We love reasonably priced kit here at htxt.africa, and the huge influx of affordable smartphones and tablets has been – generally speaking – a good thing. But it does mean that we’re spoiled for choice when looking for a budget tablet these days, so being cheap is no longer enough.
And that’s particularly true if you’re buying for school: the huge push towards paperless education in South Africa at the moment has certainly helped to create demand for low cost hardware, but at the same time brings problems of its own. While general consumers might be happy to put up with a tardy tablet for the sake of saving a few thousand rand, any slowdown or technical trouble in class is potentially disrupting to children and their peers. The worst thing for students of all ages is to replace books with a tablet that’s not up to the task.
With all of that in mind, then, let’s look at the latest R1 200, 7inch slate from Prestigio, called the Multipad Color 2 3G. The firm is slowly building up a big presence in high street stores and in schools, and the price certainly demands to be looked at twice. Is a cheap tablet a false economy or a genius buy? Read on to find out.
Appearances are not as they seem
At first glance the Multipad is unassuming and plain. What more is there to really say about the non-removable black plastic at the rear of the tablet or the thick bezel surrounding the 7inch display? The Multipad looks like most other 7inch tablets out on the market at the moment and while this isn’t altogether bad, we would have liked to see something a bit more, unique.
With that said the generic design does make using the Multipad quite simple and familiar.
The power button and volume rocker are on the right-hand side of the tablet and have a nice textured feel to them. The power/unlock button is far enough away from the volume rocker that you won’t accidentally hit it but close enough that you won’t struggle to find it when you’re not looking at the tablet.
Looking at the bulky body of the Multipad we feel that it would be right at home in a classroom. The body is plain but feels rugged and as if it could (though we don’t suggest it) withstand a day in a backpack.
This isn’t an empty shell
While running our standard set of benchmarks we discovered a problem. While Antutu gave us a score of 20 549, PC Mark exhibited a few problems. Chief amongst these was the fact that temperature of the Intel Atom X3 X3230 quad-core processor was not recorded once, the CPU speeds was also nowhere to be found and even after running the test a third time we still had no results, save for battery use.
Like many budget tablets, the Multipad doesn’t quite deliver on the silky smooth performance of full price rivals, but it’s not too bad. There’s a bit of slowdown here and there caused by a slow processor (it peaks at about 1GHz) and second rate storage and memory speeds, but it’s much more bearable than equivalent tablets from big brands we’ve used. We’d take it over the last Fonepad from ASUS, for example, even though on paper the two are very similar.
Speaking of memory speeds, the Multipad has a just 8GB on-board storage capacity and once you account for the OS and the large amount of bloatware on the system, you have a tiny 4GB to make use of. You are able to plug a microSD card into the Multipad if you want more space but that’s a cost you’ll have to factor into your purchasing decision.
The 7inch display has a native resolution of 800×1280 which gives the tablet an impressive 160dpi pixel density. We did, however notice something strange: while the resolution of the display is pretty standard for 7inchers and results in crisp text and images, there’s something especially odd about the scaling settings Prestigio has hardcoded in. Even with the Android font settings set to Huge, text is a squint to read and on-screen icons and navigation elements are tiny. That includes notifications when swiping from the top of the tablet and the home keys along the bottom.
It’s baffling, frankly, as there’s no reason for it.
You are able to increase the size of the the text but icons are still very small and apps appear either very small or very pixelated. As a result of this scaling, tapping a URL bar in the browser for example, brought down the notification bar, something that can be quite annoying if you’re in a rush.
The shame is that other wise the screen is very good: viewing angles are as wide as they come and colours are rich and pop at you.
We don’t care much for the camera on this tablet either. The rear camera is a tiny 1.9MP that captures images at a resolution of 1 600×1 200p but you may as well use a potato. The image is noisy in great light conditions and at night all you can see is red and black pixels with a faint image in the background.
If you love selfies you’ll hate the 0.3MP front facing camera that will make you look like a 3D version of a Minecraft character.
The Multipad is fitted with a 2 800mAh lithium polymer (li-po) battery that cannot be removed from the tablet. We would have enjoyed a bit of a bigger battery but the Multipad does well with what it has.
Realistically you will get just under a day of light to mild usage from a single charge though we found that running the tablet with the display on for long periods of time brought the battery level down very quickly giving us roughly six hours of battery time.
This may not be that much of a problem in an office environment but if you plan on using this tablet for school or while you’re out and about then you may want to carry a power bank with you.
At the end of it all
The Multipad is a lot of punch for the small bite of R1 200. Functionally it’s more or less as good as any cheap tablet we’ve seen pitched for a paperless classroom, a small business, university students, any place where you would be using the tablet in a work situation really.
To find something similar in a price range close to the Multipad will be tough, the Asus Zenpad for example offers similar specifications but the price is nearly R800 more and doesn’t really offer much more in terms of specifications and features. It’s certainly a cut above the popular Vodacom Smarttab, but doesn’t come with the data bundle options that that machine has.
Yes, the Multipad is flawed what with its shoddy camera and generic styling. If you can look beyond those flaws and appreciate the functionality this tablet offers and the specifications it houses within that generic body then you’ll start to see that there is a reason we spent the last few days nodding impressively at what the Multipad can pull off.
If you’re looking for a cheap tablet that you can read a few documents or books off of, type the occasional document and surf the web we can recommend you take a look at the Prestigio Multipad.
[su_box title=”Details” box_color=”#f37021″]
Price R1 200
Display 7inch 800×1 280p, 160ppi
Operating System Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)
System Chip Intel CPU Intel Atom X3 X3230 Quad-core @ 1.2GHz
Front camera 0.3MP
Back camera 1.9MP
Battery 2 800mAh Li-ion Battery