Microsoft Wise Pad W7 In-Depth Review
- Pioneer product
- Relatively cheap
- Under powered processor
- Sluggish performance
- Frequent crashes
- Low resolution screen
- Poor camera performance
The Microsoft Wise Pad W7 is the American software giant’s first foray into the tablet/phablet territory. While development was kept relatively under wraps, the Wise Pad W7 suffers from the same flaws that made most affordable devices in the Lumia range a little hard for consumers to pocket. It is perhaps the most jarring evidence of Microsoft’s infancy in the device manufacturing arena especially when it comes to making affordable devices in a category which is in high demand in developing countries.
The hardware design of the Wise Pad is one of the better designs I’ve seen in an entry level device. It has a sturdy build with a good amount of heft. But, after a while, you begin to feel the device’s manufacturing and cost-cutting measures.
The device isn’t built of metal, but when you hold the device, you’ll have no complaints. Instead, the device is decidedly plastic. Every inch of the device aside from the screen is made of plastic. But it’s built to look like a tank. Therein lies the problem, it looks like a tank. It’s hefty but manageable.
The design brings together two colours: grey and black. The textured grey back is framed, quite elegantly by the top and bottom black borders. In addition, the textured plastic provides some grip to a device which would otherwise be prone to slipping out of the hand.
The design is understated. When you first get the device in hand, you would think that the device actually feels more expensive that it is. It also gives you a sense that the device was made for people who want productivity on the go. Something you don’t really get from some of the more expensive and flashier devices nowadays.
That said, the device’s screen measures in at 7-inches with bezels which can give a woman with too much eyeliner a run for her money. Although, there is a benefit to having bezels of this size: there’s a good amount of space to rest your thumb without triggering the screen’s touch sensors.
There are no navigation buttons on the Wise Pad W7. Aside from the power and volume buttons the tablet relies solely on Microsoft’s on-screen keys for navigation. The 7-inch screen is good but not great and in a world where devices coming in at lower price points can afford to include a 720p HD resolution screen, the Wise Pad W7’s leaves a lot to be desired.
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (4 Cores)
Quad-core 1.3 GHz
Expandable with MicroSD (Max. 64GB)
|Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)||Adreno 304|
7.0-inch (~170 ppi)
Wide Screen VGA (600 x 1024 pixels)
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|Battery||3200mAh (Claimed 1000 hours battery time in aeroplane mode)|
Video recording at 1080p (30fps)
The Wise Pad W7 comes with Windows 10 Mobile. If you’ve been following the development of Windows mobile since its Windows 8 iteration, the user interface has not changed for the most part.
The Windows 10 Mobile experience can be broken down into a few parts: the lock screen, the Metro/Modern UI tile screen, the notification shade and the application list. But before we delve into the experience any further, let’s talk about the initial setup. Similar to other platforms, Windows 10 Mobile’s setup process is relatively simple. It runs you through a screen to setup your Microsoft Account (yes, you need to setup a Microsoft account) followed by SIM Card setup, your WiFi setup, your security setup and a bunch of terms of service agreements.
Once you’ve run through your first setup, you’ll be brought into the Windows 10 Mobile experience.
Let’s start on the screen you’d be interacting with when you power on your screen – the lock screen. Depending on your security measures, the lock screen will either simply unlock when you swipe the screen about 60% of the way up or it will greet you with a screen for your PIN or password. Simple and sweet. You can customise your lock screen with your own pictures or have the built-in Windows lock screen background.
The next screen you’ll be interacting most with is your Metro/Modern UI screen. This screen will consist of tiles – lots and lots of tiles. You can have apps pinned to this screen and are able to organise your applications into folders which look like squares with miniature squares in them. This screen gives new meaning to “being square”. There is little flavour to the tiles aside from the different sizes and the live tiles which some apps can utilise. The part I found most irritating on this screen is the lack of an option to change tile colours to add some variety to the screen. Otherwise, apps will blend with the colour theme you’ve chosen. You’ll also have to be strategic with the screen, placing your most used applications such as the dialer in the top most part, otherwise, you’ll be scrolling around looking for it.
The notification shade would possibly be the one place you’d be interacting with the most on this UI. Simply because, it has quick toggles, your most recent call notifications and app notifications. Quick and easy access to the going ons of your device.
Finally, you have the applications list where your apps are sorted in alphabetical order for you to peruse. I found myself using this application menu more than the tiles as it made more sense than scrolling a humongous list of tiles. Think of this as the “All applications” portion of the start menu in Windows 8 or your applications in Windows 10.
To sum up the Windows 10 Mobile experience, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to call the user interface overly simplified with a lack of personalisation. The biggest peeve I had with this interface was the drab, angular, less than appealing interface of the tiles which did little to excite you every time you picked up the device. Microsoft really should look into updating their mobile interface so that users are excited when they pick up their device. While functionality may be the focus of the device, its interface is far from it. I found myself scrolling blindly through the monochromatic interface searching for my apps and eventually losing interest.
In addition, while the Windows 10 Mobile look may look sleek and attractive in a phone’s form factor, it definitely doesn’t scale with larger devices. On a 7-inch display, the interface looks clumsy and ill designed. That said, it may have more to do with the resolution of the display which isn’t anywhere near High Definition. Even using apps like YouTube resolution tops out at 540p.
While display and interface may have been lacking. The number of apps on Windows Mobile has improved. But, it still has a lot to do to catch up to other platforms. If you want to jump on the bandwagon for popular apps on other platforms, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it on Windows. Even the YouTube app is simply a website redirect.
