Price is important, but it's not the only factor that should matter when you're shopping for a tablet. The Visual Land Prestige 7L costs a very low $76, and for that price you get more storage space than your average budget slate (8GB versus your typical 4GB). However, the Prestige 7L's poor screen resolution, unimpressive performance and short battery life add up to a budget slate that should stay on the shelf.
Fisher Price-like plastic immediately comes to mind when you first pick up the Visual Land Prestige 7L. While the shell in our model came in basic Blue, this tablet can also be had in Black, Green, Magenta, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Red Orange, Royal Blue, Sky Blue or Yellow. The colored plastic with rounded corners hugs the black bezel and 7-inch screen, but does create a tiny bump between the glass and the frame.
With measurements of 7.5 x 4.7 x 0.4-inches, this 10.5-ounce tablet is nearly identical to the 7.5 x 4.4 x 0.5-inch Coby Kyros 7, which weighs 10.2 ounces. The Prestige is also very similar to the Hisense Sero 7 LT, which measures 7.9 x 4.8 x 0.4 inches, and the 7.6 x 4.6 x 0.4-inch D2 Pad 712. However, the Hisense weighs in at a heavier 11.6 ounces, and the D2 Pad weighs 11.2 ounces.
The Prestige is intended for horizontal use, as is indicated by the Visual Land logo along the bottom of the screen. In this orientation, the 1.3-megapixel webcam sits on the top right corner. Along the top right edge, you'll find a physical volume rocker and a power button, while the right edge houses the ports for mini-USB, microSD, 3.5mm headphone and a proprietary power plug. Generally speaking, the port placement and color options of the Prestige 7L are nearly identical to those on the D2 Pad 712.
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Turning the Prestige 7L over, you're greeted by diagonal striations and white labels that correspond to all the ports and buttons along the edges. A single speaker sits on the top left and a reset button on the middle right.
Bucking the trend of including 4GB of onboard storage -- as is found in the Kryos 7, Pad 7 and Sero 7 LT -- the Visual Land Prestige 7L comes with 8GB of memory and 5GB of online storage through SugarSync. Plus, the 7L can accommodate a 32GB microSD card, making it a leader in storage space within the sub-$100 tablet market.
With a 800 x 480-pixel resolution on the Visual Land Prestige 7L's 7-inch screen, we were unsurprised to see a grainy display, similar to what we saw on the D2 Pad 712 and the Kyros 7, both of which sport the same resolution. Hisense, however, upped the ante on this price range of tablets by offering a 1024 x 600-pixel display on the Sero 7 LT.
We found the capacitive touch screen on the Prestige 7L to be a bit sluggish, but more responsive than some of its competitors.
Using our light meter, we measured an average brightness on the Prestige 7L of 176 lux, which is only two points higher than the 174 registered by the Kyros 7. By comparison, the Pad 712 measured 253 and the Sero 7 LT notched 204 lux.
An HD Trailer of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" appeared fuzzy, with muted colors and grainy lines flowing through every scene. We wouldn't recommend using this tablet for video entertainment.
Since only one tiny speaker adorns the Prestige 7L, we didn't have high hopes for this tablet's audio quality. Listening to "Go Kindergarten" by The Lonely Island did nothing to change our mind. Not only did the little speaker not produce enough sound to fill a small room, but because of its placement, we often muffled the audio by accident. Overall, the sound was tinny and lacked depth.
The Prestige 7L runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is a fairly recent version of the Google OS (4.2 is the most recent). That means you get features like Google Now and offline voice typing, but also such goodies as a separate Quick Settings menu and the ability to create multiple user profiles.
Most of the interface will look familiar to Android users, but Visual Land adds an app-organizer skin called vLauncher. This skin is available for download on the Google Play store for any Android device. It automatically groups your apps and widgets by type, and creates a separate home screen for those seven categories: Home, Social, Productivity, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Games and Utilities.
Each home screen has its own related icon. For instance, little Game of Life-like people represent the Social page. When you swipe to any home screen, that specific icon is replaced with the All Apps icon of squares. Overall, we found the organization helpful and intuitive.
Beyond this, you'll still find the Back, Home and All Apps buttons along the bottom left of the screen. The status bar sits on the bottom right. From here you can see a clock, Wi-Fi status, battery levels and app update notifications. You can also access the settings.
