The LG G Pad 10.1 finds itself in the affordable, but not ‘budget’ category. It’s a mid-range, full-sized tablet designed to get you by with a minimum of fuss. It’s not here to wow you or change the tablet game; it just wants to offer a usable tablet experience for a reasonable price.
It does this quite well. It’s far from perfect, but overall there’s no major flaws or frustrations bundled in with the G Pad. It’s not a super-portable option, but it’s a great tablet for home-use and certainly worth considering given its price tag.
- Good battery life
- Grippy, pleasant design
- QPair links your phone for SMS and call notifications
- Large bezels, making it less-portable
- Low-resolution screen (around 720p)
- Slightly laggy response time
LG has managed to come up with a totally straight-forward, embellishment-free design for the G Pad that still looks and feels quite passable. The whole body is coated in a single piece of soft-touch material that adds to grip, is resistant to minor nicks & scratches and doesn’t look overly-cheap or plastic when viewed from near or far.
The grippy material and light weight (523g) make the G Pad easy to use for long periods of time. It’s not a totally one-handed tab, but it’s fine for reading marathons or streaming entire movies.
Despite the easy grip, it’s not an on-the-go tablet. The bezels around the screen are big compared to more modern options. They would have been standard in even high-end models a year or two ago, but these days putting the G Pad next to the Samsung S 10.5 or iPad Air is going to make for some big differences.
These bezels mean that it’s larger than other tablets with as-big, or even bigger screens. The difference might not look or sound huge when you lay them out together – for instance the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is almost 2cm shorter than the G Pad – but when you put it in a bag the value of the more compact option becomes apparent.
It’s not all over, the G Pad 10.1 has a sibling in the G Pad 8.3. The specs between these two are almost identical, which is something to consider if you’re looking for a tablet for the train or to take travelling.
Another reason the G Pad 10.1 isn’t great on portability is the location of the lock button. If carried in portrait mode, like in a backpack, it tends to be fine. If you’re putting it side-on in a satchel or carry-bag then you’re going to get a lot of accidental screen activations. It’s just too easy to press.
An easily-found lock button is usually a good thing; here it’s only a drawback. LG’s devices let you activate the screen by double-tapping while in standby. You can then switch it back off by double tapping in an empty area of a home screen. You don’t need to use the button at all, which is great, right up until you put it in a bag. For once, making it a little harder to reach would have been a much better idea.
Display and UI
When looking at a more affordable option like the G Pad, there’s always some kind of sacrifice to be made. The same is true here, but LG has made some good decisions about which bits to cut.
The screen is 1280 x 800, which is a tiny bit above 720p. That gives the G Pad around 150 pixels per inch (ppi), which is acceptable, but it’s a far cry from the 264ppi of an iPad with Retina display or the almost 300ppi of the big high-end Androids.
The lower res isn’t really a problem -- like we said sacrifices must be made -- except for one thing: the LG G3. If, like a lot of people, you like to have a familiar look and feel across your devices, then you might be considering the G Pad because you already own an LG G3 handset.
If this is the case then be warned: your G3 has a far better resolution than this tablet. The UI animations and menu setup will be the same, but this may not be the unified look you were hoping for. It’s still as pretty, it’s just not as crisp.
Brightness is quite good. In direct sunlight it suffers a little, but in general you can see what you’re doing. Interestingly, there’s no sensor here. You can’t set it to auto-adjust brightness based on ambient lighting, but adjusting it yourself from the notification tray is easy enough.
We've talked about resolution being one sacrifice, the second is responsiveness. This isn’t a slow tablet, but it’s not snappy, either. It handles input at its own pace without sudden lag spikes. It’s fast enough for use at home and for general tasks like web browsing, video streaming, social media and messaging. You might struggle to play some of the more CPU-hungry games out there, but that’s the only time where you’re going to have problems.
Then there is QPair. If you have an Android phone, you can download the QPair app and sync the two devices together. This lets you receive and respond to SMS on your tablet, as well as view any incoming calls. Of course, you can’t answer that call, but you can deny it and send a decline message, which comes in handy when you’re in the middle of an epic game of Tower Dwellers and don't want to lose your flow.
The IR blaster is an interesting addition. Like on the G3, and many other flagship phones, it lets you control your TV or set-top box like you would with a regular remote. This works well on a handset, but is unwieldy on a tablet. That being said, it’s a better alternative than getting up and searching for the remote, but it’s not a make-or-break feature on a 10.1 inch tab.
Battery and performance
Battery life is a strength. So long as it’s not spending half its time being accidentally activated in your bag, it should out-pace most tablets on the market. LG says you’ll get 8 hours use, which is pretty standard, but we actually found ourselves looking for a charger less often than we’re used to.
Overall performance is a bit laggy, but it doesn’t come in random bouts so you can quickly get used to it. The quad-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM are what you’d expect to see in a low-end handset like the Moto G or OPPO Neo 5. That’s not so much a bad thing. Both these phones have proved that you can do a lot with lesser specs if you do it right. The G Pad is the same: it’s reliable and usable, which is the most important thing from an affordable home-use tab.
Onboard storage is 16GB, 10.8GB of which is available for you to use. If you want more then there’s a microSD slot that supports cards up to 32GB.
The G Pad is WiFi only; compatible with WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. If you have a 802.11ac router in your house then you'll be used to higher internet speeds than you'd get here. Most people are still using n or slower, which is perfectly fine for streaming, browsing or any other general tablet use.
LG was going for an affordable, viable tablet and that’s exactly what the G Pad is. It’s not a pinnacle of tablet tech, nor will you be the envy of your friends. What you will be is someone that owns a reliable tablet, but didn’t have to sell the farm to get it.
If you just want something around the house for browsing, videos and a bit of gaming then the LG G Pad 10.1 is definitely a viable choice. If you’re a power-user that loves running CPU-hungry apps in multi-window mode then you might want to look elsewhere.