Flush from its success with the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, LG now has its sights set on claiming a portion of the tablet arena with the LG G Pad 8.3.

It's rocking the same Snapdragon 600 chipset as the Nexus 7 but comes with a slightly larger display and a price point which is almost comparable.

This is one of the most promising small-scale Android slates of 2014, then, but can it really topple Google and Asus's market-leading device?

Design & Features

While the £200 price point might suggest that LG has budget aspirations for the G Pad 8.3, it certainly doesn't feel like a low-rent product. The brushed metal back gives the tablet a solid feel, while the rounded plastic edges ensure it's comfortable to hold and use.

From the front, it possesses more than a passing resemblance to the LG G2 phone, with that 8.3-inch 1200 x 1920 pixel IPS LCD screen catching your eye almost instantly.

Although it has the same resolution as the 2013 Nexus 7, the slightly larger screen size makes more of a difference than you might think. It also helps that the screen has excellent viewing angles and great colour replication, although it's worth noting that it's hard to view in direct sunlight.

While the G Pad 8.3 and Nexus 7 share many similarities - the Snapdragon 600 chipset being one - it has a distinct advantage: a MicroSD card slot. Google's tablet lacks this feature, and users are therefore restricted to the default amount of memory. LG has given customers the chance to bolster the amount of memory with cheap MicroSD cards, which will be excellent news for those of you which are keen on consuming as much media as possible.

In terms of software, LG has equipped the G Pad 8.3 with Android 4.2.2, which means it's not quite on the cutting edge.

The lack of the latest version of Google's OS is mitigated by some genuinely useful bespoke features, which come as part of LG's custom user interface skin.

For example, you can wake - or sleep - the device simply by double-tapping the screen with your finger. QPair is another cool element that allows you to funnel notifications from your mobile to the tablet itself, thereby avoiding the need to constantly remove your phone from your pocket.

There are other less essential features, of course - just like Samsung, LG hasn't been able to get the whole "smart screen" functionality (where the front-facing camera is used to tell when you're looking at the tablet) to work convincingly - but on the whole, this is one custom UI which we actually miss when we move back to our regular Android handset.

Gaming & Performance

The Snapdragon 600 chipset is the same one found inside the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, and while it offers decent horsepower, it has been outpaced recently by the Snapdragon 800.

Obviously putting the new variant in the G Pad 8.3 would have forced the price up, but there are moments when the tablet seems to struggle; the occasional stutter here, a little bit of interface lag there. On the whole the experience is generally a smooth and responsive one, but Android's penchant for doing a whole host of activities in the background can lead to frustrating pauses.

As a gaming platform, the G Pad 8.3 is just as successful as the Nexus 7 - if not slightly more so, thanks to the larger screen and big, spacey bezels at each end.

Testing the latest 3D Android games on the device reveals a capable platform; detailed titles like Ridge Racer Slipstream and Dead Trigger 2 perform respectably, but there are moments when the frame rate fluctuates wildly in some of the more demanding games.

Camera

When Google and Asus decided to leave the rear-facing camera off the design for the original Nexus 7, it seemed like common sense had prevailed - taking a photo with a tablet only makes you look silly, after all.

However, this move was reversed with the 2013 version of the device, and LG has followed suit by equipping the G Pad 8.3 with a 5 megapixel snapper on its back to compliment the 1.3 megapixel front-facer.

Photo quality is fine, although outdoor shots do suffer from overexposure. There's also no LED flash, so don't expect to take many indoor images in low light.

Overall

While it can sometimes feel a little underpowered, the LG G Pad 8.3 manages to combine classy looks, a great screen, smart software features and expandable storage - all for an impressively low price.

If you're in the market for a new tablet, then this is a viable alternative to the Nexus 7 thanks to its larger screen and MicroSD card slot. It all depends on how tied you are to having "stock" Android - while LG does offer a "Google Play" edition G Pad 8.3, that variant of the hardware doesn't allow full access to the MicroSD card - you can only read from the card, and not write to it.

It's therefore about compromises, and many will feel that it's worth taking LG's vision of Android over Google's to get those bespoke features and true expandable storage.

Thanks to GearZap for supplying the unit used in this review.