Tablets seem to be more of a commodity product than the revolutionary product they were a decade ago. Indeed, it seems that everyone has a branded tablet and the company that owns the RCA name now also has a tablet: The RCA Voyager III. This tablet is powered by a quad core processor with a 1024 by 600 pixel display (IPS…boo) and runs Android 8.1. Oh, it’s $49.95 from Wal-Mart. As of this writing, it was being sold as an impulse item in the ‘back to school’ section near the front of the store. It’s bargain bin price reflects it bargain bin quality and performance.
The device has 16gb for storage, but is upgradable via MicroSD. When installed, the SD card can either be formatted and made ‘internal’ to the device, which means no other device can read its contents OR you can use it as a separate storage for your own media. That’s how I am using the 2 gb card I put in it.
Even though it is a fifty dollar tablet, it does have some things to like. For example, out of the box setup was quick and easy. As it runs Android 8.1 AND has the full Google suite, it has Google Play and, thus, a ton of software. As with my phones, the first thing I did was install Launcher 10 to add a more sensible shell in the guise of Windows Mobile 10. Gotta have my tiles.
The tablet’s screen is responsive, touch wise. Any lags are due to the slowness of the processor, I think.
Now, speaking of the screen, this leads me into what is not good about the device.
The screen is, simply put, awful. It is fuzzy, low res and muted.
Performance is also mediocre. Tapping an icon to start an app results in a few second delay followed by the app actually staring, if it can.
The feel of the device is, well, cheap. It is all plastic. At least Kindles have a more ‘premium’ feel, well, compared to this, anyway.
The cameras are terrible.
Sound is tinny as hell.
Did I mention the cameras?
Battery life seems a tad lower than the advertised time of 6 hours. It’s probably more like 4 to 5 with real world use.
And, perhaps, the worst thing of all: a proprietary power adapter. RCA eschewed the USB charging scheme for a small mini plug, like you would have found 15 years ago. UGH.
Now, in summary, don’t get me wrong: the tablet is not a great product on it’s own: you must keep in mind that it is cheap and, as such, does not make use of new tech or high quality parts. BUT, keeping that cheapness in mind, it’s not a bad buy. If you are out and about and need something a bit bigger than your phone, and you do not care about quality, this tablet won’t let you down. It is adequate for light web surfing, listening to a podcast, simple games and checking that credit card balance. An Amazon Fire 7 may be a better buy, for the same price. On second thought, the Fire 7 probably should be your first choice. IF you cannot pick up a Fire 7 AND you have an immediate need for a crappy tablet, this thing is probably a good bet. Perhaps.
UPDATE! – March, 2020
I am surprised and please to share that RCA has sent several over the air updates to firmware AND Android. I am not yet sure about the updates, but, the tablet does seem a bit more responsive and stable. Stay tuned, I will update with more.