Hands on: Onkyo Granbeat Hi-Res tablet

A 4K screen with sensational speakers

What is a hands on review?
TODO alt text

Early Verdict

A tablet that kind of makes no sense in terms of the likely cost, the weight and the spec list - but we also love it for that, as it offers lovely sound quality too.

For

  • Great audio
  • DTS:1 support
  • Excellent build quality

Against

  • So heavy
  • 4K screen not that impressive

Sometimes we really rate technology because it fuses high-end spec with a low price, or brings amazing design with a real daily use case. Or, in the case of the Onkyo Granbeat tablet, we just love how insane it is.

This huge, heavy tablet, which pretty much lives on a dock as it’s so unwieldy to hold, offers a 4K display with virtual 7.1 surround sound from four speakers - and the effect is stunning.

We weren’t able to get a huge amount of information on the spec sheet - and crucially, we don’t know the price, but there’s something bonkers about this device that you just can’t help but love.

Design

The buttons on the side are small and hard to hit, but there is an expandable memory slot just below for more content.

The buttons on the side are small and hard to hit, but there is an expandable memory slot just below for more content.

The build quality on the Onkyo Granbeat tablet is amazing - it feels machined from a single lump of metal and is both smooth and angular.

The thing that you’ll notice when you pick it up: this thing is heavy. You won’t be able to hold it in one hand, or two hands for long if you want to be comfortable.

There are two sizes of headphone jack for those who really like to take sound quality to the next level

There are two sizes of headphone jack for those who really like to take sound quality to the next level

But clip it into the dock, with the pinned connector at the bottom, and you’ll not really need to hold it, as the best effect from the sound comes from holding it in this orientation.

The build quality throughout is the most impressive in the attention to detail, whether that’s the spinning volume controlled, the copper around the edge of the 2.5mm or 3.5mm headphone jacks or just the robust nature of the speakers.

It doesn’t look elegant, but the Granbeat is all about raw power, and this thing feels more muscle-car than sleek sports model.

Screen

Bright enough, but not amazing

Bright enough, but not amazing

The 4K screen on the Onkyo Granbeat tablet is, well, fine. Watching native 4K content on it was sharp, and you got a clear sense that you were looking at UHD footage, but it didn’t blow us away.

The 12.5-inch screen is clear and bright enough, using LCD technology to emit the images. However, the claims of clear and vivid colors are only partly true… again, just fine, but nothing mind-blowing.

The iPad Pro certainly offers better color reproduction despite being lower-res… but the Onkyo takes it up a notch with the sound quality.

Audio

The volume switch is not only nice to spin, but also offers access to incredibly loud sounds

The volume switch is not only nice to spin, but also offers access to incredibly loud sounds

Let’s get into the sound quality - it’s immense. There are four separate speakers, two each side, using the new DTS:1 premium audio standard, if the footage you’re looking at uses it.

The richness of the sound, whether that’s from the speakers or through the ‘balanced’ 2.5mm headphone jack, is so immersive… we really enjoyed listening to it.

There are two sets of twin DACs onboard, and of course it supports Hi-Res audio. We’re not sure whether there’s an audiofile tablet-buying public out there, but this tablet is for them.

Battery

The dock doesn't look like much, but is built like a steel fortress to keep this thing upright.

The dock doesn't look like much, but is built like a steel fortress to keep this thing upright.

We haven’t been told how big the battery is on this tablet, but - to a degree - it’s kind of irrelevant because we’d never see at time where you’d take this thing off the dock.

As mentioned, it’s so heavy that it’s impossible to hold this for any length of time without possibly tearing most of your arm muscles, so you’ll need to keep it on the dock to keep it at the right angle… and if that’s the case, you’ll probably keep it near a power pack.

The pins that connect the tablet to the dock

The pins that connect the tablet to the dock

We’re chasing down the specs now - we’ll update this article when we hear back.

Early verdict

A curious, but attractive, volume interface

A curious, but attractive, volume interface

We’re still not sure on a lot of things about this tablet: in fact, all we know really on the spec side is the screen size and resolution and that it’s running a native and simplistic version of Android 8.

It’s not a portable device, that’s for sure, but the Onkyo Granbeat tablet is something that you’ll love listening to things on.

As mentioned, we’re not sure who this is aimed at, nor whether anyone will really be able to afford it, but we love how crazy the idea is.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone. 

 

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.