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LG G Pad X8.3 review: A tablet worth the commitment

LG preloads the tablet with the QuickMemo+ app and it's easily accessible from the main homepage by simply swiping from left to right. The app offers many color, thickness, and opacity options, making it possible to write down notes or draw a doodle. If your note-taking is more complex than what this faux piece of paper can handle, you can also easily write on whatever is on the screen itself by simply selecting the QuickMemo+ option from the pull-down notifications menu. The stylus works with other note-taking or drawing apps, but QuickMemo+ provided me with all the basic features I needed.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 , the stylus isn't utilized in a way that makes using it essential. It works more like a useful afterthought than an integral part of the experience. Despite this, I enjoyed the option to use it -- especially while eating, so I didn't have to dirty the screen with my greasy fingers.

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You can write notes on the screen and save the images. Screenshot by Xiomara Blanco/CNET

LG traditionally packs its tablets with IR blasters and the G Pad X8.3 is no exception. It's a small, almost unnoticeable circle located on the top edge of the tablet. It turns your tablet into a remote and works in conjunction with the pre-loaded QuickRemote app. The app itself is rather sparse, allowing you to only control a TV or cable box, however there are third-party apps that offer more devices, like Blu-Ray players or receivers.

Hardware

The LG G Pad X8.3 houses a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, Adreno 405 GPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal memory, and a microSD card slot that's expandable up to 128GB.

Other features include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, and LTE Bands 25, 26 and 41 frequencies.

The MicroSD/SIM card slot is covered by a flap. Josh Mller/CNET

Performance

The LG G Pad X8.3 isn't a performance monster, but it works smooth and steady for most casual tasks. I had no issues browsing the Web, checking email and streaming video, even with many apps open in the background. Things slowed down if apps or app updates were downloading, but that's common on all tablets.

3DMark Ice Storm (Unlimited)

Nvidia Shield Tablet 28104
Dell Venue 8 7000 21167
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4) 13623
LG G Pad X8.3 7285

If you're into gaming, the G Pad X 8.3 works well for wasting hours with Candy Crush or playing Angry Birds, however anything more intense requires some patience. Large games take awhile to load, as do their levels -- though once loaded, gameplay tends to be smooth. I noticed some occasional lag while playing N.O.V.A. 3, which resulted in stuttered graphics, but it was only for about half a second and it didn't interrupt gameplay. As evident in 3DMARK benchmark testing, this is not a gaming machine though.

The screen is small, but sharp. Josh Miller/CNET

The 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution screen is sharp and its color range is wide enough for HD video to look vibrant, but not oversaturated. The 8.3-inch screen features wide viewing angles and the maximum luminosity setting is bright enough to see the screen in sunny settings.

The LG G Pad X 8.3 houses a traditional pair of cameras. The 2-megapixel front-facing camera functions fine for video conferencing, but the low quality makes for unflattering selfies that are often overexposed and blown out in bright spots. The 8-megapixel rear camera is one of the better ones found on a tablet. It has a sharp focus, though things get fuzzy in low-light situations, and colors are on the dull side.

The stylus in action! Josh Mller/CNET

The good news about the LG G Pad X8.3's speakers is that there's two of them. The bad news is they're located on the back, directing the sound away from your ears. They're loud enough for watching a movie, but they're unsatisfyingly low for music and lack bass.

The LG G Pad X8.3 houses a 4,800mAh battery. Looping a local 720p movie on airplane mode, the tablet scored 7.5 hours in its first battery test. Check back for the final results from the CNET Lab soon.

The rear-facing speakers sit close to the camera. Josh Mller/CNET

Conclusion

Most tablets work well for casual use, but thanks to its productivity-friendly features, you can say that the LG G Pad X8.3 works well for business-casual use. The extra functionality is helpful to students or those looking to do work on the road, and, at its discounted price, you won't find anything with both a stylus and full USB port.

The most comparable 4G LTE tablet is the Nvidia Shield. It's similar in size, comes with a stylus, and also retails for $299 before carrier discounts, though it's only available through AT&T and T-Mobile. The Nvidia tablet is targets gamers, but it's a solid and speedy Android tablet nonetheless. I have to note, several units have been recently recalled due to possible fire hazard, so I don't feel completely comfortable recommending it over the LG tablet.

If you're a Verizon customer interested in a small tablet, the LG G Pad X8.3 is an excellent option. The low price offered with the 2-year contract is a great deal, especially when considering other tablets in the same price range. At $129, it's a better performer than the best sub-$150 models and it offers practical, useful features that are never found on budget tablets. With the additional benefit of high-speed 4G LTE access, the LG G Pad X8.3 is one of the best mid-range tablets Verizon has to offer.

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