LG has been presenting excellent mobile devices in the past year, starting with Optimus G, over Nexus 4 and up to the newest LG G2 model that stunned us. The time has come to see what can LG do with tablets, and their firstborn is 8.3-inch LG Pad G. We all know how important is the first impression and depending on how well it was made and what’s it offering compared to the competition, LG’s reputation as a tablet manufacturer will rise or fall. LG played it safe and chose Android as operating system, so we were further interest in how it will function in the unusual screen size and how easy will the tablet be to carry or use.
The tablet’s packaging is of white color dominantly and rather compact. Inside there are the standard components such as very powerful charger (1.8 A) with detachable cable, user manual and, of course, tablet. It would have been great if they provided the G2 model’s headphones, but it seems they’ve been left out in this version. We’ve liked the design of LG G Pad as soon as we’ve first seen it on the presentation, and this impression has only been further enhanced. It’s very thin and nicely balanced and rests comfortably when held in hands. It’s especially interesting how successful was LG in bridging the differences between 7 and 8-inch tablets, taking better of both worlds. That’s why Tab G is slightly heavier and almost the same weight as the current 7-inch models, while the screen size, i.e. workspace, is noticeably larger. Choice of 1920x1200 resolution instead of 1920x108 also contributed to that, since a lot more content is vertically displayed when the tablet is in the horizontal position. Dimensions have remained smaller because the distance between the visible part of the screen and longer edges is only a couple of millimeters and towards the shorter edges just a bit more than couple of centimeters. We’ve liked this approach very much, so we hope that more manufacturers will adopt the similar approach and increase the screen size and reduces the edges around them. Additionally, the screen’s protective layer is extremely thin and close to the screen’s surface, which not only looks good, it also provides a better experience when you’re reading something; almost as if you’re reading a book or a magazine. Largest part of the back side is made out of polished aluminium, which is robust and looks nice. At the same time it serves as an excellent cooler, so even under heavy load it won’t heat up too much and make “hot zones” on the tablet. Its surface is dominated by two well-positioned speakers that are very loud. Their sound reproduction quality is excellent and in combination with good screen they provide great experience in enjoying multimedia content. On the back, there’s also the camera, micro SD card reader on the upper edge, protected by a lid, headphones out and IR (infra-red) transmitter. Power band volume control buttons are on the right edge, and on the lower edge there’s a micro USB connector for data transfer and battery charging. Luckily, with the help of the powerful charger, the battery is charged very quickly – less than three hours to full capacity. Build quality is great; there are no visible ridges, sharp edges or squeaking sounds when it’s gripped hard, so it’s clear that this is a premium device.
|Processor||Qualcomm quad core Krait 400 1.7 GHz, Snapdragon 600|
|Memory||2 GB RAM; 16 GB internal, available 12 GB|
|Display||8.3''; 1920x1200 pix, IPS, scratch proof|
|Interfaces||microUSB, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi n, GPS, IC|
|Camera||Back: 5 MP BSI with autofocus and LED flash; Front: 1.3 MP|
|Battery||Li-Polymer 4600 mAh|
|OS||Android OS 4.2.2|
|Dimensions||216.8 x 126.5 x 8.3 mm|
Quality and quality
LG set high ambitions in choosing the LG G Pad 8.3’s hardware components and didn’t stint on them. It’s powered by extremely powerful Snapdragon 600 SOC, which is only a shade weaker than the currently most powerful Qualcomm’s model Snapdragon 800. The price difference between these two SOC is huge, due to the fact that 800 model has more powerful processor and graphics and because Snapdragon 800 also has a modem. As you can see, on synthetic tests, this tablet is extremely fast and its performances are at the top, which is due to the fact that it has 2 GB of RAM, which provides, among other things, good multitasking capabilities. Test model that we’ve received came with 16 GB for internal data storage, out of which the user has at its disposal almost 12 GB. Here we’re once again encountering a good decision: the amount of internal memory is designed to not increase the price too much, and for users that need a large amount of space, the ability to increase it with SD cards has been implemented.
However, one thing that will interest users the most is the screen and LG didn’t leave any room for error there. In the manner of LG’s best screens, in the past year, LG G Pad has an excellent color reproduction, great contrast and good viewing angles, with somewhat reduced illumination. Due to its high resolution, the text and images on the screen are extremely sharp and detailed, and video reproduction in Full HD quality is beyond excellent. The afore-mentioned quality speakers contribute to make the multimedia experience a pleasurable experience, and in case you have a set of good headphones on hand, you’ll realize that the sound out for them is also very good. The implemented battery is of moderate capacity and provides, you guessed it, a moderate autonomy. It would have been better if it lasted longer than currently does, since demanding users might need just a bit more power at the end of a day. Interestingly enough, surfing the web which usually spends the most battery power (after gaming, of course), turned out to be economical, while watching videos spent the battery faster. In any case, depending on the level of use, you can count on five to eight hours, and maybe even a bit more if you’re extremely economical.
Slide Aside and co.
