Spice Stellar Pad (Mi-1010) review

 

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Although Spice had launched its first tablet, the MiTab as early as September 2011, it wasn't really able to get a foothold in the highly crowded Android tablets market, dominated by players like Micromax, Zync and Karbonn, amongst others. The company's sort of made a comeback with a new 10-inch tablet, which it calls, the Spice Stellar Pad (Mi-1010). The tablet with impressive specs has been priced well at Rs. 12,999 and runs Jelly Bean, the latest iteration of Android. We've been playing with the device and here's our take on the mid-economy tablet.

Hardware/ Build & design
The tablet feels solid although it's a bit on the heavier side but the weight has been distributed well. The tablet has a 10-inch screen surrounded by a black bezel on the front, and a silver back, which is made of plastic, with a matte finish. The back also sports the Spice logo, placed right at the middle, two speaker grills and the camera lens at the top. There's some branding at the lower part as well.

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There are no hardware buttons on the front, giving it a sleek look. The materials used don't feel cheap, and we can safely say that it's one of the better designed Android tablets available in the market.

On the right side, there are charging and connectivity ports including a USB on the go port, an HDMI port and 3.5mm headphone jack, in addition to a 2.5 mm custom charging port. Thanks to the USB on the go port, you can connect this tablet to PC in disk mode, just like a regular Micro-USB port and then turnaround and act like a PC when you connect a USB drive or 3G dongle to the tablet.

On the flip side, this implies that you need to carry the tablet's custom charger along, which is a bit inconvenient.A large number of devices support charging through micro-USB, eliminating the need to carry multiple chargers, we don't think devices should come with custom charging ports.

There's also a microphone, a reset button, and a memory card (SD/ TransFlash) slot. There are markings for each on the back of the tablet, albeit in grey colour which tends to reduce the visibility since the back is silver. The top sports a Power/ Sleep button and a volume rocker, all in plastic.

Overall, the hardware appears to be durable and is tastefully done.

Display
The 10-inch TFT display comes with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, which is pretty decent compared to other budget tablets in the segment. The screen is bright, 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 Spice Stellar Pad, and we were able to view media playing on the screen from different angles. There was a slight backlight leakage from the sides and a blue tint towards the right hand side of the screen, but we're not sure if it's limited to our review unit. The touch sensitivity is good, and we didn't encounter any issues while using the device.

Software/ Interface
The Spice Stellar Pad 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, Dhingana, a file browser, the Economic Times and Times of India news apps, Shark Dash- a game, a video player and a Gravity Calibration utility. We like the fact that there's no bloatware.

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The Spice Stellar Pad 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 behavior, location and even e-mail 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.

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Camera
The Spice Stellar Tab comes with a 3-megapixel rear camera and a front facing VGA camera. We found that the pictures taken with the rear camera were a bit grainy. It was worse when we tried clicking them in low light. The rear camera does not have auto-focus. Though we're not sure if someone will use the tablet as dedicated devices for clicking pictures, we found that it's only suitable for casual clicks. The front camera is functional at best and does a decent job when used for making video calls.

Performance/ Battery Life
The tablet is powered by a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, a quad-core 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 optimized games and HD video clips, without a hitch. The tablet comes with the native Android browser and Chrome, 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. There's no voice calling but the major omission is Bluetooth connectivity. We're not sure why Spice had to exclude it since all major Android devices offer this feature.

The Spice Stellar Pad comes with a 7600mAh battery and we were satisfied with the backup that it offered, although we had some problems charging it up after the battery was completely drained. It took almost 2 hours to get to 10-15% charge levels delivered but the problem could be limited to just our unit, and we've requested Spice to send a replacement. We'll update our review if we see a difference. We were able to get around 8 hours of video playback, even with the display on full brightness levels. The standby time with push notifications and e-mails on was also decent. With intermediate usage during the day, we were able to get 2 days of backup. The tablet would easily give 8-10 hours of usage on a single charge.

Verdict
As we mentioned earlier in the review, the Spice Stellar Pad is one of the better Android tablets out there in the market. At a price of Rs. 12,999, it offers a good package with decent hardware, a bright screen that supports wide angled viewing and the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean. It's a good value for money proposition. If you're looking for a tablet that also offers voice calling, the Huawei Mediapad Lite is another good option available in the same price range.

Pros

  • Runs Jelly Bean
  • Good performance
  • Display with decent viewing angles

Cons

  • Slightly heavy
  • Battery charging issues (could be specific to our unit)
  • No Bluetooth

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 3.5
  • Display: 3.5
  • Performance: 4
  • Software: 4
  • Battery Life: 4
  • Value for Money: 4
  • Camera: 2.5
  • Ecosystem: 3.5
  • Overall: 3.5


Spice Stellar Pad in pictures

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Tags: Android, Android 4.1, Android tablet, Jelly Bean, Mi 1010, Spice Stellar Pad, Spice Stellar Pad price, Spice Stellar Pad price in India, Spice Stellar Pad review, Spice Stellar Pad specifications, Spice tablet

 


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