LG G Pad 8.3 Review
LG has been noticeably absent from the tablet scene in the past couple of years, but it’s back and the Android powered G Pad 8.3 is the first out the blocks and it’s gunning for success.
You’ve got to head back to early 2011 for LG’s last tablet and while the Optimus Pad was the world’s first slate with a 3D camera it was some way off the mark of Apple’s iPad 2 – garnering 3 out of 5 stars in its full TechRadar review.
Right from the off the LG G Pad 8.3 looks to be a much better offering, with a more sensible 8.3-inch screen size, premium build quality and we’re glad the Korean firm has ditched that 3D gimmickry.
One big advantage the G Pad 8.3 has over the previous LG tablet is its price – at £259.99 ($349.99, AU$399) it’s substantially cheaper than the frankly ridiculous £750 (around $1215, AU$1265) asking price of the Optimus Pad.
You get a decent amount for your money too, with the G Pad 8.3 sporting an 8.3-inch full HD display, 1.7GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSD slot and 4600mAh battery.
It’s a little disappointing to find the processor is a Snapdragon 600 offering instead of the newer 800 which has worked its way into the likes of the Galaxy Note 3 and Xperia Z Ultra – but it is still a powerful chip.
The display is an impressive one and it puts the Galaxy Note 8.0 to shame with a 1200 x 1920 resolution and 273ppi pixel density. The iPad mini 2 usurps it though with a 1536 x 2048 resolution.
Even though the G Pad 8.3 may not carry the best screen in this category it is far from a poor offering, with excellent color reproduction and crisp, clear fonts making it easy on the eye.
Front on the LG G Pad 8.3 looks like a blown up LG G2 smartphone, with rounded corners, relatively narrow bezels and a screen slapped in the middle.
It’s hardly a game changing design, but it is functional and we’ve seen many worse looking tablets in our time – we’re just pleased LG hasn’t gone bezel crazy here. There’s just enough to hold the G Pad 8.3 without fingers encroaching on the screen, and that’s all we ask for.
Unlike the G2 though LG hasn’t stuck the physical buttons on the rear of the G Pad 8.3. Instead you’ll find the power/lock key and the volume rocker switch on the right hand side of the slate (when held in portrait).
These are easy to find and responsive to the touch without having to apply too much pressure. The top of the G Pad 8.3 features a headphone jack, IR blaster and microSD slot.
The SD slot itself is covered with an easily removed flap and for once this is a port cover which doesn’t feel like it’ll snap off at any point. It’s easy to use and sturdy enough to last.
There’s nothing going on down the left side of the G Pad 8.3, while on the base of the tablet there’s a centralized microUSB port and a microphone hole.
Things begin to get a little more interesting when you flip the LG G Pad 8.3 over, revealing a mainly metal rear to the device which curves round to either side of the tablet.
There’s still a chunk of plastic above and below, and this mix of materials gives the impression that the metal part could be removed. It can’t though, so don’t waste your time trying.
We’ve said a lot about the use of premium materials in mobile devices and we were truly impressed with Apple’s tablet range, especially the iPad mini which just feels great in the hand.
The addition of metal on the rear, and to some extent the sides, of the G Pad 8.3 makes it feel like a far superior tablet to the all-plastic Galaxy Note 8.0 – although it still doesn’t quite match the iPad mini.
You’ll notice there are dual speakers on the back of G Pad 8.3, built into the metal part of chassis, and these are positioned for optimum use when the tablet is held in landscape – which makes sense as you’ll be looking to fully utilizing them when watching films or playing games.
Measuring 216.8 x 126.5 x 8.3mm the LG G Pad 8.3 is just small enough to be held in one hand – although it does stretch your palm if you try and get fingers either side of the display.
Thanks to its relatively lightweight design you can hold the G Pad 8.3 in one of the bottom corners as you would an ereader – although at 338g it’s more tiresome on the wrist.
