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Unfortunately, I've found most large form-factor Android tablets to be bulky and cumbersome. So, it's refreshing to find something at last that's sleek, pleasantly designed, and a pleasure to hold -- even for extended periods.
Here's the first thing I noticed about this tablet: How thin and light it feels in the hand.
At 0.3-inch/7.9mm thin and weighing 1.4lb/632g, this device is a bit thicker and slightly lighter than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but for a budget Android tablet, it's a breath of fresh air to not be holding a tablet that feels like it's made of concrete.
Sure, I'd have this tablet in a case to protect it from accidents due to carelessness and gravity, making it just as bulky as my iPad Pro, but it's nice to see a thin-and-light Android tablet.
It's also a beautiful tablet, sleek and smooth, with the glass and metal flowing into each other to create something that's both stunning to look at and practical to use. The Space Grey finish on my Tab 18 was flawless, and did a good job of resisting scratches, wear, and even fingerprints.
Speaking of fingerprints, the Tab 18 features both a fingerprint reader and face recognition biometrics, giving you options for ease of logging into the tablet.
The 12-inch display is also a breath of fresh air. It's big enough to get real work done. It's sharp enough to make extended reading or video viewing sessions comfortable. And it's bright enough to be viewable under a broad range of conditions. The touch is nice and responsive, leading to a very natural feel. The TÜV-certified low-blue-light rating is a nice touch for those who are concerned that these wavelengths are disturbing their sleep patterns.
And then there are those quad Harman Kardon surround sound speakers, which create an immersive soundscape, taking you out of the world around you and dropping you into whatever game or movie -- or business meeting -- you're listening to. I'm no audiophile -- I grew up on poor quality blown-out speakers and headphones with that sweaty sponge -- but to my ears the sound output from this tablet was fantastic no matter whether I was watching Netflix, playing a game, listening to my burgeoning backlog of audiobooks from Audible, or on a voice call.
The 8,000mAh battery is good for approximately 10 hours of web browsing and general tasks like email and editing documents, with gaming and watching videos shaving an hour or so off of this runtime, which is not bad at all. This is truly great real-world runtime from a budget 12-inch tablet.
Combining the big battery with the 33W fast charging capability that can take the battery from zero to 50% in about an hour, I didn't find myself suffering from battery anxiety at all. I've seen much worse performance from hardware that's much pricier than this.
As for thermal management, I'd fully expected this tablet to get warm and toasty under heavy load, and while it did get warm when the going got tough, the thermal conductivity system that Blackview has built into this system, featuring over 18.6 square inches/12,000mm of heat dissipation area, resulted in a cool user experience during which I never saw the tablet exceed 104°F/40°C.
There's nothing more disquieting than trying to use a tablet that slowly goes from warm to warmer to "yikes, is this thing going to burn me?" I pushed the Tab 18 as hard as I could for extended periods, and at no point did it get to a point where I felt that it was getting hot.
If you leave your expectations of a blow-your-hair-back, top-level performing tablet at the door, then you're not going to be disappointed with the Blackview. The octa-core processor and 12 gigabytes of built-in RAM offer a slick user experience.
The cameras on this unit are acceptable at best, good compared to even the best cameras from a few years ago but falling short of all the computational wizardry that higher-end devices perform on photos. At the extreme ends of photography -- low light or full-sun daylight – the cameras struggle. But for normal captures in normal conditions, they're perfect for those wanting to trawl for likes on social media, and also for capturing photos for reports and other work or school-related activities.
Again, remember the price here. $219. Not that long ago you couldn't have dreamt of a 12-inch tablet for anything close to this price. Now you're getting such a tablet with a powerful processor, loads of RAM, bags of storage, and decent cameras for $60 more than Apple charges for a 3-meter Thunderbolt 4 cable.
ZDNET's buying advice
The Blackview Tab 18 is a great tablet, ideal for work, school, or if you want a tablet for the living room or workshop. I've put this device through its paces and I have no complaints. The price makes this an unmissable deal as long as you're willing to forgo an Apple or Samsung logo emblazoned on the back. Ultimately, if you want more power and performance -- power and performance that most users never really utilize -- then you will have to dig deeper and pay more. If you want a tablet and not an ego booster, the Tab 18 is well worth a look.