Remember the HP Touchpad and the $99 fire sale that sent the otherwise middling tablet flying off of shelves? Now nearly two years later, quality tablets are beginning to approach that sweet-spot price for impulse shoppers. The Hisense Sero 7 Pro is, by most standards, a merely average small-screen tablet. Some may lament its now aging Nvidia Tegra 3 processor or modest build, but its $129 (list, 8GB) price cannot be denied. That’s less than the already-solid value offered by the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7, and if you’re not willing to shell out $200 for a cutting-edge Google Nexus 7, the Sero 7 Pro should be on your short list of budget-friendly tablets.
Design and Features
There’s not much to say about the Sero 7 Pro’s design, other than it more or less looks and feels like the original Nexus 7—and basically every other low- to mid-range Android tablet out there. Its textured, soft-touch plastic back is a step up from the glossy, fingerprint-attracting casing found on the MeMO Pad HD 7, but it’s a bit larger and heavier at 7.87 by 4.95 by 0.43 inches (HWD) and 12.7 ounces. It’s still comfortable to hold and use, but the difference in noticeable. Up top you’ll find the useful microSD card slot and mini HDMI out, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro USB port for charging and syncing. There’s a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera, with two stereo speaker grilles on the back of the tablet.
The 1,280-by-800-pixel display is sharp and vibrant with an excellent viewing angle. It’s obviously no match for the Nexus 7′s sharper 1,920-by-1,200 screen, but we’re talking about a tablet that costs a full $100 less here. It seems to be a higher quality panel than found on the MeMO Pad HD 7, which exhibited LCD blooming around its edges.
A Wi-Fi only tablet, the Sero 7 connects to 802.11b/g/n networks on the 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies. You also get Bluetooth 3.0+EDR and NFC. The Sero 7 Pro comes in a single 8GB model, of which only 5.48GB is accessible to users. That’s pretty stingy, but there’s a microSD card slot that worked fine with our 32GB and 64GB SanDisk cards.
Performance and Android
The Sero 7 Pro is powered by 1GB RAM and the familiar, but now aging, quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. As expected, the tablet turned in good, but not great, scores that were on par with similarly equipped tablets like the original Nexus 7. In real world usage, the Sero 7 Pro felt quick and responsive, though screen orientation switches were a bit laggy. Gaming and Web browsing benchmarks were unimpressive compared with newer tablets, with the Sero 7 Pro notching a mere 12 frames per second on the Taiji graphics benchmark and an average Browsermark score of 1979. The MeMO Pad HD 7 managed a slightly better 14 frames per second on Taiji and 2191 on Browsermark. The new Nexus 7 handily beat both, notching 43.99 frames per second on Taiji and 2342 on Browsermark. The Sero 7 will struggle with intensive games like N.O.V.A. 3, while less intensive titles like Candy Crush or Temple Run 2 should be fine. If you’re looking for high-end performance here, you’ll have to spend a good deal more money on a tablet like the new Nexus 7.
In our battery test, which loops a video with screen brightness set to maximum and Wi-Fi switched on, the Sero 7 Pro lasted 9 hours, 17 minutes. It’s a very impressive showing from such an inexpensive tablet, besting the MeMO Pad HD 7′s 7 hours, 50 minutes and coming close to the original Nexus 7′s 10 hours, 50 minutes.
Hisense employed a pretty close-to-stock iteration of Android 4.2.2 “Jelly Bean,” which might not be the latest OS build, but it’s not far behind. Besides, you still get most of the great features of the latest Android, including smoother operation, Google Now, and lock screen widgets. Hisense added a persistent screenshot button next to the standard Back, Home, and Recent Apps buttons, but the notification tray has been left alone. Aside from that, you’ll find a handful of preloaded apps that are of limited usefulness, but luckily, almost all of them can be removed. The egregious Walmart and Sam’s Club apps, for example, are easily uninstalled. The Vudu app is the only one locked in, but at least it’s useful if you happen to like that service for movies and TV shows.
Multimedia and Conclusions
For audio files, the Sero 7 Pro supports MP3, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV, and WMA files. Video support includes MPEG4, H.264, DivX, and AVI files up to 1080p resolution. You won’t get the bells and whistles found in pricier tablets, like the IR-emitter found in the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. The speakers are rear-facing, but they get loud enough for watching the quick YouTube video in a crowded room. Beyond that they sound tinny and lack bass, like most tablet speakers.
If you must use your tablet for taking pictures, the Sero 7 Pro has you covered with a basic 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Shots taken in good lighting look decent, but struggle with dynamic range, and tend to be overexposed. Indoors or in low-light, image noise is pervasive and images can look soft or blurry unless your subject is perfectly still. Video tops out at 720p and looks pretty bad, as is the case with pretty much every tablet out there. The front-facing camera is serviceable for Skype, but not much else.
The Hisense Sero 7 Pro isn’t the best small tablet, but it doesn’t have to be at $130. It offers a very similar experience to the original Nexus 7, but does it one better with a microSD card slot and HDMI out so you can watch video from your tablet on your HDTV. Sure performance is on a par with last years’ models, but for casual users, that’s plenty of power. It’s one of the least expensive small-screen tablets around and it doesn’t make quite as many compromises as low-end competitors like the MeMO Pad HD 7 and Slate 7. This is the tablet to get if you’re on a strict busget, but if you’re looking for the best combination of price, performance, and features, the 2013 Nexus 7 is still our favorite small-screen tablet.
|Wi-Fi (802.11x) Compatibility||2.4GHZ/5GHz|
|Screen Resolution||1280 x 800 pixels|
|Operating System||Google Android 4.2.1|
|Dimensions||7.87 x 4.95 x 0.43 inches|
|Screen Type||IPS LCD|
|Ports||mini HDMI, micro USB|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||215 ppi|
|Video Camera Resolution||720p|
|Processor Speed||1.3 GHz|
|Screen Size||7 inches|
|CPU||nVidia Tegra 3 Quad-Core|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc