When you take the Packard Bell Liberty Tab out of the box, the first thing that strikes you is the gorgeously rich burgundy cover, which makes a welcome change to the usual black or silver. Then when you pick it up, you realise just how heavy it is compared to its lighter rivals like the iPad 2 – although its height (260 mm) and width (179 mm) are similar. The Liberty Tab is nearly twice the thickness (14 mm) and weighs 765 g compared to the non-3G iPad 2′s 601 g. So, holding it in one hand for any length of time will be irksome.
However, once you switch it on you are presented with a bright 10.1″ TFT colour LCD widescreen display in 16:10 aspect ratio with HD 1280 x 800 resolution, which provides pin sharp detail to your web pages and videos. On the other hand, the screen is highly reflective which is a problem in bright conditions or if the screen content is especially dark – finger marks will also need to be wiped off frequently.
The more we explored, the more we realised that the Liberty Tab was remarkably similar to the Acer Iconia A500 Tab. Both devices share the powerful 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual Core processor and both have a 5MP camera at the rear and a 2MP webcam at the front (although camera focus on the Liberty is wayward). They both make use of the same Android Honeycomb OS (our review copy had the latest version 3.2) and both offer the option to expand the on-board memory (32GB on the A500 and 16GB on the Liberty Tab), via the microSD card slot.
Other features they share include a full size USB, a mini HDMI port for external movie playback and a screen lock, to fix portrait or landscape mode with a dock in the middle of the base. Bluetooth connectivity is available as well as Wi-Fi and the touch screen is extremely responsive. Honeycomb 3.2 allows the Liberty Tab to have customisable widgets and faster browsing and zoom speeds while the tablet comes with three pre-installed games. These include the excellent Need For Speed Shift, which not only looks good and handles well but has impressive sound quality, thanks to the Dolby Mobile surround sound.
Honeycomb allows you to have five custom made home screens, but obviously the range of apps available is still well short of Apple’s enormous catalogue. Battery life on the Liberty Tab, though, is as you’d expect, as good as the Iconia A500 (ten hours maximum, about half that for heavy use) and with some online retailers selling it for just under £300, this is good value if you can’t afford the pricey iPad 2.
Company: Packard Bell
Contact: 0871 467 0008
- Performance improvements with Honeycomb 3.2 and low price.
- Too heavy to use with one hand.
Packard Bell's Liberty Tab is essentially the Acer Iconia A500 with a glossy cover, less obtrusive interface and more efficient Honeycomb OS; with the main reason to prefer this machine being the highly attractive price point.