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Le Pan TC970 9.7″ Android Tablet Review

 

Tablets are the in thing as I’m sure you’re aware by now. It seems every company now is coming out with an Android tablet and not all of them are good. Prices range from inexpensive to several hundred dollars, the inexpensive ones usually aren’t even worth your time honestly. You pay for quality and that’s very much so when it comes to tablets, at least that’s the way it is for the majority of tablets out there today. I recently got a request to review on Android tablet from a company I’ve never heard of, so I was immediately suspect of its quality and ability. Today for review I have that tablet, it’s called the Mode de Vie or TC970 from a little company called Le Pan. This tablet sells for only $350 and I can honestly tell you that it’s worth every penny, I could easily see it selling for much more. The build quality is just excellent and it performs much better that I ever expected it to. I’ve had the chance to play with the Xoom and Galaxy Tab in the past and I can say the TC970 is on par with them in terms of quality and performance. The TC970 has a TI OMAP 1GHz CPU in it with a capacitive touchscreen that displays at 1024×768, and it’s gorgeous really it is.

Info:

 

 

 

Product Name: Le Pan Mode de Vie TC970 9.7″ Android Tablet

Author: Kristofer Brozio

Provider: Le Pan

Price: $349.99 (from Amazon at time of review)

Less Plastic, More Green.
Built with only high-quality materials that are less plastic, less metal, and more aluminum, it’s more durable and eco friendly.

Ultra Portable.
Slim, lightweight, and ultra portable at a mere 1cm thin, it’s small enough to take along with you, wherever you go.

Sleek, Brushed Finish.
With edge-to-edge brushed aluminum along the back, it’s cool to the touch and more enjoyable to hold.

Ever-Lasting Battery.
The truly phenomenal battery life means it keeps up with you, no matter what you’re doing or where you’re going.

Attractive All-Around.
The piano black facade and smooth chrome frame brings a look that’s elegant, and a feel that’s just plain luxurious.

Specs:
Processor: TI OMAP 3630, ARM Cortex A8 at 1 GHz Processor

Display characteristics:
-9.7″ (4:3) Capacitive Multi-touch LCD Screen
-XVGA LCD, 1024 x 768 Resolution

Operating System: Android 2.2 OS (Froyo)
Memory: 512MB Flash Memory DDR2 RAM
Video Format Supporting: MPEG-4 / 3GPP / H.263 / H.264
Audio Format Supporting: AMR/ AAC/ AAC+/ MP3/ MIDI/ WAV/ PCM
Sensor: 3D G-Sensor, E-Compass Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor

Storage:
-Internal storage: 2GB NAND Flash
-2GB Micro SD Card Included
-External storage: support up to 32GB via Micro SD

Webcam: 2.0 Megapixels

Communication protocols:
-Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
-Bluetooth (Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR)

Microphone: Built-In
GPS: GPS Module Build-In

Connectors:
-30 pin connector
-3.5mm stereo audio jack
-1 x Micro SD card slot (support up to 32GB)

Battery: 6800mAh Rechargeable Battery
Battery life: Video playback time: up to 7 hours

Dimensions & weight:
-236 x 187 x 12.4 mm (9.29 x 7.44 x 0.48 inches)
-730 grams (1.6 Lb.)

Accessories:
-30 pin to USB Connector Cable
-Charger
-Hand-Ring
-2GB Micro SD Card
-Screen Clean Cloth

The Review::

The Le Pan TC970 comes in a nice looking box. When you open it you’re greeted with the tablet.

lepan1 lepan2

Below the tablet you’ll find a quick start guide, cleaning cloth, USB cable, USB style AC adapter and a wrist strap.

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The tablet itself is mostly screen with a small border around it, but it’s glossy and hard to take a picture of honestly when it’s not on. To the right of the screen you’ll find the familiar Android buttons, or touch sensors really, for Back, Search, Home and Menu. The build quality of the TC970 is amazing really, it’s just designed very well and it feels solidly built. Aesthetically it’s very appealing, it’s all black basically but the edges are chrome, it’s hard to see in the pictures but they are.

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On the top of the screen is the camera and light sensor. There’s also a G-Senor and compass in there along with GPS.

lepan13

The back of the TC970 has the Le Pan logo in the center of it and it has a brushed finish to it, and it’s aluminum. I should note the back is rather slippery.

