First, it is necessary to comprehend the broad contours of the fast-growing tablet market in the country and then, how Lava is trying to differentiate itself in a crowded market with its product offerings. An astounding 1,150,000 tablets were shipped in the second (April-June) 2013 quarter by as many as 70 domestic and international vendors, estimates IT market research firm, CyberMedia Research (CMR). The overall growth in shipments of tablets registered an 107.4% year-on-year (Q2CY 2013 over Q2CY 2012) growth. Almost 80% of the tablet models launched during this period were with both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, leading to a growth of 103% in shipments of 3G Tablets.
This is the first quarter when tablets with dual-SIM functionality arrived in the Indian market, thereby giving vendors an additional specification to differentiate their offerings. An important factor for increase in 3G-enabled tablet shipments is the growing data consumption amongst consumers to access social media networks and instant messaging (IM) accounts, play online games, keep up with corporate and personal mail or simply browse the web for information on the go.
The demand for cost effective tablets in India are growing as more people prefer to use lighter devices while on the move. Folks at Lava know that the customer might be price-conscious, yet there is a strong demand for top quality devices with plenty of new features. Their E-Tab Ivory offers all the features that make it one of the most complete tablets to date. The device that I tested has a 7-inch (1024 x 600 resolution pixels) capacitive touch screen, powered by a 1.2 GHz dual core Mediatek processor and runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.1. The tablet is powered by Power VRSGX531 Ultra GPU at 500 MHz, providing a good gaming and video performance enhanced by high-resolution screen.
The 7- inch tablet features dual cameras and comes with an internal memory of 4 GB, expandable up to 32 GB, giving users enough space to store their multimedia content. With dimensions of 194.0 x 120.5 x 10.8 mm, the tablet fits right into your bag discreetly and is designed for comfortable use. All this hardware is backed by a 3000 mAh battery that supports five hours of running time. The Ivory offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
Apart from device features, it comes bundled with a host of high definition games such as Total Recall HD and NFS HD. Lava has also partnered with Hungama to provide a good entertainment experience and various value added services initiatives; latest being integration of Hungamas music application on E-Tab Ivory. The tablet also features host of other apps like OLX, Gmail, Calendar and dedicated social networking apps like Twitter, Facebook and WhatSApp, making it a youth-centric device. All this is packed in stylish silver covered metallic fished ID with white bezel.
Interestingly, Lava has chosen MediaTeks MT8377 platform for its first dual-core 3G tablet. The chipset integrates a dual-core application processor architecture and boosts application and browser performance by up to 40% compared to single-core platform. The MT8377 platform also offers rich multimedia features including high definition video playback, integrated built-in 3D panel support and a good display picture quality.
In my experience, using the Ivory as a tablet was a very pleasant experience. The touchscreen responds quickly and precisely. The screen brings crispy and vivid images, and the 1024 x 600 resolution is excellent for the size of the screen. The Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system is easy to use and intuitive. The battery lasted around two days under moderate use, with a couple of hours of web browsing every day.
I tried to use the Ivory as a cellphone. It works well, but it was very uncomfortable to hold; honestly, I didnt use it in a public place since holding a seven-inch tablet at your ear would look ridiculous. It was probably a good idea to use it with an earphone, but for some reason, Lava did not include this accessory with the Ivory.
My takeaways: The Ivory is excellent as a compact tablet computer. It is easy to use, fast, intuitive, and the screen is bright, crisp. It is light and easy to carry in a big jacket pocket. In simple terms, if you really carry a tablet and a mobile phone every place you go, and want to carry only one device, the Ivory can be a good option.
Estimated street price: Rs 10,199