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10/17/2013
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LG G Pad Hits Stores

LG G Pad 8.3 is a solid bet for Android fans, arrives just ahead of Apple's new iPads.

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LG Thursday made the G Pad 8.3 tablet available in the U.S. via BestBuy.com. The Android tablet, LG's first such device since early 2012, costs $349.99 and will reach Best Buy and other retail stores November 3. LG believes its tablet falls in the sweet spot between devices with 7-inch screens and devices with 10-inch screens.

As its name implies, the G Pad 8.3 features an 8.3-inch, in-plane switching LCD screen. It has 1920 x 1200 pixels, with a pixel density of 273 pixels per inch. That may fall below Apple's Retina pixel standard, but it'll display full HD video content -- something the iPad Mini can't do.

The tablet measures 8.53 x 4.98 x 0.33 inches and weighs 11.92 ounces (0.75 pounds). Even though it's slightly bigger than the iPad Mini, it is still small and compact enough that carrying it around is easier than a larger tablet. The display offers plenty of real estate and LG spared no expense with the design. It is a well-made piece of hardware.

[ Will Apple's next-gen iPad be the most useful tablet on the market? Read Apple's Next iPad: Gateway To Mobile Revolution. ]

The G Pad is powered by a 1.7-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. It's a shame LG didn't opt for the Snapdragon 800, but the 600 is still a capable engine. It is paired with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of built-in storage. If that's not enough, the G Pad supports microSD cards up to 64 GB. Other tech specs include a 5-megapixel camera with back-side illumination and a 4,600 mAh Li-Polymer battery. Connectivity is limited to Wi-Fi, as there's no cellular data radio.

Beyond the hardware, LG has added its own software to the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system. For example, the G Pad can multitask thanks to LG's QSlide function, which allows the user to float two apps over the main screen with adjustable window sizes and transparency. It also includes Slide Aside, which lets users move between any three open applications with a swipe of three fingers, for faster and more productive multitasking. (Apple's iPads can do this trick, too.)

LG believes the G Pad makes an ideal companion to its own Android smartphones. The tablet has a feature called QPair, which connects the G2 smartphone and G Pad tablet. Once paired, QPair can be used to access recently opened apps, incoming calls and text messages from the smartphone on the tablet. G Pad users can even use the QuickMemo tool on the tablet to respond to text messages, which are then delivered via the smartphone.

The G Pad may be a solid tablet, but LG is going to run into trouble with the pricing. At $349, it costs $20 more than the iPad Mini and $120 more than the Nexus 7. Despite Google's efforts, the tablet-optimized app ecosystem for the iPad is much better than that for Android tablets. Further, Apple is expected to unveil its second-generation iPad Mini, which might have a Retina Display, next week. However, tablet buyers who are interested only in Android devices but want something bigger than the Nexus 7 have an excellent choice in the LG G Pad 8.3.

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