Down to price

Finweek English Edition - - TECHTRENDS - SI­MON DIN­GLE si­mond@finweek.co.za

I’VE SAID IT be­fore: the only 7” tablet com­puter show­ing any form of prom­ise is the Black­Berry Play­book. The oth­ers… well, they just feel like big phones. But I’m will­ing to ad­mit there are niche uses for them and – in the case of the new Huawei S7 – we’re see­ing the most im­por­tant fea­ture be­ing ad­dressed: price.

As iPad com­peti­tors, An­droid tablets have an in­her­ent prob­lem: they’re all more ex­pen­sive than the iPad. Nerds will tell you they have bet­ter spec­i­fi­ca­tions but nor­mal peo­ple don’t care. They see two tablets, one of which was launched first, has bet­ter bat­tery life, a high “cool” fac­tor and costs less – it’s a no-brainer. So then it’s also no sur­prise An­droid tablets have done dis­mally un­til now.

The S7 is one of the few tablets on the mar­ket that ac­tu­ally costs less than an en­try-level iPad. And it has de­cent spec­i­fi­ca­tions, if those mat­ter to you. Apart from its 7” screen with 800x480 res­o­lu­tion, there are two cam­eras, WiFi, 8GB of stor­age and built-in 3G, Blue­tooth and GPS.

Its shape is rather strange – be­ing long and nar­row. But I got used to this soon enough. Its cam­eras just don’t cut the cheese. They’re OK for video chats with peo­ple over the In­ter­net but you def­i­nitely don’t want to take pics of your kids with this thing – un­less they’re re­ally ugly.

It also runs ver­sion 2.2 of An­droid – de­signed for mo­bile phones – in­stead of the newer 3.0 “Hon­ey­comb” ver­sion de­vel­oped for tablets. How­ever, weird screen, phone op­er­at­ing sys­tem and rub­bish cam­eras aside, the S7 does sur­pris­ingly well in other de­part­ments. It’s great for watch­ing videos with its 16:9 res­o­lu­tion and loads ap­pli­ca­tions in a snap, de­spite run­ning a much slower pro­ces­sor than most of its com­peti­tors.

Its in­ter­nal stor­age is small, but you can ex­pand it us­ing the in­cluded mi­croSD slot – up to 32GB. It has HDMI out, so you can play your me­dia over to a tele­vi­sion set or other mon­i­tor. Not a fea­ture I tried, but def­i­nitely a nice to have.

So, all things con­sid­ered, this isn’t a bad prod­uct for the price. It cer­tainly is no iPad and most peo­ple will want to spend the ex­tra grand to go the Ap­ple route. But it’s great for what it is. And lower prices are what we need for tablets. So ku­dos to Huawei for steps in the right direc­tion.

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