Verizon Ellipsis 7 review

If you absolutely need a tablet with built-in LTE, Verizon's Ellipsis 7 is among the least expensive you'll find. But when it comes to specs and performance, the Wi-Fi-only competition prevails, and you can simply use your Verizon phone as a hotspot.
Photo of Verizon Ellipsis 7

Cheap tablets make good basic Web-browsing devices, but you’re typically left hunting for Wi-Fi when you’re not home. The Verizon Ellipsis 7 ($149.99 on contract, $249.99 without) is Verizon’s first device with an LTE modem, but no 3G. While it’s the cheapest LTE tablet on offer, its slow processor and low-end display make it much less compelling than the Editor’s Choice Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7″, especially since most Verizon smartphones now function as Wi-Fi hotspots.

Design
The Verizon Ellipsis 7 looks like your standard inexpensive tablet, but with a few twists. It measures 7.72 by 4.94 by 0.4 inches (HWD), and weighs 12.7 ounces, one ounce more than the Dell Venue 7. The entire body of the Ellipsis is plastic; matte black edges give it a metallic feel.

The flat back is faux brushed metal, and a fingerprint magnet. The flashless camera sits on the back. The case is sealed, so you can’t swap out the 4,000mAh battery. The Power button and volume rocker sit on the right side, along with a small, flimsy plastic flap that hides the microSD and SIM cards. A micro USB port sits on the bottom, and up top is a headphone jack. On the front, above the screen, is the front-facing camera. The pair of front-facing speakers that direct audio towards you is a nice touch.

The 7-inch IPS LCD screen is nice enough, and its 1280-by-800 resolution (about 215 pixels per inch) is decent for a low-end tablet. The Ellipsis’s display is similar to Dell’s Venue 7 in quality; the Ellipsis is a bit brighter. Viewing angle is fine for solo use, but it’s too narrow to share with friends. Colors are reproduced accurately, but have no real vibrancy. Android’s software-based trio of buttons mean there are no physical ones on the Ellipsis.

Connectivity
The Ellipsis 7 costs at least $50 less than other cellular tablets because it’s 4G only, dropping the 3G and 2G modems. That means in areas with weak or no LTE coverage, the Ellipsis can’t resort to Verizon’s 3G network as a fallback. There’s Wi-Fi on board, but only on the slower 2.4GHz band. There’s also Bluetooth, but the older 3.0 version which doesn’t support the latest health gadgets and smart watches. The Venue 7 supports both Wi-Fi bands and has Bluetooth 4.0. Testing in New York yielded data speeds that were in line with other LTE-enabled devices, like the iPhone 5s. In our video playback battery test, the Ellipsis lasted 6 hours and 6 minutes, a decent showing.

If you want the Ellipsis for $149, you must sign up for a two-year contract and a data plan. The cheapest option starts at $40 per month for 4GB of data. If you’re already on Verizon’s shared data plan, you’ll pay a $10 fee per month for the Ellipsis.

Performance, Multimedia
The Ellipsis is powered by an ARM Cortex A7 quad-core processor, clocked at 1.2GHz, and 1GB RAM. It’s running a pretty stock version of Android 4.2.2, with a few pieces of bloatware. Apps like Amazon Kindle, iHeartRadio, and Redbox Instant are pre-loaded, as are a few Verizon-centric apps. None of them are removable.

The Ellipsis is, in a word…slow. Browsing with Chrome is fine, but switching through apps was slower than usual, and apps like Redbox Instant were just plain choppy. It struggles to compare even with low-end Android tablets we’ve tested previously. In the graphically oriented benchmark GFXBench, the Ellipsis scored 14 frames per second, while the Venue 7 scored nearly double that, at 33. The Hisense Sero 7 Pro hit 17 frames per second.

Multimedia playback is surprisingly good, with the Ellipsis managing to play every file format except FLAC and WMA. Internal storage amounts to 4.18GB, but the microSD slot supports cards up to 64GB. The front-facing stereo speakers made watching movies more enjoyable, even at higher volumes where the speakers became muddled.

The 3.2-megapixel rear camera takes about a second to grab a shot. You’ll develop a habit of staying perfectly still until the camera’s live view returns; otherwise, the pictures get miserably blurry. Video recording at 1080p or 720p resulted in equally horrendous results, with frame rates dropping as low as 9 frames per second. The front-facing VGA camera records VGA-quality video and, like the rest of the device, could do better.

Conclusion
At $249 (off contract), the Ellipsis 7 is the most affordable tablet available from Verizon, and one of the cheapest with LTE connectivity. If you have a shared family data plan, the Ellipsis might be worth it if you just need a basic, inexpensive device to get online. But if you’re looking for anything beyond the basics, this isn’t a great deal.

The 1080p Kindle Fire HDX 7″ with cellular modem is a much better option you should consider. You won’t be locked into any contract, but at $329 it is pricier. $299 gets you the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, also a better tablet.

Another, more cost-effective option is to use your phone as a wireless hotspot and bring your own tablet. In that case, the Ellipsis’s LTE modem just drives up the price; tablets like the Dell Venue 7 and Hisense Sero 7 Pro are better, less expensive options with beefier specs.

Specifications
Service Provider Verizon Wireless
Wi-Fi (802.11x) Compatibility 2.4GHz
Screen Resolution 1280 x 800 pixels
Operating System Google Android 4.2.2
Dimensions 7.72 x 4.94 x 0.4 inches
Weight 12.7 oz
Screen Type IPS LCD
RAM 1 GB
Camera Resolution 3.2 Rear
0.3 Front
Cellular Technology LTE
Screen Pixels Per Inch 215 ppi
Additional Storage MicroSD
Video Camera Resolution 1080p Rear
VGA Front
Processor Speed 1.2 GHz
GPS Yes
Screen Size 7 inches
Battery Size 4000 mAh
Bluetooth Version 3.0

Verdict
If you absolutely need a tablet with built-in LTE, Verizon's Ellipsis 7 is among the least expensive you'll find. But when it comes to specs and performance, the Wi-Fi-only competition prevails, and you can simply use your Verizon phone as a hotspot.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc