The iBall Slide is a decent 7-inch Android tablet by iBall, providing enough competition to the other tablet devices like the Beetel Magiq and the Reliance 3G tab, which are priced at around the same range. iBall is one of the popular brands in making some of the best peripherals for computers, and now this entry into the tablet device market won’t be a failure for sure. The Slide is strong enough, comfortably sized and powered with the latest Android OS version, but does have a few factors that could be making it a less strong competition in the market. Talking about the various aspects of the device, we would take you through the best and worst of the iBall Slide.
Check out the Unboxing of the iBall Slide:
Design & Form Factor
Looks wise, the iBall slide disappoints most of the users as it typically looks like one of the many Android tablets that are made for the low budget users. It is quite thick and heavy, though you won’t complain at all if you used the Samsung Galaxy tab earlier, because holding both of them together won’t show a lot of difference. The iBall Slide has the dimensions of 196.5mm x 125mm x 14.5mm, so you can see that the thickness is around 1.5cm, making it 50% higher than the Apple iPad. But nonetheless, you won’t see the difference when the pricing is so varied. The thickness would be almost forgotten as the holding of the slide is quite comfortable, and a tablet of 7-inches being thinner than this could make the user more cautious about it being very delicate. The slide has a front camera on the long side, which means you can use the camera by holding the iBall slide on landscape mode. The front looks decent, with the camera and a single “i” button which takes you to the home screen from anywhere, just like what most of the Android tablets provide. And on the bottom side in the landscape mode, there is a SL\DE logo imprinted. Talking about the sides, the right side bottom pane has a series of connectivity sockets, which include the 3.5mm headset jack, the Charger connection socket, the Mini USB connections for host and OTG, the On/Off switch, the HDMI socket and the socket to place the MicroSD card.
On the right side, you would see the lock/unlock/power key and beside that, the keys to go back or to the menu. Confusing, as many would take it as the volume jack keys while using it for the first time, but take a note of this, there are no volume jack keys, and the homescreen on the top notification panel section has the option to increase/decrease the volume. For someone who has started using the Slide in the landscape mode (which is the appropriate way to use it), they would soon find it easy to use the menu and back buttons which would be on the top right side for them, as the index finger of the right hand rests at the position where the buttons are located.
The back side of the slide has a large speaker section, and nothing else except the logo and the FCC regulation stuff, and one of the shockers – Absence of the rear camera. There is only one front camera which helps in video conferencing and self photography, but you would have to settle with your mobile phone or digital cameras for the normal image capturing of stuff in front of you.
So overall, the design is not that to-be-called-awesome type, and on the same time, isn’t the one you would see and throw away. The 7-inch tablets thinner than this would be very delicate to handle, even though people would complain about the thickness of it. The confusing menu and back keys on the side actually made the tablet look better with no additional keys on the front side. One more additional but unnecessary key is the on/off switch that comes in the bottom, which is of no point being placed, because the Slide could be controlled using the unlock key on the side, and it could even be switched on/off with the same.
Operating system, Interface and Apps
The iBall Slide is powered with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, the latest one in the Android stream and it is very well fitted into the screen of the Slide, with the multiple home screens, and the way it is made to look its best in the landscape mode. Typical-Android-interface with the default bottom icons, and the customizable home screens with widgets, shortcuts and the backgroud wallpapers which could be the static ones or live wallpapers, from the large gallery of pictures that come by default, or from the gallery if you have downloaded or transferred into the device.
Here are the home screens that come by default:
The welcome screen has a couple widgets like climate etc., and the bottom icons are of the Gallery, Music, Browser and Settings. There is even a shortcut to the Task Killer, clicking on which the active apps are killed instantly, although later on the ones which use the background data start running again. On the right side on the screen, you would see the shortcut to Browser and Settings, and between both of them is the icon to open the menu of applications that are installed in the Slide. The other home screens have the music player widget, the power control widget using which you can change the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Brightness, Auto-rotate settings, the Sound settings and on the top, there is the notification panel with few minute icons that stay there for default – Volume control, Home, Back icons beside the battery and time info icons. Absence of the volume jack keys is compromised with the volume control icons in the notification panel.
The notification panel when dragged down, doesn’t have the list of options like the other Android phones or devices have – The Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Sound, Auto-rotate settings. The panel is empty and has nothing else than the notifications about the apps, any updates, unread emails etc.
The applications come in a huge bulk, as iBall has integrated many apps for everyone to take advantage of, and many a times, people won’t need the Android market to download any other apps as this load has almost all the needed ones. The apps don’t come in various pages, but in a single one that can be scrolled up/down giving a streamlined view of all the apps. Just as it comes in all the Android devices, the Browser, Downloads, Email, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Search, Music, Voice Search, Youtube etc. are all given by default, but in addition to that, iBall Slide comes with the other pre-loaded apps like the Google Voice, Skype, Zomato, ES File Explorer, ES Task Manager and the 3G Setting about which we would talk in the connectivity.
We found the multitasking pretty good, with no lagging or freezing up of the apps. Once we tried going with the 4 apps running together, where we were browsing the web, had the skype app on the background along with the Google Talk and the Music running the background, and here there was a little lag when we long-pressed the center button to open the list of recent apps. Still, the performance is pretty good, thanks to the ARM Cortex-A8 technology with the processor speed of 1GHz.
