Although $99 Android tablets have been done, they've mostly been clunky, barely functional things sold by random Chinese brands via drug stores and overseas websites. The Sero line by Hisense is the first time that a major U.S. retailer has offered one, which gives it a bit more traction than the almost unknown Hisense would have on their own.
Two models are available: the Sero 7 Lite comes priced at $99, and features a dual core processor with 4 GB of memory and bare bones features. The Sero 7 Pro, listed at $149, adds in a better quality screen, quad core processor, and a bunch of features left out of the cheaper model, but today we're taking a look at the Sero 7 Lite.
Build and Design
The overall design of the Sero 7 gives it an extremely generic sort of look: an all-black front with about a half an inch of bezel space around the screen, and a smooth, curved back that could have come straight off any of a dozen other tablets. If you didn't know better, you might mistake it for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, or even an iPad Mini.
Although it does distinguish itself in that the back casing, instead of being grey or silver, is actually dark brown, giving it a bit of an odd juxtaposition. But overall it's not very distinctive in looks.
The plastic on the back casing feels a little cheap, but not as bad as it could be. In fact, the whole thing is fairly sturdy in terms of build. It's impossible to say just feeling it whether problems will crop up with long-term use, but there's nothing that looks like it's going to be an issue right away.
Looking at the Sero 7 Lite's display, you can definitely tell that it's not top of the line. The contrast ratio is average at best, and the screen has narrower viewing angles than other modern LCDs. The 1024 x 600 resolution also isn't anything impressive, being one generation behind other inexpensive 7-inch tablets, to say nothing of higher-end ones.
Still, it's serviceable, if not a beauty to look at. Photos might seem a little off-color, but it has excellent brightness (and range of brightness control) for reading. No automatic brightness though, so you'll have to adjust it manually from the notification window.
Other Buttons and Ports
For reasons that presumably made sense to the person who designed it, all the ports on the Sero 7 Lite are on the "top" of the device as it's normally oriented. Although I suppose it doesn't matter, since with automatic screen rotation you could just turn it to place the ports "down" if you wanted.
And there's quite a few of them. Besides the obvious micro-USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack, this space also holds the microSD card slot, and interestingly enough, an HDMI connector. For some reason, they made the decision to use an intermediate size of HDMI port, neither the full size you see on TVs nor the miniature size used on some smartphones. You'll need a different size of cable than usual. But you can still hook it up to an HDTV if you feel like it.
You're just getting started. Page 2 describes the performance of the Hisense Sero 7 Lite.