While the likes of the iPads, the Galaxy Tabs and the Transformer Primes battle it out for supremacy in the highly volatile tablets segment on the global front, another battle is being fought on the same field here in India. The difference between the two? Well while in the U.S and most other mature markets it’s all about the overall user experience, the apps and the specs, here in India we have a bunch of “affordable” tablets which compete with each other only on one factor. Price.
More often than once, it is common to see the cheapest tablet being sold the most – with the Aakash being a good example. But then, to say that us Indians do not care about quality at all – isn’t true either. In fact, even in the cheap tablets segment, people would go for the ones that offer them the best quality at that price range. Anyway, that brings us to the latest tablet we have here for review today.
The Zync Z990
Say hello to the Z990 from Zync. The product of a company incorporated just last year, Zync doesn’t really have much going on for it when it comes to sheer pedigree. But what it loses out on pedigree, it more than makes up when you take a look at its achievement.
The Z990 released a few weeks ago has become the first ICS (Android 4.0 powered device to be sold in India. Sure, the Motorola Xoom in India did get an update to Android 4.0 earlier – but in this case we are talking about a tablet that “originally” came loaded with ICS. For a company that’s just a year old, it sure is a great achievement. Priced at the right side of the Rs. 9000 mark, this is certainly one of the most affordable ICS toting tablets out there.
Let’s now take a look at the product itself.
Look and Feel:
The Zync tablet looks like “just another 7 inch tablet” with nothing striking about the design. The body is made of plastic and doesn’t quite feel up to the mark. The build quality with the inconsistent panel gaps isn’t confidence inspiring either. But then, whenever we say this, we are reminded about the price at which this tablet retails – thereby sort of justifying its build quality. That said, this is by no means “unusable”. The front is bare except for a Zync logo and the front camera (which is the only camera on this tablet). At the rear too, there is a prominent Zync logo and labels for various ports and input jacks on the tablet.
At the top (when you hold the tablet in landscape mode that is), there are three buttons labeled “power”, “Menu” and “Esc”. Zync has for some reason decided against giving dedicated volume keys on this tablet which I am sure would be missed by many. Mundane things like changing the volume whilst listening to music becomes an irritating chore because you need to unlock the screen every time you wish to do that.
On the right side of the tablet is its array of connectivity ports which for a tablet this size is quite impressive. Available connectivity options include USB, Mini USB, a charging port, 3.5mm audio jack, an HDMI port and the memory card slot. Pretty comprehensive, if you ask me.
For the sub 9000 rupee price tag, you do get decent firepower. The Zync Z990 is powered by one single core processor that chugs along at 1.2 Ghz. There is 1GB of RAM as well which gives the tablet decent ability to multitask. It gets 4GB of Internal memory as well which should suffice most normal users. Of course, you can add micro SD cards of up to 32 GB should you feel the requirement for more storage space.
The front camera can take pictures at just 0.3 megapixels and is certainly not recommended for any sort of serious imaging. It however takes decent pictures at that resolution, though. The 7 inch display on the tablet has a resolution of 800*480 pixels which looks quite decent – however, if you are used to high resolution displays this might be quite a letdown because of the overall quality. We did notice little amounts of distortion in text and images which sort of kills the fun in using the tablet.
Here is a quick video preview of the Zync Z990 Tab:
UI & Performance
Power up the tablet and you would be welcomed by the Zync logo, followed by splash screen that says “Android”. Upon booting up, the standard ICS desktop appears which on this display. The rather lowish resolution might put off users who might have used tablets like the iPad and the Xoom and will get some time getting used to. There is noticeable lag in the UI when you wake the tablet from sleep mode. However, it stabilizes with time and is workable for starters. Things like pinch to zoom in images work pretty well – albeit with slight (but totally acceptable) lag. Zync hasn’t really customized the UI and thankfully retains the “raw” Android 4.0 look and feel – which might be welcomed by many users. It remains to be seen how well the company manages to push updates for the tablet.
Zync claims that the Z990 can play full 1080p videos. But then it is sort of pointless watching the same on the rather low resolution display. The tablet comes preloaded with a few games – including the popular Angry Birds. Graphics performance was decent and certainly betters most other tablets in its price range. When it comes to music playback, the supplied earphones are decent – but thanks to the 3.5mm jack, you might as well use better quality ones that you might have with you. The on board virtual keyboard is the same standard keyboard you get with ICS. Should you feel the need for better typing capabilities, Zync does offer an attachable USB keyboard for Rs.999.
Like we had mentioned eealier, the Zync z990 does offer comprehensive connectivity options. These include support for Wi-Fi, full size USB ports for connecting pen drives or data cards, a micro USB port and even an HDMI port. However, one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the lack of bluetooth conenctivity on it. For a basic, affordable tablet like this we thought it would have been better if Zync had bundled bluetooth alongwith the package as well.
The ZYNC z990 like most other tablets, gets a sealed, non user removable battery. This one is rated at 3600 mAH. This tablet is good enough for 5 hours of continuous usage at medium brightness and constant use - connected to Wi-Fi . One thing we noticed about the unit we received was that it took a lot of time to get fully charged. I am unsure at this point whether this is a generic issue or a one off issue with the unit we had received for review.
So, do we recommend this affordable Android 4.0 tablet? Well, we sure do – but only if you are ready to live with the quirks of getting used to a low resolution display and iffy build quality. But then again, I will remind you about the price which for the Z990 happens to be “just” Rs. 8990. While this certainly is affordable, there are a couple of other new contenders that have usurped the crown of the cheapest ICS tablet from the Z990. We are specifically talking about the newly launched one from Micromax called the Funbook. This tablet has been priced at Rs. 6499 and prima facie, seems to be a decent device. But then, we cannot really comment until we get hold of a review unit. In all, the Z990 is a decent first attempt by Zync at making an ICS tablet and would make a sensible buy if you want to get hold of an ICS toting tablet on a shoestring budget.