T-Mobile G-Slate Review
Sticking to it with the stock Honeycomb camera interface, there’s nothing we haven’t seen before with the Motorola XOOM. Specifically, there’s one large dial on the right side of the interface that allows your thumb to quickly navigate between the various settings of the camera. For a tablet, there should be more than enough appealing shooting modes to satisfy most users out there, but it doesn’t quite offer as many manuals modes as we’d like. Regardless of that, we can get up to a 4.0x digital zoom level by pressing on the “+” button – which is half of what’s obtainable with the XOOM. Moreover, there’s an on-screen toggle to switch from camera to video mode, while another one perched close-by will switch it to the front facing camera.
Quickly assessing some of the snapshots taken with the G-Slate, it’s instantly recognizable right away that they are inferior to the XOOM’s results. As a matter of fact, shots taken outdoors under sunny conditions produce average details, bland looking colors, and a lack of sharpness to really deliver some visuals. Regretfully, the quality diminishes indoors under natural lighting due to its overall dark appearance and some faint digital noise popping up that lessen its clarity. However, the LED kicks into play as the tablet attempts to focus prior to taking the shot – thus capturing some acceptable looking images; despite the blurry appearance with shots taken further than 5 feet away. You can probably get away printing out 4 x 6 images with the G-Slate’s production, but we wouldn’t recommend blowing them up any larger.
Regarded as a rarity still, the G-Slate kicks the bucket with its ability to record 1080p high-definition videos at 30 frames per second. As much as we like its peppy capture rate on paper, there are still some instances of jitteriness with its results. Details are average at best, but what detracts us more from anything else, is the amount of artifacting present when quickly panning with the tablet. Additionally, it seems that the sensor is extremely sensitive seeing that exposure can abruptly change depending on the scenery. Lastly, audio recording is downright awful with its grainy sounding voices. If we had to pick, we’d easily choose the Motorola XOOM any day over the G-Slate when it comes to capturing photos and videos.
T-Mobile G-Slate Sample Video:
Without a doubt, the G-Slate’s ability to record 720p high-definition video in 3D is undeniably its biggest draw factor in luring people to its gaze. When a tablet is packaged along with a pair of retro style 3D glasses (anaglyph ones), there’s no denying that the feature is seen as being novel for a tablet. It’s obviously cool at first, but when you have to lug around the pair of 3D glasses everywhere in order to enjoy content on the tablet, it begins to become a bit inconvenient – as opposed to the no-glasses required technology being utilized by some upcoming smartphones.
Required to run the 3DCamcorder app to shoot 3D videos, its interface is merely a facsimile to what we see used by most stock Android smartphones. Towards the right portion of the interface, we find the circular red record button and thumbnail to the most recently shot video. Opposite of that, most of the camera’s controls and settings are positioned to the left area of the display – these include the ability to change the 3D mode, depth control, and settings. If you’re not versed with the 3D jargon, it’s nice to find the nifty help guide within the app to better give you a feel of how to operate it. As with most 3D capable devices, the tips and guide within the app actually inform us that the depth control “may cause fatigue for your eyes or loss of depth perception.” Scary, don’t you think?
T-Mobile G-Slate 3D Video Sample 1:
T-Mobile G-Slate 3D Video Sample 2:
Keeping things at the default settings, the 3D effect in general works when viewing content directly on the tablet itself with the included pair of anaglyph 3D glasses. Sadly though, the overall quality is still less than desirable to our taste, but it should suffice for some people out there who just want to experience 3D first hand. Specifically, the 3D effect is most prominent with figures moving from the background towards the camera, and vice versa. Although it shoots at 30 frames per second, everything else is pretty much a bummer since details are on the grainy side, colors are almost indistinguishable with the 3D glasses on, and exposure is super jumpy when panning between areas. As we mentioned, it’s definitely nice to see this on board with a tablet, but it’s utterly reserved to be a novel feature – and nothing more!
The 3D effect in general works when viewing content directly on the tablet itself with the included pair of anaglyph 3D glasses
It's important to note that color-loss is evident with 3D video only when you're watching it with the red/cyan anaglyph glasses, which is actually the only way to watch 3D on the display of the tablet. For the newer methods of enjoying 3D content – with polarized or active-shutter glasses – you need to have the appropriate hardware – 3D TV, monitor or projector. If you have one of those, you'll be able to enjoy the content that you've captured with the camera of the G-Slate a lot more.
Seeing that Google Talk is always preloaded with almost every Android device out there, it’s the most convenient service to experience video chat. Connected with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network, we’re satisfied with the video calling experience with the G-Slate’s front facing camera – though, its placement in landscape adds a perspective look to us. However, it seems better suited for use in portrait.