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On the back you’ll find two small speakers on the left side and the slots for the wrist strap on the right.

lepan14 lepan9

At the top of the tablet you’ll find the volume buttons, headphone jack, hold slider, USB port and microSD slot. The door for the microSD slot is really big, I’m thinking maybe it was supposed to be a standard SD card.

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When you first boot up the tablet you’ll be greeted with three sparsely populated screens. I timed the boot as well, it took 31 seconds to get to the “desktop”, not bad. On the desktop you’ll see the Google Search bar, Android tips, News, media player and the Android Marketplace widget. On the right side of the screen are shortcuts for the browser, apps and email. I haven’t figured out a way to change those icons though, I’d like to be able to switch the email for Gmail.

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The Settings are the common things you’ll find in Android. One great thing is that you can install non-market apps. The Le Pan TC970 does have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

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Opening up the Apps screen you’ll find many things pre-installed.  Ignore the first app wit the 91 and Chinese characters, I had to install 91Assistant to be able to do screen captures and that’s part of it. The apps you’ll find are the pretty common stuff for Android devices, but you’ll also see iReader and Kindle included as well.

lepan26 lepan27

There is a File Manage included and it works well, but I prefer those I’m accustomed to like ES File Explorer or Astro. On the microSD card you’ll also find an audio sample and a video sample, along with the packages for some of the things already installed and a couple eBooks.

lepan28

Speaking of eBooks, here’s the iReader program, it’s a bit empty as I don’t have any books on there at the moment. I’m not sure if I like the white text on light red though.

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Browsing the web is fine, no issues here to report. It’s is Android 2.2, so you have flash.

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The keyboard is very standard, but it works for what you need to do. Just typing, a simple, easy basic thing.
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The tablet does have a desktop display mode for docking or just sitting there in an upright position. It shows you the time, date, weather and access to alarms, pictures and music.

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Gaming:

I love gaming, especially on a tablet so I loaded up many different games and the Le Pan TC970 handled every one of them with ease. The tablet never slowed down, not once, it easily handled every type of game I played.

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Viewing/Video:The screen resolution is 1024×768 as you know and you can view from any angle up, down right and left. The screen is crisp and clear with excellent colors. There are no complaints here about that screen or viewing angles. Videos are smooth with no skipping or jumping and the same is true for every game I played. One small complaint I could have here is the lack of video support, there’s only a very limited number of file types you can play natively on the TC970. Hopefully a future update will add more support for more file types to be played.

Sound: You saw the two small speakers in the pictures above, so you shouldn’t expect a full range of sounds and no deep bass there, but overall they aren’t bad. They can get very loud. They can though have a bit of a tin sound to them, but using headphones it’s fine.

GPS:The GPS works very well. I installed GPS Status, an excellent little program by the way, that tells you the GPS status obviously. I tested it on sunny, cloudy and rainy days.  On sunny days the GPS picked up very quickly, in a matter of seconds. On cloudy and rainy days I took a little longer as expected it would but it still locked on fine. As far as accuracy, it seems just as good as my phone or TomTom stand alone GPS unit.

Bluetooth:Bluetooth worked great, I used it with my Sony MW600 Bluetooth headset and controller. The MW600 wouldn’t control the native media player for all things, but it controlled WinAmp with no issues for everything like volume, forward, back and play and pause.  I tried pairing with a mini Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The keyboard was seen but wouldn’t connect. The mouse was seen also, and it paired with the tablet and for a second or so a mouse pointer appeared on the screen but then disappeared never to be seen again. Not sure where the problem is there. I only have one BT keyboard and one mouse on hand, so I couldn’t exactly do thorough testing with it for those devices.

Wi-Fi:I had no issues with wi-fi at all, it connected to my home network and others with no hassles quickly and easily.

Battery: Here’s where the Le Pan TC970 really shines, not that it’s not great elsewhere, but battery life is downright amazing. I charged it up and loaded apps and games and just went at it, playing and browsing the web; I got over eight hours until I got a warning that the battery was low. Watching videos taxed the battery a bit more, giving me only a little over seven hours here, still that’s excellent. I should also note that I had the brightness on maximum.

