Computer peripheral manufacturer Mercury has launched its budget tablet called the mTab in the market, priced at a very attractive Rs 9,500. The tablet looks surprisingly good on paper in terms of specifications but a lower price also means that there is a catch. The tablet has a 7-inch capacitive display with 800 x 480 pixel resolution that has become standard for budget tablets.
The capacitive display offers better accuracy and response than what we saw on the Beetel M agiq's resistive display. The build quality of the tablet is good but it still feels heavy to hold at 400g. The display is crisp and at full brightness it's legible under the sunlight as well, but the lack of an ambient light sensor is a letdown. Because of this omisson, brightness has to be adjusted manually when moving around. The odd placement of android buttons on the tablet is also a probable issue with users.
The 'back' and 'menu' functions are physical buttons under the display. On the right side of the tablet is the 'power/hold' button along with the 'home' button and the 'volume up/down' key. The 'menu' and 'back' buttons are hard to press - that tends to get irritating since these are the two most often used. Mercury has placed all the connectivity ports at the bottom of the tablet.
There is a 3.5mm audio jack, a miniUSB port, a proprietary charger port, microSD slot and a mini HDMI out for connecting to external displays. There is a front 1.3MP camera on the bezel and a speaker grill on the back with a tiny hole for reset.
The tablet runs a 1Ghz processor with 512MB RAM and 4GB onboard storage expandable up to 32GB. Operating system is the latest Android 2.3 with Android Market access and Mercury has preloaded ES file explorer, ES video player and appinstaller on the tablet. Interface customisation is minimal with only the notification bar customised to show small icons for volume up/down, home, menu and back.
This helps in quick navigation as the button placement is odd on the tablet, but the tiny size of the icons is an issue if you have large fingers. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity are present on the device, but there is no Wi-Fi hotspot functionality. The tablet supports connectivity using a 3G USB dongle, but without any clear instructions on how to connect one, we were unable to get it to work.
Multimedia performance of the tablet is very impressive. With the supplied USB on the go cable, it played video and audio files directly from USB drives including 720p videos without any lag. Audio output is loud with good clarity from the speakers and headphones.
The front camera is a letdown as the photographs are full of noise. The battery life of the tablet was just over five and half hours with games, videos, music, social networking and Internet browsing. Amongst the sea of budget tablets, Mercury aims to attract consumers by playing the price card - it is, after all, the cheapest tablet with a capacitive display.