We're back with another hands-on here at IFA in Berlin, this time LG's upcoming G Pad 8.3. This is LG's first tablet since the somewhat-disastrous G Slate, and it's a far more conservative approach to the tablet model. LG's pretty much stuffing the old Optimus G Pro's guts inside an 8.3" tablet's body, albeit with the G2's newer software.
The G Pad 8.3 has a Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8.3" 1920x1200 display, 16GB of internal storage, front and rear cameras, a 4600mAh battery, and a microSD card slot. It seems LG's new strategy in the tablet space is pretty much to play it safe - build a sleek, fast device with a great display and don't muck about with gimmicks (beyond the G2's). While I doubt this approach is going to get many people fired up about LG as an innovator, as far as I know the G Pad 8.3 will be the most powerful tablet in its size class.
The full HD IPS display was vivid, bright, and the sharpness was outstanding. Considering a tablet basically is just a screen, in a sense, I'd argue it's a pretty important feather in LG's cap compared to the competition. Its Snapdragon 600 processor also puts it miles ahead of Samsung's Tab 3 line, and even a fair step above the more premium Note 8.0. It should also pretty handily out-benchmark the new Nexus 7, though real-world speed is obviously more complicated than a simple score.
That said, the G Pad 8.3 felt exceptionally quick and responsive, much as the Optimus G Pro and G2 do. Whether you like LG's software layer, though, is a whole other question. On the G Pad it felt a little less intrusive, especially in the notification area, but I still can't say LG's software is anything close to pretty. While it does pack quite a few settings and even some nice extra features (like KnockOn - tap the screen twice to turn it off or on), I can't help but feel like LG is waiting for a major Android revision to overhaul its UI. If you're going the root and ROM route, though, the G Pad could serve as a pretty potent canvas for some customization.
The hardware seemed decent, and the G Pad itself is relatively light for its size. Most of the back plate is actually a thin piece of aluminum, which adds a bit of a premium touch. The tablet isn't particularly pretty, nor is it what I'd call ugly - it's kind of generic, in a way. Again, this just feels like LG playing the waiting game - it hasn't found a readily identifiable, iconic aesthetic for its devices, so it's all gentle curves and white plastic for now.
The G Pad 8.3's success will almost certainly hinge on pricing and marketing. If LG doesn't push it, it won't sell. If it's not priced competitively, it definitely won't sell. The tablet market is a tough one to break into, and LG's been out of it for quite some time now. Is the G Pad 8.3 the device they need to get back in? Well, they certainly could do worse, though I wouldn't exactly call it a breakthrough product.