Hands on: Budget Android tablet, Huawei S7 Slim

Huawei's S7 Slim, an Android 2.2 OS 7-inch tablet just may be the first solid "budget" tablet worth taking seriously.

There are great budget PCs and laptops, but where are the decent budget tablets? The answer could be Huawei's S7 Slim, an Android 2.2 OS 7-inch tablet shown here at CTIA. Tablet maker Huawei offers a bright spot among a sea of mediocre "value priced" tablets that I've seen with its S7 Slim offering.

I played around with the Huawei S7 Slim and am impressed. Huawei won't reveal availability or the exact pricing on what it calls a "value priced" tablet, so we'll have to trust that it's more affordable than leading tablets Xoom and iPad 2 priced above $500. Nevertheless, I spent some time with this tablet and here are my impressions.

Hands On, First Impression

The tablet has a white plastic body, but unlike the Apple iPad 2, the white is limited to the back and edges, only. You still get a black bezel around the display.

And that display is worth noting: It looked surprisingly good under the show floor's unforgiving lights; this even though it carries an unimpressive 800 by 480 pixel resolution. What caught my attention about the display was its bright, vivid colors and its wide viewing angle; other value tablets, I've seen (and even some that aren't considered "value" and have beefier screen specs) haven't looked this good. Even text looked better rendered and sharper than I'd have expected given the display's spec. Another noteworthy point: the 7-inch display has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, which is well-suited to gaming.

Related Slideshow: Tablets of CTIA 2011

The S7 tablet runs Android 2.2, but you won't guess that solely from looking at it. That's because Huawei has designed a custom skin it dubs the Emotion interface. While the moniker and concept emulates what HTC has done with its Sense interface, Huawei's ambitions seem a bit less complex. The S7's interface tweaks are designed to add useful widgets and make the home screen easier to navigate by clumping like apps into a tabbed organization. For example, the home screen has a pretty display of the weather, integrated into the clock area. Along the bottom of the screen are a row of tabs, one each for content like Entertainment (which contains widgets for music and videos) and communications (which includes an e-mail widget, and app shortcuts for contacts, a dialer (which may not be on the U.S. version), and a call log).

Some other miscellaneous notes about the S7 Slim: It has a rear-facing 2-megapixel camera, and a front-facing 1.03 megapixel camera. This model has a slimmer, lighter design than the company's first tablet, available since last November at Best Buy Mobile; it also has a bigger battery with a longer-life battery.

Huawei says it will have a 10-inch Honeycomb tablet later this year.

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Melissa J. Perenson

PC World (US online)
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