Even though the general design ethics behind tablets lead to a degree of homogeneity between competing models, the Primo 81 bears a distinct resemblance to the iPad Mini. This particular model is only available in ‘snow white’ and features an iPad-esque white bezel surrounding the screen.
The similarities between the Primo 81 and the iPad mini aren’t only skin deep. The two models use the same 7.85″ LG IPS screen which is becoming a fairly common size. This form factor puts the Primo 81 in direct competition with the likes of the Acer Iconia A1 which we reviewed a few months back.
We are impressed with the screen itself as it is vibrant and clear, especially when compared with the Acer Iconia A1. The 1024 x 768 (XGA) resolution isn’t ideal for watching high-definition content, though, as the resolution is limited and the 4:3 aspect ratio results in thick black bars straddling movies.
The glass that MSI have used for the touch-screen provides a little more resistance than most, but you get used to it after a few hours use.
Like most low-end tablets, the Primo 81 features a 0.3 Megapixel front-facing camera. This is a fixed-focus sensor which will just about suffice for occasional Skype calls. We wouldn’t recommend it for taking self-portraits, though as the quality is less than great.
The back panel of the tablet is constructed from a single piece of aluminum and gives the Primo 81 a high-quality look and feel. In fact, the Primo 81 almost matches the iPad Mini in terms of build quality.
Along the bottom edge of the tablet, we find all of the connections. From left to right, we find a 3.5 mm headset jack, a micro-USB connector, a mini-HDMI connector and a micro-SD card slot. There is also a small speaker grille cut into the back of the tablet in the bottom right-hand corner.
For some reason, MSI has chosen to locate the power and volume buttons together along the top edge of the tablet. The problem with this is that they are all the same size and aren’t labelled, so it can be quite confusing when trying to use them for the first time.
There is a 2.0 Megapixel rear-facing camera which offers slightly better image quality than the front-facing camera, but it’s still rather terrible when compared to even a mid-range smartphone.