This tablet is by no means perfect, but perfection comes at a much higher price. If you are tied down by a budget and don’t mind putting up with some imperfections, then this tablet could be the one. If you want perfection, you can pay more for it elsewhere.
I pulled the Medion Android LifeTab out the packaging and thought “yeah, this looks good.” The screen is a decent size at 10.1 inches, the screen surround is black, and the weight feels good at 594g.
The back is a subtle grey colour of a plastic that is comfortable to hold. The name “LIFETAB” emblazoned in black on a silver band at the bottom of the screen is simple enough that it doesn’t annoyingly tug at your peripheral during use.
The physical buttons on the side, lock/unlock and the volume controls are large enough for your fingers to find automatically and easy enough to press with a satisfying click.
The set-up was a pretty standard procedure:
• Connect to Gmail account
• Connect to Wi-Fi
• Allow access to location
• And some immediate updates.
Simple steps that should be fairly second nature to today’s youth, but the instructions were simple to follow if they aren’t.
I immediately found issue with the tablet because the touchscreen keyboard clicked with every tap. This is a simple, pedantic problem, and I get that the click is supposed to help me know I’ve successfully managed to press a button (well done me), but personally I’d rather it didn’t as it can get annoying. Very quickly. Especially when working in a quiet office space.
But, surely that’s not a problem, I’ll just pop into the settings and turn it off… Except there is no option to turn it off. Why not? It’s such a simple thing. Instead I just have to use it with the volume muted. All the time.
However, a much bigger problem I found when typing is the unresponsiveness of the screen. I have been typing for a long while, honing my skills to near perfection by wasting hours of my life on MSN and Facebook, and I can type much quicker than this tablet can think. All the typos that occur because the tablet can’t register my tapping fast enough make it look as if I’ve just hit the keyboard with my face.
Quite often it takes several attempts to tap on anything as the tablet simply does not register the first tap. This is pretty annoying and aggravating. If a product is competing in today’s tech driven world, it has to at least appear to be up to the competition, and the touch input of a touchscreen tablet the first and most major thing people are going to notice.
The home screen can have any combination of app shortcuts and widgets arranged however you like and so is fully customisable for your main uses. The app menu is a pretty standard grid of icons, alphabetical, on a black background which makes all the icons and words stand out clearly. This is down to the Jelly Bean 4.1 operating system. As usual, Google have provided a well designed system.
The Dad Test:
In order to see just how easy and intuitive the LifeTab is, I gave it to my dad and set him 4 tasks to complete. He is from a generation of coal miners, and growing up the most technologically advanced plaything he had was a cup and ball, so this kind of tech is completely alien to him. Armed with only the instruction booklet, I challenged him to:
• Take a picture of his charmingly handsome son (that’s me.)
• Set that picture as the background
• Adjust the screen brightness
• Download a notepad app from Google Play and type me that old phrase “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” on it.
It only took him 12 minutes (well, 11:54.8 to be precise). He managed to find his way round and do everything I asked, which I was quite impressed by, a lot of which is down to the Android Jelly Bean system’s very clear application menu where everything is set out perfectly.
One obstacle was that the “Google Play” application as described in the instructions is now called the “Play Store” due to updates. It is annoying that the instruction manual is out of date, especially for people who may not be tech savvy and might not realise.
Similarly: Google, Google+, Google settings, Google Messenger, Google Chrome, Email, Gmail…. the list goes on, all lined up side by side. It is not exactly friendly to people who may not have a grasp of Google’s many assets and can get very confusing if you don’t know what you are doing.
The screen has a really good angle of visibility, but it falls down when light shines on the screen. Light reflects back and can make it incredibly hard to see, even when the screen is showing bright colours.
When playing games such as Angry Birds, the detail can get a bit fuzzy and the movement tends to blur, although after the inevitable 12 hours gameplay trying to get that very last star, you’ll grow used to any blur and completely forget about it.
When watching live action film, such as on YouTube, the picture is not perfect, even on HD. This might annoy you more than me, it depends on what aggravates you (I hate clicky keyboards, you might hate imperfect video). For me, the picture quality is perfectly acceptable, especially when considering the low price of the tablet.
I had a few issues when getting the LifeTab to work, but no especially bad, deal breaking problems. I tested its ability to multi-task, making full use of its dual core processor by demanding it install and then play Angry Birds while downloading Temple Run 2 and running several other apps like YouTube I’d left open in the background.
While it was concentrating on the download, forcing it to run several other things seemed to take it by surprise and Angry Birds crashed. While not great, the downloads were very quick and installation took very little time, so with a little bit of patience, this type of multitasking shouldn’t really be an issue.
However, it is more than possible to send the tablet into meltdown. I opened all the apps that are likely to get used during the day (Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, YouTube.) and it became so bogged down trying to juggle all the apps at once that it became unusable. It wouldn’t load and seemed to put its hands over its ears and shout “LA LA LA LA”, denying I was there. It’s only saving grace in this matter (at least to some extent) is that there is a pop out sidebar which is extremely easy to close apps from, literally with the flick of a finger.
The cameras are absolutely rubbish. Deal breakers for people who need a good camera. If decent, or even just mediocre photographing is essential for your tableting experience, don’t bother and go elsewhere. Having both a front and back camera does nothing to redeem itself as everything seems to have two way camera capabilities nowadays.
I initially didn’t like the tablet, what with the touchscreen and the terrible camera, but it eventually grew on me. It is in no way a perfect tablet PC, far from it, but for the price, you can’t really expect perfection. It does all the basics to a decent standard, so general browsing, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and running some basic apps and games all work fine. If you want a great tablet, pay more, but if you can cope with slight issues and just want a basic tablet PC to see you through everyday life, then the LifeTab will be more than adequate.