Tablets are everywhere these days. Apple iPads, Microsoft Surfaces and Android-based everything. Sometimes it’s tough to tell which direction you should go when choosing one. The elegance of an iPad or a Surface comes with a cost, and certain limitations, though you give up the solid structure of the app environment when you go the Android-based route.
In the Apple iPad world, you get beauty, dependability, but restrictiveness when it comes to finding particular application needs. Having to depend on the Apple Store to decide on what is good/bad software can be a blessing and hindrance some days. Mostly a hindrance, as my IT side is hungry for unique application experiences (as well as open ones).
On the Microsoft Surface side of the equation, you get the flexibility of nearly having a tablet/laptop with USB capabilities (true capabilities, like hooking up an external hard drive when you need to email something off), as well as the familiarity of a Windows-based operating system. The downside? Not a lot of people like to make Windows-based applications for said tablet and it’s just as expensive as the iPad. Side note, just bought the Microsoft Lumina 950, so I know what I’m getting into with these things.
Android-based tablets are a mixed bag. The operating system is the most popular out of the trio mainly because it can fit on inexpensive devices. It offers up a variety of different apps to choose from when you’re trying to search for something, meaning you can pretty much find whatever you are looking for at low or no cost. The downside is that you can get some bad software once in a while that could gum up your device, though the chances of that are pretty small (this isn’t a Windows machine). Tablets range from the very expensive Samsung Tab ($399+) line to the enormously software exclusive Kindle from Amazon ($149+) and all the way down to a variety of other off-brand tablets. The difference with the Android-based tablets is that the hardware can be bulky or skimpy, but generally the OS still works smoothly (with some obvious limitations).
Anyway, why am I breaking down common knowledge to you? Well, RCA has just brought out an inexpensive Android-based tablet that does everything you want it to do at a cost that is absolutely phenomenal. The RCA 7” Mercury Pro (RCT6673W-V1KC) may not be as sexy as the iPad or Surface, or even a Samsung Tab, but for the price you pay, it delivers a helluva punch via an Android-based OS. I thought you should know about it.
Let’s get right into it, people.
The design for the RCA 7 Mercury Pro isn’t as sexy as other tablets might be. It’s all black, it comes with a keyboard (although, you don’t have to use it) and it’s a bit thick around the hips. It resembles a second generation Kindle Fire, but with cameras. If you’re looking for style and iPad/Surface like design, you probably won’t find it here with the RCA tablet.
Having said that, the design is unimportant to the functionality.
Having a true keyboard attached to a tablet is incredibly invaluable (you don’t know it yet, but it is). Typing in movie names, email addresses or whatever you want on an actual keyboard with springy, flat keys is so nice. It’s so much better than the crappy flat, rubber keyboards or the god-awful virtual keyboard in Android. Again, it may not be stylish when you look at it, but it’s an absolute blessing. It also helps that it is durable, even for a heavy-fingered typer like yours truly (I was raised on an IBM typewriter, please excuse my pushes).
A secondary usage for the keyboard attachment is that it actually helps to balance the tablet upright, much like a laptop would do it. As I am typing this and watching Silicon Valley on VUDU, I’m enjoying the luxury of only having to fold the tablet up, like a laptop, rather than having to depend on an unsteady, wears-down-over-time triangular stand solution. When I am done with this review, I will just fold the sucker down and be on my way. Again, not pretty, but practical and useful.
Speaking of functionality, let’s talk about what this sucker is made of underneath the glass.
So, what’s under the hood of this puppy? Here’s what you’re looking at:
– Android 5.0 Lollipop
– 1.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor
– 1 GB DDR
– 8GB of Flash Memory (added an additional 32gb via Micro SD)
– 1024 x 600
– 1 MP Front/ 2MP Rear Cam
– Bluetooth 4.0
It’s not overly impressive on the stat sheets in comparison to the higher end tablets on the market right now. It’s not going to blow the Samsung or ASUS lines out of the water, but overall it works fine with the OS. The system doesn’t have much, if any, slowdown to it, especially when playing video, which makes me happy. I have run Hulu, Netflix, Vudu and Google Play, as well as a few others, on the Mercury just to see how the video quality held up with a few other apps open (mail, Neko Atsume (don’t judge me)), as kept track of the wireless signal, which held fast even with the casing on it. All of it pulls through with flying colors. The obvious caveat here is that the resolution is low, so you’re not going to get that retina or UHD quality look to it.
BUT! That doesn’t matter at all for the price you’re going to pay for this puppy. So, let’s get right into the price point.
The value for this tablet is ungodly nice. With a $79.99 price point you’re getting quite a bit of bang for your buck. The tablet is pretty sturdy, as I have let my children play around with it for the last week (they have broken two iPads and a Surface, so trust me, it’s a stress test), as well as expendable because of the price (they’re destined to break it — it’s in their nature). The keyboard is a great addition, as it adds some solid functionality to typing on the Internet, email or whatever, though I know it hurts the design value of the typical tablet a bit.
I know there are some tablet snobs out there, but honestly speaking this $79.99 RCA 7 Mercury Pro does what it is advertised to do and it does it well. Like I have stated over and over in this review, it’s not luxurious like an iPad or Surface, but it checks email, types out papers, displays movies and entertains on the go. What more could you want from your tablet? For those single folks out there, you will probably complain about the design, quality and speed. For us parents, this truly is a godsend and a great option for the household. It puts less grey hairs on my head knowing that the good RCA tablet is only $79.99 and affordably replaceable, if need be.