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Friday, May 24, 2013

Hisense budget Android tablets start at $99 (hands on)

Getting a tablet's no longer an "if" question for some people -- it's a question of how much. The bar's getting even lower now that Hisense has announced its Walmart-exclusive line of tablets: the Sero 7 LT and Pro.

Closer look: Hisense Sero 7 LT and Pro (pictures)

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These tablets aren't about being innovative. They're about being cheaper. But Hisense promises that screen brightness and battery life on the Sero 7 are better than average, too. That remains to be seen. Each tablet is Google-certified and features Hisense's smart remote software, which allows them to function with Hisense TVs in some capacity over a local network (it's software, not an IR blaster).
The Sero 7 LT is a 7-inch Android tablet with a 1.6-GHz dual-core CPU, 1,024x600-pixel IPS display, running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It houses a piddly 4GB of internal storage, but Hisense has the sense (ahem) to give it a microSD slot (supporting up to 32GB cards) as well.
There's also Mini-HDMI, Micro-USB, and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, all draining the battery down to a purported 4-hour duration. The Sero 7 LT ships with a bargain-basement price tag of $99.
An impressive price given its specs, especially when compared with the more expensive Asus Memo ME172V and HP Slate 7.
The Hisense LT and Pro get budget prices, pretty decent specs and features.
(Credit: Scott Stein/CNET)
The Sero 7 Pro ships with Android 4.2, features a 1,280x800-pixel-resolution display, 8GB of storage, and includes a 1.3-GHz quad-core Tegra 3 CPU.
Other specs include a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 5-megapixel rear camera, Mini-HDMI, Micro-USB, and a microSD port. NFC, Bluetooth 3.0+EDR, and 1GB of operating RAM round out the spec details. The Pro also features a promised 7-10 hour battery life and ships for $149.
Sounds a lot like the Nexus 7, except it's $50 cheaper, includes storage expansion, and has a Mini-HDMI port. However, the Nexus 7 ships with 16GB of storage at its $200 price. Still, the Pro is one of the more exciting contenders to the best small tablet throne.
Both tablets will be sold at Walmart stores starting May 24.
During some brief hands-on time, both Sero 7 models felt much like the Nexus 7: compact and plastic. Hardly exciting, but if you consider a big family outfitting all their kids with little $99 tablets, the savings makes sense. It also gives Walmart a clear ultracheap tablet strategy going up against Amazon, in a...sense.
The Sero 7 Pro being held by a hand. Riveting, I know.
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