- Extreme cheapness
- Decent memory and CPU
- Non-standard ports
- Marginal battery life
- Marginal display
Quick TakeThe HKC 7 is a lesson in what happens when a very cheap device isn't done as well as some of its competitors.
The recent boom in low-end tablets, from name brands and minor manufacturers both, has spawned a race to the bottom in price, with each new model trying to out-cheap the others. The current title holder is a little known brand name, but one that has the backing of retail giant Walmart.
While technically described as the HKC LC07740, more often it’s just referred to as the HKC 7. And with a retail price of just $60, it represents an almost ridiculously cheap Android experience, delivering a 1 GHz dual core processor and 8 GB of memory.
So is it worth using, or taking the low end a little too far? We take a look.
Build & Design
Pulling it out of the box, my first impression was that there was no way the screen on this was actually 7 inches — it looked much tinier than the 7 inch tablets I’m used to using. My first impression turned out to be wrong, though, more the result of the broad black bezel surrounding the screen than anything else. When I took a tape measure to it, the display measured almost exactly … perhaps a hair under that, but not enough to be important.
The casing is all-black plastic, textured on the rear with a slight rubbery feeling. It’s actually pretty nice to hold in the hand; the surface is pleasant, and the device certainly doesn’t feel like it’s going to be at risk of being easily damaged or anything like that.
The build quality on the HKC is decent, but some of the design elements are odd. For example, the power switch is a tiny recessed button on the “bottom” of the tablet, where it joins every other connector and port.
It’s no surprise that the display isn’t anything to write home about. At 1024×600, the resolution is adequate for a low-end device, and the panel quality is not terrible, but it’s definitely no more than you would expect for the price.
Colors and viewing angles both definitely fail to impress. What suffers the most though is lighting. To make it useful in a room with average lighting, I had to crank the brightness all the way to the maximum and leave it there. Once I did that, it was comfortable enough to use, but it’s definitely not going to do the battery life any good.
Other Buttons and Ports
As mentioned above, the HKC 7 is a whole cluster of odd design choices. There’s a Home button, but no volume controls, which is particularly strange.
The USB and power ports — yes, separate ones — are also strange. In a world where micro-USB has been the standard for everyone but Apple for years now, seeing the HKC’s mini-USB plug feels sort of like seeing a cassette player in a new car — you recognize what it is, but you can’t fathom why anyone would decide to put it there. It’s no real disadvantage, of course, but if all you happen to have around is micro-USB cables, you might find yourself sometimes getting annoyed.
The strangeness doesn’t end there, though, because unlike virtually every other tablet in the world, the HKC doesn’t charge through its USB port. Instead it has a separate, dedicated barrel connector for power. This is doubly awkward: for one thing, it means that standard wall and car chargers can’t be used to charge the HKC, limiting you to just one power supply unless you want to buy more that can only be used with the HKC. And just for good measure, the barrel connector is located right next to the similarly-sized headphone jack, so if you’re not careful you’ll plug it into the wrong connector. It does fit, which just goes to show you how bad a lack of engineering foresight really can be. Doing this won’t damage the device, but it certainly won’t charge.
We’re just getting started: Page 2 covers the performance of the HKC 7.