The LG G Pad 8.3 comes running Android 4.2.2 as standard. This isn’t the newest version of Android (we’re now on 4.4 KitKat), nor is it even the latest version of Jelly Bean (that’s v4.3) – but that shouldn’t put you off.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is still a highly capable OS and the iterations since have only built slightly on the already solid base.
LG hasn’t stuck with Google’s stock Android offering on the G Pad 8.3, applying its own user interface overlay which will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has the LG G2 smartphone.
As well as the UI overlay another feature inherited from the G2 is the KnockOn double tap to wake and sleep the G Pad 8.3.
Originally introduced on the G2 to overcome the slightly awkward positioning of the power/lock key on the rear of the handset, KnockOn is arguably even more useful on the larger tablet.
It means you don’t have to shuffle the G Pad 8.3 in the hand to reach the key on the right side of the slate, with an easy double tap on the display waking it up.
When viewing the lock or home screens you can double tap anywhere on the display to sleep and lock the G Pad 8.3 – although if you’re in an app (which includes everything from settings and internet to games) you’ll need to stretch a thumb or finger up to the notification bar.
The time it takes for the LG G Pad 8.3 to wake after a double tap is about half a second, and it’s just about long enough for you to question whether your taps have registered on screen.
Sometimes they hadn’t and we had to have another prod of the screen – turns out you need to apply a decent amount of pressure for the G Pad 8.3 to notice you want it to wake up.
The lock screen does provide space for five quick launch apps, allowing you to dive right into an application without having to unlock and then navigate to it. There’s also a nice weather animation which takes over the whole display.
It was mostly raining during our review period, so we were most commonly met with drops of water running down the screen and rain pouring down in the background.
Luckily that slightly temperamental touchscreen response doesn’t feature in the rest of the user experience, with the display picking up even our lightest strokes.
That said comparing it to the likes of the iPad mini 2 and the smaller, cheaper Nexus 7, the G Pad 8.3 appears to lack the zip of its rivals. It’s a little odd as LG has managed to cram in a 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM into the tablet.
It’s by no means a slouch and we didn’t experience any lag, but the G Pad 8.3 just didn’t have the cohesion we’ve found on other tablets. The more complex unlock animations, for example, seemed a little stilted at times.
Some apps opened instantly, but there were a number when you’d get a spilt second of white screen before the program opened fully.
Once again it’s not a huge deal and you’re not exactly left waiting, but it feels like the G Pad 8.3 is just missing that final layer of gloss to give it a seamless, zippy interface.
Perhaps LG’s Android overlay is to blame, maybe it’s trying to do too much. Pull down the notification bar from the top of the display and you’ll see what we mean.
There’s the now almost customary line of quick settings, allowing you to toggle the likes of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS as well as a bunch of custom LG options such as QMemo, QSlide and QPair.
That’s not all though. If you have QSlide selected you get a row of applications below the quick settings, allowing you to open certain apps as pop ups on top of what you’ve currently got on screen.
Then comes two slides, the first is to control brightness and the second allows you to dabble with the G Pad 8.3’s volume. With all this going on almost a third of the screen is taken up before you actually get to any of your notifications.
Sure it’s nice to have lots of options at our fingertips, but LG may have over done things slightly on the G Pad 8.3.
Home screens can be viewed in portrait or landscape – which isn’t always available on tablets and we’re glad LG has kept this functionality. You can force home screens to always display in portrait by hitting the menu key in the navigation bar and selecting "home screen settings" – but we don’t see why you’d do so.
There are more options in this menu, including a selection of home screen swipe effects, the ability to loop screens (when you get to the far right screen it will continue to the far left screen) and choose various UI themes for your G Pad 8.3.
Only two themes came pre-installed on our G Pad 8.3, but more can be downloaded from the LG SmartWorld application. It did appear to be all in Korean however, so this may not be a feature which makes it out of the Asian market.
Sadly neither of the themes offer a mature, premium look and feel which sort of detracts from the well-built and attractive metal chassis. It means the G Pad 8.3 ends up looking a bit like a toy on screen at times, and that’s a real shame.
