01/04/2013

Karbonn Smart Tab 8: Detailed Review, from a user’s point of view

As I revealed in this post, Karbonn Smart Tab8 Velox  is one of the best bets around if you are looking for a budget tablet under INR 7k. I bought this tablet about a week ago, 23rd of March to be precise. My experience with the tablet so far has been a tad bit above good, but slightly short of excellent. This post will cover my experience with the tablet so far.
Note: This tablet is now (probably) discontinued by Karbonn, as told to me by most Mobile Store owners. So, I am not sure whom I am writing this review for, may be just for the sake of sharing my experience with the tablet so far. (Because I guess, people who already have a particular device don’t go looking for its reviews :P)

Karbonn Smart Tab 8 Velox Review:

  • Karbonn ST8 Box Pack:

    • The box pack contains Karbonn Klinic, a leaflet that contains the locations of Karbonn's service centers, an OTG cable for connecting Dongles and Pen Drives, a USB cable, a charger and an introduction booklet. Earphones and any cover are missing.
      Karbonn ST8 Velox Box Pack
  • Design:

    • The tablet looks quite nice to hold, and a trendy pattern at the back of it adds some style factor to it.
    • The tablet is slimmer at the top and bottom edges, and that gives a curvy feel to the tablet’s body.
    • All the ports, buttons and everything you have on the sides of a tablet are present on a single side, on the left side of the Karbonn logo. This saves your brain from an extra headache to remember which port is on which side. Though the tablet’s display can revolve in 360 degrees (except in most games and a few particular apps), the Karbonn logo at the centre of the tablet helps you guess which side the buttons actually are.

    • The buttons are carved out quite well. All of them are easy to press, and you won’t have a hard time doing that.
    • The battery is located near the buttons as well. I guessed that because the battery gets warm (which is manageable, not too hot) on really long durations of use.
    • Front view of the Karbonn ST8 Velox
  • Connectivity:

    • The tablet isn’t short of connectivity options, almost everything you can probably imagine except a SIM card and NFC. You don’t find either of these in most tablets though, not in this budget.
    • Bluetooth works perfectly fine.
    • WiFi disconnects after some time of inactivity, that can be changed with a small tweak in the build.prop file, granted you are rooted.
    • With an OTG cable provided in the box, you can attach a wonderful lot of things, a few of them being:
      • USB Drives and Pen Drives
      • USB 2G/3G Dongles
      • Second sd card using a card reader
      • A wired keyboard
      • A wired mouse
      • Or, a combination of a few of these at the same time, by plugging in a USB hub
    • WiFi Hotspot
    • USB Tethering option is *NOT* present
    • A 3.5 mm headphone jack which works with every headphone I had with me
    • HDMI port to watch videos on your HD TV, I haven’t tested this yet.
  • Storage:

    • The device comes with an internal storage of 4 GB, as advertised on the box pack. Some user unknowingly claim that they have been cheated with false advertising as the device has just 1.50 GB available space (1,617,215,488 bytes to be mercilessly precise), but that isn’t the case. 1 GB of the advertised space is available for installation of user apps, while another 1 GB of the space is devoted to the system partition. Taking in consideration all these storages, the advertisement isn’t false. Most phones that claim to have 8 GB internal storage have only about 5 GB available to the user.
    • External SD card of 32 GB can be used at max.
    • Storage space can be further increased by adding a second sd card (or a pen drive) using a SD card reader and OTG cable
  • Camera:

    • This is one section I don’t want to talk about. The 3 MP camera does a really mediocre job of clicking photos. It clicks photo just for the sake of clicking them. A 2 MP shooter on my two year old Spice Mi 310  snaps much better pics than this one. I shall add a few sample pics for you to judge for yourself.
    • Video recording is nothing better either. I shall let the sample speak for itself.
    • In low brightness, the case is even worse.
    • The front camera does a really nice job, and I really didn’t expect this from a VGA camera. Again, the photo darkens a lot in night.
  • RAM:

    • The total RAM is 801 MB. Free RAM is about 450 MB when no apps are running in the background, which is impressive.
    • This much of RAM allows swiftness in multitasking. Even heavy games keep running for some time in the background, rather than beginning afresh when you pause the game to check out an email that just arrived.
  • Processor and GPU:

