Light, slim, generally responsive, and with a chock-full of ports, the Starmobile Engage is quite the charming 7-incher at first blush. The tablet even comes with a slice of Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), ideally the bare minimum for all Androids nowadays. Best of all, and perhaps its most striking quality, is its affordability. With a suggested retail price of P5,990, the device is very likely to get the attention of peso-conscious Filipinos.
Take heed, though. Because as desirable as the Starmobile Engage seems, its affordability comes at a price. For a small fraction of a premium Ice Cream Sandwich tablet’s retail price, Stramobile’s 7-incher necessarily makes a few compromises on build quality and the performance side.
Price-wise it’s an attention grabber; an attempt to introduce the joys of Android ICS to a broader audience. We can easily agree with that. But is it a crowd pleaser? Not really. Regretfully, the Starmobile Engage does not do its namesake justice in the most important aspects.
For starters, the Starmobile Engage is an all-black number, clad in plastics with a matte, slightly metallic finish that seem haphazardly put together. We’ve played with several rock-bottom-priced tablets in the past, but rarely do we come across something that has a build like this one. We’ve only had the slate for a few days, but already, the metallic coating is starting to chip off.
It’s a shameful bit, actually, considering the panel is secured tightly in place and the backplate boasts an upmarket feel. As it is, however, the tab’s overall construction is a misstep even considering the crowd of cheap China-made tablets.
The Starmobile Engage’s WVGA screen measures 7 inches diagonally (though it is noticeably smaller than other 7-inchers) and has a 800 x 480 resolution. The internals are more or less standard fare these days: 1.2GHz single-core processor, 4GB of onboard storage, microSD expansion, plus a 3000mAh battery.
One hardware perk which we particularly fancy is the inclusion of a mini-HDMI port for watching high-definition videos on flat screens. The slate also features a full-sized USB port for using it with cellular dongles for true wireless Web access.
Starmobile Engage specs:
- 1.2GHz Allwinner Cortex A8 CPU
- 4GB internal memory with microSD card slot up to 32GB
- 7-inch capacitive screen (800 x 480 resolution)
- 3-megapixel rear camera
- VGA front camera
- 3000mAh battery
- Dimensions: 192 x 130 x 11.5mm
- 296 grams
- Android Ice Cream Sandwich
As mentioned above, the slate is equipped with Android Ice Cream Sandwich from the get-go. Unfortunately, in this case, Google’s supposedly slick and polished platform doesn’t make much of a difference. Despite the Engage’s decent all-around pace, we feel that it could use more oomph in the multitasking and gaming department. Force closes are hard to come by, at least—and that’s always a plus.
Conveniently enough, Starmobile’s budget tablet comes preloaded with some likable apps and a couple of must-owns. There’s OfficeSuite, Skype, and the ever-popular, battery-saving app JuiceDefender. Expect a handful of popular 3D titles like Angry Birds and Temple Run as well.
We’re not familiar with devices sporting better front-facing cameras than rear cams, so the Engage really flipped the script in our books. The images we took with the VGA secondary cam are flat-out better in every regard—color, brightness, sharpness, you name it—compared with the ones we captured with the 3-megapixel main camera.
Battery life for the Starmobile Engage runs the usual Android mile, meaning the device requires charging after a day and and a half of usage. The uptime is average at best. For a budget tablet with a 3000mAh cell, though, you really can’t ask for anything more.
All things considered, the best thing about this Starmobile device is still its sub-P6,000 tag price. And though the Android market has finally reached the point where we can afford to be picky, you may still want to take a look at the Starmobile Engage because of its blend of price and software.
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