HCL , a known brand in the PC space in India, has come out with its second Android tablet some days back. The tablet was priced competitively at Rs 10,490 and joins a long list of budget tabs that have appeared in India.
We used the tablet extensively for about three weeks. Here's what we thought.
HCL Me X1 tab is a 7 inch device, and hence quite comfortable to hold. At 391.5 grams it is light weight for a tablet. It measures 121.35 mm x 192.5 mm x 12.2 mm. The device has a brushed aluminum finish, and is okay to look at and a bit different from rest of the 7 inch brigade.
A very odd thing about the tablet is the placing of buttons. Though, the Home button is at the normal position at the centre of the bottom, the power on/off button, mini HDMI port, microSD slot, one mini USB 2.0 and a mic output are just below the Home button all cluttered together. Interestingly, the volume controller and the menu buttons are on the right hand side just where we usually hold the tablet. Placing them on top would have been better. In fact, I had a hard time locating the volume button even after using this tab for more than two weeks.
Looks wise, it isn't something to go gaga about but what can you expect for Rs 10,500 certainly not an iPad or Samsung Galaxy.
Me X1 comes with a 16:9 aspect ratio, 7 inch capacitive touch display that produces decent images at 800 x 480 pixels but the graphics aren't mind-blowing.
HCL has provided Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) operating system sitting on ARM Cortex A8 1 GHz processor, and 512 MB DDR2 RAM that gives decent performance. The tab doesn't hang even if you open multiple applications. It can also play full HD 1080p videos at 30 fps. The playback is not always smooth, however, that happens only occasionally.
For connectivity there is WiFi but no SIM slot for 3G, though SIM slots are common in budget devices including Beetel Magiq, Reliance 3G and even Aakash tab all of these are priced at around Rs 10,000. Me X1 doesn't have Bluetooth either.
However, you can use USB dongles for 3G connectivity or for internet connections. Many users have complained of internet problems on HCL's website. But that might be due to user's failure to install the dongle drivers in the tablet properly, HCL claims that the tablet supports all the dongles currently available in the market.
Me X1 tab has 4 GB of internal memory which can be expanded up to 32 GB. But the notable absence of Android Market will leave you wondering what to store in the tablet. Though HCL has about 10,000 custom apps at Me Apps, access to Android Market would have been far better as it has more than 1.5 lakh apps and is growing.
There are numerous segments in Me Apps such as Fun & Games, Entertainment, Lifestyle etc. but it cannot be compared with the grandness of Android Market. Despite ubiquitous names like Ninja Rush and Angry Birds Rio there are hardly enough games. If you have already been exposed to Android Market, you are going to rue its absence. The absence of Android Market can be said to be the biggest drawback of this device and is bound to let users down.
There are lots of preinstalled applications like Booksonwink, Cleartrip, Bookmyshow etc. with many special offers. Buyers can avail discounts worth Rs 2,500 on domestic flight tickets booked through the Cleartrip app on Me X1. Similarly, HCL is offering Rs 3,000 worth of discounts on ebooks purchased through the Booksonwink and MagsonWink app preinstalled on this tab. There is also a free one month subscription offer on the Hungama app which comes preloaded on Me X1 tab.
The tab comes with 3500 mAh battery which seems powerful enough to run a whole day. However, despite being fully charged the tablet used to run out of power within a couple of hours of WiFi use, and it takes more than an hour to charge fully.
The camera is placed on the front right hand corner along with the only button, which works as both a back and a menu button. There is no rear camera so if you are a photography enthusiast you will be disappointed. The 2 megapixel camera in front isn't easy to take pictures with either.
HCL claims that this tablet is meant for the Indian consumer as it will get India specific apps, and is designed with services that are required in India. For instance 24x7 support button.
While the idea is good execution seems to have failed, while there is a support tab in the tablet, but that merely provides customer care numbers and email ids, hardly any help.
Most of the Indian apps that HCL has given is already available in Android market, which is absent from the device. HCL representatives claimed that it (Android Market) can be installed by downloading (.apk) file for the same, but then that gets too technical for most users.
However rest of the tablet works fine, and justifies the budget at which it is available. Lack of SIM slot works in its favor as it supports USB dongles as it allows users to enjoy both CDMA and GSM dongles.
Other good bit is the fact that it's a HCL device, and will receive support in almost all the corners of the country thanks to company's wide network.