Multitasking is present and with a decent amount of power under the hood the LG G Pad 8.3 has no trouble running multiple applications at the same time.
A long press on the home key at the bottom of the screen will open up the multitasking menu where you’re able to quickly hop between open apps, as well as close ones you no longer need.
Google Now can be accessed in the usual way, hold the home key and slide your finger up, but before you reach the logo take a moment to see the two additional options LG has provided here.
On the left is a quick link to QVoice, while on the right is QMemo – we’ll discuss both of these features in more detail in the Apps and games section of this review.
Back to Google Now and this is the search giant’s attempt of taking on Apple’s Siri – a personal assistant providing you with relevant, up to the minute information.
Information is displayed in a series of cards, from the weather and news, to latest stock information and your route home. Google Now has less of a relevance on tablets as it really needs a constant internet connection to be at its most useful, so the Wi-Fi only LG G Pad 8.3 limits it somewhat.
The LG G Pad 8.3 is easy to use and if you’re already familiar with Android you’ll find it all pretty straight forward – the UI does look a little bit childish though and for that we have to mark it down slightly.
There’s more than enough power to keep you going and while it’s not the slickest interface we’ve used on a tablet it’s far from the slowest and you’re unlikely notice much delay.
Contacts, Messaging and QPair
While you can’t make calls or pen new text messages on the LG G Pad 8.3, it does have a fully featured contacts application, just as you’d find on any Android smartphone.
This is still handy when it comes to sending emails from your G Pad 8.3, or if you hook it up to your smartphone using QPair – but more on that in a minute.
As the G Pad 8.3 provides a bigger screen than a smartphone you get a list of all your contacts on the left and a person’s contact card on the right of screen, saving you from having to press back when it comes to switching between people.
Contact’s phone numbers are displayed on their cards, but they’re purely for display purposes only. There’s no way of making a call from the G Pad 8.3, but it’s handy if you need to stick one in an email or reel it off to someone else.
Email addresses stored alongside have more use, as you can launch an message to a person by tapping on their address.
The G Pad 8.3 can pull in contacts from a variety of sources including Google, email accounts and Facebook, although there doesn’t appear to be any Twitter integration built in, which is a shame.
Profiles for the same person from different sources can be joined together, and the G Pad 8.3 does a pretty good job of matching them up with a "join suggest" tab in the "Join Contacts" menu.
Pictures of your chums are also pulled through from social profiles to brighten up your contact list, but the G Pad 8.3 doesn’t go as far as to pull in status updates and gallery images – so you’ll need to download and install the various applications to view these.
Adding a new contact is no different here than it is on pretty much any other device. Just hit the plus icon in the top right corner of the Contacts app and you’ll be greeted with a form asking you to enter all the details of your new found friend.
As we’ve already mentioned there’s no way to create new text messages on the LG G Pad 8.3, but SMS isn’t the only form of written communication.
The G Pad 8.3 comes with two email clients, the first of which is Gmail. This deals solely with any GoogleMail accounts you may have, displaying messages in an attractive, intuitive layout which makes viewing and replying to emails easy.
With the large 8.3-inch display HTML emails look great and automatically display fully zoomed out giving you a great overview. You can then easily zoom in on the areas you wish to read and the full HD resolution means text is incredibly sharp.
If you’re not fully committed to Google’s email offering you’ll need to head over to the Email application, which allows you to sign in to all manner of email accounts.
You can have multiple accounts all feeding into one universal inbox, but if that becomes too confusing you can always view inboxes on a per account basis.
Social media is another highly popular form of communication, but the LG G Pad 8.3 doesn’t come with any social apps pre-installed. This isn’t a huge issues as it’s quickly resolved with a brief visit to the Google Play Store, but it would have been nice if LG at least pre-installed the major players for us.
Communication is nothing if there’s no way to get your message across, but thankfully there’s a touchscreen keyboard on hand to let you tap out your missives.
LG has opted to put its own keyboard on the G Pad 8.3 instead of sticking with the stock Android offering, and to be fair it’s a decent input method with well spaced keys and responsive screen.
