Review

Review: Verizon Ellipsis 7, budget friendly meets performance woes

Verizon has a slew of devices on its retail shelves and with smartphones and tablets selling light hotcakes, Verizon has opted to add another device to its lineup . Everything from iPad’s to Nokia’s 2520, the company has a little something for everyone. While the iPad and Nokia tablet are more expensive, Verizon is now selling it’s Ellipsis 7, which is a 7in tablet and has a price of $249.

The price is clearly targeted at the low end of the market and that’s indicative of the device as soon as you pick it up. Verizon is clearly trying to span the spectrum of prices for its tablets, and we can’t fault them for doing this; the Ellipsis 7 is the company’s play to race to the bottom.

The low end of the Android tablet market is quickly filling up with devices that offer a less than optimal experience. For the Ellipsis 7, if the device can cut through the lag and provide at least, an average user experience, for the price, it could be a great device but that’s true for nearly all tablets. So the question remains, in a world where the Nexus 7 costs $229, can the Ellipsis 7 compete?

The specs of the device are by no means, cutting edge, but that’s what you should expect for a device costing $249. With an IPS display, 1.2Ghz Quad-core processor, and a 4000 mAh battery, on paper, the Ellipsis is not bad, but paper performance and real-world usability are two different beasts.

  Ellipsis 7
Product Codes QMV7A
Colors Black
3G/4G Bands LTE Only
Display 1280x800, 216 PPI
Processor ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.2 Ghz
Size 7.72" (H) x 4.94" (W) x 0.4" (D)
RAM 1GB
Storage 8GB
Connectivity WiFi B/G/N
Bluetooth 3.0
Camera Rear - 3.2 MP
Front - VGA
Ports Micro USB / Micro SD
Sensors 7in touch panel
Battery 4000 mAh
Launch OS Android 4.2.2
Launch Date Fall 2013
Price $249

The tablet does come with LTE built in but to save a few pennies, the device does not include a 3G radio. You could call it a bold bet to not include 3G but considering that LTE covers nearly the same areas as 3G does, it does make a bit of sense to lower build costs by opting out the support for the radio.

The Ellipsis 7 is a budget buster tablet and the fact that it is made of plastic should come as no surprise. The exterior has a brushed metal look but rest assured, it is plastic. It’s not a cheap feeling plastic like you do find on some low-end Android tablets but it is far from a premium material.

The shell of the device is also a fingerprint magnet. Be prepared to keep a microfiber cloth handy if you hope to keep the device clean of smudges.

On the right side of the device is a volume rocker and a power button. The rocker and the volume button leave much to desire in terms of feedback. The buttons are soft to engage and the travel distance is quite long because of the soft engagement. While you are able to tell if the button was fully engaged, there is a lot of room for improvement in this area.

Down below, and also on the right side, is the SIM slot and microSD slot that are covered by a flimsy plastic door.

At the bottom of the display are two speaker grills and no physical buttons. Not a huge surprise that the device has virtual navigation buttons as that is the growing trend within the industry.

The charging port is at the bottom of the device and is placed inside the curved edge of the tablet.

In your hands, the tablet is a bit slippery. The plastic exterior does not provide much grip but the rounded edges do help with making the device easier to hold with one hand.

The Ellipsis 7 has a 1280x800 display which gives it 216PPI. The resolution is not bad for this type of a device and considering it is a low end tablet, the resolution is on par with our expectations.

Even though it is an IPS display, the viewing angles are only good for one user at a time. Trying to share a screen for a movie will result in a poor end user experience.

Color reproduction is mostly accurate but the screen lacks any sort of vibrancy and colors generally looking a bit cool.

Input of gestures and touch points were accurately recorded and we had no issues with the touch panel when using the tablet.

Using the display outdoors, like most tablets, is not an optimal experience. Colors will quickly fall-off when the sun hits the display and while the device is still useable, it is quite hard to view the display in the sun.

