It's safe to say that Android tablets haven't quite managed to capture the aesthetic beauty of Apple's iPad mini. Sure, there have been some good looking ones, and the Nexus 7 certainly isn't ugly, but none of the smaller tablets have really compared to the elegant and simplistic design of Jony Ive's mini, until now. Meet the LG G Pad 8.3.
LG's obviously taken a leaf out of Apple's playbook, with its aluminium back, 8.3mm thickness and thin bezel, but underneath you find quite a different animal. Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 runs atop 2GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core chip clocked at 1.7GHz, which isn't utterly top of the range, but is certainly no slouch and gave no perceptible lag in my little play. Compared to the aging guts of the iPad mini it's a Ferrari.
The build is also top notch. The top and bottom of the device are capped with a nice-feeling plastic, which coupled with the aluminium back plate that curves around to the screen at the sides, sit really well in the hand -- it doesn't feel like this 8.3-inch tablet is going to come flying out of your grubby little mitts at any stage.
Put to the twisting torture test, there was minimal creak and bend -- more than the iPad mini and its all-metal frame, but much less than you'd expect for something only 8.3mm thin wielding over 8-inches of screen. It's also quite light, but not too featherweight, with a reassuringly solid overall feel.
The full HD 8.3-inch IPS screen also looked as vivid and sharp as you'd expect at that pixel density, with images popping nicely, while video played back with decent saturation and colour. Compared to the frankly fuzzy-looking screen on the iPad mini there is no comparison.
An 8.3-inch screen may seem like a rather random size for a tablet, but apparently it's the maximum screen size a person can comfortably hold in one hand, according to LG's research. I can attest that it was fine to hold one-handed, although you're not going to be able to actually use it one handed, of course. It should be good for reading books or watching YouTube clips, though.
16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, a 4,600 mAh battery, and stereo speakers on the back round out the spec list of what's shaping up to be a fine return to the tablet space for LG. Arguably this could be one of the best Android tablets to date, but we'll have to wait until we get it in the office to decide whether it's capable of besting the cracking Nexus 7. I suspect it'll be priced slightly higher than the Asus-made Google tablet once it eventually makes its way to the UK after a September Korean launch.