Out of curiosity I ran a couple benchmarks including Quadrant and AnTuTu.

Here’s the Quadrant results and the screens showing the tablet specs:

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Not bad I guess, but I’m not one for Android benchmarks really.

Here’s the AnTuTu test results:

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Well as you can see the world rank is 113,138. I guess that’s not bad when you consider there are millions of phones and tablet out there. Then again that’s out of all those tested only.

Again these are just synthetic benchmarks, so take them as you will.

Camera:The TC970 has a camera on it, only on the front though I’m not sure exactly what the point of having it on the front is. Still it’s there so let’s check it out. The first thing you’ll notice is that the camera is backwards or mirrored. If you take a picture of something with text it will show up backwards. I asked support about it and they didn’t have an answer, but a fix is coming any day now.

There are several Settings you can adjust to may your pictures even better, but not an overwhelming amount of them.

 

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Here’s a couple sample pictures.

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The pictures aren’t bad really, in bright light they come out very nice with good color reproduction. Indoors they aren’t bad with good lighting, but you have to hold the tablet very still. Still I have to wonder why the camera is on the front, it’s kind of hard to really take pictures of things with it located there. I could see a camera on the front and one on the back or maybe just one on the back.

One last thing Ito touch on is the price, it’s only $350 and that’s well worth it. I can easily se this tablet selling for much more. The build quality is the same or even better than the Xoom and Galaxy Tab. When I checked online for the price I was truly shocked that it costs so little.

 

Conclusion:

The Le Pan TC970 is an excellent Android tablet, I am honestly thrilled with it. It’s extremely responsive, never once did I have an issue with it slowing down no matter how many other things were going on. I’m thoroughly enjoying the TC970, and I think you will as well.

Aesthetically the TC970 is very pleasing and stylish looking, it’s also thin and lightweight. The build quality is excellent, it’s a solidly made tablet on par with those much more expensive.

I’ve had the pleasure of testing both the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and I have to say I like the Le Pan TC970 much better overall. The TC970 doesn’t have a Tegra in it but from what I’ve seen it doesn’t need it, it’s more than capable a handling anything you can throw at it in terms of apps, games or videos or anything else. I was truly surprised that the 1Ghz CPU could handle everything I threw at it.

The most surprising or actually amazing thing is the battery life, no joke here I got over eight hours use while doing a mixture of playing games and browsing the web. I even left I on just sitting and overnight and still had battery left to use it.

The TC970 isn’t without it’s problems though, but they’re small and not deal breakers. I don’t care for the Apple-like USB connection at all, I would have rather seen a standard micro-USB or even mini-USB connector.  The screen is very glossy causing reflections in the correct light and after a few hours of use you’ll find the accumulated fingerprints very annoying.

The built-in memory is rather small, yes you can put a larger microSD card in it but I would also like to see more built-in memory.

The build quality is excellent, but the back is rather slippery honestly, I would have liked it to be more rubberized of textured for a better grip.

The other small issue the limited video support, it can’t play basic WMV or Divx files.

Yes it’s running Android 2.2, some people might think that’s old and ask why not Gingerbread or Honeycomb. I thought the same thing so I asked them and they told me to expect an update last quarter of 2011 with Ice Cream Sandwich, they told me they decided to skip Gingerbread and Honeycomb and wait until the next major Android release.

I did mention the camera shows things mirrored or backwards, a major update is supposed to be released any day now to fix it. I got no real explanation as to why the camera was that way in the first place though.

The pros and cons are listed below and it might look like a lot of cons but they’re small, and not exactly bad things really.

Lastly I should mention the price again, it’s very low for a tablet of this caliber and quality. It’s nice to see something this nice at a low price.

 

PROS:
+Amazing battery life
+Very responsive touch screen
+Does work in bright light
+Fast and responsive overall
+Low price compared to other tablets
+Simple to use
+Excellent design and construction
+Aesthetically pleasing
+Viewing from most any angle

 

CONS:

-Proprietary connector
-Screen attracts fingerprints
-Glossy screen
-Small built-in memory
-Back is rather slippery
-Can’t use in direct sunlight
-Limited video formats
-Camera is backwards

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