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GIZMOS
By 18 April 2013 | Categories: gizmos

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Do a quick search for recommended 7” tablets, and no doubt you will find the Nexus 7, the joint development between Google and Asus, topping more than a few lists. Now though, you can add one more to the roster: Asus’ own FonePad.
 
Like the Nexus 7 (review), the FonePad radiates quality in its build, as its aluminium-backed body is both ergonomic in the hand and lends the device an aura of solidness. Indeed the clean, minimalistic design, which reminded us a little of the company’s Zenbooks, will challenge you to find a single sharp corner (you won’t) and was no less appealing on a tablet than it was on an ultrabook.
 
That being said, the tablet is certainly not difficult to hold for long periods; at 340 g it was not exactly heavy. Additionally, the bezel on the tablet’s sides are noticeably thinner than those on the top and bottom, but these were still substantial enough to offer us enough place to rest our thumbs without obscuring the screen.
 
 
The FonePad is certainly an attractive tablet to look at, but more importantly, it is
also a pleasure to hold and use.
 
Screened and inspected
 
Switching the FonePad on invoked memories of the Asus Transformer Prime (review), as a bright and contrasty screen greeted us with sharp images and text. The IPS screen offers up a decent resolution of 1280 x 800 HD (216 ppi), although we did find it to be quite reflective, a little more so, in fact, than the Nexus 7.  
 
Like that tablet, the FonePad similarly runs off Android Jelly Bean (4.1.2) and is exceedingly fast and responsive. Indeed, it reminded us yet again of how Jelly Bean lifted Android tablets to the next level; its impact is no less pleasing here.
 
This is very good news for the processor on offer here – not a Tegra 3 but rather Intel’s Atom Z Series SoC, which offers 1 GB of memory. In our tests, the duo performed admirably, handling pretty much everything we would want our 7” tablet to be able to cope with, such as web browsing, ereading, gaming, and notetaking.
 
Storing and speaking
 
However, one area where the FonePad trumps the Nexus 7 is in storage, as a microSD card slot enables you to expand its 8 GB of onboard storage up to 32 GB. Also, no less notable is the presence of 3G onboard, via a micro SIM.
 
Both the microSD card and the micro SIM slots are accessed by sliding off a removable cover on the top of the device; however, when closed it produces a snug, almost seamless fit. On one hand this is welcome, because it means that the device feels like a solid single piece of kit. On the other, you do need nails to lift it off, and you probably won’t want to be removing it too regularly to replace microSD cards.
 
 
An all-metal book lends the device an aura of quality; there is none of that cheap-plastic
feel that you might expect to find on a budget tablet. 
 
Phone logic
 
The question that could arise though, is why would you want a 7” tablet with 3G and full phone capability? Admittedly, you may not hold a 7” tablet up to your ear like a smartphone anytime soon, but you can pair it with a Bluetooth headset or Bluetooth speakers when in the car to make and receive calls.
 
More pertinently, the device’s 3G capability is meant to more ably cater to sending SMS messages or emails, and consuming content, on the move. This amounts to being unhindered by the lack of a Wi-Fi hotspot when you need to take advantage of the 7” tablet’s size to create and send a document, or connect to a video conference on Skype, for example, when out and about. Additionally, the FonePad further gives you the option to use it as a mobile hotspot as well.
 
To the point

Much like the Nexus 7, the FonePad’s real drawcard is its price. At R3 000, it can lay claim to being very well built, impressively fast and full featured, as well as affordable. In short, the Nexus 7 has met its match. 

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