Review: Verizon's Ellipsis 7- A Compelling Tablet - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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Review: Verizon's Ellipsis 7- A Compelling Tablet

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Ellipsis (noun): the act of leaving out one or more words that are not necessary for a phrase to be understood. Verizon really doesn't need a lot of marketing hype to get the message across about their new Ellipsis 7 tablet because once you get your hands on one, you'll find that the hypebeast wasn't needed for you to understand just how impressive this experience is.

When I first began writing this review, one of the questions on my mind was, "Did Big Red just out-Nexus the Nexus 7?" Before you blow a gasket, let me explain. Google's made a name for themselves in the tablet arena by offering a carrier bloatware free software experience, mated with very budget friendly, high end hardware and it's worked well for them. Right now, you can go buy a 32GB LTE enabled Nexus 7 for only $350 which is a steal compared to devices from other manufacturers. You'll get a lightning fast tablet with a beautiful display at a great price, but jump on over to Verizon's website and you'll find the Ellipsis 7 for only $250 unsubsidized. That's right, the full price, $250. And for that you get 8GB (expandable to 32GB), LTE and an HD display that isn't as stunning as the Nexus 7's side-by-side, but on its own, movies and videos still look fantastic. Oh, and did I mention front firing speakers? Yes, they've even managed to solve one of my pet peeves on these devices which are a natural fit for multimedia consumption, speakers which throw the sound at your face instead of your feet. All of this for $100 less mind you. To sweeten the deal, if you're happy with your service with Verizon and don't feel the need to switch anytime soon you can get the device with a two-year contract for $150, though I'm not a huge fan of contracts for tablets.

 

But Wait… There's More!

So, what does $250 really get you? Let's begin with the most obvious piece, the screen. The display on the Ellipsis is a 1280x800 IPS screen with 216 pixels per inch. That's more than 100 less than its competitor which sports a 1920x1200 1080P display but you're also paying $100 less. What does that really mean in real life? Being that it isn't a 40" display, not a whole lot. If I told most people to watch a movie on the Ellipsis and told them it was HD, I very seriously doubt I'd get any complaints about clarity or color on this 720p screen. It looks great! If you must be on the bleeding edge, you'll look elsewhere but for the average consumer, I don't foresee any buyer's remorse in this area. Another area you'll be delighted by is the front firing speakers the next time you're watching a YouTube video or some other media. Though not the loudest I've come across, they're definitely on par with most speakers on the market, except the sound is thrown at you, not away from you which immediately increases the quality. Also on the front of the device is a VGA quality camera and no physical buttons. Verizon has managed to keep the device as close to stock as possible so you'll be using Android Jelly Bean's soft buttons to navigate the operating system.

The bottom edge of the device is where you'll find the microUSB charging port, then moving on to the right edge, you'll find a microSD slot, SIM slot, volume rocker and power buttons, then right above that, a microphone. The top edge is "missing" an IR port (at this point, all of these multimedia devices should have one imo) but you will find the headphone jack there. The bezel of the device, which also wraps around the sides is made of soft touch plastic which makes holding the device feel secure. Just know that when you set it down on anything, the slick back will have it sliding all over the place. Speaking of the back, that's where you'll find the 3.2 megapixel camera. Photo capabilities are not much to get excited about, but who takes pictures with their tablet? Ok, I know some of you do, but that seems to be the exception to the rule.

To be clear about what you're getting, there are some trade-offs for receiving a tablet at this price point. My biggest gripe is onboard memory. I hadn't even piled on all the apps I regularly use and was already receiving low memory warnings but that's what happens when there's only 1GB of RAM available to you for app storage. The message here? Slap a microSD card in this bad boy, post haste. Then you can store apps on your microSD card and use third-party apps like Apps2SD to move those more stubborn over to removable storage. Just be wary which you move because their widgets may not work if you keep them on the card instead of onboard storage. The other issue you may run into if you're more used to running wifi only tablets is that unless you turn LTE off when you're not using the tablet it will die a lot faster than you expect. Remember, adding a cellular radio to a tablet drinks a lot more juice than having WiFi only so you'll need to adjust your charging habits accordingly. And by "accordingly," I mean nightly if you leave LTE constantly turned on. My suggestion is to add a power controls widget to your home screen. You can pick up one like "Power Toggles" from Google's Play Store and turn 4G off when on WiFi.

 

The Software

The software experience on the Ellipsis 7 should make even hardcore Android fanboys happy! Verizon went minimalist with this tablet as there is no heavy handed overlay and the bloatware is kept to a minimum. When you first power up the device and jump into the app drawer, you'll be greeted by iHeartRadio, My Verizon Mobile, Redbox Instant, Verizon Messages and VZ Navigator. That may be five more apps than you'd like to see, but it could certainly be much worse! Currently the Ellipsis is rocking Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 with no current announced timeline on when it will get an update to anything beyond that (4.3 or 4.4). What that means is that you should be happy with the device just as it is now in case it never sees Android's latest OS release, KitKat.

Aside from the extra apps that Verizon added, everything else is pretty much what you'd expect to find on an Android tablet running Jelly Bean. You get two different pull-down shades, one for notifications and the other for quick access to some settings and direct access to the Settings menu. Nothing weird for previuos Android users to adjust to (look at what Lenovo did when they got rid of the app drawer), just remember what I stated back up at the top of the article and get that microSD card in there as soon as possible or you will find yourself running out of storage pretty quickly.

In the end, for the price you're going to pay, I think you'd be remiss in not giving serious consideration to this tablet if you're already a paying customer on Big Red's network. Head-to-head, the Nexus 7 is a stronger device but in my opinion, not so much stronger that for most people it is worth the $100 difference or the $200 difference if you're ok with attaching that two-year obligation to the purchase. I think the on-contract purchase makes for an even more compelling case if you were looking to pick up a tablet for a teen or as a graduation gift for the high school senior in your home who may be going off to college in a few short months.
Tshaka Armstrong Tech Ninja Tshaka Armstong writes about the latest technology and helping FOX 11 Viewers understand how to be safer, smarter users of the internet and their "gadgets. He's also one of our social media guys, helping guide the station's online efforts and social media outreach.
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