BARCELONA, Spain--ZTE's V98 tablet was initially announced in September of last year but it's shown its face again at Mobile World Congress. The V98 is a 10-inch tablet packing an Intel Atom processor and full-fat Windows 8. I went in for a closer look.
In terms of design, the V98 is pretty unremarkable. The front is home to an unbroken sheet of glass, bordered by machined aluminum edging. That metal continues all the way around the back too. The full-metal jacket gives the V98 a more premium feel, although aesthetically, it's unlikely to get your heart racing.
It feels reasonably well put together, and the metal casing should help protect the delicate internals from the wear and tear of screen-swiping life. The only problem I found was in the flap that clips open to reveal the microSD card slot. It feels extremely flimsy and easy to snap off and didn't sit flush against the casing when closed.
The 10-inch display has a 1,366x768-pixel resolution. That's the minimum I'd expect to see on a screen of this size. Ideally, I'd like to see a bit more to help get the best out of high-definition video, but if the tablet is cheap enough, having fewer pixels is probably forgivable. It seemed fairly bright with decent colors, although I was viewing it under extremely bright lights, so I'll save my final verdict on the display for the full review.
Inside the tablet is an Intel Atom Z2760 processor clocked at 1.7GHz along with 2GB of RAM. Those are some low-end specs, so again, I'm really hoping that ZTE will match it with a cut-down price. The V98 is running full Windows 8, rather than the tablet-specific Windows RT. Although it looks basically the same, full Windows 8 allows you to install regular desktop software like iTunes or Spotify, rather than relying solely on the meager selection of apps in the Windows 8 Marketplace.
Swiping around the colorful interface of Windows seemed pretty swift and responsive, with little lag when opening settings or switching to desktop mode. I wasn't able to spend much time with the device, but it seemed to have enough juice for the essentials of Web browsing and high-definition video streaming.
How it handles more intense tasks like photo and video editing remains to be seen, but those specs really aren't built to handle hard-core computing. If you're after a slate with some real junk in the trunk, take a look at tablets like the Acer Iconia W700 -- its Intel Core-series chips let the slate dive into much more power-hungry tasks.
ZTE hasn't explicitly stated how much the V98 is going to cost, but given the specs, I wouldn't expect a price higher than 400 pounds ($600 U.S.) at the most. It's due to go on sale later this year in China (ZTE told us in the third quarter), so I expect to hear more about general prices and availability elsewhere nearer the time.