Le Pan TC 970 Review
$349.99 Le Pan www.lepantab.com
Tips for making an Android tablet that rivals Motorola’s XOOM at half the price: 1) Ditch the rear-facing camera; we have phones for that. 2) Eject all non-essential memory. 3) Skip cellular connectivity. 4) Put your money into a fast processor and killer screen.
Newcomer Le Pan’s TC 970 follows this recipe, using (according to company reps) the same 4:3, 9.7-inch screen found in the iPad 2. he 1,024 x 768 display is vivid and gorgeous. Alongside the XOOM, the TC 970 excels for readability, in part from its much whiter backgrounds. The XOOM looks comparatively bluish and muddy. Moreover, the TC 970 is surprisingly fast in many tasks, opening complex PDFs several times faster than our XOOM and matching XOOM’s pace on opening both applications and Web pages.
But $350 means some sacrifices, and Le Pan’s two biggest are in graphics and memory. The XOOM’s Tegra 2 runs circles around the TC 970 on HD video playback, with the latter looking far more compressed and choppy. Le Pan only provides 512MB of internal DDR2, 2GB of NAND, and a 2GB microSD card out of the box. Also, this is a Froyo design that (officially) will never enjoy the thrill of a Honeycomb upgrade.
However, the TC 970 supports the major A/V codecs, and the rear-firing stereo speakers are fair. There’s a 2MP camera for video chat, and Le Pan includes 802.11n, Bluetooth, and GPS. The 4:3 aspect ratio may feel dated, but we actually prefer it for handheld Web surfing. Le Pan’s build quality feels solid, and it weighs almost exactly the same as the XOOM. The TC 970 may fall down on video, but for e-reading, light gaming, and Web use, this is a surprisingly strong debut for Le Pan at an aggressive price.
Specs: CPU: TI OMAP 3630, 1GHz ARM Cortex A8; Display: 9.7 inches (1,024 x 768); OS: Android 2.2; Memory: 512MB DDR2; Storage: 2GB NAND, 2GB included microSD card (up to 32GB supported); Battery (rated): Up to 7 hours on video playback