RCA Voyager III Review: Low on Price and Performance

by Reads (4,368)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 6
      • Performance
      • 4
      • Features
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 5.33
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Inexpensive
    • Nice screen
    • Loud Speaker
  • Cons

    • Pokey performance
    • Marginal battery life
    • Mediocre camera

The market for small, very affordable Android tablets remains robust. One of the newest models is the RCA Voyager III, a 7-inch tablet that costs less than $50.

We put this budget computer through a gauntlet of tests to see whether it’s worth your money. Read on to find out our results.

Voyager III Build & Design

In addition to their low prices, a primary advantage of 7-inch tablets is they are extremely portable. The RCA model is just 7.25 by 4.45 by 0.35 inches, so it rides very easily in a back pocket.

But don’t sit on it! Phones only survive being sat on in people’s back pockets because they have expensive protection built into their screens built in. Budget devices like this one don’t. And the casing is all plastic, so some kind of protective case is probably a good idea.

At 0.6 lbs., the Voyager III is light enough to make it easy to hold for long periods, like when reading an ebook or playing a game. When held, this tablet feels lightweight but a bit thick, given its other dimensions. The curved edges and corners make it comfortable to hold.

The general appearance is generic. It’s essentially a black plastic rectangle with the RCA logo on the back. While this design won’t turn any heads, neither will it look out of place wherever it goes.

Voyager III Display

The 7-inch screen in this tablet has a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels.  That works out to 169 pixels per inch, which is a good enough pixel density for a light-duty device. Text doesn’t appear jagged, and images look decent.

The screen is bright enough to be used out of doors, but not in direct sunlight. Colors are vivid, not muddy like the displays of cheap tablets used to have. While RCA’s device doesn’t offer an amazing viewing experience, it does have a good one.

The sole drawback is that the screen is very reflective, so users have to ignore a ghost of their face in the background.

The 7-inch display makes this a useful companion device for a smartphone. The phone is there for texting or email, while the larger tablet screen is a better option for video, games, and ebooks.

Ports, Buttons, Camera, and Speakers

The Voyager III has 16 GB of built-in storage, so its microSD card slot is an important feature. It allows users to add up to 128GB of additional capacity, and Android can make this function like it’s built-in storage. Even a $5.99 16GB card would significantly improve this computer.

An unusual — and welcome — feature is a tiny DC 5V port, allowing this device to be recharged without taking up the valuable micro-USB port.

Speaking of which, that micro-USB port serves multiple functions, beyond being another option for charging up the battery. It can also be used for external storage, as it can access the contents of flash drives that have a micro-USB connector.  Those who really want to push the capabilities of the Voyager III should invest in a micro-USB to USB-A adapter, which will allow keyboards and mice to be plugged in. We successfully tested this computer with a USB mouse, keyboard, and standard-size flash drive. USB hubs can be used as well.

The Volume Rocker on the top edge is smaller than ideal, but both it and the nearby Power Button are otherwise easy to use. All other navigation buttons are virtual ones that appear only on screen.

RCA Voyager III sample image

Both the  front- and rear-facing cameras in the Voyager III have the same resolution: 2 megapixels. The pictures taken with either are adequate, but colors are washed out even in good light. Still, both did a decent enough job of capturing a subject in somewhat dim conditions. There’s no flash for really dark areas. 

A standard audio jack sits on the same edge with all the other ports and buttons, ready to be used with regular headphones.

RCA put only a single speaker in this device, but it’s large enough to be able to put out much more sound than is typical for a budget tablet. Listening to the audio of a TV show in a relatively noisy environment with the device just a few feet away only requires turning the volume up to 50%. Going to 100% allows it to be heard from across the room.

Voyager III Performance

Given the price of the RCA Voyager III, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that it has just a 1.3GHz quad-core processor from Intel, with 1 GB of RAM. These allow the tablet to be fast enough to be useful for social networking, ebooks, email, and casual games. Only really demanding games are truly beyond its capabilities.

One indication of its performance is that it boots up from being completely shut off in under a minute–some budget tablets can take twice as long.  We also loaded up The Simpsons Tapped Out game, which played without problems, though was a bit slow… as expected.

We tested it with the Geekbench benchmarking app. Here’s how it compared to some other tablets:

RCA’s latest has a low benchmark score compared to its rivals, but we don’t see that reflected in our daily use. It’s certainly not half the speed of the Nook Tablet 7″, for example.

There’s 1 MB of RAM–a minimal amount, but adequate for a light-duty model like this one that’s not expected to run several applications simultaneously.

As mentioned earlier, RCA built in 16GB of storage, and this is expandable by up to 128 GB more via microSD card (sold separately). Those who want to store lots of games, music, and video will need a microSD card.

RCA Voyager III Specs

The Voyager III unit we reviewed has the following specifications:

  • Android 6.0, Marshmallow
  • 3GHz Intel Atom x3 Quad-Core Processor
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 16GB Storage
  • 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel, touchscreen
  • Front-facing 2MP Camera
  • Rear-facing 2MP Camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • microSD card slot supports up to 128GB

Software

The Voyager III runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is a couple of generations behind Google’s most recent iteration. But that really has no effect on day-to-day usage. There have been some improvements to the operating system since version 6.0, but these are mostly tweaks.

RCA modified the user interface just a bit by adding a pair of Volume Up and Down buttons to the on-screen Navigation Bar, next to the standard Back, Home, and App Switcher buttons.

This tablet can access the Google Play Store, where there’s a vast array  of software, from games to productivity suites. Ebooks, music, and movies are available for purchase here, too.

RCA pre-installed some bloatware, like the Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Vudu shopping apps, but all of these can be deleted from the device.

Battery

According to its manufacturer, the Voyager III’s battery is good for 6 hours on a single charge. We put the computer through our torture text, using it to stream video over a Wi-Fi connection, and it lasted 3 hours and 42 minutes.

Our test is intended to determine what a mobile device’s shortest time on a single charge is likely to be, not an average time. More standard use of this computer will certainly be longer. That said, getting anything close to 6 hours will probably require extreme measures, including leaving Wi-Fi off most of the time.

Recharging the battery through the DC 5V port took just under 2 hours.

Voyager III Final Thoughts

The RCA Voyager III has a lot to offer those who want an very affordable tablet.  The screen is probably its best feature, though the robust speaker is nice too. Just be aware that performance is just adequate, and the same goes for battery life.

As with most budget-priced tablets, you should consider purchasing a microSD card along with some form of case too.

At the time of this review, the Voyager III is only available from Walmart, where you’ll find it for $49.99. That makes its top competitor the Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet 7″, which has the exact same price. Another option is the Amazon Fire HD 8, which sells for $89.99.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Nice screen
  • Loud Speaker

Cons:

  • Pokey performance
  • Marginal battery life
  • Mediocre camera



LEAVE A COMMENT

1 Comment

|
All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.

  1. sooomitin

    I don’t think pokey performance, or mediocre camera should be considered as cons for a budget tab. Marginal battery life is a con though given its low-end CPU/screen. Nook 7 sounds better…overall? How good is the screen for eBooks? Like Nook 7?