Channel 5

LG G Pad 8.3

Friday 07 March 2014

G-Rating

Rating of 5

The basics

In the world of small-scale Android tablets the second-gen Nexus 7 holds sway, but that hasn't stopped LG from pushing out what it hopes will become the new leader of the pack. The LG G-Pad 8.3 takes visual cues from the excellent LG G2 mobile phone, but adds additional desirability with a sleeker case, pin-sharp display and mid-range price point. If you’ve got £199 to spend, is this your next Android slate, or is Google's seven-inch option a better choice? We're about to find out.

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The good

Although the 8.3-inch screen makes the G-Pad larger than the Nexus 7, the gorgeous design more than makes up for the increase in size. It's a mixture of rounded plastic and brushed metal, and qualifies as one of the most alluring Android slates we've yet seen. It's also incredibly thin and light, which are ideal qualities for this kind of device.

The full HD IPS LCD screen meanwhile is incredible, with a pin-sharp resolution and decent colour replication. It's somewhat hard to see in direct sunlight, but for the most part you'll struggle to find a better display on any other product in this category. Games, videos, photos and web pages simply pop on this screen.

One massive advantage the G-Pad 8.3 has over the Nexus 7 is expandable storage - Google doesn't allow MicroSD cards on its range of Nexus devices, which means users are limited to the built-in memory alone. LG has kindly given you the option to boost storage with cheap media, which means the 16GB of internal memory isn't all you have to rely on.

The bad

The LG G-Pad 8.3 doesn't do much wrong, but it would have been nice to have had a more powerful chipset beating at its heart. The Snapdragon 600 included here is capable, but the 800 is now doing the rounds and would have future-proofed the slate for longer. There are moments when the tablet struggles to keep up with your inputs, usually when other background tasks are taking place. On the whole, this is still a smooth experience, but it's not as silky as what you'd find on a recent iPad model.

LG has used its own custom user interface here, which is spread over the top of Android 4.2. Not having the latest version of Google's OS is a pain, but LG will hopefully update the device to 4.4 very soon. There's a Google Play variant of the G-Pad available as well, but this removes all of LG's custom embellishments - some of which are actually pretty useful: elements such as QPair - which allows you to send notifications from your phone to your tablet - and "tap to wake" - which allows you to lock and wake your device simply by double-tapping the display - become essential features you'll find hard to do without.

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The bottom line

It's truly remarkable how far the Android tablet sector has come in recent months, and the LG G-Pad 8.3 is arguably one of the best small-screen slates we've seen so far. The larger screen, better design and expandable memory all help it put the Google Nexus 7 in the shade, and low retail price is also a massive plus point. A faster processor wouldn't have gone amiss, but that's a relatively small complaint when you look at the bigger picture. If you're in the market for a new Android tablet, then this should be near the top of your shopping list.

Thanks to GearZap for supplying the console used in this review.

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