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LG G Pad 7.0 review: LG G Pad 7.0 is a supremely simple budget tablet

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Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Performance

The 1,280x800-pixel resolution is the standard for budget tablets, so it's no surprise that the 7-inch G Pad maintains the status quo. The IPS screen is decently sharp with excellent wide viewing angles and no visible separation between the screen and display. Color range and saturation are decent, but the picture can occasionally look dull -- especially when compared with what you get on other budget models like the Asus Memo Pad 8 .

Screen specs compared

Tested spec LG G Pad 7.0 (LTE) Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 Toshiba Excite Go Google Nexus 7
Maximum brightness 317 cd/m2 (294 cd/m2) 314 cd/m2 380 cd/m2 570 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.29 cd/m2 (.22 cd/m2) 0.47 cd/m2 0.25 cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 1,093:1 (1,336:1) 668:1 1,520:1 1,295:1
Screen resolution 1,280x800 1,280x800 1,024x600 1,920x1,200
Pixels per inch (ppi) 215ppi 215ppi 169ppi 323ppi
Display type WXGA IPS WXGA TFT WSVGA LCD WUXGA IPS

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 heavy-duty downloading was going on in order to avoid any frustrating lag. Switching from landscape to portrait orientation also takes a few seconds for the tablet to register.

For $150, you can purchase the 8GB model of the LG G Pad 7.0, but an added memory card is essential. On the 8GB model, only a little less than 4GB is free space. During my time with the tablet, internal memory quickly ran out after I'd downloaded a few apps, taken photos and added music to the tablet. Unless everything you want to access is online, adding more memory will go a long way.

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The Micro-USB port is located on the bottom edge. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Gaming performance is typical for a budget tablet, meaning simple mobile games run smoothly and swiftly, while large games take longer to load and occasionally have 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 apps opened in a minute or less.

The dual rear speakers on the lower back of the G Pad 7.0 produce clear audio at midrange volume levels with some distortion at maximum volume, though they don't go very loud. The volume rocker function also doesn't change when you switch orientation.

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Like most tablet speakers, the speakers on the G Pad 7.0 are underwhelming. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Anecdotally, the G Pad 7.0's battery life lasted a long time with heavy to casual use. On a full charge the 7-incher's 4,000mAh battery lasted me about a day and a half. Here's the final result after testing the tablet by looping a local video in airplane mode:

Battery test result
LG G Pad 7.0 (Wi-Fi only) 8.7

Camera quality

The LG G Pad 7.0 houses a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing one. Photos on the Wi-Fi-only model were underwhelming, with visible grain, washed-out colors and a low-res soft focus. Though the 4G LTE version packs the same cameras, the native camera app on the AT&T tablet features a manual focus option that also adjusts exposure, resulting in sharper, better-exposed photos.

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The photo on the left was taken with the Wi-Fi-only model and the one on the right is from the LTE version. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Both versions of the tablet offer LG's fun voice-activated function that takes a photo when you say whiskey, kimchee, cheese or one of a few other words. It's a fun party trick, but I wouldn't recommend taking indoor photos with it.

Also with 4G LTE

AT&T offers a 4G version of the LG G Pad 7.0 that starts at $250 with no contract. The LTE-capable model shares the same simple design, but differs slightly in other ways -- for better or worse. It features a better native camera app, as outlined in the section above, a simpler drop-down menu and the addition of a "browser bar," which is a more selective type of bookmark menu. It also comes with 16GB of internal storage, so the storage woes that plague the 8GB model don't apply.

LG G Pad 7.0 LTE performance times

Average 4G LTE download speed 19.03Mbps
Average 4G LTE upload speed 8.68Mbps
Temple Run 2 app download (45.80MB) 35 seconds
CNET mobile site load 6 seconds
CNET desktop site load 6 seconds

On AT&T's 4G LTE network, I was able to stream video, browse the Web and check e-mail on the go quickly and consistently. According to Ookla's speed test app, the average download and upload rates were 19.03Mbps down and 8.68Mbps up, which isn't incredibly fast. However, when using the tablet out and about, I found the slower-than-average speeds weren't detrimental to anything I was doing; sites typically loaded quickly -- the CNET site averaged about a 6-second load time -- and, though they usually started off with choppy lower-resolution playback, streaming video buffered swiftly.

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Manual focus matched with auto-exposure makes the world of a difference. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Conclusion

The LG G Pad 7.0 quietly stands out in the overwhelming sea of budget tablets by keeping things cheap and simple. It doesn't excel at anything in particular; it's supremely mediocre. High-end tablets benefit from zippy processors, pixel-packed screens and an overflow of software features -- things the LG G Pad 7.0 doesn't offer -- but if you only need a tablet for activities like checking e-mail, browsing the Web and playing the occasional mobile game, you don't need those fancy bells and whistles.

The 7-incher, like its larger counterpart, the LG G Pad 10.1, is a midrange tablet with a low-end price tag. Though the 10-inch model sports the same specs, the G Pad 7.0 wears the 1,280x800-pixel resolution better on its smaller screen and it's a more enticing option in its size category.

Typically, you pay extra for the LTE version of a tablet -- an understandable premium for the ability to access high-speed Web service on the go. You can currently cop the LG G Pad 7.0 LTE, which boasts the benefit of an extra 8GB of internal storage, for the same $150 with a two-year contract or $250 without a contract, or pay installments of $12.50 a month for 20 months.

Budget tablets are a dime a dozen and you can argue that the LG G Pad 7.0 is equally pedestrian. However, for anyone looking into an inexpensive tablet for casual use, $150 for a capable slate is an attractive deal. Just keep in mind, if you're opting for the 8GB Wi-Fi-only version, you'll want to make sure to add a microSD card to your cart.

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