When held with two hands in portrait we were able to reach speeds which almost matched those of our smartphone input, although the keys in the center of the screen still felt a little bit of a stretch.
Word auto-complete and spell check are present and correct, but there’s no next word prediction which was a little disappointing.
Of course with the G Pad 8.3 being an Android tablet you can always download third party keyboards if you’re not entirely satisfied with LG’s offering.
While you might not be able to make calls or create new text messages on the G Pad 8.3, you can reply to texts and decline phone calls on the tablet thanks to the inclusion of LG’s QPair app.
Download the app on your smartphone and fire it up on both tablet and phone and QPair will pair the two devices over Bluetooth.
You then get to choose which notifications and messages are pushed from your smartphone to the G Pad 8.3 – including calls and text messages.
When you receive a text message it appears in a bubble at the top of the display, allowing you to read it (the text area is scrollable for longer missives) and reply to it direct from the G Pad.
You cannot open the message into a dedicated application, and you’re forced to interact with it in the bubble only. That’s fine for shorter messages, but it means you can’t see the message stream and reading longer texts is a little laborious in such a small space.
It also means there’s no way to create a new text message on the tablet, nor can you check the reply you’ve just sent without pulling out your smartphone.
We’d have liked to have seen a full text messaging application on the G Pad 8.3 which mirrors the one on your smartphone, but it’s still a useful feature in its current state – if not a little half baked.
Another slightly frustrating feature of the text message handling in QPair is that the message stays marked as unread on your smartphone, even if you’ve replied to it on the G Pad.
When it comes to phone calls the LG Pad 8.3 will pop up with a small window in the middle of the screen allowing you to decline the call, but you can’t answer it.
You get to choose to decline the call, decline it and send a text message or ignore it by tapping close.
It comes in useful when watching a movie or playing and game and you don’t want to take a call, but having an option to actually answer it on the G Pad 8.3 would greatly increase its worth.
It’s worth noting that not all the features in the QPair app will be available with every compatible smartphone – so if you’re looking for the full fleet of options you’ll want to keep it all LG.
The LG G Pad 8.3 comes with two internet browsers pre-installed, but Google Chrome is the most prominent, getting a lock screen shortcut and place in the home screen dock as default.
We prefer Chrome out of the two, so you can happily keep the stock "Internet" app relegated to the app list – out of sight.
LG has equipped the G Pad 8.3 with Wi-Fi b/g/n, allowing you to get online at home, at work, at a mate’s house and anywhere which offers up a wireless hotspot.
There’s no 3G or 4G LTE option for the LG G Pad 8.3, so if you want to get online when out and about you’ll have to tether the tablet to your smartphone.
This can be done easily via the QPair app, but be warned turning your phone into a wireless hotspot can chew through your data allowance and battery.
With a strong Wi-Fi connection the G Pad 8.3 is able to load web pages quickly, with mobile sites taking just two seconds to fully display.
Full blown desktop websites also load up in impressive time, with the BBC website taking five seconds while TechRadar was usable after four and fully loaded after eight seconds.
The full HD display means everything looks great on the G Pad 8.3. Images are bright and colorful, while text is super defined and incredibly easy on the eye.
When reading an article, double tap on a paragraph of text to zoom in – the G Pad 8.3 will immediately fit the width of the text to the screen making it easier to read.
Chrome doesn’t support text reflow, so if you zoom in any further you’ll have to scroll sideways as well as down to read it which can get a bit annoying. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to zoom in this far though.
Tabbed browsing is easily available in Chrome, with the toolbar at the top of the display providing easy access to any open tabs as well as the icon to open new ones.
If you fancy doing some private browsing on your G Pad 8.3 (naughty!) then Chrome offers incognito mode – available in the menu – allowing you to cover your tracks as no history will be saved of your activities.
For those of you already embedded in Google and Chrome you can login to the Chrome app on the G Pad 8.3 and it will automatically pull in your bookmarks, browsing data and you can even get the tabs that are open on your computer open on the tablet too.
