An in-depth review of the Zync Quad 10.1 in all its Android Jelly Bean and quad core glory for those of you who’re wondering about the best budget option to satisfy your tablet cravings.
We don’t remember how the rest of the Zync products we’ve reviewed were packaged, but scroll down to the video to see how this 10.1 tablet arrived. It comes fitted into a plain white box with the key specs printed on the rear side. The full package consists of a USB cable, an AC charger, a pair of earphones, a USB converter, a warranty leaflet, a user guide and the device, of course. First impressions first; if the company ever signs us up to pitch an advertising campaign, want to know what it’ll sound like? Here goes – Think the Apple iPad is gorgeous? Do you want an iPad? Will its price blow your budget plans to smithereens? Presenting…the Zync Quad 10.1, an iPad for the Android fan.
The design ‘inspiration’ cannot get any more obvious. The company has been experimenting with various designs for its Android slabs. We’ve been seeing their builds evolve from chunky forgettable shells to a safer bet on minimalistic engineering since the start of the Quad series. The Quad 8, the 9.7 and now the 10.1 all sport aluminum finished back panels. On the newest addition, out of the two shorter sides, one is taken up by a white strip of plastic which flows around the edges of the touchscreen too. On the rear, the white strip is positioned on the left side. It holds the openings for the microSD card, HDMI and microUSB cable. Also placed on this portion are the volume rockers, mic and power on/off or lock button. To the top left of the main camera sit the reset button, headphone jack and charging port.
Placed to the right side of the lens is the speaker and yes, we haven’t forgotten to talk about the flash. There is no flash to complement the camera here. If there’s one thing that makes the slate look cooler than the iPad, it’s the lack of a Home button. The front panel is an elegant button-free beauty with a 1.9cm thick bezel running along the top and bottom (in landscape mode), while the other two sides leave space for 1.5cm of bezel. The overall appearance is that of a premium product even if we would have preferred a chrome or black border for the front. Zync has thrown in a pretty decent looking pair of earphones too – all black with chrome rings around the left and right housings.
How’s the user interface?
Zync tells us that its products are aimed at young folks and office goers. So there are two aspects of the device we’re inclined to inspect in detail – its entertainment capabilities and its ability to offer productivity. Let’s start with the screen and note that any references we make to the positions of the various apps, widgets and icons on it are from the landscape mode. On the bottom left side are placed 6 icons. From left to right, they’re for Back, Home, accessing the mostly recently used apps, taking screenshots, reducing the volume and increasing it.
The right side is given to a pop-up window which displays the time, date, battery life, notifications, settings, Wi-Fi, brightness tuner, airplane mode on/off and auto-rotate on/off. You can access all the apps and widgets on the device through the icon on the top right corner of your screen and Google search on the top left. Swiping upwards from the bottom left brings you to Google Now. Through our time spent with the device, we noticed that dust and other gunk tend to collect as small, sticky masses of black goo along the white border of the screen.
Watching movies and customer care response to an issue that cropped up
Since the display is of 1920 x 1200p HD quality, movies, YouTube clips and photos play out crisply. Getting aboard stuff to watch involves the usual hooking up of the USB cable between the slate and a PC. Of course, with Google Play offering movies, books and music, your entertainment options just get multiplied. There were two problems we faced while testing this aspect of the device – firstly, the screen loathes even a minor amount of sunlight and it’s something which should have been noticed right at the drawing board.
Secondly, the headphones packaged into the bundle were faulty and several times, the speakers refused to blare out once we disconnected the pair from the earphone jack. Only restarting the tablet got it singing again and it does so loud and clear. We needed to check what kind of customer care you should be expecting when you’re left hanging with a jittery device. We’re pleased to report that we were attended to by a very considerate CCE who listened patiently to our problem and promised to arrange a pickup and send us the replaced/repaired unit in 10 working days. Not bad.
Playing games, web surfing and using the keypad
We tried a few games of the casual sort that you are most likely to catch yourself playing while using a tablet. Angry Birds and Cut the Rope responded very smoothly to our finger gestures and there wasn’t any lag. While accessing just about any application on the Quad 10.1, you’ll see that the interface is enjoying the dual benefits of Google’s Project Butter (for smoothing out the UI experience in Jelly Bean) and the capacitive technology of the display.
Although much has been said about the Opera browser, it didn’t play nice with the mobile version of YouTube for whatever reason. So we used the Chrome browser for web surfing. Obviously, the internet experience depends largely on your Wi-Fi connection and we must say that this one latches onto Wi-Fi like a sponge takes to water. But it doesn’t mean we can neglect to mention that web pages are spread out beautifully on the HD display. Even while mailing, the convenience of the well laid out keypad buttons helped with the task of typing out content without breaking sweat.
Camera and battery life
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The Zync Quad 10.1 has a 5MP camera on the back panel and a 2MP one on the front. Both are kind to you if you have spotty skin and that’s the best we can say about either. Our sessions over Skype went along smoothly, even though we occasionally got notifications indicating that the service may not support video calls, when we logged in. Now let’s talk about the main camera – it lets you fiddle with exposure, white balance, picture quality, a limited number of effects and so on. But there is no zoom and images appear smoothed over as well as washed out.
If you’re clicking a subject placed more than 6 feet away, the lack of details is too noticeable. The lens’ struggle to keep refocusing while recording leads to very jumpy looking videos too. At the end of the day, the photos you capture through the camera are only as good as Instagram (or a similar app) allows them to be. With an 8000mAh beast of a Li-ion battery powering it, we got 4 hours of continuous HD video playback (at full brightness and 50% speaker volume) from the tablet. On a day of average use that consisted of web surfing, watching 4 – 5 YouTube videos, playing casual games, clicking several photos and ‘Instagram’ing them, we got an entire day free of the need to reach for its charging cable.
– Smooth touch experience, responsive overall system
– Crisp video quality (as long as you’re not watching in brightly lit conditions)
– Easy to hold in one hand for extended periods of time
– Decent quality speakers
– Reasonable price
– No SIM card option
– The screen cannot handle even the slightest amount of sunlight
– The camera quality leaves much to be desired, there’s no zoom and the AF function struggles along
Zync has crafted a competent mid-range tablet with the Quad 10.1. Considering the Rs 14,909 price for which it’s being sold, the above average build quality and smooth user interface, we’re giving it a 3 out of 5 rating. We wish the company had managed to slide in a SIM card slot. We mean, don’t you find yourself within cellular connectivity range more often than at a Wi-Fi hotspot? Big brands have been focusing on this aspect for the same reason. A tablet that’s not within a Wi-Fi zone and has no data network is as good as a chunky device for entertainment and little else.