Reliance is finally in the tablet scene with a new tablet that comes bundled with its 3G services. Manufactured by ZTE Corporation, the new Reliance Tab was launched in India just last month and has managed to grab the attention of several people who wish to buy a tablet that is pocket-friendly (literally). The Reliance Tab comes with the latest Google Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread and runs on an 800 MHz processor under the hood.
The Reliance 3G Tab comes with a Reliance GSM SIM card and 3G services activated along with exclusive offers on tariffs and plans. After the launch of the Reliance 3G Tab we got the chance to use the tablet and here is an account of our views:
Design and hardware
Reliance 3G Tab manufactured by ZTE Corporation comes neatly packed in white with the tablet’s images on the front of the box. Inside the box rest the tablet, a data cable (microUSB), charging adaptor (also microUSB) and earphones. Thankfully, Reliance also bundles a 4GB microSD card for free within the box. The tablet has a black front and bezel while the back-panel is silver coloured. At the back there is also a 2 megapixel camera for clicking photos.
On the front, Reliance 3G Tab has three capacitive menu buttons at the bottom bezel and at the top right corner is a VGA camera capable of supporting video calls and chat. Along the sides are the volume rocker buttons with power/sleep keys on the top. With the placement of the speaker grills on the shorter sides, it is pretty clear that the tablet is meant to be used primarily in landscape mode.
The Reliance 3G Tab features a 7 inch TFT LCD capacitive display that supports multi-touch gestures. Surprisingly, the Tab’s display supports WVGA resolution (480 x 800 pixel), which is like a norm among modern day smartphones. There’s a 3.5 mm audio port to connect the bundled earphones or any set of earphones with the tablet. Under the chassis lies an 800 MHz processor that may seem a bit under powered for the 7 inch tablet.
In terms of memory, the Reliance 3G Tab comes with a 512 MB RAM and 512 MB of ROM, along with a memory card slot that is capable of holding up to 32 GB. This hardware is pretty much basic but good enough to run Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread.
The hardware can support the 7 inch display. However, the 480 x 800 pixel resolution does make the icons look a bit stretched in portrait mode. Reliance 3G Tab does have a Dolby Mobile chip though it is usually used only for watching videos.
What makes the Reliance 3G Tab really stand out is the Reliance 3G network GSM SIM module that can also handle basic telephony. You can make voice calls, send SMSes and, of course, use the 3G network to browse the web.
Weighing a mere 389 grams, the Reliance 3G Tab is quite handy to carry around and can even be slid into a trouser or coat pocket. That’s what we mean when we say it’s pocket-friendly. Without any sharp edges or rims, the tablet has a smooth finish and does not have a glossy surface.
The form factor of the tablet makes it more useful when used in landscape mode rather than in portrait mode.
Software and multimedia
Reliance 3G Tab comes preloaded with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, which runs smoothly on the 800 MHz processor thanks to the 512 MB RAM. However, there is no custom user interface on Gingerbread besides the Reliance logo and jingle that appear when the phone starts. However, select pre-loaded applications certainly make the device more robust.
The tablet comes preloaded with its own File Manager that functions totally like a file explorer to copy and move around files. Apart from that the Task Manager will help you keep a tab on background operations and even kill a few if necessary. The video player comes with Dolby Mobile software settings that let you watch movies or TV shows with different sound presets. However, changing the presents hardly made a difference to overall audio output.
Imaging can be bit of a disappointment due to the mere 2 megapixel snapper at the back without LED flash or auto focus. It is possible to record videos though.
Listening to music is a good experience because of the Dolby Mobile chip but we’ve seen louder performance in inexpensive mobile phones. However, this device is not about loudness but about balanced sound. Apart from the regular MP3 audio file format the tablet supports AAC, AAC+, and Ogg PCM/WAV file formats as well. You can try playing FLAC files but you’ll need to install WinAMP for Android or PowerAMP apps from Android Market.
Even basic voice calls make use of the twin speakers for audio output and you can always use the bundled earphones with the accept/end call key. Also, the device doesn’t have a built-in mic so you will have to hook your headset to talk and answer the call. The tablet supports a Bluetooth headset as well.
The default gallery view supports image files in BMP, PNG and JPEG formats, which are the most popular for images. Radio buffs will have to plug in the headset with RDS to enjoy the FM Radio service on the tablet. Playing Android games is as fun as browsing the web on the native web browser or on Opera Mobile.
Though the tablet runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread update video chats aren’t possible over Google Talk. Nor does the device support Skype.
The back panel holds a big 3400 mAh battery pack that promises up to 9 hours of talk time. Music listeners can enjoy music endlessly, as long as the power hungry LCD display is turned off. One can watch about 5-7 episodes of TV shows each 45 minutes long on a single charge. During multimedia entertainment turning off WiFi and the 3G network will certainly give you that extra mile of battery life.
The battery is good enough to support its 7 inch display. In comparison to smartphones with similar configuration the massive battery pack is certainly the icing on this tablet’s cake.
Reliance 3G Tab is a neat affordable smartphone. Currently Reliance is offering the 3G Tab with different tariff plans which are heavily discounted packages that include the price of the Tab and annual 3G rental.
The price of the Reliance 3G Tab without a bundled plan is Rs 12,999. Unfortunately it is locked with Reliance so you won’t be able to use any other SIM card with this tablet. To make up for that Reliance offers three different discounted rental plans — Rs 4,500 for 1 GB per month, Rs 5,500 for 2 GB per month and Rs 7,000 for 5 GB per month.
Now depending on your usage, you can go for either of these plans and can watch movies, mobile TV, download/stream songs and of course browse the web. Reliance 3G services will work flawlessly in Reliance 3G circles.
Considering the rising competition it is quite possible that six months from now the cost of 3G services might go down.
In terms of features and performance there is nothing much to complain about in this device. It would be great if ZTE and Reliance bring Android 3.2 Honeycomb update, which includes support for 7 inch displays as well. The Reliance 3G Tab surpasses its closest competitor Beetel Magiq because it has a capacitive touchscreen and a larger battery pack.
Reliance 3G Tab could be a good buy for those who already own a basic handset and want a small pocket-friendly companion to work on, to watch movies, listen to music, browse the web, and send out emails etc. With Reliance 3G network support one can also make voice calls and send SMSes using the tablet. This is a decent convergence device and we anticipate better 3G tariff plans, if not a drop in the price of the hardware itself.