Android tablets may be commonplace but that doesn’t mean they’re all alike. The reason so many 7” tablets are available is that they cater to the differing needs of the consumer looking to buy them. So what makes the $69.99 Ematic’s EGD172 7” Dual-Core Multi-Touch Tablet stand out? That it provides features unexpected in its price range.
Start with part of the name – a 1.1GHZ dual-core processor. For a tablet to be efficient it needs to work without apparent lags of graphics or response to commands. Multitasking issues aside, a dual-core processor can handle more that is going on as part of its physical makeup. From a practical viewpoint, it means that the tablet won’t “stutter” or cause any slowdowns during normal use.
The EGD172’s design is unremarkable, although getting it in one of the color schemes other than black will jazz that up (Magenta and Purple). Controls and ports on the side do the usual things; the fact an up-to-32GB micro-SD card slot exists is the biggest selling point over iPads (the Ematic comes equipped with 8 GBs of flash storage). Internally, Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) is the OS handling the software demands in conjunction with the tablet’s hardware. Built in front and rear facing cameras are embedded in the design: the rear’s 3 megapixel behaving as expected when using photo or video functions and having decent resolution for shooting photos or taking videos. The front camera’s 2MP is suitable for taking selfies and for video-chat applications — its low resolution requires plenty of light for the image to be acceptable. All this comes in a chassis that is of a normal size compared to other 7” tablets, although perhaps a bit more slender than others in its class. But it does have a decent “heft” to it, aided by the “leatherette” styled back that gives you something to hold onto. One handed holding is easy and will also avoid covering up the speaker, which doesn’t have a lot of volume to work with anyway.
A wide range of apps are included, as is Google Play for getting more. The apps behaved as expected with a single tap activating them — and not a hard tap at that. The EGD172’s response to the touch screen is immediate, and I didn’t encounter any speed issues when playing a game like “Cut the Rope.” The video player also accepts video resolutions of up to 1080p, although the view of the screen is 800 x 480 resolution. But the 7” size of the tablet helps to make the image seem of better resolution than it is, and as long as the level of brightness and contrast is kept at about average or slightly lower, artifact and other resolution issues will not surface in dark scenes and extreme contrast areas in videos. Reading text onscreen also looks fine, providing the text is not blown up huge — smaller is always better here.
WiFi is another issue though — the last thing the EGD172 wants is to share a wireless network with others as then it will grind exceedingly slow. Given free rein on the network, the tablet will load in data/graphics at a moderate pace that does require a bit of patience. But the more stress put on the system (for example, trying to play a HD YouTube video), the more apt it was to have to do a fair amount of buffering prior to the video being streamed.
Battery time was average for a tablet of this type. I was able to use the tablet for various uses for about 4 hours on average without needing to recharge. But when I ran movies, the time noticeable declined — this was not unexpected. So if you plan to use the EGD172 on an extended road trip as the main source of entertainment (not a 2-3 hour flight), having a portable battery recharger along will help.
I also found it interesting that if the EGD172 was connected to a PC, it will automatically install a device driver for communicating. Nothing similar happened when I connected it to my Mac, so I had to download a specific application first.
Bottom line: The Ematic’s EGD172 7” Dual-Core Multi-Touch Tablet comes with Google features like Voice Search and Google Now. Sub-$100 tablets are often considered as being “toys” but the EGD172 has the horsepower to be used by any age group in a normal and functional manner, as long as it’s kept in mind that the tablet’s features (and lack of same) will not satisfy everyone.
Micro-SD card input, Google software features
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.