Not everyone has upwards of Rs. 30,000 to spend on a tablet. Although they are generally considered good value for the kind of features they offer, it's still a fairly hefty price to pay, particularly for a device that is meant to complement your current devices such as a laptop or a smartphone and not replace them. But even if most people cannot afford a tablet, that doesn't mean they don't want a tablet. Luckily for them, there are options available. We will be looking at one such option today, the Reliance Tab 3G. Read on to find out if it is worth your while.
Manufactured by the Chinese company ZTE, the Reliance Tab 3G (or the ZTE V9C) looks a lot like an over-grown smartphone. The plain front side has the 7-inch display, with a video call camera on the top and the three touch sensitive menu controls below. On the right is the power and display lock button along with volume control keys. On the bottom are the micro USB port and the right stereo speaker and on the top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and the left stereo speaker. On the back is the 3 megapixel camera lens.
The design is a bit bland and boring but thankfully the device doesn't look cheap or toy-like. The build could have been better though. On our review unit, the battery cover creaked when pressed from the side.
For the price the Reliance Tab 3G does pack in a lot of punch. You get a 7-inch, 800 x 480 resolution, capacitive multi-touch display, 800MHz Qualcomm CPU with Adreno 200 GPU, 512MB of RAM, expandable storage (4GB microSD card supplied), 3 megapixel rear camera and VGA front camera, HSDPA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, digital compass (magnetometer), FM radio and stereo speakers.
It runs on Android 2.3.4 and comes with all of Google's applications along with access to the Android Market. Some apps from the market, however, may not be available due to the chipset used. Reliance's customization of the UI is limited to the home screen and the application menu (which can easily be replaced) and the rest is stock Android.
The display on the Reliance Tab 3G is pretty decent. At first I thought the resolution would be a problem but it wasn't and it looked quite all right. The display is slightly dull though and even at max brightness isn't very bright. The viewing angles are also quite bad. Moreover, the protective glass on top is highly reflective and most of the time you'd be seeing your own reflection instead of what's on the screen.
The interface was slightly sluggish. The processor is from a mid-range Android phone and the display is from a high-end phone and due to this mismatch the performance suffers a bit. At first I thought it was just the Reliance application drawer that was sluggish but even after replacing it with Launcher Pro the performance hardly improved. It's usable and if you have used a low-end Android phone then you'd know what to expect but if you have used any of the more expensive tablets then you'd feel as if you have gone back in time while using the Reliance Tab 3G.
However, the multimedia performance was quite acceptable, particularly the video playback. The device cannot play high definition files because it simply does not have the horsepower under the hood but you can watch standard definition videos and they mostly play well. The audio quality is good too, whether you use headphones or the stereo loudspeakers. The Dolby sound mode works well when you are using headphones.
The camera performance is terrible, even considering the generally low standards of tablet cameras. It would be best if you pretend if the device does not have any camera at all.
Web browsing on the Reliance Tab 3G was quite decent. I preferred to use Opera Mobile since it is snappier than the default Android browser. There is, however, no support for Adobe Flash, which is a limitation of the hardware the device uses.
Reliance's 3G network in Mumbai offers some fantastic speeds, as high as 7Mbps and it makes downloading apps and such an absolute pleasure, which is good because the device is locked to Reliance's network and you can't just switch if you are not satisfied with it. You can also use the device as a portable hotspot or for tethering your computer.
Reliance claims a battery life of 9 hours for the 3G Tab but I managed to get around 7 hours while watching videos continuously on a loop. Considering video playback takes a lot of hardware resources for general uses the 3G Tab can easily match the 9 hour figure. As a bonus, you can also carry a spare battery with you and swap if necessary.
At Rs. 12,999 the Reliance Tab 3G offers a lot for the money. The performance may not be on par with the more expensive tablets but for half the money it still does very well. For basic web browsing, video playback and some apps and games usage, the Reliance Tab 3G is more than up to the job.
. Compact design
. Decent audio/video performance
. Super-fast speeds on Reliance 3G network
. Good battery life
. Very well priced
. Display has poor viewing angles
. Poor cameras
. No Flash support in the browser
. Slightly sluggish UI
. Locked to Reliance's network