Our first encounter with Mercury’s mTab Neo wasn’t the best experience we’ve had with tablets. It was bulky and didn’t really feel well built for the asking price. Now, we have the mTab Neo with us, which is a slightly speedier version with (hopefully) better build and performance, as it’s quite a bit more expensive as well.
On video: Mercury mTab Neo
Design and Build
The entire tablet has a glossy coating, right from the screen to the rear panel, which makes it a nightmare for fingerprints. It’s a bit slimmer this time, but it seems to have gotten quite a bit heavier in the process. The buttons and the way the ports line up gives it a cheap and tacky look and the extra helping of gloss isn’t really helping.
Screen still suffers from poor viewing angles
You do get quite a lot in terms of connectivity, though. There’s a miniUSB for charging and data as well as a dedicated thin pin charging point. We also have a miniHDMI port for HDTV connectivity, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card slot and SIM card slot. The volume control buttons and power button look more like an after thought and we preferred the ones on the earlier mTab.
HDMI-out is a nice addition
The stereo speakers have been placed at the rear, facing outwards. The volume of the speakers is quite loud for watching a movie by yourself. Around the back, we just have the camera without any LED flash. Overall, the build and finish of the tablet isn’t what we expected, especially, as it’s priced over Rs.10,000.
This part is a bit puzzling. The first mTab came with Gingerbread 2.3, but for some odd reason, Mercury decided to ship the mTab Neo with Froyo. Despite this, it’s not too sluggish, since it’s powered by a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and NEON media decoding engine from ARM. It packs in a decent PowerVR SGX 530 graphics chip, which is how it can easily handle 1080p videos without breaking a sweat. Mercury haven’t really made any changes to the UI and have left it as stock as possible. The overall feel could be better, but then that’s just Froyo and sadly, we won’t see any updates for it, either. Linpack returned a single threaded score of 19.5 whereas we got a multi-thread score of 36.9. In AnTuTu, we got a score of 3054, which is not too bad.
Exposed 3G SIM bay
The 7-inch screen is otherwise comfortable to hold and with a resolution of 800 x 480, it’s pretty sharp as well. The front facing camera is not the best and won’t exactly help in video calling. Flash 10.3 support is present out-of-the-box and USB On-the-go is supported as well, although you don’t get the cable in the box. MSI has done away with the physical button. Instead, we have capacitive buttons, which unfortunately are not backlit.
Media support is pretty much bog standard, Froyo, so we have support for MP3 audio files and MP4 video files. The stock music player isn’t much to shout about and without any customizations; the audio quality isn’t terribly great. This can be improved with PowerAmp and a good pair of in-ear phones.
Nothing new in terms of media
Video playback is restricted to MP4 files through the stock player, but it will playback 1080p without a hitch. Skipping back and forth is really not much of a problem and the Neo can handle it very well. The colours are not very accurate and there is some banding noticeable, but it’s slightly better than their first attempt. The viewing angles aren’t pretty, either, so if you plan on watching this, while sleeping or in some other position, then you’ll run into some trouble. With a good third party player, the Tab Neo becomes a very good portable media player and with expandable memory up to 32GB, it’s even better. You also get about 3GB of onboard storage as well, which we don’t see everyday.