The only real downer for the Chrome app is its lack of an offline reading mode, something which the stock Internet offering actually has.
While Chrome is favored by many the general Internet app will still provide you with a decent browsing experience with all the same features as its Google counterpart.
It’s not quite as clean or well laid out, but we’re nit-picking if we’re honest and the offline reading mode – accessed via the browser’s menu – will be a lifeline for those wanting to read long articles on the way home when a wireless network is out of reach.
Flash is dying as a web format as HTML 5 looks to take over, but there are still sites out there which depend on it for some or all other their functionality. Unfortunately everyone is giving up their Flash support (apart from BlackBerry), so you won’t be able to view any of this content on the G Pad 8.3.
The LG Pad 8.3 is certainly capable of being a well rounded media device with its full HD 8.3-inch display, powerful quad-core processor and expandable storage option.
With just 16GB of built in storage, and almost 5GB of that taken up by the Android Jelly Bean operating system, power users will find their G Pad 8.3 filling up fast.
That means the addition of a microSD slot on the rear of the tablet is more than welcome, and it’s able to support cards up to 64GB in size.
Using a microSD card is also the easiest way to get content onto the tablet, as it saves you from having to dig out the bundled USB cable and hook the G Pad 8.3 up to your computer.
If you do opt for the physical, wired connection then all you’ll need to do is the simple drag and drop process between folders to get media on and off the tablet.
Plug in a pair of headphones to the LG G Pad 8.3 and a bar will appear at the top of the screen offering you some related applications to get you where you need to go quicker.
The music player, video player and YouTube apps as default, although these can be edited to include other apps such as Spotify and Netflix.
The stock Music app is the destination for tunes, with tracks listed by title, artist, album and genre, making it easy to browse your collection and find the songs you want.
In album view you’re shown the artwork from each of the albums, but the high resolution screen on the G Pad made the relatively low res images we had attached to our tracks look a bit rubbish.
Hold down on a particular track and you can choose to play it or add it to a playlist – which can be created and updated on the fly, ensuring you always have the perfect party mix at your finger tips.
Tap a track to start playing it and you’ll be transported to the Now Playing window where the usual line up of controls greet you – play/pause, skip, scrub and volume.
Above the album artwork you’ll find repeat, shuffle, favorite and SmartShare – the latter allowing you to transfer or stream the track to another enabled LG device, be it a smartphone, TV or another tablet.
If you fancy tweaking the audio output there’s an equalizer button in the bottom right with five preset options plus a custom graphic equalizer if you want total control.
An interesting addition to the Now Playing screen is the YouTube logo at the top, allowing you to search the song you’re listening to on the video website – handy if you fancy checking out the official music video.
Rotate the G Pad from portrait to landscape and you’ll get your track list on the right hand side of the screen, while all the now playing controls remain on the left. This is a good use of the additional screen real estate afforded to us on the tablet and it works nicely.
The G Pad 8.3 supports the main audio formats including MP3, WAV and eAAC+ and we had no trouble getting our music library to play on the tablet.
We found audio playback to be more than acceptable, especially if you’ve got a decent pair of headphones plugged into the G Pad. The stereo speaks on the rear of the tablet kick out a decent volume, but bass is all but lost and tracks tend to sound pretty tinny.
As well as a dedicated Music app the G Pad 8.3 also comes with its own video player application. That may sound like a no brainer, but not every Android device has this option, so we’re pleased to see it on the G Pad.
The LG G Pad 8.3 supports MP4, DivX, WMV and AVI video formats which covers most bases, but it’s always worth checking your files before transferring them onto the tablet.
The app itself is straight forward. Videos are displayed in a series of tiled thumbnails, although the view can be changed to a list if you prefer. Simply tap on a video to start playing it.
You’ll find the normal array of controls on the player screen with play/pause, skip and scrub front and centre, and a volume slider hidden to the left.
If your video doesn’t fill the whole screen you can toggle the aspect ratio using the button in the bottom right corner – be warned though this can stretch your image, or chop bits off the side.
