There’s an awful lot to like about LG’s iPad Mini rival. It’s sleek, light, and very well engineered. But for all those not inconsiderable successes, the design and hardware is let down by the changes wrought to the tablet’s Android 4.2-based OS.
It’s almost dripping in unnecessary bloat. The vast majority of the added, LG-flavoured functionality is either of little practical use (like being able to preview the screen as you swipe the device on), or actually hampers practical usage (we’re looking at you Q Slide, and what you do to the Notifications panel). They also aren’t all that reliable, either; being able to turn the device off or on with a simple double-tap to the screen sounds good, but it is haphazard in practice. Q Pair, on the other hand, is handy, letting you pair the G Pad with your Android phone to get access to greater connectivity. It’s rather draining to both devices, but very handy for traveling. But it’s the lone light.
Which is all a shame, because otherwise there’s a lot to like about the G Pad.
Its slightly narrow shape makes it possible to grasp in a single hand, and the thin bezel on the sides of the screen (or top and bottom, when on its side), make for an elegant display. The curves of the surrounding fascia are more than a little reminiscent of Samsung’s mobile products, but there are really only so many ways to make a tablet of this size. The plastic corners are reinforced by an aluminium backing plate that not only looks good, but adds to the structural integrity of the device. It feels safe to carry around in a pocket or a bag.
The screen may not be as super-sharp as the iPad Mini with Retina, but it is still very sharp, with vibrant colours and clear, bright aspect. Reading on the G Pad is a pleasure, as is gaming and watching videos. It’s a very responsive touchscreen, and the Quad-core Snapdragon processor means that snappiness is evident in all the tablet’s operations. Even the LG cruft doesn’t slow the G Pad down.
And all this for a price that’s far cheaper than its Apple-flavoured competition, with great battery life. Even with the odd spot of gaming and watching YouTube videos, we were able to go nearly four days on a single charge.
There are a few niggles in the hardware design – the battery tends to run very hot, and when using the tablet in landscape mode, and that heat is vented pretty much straight into your left hand. For media consumption and gaming in the long term, it’s a bit uncomfortable. The speakers are easily blocked by hands in a similar position, but nine times out of ten we, at least, are using headphones. No one on the train to work each morning needs to hear the Angry Birds soundtrack over and over. And if you like the odd happy snap with your tablet, the G Pad’s camera does leave a little to be desired.
Overall, however, the benefits do outweigh the flaws, and hopefully this is a product that will continue to improve in the next revision. And with rumours that LG could be manufacturing the next Nexus tablet, it’s a strong sign of things to come.