The LG G Pad 8.3 is a small, fairly low-cost tablet. It offers a pretty compelling alternative option to the iPad mini Retina.
The LG G Pad 8.3 is a fairly affordable tablet, but its build quality is good. The top layer is toughened glass and the rear is a mix of aluminium and plastic. As virtually the whole area your hands come into contact with is metal, it has a similar cool and hard feel as an iPad mini.
Styling-wise, the LG G Pad isn’t quite on the same level. The dual speakers on the rear spoil the simplicity of the look a bit, and the mix of white and silver on the version we tested does look a little bit cheap. We think the black version looks better.
The power and volume buttons on the side are plastic rather than metal too. But once you consider the iPad mini and Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 cost a good 60 per cent more, you can’t really complain.
The LG G Pad 8.3’s size also strikes a good balance between portability and screen size. It’s small enough to grasp comfortably side-to-side in one (adult-size) hand – which the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 isn’t really – and weighs just 338g. That is light enough for one-handed use, although this is clearly a device that works best when you get both hands involved.
Its hardware versatility is also remarkably good considering the £200 price. There’s a covered microSD memory card slot on the top edge of the LG G Pad 8.3 and, next to it, a little IR blaster. This lets the tablet function as a universal remote control.
The LG Pad 8.3 also has a much higher screen-to-tablet-size ratio than most current sub 10-inch devices. This is helped by the lack of soft keys, and it provides a more modern look than older tablets. At 8.3mm thick, it’s slim too. Aside from the white version looking a little cheap, there’s little to criticise here.
Its screen feels up-to-date too. As the LG G Pad 8.3 name suggests, it’s an 8.3-inch display.
This is a 16:10 widescreen panel, 1,920 x 1,200 in resolution. Although lower-res than the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and less pixel-dense than the Nexus 7, it’s fairly sharp. Look close and you can discern single pixels, but it’s not a major issue in a low-cost tablet.
Basic image quality is fairly good thanks to the use of an IPS panel, which provides solid viewing angles. However, there are a few minor image quality issues.
Top brightness is just ok, and the contrast in bright areas of an image is not great, leading to pictures that don’t look as vibrant and as defined as they would do on a higher-grade screen. Colour reproduction is decent, but this lack of backlight control leads to images looking a tad washed out. Black levels are good enough, though.
The tablet makes for a handy little personal video player, and this is also helped along by the stereo speakers. As they're mounted on the back, you don't get a clear stereo image, but the audio doesn't clearly come from one end, as with some tablets.
Its sound experience is not great, though. The output is a little thin-sounding and at mid-to-high volumes, the back of the tablet vibrates. It feels a little odd.
Software & Performance
Hardware-wise the LG G Pad 8.3 is a success. It’s in the software that we find some of the tablet’s weaker parts.
It currently runs the slightly out-of-date Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software, with LG’s usual custom interface layer on top. While it does make some concessions for the relatively large screen, fitting in more content than a phone would, LG’s is one of the fustier-looking custom Android skins.
The default icons, the font and the architecture of the interface itself all look a little bit stale compared with the latest Samsung Android skin and the vanilla Android 4.4 interface. However, it also doesn’t suffer from the same level of stuttering we saw recently in the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, it’s much less invasive than some and you can change the interface easily with a custom Launcher app. These change how Android looks, and don’t require any form of rooting or hacking.
LG also allows for some customisation of its own interface too. You can change the system font, what the task bar looks like and so on. With a fresh wallpaper slapped down and a few tweaks applied, you can make the G Pad look pretty good.
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