While we always say benchmarks are not an indication of everyday use, I think we should have paid a little more attention to these benchmarks as they are definitely indicative of the device’s performance. It would have made us really expect what transpired during our review period.
That said, the actual performance of any given device is highly dependent on multiple factors including active applications, background usage and display settings.
The Wise Pad W7 is one phablet/tablet that let us down tremendously when it comes to performance. Not only did it have a lot to prove, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this phablet fell flat on its face.
Call Quality & Connectivity
The Wise Pad W7, comes with the expected connectivity options: mobile data, WiFi and Bluetooth. Our primary concern in this portion is how the device performed in regard to its connectivity.
The defining feature which allows this tablet to skate the phablet line is the fact the Wise Pad W7 comes with the ability to make calls. The earpiece on the device was good but not great. In taking calls, the audio on the earpiece was metallic and tinny which made it hard for me to take calls over a prolonged period of time. There were even times when it was hard to hear the caller on the other end. In addition, there were times when the screen wouldn’t turn off when pressed against the face which led to the device getting warm.
The speaker phone was no different. The caller could hardly be heard and the sound was cold and metallic. I found myself saying “pardon me” way too often when I was reviewing this device. Callers on the other end reported that the quality of the mic was good. They were able to audibly hear us with little or no distortion. Which left us rather perplexed at the quality of the call on our end.
However, my biggest issue with the device when it came to making and taking calls was the lag between pressing the answer or call button and the call actually connecting. On average, it took about 5 to 10 seconds for this to happen.
That said, data connectivity over 4G LTE was smooth where connectivity was not an issue. It performed as expected without much hassle. However, the loading of applications to load websites was slow. The experience was pretty much the same over WiFi.
The Wise Pad W7 is a very unwise choice when it comes to gaming. The Snapdragon 210 which comes built in doesn’t provide enough processing power even for menial tasks such as word processing. It took quite a while to get games such as Asphalt 8 to load. We couldn’t find our other regular games to really push the device, so most of our experience here will be off playing Asphalt 8.
However, with gaming, we’re more interested in the graphics power this device has. So how exactly did the Adreno 304 perform? Not that well. While we don’t expect it run like a device running a top of the line processor, it was hard to forgive the performance of the device while gaming.
In general, gaming was sluggish on the Wise Pad W7 and there was a lot of dropped frames and tearing. However, with casual games such as Candy Crush, you shouldn’t have any problems.
As is already abundantly evident, this phablet may not be the best choice for gamers.
As a device being marketed for productivity, the Wise Pad W7 is perhaps the only device I’ve reviewed so far that makes it hard to multitask. In the first 24 hours of reviewing, I had the device hang and become non-responsive multiple times. The most evident occurrence happened when I unintentionally caused three force restarts within 20 minutes of usage.
It feels as though Microsoft has forgotten how to multitask when it comes to mobile with this device. There were little to no options for true multitasking. Even when you triggered the active apps menu, switching between apps was sluggish and could cause force reboots.
Battery life is perhaps the only good point of the Wise Pad. But that doesn’t mean that the device excelled exceptionally. The battery on the Wise Pad lasted a little over a day in our review. However, due to the constant reboots, device usage was at a minimum. On days that it would function in a useable manner, it yielded about 5 hours of on time.
Considering the processor in the device, I would say that the battery life is relatively good. Again, it’s nothing to call home about. Just acceptable.
The Wise Pad W7 comes with a wide-screen VGA display with a 600×1024 pixels resolution. It confounds me why Microsoft didn’t just take the plunge for a 720p HD display given the other sacrifices that they made with the device.
However, the display is not the worst display I’ve seen in a tablet/phablet. The first thing I did on the tablet was to get some comics. Reading comics on the 7-inch display was enjoyable. Images were crisp and the relatively low-intensity apps allowed for smooth performance. The low pixel density didn’t do it much favours as the image quality drop was noticeable especially given the fact that every other screen anyone uses now is either 720p HD or 1080p Full HD.
The colour reproduction of the screen was good. It isn’t as vibrant or punchy as some of the other displays out there but it didn’t detract from the experience either.
The cameras on the Wise Pad W7 left a whole lot to be desired. It comes with a 5-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. I definitely give Microsoft props for making the device selfie capable at the entry level with a front facer, but the fact of the matter is, it may have been better if they included a better main camera.
The picture quality of the front facing 2-megapixel camera was acceptable. Images taken were legible, but they are a far cry from some of the other entry level phablets out there. The picture was grainy even in well-lit conditions and was very reminisce of the cameras on very aged devices. Video recording was also more of the same.
The main camera was more of the same. The 5-megapixel sensor of the Wise Pad was acceptable. However, picture quality was grainy and the lack of optical image stabilisation meant that any small movement would result in a blurred picture. Video recording was more of the same grainy quality. However, due to the ability to shoot at 1080p Full HD, playback on the device looked crisp. That said, you’d need to have a really steady hand to get good quality video from the camera.
The Microsoft Wise Pad W7 is a device which had a lot of difficulty fulfilling the promises that the company makes in their marketing. It’s a device which feels half-baked and should have never left the initial planning stages of development. While it may be the first phablet running Windows 10 mobile, it is definitely not one which can compete in a market with so many better competitors. It can’t deliver on performance for productivity and with specifications that are literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, it would seem like the Wise Pad may have been an unwise decision from Microsoft.