Even as the market leader Apple's iPad 2 with 10-inch screen continue to attract new customers, the space for smaller tablets is becoming hotter. While Samsung and Acer had earlier initiated the small-tab campaign with their Galaxy Tab 7.0 plus and Acer Iconia Tab 100 models respectively, Huawei has recently joined in with its seven-inch MediaPad. Marketed as the world's first 'affordable' seven-inch tablet with Android Honeycomb 3.2 operating system, the new device comes at a time when many analysts have already predicted that prices of tablet computers would further go down in coming months with the arrival of new and cheap machines. As such, its success would depend on many other factors than just the Android 3.2 capability.
What is it?
Huawei MediaPad is the world's first seven-inch tablet computer with Android Honeycomb 3.2. It will be sold in the US as T-Mobile Springboard. As compared to iPad 2, it is slightly thicker but weighs about 0.86 pounds less. The HSPA+ connectivity of the new device is expected to allow for faster upload and download speeds than the iPad2.
Apart from the Android 3.2 OS for tablets, the new device features 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and a 7-inch screen with 1280x800 display resolution. It has 8/16 GB built-in data storage capability. An additional microSD expansion slot allows for additional storage capacity. The new device also features a built-in microphone, HDMI output and USIM car slot.
While the aluminum body design of the MediaPad is reminiscent of the original iPad, the new tablet is 3G-enabled and comes with preloaded applications like Facebook, Twitter, Let's Golf, Flash 10.3 player and Documents To Go. Also, it is WiFi-enabled and features a 217 pixels-per-inch IPS capacitive touch panel .
Price and availability
Huawei MediaPad tablet is now available for $549.00. You can purchase it from many online stores.
The Android 3.2 tablet has a 1.3 megapixel front facing and 5-megapixel rear facing camera. The device has a built-in GPS system, Bluetooth and a battery that would last for around six hours. It has preloaded Android Market and Amazon Appstore software that provide hundreds of free and paid applications. Also, there is a virtual QWERTY key board, full HTML 5 browser and standard Google applications like Google Map, Street View and Navigation.
The up side
The new tablet has an excellent high-resolution screen, as compared to its competitors. The aluminium unibody design gives the feel of an iPad. It comes with pre-loaded three most popular games. Also, the Honeycomb operating system will offer users the freedom to access many games and application via the Android market and Google mobile services like Gmail, You Tube and Maps.
The down side
Huawei's MediaPad performs sluggishly at higher resolution. However, the performance is better at low resolution. The internal storage is limited even though the price is a bit higher for a seven-inch tablet. Also, there is hardly any chance that this tablet will be updated to Android's latest Ice Cream Sandwich operating system that was announced recently.
Our experience with the new tablet has been fair so far. The seven-inch screen display is way superior than its competitors. It is sharp, bright and very responsive. It feels the same in hand even though heavier than the Galaxy tablet. However, we faced shutter and lag while playing games like Angry Birds on this new device. The other applications work fairly well. You can have this device if you are ready to pay a bit more. However, better options in terms of price will appear shortly if you can wait.
The seven-inch tablet is too big to keep in a regular pocket and too small to carry around in a bag. In terms of many other functions, it is certainly no match to an iPad's experience. The new device was originally said to be the first seven-inch tablet running on Android 3.2 OS. However, it was preceded by Samsung and Acer. Huawei has built the new tablet as an affordable alternative to other costly tablets in the market. In the words of Victor Xu, Chief Marketing Officer of Huawei, the new tablet was aimed for opening "new worlds of entertainment for consumers by removing the barriers to tablet ownership..." However, all such claims appear contradictory with the hindsight. The over $500 price is still a barrier to tablet ownership by all, specially when cheaper models are expected to arrive soon.