The arrival of the Impression i7A tablet, Leader International's revamp of last year's Impression 7, brings both good news and bad news. The bad news is, there's still no Google Play installed and users are forced to use the decidedly inferior GetJar app market, which could prove a crucial deciding factor in the buying decision.
The good news? List price is only $179, making it one of the most affordable 7-inch tablets on the market. But with other, more greatly hyped tablets like the Kindle Fire costing only another $20, would you be better off spending a little more? Let's take a closer look at what this sucker's got buzzing under the hood and how it operates before you make that decision.
Build & Design
The Impression i7A comes straight out of the box already encased in a handsome folio stand case that offers a fair level of impact protection and great convenience for tabletop use. It also offers easy access to the tablet's numerous ports, jacks and buttons -- the rear of the case even has small cutout holes that align perfectly with the tablet's speaker, enabling the unobstructed flow of sound.
Once removed from the case, the i7A is revealed as an efficiently designed little tablet that bears a striking resemblance to the iPad, albeit smaller in overall size (about 7-inches tall and 5.25-inches wide when held in portrait orientation). By any reasonable standard, it's thin and lightweight at just under .5-inches thick and weighing less than half a pound. Still, there are other 7-inch tablets that make it look obese. Since the tablet's backing appears to be nothing more than smooth hard plastic with no rubberized grip points, keeping it in its standard-issue folio case is recommended for max impact protection.
The tablet's top horizontal edge is where most of its controls reside, with a pin reset button, an LED power indicator light, a microUSB port for charging and/or data transfer, a microHDMI port for watching video on your TV set, a microSD card slot that enables memory expansion up to 16GB, and a volume rocker. The left- and right-hand edges are almost bare, with the exception of one crucial function on each: power button on the left, "back" button on the right. The i7A's bottom edge is home to a 3.5mm headphone jack, a DC-in jack for wall charging (although there's no wall charging kit included), and built-in microphone.
Screen & Speakers
When you hold the tablet in horizontal orientation, you'll see the 7-inch screen (actual dimensions 3.75-inch x 6-inch) is surrounded on all four sides by a 1-inch border on the top and bottom, and a .25-inch border on the left and right edges. Located slightly off center within the 1-inch top border is the tablet's only camera lens -- note that there's no rear-facing camera here. The TFT LCD screen offers a 1024 x 600 resolution, which looks decent when viewing HD quality content. Issues of glare under artificial or natural light are minimal, and colors appear natural and vivid for video, photo, and web content.
Where the tablet's one and only speaker is concerned, however, you could do a lot better. Audio quality sounds clear, but only if the source is amplified enough. Even when maxing out the controls to the limit, the volume levels that the tablet is capable of achieving are substandard and you'll likely find yourself making good use of that 3.5mm headphone jack. Supported video formats include MPEG4, H.264, H.263, RM, RMVB, AVI, and FLV. Audio formats supported are MP3, AAC, WMA, and AMR-nb/wb.
Leader Impression i7A specs:
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