Review of the Lazer 7" (MID7109) Tablet

Alcampo (the Spanish arm of the French Auchan chain) had Lazer 7″ tablets on sale for €79 (they also had a 10″ version for €149).

Given that the price was unbelievable, I bought one.

Reasons for Buying

There were two reasons I bought it:

1) The whole idea of a tablet is cool. I watch my kids using their iPods as portable total connectivity devices and would like the same – though bigger and not so squinty eyed for my aging eyes. Besides, there are many times when it simply doesn’t make sense or is inconvenient to have to use the computer or laptop (why can’t I read PDF files anywhere / everywhere? Check on the weather? See what movies are playing?).

2) Most importantly, it has the same specs as the MK802 (basically a computer on a USB stick). The MK802 has not turned out to be as good as I hoped and it is a bit inconvenient to use since the only HDMI display I have is the TV in the basement. I was hoping that the Lazer 7″ would be a useful double for the MK802 (with the added bonus of having a display).

The Specs

The box the Lazer 7″ comes in.

  • Allwinner A10 CPU running at 1GHz
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 4 GB Flash memory
  • 7″ display
  • 800 x 480 resolution
  • capacitive touch screen
  • WiFi
  • HDMI output
  • 1.3 megapixel camera (front facing, located in corner)
  • Android 4.0.3 preinstalled

I was concerned about the display resolution because I thought it a little on the low side. (The 10″ version has exactly the same specs, except the display has a resolution of 1024×600 – but I couldn’t justify shelling out an extra €70 for a 3″ larger display and slightly increased resolution.

The Lazer 7″ next to the MK802. The only difference between the two devices is the presence / absence of a display panel – otherwise, they have identical hardware specs.

Display Performance

The display is fine for graphical applications (like playing Angry Birds), but, as I feared, has limitations when it comes to reading text.

Reading a PDF document in portrait mode is just not possible.

Reading a PDF document landscape mode is possible and if this was the only limitation of the device, then I would be fine with it.

Touch Screen Performance

The display was completely responsive to my touches and gestures. The only thing I noted was that it was perhaps a little too responsive – hovering my finger just above the display (i.e. almost touching it) would sometimes cause it to respond as though I had double tapped it (clearly, I shouldn’t be hovering my finger so close to the display).

There was no sense of sluggishness or unresponsiveness in the touch screen.

Application Performance

Applications (with the exception of anything needing the Internet) run fine. There is no sense that they are starved of CPU power (this is even true of the MK802 on which I play Angry Birds at 1920x1080i @ 60hz with no sense of the processor struggling under the load).

WiFi / Internet Performance

This is the Achilles heel of the Lazer 7″ Tablet (and the MK802 and, even the UG802) – for some reason, the networking performance is abysmal.

It took over 10 minutes to start playing the following 2 minute, 12 second video. This sluggish behaviour is identical on the MK802 and the UG802 (although, the UG802 does seem to perform noticeably better).

I don’t know what the problem is:

  • Is Android’s WiFi / Network performance lousy?
  • Is the problem the way the WiFi has been implemented?
  • Does the problem lie in AllWinner’s version of Android?
  • Is it poor Flash memory write speeds?
  • Is the entire video being buffered before being played?
  • etc, etc, etc

Whatever the problem is, it makes the Lazer 7″ Tablet useless as an always connected to the Internet device.

Even forgoing the problem with Youtube, just browsing around for information is a pain.

On the iPod, the video starts playing about 15 seconds; if I search for things, the response is much faster.

Update 08-Nov-2012 : it appears this is an Android / Chrome problem. This review of the Google Nexus 7 (11-Aug-2012), seems to have the same (or similar) issue:

…during page loading, the browser still often becomes unresponsive, and the loading itself will often take longer than it should – especially considering the quad-core processor and 120Mbit/s connection I’m on. …

Furthermore, typing in the address bar is an exercise in frustration, as it will often take seconds for the device to catch up with your typing…

And a follow up rant (07-Nov-2012) doesn’t indicate any improvement:

The entire Android experience … is pretty awesome and has few issues, but Chrome ruins everything. The browser is a crucial aspect of a tablet …

Conclusion

Unless you want to use the tablet just for playing pre-installed games or maybe watching pre-loaded videos, I can’t recommend it for two reasons:

  1. the display resolution effectively rules out using text on it (unless you are in landscape mode)
  2. the WiFi / Network performance is outrageously bad – to the point that it is effectively unusable as a networked device (this also applies to the MK802 and UG802)

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