The eight-inch tablet has really come of age in recent months. Spurred on by the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch screen, Android tablets hovering around the eight-inch to 8.5-inch mark are doing well.
This particular 8.3-inch tablet, the aptly named LG G Pad 8.3, has a very attractive build. Much of the back is made from metal giving a strong all round finish and smooth touch. The two speaker grilles sitting parallel to one long edge rather destroy the generally sleek design lines of the back, and that’s a bit of a shame. The grilles are also indented, and that means they might attract dust and fluff over time. Sound quality is a little tinny but it’s liveable with, and there’s plenty of volume.
The power and volume buttons sit on the upper right long edge of the chassis. They are comfortable to use one-handed if you are working with your left hand and holding the tablet in tall mode. One-handed use should be possible for most adults, with the reach around the 126mm chassis not too much of a stretch. The weight of the tablet isn’t really a problem, either. We were quite happy to hold the 338g of this tablet for protracted ereading, web browsing and gaming sessions.
With 1920 x 1200 pixels of display area, the screen can’t match ‘best of breed’ tablets such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, which has a 2560 x 1600 pixel screen, but the LG is considerably less expensive too and the screen is perfectly adequate.
The 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor was nippy enough for our needs and good value considering this tablet’s price. The internal 16GB of memory is down to 11GB that you can access. There’s a covered micro SD card slot on the top edge of the tablet for you to add further storage.
We wish LG had opted for Android 4.4 instead of 4.2, but that’s mitigated in part by the huge array of software tweaks and additions LG has included. We can only scratch the surface here.
LG does its trick of letting you decide the order of the Android soft buttons. At startup you get just the three usual buttons to reorganise, but later if you go into your Settings app you can select configurations that include up to five buttons with additional options for pulling down the notification panel and for launching LG’s note-taking QMemo app.
QMemo takes a screenshot and lets you draw on it with a finger and then share it. If you don’t have it on the Android buttons bar it is available from the notifications area.
QMemo is one of a number of apps LG adds to the standard Android lineup. These include apps that you can pop up on top of whatever else you are doing. You access these from a tray in the notifications area. They include a calculator, web browser, file manager, notes app and much more.
There are more LG apps. We like QPair, which lets you pair with a handset for notifications sharing, and QRemote, which uses the built-in infrared capability to turn the G Pad 8.3 into a remote control for the home entertainment equipment in your home.
Even then we are not finished. Polaris Office lets you create Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and save PDFs. Notebook is a note taker, there’s a file manager, video editor and lots more. They’re a mixed bag, some good, some less so.
Overall there is a lot to like in this tablet from LG. For the price it is well made and nicely specified with a good processor. The infrared is a relatively rare and welcome touch, and the build quality is good. LG could do with laying off the software bloat, but in value for money terms this is a nice buy.