Some tablets were decent while others were atrocious, but you generally didn't know which category an Ematic tablet fell into until you got your hands on it.
And that brings me to the EGQ307.
When Ematic announced the EGQ307 the week before last I was deeply curious how they managed to get a quad-core CPU, decent resolution screen, and otherwise acceptable specs in a tablet that cost less than $100.
It turns out that they cut a lot of corners, resulting in a tablet that some users swear by while others report worrisome hardware failures.
The EGQ307 is your standard Android tablet, 7 inch, one of. It has the usual glossy front as well as a matte rear shell that attracts fingerprint grease. The one speaker is on the back, and the VGA webcam is on the front upper right corner. All of the ports and the card slot are on the right edge and include an HDMI port, microSD card slot, headphone jack, microphone, and more.
This tablet is running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on a quad-core 1.2GHz Allwinner CPU. I know that the listed specs say that the clock speed is 1.5GHz, but the benchmark test disagrees.The Antutu test also confirmed that the EGQ307 has a dual-core graphics chip as well as 1GB RAM, and 4.9GB of accessible internal storage.
I found the EGQ307 easy to hold in one hand. It's smaller than your average 7" Android tablet, and it also weighs less. At first glance the general build quality and appearance is good, but I have some issues when I turn the tablet on.
This tablet has a 7" screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600. That screen resolution is not uncommon among sub-$100 Android tablets; I know of a couple other models with similar screen resolutions.
What sets this screen apart is that it is much lower quality than its competition.The backlight is about middling bright but lacks the ability to reach either dim or a flashlight level of brightness.
The viewing angle is narrow; you can turn the tablet (at most) 10% to 15% in any direction before losing color quality. The image will still be fully visible, though, even though the you might have trouble making out certain details because the color is off.
The screen is also unpleasant to look at; it has some undefinable quality that makes me want to turn my eyes away. I know that is not terribly specific but TBH this is the first time I have had this issue since playing with a 3d tablet at CES 2013.
And as I sit here writing the review, I have noticed that I can see a grid of fine lines on the screen. I'm guessing that this is the touchscreen component. That should not be visible, and the fact that it is tells me that this tablet suffers from a serious manufacturing defect - possibly due to the subcontractor cutting corners to reduce cost.
All in all, the screen alone is enough of a reason to avoid this tablet.
The VGA webcam was the one redeeming quality on this tablet. The image resolution may be low, but the image quality was relatively good when compared to what can be found on similarly priced tablets. You won't be using this tablet for photography, but if you like to videochat the other party will be able to recognize you.
The EGQ307 is specced at 4 and a half hours of battery life; I was never able to use it long enough to confirm this. And since the battery can't hold a charge when the tablet is asleep I don't care to, either.
In short, battery life was terrible. Over the course of the week, this tablet managed to run out of battery life while on standby no less than 3 times. I would often put it on my night table only to discover that the battery had run down in just over 6 hours of non-use.
This is a not uncommon problem with Ematic and other cheap tablets; even some Hisense Sero 7 Pro units exhibit a similar problem. But just because this problem is common doesn't mean it is something to be endured.
The EGQ307 is running a stock version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. So far as I can see it has not bee customuzed beyond the addition of a few apps.
It ships with Google Play and the usual suite of Google apps like Gmail, Chrome, Youtube, Google Maps. There's also the stock Android apps like the email client, file manager, gallery, camera, and media players. Ematic has also added apps for Nook, Evernote, Pogoplug (5GB of free online storage), and Kingsoft Office.
Audio & Video
Video performance was a mixed bag. While this tablet is capable of playing a 720p video without skipping frames or the sound losing sync, Youtube performance left a lot to be desired.
This tablet was unable to play anything other than low resolution Youtube videos without pausing a couple times. This is more of a problem with its ability to download and buffer the video than play the video, but it's still an issue.
The sound quality (from the single speaker on the rear of the tablet) was generally good for spoken words, but not so good at catching the nuances in music. But that is to be expected from a cheap tablet.
I've used this tablet for a week now and its performance is not bad. It's also not great - not like the Hisense Sero 7 Pro (which costs $30 more). The EGQ307 is reasonably zippy for a sub-$100 Android tablet but it is also not significantly more powerful than competing tablets featuring a dual-core CPU.
In some ways it is also laggy. For example, this tablet can take a couple seconds to wake up after I press the power button. Download speed would best be described as unexceptional; this unfortunately affected Youtube performance .
And app loading time is also somewhat slower than I have seen on other budget tablets. Angry Birds was noticeably laggy at times, which affected the animation and the load times. This last point is particularly important because I have generally been satisfied with playing Angry Birds on other budget tablets.
The EGQ307 scored 12006 on the Antutu benchmark test. That's both good and bad; it's a higher score than Ematic's last tablet, the dual-core EM63, but it is also a lower score than the ClickN Kids Tablet. It confirms that the EGQ307 doesn't gain anything from the quad-core CPU other than hype.
Now I know. Ematic cut a lot of corners to make the $99 price point, and the result is a quad-core tablet that I would rate lower than many dual-core tablets.
This tablet's quad-core CPU was eye-catching, but the benchmark test doesn't live up to the promise of the specs and actually rated lower than some dual-core tablets. The VGA webcam was fairly good, and the general performance and responsiveness was about what I have seen on other tablets in this price range.
And then there's the screen, which I can't stand. It has a narrow viewing angle, but more importantly the screen on the EGQ307 has some undefinable quality that repels me. I cannot explain it other than to state that I don't want to use it.
The battery was also disappointing; it ran down while on standby and drained itself within 6 hours.
In short, there is little to recommend this tablet over lower priced Android tablets with dual-core CPUs.
Where to Buy
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- CPU: 1.2GHz Allwinner A31 quad-core
- GPU: PowerVR SGX 544MP dual-core
- 1GB RAM
- 7" (1024 x 600) screen
- 8GB Flash storage (4.9GB accessible)
- microSD card slot
- speaker, microphone, headphone jack
- VGA webcam
- HDMI out
- Weight: 321 grams
- Dimensions: 7.58" x 0.45" x 4.6"