    • The 1.5 GHz Cortex A9 CPU doesn’t disappoint you and compliments the amount of RAM available to the user.
    • The GPU does a great job too, and I couldn’t find a video that lagged or any format which couldn’t be played using the hardware decoder (I use MX player, though all the videos run without a glitch even in the stock video player.)
  • Display:

    • This is another area to boast about, if you are a Velox user. The 1024x768 resolution on the 8 inch screen makes it almost impossible for our eyes to see pixels from naked eyes.
    • 16 million colors make the display vivid.
    • Brightness isn’t great though, and your eyes might have to make some efforts when you are trying to view any text in full fledged sunlight.
    • Viewing angles are great if you view from the left side, i.e. when someone is present at the side on which the various buttons and ports are present. The case is inverse when you try to view it from the opposite angle.
    • Rows of small squares are visible when the tablet is under a light source, especially when the screen is off. They are probably touch sensors.
    • The touch screen can detect up to 5 fingers at a time.
    • The screen’s aspect ratio is 4:3, and most HD videos being 16:9 don’t fill up the full screen with black bars present both above and below the screen. The 4:3 ratio makes the tablet a good one for reading ebooks and every other text file.
  • Audio:

    • The tablet has dual speakers on the back side, which are really loud.
    • The audio quality deteriorates when the speakers are at their max, but is more than bearable when you decrease the volume by one or two steps.
    • The tablet is ideal for watching movies even in places that are somewhat noisy.
    • Through headphones too, the audio is pretty loud.
  • Games that the tablet can run:

    • All the popular games that you can crave for on an Android tablet will work fine on this one. I was able to run Temple Run, Temple Run 2, Temple Run Oz, Subway Surfers, Angry Birds (Space, Start Wars and seasons) without any lag. The games run even smoother when set the tablet’s cpu at 1512 MHz and use the performance2 governor. I shall write a separate post about how to do that.
    • Karbonn Velox users have discussed which HD games are working and which aren't in this xda thread.
  • Benchmarks:

    • Quadrant Score: The tablet scored near about 4,000 when it had no applications installed on it, i.e. when I had just bought it.
    • Antutu Score: When bought new, the tablet scored near about 9,700. Now, it scores about 8,900.
      Billion Counter Benchmark Test
    • Billion Counter Score: You may not have heard about this benchmark app. It basically counts up to 1 billion and tells you the time your device took to complete the counting. When there weren’t any apps running in the background the time taken was about 32 seconds, which further increased to 35 seconds when a few apps were left running in the background. On the other hand, when setcpu was used with performance2 governor to clock the CPU at 1512 MHz, the time taken to count considerably fell down to 27 seconds.
  • Battery:

    • Battery life is excellent. Lasts about 7-8 hours on heavy usage. On medium usage, it will last over a day.
    • The only drawback in battery is that it takes too long to charge. In about 5 hours, I could only charge it to 71%. This isn’t a major problem though, as you can charge it at night and remove the charger when you wake up.
  • Glitches I faced:

    • More often than not, the charging works fine, but sometimes the screen acts weirdly when connected to a charger, whether it be the wall charger or using usb cable to charge using my PC.
    • The touch screen isn’t precise near the edges of the screen.
    • The stock screen guard causes problems in touch sensitivity. Removing it increased the sensitivity noticeably.
    • Haven’t faced any problems with any app in particular.
  • Development:

  • Accessories:

    • I bought a set of quantum earphones for INR 89 in a limited time deal at Tradus.com The earphones are too loud at max volume but produce nice music at one or two steps below that.
    • I also bought a leather cover (not really sure if it is leather) which has an attached keyboard. I got it for INR 800 from a local shopkeeper. A leather cover without a keyboard was also available, at a more decent price tag of INR 400. Till now, it’s money well spent.
  • Conclusion:

    • It is the best bet at this particular price point if you live without voice calling.
    • I had bought it for INR 6,500 from Spice Hotspot, it was out of stock everywhere else. Chech out the current online deals for Smart Tab 8 Velox.
If I missed out on any important point, or if you want to know about any other specific detail on this tablet, do let me know in the comments.
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