Cube iPlay 10

£74 inc VAT from fave.co/2huHaU5

Android Advisor - - Contents - Marie Black

One of the most dif­fi­cult things in choos­ing a bud­get tablet is know­ing how far you should com­pro­mise on spec­i­fi­ca­tions and per­for­mance. You don’t ex­pect a pow­er­house with an amaz­ing screen, but you also don’t want to waste your money – no mat­ter how small an amount of cash that is – on what is in essence a rub­bish de­vice that you’ll prob­a­bly bin in a few months.

Two of the most pop­u­lar bud­get tablets on the mar­ket right now are Ama­zon’s Fire 7 (£49

from tinyurl.com/ydzc­c6g2) and Fire HD 8 (£79 from tinyurl.com/y9k­wb­mgy). We think they’re great tablets, well-priced and -sized for chil­dren es­pe­cially, but they have one mas­sive draw­back in that they don’t sup­port Google ser­vices, in­clud­ing Google Play. If you are buy­ing one for a child then they could be dis­ap­pointed when that game all their friends are play­ing is not to be found in the Ama­zon App Store.

This Cube iPlay 10 tablet ar­guably of­fers a bet­ter deal, and is at least tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior. You can buy it right now from GearBest for £74, which puts it on par with the Fire HD 8, though you should also fac­tor in im­port duty since it’s com­ing from China. This will cost 20 per­cent of the value printed on the ship­ping pa­per­work plus an ad­min fee of around £11. So all in you could be look­ing at a price of more or less £100.

Un­like the Ama­zon tablets it sup­ports Google Play and Google ser­vices such as Gmail out of the box, so you can in­stall which­ever mo­bile apps you re­quire. This is a vanilla ver­sion of An­droid Marsh­mal­low, which is not the lat­est ver­sion of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem, but it is fast and re­spon­sive with zero bloat.

The Cube also has a larger and higher-res­o­lu­tion 10.6in IPS dis­play, which may be bet­ter suited to watch­ing films or play­ing games, but at the same time makes this a larger de­vice that could find it­self more eas­ily dropped. A Mi­cro-HDMI port al­lows you to hook it up to an even larger screen, such as a tele­vi­sion, should you so de­sire.

Per­for­mance among the three tablets should be much the same, with all three sport­ing a 1.3GHz quad-core pro­ces­sor, but the Cube has a tad more

mem­ory and dou­ble the stor­age at 2GB and 32GB re­spec­tively. The lat­ter can also be ex­panded via mi­croSD up to 128GB (the Fire HD 8 mean­while sup­ports ex­pan­sion up to 256GB).

The bat­tery is larger in the Cube, too, although the com­pany’s claims of seven hours fall short of Ama­zon’s 12. Both tablets are go­ing to take an an­noy­ing length of time to recharge – this one around four to five hours over Mi­cro-USB. (A plug is not sup­plied, but you can use any USB charger with a Mi­cro-USB cable.)

De­sign

Though Ama­zon’s tablets come in bright and punchy colours, they are still just plas­tic de­vices. This Cube de­vice also uses plas­tic in its de­sign, but it has a me­tal rear panel that adds a touch of so­phis­ti­ca­tion (which is then at least par­tially re­moved by the large Chi­nese logo on the back, as shown in the op­po­site im­age).

We would not go so far as to say this ap­pears to be a pre­mium de­vice. In fact, we find its de­sign rather odd. It’s ev­i­dently de­signed to be used in por­trait mode, with the apps short­cut and rea­son­ably quiet stereo speak­ers found on the right (or in this case bot­tom) edge, but its size means the Cube is more com­fort­able to hold in land­scape mode. The 16:9 as­pect ra­tio feels odd when held in this man­ner, though – we’re more fa­mil­iar with 4:3 tablet screens, but this widescreen ra­tio is well suited to movies.

