My review of the Huawei phone was well received, so here’s my report on Chinese Android tablets from experience gained with three different brands over the past couple of years.
Note that I’m talking about Chinese made but not well known tablets rather than more the well known brands that happen to be manufactured in China. Commonly available from Aussie importers and directly from sellers in China, there are literally hundreds of different models and brands available now. Some are even unbranded and are simply referred to as ‘Google tablets’ (which probably annoys the heck out of Google because they aren’t made by the company) – these are best avoided at all costs to be honest. Some of the more well-known China tablets are made by Cube, Onda, AllWinner and Zenithink.
First off, I recommend only buying from an Australian importer or an EBay seller with a good feedback rating that has a full 12 Month Australian warranty. I have seen some importers that say that their products are covered by warranty but it seems a little hazy who is providing the warranty.
With the price cuts recently by the well known brands like Google, ASUS and Samsung I’d also check prices carefully (including postage) on Ebay as sometimes a known brand device may not cost a great deal more. Having said that, if you want a larger screen and latest (or later) Android versions then buying from an Ebay seller can often save you $100 plus.
Here’s some of the things to watch for – firstly, some China tablets are hardware ‘locked’ to Country=China. While this means that the language and location as far as time and weather can be set to your location, it usually means that only apps that are allowed to be sold or are available in China can be downloaded through the Play Store. The majority of apps are available world-wide but some aren’t. This problem can be overcome to some extent but not usually by the average user. I haven’t checked later tablets for this problem but the most of the ones I have bought or used up to a year ago had this issue. Some tablets aren’t authorised by Google to have access to the official Play Store and these are certainly not worth getting as the range of apps available for these is very limited.
Secondly, be wary of claims made in the Ebay seller’s information like ‘Video call over the internet using Skype’. My tablet description said this but, try as I might I was never able to get the thing to reliably work – at least in a video call anyway. I also had problems syncing the Google calendar too, but overcame this by downloading a calendar sync app for another device, but for the average non-technical user doing this would be beyond their abilities.
While most China tablets run later versions of Android, most of the manufacturers aren’t interested in supplying updates to their products, unlike known brand tablets which usually provide upgrades eventually so you usually have to be happy with the version installed when bought.
The tablet I bought is known as a ‘Cube U9GT2’. Cube make better and faster models now and their larger screen models appear to have very good specs and are cheaper than an equivalent brand name model. Mine has a nice 9.7″ IPS screen which is basically the same as the one in the iPad 2 and has good battery life. It is now a little slow in comparison with newer models but I still use it to browse the net and watch videos both on YouTube or ones I have downloaded and they display very well.
So, the bottom line is this. If you just want a tablet for yourself or the kids or grandkids to play games on, watch YouTube and check email / browse the web and you are on a tight budget, then a China tablet might well suit your needs. If you can afford a little more then I’d stick to the famous branded ones sold through retailers that provide support and guarantee that they are set to Australia – not China! A good example is the excellent Nexus 7 which I will be reviewing soon – watch this space.