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HolidayBuyer's Guide

T-Mobile SpringBoard review:

T-Mobile SpringBoard

Software features
The T-Mobile SpringBoard ships with Android 3.2, but comes with a number of preinstalled apps, including Netflix, T-Mobile TV, a useful file manager, and the Blockbuster video app that comes with $5 worth of free rentals. Most of the preinstalled apps can be found on the Android Market for free, but it's convenient to have plenty of useful ones ready to be used from the get-go.

Swiping through pages of apps and navigating the settings pages felt about up to fast Honeycomb speed standards, although we did experience a few hangs here and there while attempting to input a command.

The tablet houses a 7-inch capacitive touch screen with a 1,280x800-pixel resolution. The panel is of the in-plane switching (IPS) variety as evidenced by its very bright maximum luminance and wide viewing angles. Although still not as bright as the PlayBook's screen, the Springboard's screen resolution is slightly higher and results in somewhat sharper text on Web pages.

Tested spec T-Mobile SpringBoard Acer Iconia Tab A100 Blackberry Playbook HTC Flyer
Maximum brightness 353 cd/m2 227 cd/m2 587 cd/m2 372 cd/m2
Default brightness 106 cd/m2 96 cd/m2 474 cd/m2 151 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.42 cd/m2 0.27 cd/m2 0.48 cd/m2 0.37 cd/m2
Default black level 0.12 cd/m2 0.11 cd/m2 0.39 cd/m2 0.16 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 883:1 840:1 1,215:1 943:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 840:1 872:1 1,223:1 1,005:1

Both the front (1.3-megapixel) and back (5-megapixel) cameras performed as well as we expected, producing adequate still shots and recording 720p video. Color quality was a step above the Acer Iconia Tab A100's washed-out look.

App download speeds over 4G were impressively zippy for a mobile network, downloading the 19MB file for Angry Birds Rio in 25 seconds; with the same file taking only 10 seconds under Wi-Fi.

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video battery life in hours
T-Mobile SpringBoard 7.3

The T-Mobile SpringBoard's $180 price is one of the most convincing reasons why a two-year contract isn't such a bad idea; however, the no-contract $430 price may be asking too much for a 7-inch tablet.

Of course, you'll end up paying more than $180 in the long run if under contract, but that initial price does make it appealing. The high-quality screen, 16GB of storage, great build quality, and the inclusion of the latest version of Honeycomb sweetens the deal. The SpringBoard is one of the best 7-inch tablets out there, and if you have the money to go in with no contract, rest assured that you're getting a quality product. If you don't have the funds, I still can't recommend committing to two years, however.

What you'll pay

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