The LG G Pad 8.3 is the tablet for those who want iPad mini with Retina display high end appointments in an Android tablet. The 8.3" G Pad has a 1920 x 1200 display, a fast quad core CPU and a rare thing among today's Android tablets: a metal back. The G Pad 8.3 is available in black or white and it lists for $349, though it's often on sale for $299 or less. This is a good looking tablet that's compact enough to fit in a large pocket or purse, but it feels roomier than the Nexus 7 thanks to the 1.3" diagonal increase in screen real estate. Speaking of the Nexus, for those who prefer a pure Android experience, there's the LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition that sells for $349 on the Google Play Store.
This is a WiFi-only tablet, and it has dual band WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, an IR blaster with AV remote and a GPS. If you need wide area networking, you'll have to look to a MiFi or your phone's mobile hotspot feature when not near a WiFi hotspot. Will we see a 4G LTE model in the future? Could be.
Design and Ergonomics
This is one of the few Android tablets that goes for the classy, metal look. In fact it does look and feel nice in hand, and we particularly appreciate the curved sides that make this wide little tablet easy to hold in one hand (unless you have small hands). It's more comfortable to hold in one hand than the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and iPad mini thanks to tapered sides that don't dig into your palms. It's available in your choice of black or white.
The tablet has the usual selection of Android ports and controls: volume, power, a micro USB port, 3.5mm combo audio jack, built in stereo speakers with mic and a microSDXC card slot. The speakers fire from each side when held in landscape mode, which makes more sense than firing from the bottom where there's less stereo separation. The speakers sound better than average for a small tablet and with adequate volume and full sound that's not harsh or tinny.
LG is all about thin bezels these days, from the G2 to the G Flex and the G Pad. The side bezels are very narrow, which reduces device width and makes the tablet look more modern. Of course the top and bottom bezels are still sizeable, because the internals have to go somewhere. The tablet uses on-screen rather than hardware buttons, and it has haptic (vibration) feedback, unlike the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.
Performance and Horsepower
The LG runs on the 1.7GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU with Adreno 320 graphics and 2 gigs of RAM. That's a fast CPU, though since tablets often lag behind flagship Android smartphones in terms of specs, it's not as fast as the Snapdragon 800 in LG's own LG G2 and G Flex smartphones. For those of you who have an absolute love of speed, there's the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 with a $50 higher price tag and the Snapdragon 800. That said, the 600 with four Krait 300 cores is plenty fast and it handles recent demanding 3D games very well.
The tablet has 16 gigs of internal storage and you can store files and media on microSD cards up to 64 gigs capacity. The tablet has USB host (this requires a USB host OTG adapter that's not included). Via USB you can use USB flash drives, keyboards, mice and game controllers, but the port doesn't provide enough power for 2.5" portable unpowered hard drives. We like that LG added a feature that detects when you've plugged in USB mass storage devices like flash drives and it pops up a quick launcher strip at the bottom of the display showing apps you'd most likely want to use with the flash drive like the file manager, video player or gallery.
The LG has a pleasing 1920 x 1200 IPS display that's decently, though not remarkably bright once you disable the horrendous auto-brightness feature in settings. Colors are good, though the gamma is set too low so some detail is lost in very dark areas in images and video, and the color calibration is a bit warm with whites looking more like parchment. It's not as bad as it sounds, and honestly it's a sharp and colorful display that's much better than the low resolution 7 and 8" tablet displays in the budget section of your local store. I suspect most folks will love the 273 ppi display, and wouldn't imagine there's a better display on the market in this size unless you put it directly next to the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 with its insanely high 2560 x 1600 display or the iPad mini with Retina display with its superior colors and black levels.
Software and LG Customizations
LG has customized Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean quite heavily, and the experience is similar to the LG G2 and G Flex: lots of Q apps (LG's name for their custom apps and features), a note-taking app, screen capture with annotation, a language translator that uses the camera and more. We continue to enjoy their take on multi-tasking with floating resizable app windows and the knock on feature where you tap the screen twice to wake up the tablet. The icon rendition is less cartoony than on the G Flex, thankfully. As mentioned, for those who prefer pure, vanilla Android, there's the Google Play Edition of the LG G Pad 8.3 (model V510), available direct from Google. You'll lose the floating window multi-tasking but you'll have a clean OS that will get updates quicker. LG has said the G Pad will get Android 4.4 KitKat in the future.
The LG has a front 1.3MP camera for selfies and video chat, and it delivers average video quality in Skype, with some noise and pixilation. The rear 5 megapixel camera takes average quality photos and video, and it can capture in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. Images and video have decent colors and exposure, but sharpness isn't keen (a little post-processing with your favorite photo editor to sharpen things will help). LG offers quite a few shooting options for ISO, HDR, panorama, VR panorama, white balance and more.
Quick Remote and QPair
LG, like Samsung and Sony, include an IR blaster and AV remote control app with their tablets (and some phones too). Quick Remote is more basic than these two competitors' offerings, with fewer supported brand and model TVs and no TV Guide grid. It's simply a remote for your TV and cable box, with no options for Blu-ray, AV receivers or CD players. If you have a Samsung/Sony/LG/Panasonic/Toshiba/Sanyo/VIZIO/Sharp/Philips or Westinghouse TV you're in luck since those are the only supported brands.
QPair is an interesting app that connects your Android smartphone using Bluetooth (any brand, just download the phone app from Google Play) to your tablet so you can view calls, text messages and social networking messages on your tablet. You can decline a call via on-screen control on your tablet, but you can't take a call on your tablet.
The G Pad 8.3 has a 4600 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. As with most Android 7 to 8 inch tablets, battery life is a balance between performance and the more limited space for a battery in smaller tablets. With auto-brightness off and brightness set to 50%, the tablet lasted us 7 hours and 49 minutes of actual use time on a charge with mixed use that included an hour of Netflix HD video streaming, web, email, watching a few YouTube videos, reading books and magazines and playing music in the background for an hour. That's similar to the 2013 Nexus 7 and other Android tablets of this size, but shorter than the iPad mini with Retina display.
The LG G Pad 8.3 is a sharp high end Android 8" class tablet. It has a strong quad core CPU, a greater than full HD IPS display, good speakers, expandable storage, USB host support and multi-window multi-tasking. Yes, it costs more than some other tablets on the market, but you're getting stronger internals and a metal back. The only Android 8" tablet that beats it is the even more expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.
Display:8.3" IPS display. Resolution:
1920 x 1200. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor.
Battery:4600 mAh Lithium
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.
Performance:1.7GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU (4 Krait 300 cores), with Adreno 320 graphics. 2 gigs RAM and 16 gigs internal storage.
x 4.98 x 0.33 inches. Weight: 11.9 ounces.
Camera:1.3MP front camera and 5 megapixel rear camera with HDR.
in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.
Software:Android OS 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Standard suite of Google Android applications including web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Search and the Google Play Store. LG UI with LG's multi-tasking, Qpair, Q Memo and various applications including a video player with DIVX support.
SDXC microSD card slot, USB host (optional USB OTG cable required).