Medion launches 3G + Wi-Fi tablet for AU$499 in Aldi supermarkets

Renowned for its bang-for-buck laptops German PC maker Medion has launched a 10in Android 3.2 tablet it calls the Lifetab P9514 to be available in Australian Aldi stores from December 17.

It’s exactly what we’d expect from the Medion/Aldi partnership in Australia: a product which offers something the competition doesn’t at this pricepoint. That something is 3G capability in addition to Wi-Fi. Add a generous 32GBs of internal memory and you have the two main selling points of the LifeTab P9514 for its AU$499 price. While there are plenty of tablets available for the same amount or less we couldn’t find any with 3G in the major retailers for under $500 (although occasional retailer sales do see some drop significantly in price). Its closest match in features and looks is the Motorola Xoom whose Wi-Fi + 3G 32GB model is $598 at Harvey Norman and $644 at JB Hi-Fi.

So if you’re a looking for a sub-$500 tablet that will take a phone’s 3G SIM card and keep you connected away from Wi-Fi hotspots (and which offers a big 32GBs of internal storage) then you need to consider the LifeTab. In all other respects the LifeTab is an average 10in Android tablet with the standard Tegra 2 dual core processor and connectivity that includes a microUSB port and a microSD slot (extra storage). HDMI out is provided by an adapter (included in the package) which uses the tablet’s multifunctional connector port and there’s an audio out and of course 3G (HSDPA/HSUPA) and Wi-Fi.

The ports. From left a microSD card slot SIM card slot audio out and microUSB port.

Compared to the market leader the iPad 2 the LifeTab is significantly heftier (see above iPad 2 on top). It weighs 720grams (the iPad Wi-Fi 3G is 613 grams) and is 13.2mm (iPad is 8.8mm). The LifeTab is more a match for the Motorola Xoom which is 730 grams and 12.9mm thick.

The LifeTab’s multi-touch capacitive display has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels which is standard for 10in tablets. We found it perfectly acceptable when it came to colour and viewing angles and its touch sensitivity was good. The sound coming from the stereo speakers was also strong and clear. The front camera is 5 megapixels and the rear 2 megapixels. In a quick comparison with an iPad 2’s abominable .7 megapixel camera the Medion P9514 took the following photo under a cloudy sky. The colours are washed out although the image is clearly of higher resolution than the iPad’s below it.

Shot on the LifeTab’s 5 megapixel camera.

Shot on the iPad 2’s virtually-VGA camera..

On the software side with Android 3.2 (the latest current version of the Android operating system) the LifeTab worked as well as any other Android tablet we’ve tested. A nice touch is a complementary copy of Documents to Go which immediately solves the problem you face on every Android tablet: no native editor of Office documents. Medion also includes its own Media software on the tablet.

In appearance the LifeTab’s design reminds you of a first-generation tablet. It’s chunky and with a wide bezel around the display reminiscent partly of the Motorola Xoom in looks. The LifeTab is definitely not an Android style leader and not in the league of say a Galaxy Tab 10.1 or a Sony Tablet. But with Medion it’s never about look and feel. It’s always about features for the dollar so if you value 3G capability and 32GBs of storage and well as having the commercial version of Documents to Go – all for less than AU$500 – this is a value deal in the classic Medion/Aldi mould.

Will be available in Aldi stores from the 17th of December.