Hipstreet, perhaps best known for its tablet and phone accessories, has jumped into the budget-tablet arena with the $99 Titan XK HS-7DTB4-4GB. That price gets you a 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A7 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage, as well as an 800 x 400 resolution display and a front-facing, 0.3-MP webcam. However, recent entrants have changed the sub-$100 tablet game with more impressive hardware and software. That leaves the Titan in a tough spot.
The Hipstreet Titan sports an all-black, matte-plastic finish on its back that resists fingerprints well enough. Here, users will find one small speaker bisected by matte plastic. However, where the back meets the glossy plastic bezel, there's a thick and somewhat sharp edge. Also, the clearly visible digitizer lines in its TFT LCD also mar the Titan's looks.
Competing budget slates, like the Hisense Sero 7 LT ($99.99), offer soft-touch finishes and flush displays that don't reveal such glaring imperfections. In this regard, the Titan isn't even a match for the otherwise disappointing D2 Pad ($79.99), with its more premium-feeling rubberized finish and flush screen.
Held vertically, all of the Titan's buttons and ports are atop the device. That includes (from left to right) a power button, 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB port, DC charging port, volume controls and a microSD card reader that accepts up to 32GB -- all of which are indicated clearly by icons on the Titan's back. In this position, a 0.3-MP webcam sits in the upper-left corner of the panel.
The Titan comes with 4GB of onboard storage, which is comparable with the storage on other sub-$100 slates, but Hipstreet also offers Titan users 10GB of free cloud storage via its HS Cloud service.
The Titan measures 7.4 x 4.5 x 0.3 inches and weighs 11 ounces. Just about every comparable tablet comes in at a slight variation on those measurements. Still, those measurements make this device the thinnest tablet we've tested for under $100, if only by a small margin.
The 800 x 480 resolution display on the Titan puts it in the same league as just about every other tablet available for under $100, save for the Sero 7 LT, which bumps up the count to 1024 x 600. For $50 more, you can enjoy a 1280 x 800 IPS panel on the Sero 7 Pro.
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When we watched the trailer for "This Is the End," the Titan failed to keep up as Seth Rogen and friends ran from sinkholes and firestorms of biblical proportions. Distant objects in darker scenes were lost in blacks, and it was tough to focus on the witty banter between Jonah Hill and James Franco through the distracting glare. We'd be remiss not to mention the extremely narrow viewing angles.
It was difficult not only to read the text on icons and Web pages, but also to use the touch screen. On the Titan, swipes were often mistaken for touches, which could prove troublesome for "Angry Birds" fans.
At just 212 lux, the Titan lags far behind the screen-brightness category average of 363 lux. However, that shines brighter than the $79 Ematic Genesis Prime (166 lux), the Kyros (174 lux) and even the 204 lux registered by the Sero 7 LT. The cheaper D2 Pad beats that score, with 253 lux.
Although it has only a single speaker, audio from the Titan generally sounded better than other tablets of its kind. Volume-wise, the Titan's audio sits somewhere between the speaker on the D2 Pad and the one on the Sero 7 LT.
The Titan managed to produce full sound when we listened to Capital Cities' "Safe and Sound." By the chorus, though, the synthesizer fought with the bass and lost. Most budget tablets suffer from similar issues.
Interface and keyboard
Like most of its competition, the Titan runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Despite that, the Titan's interface is even more boring than most, with no default home screen beyond icons for such basic apps as email and the camera. That said, 4.1 brings with it Google Now, which users can access by either holding the home button or launching it from the lock screen.
The Titan comes with a standard, gray-on-dark-gray Android keyboard. But considering the display's inconsistent accuracy, we wouldn't recommend downloading Google's new keyboard. At times, especially with certain words, trace typing was more of a pain than standard typing on the Titan.
Just like the D2 Pad and Kyros, the Titan doesn't come with Google Play preloaded. Instead, users get the 1MobileMarket app store. Though this service offers 60,000 apps, including plenty of the most popular Android apps, it pales in comparison to the 700,000-plus apps found on Google Play. Both the Sero 7 LT and Genesis Prime come stocked with Google's app store.
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It wasn't a good sign that Hipstreet's live-chat support app refused to function until after a full reinstall. However, this tablet does come with both Chrome and the Opera browsers.
Packing a 1.2-GHz single-core ARMv7 processor and 512MB of RAM, the Titan isn't capable of much more than light Web browsing and social networking. Those components are on a par with the D2 Pad, Genesis Prime and Kyros, but are easily outclassed by the Sero 7 LT. So, it's no surprise that the Titan was sluggish at best. For tasks like switching orientations, launching apps, opening browser tabs and launching the keyboard, the Titan could not keep up with our taps and swipes.
Apps as lightweight as the Photo Gallery crashed when we swiped between images. "Angry Birds Friends" took just 11 seconds to load and played smoothly, but characters looked like multicolored blobs when the view was zoomed out. Gamevil's "Dark Avenger," a 3D action role-playing game, took a whopping 27 seconds to load and was barely playable through incessant stuttering and disjointed animations.
Results from synthetic benchmarks, such as AnTuTu, were better than most but not impressive. In this test, the Titan scored 4,573. Although that outperforms the D2 Pad (3,378), the Genesis Prime (2,684) and the Kyros (3,632), the Sero 7 LT blows the Titan away with 8,765.
With a score of 6,972, the Titan didn't do so hot on the An3DBench graphics benchmark. While this score outranks the marks for D2 Pad (6,429) and Genesis Prime (5,903), it falls below the 7,329 category average as well as the scores for the Kyros (7,109) and Sero 7 LT (7,827).
Like just about every sub-$100 tablet out there -- excluding the poor Kyros -- the Titan comes equipped with a front-facing, 0.3-MP webcam. And just like all the rest, it's nothing to write home about. Stills were unsurprisingly fuzzy and failed to show detail, while video lacked depth and struggled to keep up with motion.
The webcam will at least provide a solution for video chat via Skype or Google Hangouts. For another $50, the Sero 7 Pro offers both a 2-MP front camera and a 5-MP rear shooter.
While you shouldn't expect much endurance from a sub-$100 device, the Titan has the shortest battery life of any $99, 7-inch tablet we've tested so far. In our LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi), the Titan lasted a dismal 2 hours and 4 minutes.
That's more than 5 hours behind the category average (7:05) and over an hour behind the next worst time (the 3:16 recorded by the Genesis Prime). By comparison, the Sero 7 LT (4:41) and Kyros (6:41) are marathon runners.
The Hipstreet Titan joins the ranks of sub-$100, 7-inch tablets that we simply cannot recommend. There are a number of factors counting against this slate, including terribly sluggish and unreliable performance, a lack of Google Play support and abysmal battery life. If you're set on the $99 price point for an Android tablet, you'd be much better served by the Hisense Sero 7 LT.