The G Pad doesn't capture shots in 16:9, instead giving users two 4:3 aspect options: 5MP at 2,560 x 1,920 resolution, and 1MP at 1,280 x 960. Additionally, you can go with W4MP at 2,560 x 1,600 for 8:5 shots. For the purposes of the review, I stuck to the 4MP setting, which is what the G Pad is set to by default. Images taken in this mode are of serviceable quality and color reproduction is, for the most part, balanced. Yet, there's an overarching softness to every shot; nothing appears in clear detail and there's a noticeable fuzziness to most objects in the frame. The G Pad was, however, far more successful with macro shots.
Video recorded at 1080p with the G Pad fared far better than still shots. Despite the high level of ambient noise at the time of recording, the device managed to capture the sound of my voice quite clearly, while reducing the background sounds of construction and traffic. Frame rate holds up well (it's set to 30 fps max); though you'll want to enable image stabilization from within the camera settings (a feature we've become accustomed to in newer smartphones) to reduce shakiness in playback.
If you're in the market for the best Android tablet money can buy on a budget, the G Pad is not going to satisfy your demands. At $350, it's priced higher than Google's new Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX (7-inch) -- both of which sport 1,920 x 1,200 displays, come with 16GB of built-in storage and are priced at $230. Where Amazon's slate leaps ahead of the competition is with its Snapdragon 800 SoC, a vast leap in raw power over the Snapdragon 600 in the G Pad and S4 Pro in Google's 7-inch tab. Only the Galaxy Note 8 outstrips the G Pad, with a $399 sticker that nets users a comparatively lower 1,280 x 800 resolution and Exynos 4 Quad processor.
There's also a higher-end, 8.9-inch version of the Kindle Fire HDX that has a 2,560 x 1,600 display, Snapdragon 800 processor and an 8-megapixel rear 8MP camera. That's not available yet (it's just up for pre-order right now), but it will sell for $380. So, it's more expensive than the LG G Pad 8.3, but potentially offers better performance for just $30 more (we'll have more to say about that in our full review). Barring that, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX is the clear choice for a low-price, high-quality tablet. But its OS is a fork on Android, so if you want to live in Google's world, you'll have to stick with other OEMs.
Outside of Android, there's always iOS. If you're on something of a budget, Apple's last-gen 7.9-inch iPad mini (16GB WiFi only) can be had for $299. Its display, at 1,024 x 768, doesn't pack the same amount of pixels as the G Pad and it runs on Apple's dual-core A5 chip, but for the price, you're gaining access to the company's highly curated App Store. Of course, users looking for the latest and greatest from Apple can now opt for the recently announced iPad mini with Retina display. At $399 for the base 16GB WiFi model, users are getting the same 7.9-inch form factor with a 2,048 x 1,536 display and Apple's new A7 chip (the same as in the iPhone 5s), making it a strong rival to the G Pad.
LG's G Pad is a nice surprise. For a company that's only ever tried to make its mark in the US with smartphones, this 8.3-inch tablet is a welcome change of pace and a solid Android option, to boot. Yes, it has its shortcomings: There's the herky-jerky responsiveness and LG's overbearing software add-ons. But those dings don't conspire to make the G Pad a bad purchase. Its battery life is up to snuff with its main competition and its full HD display should serve users well with high-quality video streaming, crisp photos and sharp text. The G Pad's also excellently designed, so it's not only pleasing to look at, but also pleasing to hold.
If only LG had knocked the G Pad's price down by $100 so it could better compete with other smaller-screened tablets. Amazon's lower-end Kindle Fire HDX is just $230, for instance, and it manages to offer bleeding-edge specs even at that low price. Meanwhile, the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX costs $30 more, but offers a faster processor and sharper display. But that's assuming Amazon's forked version of Android (known as Fire OS) is something you want in the first place. If it's regular Android you're after, the LG Pad 8.3 is a solid pick. Even then, the the new Nexus 7 is a better deal as far as smaller Android tablets go. And again, had LG made the G Pad with a Snapdragon 800, perhaps allowing for smoother performance, I'd have less of an issue with its price. In fact, this would be a top pick. But when you can get more for less from other tablets, the G Pad is merely a good buy for the 7- to 8-inch tablet category, not the best one.
Edgar Alvarez contributed to this review.