After having stuck mainly to PND devices, MapMyIndia has recently ventured into new territory with Android based navigation tablets, and now has got into phablet territory with the recently launched CarPad 5. The device comes with the usual array of navigation apps, but is also a full fledged Android device and a phone. How well does it wear all these hats is the big question?
The CarPad 5 comes with decent looks for a navigation device with its all-black chassis and a rubbery back along with the side panel making it comfortable to grip. That said, this is not a device that will fit into most hands, as it is definitely on the wider and thicker side. Though the company has tried to give its side panels a curvy shape to make the phablet easier to hold, the stark fact is that those with small hands will struggle to hold this in one hand. The front of the device has a 5.0-inch touch screen that is surrounded by a wide bezel. The lower side of the panel has icons for Back, Menu and Home key indicating soft keys placed on screen. The Back icon, when seen on home screen works for calling and back as well.
The CarPad 5 comes with calling capability and 3G support, giving it an edge over other PNDs. Being a MapMyIndia product, it comes with the company’s mapping and navigation solutions, and is powered by a 1 GHz Samsung processor. The large 5.0-inch display offers a good viewing experience, although its clarity does get affected in sunlight. There is a 3.5mm jack port, SIM slot, charging slot and TF card port given on the top and on the sides are the power on/off, volume rocker and function keys. In addition to the usual accessories, the CarPad 5 comes with a car charger and navigation software loaded in a SDcard. Considering that it is multipurpose, three-in-one device, we were not able to figure out why the device comes sans earphones - incidentally, voice clarity on calls on loudspeaker is not good. Also, as it does not has a front speaker grill, one cannot hold it close to one’s ear like a conventional phone.
Like its predecessor, the CarPad 5 is being introduced with Android v2.3.4, i.e. Gingerbread, which we feel is a little old fashioned considering that a number of new devices in the market come with newer versions of Android. There are a plenty of maps in the device, replete with information and features like voice navigation and 3D interface. Apart from mapping apps, the device comes with pre-installed apps like Zomato.com, Burp, BookMyShow, Cleartrip, and Facebook. The user interface of the device is plain vanilla, with no major tweaks.
In terms of multimedia, the CarPad has a music player for entertainment. The quality of music is impressive on loudspeaker, and is loud enough for you to use it in a car, in case you wish not to use the car’s music player - is that the reason why the device does not come with headphones? Clicking pictures is not an option as the CarPad comes minus a camera, something that phablet users will miss, given the powerful options on other large screen devices. There is, however, a picture gallery in the device for viewing pictures as well as videos. Speaking of videos, the CarPad plays HD videos very well indeed.
Our experience with the CarPad was a blend of the good and bad. While we liked the device as a navigator, it could not compete with other large screen phone/tablet hybrids in terms of tablet and phone functionality. Its performance on the calling front was average. Battery life also could have been a whole lot better it lasts for a fair amount of time as long as you use it for navigation, but get into multi-tasking mode, and you will see it draining rather fast. We must confess being surprised at the fact that the device does not even come with a front facing camera, as it supports 3G.
Priced at Rs 17,990 the CarPad 5 is good for navigation, but does not do enough on the phone and tablet fronts. The Quadrant score of the device is 1114 which is much lower than other devices in the same segment. If you are looking for a tablet with navigation, however, it would do better to go for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 which comes for around Rs 19,250 and has better specs and a new version of Android.