What does $149 get you in the world of tablets? The answer might surprise you, but also possibly not, as we take on the Orbic Tab8 4G.
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Offering a design like a tablet and really nothing more, the Orbic Tab8 4G won’t impress with style, and may not need to.
The Tab8 is about as generic as it gets, and harks back to a time when Google had Asus make its 7 inch Nexus tablets. You’ll get marginally less bezel with this device, but there’s not a lot more to it: this is a basic tablet.
It’s a black plastic body with lime green buttons to match the accents in Orbic’s logo, with a camera on the front and a back. There’s an 8 inch screen under the panel and speakers at the bottom, and really all we can say is that the Tab8 is an 8 inch tablet.
Inside, you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 chip paired with 3GB. RAM and 32GB storage, the latter of which can be expanded with a microSD card if you choose to, and Android 12 runs on the tablet natively. As to whether it’ll end up getting Android 13, that’s a bit of a question mark, but we can hope.
There’s not a lot more to this device, though, beyond the cameras, which offers up a 13 megapixel camera on the back with flash, a front 5 megapixel camera, and that’s it.
You’ll find the typical assortment of WiFi, Bluetooth, and a Type C connector, though in a nice change, there’s also a 3.5mm headset jack up top, because plugging in headphones can be nice, especially for parents with kids. This tablet also arrives with a 4G modem which can also be used to make phone calls, and given it comes on Telstra Prepaid, this makes a lot of sense.
There’s even an IP54 water resistant design, which should see it handling sprays of water or the occasional drop in the pool. Try not to, but it should be fine, based on that level of resistance.
Oh, and then there’s the screen.
The main feature of any tablet is the screen, and in the Orbic Tab8 4G, you can read what screen you’re getting in the name: an 8 inch display.
This isn’t a fancy display by any stretch of the imagination, as Orbic opts for an 8 inch screen with the positively low-end 1280×800 HD resolution. It’ll likely be fine for a crowd that doesn’t care much about screen quality, and that’s often kids or seniors, who may only need the basics. But to anyone who has seen a tablet in the past few years and likes looking at visuals on it, the screen here will feel mediocre by comparison.
It’s bright but not super sharp, and you can see the pixels if you look. That’s not thoroughly surprising, of course: the pixel clarity is measured at 188 pixels per inch, lower than most phones, even.
Fortunately, using this tablet is about as easy as any other.
While you won’t get a fancy overlay make Android more tablet friendly, the Tab8 4G can best be treated as if it’s a big phone, because it kind of is. That means standard Android usability applies, with a dropdown power control bar, widgetised home screen, a left-most screen for Google’s feed of what you like, and all the regular things about Android you might be familiar with. There were even virtual buttons at the bottom, handy for home, back, and multitasking.
While Android is as Android gets on the Orbic Tab8 4G, the performance is about as much as you’d expect for the price. This is a $150 tablet after all, and that is a very cheap price for a tablet. One might even call it as cheap as chips.
Unfortunately, the chips used in “cheap as chips” tablets aren’t typically fantastic, and that’s more or less the case with this tablet.
You’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 chip in this tablet, which makes it more like a phone, accompanied by 3GB RAM, and for some reason, the system performance just struggles.
While there's more performance than what we found on the mediocre TCL Tab 10S, there isn't a whole heap more, and even mid-range phones are outflanking what Orbic has produced in this ho-hum gadget. The benchmarks are slow because the system is slow, and using it for anything other than web browsing, video watching, and generally anything else that won't tax the hardware will likely draw a bit of a red flag.
We found lag jumping around apps, and to put it into perspective, the performance can't match an iPad from over three years ago. If you keep the uses for the Tab8 down to general content consumption and web, you should be fine.
It's pretty clear this tablet is made for folks who don't care about performance, which makes us think kids in the backseat of a car for the long car trip, or maybe even your gran.
One area that pulls its weight fine seems to be the battery, with the 4300mAh battery able to give you a good five to six hours no problems.
There's nothing particularly fancy about this, and we suspect you could probably get more with even more intermittent use, but it should handle a day's worth of fun, or a backseat ride until the kids get bored, or you turn the car right around and there's no Cape Canaveral for anybody.
The clincher for the Orbic Tab8 4G seems to be the price: at $149, this is one of the least expensive mobile-friendly tablets you can find.
Most budget tablets skip out on the mobile connectivity option, forcing you to WiFi, which for most situations means pre-caching everything ahead of time. Parents who download the entire library of kids TV shows before a trip, you know what we're talking about.
Orbic gets around this with possibly the most value-driven feature of the Tab8: a 4G modem, which works with a nanoSIM to let you jump on a mobile connection and keep on using data just like you had WiFi.
This isn't a remarkably special feature, mind you, just one you don't expect at the $150 price point, and that helps the Orbic Tab8 gets some value. The system hardware isn't stellar, and the design feels very cheap. You do get the feeling that you're getting what you're paying for, as is the case with a budget tablet.
But it's nice that the 4G component is part of the package, because it's not something we typically see on tablets under $300 at all.
What needs work?
So what needs work? Well, quite a few things, unless you're fine with the whole "you get what you pay for" logic, in which case, nothing is wrong.
No, we're kidding. There are things that clearly need work on the Tab8 4G, even if you're fine with getting what you pay for, because some aspects of this tablet are too cheap, even for us, even for you.
One of those is the screen, which may well be 8 inches, but is a piddling HD-only screen. Orbic didn't exactly flex its screen spec muscles with this one, maxing out at 1280x800, which reminds us of tablets from a decade ago. At least the viewing angles are fine, but the resolution is not, and would be the first thing we'd fix. Seriously, tablets from 2014 offered 8 inch screens with Full HD, so this is just all very low end.
The other major issue is just how generic the whole thing comes across as, and look, we get it: this is a cheap tablet. We probably shouldn't be judging it like it has to be something unique or different.
But it's just so damned generic, from the simple black plastic casing, the meh screen, and the ho-hum performance. Android 12 is also there out of the box and largely untouched -- that's actually a good thing -- but there's really nothing special about the Orbic Tab8 4G, except for maybe that price.
Final thoughts (TLDR)
The $149 price of the Tab8 4G is what makes this tablet so appealing, as is the 4G capability. A low price and 4G typically don't get married in tablets, so Orbic may have something for people shopping for properly mobile tablets to go on a budget.
However, it's worth noting that you get what you pay for, because while value-driven, this is not a great tablet experience. The Orbic Tab8 4G does the job, provided that job is the basics. That's not bad, it just might not be as much as you were hoping for.
If you need a tablet for the basics with some mobile connectivity, the $149 Orbic Tab8 4G is fine, but if you need or want more, look elsewhere, because this tablet isn't for you.