LG’s QSlide functionality comes into play in the video app, as you’re able to pop the screen out of the player, allowing you to continue watching your film while using other aspects of the G Pad 8.3.
The transition from the video player to the on screen window takes a second or two to complete, but the G Pad does pause playback while it makes the switch so you don’t miss any of the action.
You can adjust the transparency of the window, allowing you to view what’s behind in case it’s something important – although you can just drag the window out the way if needs be.
Playback on the full HD display is very good, with bright colors and smooth pictures making for a pleasing viewing experience.
The 8.3-inch form factor is excellent for watching movies. The screen is a decent size while the body isn’t overbearing. The LG G Pad 8.3 is a device which you can hold for extended periods of times without your arms falling off – something 10-inch tablets suffer from.
There’s no surprises when it comes to finding photos on the LG G Pad 8.3, with the gallery app providing you with an adequate picture viewer.
You’ll find there’s an album for all the snaps taken on the G Pad’s two cameras, and any pictures you have on the microSD card, or have transferred to the tablet’s internal storage will also be present.
Any video shot with the LG Pad 8.3 will also appear in the general camera folder, which makes viewing pictures a little messy.
You can tweak your images by hitting the edit option in the gallery menu when viewing a particular picture – and you get a choice of editors.
There’s the stock photo editor which is built into the Gallery on the G Pad 8.3 giving you a range of exposure, artistic and color effects to choose from. Favorites such as sepia, black and white, vignette and fish eye are all present here, allowing you to get arty with your snaps.
Tools such as crop, rotate, red-eye reduction and flip are also on hand, as well as options to straighten and sharpen the image if you fancy doing some more fine tuning.
As far as stock editors go the one of the G Pad 8.3 is pretty well equipped and its intuitive interface makes it easy to use.
That’s not the only editor on offer though, as Google’s own Photos app come pre-installed on the G Pad offering its own editing suite.
This editor is a little more limited in terms of functionality, all you get is crop, rotate and filters to choose from. There is one thing the Photos editor does have though – frames. It’s not exactly a stellar line up of options, but it might keep you entertained for a couple of minutes.
Camera and video
The jury is still out on the need for cameras on tablets, as generally they are just too big and clunky to be used as traditional snappers. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to have stopped the army of iPad photographers in the world.
And it’s probably that popularity which is partly encouraging other manufacturers to equip their slates with rear cameras and well as the front facing options for video chats.
The LG G Pad 8.3 is no exception here with a 5MP lens slapped on its rear, while round the front you get a 1.3MP offering which suffices for video calls and the odd selfie but is otherwise best avoided.
There’s no flash to accompany the 5MP sensor on the back of the G Pad 8.3, so you’ll want to make sure you’re in reasonably well lit surroundings before firing up the camera application.
Considering this is a tablet, the camera app on the G Pad 8.3 is surprisingly well stocked with various modes and features – keeping any budding paparazzi out there happy.
Fire up the app and hit mode and you’ll be greeted with a range of options including HDR, panorama, beauty shot, night and sports.
There’s also continuous shot which takes six photos consecutively, while time machine is a clever feature which lets you track the progress of a moving object in an image to produce a cool effect.
Tap the settings cog and you’ll be offered up even more options including ISO, brightness and white balance controls as well as a timer and voice shutter – the latter of which requires you to say "cheese", "smile", or "whiskey" to trigger the shutter.
The color effect section is one for the Instagram generation, but with just three options (mono, sepia and negative) the G Pad 8.3 is unlikely to impress here.
Shutter speed is blazingly fast thanks to the 1.7GHz quad-core chip inside the G Pad, and it means you’re able to snap photos in quick succession without having to wait around between each one.
LG has made it easier to take photos with the G Pad 8.3 as you can use the volume switch on the right of the tablet as a physical shutter key, saving you from stretching you hand to the on-screen button.
You can change the volume rocker to a zoom control, but we found it to be far more useful as a shutter and pinching the display to zoom in and out.
