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Verizon LG G Pad 8.3
I ordered the Verizon LG G Pad 8.3 last week for $99 on contract. At $10 a month for 2 years, this LTE model still ends up costing me less than Google Play Edition or wifi MSRP (though I see the wifi model is on sale sometimes for about $250). After buying the Dell Venue 8 Pro, I've been itching to get an 8 inch Android tablet. I also already have the Nexus 7 2013 and iPad Mini with Retina.
The tablet has a great feel in the hand. I love the 8.3 inch size, I can easily wrap my hand around this and use it for one handed reading without fatigue. The aluminum is nice and doesn't slip, the build quality is pretty good, only minor creaking on my unit if I push on the corners, which only happens sometimes when picking it up by the corner. But otherwise feels very solidly built.
Apparently there are a couple of differences with the Verizon model besides the obvious LTE radios. First the SoC is 200MHz slower at 1.5GHz instead of 1.7GHz. Second the Verizon model appears to be thicker. LG lists the G Pad 8.3 at 0.33 inches, but on Verizon's website it's listed at 0.35 inches. It's possible Verizon just made an error in the specs, but on Amazon and XDA people have mentioned cases don't quite fit properly on the Verizon model, like the tablet is a bit thicker.
I'm not impressed with the display, but I call it good enough and it hasn't bothered me. The issue is the black levels are not good causing a crushing effect in dark scenery or lack of detail. I used the display tests at LCD monitor test images and the black levels show very little distinction between the boxes, the white saturation test also shows a similar problem. Most of my everyday usage of the tablet doesn't involve dark scenery where the crushed blacks are noticeable, so I can live with the problem. And the colors at least look correct and the pixel density is nice, so it's satisfactory.
The sound quality from the speakers also trails behind most high end tablets like the Nexus 7 2013, iPad Mini with Retina, Fire HD, or Dell Venue 8 Pro I've used. However I'm pleased they are at least very loud speakers and find they sound to be good enough.
Apparently the existing root methods for the G Pad 8.3 do not work on the Verizon model and no one has come up with a working root solution yet. And there appears to be little to no development activity on XDA for the Verizon model. So for now I'm stuck with the LG/Verizon experience.
The first thing that bugged me about the LG UI was the white button bar. I looked around the settings and saw there were themes, but it didn't seem to let me change the button bar. It took me a day or two before I stumbled upon the Front Touch Buttons setting under Display (have to scroll down to advanced settings). It lets me choose between black or white and flat or gradient effects. There are also some different button layout options, but I stuck with the default, they don't have an option to add the Recent Apps button. I'm liking the UI more now that I have a flat black button bar. Wish I could kill the gradient effect on the top system bar too, but can't.
Another UI issue I had is the UI looked bigger than normal. I thought this was a DPI setting issue I could only fix with root access. But found the problem was really with the default font size LG is using. Back in Display Settings, I changed the font size from Medium to Small. Now the UI looks normal sized, the Chrome browser bars take up less screen space for example. I also changed the Font type to Roboto since that's what I'm used to seeing on my Nexus 5 and 7. Looking a bit more normal now.
The tablet seems to have a bit more lag than my Nexus 7 2013, despite having the very same SoC. But it still feels pretty fast, so not complaining too much. The main thing that bugs me is the rotation animation. It's slow and very jerky. I almost feel like I'm using a Honeycomb tablet with this animation. Also often when I rotate the wallpaper disappears for a second and then repaints itself. It's ugly. I definitely hope someone comes up with a ROM or something that allows for a more GPE like experience.
It's got some imperfections. But it is a rather cheap 8.3 inch LTE tablet and feels like a pretty good value. And even the wifi model on sale for $250 looks like it would be good if you really don't want to spend $400 on an iPad Mini or Galaxy 8.4 Pro. So I'm happy with the tablet.