Review: Souq.com’s QTAB tablet

© QTAB.com. Full technical specs are here.

Souq.com launched their QTAB tablet last year. Shaped much like the iPad mini — so much so that a couple of people mistook it for one while it sat on my desk — the QTAB is a barebones Android device that arrives with a couple of hardware quirks.

A closer look of the device and the differences from the standard comparison devices are apparent. For starters, the QTAB has both its hardware buttons at the top — power on the top left, home on the top right. While change is sometimes good, I can’t say this was an easy transition. I often found myself hitting the home button to sleep/wake the device. Similarly the volume buttons are soft touch at the bottom of the screen — something easily forgotten when you want to quickly turn up and down the volume.

Experienced tablet users would be easily annoyed by these changes; however, first time users — and I believe this is where the QTAB is looking to target the market — should just use this as a baseline instead without too much fuss.

The other area where I believe the QTAB has some work to do is boot up. Restarting the device takes some time (and I found myself restarting it fairly often to clear out the wifi connection, for example) — I timed it at 41s during one restart. This is particularly interesting since there didn’t seem to be any bloatware installed on the device. Normally this wouldn’t be a bother; but when the device stayed idle for a few hours, it would refuse to connect to the wifi unless rebooted.

So let’s talk about the market. The official statement is that the QTAB is targeted for the Arab region, and particularly for education. I’m not sure what is special about the QTAB for the market (other than price, but they’re not the only one playing in that range), but I can see the value for education. Souq.com’s backing would mean institutions would be able to setup good warranties compared to some of the other players. The QTAB serves as a basic device that would meet the needs of browsing and reading. There is also a large market in this region for first time, basic tablet users who want to be able to read email, view Facebook and maybe make a Skype call or two — and give them away as gifts to others and kids. From what I’ve seen in that space, if they put the right resources behind it and iron out the quirks, the QTAB should do just fine.

Chirag Desai @Chirag