I don’t know how PLDT makes money giving these things away, but I got a free PLDT-branded Huawei S7 Lite MediaPad last weekend, part of the deal when you upgrade your myDSL bandwidth.
I’d been suffering a 1.5Mbps connection for a couple of years, alternating between the cabled home connection and my SmartBro Postpaid SIM account which is considerably faster on my ZTE MF60 MiFi, but not with my torrent downloads, which poke along at a crawl.
I had a chance to upgrade to a 3.5Mbps connection for a mere P350/month more, plus I get a free “TelPad” and a free new high-speed modem. (Ok, I take it back; I know how PLDT makes money off of this—they just subsidize the cost of the gear, and then some, and foist it on us in installment over the months we’re trapped in their plan. Oh well.)
It’s the TelPad that got my attention.
They sent me a replacement phone handset that doubled as a recharging tablet dock, with the tablet acting as a touchscreen dial pad and handfree set. But you can undock it and use it as a regular Android tablet, and take it around with you and hook up via wifi. (I actually already included the TelPad in my recent post about e-readers, accessible here.)
The TelPad is actually a Huawei S7 Lite MediaPad, with the PLDT TelPad logo silkscreened on the back. It’s been out for a few months, and apparently PLDT is milking everything they can from it. The company partnered with Huawei and gives the TelPad away as part of their promo. It’s a budget, entry-level Android tablet with a specially engineered handset dock that works suitably well as a handsfree device.
The S7 Lite is the improved version of the previous IDEOS S7, and despite the “Lite” designation it has a faster processor, more memory, better resolution, a better screen and a more powerful battery. Which isn’t saying much, really; the IDEOS S7 had pretty low specs to begin with, and the stepped-up version merely brings it up to today’s entry-level specs.
The S7 Lite MediaPad has a capacitive 7” 24-bit IPS screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, and runs off Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It works off a single-core 1.44 MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, has 1GB of system memory and 8GB of NAND flash storage.
You can bump up the storage memory to 32GB with a microSD or microSDHC card inserted into the slot on the lower right side. This version of the tablet doesn’t have 3G or LTE capability, and can only operate on a wifi internet connection. It has the standard speaker and mic, operates off Bluetooth 3.0 and below, has EDR compatibility and has what the manual calls a gravity sensor. It doesn’t have NFC, so you can’t tap it on things and expect something to happen.
There is a power switch and a volume rocker on the upper right side and a charging port on the left for connecting to the dock. On the bottom are a 3.5mm earphone port and a microUSB port for attaching the tablet to your computer or a optional power brick (in case you’d rather not use the included dock to charge it). The back camera is a respectable 3.2 megapixels, while the front-facing camera is a paltry 0.3 megapixels, which I guess is good enough for videoconferencing.
The tablet works as a dialer and handsfree device when docked to the phone. You can’t use the phone’s physical keypad when the tablet is docked and you have to use the keypad on the screen, which is a special app that pops up when you insert the tablet into the dock. You can switch between your PLDT landline and a new VoIP service PLDT has introduced that allows you to make free calls via the internet to any other VoIP phone or landline.
Off the dock, the S7 MediaPad is a tablet that’s kind of a heavy sucker; certainly heavier than the Nexus 7, its more able competitor. The S7 Lite is made of plastic and aluminum, and has a wide bezel on its screen. It has a design aesthetic that’s actually quite pleasing to the eye. The tablet’s a bit thick for my taste, but you get used to it.
It works as your basic Android tablet, and it has everything that that entails. You can get on the Google Play Store and get all the apps you want. It’s just a bit underpowered and lags and stutters, specially on video playback, or simple scrolling of some text on a page. You touch an icon, and it often takes a second or two before it responds. Even the Chrome browser is dog-slow. (Sometimes you even think it froze, the response takes so damned long.)
Or maybe I’m just used to my faster Nexus 7 or my iPad. If I didn’t have any point of comparison, I guess I wouldn’t really mind the slowness. Not that I’d have a choice. Actually, the basic problem I have trouble with is the power.
The tablet’s power requirements are met by a modest 4100 mAh Lithium-ion polymer battery, which gives it around 4, maybe 5 hours of continuous operation with wifi on. Not quite enough, in my opinion. I usually spend hours in cafes and coffee shops, and running out of juice is a bummer. Using it and watching the battery indicator drop around 20-25% in an hour is pretty worrying, and seeing it drop by 60% while idling overnight is very worrying.
The S7 Lite is a passable and adequate tablet, but a bit slow. I guess it’s best used sparingly as a tablet outside the house, and is better suited (if overqualified) for its phone function at home or in the office. All in all, a laudable effort by PLDT to attract non-tablet users and welcome them to the fold, although it’s a bit ludicrous to expect them to use a (relative) powerhouse as a mere handsfree telephone device. Mine is staying put on its dock, to be used as tablet only occasionally when my other tablets are unavailable.
The Huawei S7 Lite Mediapad is free as a TelPad when availing of the PLDT promo, but is available outside (if you can find it) for around P10,000.
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