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The problem with cheap tablets

Tablets

The tablet market is a booming one, thanks in part to the presence of cheap tablets that sell for $100 or less. While most of these tablet computers are being sold by no-name or lesser-known companies, some big brands are already starting to market their own sub-$100 tablets, as well. Take for instance HP, with its partnership with Walmart for a sub- $99 7-inch tablet.

A common element among these cheap devices, of course, is that they run Android or a variant thereof. Cheap tablets have actually bee in the market for more than a couple of years now. Notable, of course, is their use of mostly inexpensive or no-brand processors (often made by MediaTek), low-end specs and not-so-perfect build quality.

The HP 7, for instance, offers specs that might seem to be picked straight off a 2011 spec sheet: 1024 x 768 pixel resolution display, 8GB storage, 1GB RAM, an Intel Atom Z2460 processor and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a variant of Android originally launched almost two years ago.

Surprisingly, however, cheap or no-name tablets were actually the best-sellers in the recent Black Friday sale, at least for Walmart. These include devices from Nextbook and RCA. The RCA 7-inch tablet notably retails for $69 at the retailer.

What can we learn here?

Android enthusiasts might be baffled at why people would want to buy a cheap tablet with low-end specs. Doesn’t this water down the Android experience, after all? With poor battery performance, low screen resolution, slow CPUs and GPUs, and paltry memory capacity, what’s the point at all? Don’t cheap devices contribute to the bad effects of Android fragmentation by giving a poor user experience? Case in point: a handful of cheap tablets still come with the two-year old Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

However, the fact remains that cheap tablets are a good entry point for people who might not necessarily want to commit to an Android device with a high price point. Even with poor specs, these tablets can still be good for reading ebooks, surfing websites, email, and the occasional game. If the experience with Android is good enough, a user can then graduate or move on to a better device.

Of course, this would depend on the user experience. If a cheap tablet is too slow for even the most basic of tasks, then it would no doubt discourage the user from using Android, and that person might perhaps move to an iPad or Surface. It could lead to a generalization that Android is no good at all.

It’s a matter of choosing the right cheap tablet, actually. In some markets, for example, you can find the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt, a rebranded variant of the Ainol Novo 7 Venus. At launch earlier this year, the tablet had decent specs for a $100 device, and was lauded as among the good ones, and actually offered decent real-world performance. Sure, most cheap tablets might be throwaway devices, but it’s the decent ones that actually make us optimistic about this class of devices.

Hope for KitKat

To my mind, the problem with cheap tablets is that most of these focus on the “cheap” part rather than finding a good balance of price and performance. And cheap tablets were ahead of their time in trying to fit a mobile computing platform into barely capable hardware. But “cheap” will no longer have to equate with slow and sloppy. Google’s thrust in growing Android’s user base even further has led it to optimize Android 4.4 KitKat for use with low-spec devices. This means tablet makers will do well to focus their efforts on launching KitKat-powered devices. With KitKat, even cheap devices should perform decently enough to give a good user experience.

The problem with cheap tablets should therefore end with KitKat.

The Ainol Novo 7 Crystal 2 Is a Quad-Core Jelly Bean Tablet Worth Less Than $100

Android tablet prices have dropped and dropped and dropped for the past couple of years, but I’m sure you never suspected you could get a quad-core Jelly Bean-based slate for less than 100 bucks. That’s just crazy, isn’t it?

And yet it’s true. Ainol, a manufacturer that has been on our radar in the past with such dirt-cheap tabs as the Novo 7 Crystal, Novo 10 Captain and Novo 7 Venus, has done it again! The spanking new Novo 7 Crystal 2 looks better than its predecessor, has cooler specs and is also cheaper, all while coming with free international shipping via LighTake.

Ainol Novo 7 Crystal 2

Sure, you should not expect a level of performance closer to, say, that of the Nexus 7, but for just $94.89 the Novo 7 Crystal 2 is an amazing bargain, no matter how you look at it.

But you know what the absolute craziest thing is about this 7-incher? It doesn’t even have the worst specs in the world, as you might thing. Yes, the LCD capacitive screen is sub-par, boasting a 1,024 x 600 pixels resolution.

And yes, the 1.5 GHz quad-core Cortex A9-based ATM7029 CPU is likely slower than several dual-core chips around. But the Novo 7 Crystal 2 comes with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of on-board storage and microSD support.

There’s also a front-facing camera, albeit a very modest 0.3 MP one. And what can one not like about the on-board Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with full Google Play support? I’m telling you, Ainol could have priced this baby at $120 or $130 and it would still look like a tab with a decent quality-price ratio.