Images on whole leave a lot to be desired, especially ones taken indoors, with the G Pad 8.3 struggling to produce defined pictures and decent color reproduction.
Most of our images were serviceable, but noticeably granular and the auto-focus did struggle from time to time. We found macro to be incredibly hit and miss, so if you want to get close up you’re going to need a lot of patience.
Video recording is pegged at full HD quality (30fps) on the LG Pad 8.3, but it doesn’t produce the same results as we’ve seen on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or LG G2.
The 5MP sensor on the rear of the tablet can only do so much, and while the footage is fine for the odd clip here and there you won’t be shooting movies of the LG G Pad anytime soon.
You can access the video recorder by loading up the camera app and then sliding the switch next to the shutter from camera to video.
The volume key comes into play once again here, with the ability for it to be either the record button or the zoom key – and you can zoom in and out while filming.
Battery life and connectivity
The LG G Pad 8.3 comes with a non-removable 4600mAh battery, the same size as the power pack in the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, and performance is similar between the two tablets.
Unfortunately the G Pad 8.3 ships with Qualcomm’s slightly older Snapdragon 600 chip which isn’t quite as power efficient as the 800 version found inside the G2 handset and rivals such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX.
That said we found that the G Pad 8.3 performed pretty well day to day and with general usage we were able to get a full day out of the slate.
Start watching a movie, or playing a graphically intensive game however and battery life starts to tumble.
In our battery test we played our 90 minute Nyan Gareth video with the screen turned up to full brightness and with various accounts syncing in the background. The battery had dropped 30% by the time the video had finished, so if you’re planning on watching a movie then you may want to stay near a charger.
It’s no where near the iPad mini standard of battery life, and if you hit the G Pad 8.3 hard you’re looking at about seven hours of juice.
Be more reserved with your usage though and even with QPair linked up via Bluetooth and various accounts syncing in the background the G Pad 8.3 is capable of seeing you through until bedtime – just.
There is a Battery saver option of the LG G Pad 8.3 which automatically activates when you have 30% left in the tank, allowing you to eek out an extra bit of life.
With no 3G or 4G LTE model there’s only one model of the LG G Pad 8.3 available – Wi-Fi only.
If you’re desperate for an internet connection on the move you can always tether the tablet to your smartphone – a process made easier by QPair, as we explained in an earlier section – but be aware of battery drain and data usage.
You also get things such as Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS included in the G Pad 8.3, but NFC doesn’t make an appearance here.
Miracast however is included, allowing you to share your tablet display and audio on a compatible TV – great if you want to effortlessly stick a movie onto the big screen.
If you own a fleet of LG phones and tablets you can share multimedia content between them with SmartShare Beam – with photos, videos, music and documents available to transfer between devices.
Thanks to the comprehensive quick settings bar in the notification drop down you can easily turn on and off most connections without having to dive into the main settings menu.
There’s also the trusty microUSB port on the base of the tablet, used to charge the G Pad 8.3 as well as hooking it up to a computer.
Apps and games
The LG G Pad 8.3 is an Android tablet at heart and that means it has access to over 900,000 applications on the Google Play store.
Of course the G Pad doesn’t turn up devoid of apps, with the usual array of pre-installs already on the tablet when you take it out of the box. Things such as clock, calculator, calendar, weather, voice recorder and task manager are included.
So too are a range of Google apps including Google+, Hangouts, Play Books, Maps and Play Movies.
LG has also chucked in some of its own apps into the mix, in an attempt to add more value to its G Pad tablet.
First up is QMemo – a simple note taking application which is perfect for jotting down a quick shopping list or noting the last trains home after a heavy night.
It’s not just text which can be included into your memos though, with the ability to attach photos, video, audio clips and maps to your notes. You can even elect to draw on your memo, although without a stylus it’s not the easiest of things to do.
Following on from QMemo is Notebook, which takes note taking to the next level. Notebook allows you to create more elaborate notes with diagrams, stickers and other features to give you a fully formed document.
There are more advanced drawing tools on offer here, although once again it would be made easier with the addition of a stylus.
