Over the past few years the tablet market has grown from a small niche with few buyers into one of the fastest growing segments in consumer electronics. The introduction of the iPad created consumer demand where there had been none before and naturally a host of competitors soon followed. The most successful of those competitors are powered by Google’s touch-based Android operating system, which is now run on dozens of devices, including smartphones and tablets. Android has delivered on its promise to provide inexpensive devices that rival those built by Apple, and as a result someone looking to buy a tablet on a budget now has some legitimate options from which to choose. Take for example the Genesis Prime from Ematic, a device whose biggest selling point is its very affordable price.
At its core, the Genesis Prime is a 7-inch tablet with a 1.1 GHz processor, 4GB of storage and a front-facing VGA camera. It runs Android 4.1 (Jellybean) and has full access to the Google Play store, giving users the ability to download games, apps, books, music, movies and more. The device is just .4 inches thick and tips the scales at a svelte 9.6 ounces, which makes it thinner and lighter than most other tablets on the market. All of these features are pretty much the minimum of what you would expect out of any Android tablet these days, although the Genesis Prime does have one feature that helps it stick out from the crowd – its price. Ematic sells the device for just $79.99, which puts it squarely into the “budget” category and well below most of its competitors.In order to reach that price point some compromises obviously needed to be made with the technology incorporated into the tablet. How much of a deal breaker those compromises are depends on the value you place on having cutting edge technology in your gadgets. For instance, the 7-inch touch screen on the Genesis Prime runs at a resolution of just 800 x 480 – which is well below the 1024 x 768 display found on the iPad Mini or the 1280 x 800 screen that Google puts in it’s own Nexus 7 tablet. Ematic also skimped on storage space, offering up just 4GB out of the box, although that can be expanded up to 32GB using MicroSD cards. But that’s not all, the processor used to power the Genesis is on the slow side, the built in camera is sub-par and the battery life is just a shade over four hours, which isn’t even enough to complete a cross-country flight.
With all of that in mind, I tried to approach my review on the Genesis Prime from the perspective of the consumer who isn’t necessarily in the market for Apple’s high-end devices or even Google and Amazon’s mid-range tablets. I put myself into the shoes of someone who wanted a tablet but didn’t want to blow their budget acquiring one. Even coming at it from that angle, I found that I needed to set my expectations accordingly in order to not be disappointed. The Genesis does offer a full Android experience and provides access to the Google Play ecosystem, but it is also sluggish and slow at times, which can be a bit frustrating, particularly when you’re not sure if the device has registered your touch inputs or is actually doing something in the background. Once I started to install a few apps, it also didn’t take long to run into storage issues due to the paltry 4GB that comes built-in. At one point, I couldn’t even update some apps because there simply wasn’t enough storage capacity left to do so. Adding a MicroSD card fixed the problem, but that is an extra expense that some consumers shopping in this space may not be prepared for.
Still, the Genesis Prime isn’t without its merits. It you’re looking for a device to check email or your social networks, it works just fine in that capacity. It’ll even handle light web browsing activities relatively well and streaming from Pandora or Spotify worked great, although the sound quality was better coming out of a decent pair of headphones rather than the built-in speaker. Reading books through the Kindle app or Google’s own Play Books was also fine, although the low-resolution screen is likely to be a more of a strain on the eyes. Some of the more popular 2D games, like Angry Birds, performed reasonably well too, just don’t expect to play some of the more advanced 3D games in the Google Play store. Something like EA’s Real Racing 3 would probably be more of an exercise in frustration than anything else.
If you’re in the market for a tablet device and you don’t have much money to spend, you fit exactly into the target audience that Ematic had in mind when they designed the Genesis Prime. $80 for an Android device is extremely cheap for sure, although the old adage of “you get what you pay for” couldn’t be more applicable than it is here. The all-around performance of this tablet is below that of the competition, but then again most of them cost at least twice as much. The Genesis Prime is a decent enough product, provided you go in knowing its limitations. But aside from the low cost of entry, it is hard to recommend this tablet. Especially when Google’s entry level Nexus 7 costs just $199 and comes with a much better screen, four times the memory, double the battery life and a considerably faster processor.
At the start of this review I mentioned how quickly the tablet market has grown over the past few years. It has gotten so big in fact that tablets are now projected to start outselling traditional PC’s as early as next year. Apple of course commands the largest part of that market share with their iPad, but Android has carved out a nice slice of the pie with lower-cost, alternative devices. Perhaps Ematic is looking to create a bargain basement space in which they can become the dominant player. If that is the case, the Genesis Prime is a solid device at a great price. But if you can manage to dig a little deeper into your wallet, you’ll find the alternatives are much better devices all around and well worth the extra money spent.