If you've been eyeing the LG G Pad 8.3, your decision just became more difficult. Yesterday Google announced -- and began shipping -- a Google Play edition of the tablet for $350 in the US, which makes it the very first slate to receive the stock Android treatment. What does this mean, exactly? Google Play editions come with Android 4.4 KitKat without any manufacturer or carrier customizations, so it looks precisely the way Google intends it. This can be good or bad, because there are a couple tradeoffs you need to consider: The good news is that these types of devices typically get upgrades to the newest version of Android far earlier than the vast majority of smartphones and tablets, but you also need to give up a few features that were unique to their skinned counterparts.
In the case of the G Pad 8.3, this means you won't be able to enjoy the Knock On (aka, "double-knock") feature, nor will you have Slide Aside or access to a litany of LG's Q-branded functions like QPair, QRemote or QSlide. None of these missing services are crucial to the functionality of the G Pad, although we must admit that we've grown rather fond of Knock On. The camera interface is also quite different, but the only thing that might frustrate you is the lack of manual settings; if you only rely on automatic mode to make the photo magic for you, this likely won't be an issue of concern. Just like we saw on the Z Ultra Google Play edition, the G Pad also doesn't come with the native Android gallery app, as it appears that the Google+ Photos app has taken its place as the default. You'll also have the stock camera UI to deal with, rather than LG's, so you won't be able to make many manual adjustments. Of course, this probably isn't a huge concern for a lot of tablet users who may only use their camera for basic needs.
Aside from software changes, you're not going to see anything different on the outside. The dimensions are all the same as the original model, as are the actual hardware components. It's only available in black (the back strip is fitted with brushed metal, with black plastic ends), but it's offered for the same price as the model we reviewed last month. We've got a bunch of images for you to behold below.