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LG G Pad 8.3 review


LG G Pad 8.3.

At $349, LG's first major foray into the Android tablet market (we'll forgive them for that 3D thing in 2011) is truly something to behold

In the years since its relatively quiet into the world of Android, LG has stuck to a strategy thats relatively familiar in the mobile market: throw products against the wall and see which ones stick. Sound familiar? Its an approach popularized by LGs main competitor,Samsung, which has been churning out Galaxies of countless sizes over the past few years in the hope that it finally hits consumers sweet spots.

But where LG differs from Samsung is in its execution. Rather than flood the market with Optimii of various sizes and shapes, LG appearsto have studied which products work, and which ones don't.

The most recent result of all this is the LG G Pad 8.3, a thrilling, near-perfect device that stands out even in an Android tablet market that has finally grown into its own skin. Its a product of time, effort, and attention to detail that proves just how well LGs strategy is paying off. This is the Galaxy Tab Samsung hasn't quite noticed consumers want.

Inside this review: Hardware Software Cameras Bottom line G Pad 8.3 forums


Hardware:What's on the outside

Android Central

Without a doubt (in my mind, at least), this is the most gorgeous Android tablet on the market today. Its body is an amalgam of black-or-silver plastic and metal thats both lightweight and durable this is a tablet that both looks and feels far more expensive than its $349 price tag reveals.

The top of the G Pad houses the tablets power button, headphone jack, IR blaster, and microSD slot, expandable to up to 64 gigabytes. The right side houses the pronounced power button and volume rocker, while the microUSB charging port lives on the bottom. The tablets rear is stunning brushed metal, accented with stereo speakers that are capable of full, rich and detailed sound even at high volumes, making videos and music a pleasure to ingest. Due to the speakers placement along the tablets right side, in portrait mode, youll want to be holding the G Pad with your left hand.

LG G Pad 8.3.LG G Pad 8.3.LG G Pad 8.3.LG G Pad 8.3.

The G Pads 8.3-inch display is a wonder in both its quality and its portability its 1920 x 1200 resolution IPS panel is as good as anything weve ever seen come out of LGs labs, while its 8.3-inch size keeps the G Pads 126.5 mm-wide footprint relatively modest. The display packs vivid, crisp, and realistic colors, super-sharp detail, and superb viewing angles. In a word, it's stunning.

LG G Pad 8.3.

One interesting and potentially troubling note: I found the G Pads display to be less-than-responsive in cold temperatures. This is nothing new for mobile displays, but the G Pads issues appeared to be more pronounced than Ive ever seen. I cant give LG a free pass here, but it is likely that this was an isolated issue with my review unit. Otherwise, its very difficult to find much fault in this display.

What's on the inside

The G Pad 8.3's beauty is more than skin deep: its Snapdragon 600 processor, coupled with two full gigabytes of RAM, is an agile performer. You can spend a day sifting through benchmarks, which tend to place the G Pads performance slightly higher than the Nexus 7s and the Galaxy Note 8s, or you can simply spend a few hours using the device. Its fast, its capable, and its powerful. This is one of smoothest experiences I have ever had on an Android tablet, period.

This is one of smoothest experiences I have ever had on an Android tablet, period.

Most important, and equally as impressive, is the G Pads battery life. What good is a tablet that cant get you through an entire day? Luckily, the G Pad 4,600 mAh battery is a strong performer, juicing the G Pad through at least two full days of light-to-moderate usage. During my time with the G Pad it often accompanied me throughout the day: I read magazines on the subway, listened to music while at work, and even watched TV before bed, and I rarely, if ever, had to plug in before the 36-hour mark. Youll want to tweak some settings, as I found that the display at full brightness seemed to be a power hog, but overall I was pleased with fantastic usage and standby times.

Software

LG G Pad 8.3.

Love it or hate it, LGs custom UI is now an integral part of the companys identity. Layered atop Android 4.2.2 on the G Pad, it screams what LG has become at every turn. You can trace its evolution back to the Optimus G its there where we first met the vivid colors, over-the-top animations, and nitty-gritty customization that have come to define it. You can also trace its evolution back through the various iterations of TouchWiz, but we wont go there (right now.)

Most of what we loved (or hated) on LGs flagship G2 has carried over here, including the incredibly useful QSlide multitasking capability, the trusty Quick Memo notepad, and Knock Knock, one of my all-time favorite Android features. For an in-depth look at LG's custom UI, check out our review of the G2 in bothVerizonandAT&Tflavors.

Despite what you may think of the UI overall, its hard to ignore how useful and refined LGs custom apps can be.

