Hisense Sero 7 Pro Review
It's small, it's cheap, it's... actually really good for the price.
Lv. 1 Tablet
It may not look like much—or really dazzle anyone—but the Hisense Sero 7 Pro is fairly decent for the $149.99. It's not going to make you forget about the Google Nexus 7, but if money is really tight, this will work well for activities that don't require much processing power. The chipset might be outdated, but if you're looking for a tablet that can serve as an eReader, video player, and/or just something you browse the web on when the computer's taken—give this a look if you're comfortable braving the tumultuous experience of going into a WalMart.
It's not on the outside that counts, but, uh...
What is there to talk about when tasked with exposition on budget tablet design? Aside from a rectangle with rounded edges, aesthetics don't really enter into it, so I'm left with ripping into the guts of the Sero 7 Pro. As Lecter-esque as that may seem, 100% of the interesting points of the Hisense tablet are on the inside of the chassis, even if it's only just beyond the ugly grey-brown skin.
This tablet has very comparable specs to the 1st generation Nexus 7, so you should expect some level of comfort in knowing that this isn't some cheap knockoff tablet that will send you into a rage-spiral. It has last-generation's Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a somewhat small hard drive—but you can add up to 32GB with a microSD card. The capacitive screen is as responsive as you can ask for, and a lot of the really infuriating points of a "bargain" buy aren't there; this won't be used as an expensive doorstop anytime soon.
I will point out that you do get what you pay for in a certain sense—this tablet doesn't have a waterproof nanocoating, nor is it going to hang tough with the more expensive options out there. That's perfectly fine if you don't need the latest and greatest features, but if you're hoping for more out of the tablet, it's a bit unfair to expect it to be something it's not.
Not the last kid picked to play
It's unfortunate for the Sero 7 Pro that it was released so late in its processor's life cycle, but it's about to get left behind in terms of performance—it'll be nary a speck in the rear-view mirror of the latest generation of hardware. At this moment it works surprisingly well: It falls slightly short of the Nexus 7 in terms of processor performance, and it has near-identical specs to the first version of the venerable pack-leader. Just be aware that the next wave of awesome tablets is around the corner, and owners of the Sero 7 Pro will feel much like a younger Chris Thomas, stuck with a MiniDisc player in the age of MP3—clinging to outdated equipment.
Speaking of crushing disappointment from ages ago, the processor doesn't quite keep up with the now-ancient Nexus 7's. It may have the same listed speed and name, but it falls a bit short. It's not difficult to overwhelm the poor thing with apps made for a larger tablet, for example. Anything requiring 3D rendering makes the Sero 7 Pro heat up like nobody's business, but it's not going to scald you even if it gets a bit toasty at 106˚F.
As far as screen performance goes, we find a mixed bag of results. For every good thing like a decent color gamut, there's something really bad like a very inaccurate white point or super-high reflectivity. The latter problem is really bad: If you like to take your tablet outside like the 7" form factor lends itself well to, you'll find yourself leaving the backlight on maximum for long periods of time. By doing this, you'll simultaneously be ripping down your battery life, and it still might not dispell pesky reflections because it is just that reflective.
Not thrilling, but a nice surprise
For many things, a 7-inch form factor is just dandy—the screen is much larger than the one on your phone, but the tablet is small enough to fit in a bag easily. The Sero 7 Pro doesn't work well for reading comics or academic papers, but eBooks, video, and music are great on a tablet this size because it's very easy to hold with one hand. Additionally, the tiny tablet offers a bit of privacy in public, so go ahead and read that trashy romance novel—nobody'll notice.
However, it isn't for everyone, and it's definitely ill-suited for anyone with impaired eyesight or uses the tablet nonstop. It travels well given that you can expect over 7 hours straight in "airplane mode." It'll last a while with a light load, but don't expect it to go the distance if you're going to be away from an outlet for more than a workday. Honestly though? How often does that happen?
Cinephiles shouldn't expect anything stellar with this screen—and honestly, why would you? It's an entry-level tablet with a common screen type: You're not getting an iPad or Xperia Tablet Z. Still, it has surprisingly high pixel density, so you won't notice many jagged edges in your images.
It shouldn't surprise bargain hunters that this tablet won't exactly stay current for long. Despite the use of an almost pristine version of the Android 4.2 operating system, it's unclear if this tablet will see any upgrades in the long term. This isn't really a huge deal, and it's actually quite nice that the OS is as current as it is without much garbage added to it.
Best buy under $150
To its credit, the Hisense Sero 7 Pro does undercut the current Android leader in cost, but there are huge tradeoffs for only somewhat small savings. For example, the screen is far, far worse, and the guts of the tablet just aren't quite enough to appeal to enthusiasts.
But maybe you're not looking for the best—maybe having the latest hot item isn't going to drive your purchasing decision, and you're just looking for a reliable unit that doesn't void your wallet of all its cash. If that's the case, it's tough to turn your nose up at a $149 tablet like the Sero 7 Pro. However, there's a bunch of tablets on the way that may warrant waiting just a little while longer.
If you're looking at this tablet, you're most definitely looking to either save some coin or buy for an entry-level user as a gift, so temper your expectations a bit and you'll be in love. It does just about everything a tablet should do—albeit not in any stunning capacity—and should satisfy most novice users. If you're feeling up for a trip to WalMart (or braving the online store), the Sero 7 Pro can be had for a paltry $149.99.
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