Samsung Galaxy Tab Lite

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Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 1.2GHz Marvell PXA986, Screen size: 7in, Screen resolution: 1,024×600, Rear camera: 2 megapixels, Storage: 8GB,Wireless data: No, Size: 116×9.7x193mm, Weight: 310g, Operating system: Android 4.2.2

 

At just £89, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Lite could be a tempting prospect for anyone looking for an inexpensive tablet from a well-known brand. However, after some time with the tablet the reasons for the low price become apparent. On the surface, it doesn’t look too different from Samsung’s other tablets. It has the same physical home button flanked by the capacitive menu and back buttons we’ve come to associate with the Galaxy range in all of its various guises. However, as soon as you touch the Tab Lite, it’s evident its chassis materials match its low price.

It has a similar faux-leather textured back as seen on the Galaxy Note but this is instead made from a hard plastic material. It’s easy to grip but feels pretty horrid. The Tab Lite comes in a variety of colours including white, black, pink and blue. It’s reasonably thick at 9.7mm but at 310g it’s light enough to hold with one hand for prolonged periods.

There’s a microSD slot on the side that you can use to expand the 8GB of built-in storage by up to 32GB. It will be worth investing in some extra storage space as you’re only left with around 5GB of usable space after taking into account the space required for the Android operating system, but bear in mind that not all apps and games support being moved to an SD card. There’s a small mono speaker on the back of the tablet that produces unimpressive sound, so you’ll be better off using headphones when listening to music or watching films.

 

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The Tab Lite has a dual-core 1.2GHz Marvell PXA986 system-on-chip (SoC) paired with 1GB of RAM. This is not a powerful chipset. It completed the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in a slow 1,472ms; this is marginally faster than the equally low-cost Gigaset QV830 tablet, but the tablet felt sluggish when browsing complex websites and there was a noticeable delay when scrolling through image-heavy pages.

The tablet didn’t fare any better in our games tests. In 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme it managed a pitiful 1,309 points and only 1,852 points in Ice Storm Unlimited, which is fixed to a 720p resolution for easy comparison across chipsets. This is among the worst scores we have seen from an Android tablet and worse than the Gigaset QV830, which at least managed 2,560 in the Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark. If you’re looking to spend this little money on a tablet, don’t expect to be able to play anything but the simplest of 2D games.

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We didn’t think much of the Tab Lite’s display; even the dirt-cheap Gigaset QV830’s screen was better. The Tab Lite has a 7in display with a resolution of just 1,024×600, and its horizontal viewing angles are very narrow indeed; moving slightly off-centre would lead to marked colour and contrast shift. The Tab Lite’s screen would also warp when you exerted any pressure to the back of the tablet.

When testing with our colour calibrator, the Tab Lite was only able to produce 61.2% of the sRGB colour gamut, compared to the Gigaset’s QV830’s 67.2%. The display had a very cold colour temperature with an overly strong emphasis on blue tones. We measured black levels as just 0.56cd/m2, meaning blacks appeared closer to grey. The tablet’s contrast ratio also left a lot to be desired at just 607:1, so images lack punch.

The Galaxy Tab Lite doesn’t have a front-facing camera. This means no video chat with apps such as Skype; or at least, the video chat will be a bit one-sided. There is a low-resolution 2-megapixel camera on the back, and its performance was distinctly average. Even outdoors with ample light it produced noisy images. Saturation was at least acceptable but the images were very soft. We’d rather have a front-facing camera for video chat than a low-quality main camera.

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The Tab Lite runs Android 4.2.2 along with a relatively understated version of Samsung’s TouchWiz Android customisations. Compared to tablets with newer versions of Android, some parts of the Tab Lite’s OS are starting to look distinctly old-fashioned. You have access to the usual Google Play store but also Samsung’s own Galaxy Apps store that occasionally has separate deals or discounts. As Samsung has changed the default Android soft navigation keys, you access the recent apps menu by holding the physical home button and access Google Now by holding the capacitive menu button. This might take some getting used to if you’re not already familiar with Samsung’s Android devices.

Even when you take into consideration its low price, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Lite is disappointing; we weren’t fans of its screen or sluggish performance. The Gigaset QV830, while no means a great tablet, at feels quicker, is cheaper and has a front-facing camera. We still think it’s not worth buying a tablet this cheap, though, and would always recommend saving up for a Tesco Hudl2 (or getting one with Clubcard points if you’re a Tesco customer).

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