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Leader Impression 10 Tablet Review

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Leader Impression 10 Tablet Full Review

It's easy to write off tablets when they're not from big name brands like Samsung, HTC, Asus, or Apple. After all, the popularity of tablets have caused budget versions of the devices to come out of the woodwork from numerous third party and low-profile brands, most of which are of dubious quality at best. But this isn't the case with one of the most recent budget tablets I came across, the Impression 10 tablet from Leader.

Leader Impression Tablet

Leader may be an unknown brand, but their product is a remarkably solid device despite their apparent lack of experience in the market. Sporting some surprising features like full-sized USB ports, the Impression 10 is a nicely built, relatively quality piece of technology that easily reigns supreme over the rest of the budget tablets that are currently on the market.

But therein lies the rub: its price tag is not exactly as "budget" as it should be. When choosing devices such as the Impression 10 over bigger names like the Galaxy Tab or the iPad, one of the primary reasons to do so is because of the price tag. After all, it makes sense; with bigger names comes a bigger price tag. But this isn't the case with the Impression 10, and the appeal of the device is somewhat diminished by the fact that it goes for $349.99 MSRP. Is the Impression 10 worth the extra cash? Does it have the same quality as a tablet from a big name brand?


The first thing you need to know about the Impression 10 is that it is a very, very heavy device. Weighing in at 1 pound, 12 ounces and built like a brick house, the Impression 10 is generally uncomfortable to hold up with one hand for extended periods of time. It's also quite thick, measuring almost half an inch in thickness, but at least it has generous amounts of real estate in terms of the screen. Though its build is far bulkier, the Impression 10 sports the same screen size as the iPad at 9.7 inches.

However, its heftiness exists because of quality construction. Its build feels solid and reliable, and the tablet even has a nice brushed aluminum back (although it is prone to smudges and is adorned with a gigantic Android logo).

The power/standby button is located on the top edge of the device, as are the two speakers. The only other buttons are on the right side, which include the volume up/down buttons, as well as a dedicated camera button.

The bottom of the Impression 10 tablet is crammed full of ports, ranging from the standard to slightly more out of the ordinary. For instance, there is a mini USB port, as well as DC in and headphone jacks. But more surprising are the two full-sized USB ports, allowing you to plug in USB keys for added storage and even peripherals, which I thought was incredibly impressive for an off-brand tablet (though, admittedly, mice and keyboards don't blend very well with the touch-based interface of Android). The bottom edge also features a mini HDMI out and a microSD slot, but it's exposed and somewhat prone to jams; I find this design to be a little odd, since the common practice is usually to put it behind a door of some kind. The Impression 10's built-in microphone is found down here, as well.

Leader Impression 10 Tablet Specs

Android Froyo (2.2)
9.7-inch widescreen (1024 x 768) capacitive touchscreen
Samsung A8 S5PC110, 1 GHz
Included 4 GB microSD card, slot expandable up to 32GB
Front-facing 2-megapixel camera
Built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi antenna
3.5 mm audio jack
USB mini, USB 2.0 x 2, and mini HDMI ports
7,000 mAh battery
9.64 x 7.55 x 0.47 inches
Price at launch: $349.99

Screen and Speakers
As mentioned, the Impression 10 has a comfortably large, 9.7-inch screen, but in terms of sharpness, it's very much average. The display is not particularly crisp and with a mediocre resolution of 1024 x 768, it really shows; it's not terrible, but it's not great either.

The Impression 10 has a capacitive touchscreen, which gives it far more responsiveness than much of its similar, budget-priced competition (the Next series of tablets from E FUN keeps sticking with resistive for some reason unbeknownst to me), so that was a bit of a relief to discover. Still, it isn't always as responsive as I would like it to be, as I occasionally found myself having to tap or swipe multiple times to get some of my commands to register.