Granted, the thing is not exactly the thinnest or lightest, but it weighs in at 338 grams and measures 10.5 mm in width, which is almost identical to Nexus 7’s numbers.

Other features include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Flash support and a decent 3,700 mAh battery, but sadly there’s no GPS or Bluetooth. Then again, Ainol did have to cut a few corners to keep the price so low, right?

Regardless of that, I said it once and I’ll say it again. The Ainol Novo 7 Crystal 2 is an amazing bargain, and, if you’re in the market for a portable tab that won’t make you break the piggy bank, you’d be fools to pass on it. Are you in or are you out?

Via [GizChina]

Ainol Novo 7 Venus Is A Budget Nexus 7-Inspired Tablet

A new tablet from Ainol, a China-based electronics company, seems to have been inspired by the Google Nexus 7. Called the Novo 7 Venus, the device shares several commonalities with the Google budget tablet in terms of design, but offers a lower price tag. Thus, many have been calling it an alternative to the Google-branded slate. The Ainol Novo 7 Venus will set one back only around $140 to $156 while the least inexpensive variant of the Nexus 7 is priced at $200.

ainol-novo-7-venus

For the lower price, the Ainol Novo 7 Venus is packed with a 7-inch IPS capacitive multi-touch display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Inside, it comes with a quad-core ATM7029 chip, which is much less powerful than the Nexus 7’s NVIDIA Tegra 3. Also available is 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is its operating system out of the box. Vivante GC1000 is its graphics processor whereas its battery has a capacity of 4000mAH. This should give around 5 to 10 hours of usage, according to Ainol.

Despite the price, it has some advantages over the Nexus 7. One of these is combination of a 2-megapixel camera on the slate’s rear and a VGA camera on its front. The Nexus 7, for its part, only has a front-facing camera. There is also a microSD card slot onboard the Ainol tablet to expand its memory for an extra 32GB. Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and support 3G/WCDMA through an external dongle, are the tablet’s connectivity options. Notably missing is GPS, however. Other features include a 3.5 mm audio jack, a mini USB port, support for eight languages, and a shell plastic casing.

As for its dimensions, the tablet spans 7.3″ x 5.” x 0.4″ and tips the scale at 11 oz.

Are you interested in the Ainol Novo 7 Venus, or will you pay extra for the Google Nexus 7?

via liliputing

New Ainol Hero Dual and Quad Core Android Tablets Out of China Starting at $190

At the mention of tablets or smartphones made in china, most people automatically assume that these are devices cloned from reputable manufacturers, or sub-standard devices that never pass any quality checks.  This may be true in some cases, but most devices that make it out of China are actually great devices that rival those made by giant companies such as HTC, Samsung and ASUS.  One good thing about these Chinese devices too is that since labor and materials are cheap there, and the government does not tax these devices that much, their prices are often very low, sometimes ridiculously low.

You may have heard of a Chinese manufacturer called Ainol, awhile back it introduced a $100 7 inch tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich and an another 7 incher running on Jelly Bean and a dual-core processor for $140, $50 cheaper than Google’s Nexus 7.  This time, Ainol is introducing quality built tablets at a low price of just $190.  The prices may seem bumped up a bit considering earlier tablets were priced at $100 and $140 but these new tablets have better specifications including dual core and quad core processors.

The Novo 10 and Novo 10 Hero 2 tablets are decently priced for 10 inch tablets.  The Novo 10 tablet is a budget tablet with a 1.5 GHz dual core Cortex A9 8726-MX Amlogic processor with a Mali 400 GPU, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB internal memory and microSD card slot and a 10.1 Inch 1280X800 pixels resolution IPS with full angle capability.  Other specifications include WiFi, external 3G card, mini USM port, card reader, rear 2.0 megapixels and front 0.3 megapixels cameras and an impressive 8,000 mAh battery.

The more expensive Novo Hero 2 on the other hand comes with a better 1.5 GHz quad-core Actions Semiconductor ATM7029 processor, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB onboard memory, front 0.3 megapixels and rear 2.0 megapixels cameras, a 10.1 inch 1280 x 800 pixels resolution screen, built-in GPS, and the same 8,000 mAh battery that the Novo 10 comes with.  The only difference, it seems, is the number of cores the processors have.

The Novo 10 Hero is currently listed on Ainol’s website for $199 slashed down from $219 but it is isted for $193.99 at Gadget Greats website while the Novo Hero 2 retails at $209 on Ainol’s website but it is currently out of stock.

I cannot vouch for the build and quality of these tablets, but if reviews of the earlier 7 inch tablets are anything to go by, these are tablets are woth having buying if you can buy them online.  It is such a pity though that Ainol, being a small company, may not market the tablets around the world, especially in Europe and the US markets.