With the budget tablet segment taking off, another new entrant is the Slide from iBall. The brand has been quite popular in the PC peripherals business for a long time and only recently entered the mobile phone field. Taking things up by a notch, they’ve launched the 1GHz infused, Android Gingerbread toting ‘Slide’ tablet. Keeping the Indian price low has never been an issue with the company with the iBall Slide priced at Rs. 13,995, and here’s what you get for that price.
The Slide looks quite like the typical low-budget tablet that lacks the certain curvaceous styling like higher priced models, but still manages to come across as being neatly put together. The first thing you’ll probably notice is the lack of a rear camera, which is a bit of a downer seeing at a 2MP camera lens is staring at you in the face for video VoIP calling support. The 7-inch capacitive display is actually quite bright and the though resolution i.e. 800 x 480 is identical to the likes of the Beetel Magiq or the Reliance 3G Tab , images appear much sharper and colors a little more dense.
Not the slimmest tablet around
Unlike the afore mentioned devices, the Slide is sealed and doesn’t support SIM cards for data connectivity. Instead, the Slide offers USB-on-the-go with support for a data dongle (for lack of a better term). An adapter cable has been provided. On one side of the device is a microSD card (up to 32GB supported with 8GB of onboard storage), mini HDMI out, USB ports for data transfer and on-the-go separately, a power switch to shut off the device, a 3.5mm handsfree, DC charging socket and a microphone. The Menu, Return and screen lock keys are placed on the top. A singular Home button is placed right in front beside the display. It’s a light weight device, but feels a bit delicate.
Features and Performance
Running on a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor with Android Gingerbread (2.3) the iBall Slide offers no customized UI. The stock interface is very responsive, though and from animations to accessing and opening apps, it’s an extremely speedy performer. The UI worked out to be much more fluid compared to the others in its segment with enough juice to play full HD (1080p) content almost flawlessly.
1GHz keeps things moving
Linpak MFLOPS scores clocked it in at 17.357 (Single Thread) and 15.906 (Multi Thread), which seems just a little low and yet oddly it was a far better performer than the others. AnTuTu’s coring put it in the same league as HTC’s Desire HD mobile handset.
The audio capability of the Slide was not very impressive. Neither were bundled handsfree (in-ear style) comfortable to use, nor were they very capable of handling the audio too well. Unfortunately, even with a better set of earphones the quality was not much better leading us to believe that the audio engine on the device was not really a priority. It features the stock Android player with no frills and even with more enhanced options available off the Android Market place, the quality was a big issue.
The device played all video formats we threw at it with ease. The only format that had an issue with playback was .FLV. If the native player didn’t play the file, the secondary, pre-loaded UTPlayer came to the rescue. If it weren’t for the low quality audio, watching videos on this device would have been fantastic. There’s no FM radio, but there is an iReader app for eBooks.
Other than 3G data connectivity via a USB dongle, the Slide also offers Wi-Fi (seemingly with no hot-spot capability), Bluetooth with A2DP and USB 2.0 on-the-go. The browser or e-mail support on this device is as good as any other in the Android range. With Flash 10.3 support the browsing experience is, of course, enhanced. With Skype pre-loaded on the card you can video chat with your contacts via 3G or Wi-Fi. Google’s package of pre-loaded apps like Gtalk, Search with Voice capabilities and YouTube are also onboard alongwith Facebook. What was missing was Google Maps and other affiliated apps like Navigation, Places or Altitude. Not that they can’t be found easily on the store, but we’re used to these being part of the stock package. But since the device dosn't support GPS, it's not really a problem.
Plenty of extra apps
Quite a few extra apps like 3D Bowling, Asphalt 5, CricketNext, DocumentsToGo, Fruit Ninja, Hi MSN, IBN Live, Zomato, Moneycontrol and Nimbuzz are thrown in. You can install the .APK files from the APKInstaller provided. A task manager and file explorer are also part of the deal along with the more basic features like the alarm clock, calendar, calculator, sound recorder etc.
No rear camera but one heck of a speaker
With what iBall claims as a 4400mAh lithium-ion battery, the Slide worked out to be quite an average performer. In our video test it went dead after 4 hours and 15 minutes of non-stop playback, which is a lot less than what the Magiq and 3G Tabs were able to accomplish with lower-powered batteries. In our tech2 Loop Tests, we were unable to even complete a single test. After 2 hours of video and 2 hours of music, there was nothing more than a residual red bar remaining on the battery meter. With this we managed to squeeze about 15 minutes of online radio. The battery is ceratinly not gong to win this product any praise.
Could have used a bit of customization
The Bottom Line
The price tag on the iBall Slide is Rs. 13,990, which makes it the higher priced option compared to what Beetel and Reliance are offering. While it does have a few extras that set it apart from the other two, on the whole the Slide did not really match up to the specs under the hood. Performance was super slick, but audio quality was not. USB-on-the-go is definitely a bonus, but without an option for a SIM card you’ll be required to invest in a USB data dongle that could prove more expensive. With a SIM, you could choose to run it on EDGE if necessary, while you’re on the go. Nevertheless, Wi-Fi works just fine. Having HDMI out is also another important factor to consider, but the lack of a rear camera for pictures could also be an issue with some.
So at the end of the day you’re left with really just a multimedia device that doesn’t mange to deliver completely on that front.