Jun 17, 2014 Nick Rego
ZOTAC have long been dipping their toes into the tablet market, and in the past have release a slew of low-cost Android tablets that didn’t quite win us over. However, the ZOTAC Tegra Note 7 is something of a different color. The tablet is designed by NVIDIA, and subsequently handed to various manufacturers to co-brand and sell on the market. A 7” tablet is nothing new, but the Tegra Note 7 does its best to try and stand out from the crowd.
Build quality & Design
From a design point of view, I have to bluntly say that this is probably one of the least attractive 7” tablets I’ve handled. The back of the device is divided into three sections and is made of easily scratched plastic and a dimpled rubber surface, presumable for better grip. It also feels a bit heavier than other similar tablets, clocking in at just over 320g. It also doesn’t feel very sturdy – there are a number of areas where the tablet creaks if you apply a slight pressure, so I would hate to imagine what would happen if you dropped this by accident.
The tablet also has very bizarre port placement – at the top you have 3.5mm jack, micro-HDMI, microUSB, and the power button. These seem to cramp up the tablet, and using the tablet when it’s plugged in for charging is a bit awkward, as the cable sticks out at the top rather than at the bottom as on most other tablets. There’s also a slot on the side for a microSD card, which is sadly always open and not very elegant. A raised volume rocker sits on the opposite side, and at the bottom a speaker grill for the bass. One of my early issues with the button placement was with the power – it’s positioned just above the rear-facing camera, so chances are that nine times out of ten, you’re going to smudge the rear camera while you attempt to turn this tablet on.
Benchmarks and Performance
What makes the Tegra Note 7 so special is the processor that powers it. NVIDIA’s goal here was to create a tablet that would appeal to a gaming user, and it seems like they’ve done just that. Powered by a quad-core Tegra 4 chip, apps were easy to launch in a matter of seconds but where this tablet excels is with gaming. There’s a dedicated NVIDIA store where you can purchase or download games and apps that have been specifically optimized or created to take advantage of the Tegra 4 processor. Improved physics and crisper visuals are just some of the things you can experience with these optimized apps. Our review tablet came with hardly any additional apps or UI tweaks, which was a blessing in itself. It’s worth noting that as soon as I connected to a Wi-Fi spot, the tablet automatically downloaded and upgraded to Android 4.4.2 with just a few taps.
Screen and Camera
While most other 7” tablets sport impressive displays, the Tegra Note 7 doesn’t seem to have the same standards. The 1280×800 resolution is acceptable, but when compared to the Nexus 7’s 1920×1200 display, you can really see the difference. Viewing angles are good, though colors aren’t as bright as on other displays.
Included in the Tegra Note 7 is a special stylus, which you can use on the tablet instead of tapping away with your finger. Dis-engaging the stylus from its slot brings up two extra buttons at the bottom – the one on the left can disable the touch screen so you can only interact with it using the stylus, and the one on the far right lets you take screenshots and manipulate them using the stylus. There are also a number of note-taking and drawing apps that you can use, so if you can’t afford the likes of say the Samsung Galaxy Note, this is a close contender.
The camera on the Tegra Note 7 is a paltry 5MP, but features a sort of ‘always-on’ HDR mode which presumably means you can take HDR-quality photos without having to wait forever for the tablet to process the image. Paired with the ‘Camera Awesome’ app, this should result in some pretty good photos, right? Well that’s not the case. The camera itself isn’t capable of taking very good shots, with colors often appearing too washed out, especially in instances with a lot of background lighting. I’ve never been an advocate for tablet photography, and this is a prime example why. There’s also no flash, so you’re always having to rely on other light sources.
The Tegra Note 7 has two forward facing speakers, which makes for some great audio when watching videos or playing games. The separate speaker at the bottom for bass also makes a world of difference. You’ll most likely use the tablet with headphones anyway, but it’s nice to know that the speakers do actually produce some decent audio.
Battery life on the Tegra Note 7 is decent depending on what you’re using it for. For intermittent web surfing and checking emails, you can easily get one or two days usage out of it. Watching videos at length will bring this down to nine or ten hours, and constant gaming will cut it short to about five hours.
The ZOTAC Tegra Note 7 is certainly a tablet that packs a lot of punch, but there are some serious competitors that might push it out of the way. Google’s Nexus 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 come to mind, and both offer features that the Tegra Note 7 can’t include in order to keep a low price point. Having said that, if you’re looking for a more affordable 7” tablet with a stylus, you can’t go wrong with this one.
A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys playing videogames during work hours and tinkering with the latest gadgets.
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