The speakers are of good quality and, yes, the fact that there are two of them makes for a more powerful maximum volume. But the fact that those two speakers are directly next to each other on the top edge (or left edge, depending on which way you're holding the tablet) kind of negates any sort of stereo effect that otherwise would have been achieved.


As is often the case with budget Android tablets such as the Impression 10, the operating system found on this device is a bit dated and that's always a let-down. The Impression 10 unfortunately runs Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) and not 3.0 (Honeycomb, the OS design specifically for tablets), but it has been lightly skinned by Leader. Having used Honeycomb and knowing how much better it is given how tailored it is for these devices, I found myself missing it greatly. I was, however, rather impressed by the fact that it sported live wallpaper, which I thought was a nice touch and a bit of a rarity.

Leader Impression Tablet
Our standard benchmark for tablets is Quadrant, and the Impression 10's marks ranked relatively low compared to the competition. I ran Quadrant four times, and the average rating was 832 marks -- with the high and low hitting 844 and 801 -- which put the Impression 10 below nearly all big name devices, many of which were smartphones (including the Nexus One with Android 2.2, Motorola Droid X, and the Samsung Galaxy S).

The Impression 10 is equipped with the standard Android browser, which performs just as well as it does on other Android tablets, budget or otherwise—in terms of speed, features (like Flash support), and comfort of use. To give a more specific idea of browser performance, though, we use Sunspider, a benchmark program that measures Javascript rendering times, and in this area the Impression 10 came up quite short.

Averaged Sunspider results over two runs brought in a time of 7771.1 ms, our worst time to date by a country mile (the next worst was the HTC EVO View 4G, which brought in Sunspider times of roughly 3800 ms). To be fair, the browsing performance of the Impression 10 in reality did not feel drastically slower than the average Android tablet browser. But for those of you who are concerned with the hard numbers, the Impression 10's browser did not score very well.

There's nothing new in this department, as this is the same touchscreen keyboard that you'll find on any other Android tablet (save for the choice few that have UIs/skins that drastically change them or add features like Swype). There is no haptic feedback feature, but assuming you like the stock Android keyboard -- relatively speaking of course, as nobody actually likes touchscreen keyboards -- then you shouldn't have a problem with this one.

The battery was actually very good, lasting me about 6 to 7 hours with light to medium usage. That was with the screen brightness at a medium setting and occasional internet usage (maybe about an hour, including downloads from the app store), so slightly heavier usage could shorten the lifetime a bit. The only issues were that, when it was off, it seemed to drain a little faster than most of the tablets that I've used in the past, and recharge times were pretty lengthy.

Regardless, for a budget tablet I found the Impression 10's battery life to be especially impressive, especially considering the fact that it sports a 7,000 mAh battery, the same as the recently-released (and high-profile) Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Connectivity was a little spotty with the Impression 10. It does not have any sort of data connection, so it relies on Wi-Fi for internet access. The only problem was that whenever I was in an area with multiple networks available, it couldn't seem to make up its mind as to which one it wanted to connect to. It was very bizarre to see the tablet -- completely on its own accord -- switch from network to network without any sort of provocation. I found this especially odd because the Wi-Fi connection is maintained, obviously, by the Android OS, and yet I've never had this problem with any other Android tablet. It made it difficult to maintain a consistent connection.

On the occasions that I could get the radio to settle down (it helped to tell it to forget connection settings to all but one network) connection speeds were fine. And if I was ever in an area where I would only pick up one network connection, then it would reliably connect and stay connected without any issues.

Oddly enough, the Impression 10 only has one camera, and it's a front-facing camera. I feel like this is kind of an unorthodox choice in that if a device only has one camera, it's usually rear-facing, but I welcome this design and think it makes sense to an extent. The fact of the matter is that few people plan on using their tablets to take pictures, and tablets generally are not equipped with good enough cameras to rival the quality of even a point-and-shoot anyway. So if you're only going to have one camera, might as well make it the one that allows you to video chat, a far more common and sensical use of your tablet.