With a lightning quick 1GHz dual-core processor in tow, it’s only fitting to see it go to use with the Gallery App. We’re actually excited to see a novel 3D-like effect going on with the different albums in the gallery as you either tilt the G-Slate or touch the screen. Granted that it will display content stored locally on the tablet, but it’ll even pull things from your Picasa account as well. However, once we moved past the updated looks of the Gallery App, there isn’t much else different with it. Naturally, you can scroll between photos by simply swiping left or right, and zoom with pinch gestures, but there isn’t much in terms of editing functions offered – only things like rotating and cropping are available. And as usual, you can share content with a variety of services like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
More of the same again, we’re still nevertheless enthralled by the stock music player of Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Starting up the music player, we’re instantly taken to an eye catching carousel of album covers that we can browse through with smoothness like no other. Definitely flaunting some eye catching visual flare with its own spin on Apple’s beloved Cover Flow mode, we’re glad to see that the transformation has finally arrived for the Android music player.
Once you select an album and song to play, it displays the customary set of things – like the album cover, track information, and on-screen controls. However, we were hoping to see some sort of visualization to complement Honeycomb’s 3D-esque appearance, but sadly there are none whatsoever. Even more, it doesn’t provide any equalizer options as well, and unlike the glaring output of the XOOM’s speakers, the ones with the G-Slate are more reserved with their production. Fortunately, the speakers don’t strain at the loudest volume setting, but the overall tone is a bit more on the neutral side of things – which obviously doesn’t sound irritating at all, however, it lacks any oomph to its output.
Using one of the highest quality displays we’ve seen grace any tablet out there thus far, the video watching experience is undeniably fantastic on so many levels with the G-Slate. Watching a video encoded in MPEG-4 1280 x 720 resolution, we’re greeted with lush details, iridescent looking colors, and playback that’s richly smooth. Add to that its reasonably ample sized 8.9” display, you have the perfect companion for those long and lonesome road trips. Trust us, it’ll keep you engaged with all of the action!
Storage shouldn’t be a problem for the T-Mobile G-Slate considering that it comes packed with 32GB of internal memory. Strangely though, it doesn’t offer a microSD card slot for expansion, and even though it comes with a microUSB to USB adapter, it’s unable to read any of our attached USB flash drives.
Google Maps has also received a subtle makeover as it makes use of the added space of course. However, there isn’t any new functionality present that we don’t see with its smartphone counterparts, but at least we’re offered things like 3D view, Google Latitude integration, street view, and free voice guided turn-by-turn directions with Google Maps Navigation.
Thankfully, the YouTube app has been updated as well to provide plenty of interaction while you’re watching a video. Initially, it’ll display a 3D wall of videos that you can scroll ever so smoothly, but when you select one, it’ll break down to various panes with their respective content. As the video plays in one pane, you can simply read about its description or comments in another, while related videos will pop up in the last pane. Also, you can obviously share particular videos to specific social networking accounts as well.
As for other standard apps that haven’t been optimized to work with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, they run just like they normally do on a smartphone. So for things like the official Facebook and Twitter apps, it’ll basically embody the look and feel that you’re accustomed to using, but hopefully developers will quickly optimize them. That’s because they’re scaled up and don’t take advantage of the extra real estate. Even well after Honeycomb’s official launch with the XOOM, there still appears to be some bugs with the G-Slate’s experience as well since we continue to come across some abrupt force closures on apps like Facebook.
1. AppleFUD (unregistered)
Requiring glasses for 3D on a tablet = FAIL!
Google still needs to step it up on Honeycomb. I'm surprised that they haven't had a major update yet. . . only one minor one. The browser is a ways off from the desktop version of Chrome and that's what they "advertised" when Honeycomb first hit the market--just check the desktop version of Google docs on it. . . not good.
2. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
I dont mind that it requires glasses. I just think its odd that they went with the red/blue style instead of the newer style found in theaters. I guess it was a development cost thing, but for that price i would have expected better.
Other than that, the tablet is fantastic. Ive been messing with it for over a week now. :)
3. cheetah2k (Posts: 733; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
I love Android, but the one thing I can see from all of these Android tablets is that Google and the manufacturers have yet to produce a "smooth as silk" UI like the ipad and ipad 2.
This is another reason why I just bought the Playbook. I played around with the UI and tried my hardest to get some lag, but it never happened. Sure it might not have native email or calender (yet) but constant UI lag frustration is where the Android Tabs (and phones) are let down.. I mean, FFS, dual core should be making a massive difference for Android, but in the real world, its not..
This review is just another disappointment, but reminds me that I made the right decision ordering the Playbook.
4. Eingild (Posts: 203; Member since: 19 Apr 2011)
The reason why iPad produces "smooth as silk" UI is that it stops processing when you touch the screen. Having said that, I have to agree with you because to a normal consumer useability beats functionality. Android devices are used to telling people "We have dual core, 3D camera, this and that.." while in fact all the consumers care about is what can their device do rather than what it has. Maybe the secret to this is on the advertising of Android products in which Apple has done an incredible Jobs. I mean job.
5. jendral (unregistered)
wo this good enough.
by phone gallery