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Snakebyte Vyper functions as tablet, smart TV and game console

The Snakebyte Vyper is a 3-in-1 mobile tablet that can also control your TV and function as a video gaming console.

Users can hold the tablet in their hands when they want to surf the Web, read e-books or check their social media.

They can also hook up the tablet to its dock and use a wireless remote when they want to watch content from apps such asNetflix and HBO Go on their TV.

And when they’re ready for a video game, users can launch a gaming app on the tablet and play a game on the TV wih a controller that comes with the device.

It all sounds great until you try to set it up and use it. That's when you realize the gadget may be trying to do too much.

The key to the entire product is the 7-inch screen tablet.

The tablet is a black, lightweight device with a stylish metal back cover and rubber edges that make it easy to hold.

On the front right side is a speaker. The left edge has all the ports a tech-savvy user could want: two USB ports, an HDMI outlet, a microSD slot and a headphone jack.

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Inside the device is where the trouble starts. The tablet uses a RockChip 1.6 GHz quad core processor that simply can’t keep up with users.

At its best, the Vyper takes awhile to launch simple apps like Facebook, and it lags behind when users type. At its worst, the tablet crashes when users perform simple tasks, such as navigating the Google Play app store.

When I first launched the device, the Vyper asked that I perform a firmware update that took nearly an hour to download from the Internet.

Once it finished downloading, the tablet failed to install the update correctly. All in all, it provided a frustrating experience that users who aren't tech savvy probably won’t want to put up with.

The screen quality was also a letdown. The Vyper features a 7-inch display with a 1,280 by 800 pixel resolution, but the colors on the screen aren’t as vibrant as what users find on tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

As a smart TV, the Vyper provided slightly better results.

Users hook up the gadget to their TV by connecting the dock using an HDMI cable. The Vyper’s dock will send video to users’ TVs as soon as they slide the tablet into it. But before users can enjoy video, they’ll have to go into their settings app to select the resolution that is right for their screen.

Once everything is set up, users can sit back and turn on the Vyper’s remote control. Using the remote’s buttons, navigation pad and its motion-sensor qualities, users can easily navigate the tablet’s interface without trouble. On the backside of the remote, there is also a keyboard that can be used to type -- a helpful feature for when users search for content on apps like YouTube.

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The video quality that is displayed on users’ TV is acceptable. But in comparison with the video quality of other devices, such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV, I felt the content coming through the Vyper was slightly inferior because it looked more pixelated.

The Vyper shines when it comes to gaming, and that’s no surprise considering that the Snakebyte brand has specialized in selling gaming products since the late 1990s.

Users can play video games on the tablet the way they would on a game console by turning on the game controller.

It features two joysticks, numerous buttons and is designed to fit comfortably between users’ hands, letting the play from a comfortable distance away from the tablet rather having to hold the screen in their hands and perform actions using touchscreen gestures.

To try out the game controller, I slid the tablet into its dock and launched "Grand Theft Auto San Andreas." I then got on my chair, looked up at my TV and began directing the character using the controller. It felt like I was using a true game console.

In theory, the Vyper is a product that can meet users’ needs in three different areas, but in practice, it can be a lot of hassle to get the Vyper to work the way users want.

The device is available for purchase online for $249.99, but unless you’re a gamer, I’d recommend steering clear.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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