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Micromax P290 Review

I have had the Micromax P290 for a while now. It is simpler to mention immediately that the tablet is perhaps the cheapest tablet anybody can purchased. It cost slightly less than 3500 rupees (roughly 55 dollars). This wasn’t an impulse purchase for me. As a tech guy myself, I do spend a sufficient amount of studying whatever I buy. It could be a 5-dollar memory card, or a 600 dollar Lumia 1520, I do my homework with diligence.

The idea behind the tablet is simple. You need something that can help you do some light browsing, light app usage (like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video), some light photo viewing, email and other ‘light’ stuff. That is what I wanted, and so far, the tablet meets and in some cases exceeds expectations.

Let’s start off with the build quality which is just nice for such a budget device. It’s light weight, probably because of the cheap materials used. The bezel is super thick, so lot of real estate is lost there. The slot for memory card looks very weak and may break even with the slightest hard push. Although the tablet has been dropped from small heights, it has not broken so far. Obviously, there is no gorilla glass and all that nonsense. We are talking basic display with basic plastic/glass something.

The tablet is comfortable to hold. I don’t use a case, but there are a variety of cases available if you are planning to hold it in the hand for long durations. I mostly just let it lie on the ground (a stand is used for this, and must be bought separately. The case will usually include a stand) but on the occasions I use it in the hand, the grip is firm and good. The back has a nice rough exterior which gives solid grip, extremely useful if you are travelling with the tablet in public transport and want to watch or listen to music on the move.

The screen is just okay. The colors are all washed off, the brightness though is too bright. Even at lowest, the display will light up the entire room like a lantern. Touch is alright, although, the low PPI means, you cannot use this draw and stuff. For everyday usage, the screen is good enough. It has extremely low view angles. Unless you are looking directly at it with the proper inclination, everything will look like ghosts on the screen. That is a bad experience but for 55 dollars, I would not expect much else.

Actual usage, is mixed bag. Assuming only a few apps are currently running, the tablet wont ice up. That means, when I open new apps, I should open the app drawer (the tablet only has virtual buttons, of course) and make sure that I kill the apps running in the background. Forgetting to do this means, if the app start consuming too much memory, the tablet will either crash the app, or the entire OS will crash. That leads to the tablet itself restarting. Another issue is when using memory cards. Sometimes the tablet will fail to read cards, at which point, the screen goes blank. You have no choice but to remove the card, and then reinsert it and wait for the length process of ‘checking for errors’ before you can use the SD card files again.

Most apps run fine. Multiple tabs on Firefox (like up to ten, with videos and content) will work just fine. Netflix works fine, although offline videos will occasionally freeze up. YouTube and other apps don’t pose that problem, so may be, it is an issue with Netflix which did not consider playback issues on low end tablets. Browsing on the web is easy, and mostly works okay. However, there will be a slight delay when the keyboard pops up, but that is just how it is. Speaking of keyboards, the tablet’s Bluetooth works beautifully. More importantly, the tablet works beautifully with my Microsoft Wireless (without dongle) Keyboard and Mouse. I usually use the tablet for a lot of writing, for which I use Microsoft Word for Android. It works great and despite it’s low price, the tablet is good enough for writing simple reports, emails and blogs such as the one I am posting right now. Viewing photos and videos is also alright, but compromises in terms of color saturation is important to work with this tablet.

The tablet maker has cut a lot of corner to reach this price point. From that angle, this tablet is excellent device for casual usage, and perhaps for kids and moms and old people to use. I would give it a 5 out of 5, mostly because it delivers what it promises.

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