As for the user interface, LG didn’t make too large steps, so the same as for the LG G2 phone, it remained loyal to the Google, except for a few small changes. Unlocking the screen had a new effect, similar to the Optimus G model, which looks nice, but looked better before. Unlike the trend of merging home page and apps drawer, they are separated here, which is a good thing and lessens the need for user’s intervention in terms of the layout. Depending on the tablet’s orientation, user interface is rotated also, but it’s not performed as fluidly as we would have preferred – it’s as if everything is loaded again once the screen rotates (so called “interface reset”). The notifications area is familiar to that of LG G2’s and while it looks cluttered there with its five lines of notifications, on LG G Pad 8.3 that’s not the case due to bigger workspace. An impressive amount of shortcuts for settings such as Wi-Fi or screen settings can be horizontally scrolled; the layout and number of displayed functions can also be changed. Below it there’s the area with shortcuts to Qslide applications, which is LG’s name for small but useful programs which don’t even take up the whole screen. Most of them have adjustable window size and transparency.
This trend of focusing on multitasking functions has additionally been emphasized with Slide Aside option. Short version: you’re in an application, by sliding with three fingers to the side you’re putting it away and launching another application, and then switching those two applications by the same “three-finger” sliding to the side. Interestingly enough, this is only moderately useful due to the fact that applications need to be set specifically to use with Slide Aside function, as well as due to the fact that it has a limit of maximum three applications. It’d be great if LG could implement this function on all of applications, which would have been a tremendous addition. Navigational buttons are part of the screen’s workspace, and their layout, color, transparency and number can be changed, which is the same as with LG G2. Once again, due to the screen size, the button for notifications area has a lot more sense and we were using it a lot in order not to let the tablet leave our hands. The look of the notifications area, the icons, settings area etc. is already familiar to those who’ve been using LG smartphones, but it would have been better if they paid more attention to detail during the final finishes. Simply put, the look of system text, as well as size and position of some elements aren’t suited to the high-resolution big screen enough. It’s the same with applications design, which also happened with LG G2. In most cases they are nicely-designed and functional applications, but it’s as if they were made by three different design teams which didn’t communicate among themselves, but each had their own vision of the layout’s style.
LG G Pad 8.3 has a lot of pre-installed Google or LG applications. Even though we generally oppose this practice, if the choice of applications is good and they offer above-average functionality, it can be a good excuse. We’ll leave out describing standard applications such as weather information widget or data backup, but we’ll talk about few of the most important. We’ve mentioned the IR transmitter that enables, with the help of QRemote application, rudimentary control over TVs and set top boxes. Despite the choice of components being good, we find it annoying that control extends only to sound systems, Blu-ray players or air conditioners. On the other hand, QPair is a useful thing and further proof that LG was really serious about creating this tablet. When it’s installed on an Android-based phone (it doesn’t have to be LG), both devices can exchange information over Bluetooth, so you can discard an incoming call, read and reply to an SMS, use Internet connection of the phone to access it over tablet, transfer QMemo drawing as an image in the phone’s gallery etc. A few options such as social networks’ notifications and displaying the last used applications didn’t work as well, but since the software has been updated three times since our testing, we believe that they will fix it soon. The afore-mentioned QMemo is software that changes your tablet into some sort of a notebook where you can write notes or draw and color images etc. It’s well adjusted for working with fingers instead of digitizer and has useful options such as screenshots, image editing and sharing with supported software.
Multimedia reproduction applications are almost flawless, and we’re very glad that LG included them in the pre-installed package. Music application supports a large number of music files, recognizes album covers, enables sorting by artist, genre and also by folders, which can mean a lot for those of us that have a music collection sorted in that way. Standard options for changing the audio over equalizer are also present; however, we’re keeping them turned off, as usual. Video reproduction application is even better, with great support for many video files and video codecs which are played with hardware acceleration and are saving up the battery power. Even when playing extremely demanding Full HD mkv files with more than 20 Mb/s bitrate, G Pad didn’t slow down at all, and positional sound had no trouble switching to stereo. In case you want to fast-forward a video you’re watching, an interesting effect is activated. The video keeps playing, and above the timeline where you clicked, a small window opens that displays a miniaturized video reproduction at that moment. If you made a mistake, you only need to slide a finger further and there won’t be any problems, just move the small window further with your finger and everything will keep working fluidly.
Is 8.3 inches that good?
LG G Pad 8.3 is an interesting tablet made out of high-quality components that looks great. Unusual screen size and its resolution enable surprisingly large workspace which is much larger than its 7-inch cousins. At the same time, it weighs as much as they do, enabling prolonged usage without getting tired. Excellent screen and fast hardware base are additional elements which enable comfortable use, which is sometimes a bit slow due to occasional software glitches. User interface could have been better and more uniformly designed, and occasional slowness in starting applications and lagging during screen rotation should be fixed. Tested LG G Pad comes with Android 4.2.2 OS, and judging by previous examples, it’s uncertain whether and when it will be updated. It would have been great if it was updated at least to 4.3 version, in order to ensure smooth use after many installed applications.
Currently, G Pad 8.3 provides excellent multimedia experience due to combination of powerful hardware and good software. Similar situation is with other, standard Android applications, but also with newest and demanding games which work smoothly and without any problems. Browsing the web, reading e-books or documents is a real pleasure due to the increase in screen’s width and we can safely recommend it as the tool for the job. If 10-inch tablets are too big for your taste, this could prove as an ideal solution, and the only obstacle could be the price. If it were cheaper for about 10%, it would easily get the Best Buy reward, but currently it’s noticeably more expensive than Nexus 7 (2013 edition), which separates it from the best buy prize.