LG has traditionally kept a low profile during the annual IFA show in Berlin, but this year it's introducing a big new product in its Android portfolio: the G Pad 8.3. The company couldn't contain itself and already fully detailed the spec sheet of its new 8.3-inch slate, which marks its return to the Android tablet market. There's an aluminum back cover, a Snapdragon 600 processor and a quite handsome 1920 x 1200 display to woo potential buyers, though I must warn that the G Pad 8.3 suffers from the same issue that plagues every other Android tablet: a shortage of worthwhile apps exploiting the form factor.
Physically, the G Pad 8.3 is a nice and compact device, with a rigid build quality that far exceeds the company's typically plastic-heavy smartphone offerings. The aluminum cover wraps around most of the back and sides, with white plastic inserts on the lighter model and black ones on the dark option. 8.3 inches is not an accidental screen size: LG went to great lengths to research the average hand size in Korea, and has come up with the biggest possible screen size for what it believes is the maximum width (127.29mm) for a single-hand device. The bezel on the side of the screen is 7.2mm, as thin as LG could make it, while the thickness of the new G Pad is 8.3mm, again the best the company could achieve while hitting its other design goals.
Handling the G Pad side by side with its most obvious competitor, Apple's iPad mini, I find both live up to the billing of being easy to hold in one hand (though obviously not use single-handedly, as you'll notice in the video below). The HD display on LG's G Pad is also much easier on the eyes than the lower-res screen on the mini.
LG has gone to great lengths to add value on the software side, with features like QPair — which hooks up the G Pad to any Android smartphone via Bluetooth and allows you to do things like pick up calls on the tablet — but the ultimate fact remains that the app ecosystem of the iPad and iPad mini remains unrivalled on the tablet space.
LG's return to Android tablets is well executed, but there was a reason the company left in the first place
The G Pad 8.3 is a far cry from the Toshiba Encore we saw earlier today, whose unfinished design, chunky appearance, and oddly flickering screen put us off before we even tried using Windows 8.1 — LG has a much more refined and well-built slate on its hands. Now it just needs the software to make it worth owning.
The third week of September is when LG anticipates it'll have the G Pad 8.3 in Korean stores, to be followed by a wide global rollout, although specifics on a US release date are still "up in the air." It'll happen, LG just doesn't know — nor is it willing to disclose a price just yet.