You can use the camera to take stills and video, though I'm not quite sure why you would. Other than self-portraits or a video diary of some sort, I really can't think of many reasons why you would use a front-facing camera to take photos and video. Besides, they're not very good quality; pictures are a fuzzy 2.1 megapixel resolution, colors are weak, and the camera tends to struggle in low-light situations. As I said, you're best off just using it for video chatting (if you can find a program that enables it on the Leader 10, that is) and leaving it at that.

Given that this is a third-party, budget Android tablet, it comes as no surprise that the Impression 10 does not have access to the Android Market. It's disappointing, but to be expected. Instead, it has access to the SlideME marketplace, which obviously has a smaller (and lower quality) selection than the real deal, but it at least provides some selection content to choose from. Still, side-loading apps from the web on your computer is still an option by using the removable media, be it the microSD card or the USB slots. The Impression 10 also comes equipped with an APK Installer app, so the tablet is ready for installing .apk files right out of the box.

It also goes without saying that, since the Impression 10 does not run Android OS 3.0, some of the latest and greatest apps for Android tablets -- many of which are designed only for Honeycomb -- are completely removed from the equation.

In terms of what comes pre-loaded on the Impression 10, it's a pretty threadbare scene. Though I generally find this preferable to having the device loaded down with mostly crapware and only one or two decent apps straight out of the box, the fact that SlideME doesn't have the widest selection of apps makes me wish there was a little more preloaded content here. And it's all standard fare, really; besides the usual trifecta of browser/media player/email apps, there are also file manager, MSN Messenger, Kobo Reader, and YouTube apps. The Amazon Appstore for Android, arguably the best third-party app market, failed to install on the Impression 10.


Leader Impression Tablet
The Impression 10 is far and away the best Android tablet that we've seen of its kind; in other words, the best off-brand tablet from, as it stands now, a virtually unknown company. When dealing with tablets that come from makers other than any of the big names like Samsung, Apple, HTC, etc., it's usually expected that the quality of the device will be poor and the hardware unsatisfactory, but this is not the case with the Impression 10. While it definitely is not the most impressive tablet on the market -- both in terms of hardware and performance -- it definitely is not as much of a throwaway as many of the other cheap tablets we've come across.

The only problem is, while the Impression 10 eschews all preconceived notions about off-brand tablets, that includes the assumption that it will sport a low price tag. At $349.99, the Impression 10 is asking just a little too much for what it is; for example, for that price, you can snag a WiFi-only Samsung Galaxy Tab, a higher-quality device from a better-known name. If the Impression 10 could shave off $100 or so from its price-tag, it would be a no-brainer alternative to the more expensive, high-profile devices. But given the slightly dated OS (tablet users really shouldn't be missing out on Honeycomb), the less-than-elegant design, lack of Android Market support, and mediocre specs (especially compared to the dual-core tablets that are now available), the Impression 10 seems to lose sight of what it is, or rather, what it should be: an affordable alternative to the heavy hitters.


Good build quality
Decent battery
Great task manager app


Wi-Fi connection unstable at times
No Honeycomb
No access to Android Market

Android-based 9.7-inch Impression 10 Tablet from Leader International 

Leader International’s Impression 10 Tablet 
New Impression 10 Tablet Review


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Patrick Haggood said...

Good review, however from reading around the web and trying it myself with a 32Gb card it appears only cards up to 16Gb are supported. Also, the one I purchased two days ago at Sears has Gingerbread (2.3.1) installed. I like the USB slots but was unable to get it to recognized the thumbdrive I keep on my keychain; will try a few other models later. Mine also came with a case that doubles as a stand. I've installed Amazon's Android market and have added a few pay and free apps - so far they all work except apps for video-on-demand from Netflix and CrunchyRoll so I'm still looking for options there.

So far, I think this was a good value for the price ($229 at Sears) and I expect the VOD options will improve with updates.

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