You can have multiple pages in each Notebook you create, and you can attach all the same content which is available in QMemo here.
To be honest we don’t really see a time when we’d actually come to use Notebook, but for those who are a little more creatively minded it’s a nice addition to the G Pad 8.3.
QRemote takes advantage of the IR blaster on the top of the LG G Pad 8.3 (when held in portrait), allowing you to take control of devices such as TVs, set top boxes and DVD players on the tablet.
It’s incredibly easy to set up and there’s a surprisingly high number of brands supported – even the more obscure ones make it into the QRemote app.
We were able to hook our various IR controlled equipment up to the G Pad 8.3 without issue, and the ability to link various devices to different rooms makes everything easy to manage.
QVoice is a similar offering to Samsung’s SVoice and Apple’s Siri – ask your G Pad questions, or bark orders at it to perform certain tasks and searches. Unfortunately we were unable to test it on our review unit was stuck on Korean.
If you fancy yourself as a budding movie director then you’ll want to check out the video editor on the LG G Pad 8.3.
As you may be able to guess, the video editor app lets you splice together various video clips, photos and audio tracks to create your own little movie.
Sadly there isn’t a great selection of features within the app, and you’re limited to adding your clips, snaps and sounds along with a bit of text – and that’s about it. There are a handful of styles to choose from, providing various transitions between slides and you can split video clips up.
The basic nature of the app though means it’s unlikely to see much use and if you’re serious about editing on the G Pad you’re better off heading to the Play store and downloading a third party alternative.
With a full HD display, quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM the LG G Pad 8.3 is well equipped to deal with gaming. The G Pad’s lightweight nature and manageable form factor means it’s easy to hold during long gaming sessions.
Games on mobile devices are becoming more and more advanced, with many nearing console quality – although not the next-gen stuff which is floating about at the moment.
We played Plants v Zombies 2, Temple Run and New Star Soccer and all ran without issue on the G Pad 8.3.
The responsive touchscreen also aids gaming, as the G Pad is able to register every finger prod, so you’re not left frantically smashing the screen in the middle of a game.
Hands on gallery
The 8-inch tablet sector is still in its infancy as it looks to bridge the gap between the super premium 10-inch slates and the bargain basement 7-inch contenders at either end of the market.
The G Pad 8.3 is a tidy tablet, but while the iPad mini wowed us when it arrived last year, we were never stunned, surprised or left wide eyed and open jawed at anything LG’s tablet did.
The G Pad 8.3 offers a well rounded package combining stylish design and a fluid user interface which makes using the tablet a joy.
What really makes the G Pad 8.3 stand out from the Galaxy Note 8.0 and iPad mini is its full HD display, delivering crisp, bright images – perfect for movies and gaming.
There’s enough power to deal with multi-tasking and the QSlide applications which you can pop up on screen are handy – especially the video player.
As we’ve mentioned, while the G Pad is a decent all round tablet, it doesn’t really amaze. LG’s rather childish UI on top of Android detracts from what should be a relatively premium experience, creating a disconnect between the onscreen action and the lovely chassis.
Battery life is rather disappointing and when compared to the iPad mini the G Pad 8.3 simply can’t compete. You’ll be lucky to see out a full day with this tablet, so keep a charger close by at all times.
The rear facing camera is a bit of a let down, and while we don’t expect fully fledged snappers on the back of tablets it’s surely worth making them at least half decent. The camera app itself is surprisingly well equipped, it just a shame the camera can’t keep up its side of the bargain.
Would we recommend the LG G Pad 8.3? Yes. It’s a great tablet which offers a wide array of features and a beautiful screen at a price which pips Apple’s latest offering.
If you’re in the market for a smaller sized tablet then the Google Nexus 7 is still the pick of the bunch, but if you fancy a little more screen and can stretch your budget a little further the G Pad 8.3 is a solid shout.
The LG Pad 8.3 is one of the best tablets in the 8-inch sector, but with the iPad mini 2 soon to be released there will be some serious competition to contend with.
By John McCann, TechRadar