In the recent times, there are has been a literal flurry of affordable Windows 8.1 tablets. All thanks to the push from Microsoft and Intel. Most of them try and sell themselves as affordable replacements for the laptop and not as standalone tablets. But how easy is it using one of these tablets, without a keyboard to work on? Well, we have been testing the iBall Windows tablet for a couple of weeks. Keep in mind that we aren’t talking of a tablet device that is selling at a hefty pricing, thus keep your expectations low.
The Apple iPad still looks one of the very stable tablet devices, but iOS doesn’t help much really. Windows tablets on the other side, give the users a direct way to use the Windows OS that they have been using on the laptop/computer, unlike having a phone-like interface, thus it holds an edge over the Android and iOS tablets in that case. But is that enough?
This iBall Slide has the regular run of the mill design. Without the Windows button, it would be hard to differentiate this from an Android tablet. The microUSB and micro-HDMI ports are on the top. While the power and volume keys on the right side. Whereas the flap covering the SIM and microSD card slot, are just under it. The bezel has been kept wide on all sides. Thankfully, the body doesn’t feel like it’s made of plastic. And, you will feel very comfortable holding this in one hand and using it with the other. It isn’t really small, but isn’t awfully large at the same time. The curves keep the comfort levels good.
The display size of 8-inch is the kind of an ideal size for a tablet, at least for Windows OS to show the Metro UI perfectly. Sporting a 720p IPS screen, the resolution is pretty decent on the device. The tiles appear sharp even when you have pinched all of them into the screen. However, it reflects a bit of a light, and that can be irritating at times. Though, it might not be the best screen to use under the sun. But it sure does have its charm. The disappointing fact about screen is its touch response, which is not the greatest. Certainly not at this price point, and with some multitasking possible in Windows OS, if the screen isn’t able to respond well, it feels pointless.
Hardware / Performance
The device is powered by Quad-core Intel Atom processor, clocking at 1.3GHz. It is complimented by 2GB of RAM. The device has 16GB of internal storage, out of which, not more than 9.7 GB of storage is available to use and part of it is again used by the OS already, as the microSD slot supports expansion of up to 64GB.
The USB OTG functionality on the device allows you to attach flash drive to access media, and the micro HDMI port allows you to connect the tablet with TV. The performance didn’t seem to be an issue with this tablet, as it is fast, playful and performs all task almost up to the mark. Multi-tasking has been made easy on the Windows 8.1; you can just swipe from the left to go back to the recent apps. After using the tablet continuously for long hours, it didn’t seem to heat up.
As for the software, the tablet comes with unhindered Windows 8.1 operating system. It has its pros and cons when it comes to using it on an 8-inch display. The interface looks good when reading a book in a portrait mode, as well as on other Windows apps. But when you switch to desktop mode, you will end up straining your eyes. The windows desktop mode just doesn’t work for a tablet this size. Windows is an ideal OS for media consumption like HD videos, e-books or Youtube videos. But in desktop mode everything on a tablet seems small and not scaled properly. iBall has included Microsoft Office with a 1 year subscription. But typing a document on a tablet this small is neither fun nor efficient.
The tablet sports a 5MP shooter on the back with no LED flash. It is decent enough to take photos during daylight, producing natural colors. At front, the device holds a 2MP camera module. It works just fine for video chat on skype and occasional selfies. The qualities of both cameras are not up to the mark that you expect on a tablet.
Even though, with decent specs it manages to provide smooth performance. But the device lacks on various important parts. Like low internal storage, as it is much needed on a windows tablet. While the camera also doesn’t perform well, even for a 5MP module. As the app scaling issues with Windows persists, we prefer not to use a windows tablet. The battery life is another one of the problem, as the company has included a low 2800mAh battery. The tablet was able to survive only for about 4 hours of Full HD video playback. And with SIM card enabled, it hardly survived at all. Leaving a lot of room for improvement.
The iBall WQ32 does try to make a case for itself as a media consumption device and being powered by the Intel’s latest hardware. The tablet stands boldly against the Wi-Fi-only counterparts from Google and Apple in this price range. However, Windows has its drawbacks. Like lack of touch optimization for apps and scalability. The battery should have been better, but the fact for this being a value-for-money tablet is that you get a fully licensed Windows 8.1 OS, thus the updates are regular and the tablet keeps up well for the good user experience.