While the Prestige 7L is an Android tablet, it doesn't offer Google Play for an app store. It does, however, come with GetJar and 1Mobile Market installed. Plus, you can download Amazon's App Store as well. According to Visual Land, GetJar offers more than 350,000 apps and 1Mobile Market offers more than 200,000 free apps. Combined, though, that's fewer apps than Play's library of 700,000.
This 7-inch tablet also comes with several apps preloaded, including Skype, Sugarsync, IMDB, Adobe Reader, Evernote and DocumentsToGo. Plus, you get YouTube and Netflix for video, and Kindle and Aldiko for reading e-books. Recipes is a nice touch for foodies. We found it odd that Super-HD Video Player comes preloaded, considering the 800 x 400-pixel resolution of the tablet's screen. A generic music player, calculator, calendar, camera, sound recorder and file manager round out the pre-loaded apps.
Several widgets also come preinstalled on various home screens, including an Evernote task bar, a settings toolbar and a music player widget.
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On the games front, Visual Land preloads Scramble, Sprinkle, Angry Birds and Ninja Kaka. The 1Mobile Games Market can also help players find new games.
The standard Android browser comes pre-installed on the Prestige 7L, but we'd recommend downloading Chrome browser for its syncing ability across devices. The basic browser is fairly bare bones and a bit sluggish. Over Verizon's 4G LTE network, we loaded NYTimes.com, Laptopmag.com and ESPN.com in 16, 20 and 15 seconds, respectively.
We didn't expect much in the way of quality, but the 1.3-MP resolution of the Prestige 7L webcam puts it a step ahead of some of its competition. The Hisense Sero 7 LT and D2 Pad 712 both sport a 0.3-MP camera, while the Coby Kyros 7 has nothing at all. Sadly, the selfies we shot -- which had to be taken at an odd angle since the camera is so far to one side -- looked grainy, and colors appeared muted. Plus, the camera app itself froze as soon as we took one shot. To get it working again, we had to restart the entire tablet.
The 1-GHz ARM Cortex A8 and 512MB of RAM under the hood of the Prestige 7L don't provide very responsive performance. If you're patient, this tablet will suffice for social networking and Web surfing. However, we experienced noticeable lag when switching from landscape to portrait mode, and it sometimes took an excruciatingly long time to open apps. Angry Birds was ready to play in about 7 seconds, but opening the Amazon Kindle app took more than 20 seconds. Attempting to open SugarSync over three different days proved completely fruitless, as the app crashed, without opening, every time.
The specs are very nearly identical to those found on the D2 Pad 712 and the Coby Kyros 7. But the Hisense Sero 7 LT offers a faster 1.6-GHz CPU with 1GB of RAM.
In AnTuTu, a general benchmark, this tablet scored 3,722. While that's better than both the Kyros (3,362) and the D2 Pad (3,378), the score can't touch the Sero 7 LT's mark of 8,765.
With an An3DBench score of 6,624, which measures graphics performance, the Prestige 7L beats the D2 Pad (6,429). But the Kyros 7's score of 7,109 and the Sero 7 LT's 7,827 both come in higher. On Quadrant (which measures CPU, graphics and I/O performance) we saw a somewhat low score of 2,189, but one that beat both the D2 Pad (2,062) and the category average (1,998).
The typical tablet today lasts almost 7 hours on a charge. Visual Land claims you can expect "8 hours of continuous use" on the Prestige 7L. However, on our LAPTOP Battery Test, which tests continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi, this slate lasted a short 4 hours and 22 minutes. That's not as bad as the D2 Pad 712 (3:53), but not as good as the Coby Kyros 7 (6:41). It's pretty close to the Hisense Sero 7 LT's endurance score of 4:41.
While the Visual Land Prestige 7L doesn't offer Google Play, it does try to make up for the missing marketplace with a variety of app store options and a nifty app launcher. Sadly, the meager internal specs will not make for a very enjoyable experience with most apps once you download them. The Visual Land tablet may fair better on some benchmarks than, say, the Coby Kyros 7 and the D2 Pad 712, but the Prestige 7L's performance is miles behind the $99.99 Hisense Sero 7 LT. The Hisense also has a sharper, 1024 x 600 screen. If you've only got $80 to spend, don't waste it on the Visual Land Prestige 7L.