings and other with email, messages, and other alerts.

On expanding the Quick Settings notification tray one can find options for quick access to the profile, battery status, settings shortcut, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, data connectivity, data usage status, airplane mode, brightness, screen timeout, auto rotate and audio profiles (for alerts and other notifications).

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The Micromax Canvas Tab also features Google Now, an Android 4.2 feature which is a voice-based information assistant and an extension of Google search. It uses cards which are essentially small boxes that offer different sets of information like weather forecast, directions, traffic information, scores, appointments and currency conversion etc.

The Micromax Canvas Tab comes preloaded with a number of apps such as Spuul, which can stream movies and television shows; Kingsoft Office Suite, for creating and editing Office files, and M! Security, which is powered by NQ Mobile for warding off virus and malware attacks. However, the M! Security app is not completely free and users need to pay for using the premium features of the app. Also on board in the tablet is M! Live that gives access to download music, videos, games and apps from M! Live store.

The Canvas Tab's native music player and the video player are the same as seen on the Canvas 4 and Canvas Doodle 2. The music player UI is a complete revamp with access to company's online music store, while the video player comes with the 'Pause on Look away' feature that detects when you are looking at the screen and stops the video when it does not detect user's face.

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The Canvas Tab also comes preloaded with host of Google apps such as Gmail, Google Search, Google+, Hangouts, Google Maps, Play Books, Play Movies and TV, Play Store and YouTube. There is FM radio support on the tablet as well.

Performance/ Battery Life
The Micromax Canvas Tab is powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz MediaTek 8389 processor. It has 1GB of RAM onboard, and comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage, out of which only 11.07GB is user-accessible and also supports expandable storage up to 32GB via microSD card.

Considering there is a fairly respectable quad-core processor running under the hood, the Micromax Canvas Tab manages to chug along just fine. In day-to-day activities the tablet feels smooth enough and you are not really left wanting for more power. However, we did notice some minor lag especially while switching from portrait to landscape mode but other than that we were able to play tablet-optimised games and HD video clips, without barely any hiccups.

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The 8-inch IPS display is good for viewing movies and videos. The Canvas Tab was able to play full-HD videos and supported popular video formats like .AVI, .MOV, .MKV and .MP4. The speakers on the Canvas Tab deliver average sound that distorts a bit at high volume levels and overall the output through the speaker grill was not very loud as well.

The Micromax Canvas Tab comes with single-SIM support (as we mentioned earlier, using the regular SIM size) and also offers voice-calling abilities, apart from 3G data connectivity. However, we felt that the Canvas Tab was too big to make phone calls with and was almost impossible to use as a smartphone while making calls. We preferred not to put the tablet next to our face, but instead used supplied earphones. We confess that the calling abilities in the tablet do give it an advantage compared to other tablets in the same price segment without the feature.

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The Canvas Tab is smooth and speedy when opening apps, swiping around the interface, and playing games like Temple Run 2 with rich graphics quality. The onscreen keyboard's keys are not cramped and users can hit them easily.

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The Micromax Canvas Tab ships with a 4800mAh battery that according to the company can deliver up to 10 hours of talktime and up to 400 hours of standby time. Based on our usage, we see the tablet does delivers satisfying battery performance.

With medium to heavy usage (leaving brightness on Auto) on the Micromax Canvas Tab, we were able to get more than a day before needing to charge the device. The 4800mAh battery lasted around 6 hours watching HD videos before getting down under 20 percent with the brightness set to auto.

With Wi-Fi turned on for all time and using the tablet for Web browsing for an hour, a few calls lasting for not more than an hour, display set on auto-brightness and with the usual notifications for messages, emails, Facebook, and WhatsApp, the device lasted for about 16 to 18 hours which is decent time for a tablet of this size. One might get more battery backup depending on the usage, and also by adjusting settings (brightness, Wi-Fi, data).

Verdict
The Micromax Canvas Tab has been launched at Rs. 16,500 which is a bit pricey. However, we admit that the Canvas Tab is definitely a step up in terms of build quality, performance and connectivity, if compared to Funbook tablet models.

At this price, the 3G-enabled Canvas Tab squares off against the Samsung Galaxy tablets - the Galaxy Tab 3 211 priced at Rs. 17,100, which comes with 7-inch display and voice-calling features, and the Galaxy Tab 3 310 priced at Rs. 21,000, which is a Wi-Fi variant and comes with 8-inch display, and misses out on the calling abilities.

The larger display doesn't really give the Canvas Tab much of an advantage over the Galaxy Tab 3 211, and single-handed operating is not too easy with the square form factor. There unfortunately aren't too many options available for you to choose from in the market, with older-generation offerings like the iberry Auxus Core X4 3G, which features dated Android version, or lower-specced devices like Galaxy Tab 3 211.

If you are comfortable with the weight and the form factor, and want the quad-core performance and recent OS iteration, the Canvas Tab P650 is not a bad option.

Price: Rs. 16,500


Micromax Canvas Tab P650 in pictures


Pros

  • Solid build
  • Good display
  • Voice-calling
  • Decent battery backup

Cons

  • A bit heavy for daily use
  • Speakers not very loud
  • A little pricey

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 3.5
  • Display: 3.5
  • Camera: 3
  • Performance: 3
  • Software: 3
  • Battery Life: 3.5
  • Value for Money: 3
  • Overall: 3

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