Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Verizon Ellipsis 7: Full Review


When I first caught wind of Verizon selling a self branded 7 inch tablet, admittedly, I was immediately skeptical and I started making judgements without even hearing the facts first. Why was I so skeptical? Because Verizon is not a hardware manufacture, they are a mobile wireless carrier, and they make their money from data usage, not by selling top of the line hardware. And since the actual hardware manufacture didn't put their name on the tablet, I could only assume that they weren't even impressed with it themselves.

Verizon is selling the Ellipsis 7 for $50 with a 2 year contract or $249 without the contract. $250 is a really good deal on a 7 or 8 inch tablet from top manufacturers such as LG or Asus and with top of the line specs. I'm about to let you know if the Ellipsis can hold it's own against these major competitors. 


The most important part of this tablet is the screen. Most competitors are placing a minimum of 1080p HD screens in their tablets today. The Ellipsis is 7 inches diagonal with a 1280x800 resolution which is 720p HD quality plus a little extra. It is adequate enough to catch up on news, social media or play some cartoon games. However, I expect the higher 1080p quality when watching movies. The extra 80 pixels of resolution stretch that 720p resolution a little long and it is noticeable. The picture is clear enough to see what is happening and you won't miss anything important, but this won't satisfy if you crave ultra high definition clarity. Here is a screenshot from Netflix app showing CSI:NY in full HD quality. You can still see grainy horizontal lines throughout the whole picture.


The battery life on the Ellipsis 7 is comparable to other tablets it's size. It has a 4,000 mAh battery which adequately makes it through the day with normal web browsing, emails, social media, and playing games. The fact that it is on Verizon means that it also has an LTE cellular radio though. Just like your smartphone though, when you use cellular data as opposed to wifi data, the battery life will start to deplete much faster. During the review period I use Verizon data every chance I get. Pushing the battery as hard as I can. It held up to all my torture, luckily. So I give the battery an overall well performance rating.
Interlude: I interrupt this review to tell an important story.
So I'm sitting on the beach of Panama City, soaking up some sun and trying to relax. Away from the office and watching the kids kick around some sand. Thought I would sit back and enjoy some music and read my news. I pulled out the Ellipsis tablet with intentions of turning on Google Play Music. What? No signal? OK I pulled out my phone, the trusty Moto X. Wow, that's weird, three bars of signal on my phone. So I go back to the Ellipsis. Huh? Still nothing. OK. Reboot. There we go. Only one bar, but it's something. Turn on the music. Connect Bluetooth speaker. Signal gone. Getting irritated. Why would the phone get better signal than the tablet and the tablet continue to drop whatever signal it does get? In short, LTE radio quality and proper antenna placement.
One of the better features of this tablet are the speakers. There are two of them, both face the front and are located at the bottom when held upright in portrait mode. Because they are facing the front, they are nice and loud. Music and spoken voices are clear and easy to hear and understand. There are very few devices which have speakers on the front, so that makes these particularly unique. Front facing speakers make a world of difference in sound and this is attested by the few tablets and phones that have them such as the HTC One M8 phone and the Google Nexus 10 tablet.

The Ellipsis 7 does have a camera on the front and on the back. I'm not big on taking pictures with a tablet, and not many are. I can only assume this is the thought process behind the choice of cameras on this tablet as the front camera is 0.3 MP and the rear camera is only 3.1 MP. These will not capture your family reunion photos in mint condition. Barely good enough to capture your beautiful plate of food to share on Instagram. For the purpose of Skype, it'll make do. But you will not capture anything like a masterpiece with the rear camera at all. Thus, I cannot fail to mention that the shutter is slower than the software. When you take the picture, the animation appears to have captured the exact picture. However, the camera didn't actual grab the picture that quickly and the shot that is actually saved is about one half to 1 full second later. This picture was supposed to be of my boy with his tongue all the way out and sister in the background standing still. But it actually captured him pulling his tongue back in and sister walking away AFTER the flash.

Rear Camera
Front Camera
Rear Camera

Storage space, oh my, probably the worst part of this tablet. The Ellipsis 7 only comes in one flavor and part of it's recipe includes 8 messily GB of storage space. This little amount of space might work with a phone. However, on a tablet, its atrocious. I wish I could tell you how many applications you can store on these 8 messily GB, but there is a bigger problem, for some unknown reason, Verizon broke the memory up into two parts and the default app storage is limited to 1 even messilier GB. To make things a little bit more confusing, Verizon allows the user to manually move apps from "App Space" to "Tablet Space", there is 4GB of storage in the Tablet Space. However, one thing that Verizon did not account for is that NOT ALL APPS CAN BE MOVED. That's right! Some apps have a requirement to stay where they are first installed in order to work properly. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Out of the box Android does nothing of this sorts, therefore Verizon purposefully changed the basic Android operating system to restrict the memory in this way. But there is no rhyme, reason, or validity to this decision.


The Verizon store clerk will rebut this misguided restriction by stating "it supports an SD memory card for up to 64GB more memory". That's true, it does support 64GB of more memory. But what the store clerk will not tell you (or might not even realize themselves) is that you cannot install applications to that 64GB of extra SD card memory. You can, however, store plenty of music or movies. Once again, even with an SD card for expandable storage, Verizon has limited you to no more than 5GB of possible storage for applications. I ran into several problems trying to install some of my coolest apps.


To round off the package it packs a low end punch as far as RAM and the CPU are involved. Only 1 GB of RAM compared to last year's high end tablets which had 2 and this year's high end tablets have 3. It does have a quad core processor which is in line with today's high end competitors. However, it is one of the lowest calibor quad cores processors I've gotten my hands on. After direct comparisons with Nexus 7 (2013) , which is also a quad core processor, every application opened quicker and jumping between the exact same applications and loading the same websites, the Nexus 7 (2013) blew it away. Below is a benchmark score from a respected app called AnTuTu Benchmark. You will see the Ellipsis 7 at the very bottom with a score of 13,715 out of 40,000.


I haven't had a whole lot of fun and I'm not really that impressed with the Verizon Ellipsis 7 tablet. It is not the only 7 inch tablet available on Verizon's network. However, it's price can't be beat at $50 for a 2 year contract. While there are others with better specs and better quality, if you are on a budget, it will make do. Personally, I would save the monthly data charges for 4 extra months and buy one of the $200-$250 tablets such as the LG G PAD 8.3 or the Nexus 7 (2013). 

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