The tablet ships with Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) and appears to be a mostly stock experience. The good thing is that there is no skinning of Android here which is a positive as many vendors try to add their own ‘flavor’ to the Android UI but typically end up butchering the experience.

Verizon has bundled in some of their typical bloatware including Amazon’s Kindle app, iHeartRadio, Redbox Instant, Flipboard and a few others that can’t be removed.

Fortunately, the Ellipsis does quite well with codec support and managed to play quite a few of the files we loaded on to the device. The notable exceptions would be WMA and FLAC support are not included.

Beyond that, the Android experience is quite typical for 4.2.2 with no big surprises or letdowns besides performance, which I'll hit on a bit later in this review.

The Ellipsis comes with a sizable 4000 mAh battery tucked behind its non-removable plastic cover. With a battery of this size, you would expect it to perform quite well.

Over two full charge cycles, we averaged about 8.5 hours of use out of the device while Verizon notes that it is rated at 12.28hrs of use.

We were never able to break the 10-hour barrier but our use was quite heavy including watching videos, recording videos, email, Twitter and the works. If you were solely reading a book using the Kindle app or lightly browsing the web, we suspect you could get over the 10hr mark.

The battery life should suffice for most users, as it should last the duration of most flights. Yes, your 14hr flight from LAX to Sydney might prove to be an issue but at 14hrs, most tablets will typically require to be recharged anyway.

To put it bluntly, do not plan on using the rear camera on this tablet. The 3.2 megapixel shooter is already low-end and the lack of flash makes shooting in anything other than bright light a serious chore. More so, the shutter lag is ridiculous.

When you tap to take a photo, about 1 second will elapse before the image is captured. Because of this, capturing any moving object is out of the question and we can almost guarantee any modern smartphone will have a better camera.

The rear camera is incredibly frustrating to use and it likely would have been better if it were not included and had passed the cost savings on to the consumer. To take it one step further, this is probably the worst camera I have ever used. When you top the screen to take a photo, it makes a shutter noise, but this isn't the actual shutter taking the image. The image is captured a second after the noise resulting in blurry photos every single time.

The rear camera is awful, it took three tries to take this semi-non blurry photo.

The VGA front facing camera meets the marginal expectations for video chats but color recognition was soft and the camera struggled in low light scenarios.

Videos that we recorded at 1080p are quite bad, to put it frankly. With only a 12fps capability, the subject appears to be jittery and lacks any sort of flow. 720p recording is a bit better at 22fps but don’t expect to get anything other than marginal quality out of the sensor.

And this is where it all goes downhill with the Ellipsis 7; the ARM Cortex A7 CPU and 1GB of RAM struggles. While web browsing was fine, when you jump between apps the lag is apparent and video playback struggles as well.

The above charts speak for themselves with the Ellipsis 7 coming in below that of the Galaxy SG3 and even the Nexus 4. With GFX Bench, the 2.7 T-Rex HD clip ran at a dismally low 2.7 fps.

It’s quite clear that you can tell the device is underpowered, even with low standards, the tablet struggles on many tasks and that's the biggest issue. The more you use this tablet, the more the performance issues show their ugly face. It could be a laggy app, video stuttering or a combination of both that slowly eat away at the pleasure, or lack their of, when using the tablet.

The Ellipsis 7 from Verizon is a budget friendly device but that’s about all that is friendly about the tablet.

From a performance perspective, it falls short on anything other than web browsing but it does offer cheap LTE connectivity. Although, with most smartphone plans now including tethering, it becomes hard to justify saving $50 to buy a marginally acceptable tablet when you can buy the Nexus 7 for less money. Sure the Nexus 7 doesn’t have LTE, but it does have Wifi and a higher resolution screen and better build quality.

The problem with the Ellipsis 7 is that it takes too many shortcuts to obtain the $249 price point and with other 7in tablets in striking range, saving $50 is hard to justify.

But, if you find yourself in a situation where you specifically need a low-cost LTE tablet for extremely basic tasks, the Ellipsis fits this bill well.

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