The touch interface of the iBall Slide was unexpectedly pretty awesome, and the capacitive touchscreens that the non-regular companies make, usually come with small glitches, but iBall has been successful in giving a touchscreen with a pretty good and exact response, which can be well judged when you scroll down/up in a faster-than-normal speed or play any games where the live fast movement of finger on the screen is required. We were pretty much impressed with the touchscreen, and when compared with the high-end tablet devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the iPad, it isn’t that low-of-a-quality at that price.
There is nothing to call it “The” camera, because there is just one front camera that lies right in the top when the Slide is held in the landscape mode. The camera is not good at either of the jobs, image capturing and video recording. The videos are recorded in the 3gp version, and it is of not-a-very-decent quality, although the camera of 2-megapixel quality has to do something better than that. But still, when you are uploading a video captured from this device into Youtube, the video comes in 3 formats – 240p, 360p and 480p.
The image captured and the one shown in the display is a little different, because the certain right and left areas are shown absent in the screen, but after the image is captured, a little areas on both the sides are included extra, and the image resolution is 1600×1200 pix.
Check out the quality of video captured using the iBall Slide camera:
But with this camera of the iBall Slide, we are talking about the video conferencing and not about the image capturing or video recording. The quality is good enough for the video conferencing as many others say, but we haven’t tried it out yet. But when the video chats through these devices are done with the other smartphones or tablet devices, the small screens display the video in a compact and good mode. Despite the negative thoughts about the camera being on the odd right side, and the correct one for landscape mode, that is the perfect place for the camera to be placed as the video chats usually don’t look good when such tablet devices are held in a vertical position.
The Android tablets with the Wi-Fi connectivity option usually disappoint people with no 3G option, but iBall Slide has been a little unique and different from others. It doesn’t have the SIM card slot, but it has got an option to connect to the internet if you are using a USB Data hub of any network, and this can be done using the Mini USB to USB cable given along with the slide. Using this, you could connect to the internet anytime once the USB modem is installed. Weird if you always using the USB modem with the Slide and being connected, and at the same time, it eats up the battery too, but in cases of emergency, this isn’t a bad option given along with the general connectivity options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 etc.
For the connectivity through the 3G USB Modem, you would be seeing an app in the apps list, called the 3G Setting using which you can create the 3G networks and there is a whole list of modems which can be connected, so connecting to the internet won’t be that hard for anyone if they once set up the things. The same 3G network settings can be done through the Wireless & Network settings of the tablet, and just like most of the Android devices, the wireless network usage is available, through which the location can be determined.
Other Noticed Good / Bad features
Not many bad things were noticed in the iBall Slide, but yeah the screen isn’t friendly for the finger prints and these finger prints would be appearing there if you don’t use a screen protector, and the accelerometer doesn’t function properly, and the actual correct angulation of a game of car racing was seen when the Slide was angled at 60-degree above the normal angle. One of the added advantages with the Slide is that, although you don’t see the HD quality video output on the screen although it supports that, the HDMI output using which you could view the 1080p videos on the larger and better screens. And as the booklet that comes along says, the iBall Slide supports the 3D games with the rotation of the screen displaying the full screen gaming.
We loved the performance of the iBall Slide, after playing a few high graphics games and also playing around with the Youtube app and opening the HQ videos on it. The games like CricketFever, Angry Birds, Ninjump etc. were very well loading, and rendering at the speed as they do in the faster smartphones with smaller screens. There was no lag observed, and this is where I could say that the iBall Slide with such a price compared to the Galaxy Tab, is a tab killer if someone is buying it for the purpose of entertainment.
Talking about the battery, it is strong at 4400 mAh power but still doesn’t last more than 4-5 hours (which actually is quite high for continuous usage), or the intermittent usage can keep the Slide on for at least half a day. With the normal operation, it could go still higher. You would need to rely on the battery icon to see and determine how much battery is still left, because the Battery widget that is available in the Android Market, and which works perfect on the Android smartphones, doesn’t show the same accuracy in the iBall Slide. The memory of 8GB internally is good enough, and there is even an openly available MicroSD slot just beside the HDMI port for expanding the memory to 32GB if at all necessary.
To make things look better, iBall went with the Carousel view of the applications and it does look geeky and better than the normal page view of apps. We even liked the Task Killer which does the instant stoppage of the apps running in the background, and this helps in optimizing the speed of the tablet. By default, there are more than 25 static and 9 live wallpapers, most of which can improve the way the home screen of the Slide appears, thanks to the great set of wallpapers. The absence of the shortcuts to connectivity and accelerometer options does make us spend extra time to go to the individual setting areas and change whenever we wish to.
Apart form the above advantages and disadvantages, we didn’t find the direct way to capture the screenshots in the iBall Slide, except paying for an app through the market if we aren’t rooting the tablet. The Galaxy devices come with the shortcut keys with the couple button press at one time capturing the screen, but in the iBall Slide such a shortcut is still missing.
Check out the iBall Slide i7011 Tablet Review Video:
Talking overall about the iBall Slide, it is one of the strong Android tablet devices with the 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, providing a good competition to the Beetel Magiq and the Reliance 3G tab which come at around the same price range, but although the Reliance tab has the SIM option unlike the iBall Slide, you are restricted to just one network. Comparing with the high-end and high-priced Galaxy Tab 7-inch version, this would be a better choice if you are thinking to have a tablet device just for the purpose of entertainment and feel that Wi-Fi network is enough for the connection to the web. At the price of Rs. 14000 in the Indian market, the iBall slide can be rated one of the decent and best Android tablet devices in the 7-inch tablet market.