The LG G Pads deliver the rare combination of useful software features and a sleek, simple package at an affordable starting price ($150 and $250). Familiar, yet slightly different, the 7- and 10-inch tablets have an easy-to-navigate overlay on them that features a ton of customization options to make the tablet uniquely yours. In addition, the dual-window function for multitasking, universal remote capabilities, and preloaded smartphone-syncing app make the G Pads easy to integrate into your everyday life.
To be sure, performance abilities are limited due to its average internal specs -- large apps sometimes lag and touchscreen response is slow when downloading many files -- but the customization-friendly interface, sleek design, and affordable pricing can make its inevitable shortcomings as a budget tablet easier to stomach.
Without sacrificing streamlined design and useful software goodies, the simple 7- and 10-inch LG G Pads will appease casual users who want a tablet for everyday, basic use. Sure, other budget tablets can also fit this bill, but the G Pads do it with an extra oomph, stylewise, that will attract the aesthetically inclined bargain shopper.
Editors' note: LG also makes the G Pad in an 8-inch model, but at the time of the review only the 7- and 10-inch models were made available.
The two tablets are essentially twins, except the 7-inch model's native orientation is portrait, while the 10-incher's is landscape. They're lightweight and slim for their sizes, without any of the bulk that usually indicates a budget tablet.
The cool, minimalist designs have a classy edge and make the tablets look more expensive than they are. The back panels are smooth, with a matte finish. Each model comes in a variety of colors -- depending on your region -- and our 7-inch review unit was a traditional black, while the 10-inch G Pad was decked out in a sultry red hue.
I liked the feel of the back panel against my fingertips and found it, as well as the rounded corners, to be extremely comfortable -- though grip is lacking.
For a large tablet, the G Pad 10.1 looks much like the Nexus 10, and its thick side bezels make the resemblance to the Google slate even more pronounced. The 7-inch G Pad is also reminiscent of the 7-inch Google Nexus slate, with similar thick top and bottom bezels and rounded corners that somehow remain comfortable and sharp-looking.
Buttons on the tablet are limited to a power button and volume rocker, which meekly peek over the tablet edges just enough to be found without looking. Even the microSD card slot and IR blaster slyly blend into the build of the G Pads.
The LG G Pads run on Android 4.4.2 with a recently revamped LG overlay. For a pair of budget tablets, I was impressed by the variety of customization options the user interface offers. It's a different experience from last year's G Pad 8.3, but similar in the extent of its customizability and pretty menus and icons.
Most budget tablets don't allow you to change more than the home and lock screen backgrounds, but the G Pads give you the ability to heavily tweak the interface to your liking. You can choose from a variety of lock screen security options, change how the navigation bar on the bottom looks, or select a fun screen swiping effect. These are just some of the options and, though they seem trivial, those looking for a device for everyday use will appreciate the freedom to adjust how they experience their tablet.
The LG G Pads come preloaded with QPair, which syncs most smartphones to the tablet for easy access to text messages, incoming phone calls, and social network notifications. QPair is useful when you're at home spending time on your slate and don't want to additionally juggle your phone. Pairing works seamlessly and I rarely had an issue with the G Pads staying synced.
The recent app function sports a different look, with a tile-based approach that slightly resembles the Windows 8 interface. I didn't find it any more or less useful than the standard filmstrip look of most recent apps menu functions, but it is another distinct touch to the interface of the LG G Pads -- nothing extraordinary, just done differently.
The Knock Code function acts as a security substitute to having a password on your wake screen. It's not a fingerprint-scanner level of security, but it's a nice alternative. If updates are downloading or RAM-hogging apps are running in the background, the response to the knock can lag and lead you to unintentionally tap into opening another app or widget.
The LG G Pads are a rare pair with IR blasters, which means they can double as universal remote controls. The QRemote apps comes preloaded on the tablets and makes setup nice and easy. After about 15 minutes, I had the tablet controlling my TV, Blu-ray player, and DVD player.
Dual windows for doing more
Basic multiwindow functionality is trickling down to budget tablets, and the LG G Pads 7.0 and 10.1 offer their own useful, yet, simple dual-window capability. There's a dual-window button located on the navigation bar on the bottom of the screen -- it's located to the right of the recent apps button -- and its quick access makes using the function a regular habit.