Barely a month after Reliance Communications broke the Rs 15,000 price-barrier for a branded 3G tablet in India, Spice Mobile has mounted a strong challenge to the company with its new Spice Mi-720 tablet.

Though Bharti group firm Beetel had become the second prominent brand two weeks ago to to enter this category with its Beetel Magiq (priced at Rs 9,999 — Rs 3,000 less than the price of Reliance 3G Tab), the tablet suffered from several draw-backs.

Its primary drawbacks were two — poorer battery life and a resistive touch-screen.

The Beetel Magiq has a 2,200 mAh battery which is considered inadequate for single-charge use on a daily basis. In other words, though Beetel claims battery life of 8 hours, it is more likely to be around 5 or 6 hours. As a result, Reliance 3G Tab, with its 3,400 mAh battery, still was the number one pick for many.

In addition, unlike the Reliance 3G Tab which has a capacitive ‘pinch and zoom’ multi-touch screen, the Beetel Magiq has a resistive touch-screen, which means that typing on it would be a real pain for most people.

That may just have changed with the entry of the third contender — Spice Mobile’s Mi-720 with a price of Rs 11,990 in India.

One look at the specifications and you know the Spice Mi-720 is no light weight (no pun intended, as the weight is still a matter of secrecy and intrigue.)

While most of the other features are the same as those of Reliance 3G Tab and Beetel Magiq, one aspect stands out — the battery.

Instead of 2,200 or 3,400 mAh, the Mi-720 has a 4,200 mAh battery. It is of course less than the 6,000 mAh that comes with the high-end Samsung Galaxy 8.9 inch tablet, but it also has a smaller screen and a slower processor to support.

The good news, of course, doesn’t end there. Spice is the only manufacturer among the three to clearly spell out whether or not the tablet has a separate graphics processor or not (though we expect the others to have them too.)

Though, like the others, the Mi-720 too comes with Android 2.2/2.3 (not Android 3 meant for tablets), it is built on a Qualcomm solution, which means that it has Qualcomm’s Adreno 200 Graphics Processor. A separate graphics processor is helpful, or even indispensable, to ensure that the tablet plays videos and graphics animations without stuttering.

Another aspect of the Mi-720 is that it has a ‘gravity sensor’ that registers shift in position, tilting etc. — which allows the user to play games such as racing by simply tilting the tablet back and forth and side-ways.

Most of the other features are shared with the other two. The size is seven inches, the display resolution is 0.384 megapixels (800 pixels long and 480 pixels wide), it has a front-camera for video-calling, 3G and EDGE support, takes 2 megapixel still photos and has a capacitive touch-screen.

There is some uncertainty about how much RAM (application memory) the Spice model has as the company claims 2GB. 2GB RAM is twice as much as the newly released Samsung Galaxy Tab models — arguably the most well-endowed tablets in the market. [Note: Letsbuy claims a RAM of 512 MB for the model.]

The Spice Mi-720 may differ on the quality of the touch-screen experience with Reliance 3G Tab as the latter claims to be multi-touch enabled, while the former makes no such claim. Multi-touch is handy in playing certain games and in adjusting zoom levels quickly as one can use more than one finger on the screen at the same time.

Despite this, however, we believe that the Spice Mi-720 is the first tablet in India that can be compared to the Reliance 3G Tab. In many ways, the Mi-720 may be a better choice, especially if you want to use your tablet for 7 to 8 hours a day on a single charge.


Reliance 3G Tab, India’s cheapest 3G Android tablet, launches

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