Zotac Tegra Note 7 Tablet Review
Nvidia has been trying its hand in the portable/mobile division with its Tegra SoC line of products, which was first seen in the Nvidia Shield and now in the Tegra Note 7, which is a 7" Tablet running the latest Android 4.4.1 and sports an active stylus for some note taking capability. It boasts some pretty good hardware, but in a region which is dominated by the Nexus 7, can it put up a fight?
So lets take a brief look at the specifications of the tablet :
- Processor : Nvidia Tegra 4 Processor (4+1 Cores, 1.8GHz ARM Cortex 15)
- Memory : 1GB DDG3 - 1600MHz
- Camera : Front VGA and 5 MP AF HDR rear camera
- Storage : 16GB
- Audio : Front facing stereo speakers with bass reflex
- Screen : 7" IPS screen (1280x720 px, 10 point touch)
- Connectivity : Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/GLONASS
- Sensors : 9 axis (gyro, accelerometer, compass)
- Interface : USB 2.0 support, 3.5 audio jack with mic support, front mic for chat and voice command, HDMI with up to Ultra HD 4K display support.
- Battery : 4100mAh
You could be quick to write off this tablet if you compare it to the nexus 7, mainly if you compare the screen resolution (720p vs 1200p) and the RAM (1GB vs 2GB), but there is another secret weapon up its sleeve, called the Tegra Note 7 DirectStylus, which is an active pressure sensitive stylus. More on this later in the review.
Its not only the Nexus 7 this tablet is up against, there are plenty other competitors in this segment, some more expensive (and premium) than others.
Google Nexus 7 (2013)
1920x1200 px screen, Snapdragon S4 Pro processor
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7
1920x1200 px screen, Snapdragon 800 processor, Mayday tech support
LG G Pad 8.3
1920x1200 px screen, Snapdragon 600 Quad core processor
Apple iPad min with Retina Display
2048 x 1536 px screen, A7 processor
Design and Build Quality
Lets take a closer look at this tablet. On the front we see the 7" IPS screen with a resolution of 1280x720 px, which is slightly disappointing considering that its competitors boast of screen resolutions that are far more. Not only that, the Tegra boasts of great graphics performance, which would have been handy with a high resolution screen. Apart from that, the screen itself looks good but highly reflective and you can't notice the slightly lower pixel density. I would say sunlight visibility is a bit mediocre, it is possible to use it outdoors but slightly difficult under direct sunlight.
On the top we see the front VGA camera for voice chat and command and above that, we see the speaker grill. The tablet has dual stereo speakers which provide pretty good quality audio and are fairly loud too.
Now running along the edges we find the power button, 3.5mm audio port, micro HDMI slot and micro USB slot on the top edge. Since the tablet has a slightly tapered shape, hence using the ports was slightly tricky at first, it just felt a bit weird.
Moving down we can find a fairly long slot cut out, meant for the tablet cover, which is seems like a pretty useful add on for this tablet, sadly we did not get one, so cant cover it fully.
At the bottom edge we have the bass port and on the right edge you have the volume rocker and the micro SD card slot.
The back of the tablet is quite different. It has a rubberized grip at the back with large Tegra Note and Zotac branding. On the top corner you will find a 5MP AF camera.
Overall the Tegra Note 7 feels well built and solid. All the components fit in well and the rubberized back is nice and comforting.
Nvidia Direct Stylus
Like I have mentioned before, the direct stylus is an active pen style stylus that comes with the tablet. It gives the user a much more convenient natural for interaction. Nvidia has included 2 applications using it, a drawing application and a note taking application. Both work quite well and it does a good job in bringing out my terrible hand writing ;)
When using the stylus, there is an option to disable hand detection, which makes things much easier to write as you don't have worry about pressing any button accidentally.
The stylus is pressure sensitive, which means the thickness of the stroke can be varied by varying pressure. Same thing also applies to the "eraser" on the back side of the stylus.
Performance and Benchmarking
The Tegra 4 is no slouch and can very much hold its own against even the newer quad core processors. It has 72 CUDA cores which make up much of its graphics power. We will take a look at some games as well as some synthetic benchmarks to get an idea of the performance.
Gaming Test : Asphalt 8 Airborne
Great game, good visual and its free. Asphalt 8 is probably not the most demanding game but still makes well for a benchmark (besides the fact that I just like the game!).
Gaming Test: Real Racing 3
Another racing game, this time from EA. Real Racing is pretty impressing in the visuals department, lot of fun and much more technical than other games. This game too, runs well on the tablet, but for some reason the gyroscope did not work with the game and I had to use the touch screen for steering around. Its probably a one off bug (did not get resolved by re-install) and I don't think it has anything to do with the device itself.
These tests try to quantify the performance, should give you some kind idea where the tablet stands compared to other devices.
Its a browser based benchmark that is used to test the performance of your browser in various aspects like 2D/3D graphics performance, number crunching performance and so on. This does vary across browsers, but do show the performance of the underlying hardware as well. I used the latest version of google chrome for this test.
Zotac Tegra Tab 7 - 1575
Google Octane v2:
Zotac Tegra Tab 7 - 5392
One of the most popular benchmark for android, Antutu tests almost all parts of the system, CPU, RAM, GPU, I/O and more to give you a good idea about the overall performance and capability of the device.
The Tegra Note is right up there with the latest of devices.
Zotac Tegra Note 7: 33850
3D Mark: Ice Storm Unlimited
The 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited is a test that really stresses the graphics department and the test is now treated as a standard. You can see what Nvidia has been talking about, they do very well in this test.
Zotac Nvidia Tegra 7: 16203
Battery life of the Tegra Note is fairly average. It has a 4100mAh battery and powers a quad core process and a 7 inch screen, it manages a fairly decent 6.5 hours (approx) of continuous movie play time with wifi switch on and brightness and audio set to maximum. I recon with slight cut downs on the screen brightness you might be able to pull that up. For lighter loads it should be slightly better as well.
The tablet comes with a 10W (2A) charger that takes about an hour to charge the battery completely.
Overall, I am satisfied with its battery life.
For a price of Rs 15,000 (~$220) I think the performance this tablet brings is amazing. If you are a person who would like to game a lot on a tablet, this should be your choice. The tablet feels very well build and solid in the hands, the added feature of the stylus is a plus, specially for those who would like to use it for some drawing or writing. The only down side I can really think of is the screen resolution, when its competitors are boasting off resolutions of above full HD, 720p kinda sounds a little less (though in use, it felt sufficient). I would give it a 8/10 and a must buy if you are looking for a 'gaming' tablet.