Hisense Sero 7 LT review: Cheap, but still not worth it

Performance
The device's display has a 1,024x600-pixel resolution. As such, you're not going to see the crispest and smoothest images, and hi-res images look grainy. The screen also has a narrow viewing angle; it would appear black just because it was tilted at a slight angle, and looking at it outdoors in sunlight was difficult. You'll also see plenty of color banding when it comes to images that contain color gradients, like some of the default wallpaper photo images.

While I can accept the lower quality of the aforementioned viewing experiences because of the lower price, it bugged me how inaccurate or unresponsive the touch screen could be at times. Taps that required more precision (like selecting in-line text) took longer because the screen wouldn't register my touch accurately. Other times, my taps weren't even registered at all, and it would take several attempts just to launch an app or toggle off a switch.

Tested spec Hisense Sero 7 LT Hisense Sero 7 Pro HP Slate 7
Maximum brightness 242 cd/m2 320 cd/m2 373 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.22 cd/m2 0.27 cd/m2 0.47 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 1,100:01 1,185:01 793:01

For the most part, the 1.6GHz dual-core processor could execute simple tasks easily (like launching the app drawer, returning to the home pages, opening a generic app). But I could feel the lag. Switching between portrait and landscape mode took a hair longer than I'd like, and elements on the home screen, like widgets and apps, wouldn't finish disappearing in time before the app drawer opened, resulting in a layering effect.

On a related note, when the Sero 7 LT was in landscape mode, I wasn't able to read all of my notifications because it would cut off at the top, and scrolling wasn't an option, either.

Hisense Sero 7 LT (landscape)
Huh, well, that's annoying. In landscape mode, you won't be able to see all your notifications. Lynn La/CNET

There would also be times when the screen would completely black out for a few seconds, only to turn back on again. And twice, the tablet stalled and then restarted, for no reason. Unfortunately, we were unable to record how long it would take for the Lite to load the first level of N.O.V.A. 3, a usual CNET benchmark for tablets.

For one thing, the game is large, and the device didn't have enough internal space to house the 1.87GB app. However, even when I inserted a 4GB microSD card, the game would never download. Instead, its progress bar in the Play store was always stuck in a perpetual "Downloading..." phase, and the notifications bar would read "Additional file for: N.O.V.A. 3" with the same nonprogressing loading bar. Afterwards, "downloading" would stop altogether and a dialog window would pop up saying I didn't have enough external memory, which was not true.

Hisense Sero 7 LT (screenshots)
The layering effect of the home page and the app drawer (left) and the error message I'd get attempting to download N.O.V.A. 3. Lynn La/CNET

As for its 3DMark scores, the device performed averagely. While it performed well for the Graphics Test 2, and higher than the HP Slate 7 in overall score and in the physics test, it scored the lowest in the benchmark's Graphics Test 1. Click here for more details about how 3DMark works.

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Hisense Sero 7 LT 1.6GHz dual-core Rockchip RK3066 Mali T400MP4 (quad-core) 1GB Android 4.1.1
Hisense Sero 7 Pro 1.3GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 ULP GeForce (12-core) 1GB Android 4.2.1
HP Slate 7 1.6GHz dual-core Rockchip RK3066 Mali T400MP4 (quad-core) 1GB Android 4.1.1

3DMark (Normal, 720p)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
3DMark (Normal, 720p)  
HP Slate 7
2,892 
Hisense Sero 7 LT
2,911 

Graphics Test 1, 720p (GPU, in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Graphics Test 1, 720p (GPU, in frames per second)  
Hisense Sero 7 LT
7.8 
HP Slate 7
7.9 

Graphics Test 2, 720p (GPU, in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Graphics Test 2, 720p (GPU, in frames per second)  
HP Slate 7
20.6 
Hisense Sero 7 LT
21.2 

Physics Test, 720p (CPU in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Physics Test, 720p (CPU in frames per second)  
HP Slate 7
14.5 
Hisense Sero 7 LT
15.4 

As you'd expect, the tablet's 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera is mediocre. Though it operated smoothly, objects in photos would be out of focus with blurred outlines, colors were washed out and muted, and you could see a notable amount of digital noise in photos taken in both ample and dim lighting.

Given that the Sero 7 has only one rear speaker instead of two like the Pro, audio quality was diminished. There was little to no bass, sounds were hollow and tinny, and maximum volume was quite low.

The Lite's 3,400mAh battery yielded 6.2 hours during our battery drain test . Anecdotally, it would not last a full day without at least one charge. Furthermore, there would be times when the battery icon with the lightning symbol (which indicates that it's charging) didn't appear. Instead, the regular battery symbol would remain, despite the fact that the device was indeed plugged in and charging.

Conclusion
Nabbing a bargain is great -- except when it's not. For someone on a budget, I understand there's an expectation of sacrifice. You don't need the latest version of Android? Fine. You don't need your movies to look so crisp it hurts? That's OK, too. You don't need a great camera in a tablet? Fantastic because that doesn't exist anyway.

But money is still money, and you still need the thing to work decently. Unfortunately, the Hisense Sero 7 LT just doesn't cut it. Though the Sero 7 Pro is a bit more expensive and it isn't the best tablet on the market, it performs more smoothly, more reliably, and faster than the Lite.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Hisense Sero 7 Pro

Part Number: E2281 Released: May 24, 2013
MSRP: $149.00 Low Price: $154.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May 24, 2013
  • Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth 3.0 EDR
  • Type Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
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