“If you love gaming on mobile devices, your search ends here”
In the world of gaming and gaming peripherals, Nvidia is a brand every gamer is familiar with. Nvidia powers half the gaming PCs in the world, and with its Tegra range of chipsets, it's been powering mobile devices as well. Xolo, a mobile device brand from India has collaborated with Nvidia to introduce the Xolo Play Tegra Note tablet in the country. The Tegra Note is a 7 –inch tablet based on Nvidia’s reference design, designed and developed for sheer performance and hardcore gaming. All said and done, we intend to find out how well this tablet fares in the real world.
Plain Jane looks but very sturdy
The Xolo Play Tegra Note tablet is based on Nvidia’s reference design and the only customisation that the makers have done on this tablet is sticking the Xolo branding at the back. Apart from that, the Tegra Note is the same device you will get to see in other countries as well, including brand like Zotac and EVGA.
A lot of time must have been spent on developing this slate, especially for making it sturdy. The tablet is built using plastic, but that does not affect its sturdiness in any way. The Tegra Note is only available in one colour option – black. Sadly though, it hardly looks impressive and sports plain looks.
At the front of the device, there's the 7-inch display flanked by front-firing stereo speakers on both sides (when held in the landscape mode). The display is protected by glass for protection against scratches, but is prone to smudges and is a fingerprint magnet to boot. The back features a dual-tone colour treatment with glossy black on the outer sides and a matte rubberised finish in the centre, continuing on to the sides to improve handling by offering better grip.
The tablet comes with Nvidia’s very own Direct Stylus accessory, which has been very neatly tucked away in a slot placed on the rear. The stylus gets an angled tip making it a great addition for users who love to sketch and annotate.
Hi-def display with wide viewing angles
For a gaming tablet, the Xolo Play Tegra Note has quite an average display in terms of pure resolution. However, the quality of the display is good, especially when it comes to viewing angles. The display features a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels translating to a pixel density of about 216 pixels per inch. With use of IPS technology, the manufacturer has made sure that the display offers optimum performance for gaming.
In terms of colour reproduction, the display is a tad pale, and the colours look washed out and lack vibrancy as compared to the Nexus 7, 2013. Having said that, we would like to mention that the display has ample level of brightness levels making it legible even in brightly-lit conditions.
The display does get an oleo-phobic coating but within a few minutes of usage, you'll see a ton of smudges on the screen – so make sure you keep a microfiber cloth handy to clean it up frequently. Alternatively, you can also invest in the Tegra Note slide cover accessory for the tablet, and protect it from smudges and accidental damage to an extent.
While the display might be average, the touch sensitivity on the Tegra Note is just superb. The tablet reacts to the slightest of touches and for gaming that can mean a lot. We played Shadowgun Deadzone for hours and we barely felt the need for an additional accessory or controller to help play better.
A roaring monster under the hood for performance
Nvidia Tegra 4 is one of the fastest, gaming-centric chips available in the market today and this is what powers the Xolo Tegra Note. The chip combines a quad-core processor running at 1.8GHz for mainstream computing, along with a fifth companion core, which handles small computing requirements and offers huge battery savings.
Along with all this, the Tegra 4 also gets a 72-core Nvidia GeForce graphics processor, which is the brain behind all the visual superiority this tablet has to offer. The processor and graphics engine combo works fast and offers superior performance for almost all the games available on the Google Play store, even the THD ones with ease.
The processor is aided with 1GB of RAM, which might sound low, but the device actually performs quite well. Multitasking on the Tegra note is a breeze and apps respond almost instantly whenever they are brought up or switched between while juggling between several of them.
In terms of internal storage, the Xolo Play Tegra Note gets 16GB onboard along with the option to increase it by an additional 32GB using a microSD card.
All in all, the Tegra Note offers very good performance that can be easily compared to the top 10 devices in any benchmarking app you might want to refer to. While playing games, the slate does get a tad hot but stays within bearable limits and you can safely continue playing HD or even THD games for hours without having to worry about damaging the device.
Pure Android experience plus the stylus
The Xolo Play Tegra Note follows Google Nexus devices in terms of its operating system and software, offering a pure and unaltered Android experience to the users. Out-of-the-box, the tablet runs Android 4.2, but the upgrade to Android 4.3 is available and buyers will be able to upgrade their tablet as soon as they connect to the internet.
In terms of apps, the tab comes with all standard Google apps plus the Xolo Care app and Nvidia’s own Tegra Store preloaded. For the stylus functionality, Nvidia has added the direct stylus application, which allows users to quickly access pre-loaded apps like Tegra Draw and Write to create create sketches and annotate as well. In terms of utility, the Write app allows users to create handwritten notes and store them on the device, while Tegra Draw is more for useful for drawing and sketching. Additionally, users can download and install several stylus-based apps from the Play store and use it on this device. Apps can also be added to the Direct Stylus quick access menu for faster access.
The tablet, despite being gaming centric, doesn't come with any games pre-installed. Although several games are available off the Google Play store, we think inclusion of a few preloaded games would have made sense. The stylus can also be used as a gaming accessory for playing games like Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope and any such games where one-finger actions are required.
The tablet is designed for superior performance with the Nvidia Shield controller, but sadly, we didn't have one on hand to try with the device. Surprisingly, this functionality is also a problem for the device as a couple of the games, including GTA Racing 2 don't display onscreen controls and can't work without the controller.
Multimedia and gaming capabilities on steroids
Apart from being a great gaming device, the Tegra Note is a supercharged multimedia device as well. The speakers that are powered by Nvidia’s Pure Audio deliver powerful and clear sound. The tablet supports full HD video playback but sadly, the display isn't able to justify that. Instead, users can choose to hook the tablet with a big-screen television using an HDMI cable and can enjoy videos in up to 2K resolution.
When connected to a TV, the device can also be used as a remote control to play games. Nvidia promises console-quality gaming experience on the device with the Tegra 4 processor and delivers that without breaking into sweat.
The device gets a 4,100mAh battery pack that is one of the key reasons for its 310g weight. Nevertheless, having a bigger battery pays, as the tablet provides almost five hours worth of video playback times and up to three hours of intense HD gaming while playing Shadowgun Deadzone with Wi-Fi switched on.
The tablet has an average 5-megapixel snapper at the back featuring autofocus and HDR always-on mode. HDR or High Dynamic range offers images with great variation in contrast levels, so whites look whites and blacks look darker. The Tegra Note features HDR always on, meaning it can capture HDR images faster as compared to others. Although the HDR mode increases the contrast levels dramatically, the level of detail is lost in transition.
The front camera, however, merely does its job and even in brightly-lit conditions, it offers poor and pixelated images only good enough for video conferencing.
Well, everything eventually boils down to one simple question – is it actually worth the price being asked for? Honestly, the Xolo Play Tegra Note is worth it. There are several reasons why we are saying this, and why you should buy it. If you need a serious performance-oriented tablet that outperforms smartphones and some notebooks too, this is a worthy slate. It offers great gaming and app performance and for the price, it's not so expensive either.
The device can multitask easily and efficiently, and it is great for multimedia use as well. The build is sturdy and even though it misses out on integrated cellular data connectivity, it is a worthy device to have.