The tablet market in India is yet to pick up in a big way, though that might soon change now that a company as big as Reliance has entered the fray with a product priced at just Rs. 12,999. That would fetch you a Reliance 3G Tab, and might just be the product that the masses have been waiting for to hook them onto the tablet craze on a really grand scale. Not that tablet PCs are an alien concept here, with several big names such as the Apple iPad 2, Motorola XOOM, Asus Transformer or the Motorola PlayBook already on sale along with several prominent domestic products, among which is of course the Notion Ink Adam. However, none is as affordable as the Reliance 3G Tab, and that’s one reason why we would like to explore it in a bit more detail.
The Reliance 3G Tab comes with a 7 inch 480 x 800 pixel capacitive multi-touch display. Behind the screen, a 800 mhz processor does duty in conjunction with 512 MB RAM, while storage is in the form of an external SD Card memory which is expandable up to 32 GB. Right now, the company is offering a 4 GB card free with every purchase. The tablet is in reality a re-branded ZTE product, with it being ZTE Light that Reliance has chosen for its maiden foray in the tablet sphere. No wonder, its light weight is one of the biggest USPs of the tablet since at just a mere 389 grams, the Reliance Tab is really easy to carry around and operate.
Providing the juice is a 3400mAH, Li-On battery which, as usual with Reliance, is good enough for up to 9 hours of talk time. However, heavy multimedia usage is sure to bring that figure down by a couple of hours.
The tablet does include a camera each at the front and the back, though it’s just a VGA unit at the front for video calling or for taking self portraits. On the back, it’s a slightly better 2 megapixel camera, though many cheaper smartphones come with much better integrated cameras.
The Reliance Tab looks well built, though the presence of the usual Android buttons for Home, Back, and Option will surely be a disappointment for many. This bring us to the next part of our story, the software side of it all.
Android 2.3 Gingerbread was chosen by Reliance to run the tablet, with which no doubt will put off many who would have liked Android Honey here. More so after Google has launched an Android version that makes the Android 3.2 Honeycomb as palatable in smaller 7 inch sized tablets as it is in the bigger 10 inchers. Of course, Reliance’s answer will be the affordable price point, which means those looking for a cheap Android Honeycomb tablet option will have to wait longer or look for other usually pricey options. The tablet will have access to the official Android market, which means downloading your favorite apps is just a few taps away.
The Reliance Tab comes pre-loaded with quite a few apps so as to enhance the overall tablet experience. These include youtube, gmail, facebook, Google maps, and Google search. The tablet also comes with R World Online, an app that opens the door to a host of Reliance provided entertainment options, such as news, music, movies, wallpapers, and so on.
The tablet is compliant with a host of audio formats which includes AAC, AAC+, AMR/AMR-NB, MP3 MIDI, Ogg PCM/WAV, while the compatible video formats include MP4, H.263,H.264. These apart, the Reliance Tab is also able to decode image files such as BMP/PNG/JPEG.
Another aspect of the Reliance Tab is that it can also double up as a smartphone and can be used to make regular voice calls. In fact, the voice call features the tablet has on offer include mute in call, speed dial, Switch to Bluetooth device, and 3 way calling. Other features the tablet offers include Video recorder, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth Voice calling, GPS, , Alarm, speaker phone, SMS, and MMS. The tablet also offers FM Radio, while the Live TV feature will ensure you are just a tap away from keeping in touch with all that is going on in the world around you.
Another feature of the tablet that will be appreciated by both the corporate world as well as general users is push email, which has really caught on with the advent of smartphones. Further, ‘Documents To Go’ will allow one to view and work with Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents.
The Reliance 3G Tab is currently available in Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata at Reliance World and Reliance Mobile stores, while more cities will be included in that list.
Android tablets have a wellspring of Indy Reading Apps and mainstream ones to choose from. These allow you to buy ebooks directly from retailers to aid you in loading in your own. If you are into comic books, there are plenty of apps available to read as well. I am a big fan of Droid Comic viewer and Aldiko for comics and ebooks.
If you are more of a fan of getting a e-reading application that allows you to get books, magazines and even newspapers you might want to check out Canadian based Kobo. They have over 2.3 million books right now and a fair number of them are free. The company also shines with international books and makes purchasing content from India and other countries easy as pie.
A 7 inch tablet is normally more portable then its larger screen cousins and more indicative to reading news and even RSS feeds when you are commuting. It is simply easier to carry it around with you and read it on the bus or tube.
The colors on magazines and other content really shines on this gadget. One of the best apps you can get to get the most out of magazine type content is Zinio.
Reliance is offering the tablet for a price of Rs. 12,999 up front. When combined with data usage from Reliance, the price goes up to 17,499, 18,499 and 19,999 for the tablet + data plan that offers 1, 2 and 5 GB of data usage respectively every month for a year. When availed of separately, the same would cost Rs. 7,788, Rs. 8,988 and Rs. 14,388 on top of the initial tablet price. In that sense, the top end combo plan is now available at a discounted price of almost 51 percent, which is indeed a good thing.
However, the biggest question is if it still makes for a decent buy? Well, the Beetel Magiq is its biggest competitor in the budget tablet segment with the price being even less at just Rs. 9000, a good 4K less than the Reliance Tab, while the Beetel will also not be 3G compliant. What the Reliance Tab has in its favor is that it has the backing of one of the biggest business conglomerates in India, which in turn will surely add to its appeal. So it really will be interesting to see if the Reliance 3G Tab really makes it as big as its makers hope to.