Despite what you may think of the UI overall, its hard to ignore how useful and refined LGs custom apps can be. Akin to that difference in development strategy between Samsung and LG, the companys software is similar yet very different: while Samsung has jam packed its Galaxies with experimental, and often useless software, LG has included some truly useful goodies on its devices while leaving some room to breathe.

Whats great about this software is that it doesnt feel unnaturallystuffed onto a larger device like the G Pad rather, its taken on a whole new purpose and meaning. Things like Q Slide, Slide Aside, and Quick Memo benefit immensely from the expanded screen real estate, and LGs take on Samsungs Smart Stay, dubbed Smart Screen and Smart Video, are extremely handy while reading and watching movies, two things that the G Pad excels in. Even LGs Quick Remote avoids turning the G Pad into a comically-oversized remote by seamlessly integrating the tablet into your home entertainment experience.

Android CentralMost exciting, though, is LGs QPair, an overdue piece of functionality that single handedly changes how an Android tablet integrates into your life. It uses Bluetooth to pair with your Android smartphone and syncs phone and message notifications, Quick Memos, and recently-used apps across both of your devices. This is something that app developers have been trying to do for ages, yet never could get quite as right as LG has.

Its not perfect, though. Unfortunately, whereas the international G Pad can receive phone calls through QPair, here in the states it can only alert you of incoming calls. And though QPair supports Internet via phone, youll still need a mobile hotspot plan from your carrier. Despite QPairs few shortcomings, I applaud LG for at least attempting to make this a standard feature on Android tablets its about time tablets and smartphones act in sync.

LG has said it intends to release Q Pair as a standalone application so that it'll work with more smartphones not just its own.

The LG G Pad 8.3 Camera

LG G Pad 8.3.

Also carried over from the G2 is LGs superb camera software, offering dozens of shooting modes, manual settings and added functionalities. LGs camera UI is reliably fun and easy to use, and on the G Pad its no different.

Unfortunately, the G Pads 5MP sensor cant match the G2s top-of-the-line optics, and therefore is unable to produce photos that match the G2s quality. Whereas the G2 is capable of producing large, deep, richly-detailed photos, the G Pads shots are significantly less impressive. Theyre often washed out, faded, and blurry due to the lack of OIS, though with the right manual setting applied, and in the right conditions you can still capture decent shots.

Im all for ignoring a tablets camera, as after all, its probably the devices least-functional component. But here, I expected more from LG: given the G Pads compact size and stunning viewfinder display, its optics could have benefited greatly from some TLC. Thats one of the disadvantages of creating a near-perfect device: the shortcomings, no matter how small and insignificant, tend to stand out more obviously.

LG G Pad 8.3 camera sampleLG G Pad 8.3 camera sampleLG G Pad 8.3 camera sampleLG G Pad 8.3 camera sample
LG G Pad 8.3 camera sampleLG G Pad 8.3 camera sample

The bottom line

LG G Pad 8.3.

LG quite simply has one of the best Android tablets available, with a price to match.

The G Pad represents not only how far LG has come over the past few years, but also how much Android tablets have grown. Two years ago LG was futzing with 3D cameras and displays; today, theyve released the best Android tablet on the market. And thats saying a lot in November 2013 the dark days of oversized, bogged down Android tablets are behind us, and we finally have a market filled with capable, gorgeous tablets. Android tablets are finally useful, supplementing your smartphone with a device large for books, magazines, movies and games, yet small enough to through in your bag, and the G Pad is the cream of the crop.

Ive never met an Android tablet thats more capable, more gorgeous, or more easy to use. Its lightweight and premium design is the ideal balance of size and portability, and that 8.3-inch display is as stunning as LG has spoiled us with in the past. The G Pads custom UI avoids feeling overwhelming, while its bevy of useful custom features make the G Pad more than just a toy.

I would have liked to see better optics make their way to the G Pad, as well as QPairs most useful feature: the ability to receive calls. And I do feel that the devices $349 is a bit steep, though its not necessarily unwarranted. Those few quibbles aside, Im in love with LGs G Pad 8.3.

A lot of Android manufacturers can call 2013 a good year, but for LG, 2013 was great. It finally found its stride, after years of stumbling and trying to find its way into the public eye. Today, the company is producing two of the best Android devices on the market. Will it become as financially successful as Samsung? Maybe not. But the biggest isnt always the best., and cheers to LG for fighting the good fight.

Pros

  • Beautiful design and build quality
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Perfect size and footprint
  • Top-of-the-line display quality
  • QPair adds a whole new purpose to the Android tablet

Cons

  • The camera is still very mucha tablet camera
  • Some might be turned off by LG's custom UI, which is far from stock Android
  • Lacks the ability to receive calls like the international model
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