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Gadget Review: iBall Slide i701 - This Windows tablet is almost a hit

iBall has managed to achieve quite a feat by offering a decent-performing Windows tablet for just Rs 5K, but poor display and poorly optimised Windows 8.1 OS play spoilsport

In the past few weeks, we have been repeatedly speaking about budget computers — from the Rs 13K Chromebooks to the Linux-based Rs 5K laptop by IIT Bombay. A recent addition to this line-up is the ultra-portable iBall Slide i701, a 7-inch Windows tablet that costs just Rs 5K. Without doubt, the i701 has set a new milestone in budget computing, but it has also thrown up a few questions on the rigidity of Windows 8. Let's take a look.

iBall Slide i701

iBall Slide i701

Design: There's nothing extraordinary about the way the iBall Slide i701 looks, but it gets a silicon matte finish in the back, thus offering a good grip. The edges are sleek, and the corners get a round touch. Overall, the device makes optimum usage of space, and looks like a cute 7-inch device.
Rating: 7/10

Display: The fact that iBall has managed to put a 7-inch IPS touch display in a device that costs Rs 5K is a feat in itself. But while we have to commend the makers for that, we can't help but notice the compromises made in the process, and how they affect our experience. For example, the viewing angles have been compromised heavily. So in the same angle where you can see the top part of the screen clearly, the bottom part appears darker. It causes a lot of discomfort, most noticeably, while using the touch keyboard. There's an oddity in the contrast levels (caused by low-viewing angle), which make certain keys shine brighter and hence, hurt the eyes. The touch is good, but limited to five touch points. Users would find the text size of menu and apps too small for comfort. Though, the device supports 1280x768, we found 1024x600 to be the optimal resolution for usage. Unfortunately, most apps don't work at this low resolution.
Rating: 4/10

Connectivity: The surprise elements with the iBall i701 don't end with the price. The device supports USB on the go, 3.5 mm aux-in, and mini HDMI. As for wireless connectivity, it comes with Bluetooth and wi-fi b/g/n. As for accessories, the device comes with three multi-coloured hard plastic back covers.
Rating: 10/10

Battery: The i701 gets enough juice from the 3,200mAh battery to last nearly four hours. Though, this is insufficient for a tablet, with this price tag, we shouldn't be asking for more.
Rating: 7/10

Camera: There are two cameras — a 2MP rear camera with flash and a VGA camera in the front. Both offer average-quality pictures and video.
Rating: 6/10

User interface & OS: The device runs on 32-bit Windows 8.1 single language with Bing with a free upgrade to Windows 10, when it's made available. The OS gives the i701 an edge over other tablets simply because of the fact that you can run most of your Windows desktop apps in the i701. However, the small screen size and lack of support in Windows 8.1 OS and apps for lower display configurations such as 1024x600, makes working in the device quite challenging. Often, the text gets difficult to read. We advise our users to install most apps from the Windows store. This will make it easier to negotiate the tiny controls in desktop apps.
Rating: 5/10

Hardware & Performance: Despite the low price, iBall has managed to squeeze in Intel Atom CPU Z3735G clocked at 1.33 GHz with Intel HD Graphics. Even though, the built-in RAM is 1GB, the processor manages to pull of most of your computing tasks, as well as support most low-end games. Of the 1GB RAM, it gets 32MB as dedicated video memory, the rest is used as graphic and system memory. At this price, the i701 is amazing, as we had no issues in multi-tab browsing either. The device comes with 16Gb built-in storage, but out of that, just 2.5GB is available for users. However, one can expand it up to 32GB using the microSD card slot.
Rating: 10/10

Specifications

Display: 7-inch IPS touch screen 1280x768
Processor: 1.3 GHz Intel Atom Z3735G
Memory: 1GB RAM, 16GB (internal), up to 32GB (microSD Card)
Camera: 2MP (rear), VGA (front)
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mini HDMI, USB OTG
OS: Windows 8.1 (free upgrde to Windows 10)
Price: Rs 4,999

Available at: All major retail stores

Overall rating
7.0 / 10
The guide VERDICT Overall, at R5K, the iBall manages to offer more features than one could ask for. The CPU performance is satisfactory in both video playback as well as in gaming. However, the restricted viewing angles in the display leave you disappointed. We also, believe that Microsoft should offer an optimised version of the Windows 8.1 OS to work efficiently in devices with smaller displays such as the i701.  Still, we give iBall full marks, especially for the effort and because its heart is in the right place, when it comes to making low-cost computing a reality in India.

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