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  1. #1

    Default Ainol Novo 7 Crystal II Quad Core Android Tablet



    Retail Price: $93.99
    Manufactured by: Ainol-Novo
    Review sample supplied by: Tmart
    Review by Devin
    Editing Advisor: exangel

    Review Contents & Index:

    • Introduction
      - Manufacturer Listed Features
    • Packaging and Contents
    • Design and Impressions
    • Usage
    • Performance
    • Conclusion


    Introduction

    Android tablets have been on the market for a few years now, growing popular as an ultra portable multimedia device that combines features of portable music/video players, and to some degree, netbooks. With the growing demand for tablets, Chinese manufacturers have scrambled to undercut and outsell the mainstream products by producing competitively equipped tablets with cheaper parts. As one would expect, this does lead to some reduction in build quality. However, at this low price point, it's worth looking further in case it's the right buy for a tight budget.

    Manufacturer Listed Features

    • OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
    • CPU: ATM7029 Quad Core
    • GPU: GC1000 Plus
    • RAM: 1GB DDR3
    • Storage: 8GB
    • Shell Material: Plastic
    • Screen: Capacitative Touchscreen
    • Resolution: 1024*600
    • Screen Size: 7 inches, measured diagonally
    • Front camera: 0.3 Megapixels
    • Expandable Memory: Supports TF (MicroSD) cards up to 32GB
    • Gyro Sensor: Yes
    • Multi-Touch: 5 point multi-touch
    • Work Time: Up to 5~10 hours
    • Battery :3700 MAh


    Packaging and Contents



    • Ainol Novo 7 Crystal II Tablet
    • USB cable
    • Wall Charger
    • USB to Mini USB Adapter


    Design and Impressions



    The Crystal II tablet's housing has a somewhat weak plastic back. When I first held the device, the pressure from holding it created a ripple on the screen. This is due to the plastic not being thick or sturdy enough to handle the pressure being exerted on it. On the left side of the device (or bottom, if used vertically,) there's a proprietary charging port, mini HDMI port, mini USB port, an internal microphone, a Micro SD card slot, and finally, a headphone jack. It should be noted that the tablet can also be charged from the mini-USB port if you like to keep your cables to a minimum.

    On the back of the device there's 3 notches for ventilation. On the top of the device (or side, if used vertically,) there are 4 navigation buttons. One for sleep mode, volume up, down, and a home button. I really dislike the awkward position of the home button. The screen itself I will discuss in the next section, but I should point out that it came with a screen protector already applied. My review sample also came conveniently pre-rooted, but there aren't any modified ROMs for this device at the time of the review.

    Performance

    In order to give you an idea of the performance you can expect from this tablet, I evaluated it primarily by testing the most resource-demanding applications. I also ran Antutu Benchmark but due to a font problem, could not provide specific numbers or screenshots. The Antutu Benchmark score for this tablet is higher than the Nexus 10, but a little lower than the HTC One X+.
    In my evaluation of various emulators and HD video playback performance, I did see this ranking to be accurate as an estimation.

    • My Boy! - Ran exceptionally well, with little to no stuttering. (Pokemon FireRed, Emerald, LoZ: Minish Cap)
    • ePSXe - Ran well, with slight stuttering here and there. (Stuart Little 2, Chrono Chross)
    • N64oid - Ran poorly. Games had audio glitches, and tons of stuttering. (Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask & Ocarina of Time.)


    Regarding the screen, it's crisp and shows vibrant colors. The screen is perfectly legible in direct sunlight. I haven't had any issues of it not being responsive or locking up on me. I was able to successfully watch a 1080p movie without it stuttering, using the pre-installed application "Owl Player".
    Unfortunately, with the Quad-core processor comes a lot of heat. Although it did not affect the performance in my experience, it could cause some people discomfort. It starts to get noticeable within the first 30 minutes or so of using it. This is due to poor insulation from the thin plastic back, but I believe if you were to get a stand or case to protect your hands you'd be fine. The camera on the Crystal II is rather unimpressive, most photos came out pretty blurry. For Skype, the performance of the camera was satisfactory.

    It also needs to be mentioned that there hasn't really been any support from the Ainol team, in terms of updating the device to a newer Android version. It's still at 4.1.

    Other Remarks

    • A neat little addition that I enjoyed on the device was being able to use the (included) USB to mini USB adapter combined with a 3rd party application, to use my wired Xbox 360 controller with the emulators.
    • I was initially worried about the screen being too small, but the screen is a great size for playing games.
    • Grab a decent sized Micro SD card if you believe that the 8GB internal storage isn't going to be enough for your needs.
    • I suggest looking up an app to provide a software-based "Home" button such as ButtonSavior (easy to configure) or LMT (lots of options).
    • If you are not a power user, you may also want to test out using an app to underclock your processor. This could reduce the heat output as well as improve your battery life.


    Conclusion

    The Ainol Novo 7 Crystal II tablet is a cost-effective and usable product, but the manufacturer needs to fix a few issues. The first change I'd hope to see is improved support from the Ainol team for Android version updates. The overheating issue could be mitigated by using sturdier and thermally insulating material for the back, and it would significantly improve the overall build quality by reducing potential damage to the internals and even the screen. Ultimately, if Ainol Novo improved the build quality of this tablet, they could definitely compete with the major brands most popular in the West - ASUS, Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo, Acer, etc.
    Other than those issues it's a pretty nice tablet, and if you can catch it on a sale for under $90, then it'd be a steal, especially with free shipping.

    As it is, I give this a 7/10. I may update my rating if the manufacturer updates the Android version.

    (Please do forgive me. There's a storm brewing outside, and I haven't been able to take any pictures. (My camera absolutely hates indoor lighting, so all my pictures are taken using the sun's light.) Once it clears up I'll be posting my own pictures, which do the product more justice than the stock photos.)


    Thanks.
    Definitely a techy.

  2. #2

    Default

    Nice job on the review! It's great to see you posting round here, and for the moment, I have decided to post it in the DSDatabase Official Review section. Final word here would go to PharaohsVizier, but I think it deserves a spot here for now.

  3. #3

    Default

    Yea this is a great review. I got an Ainol tablet myself and they are good for the price but a few cost cutting measures stop it from being truly great. Anyways, I concur with shadowhunter, this is great official review material.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thank you. With some support and perhaps a slight redesign to somehow redistribute the heat so it isn't heating up the tablet so much would be great.

    I plan on posting some future reviews on here as well.
    Definitely a techy.

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