Announced a little earlier on in the year, Sharp has just launched its 7in Aquos Pad SHT21 in Japan, a tablet which, for all intents and purposes, should be capable of blowing Apple's iPad Mini and Google's Nexus 7 right out of the water, if it's priced competitively.
So exactly what makes the Aquos Pad stand out?
The tablet features a 7in 1,280 x 800 Sharp IGZO LCD display. The screen is thinner, lighter and brighter, whilst consuming less power than a traditional LCD, thanks to transistors that are smaller and allow more light to pass through them.
We're struggling to translate this one from Japanese, however Sharp attributes increased touch accuracy that makes stylus operation possible to the display's low-noise drive system.
Size and Weight
At 106 x 190 x 9.4 mm, the Aquos Pad is smaller and thinner than the Nexus 7, whilst at 272g, a good 40g lighter than the iPad Mini.
The device's incredibly thin bezel and overall thickness can, in-part, again be attributed to the IGZO display.
Energy Saving Features
Despite a modest 3,460mAh battery, Sharp is claiming some impressive usages times:
|Continuous use still image||24 hours|
|Continuous use video playback||12 hours|
|Standby 3G||~ 6.2 weeks|
|Standby LTE||~ 5.8 weeks|
|Tethering 3G||~14.1 hours|
|Tethering LTE||~ 8.3 hours|
There's some secret tech making these timings possible. Expanding on Samsung's latest mobile displays, when a still image is present, the display driver powers down and, most impressively, IGZO cuts its effective On-time, making the display itself more efficient.
Energy Saving software features such as Automatic App Standby (without closing the app), Backlight Eco Control, Energy Saving Liquid Crystal Drive (dynamic frame-rate).
Features the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 1.5GHz Dual Core CPU, not the highest-end processor currently on offer, however suitably outperforms the Nexus 7's NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor in 95 per cent of tasks, whilst being both power and cost sensitive.
The device matches the 1GB of RAM found in the Nexus 7 and has high-performance 4G and Dual-channel WiFi options.
Above and Beyond
Unlike other cost-sensitive 7in tablets, the Aquos Pad features expandable microSDXC storage up to 64GB, from the initial 16GB internal offering. Both a front and rear camera are supplied, with the rear camera sporting a healthy 8-megapixel BSI sensor.
The tablet itself meets the IP5X rating for dust proofing and IPX5/IPX7 for water proofing. This means that under certain circumstances, with device holes plugged-up, the tablet can survive immersion in up to one meter of water and a blasting from water jets coming from any direction.
Much like the unrestricted Nexus 7, NFC, micro USB Host with MHL and Bluetooth 4.0 are also present.
Above and Beyond in a Big Way - The Stylus
Hidden within the case is a stylus resembling a typical resistive variant. It's not clear is the stylus is a high-accuracy capacitive model or if a resistive layer is also present. Don't expect Wacom-level accuracy, however this should be more than sufficient for note taking and drawing diagrams. Certainly a step above standard tablet offerings.
If Sharp can price this tablet anywhere between the Nexus 7 and the iPad Mini, we believe the firm will have an instant hit. It may be wishful thinking to assume Sharp may directly price compete with the likes of the Nexus and Kindle Fire, though there's nothing incredibly cost-raising in the tablet's design.