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.
When you touch the dual-window button, a menu pops up with a limited selection of apps you can run at the same time. If you like to stream YouTube videos while browsing the Web or responding to emails, this will suit your needs, but don't expect full-fledged multiwindow capabilities like you'd find on a laptop. This function is basic at best, but useful for casual multitaskers.
The LG G Pads house a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU and Adreno 305 GPU, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. They also offer a microSD card expansion slot, IR blaster, and microphone pinhole.
Other features on the G Pad include NFC capabilities, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS.
The 1,280x800-pixel resolution is the standard for budget tablets, so it's no surprise that both the 7 and 10-inch G Pads maintain the status quo. Understandably, the resolution on the larger model looks more pixelated, at 149 pixels per inch, in comparison to the 7-inch G Pad, which sports a more pixel-dense 215ppi screen.
The color range on the tablets didn't blow me away. The IPS screens look reasonably sharp when displaying HD content, but color saturation is low, resulting in slightly dull images. It's more noticeable in side-by-side comparisons with other budget models like the Asus Memo Pad 8 and FHD 10.
Performance slows down noticeably if downloading or updating apps; open apps are sluggish, screens stutter while navigating, and touchscreen response is delayed. I found it best to set the tablet down if any heavy-duty downloading was going on in order to avoid any frustrating lag. I also noted that the 10-inch G Pad got a little too warm when overwhelmed by running many apps in the background and engaging in heavy-duty gaming.
Gaming performance was typical for a pair of budget tablets, meaning simple mobile games ran smoothly and swiftly, while large games encountered longer load times and occasionally choppy graphics. Though large apps and games take a while to load, the wait times weren't as long as on other budget tablets; most opened in a minute or less.
The G Pads house a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing one. Both are underwhelming, with grainy, washed out photos that have a low-res soft focus to them. There aren't many camera modes or settings to tweak, but there's a fun voice-activated function that takes a photo when you say whiskey, kimchee, cheese, and a few other words. It's a fun party trick, but I wouldn't recommend taking party photos with it.
Dual rear speakers are found on the back of each G Pad. They're not very loud, but audio is clear at mid-volume levels, with some distortion at maximum volume. The volume rocker function also doesn't change when you switch orientation.
Anecdotally, the G Pads 7.0 and 10.1's battery life lasted long with heavy to casual use. The 7-inch houses a 4,000mAh battery, while the 10.1-inch packs a whopping 8,000mAh battery. Check back for final battery testing results after we're done testing them in the CNET Labs.
The LG G Pads are some of the coolest-looking budget tablets available, but their performance isn't as hot. The slick, customization-happy user interface and useful dual-window and universal-remote capabilities slightly help make up for the occasionally sluggish apps and delayed touchscreen response. There are similarly priced alternatives out there, however.
If the LG G Pad 7.0's $150 price is in your wheelhouse, the similarly specced and feature-filled Asus Memo Pad 7 is also worth a close look. If you can afford to spend more, the Google Nexus 7 offers faster performance and a better screen for only $70 more.
The 10-inch LG G Pad offers a slightly better deal, starting at only $250. That's $50 less than the average $300 price of a large tablet; if you don't mind the pixelated screen, it's a nice, portable option. There's another Asus model that features a sharper, more colorful screen and equally comfortable build, but you'll be sacrificing the good looks dual-window capabilities of the G Pad 10.1.
Still, even though the budget tablet scene is packed to the brim with options, the LG G Pads are welcome additions to the crowd. Ultimately, they will satisfy the casual user who doesn't need a slate for consuming media as much as casual Web browsing or simple gaming, and their comfortable designs and affordable pricing make a compelling case for bargain shoppers.