The screen it­self is an IPS dis­play, which is a tech­nol­ogy known for its re­al­is­tic colours and ex­cel­lent view­ing an­gles. It’s also full-HD in

res­o­lu­tion, which makes for sharp text and images. But this is rather a dull dis­play and, de­spite what the man­u­fac­turer says, it is not easy to see in di­rect sun­light.

The screen is of a good size, how­ever, and we like how it seems to be fairly adept at re­pelling fin­ger­prints. Given the price tag of the Cube, we didn’t ex­pect any­thing more than this.

Screen bezels are rather thick, which means the de­vice is larger than it per­haps needed to be. All 10in tablets are big, but at 267x168x9.5mm and 608g this one might be a bit chunkier than you’d like. We can’t see an ob­vi­ous rea­son for this, given that there is no phys­i­cal home but­ton – which also means no fin­ger­print scan­ner – and the pho­tog­ra­phy tech is noth­ing spe­cial.

In com­mon with the Ama­zon tablets you get a 2Mp camera at the rear and a 0.3Mp VGA we­b­cam at

the front. It’ll do for video chat, but not much else. But then we can’t im­age you tak­ing too many pho­tos on a de­vice of this size.

From the back of the de­vice the sil­ver plas­tic frame is vis­i­ble, with a strip run­ning along the top. It doesn’t look great, but it should help heat to dis­si­pate some­what. Pleas­ingly it feels rea­son­ably durable, with min­i­mal creak­ing and flex when pres­sure is ap­plied.

Per­for­mance

In­side is a quad-core Me­di­aTek MTK8163 pro­ces­sor run­ning at 1.3GHz, which in­te­grates the ARM Mali-T720 MP2 GPU. There’s also 2GB of RAM and 32GB of stor­age. That’s ac­tu­ally a bet­ter-than-av­er­age spec for a bud­get tablet, though it is by no means up there with tablets cost­ing sev­eral times the price.

We weren’t able to run our usual Geek­bench 4 bench­mark on the Cube, but in AnTuTu it turned in a

score of 36,890 points. That’s around the same sort of level as the Gal­axy A7, a mid-range smart­phone from Sam­sung. That seems a strange com­par­i­son, but a tablet is af­ter all just a phone with a larger screen and (usu­ally) no SIM slot.

In the GFXBench graph­ics test we recorded 11fps in T-Rex, 4fps in Man­hat­tan and 3fps in Man­hat­tan 3.1. We also recorded 16.4 in the JetStream JavaScript test.

None of these scores is any­thing to brag about. But whether this tablet is pow­er­ful enough for you re­ally de­pends on what you want to do with it. It can han­dle ca­sual games, video play­back, web brows­ing and the send­ing of emails no prob­lem. If you have in mind more in­ten­sive tasks you might be bet­ter to look else­where, but be pre­pared to pay an aw­ful lot more.

The Cube iPlay 10 cov­ers all the stan­dard con­nec­tiv­ity bases, with dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth 4.0, GPS and OTG. It lacks sup­port for NFC and cel­lu­lar net­works, but nei­ther is a sur­prise at this end of the mar­ket.

Ver­dict

They say you get what you pay for, and that is very of­ten the truth. There is some ev­i­dent cost-cut­ting in this Cube iPlay 10 tablet, but in com­par­i­son to the Ama­zon tablets that top our bud­get tablets chart it has a larger, high-res­o­lu­tion screen, more stor­age as stan­dard and, most im­por­tantly, full sup­port for Google ser­vices. Per­for­mance is largely the same, which is ca­pa­ble enough for ca­sual tasks.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 10.6in full-HD (1920x1080) five-point IPS dis­play • An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low • 1.3GHz Me­di­aTek MTK8163 quad-core pro­ces­sor • Mali-T720 MP2 • 2GB RAM • 32GB stor­age, plus up to 128GB via mi­croSD • Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 4.0 • GPS • OTG • Mi­cro-HDMI • Mi­cro-USB • DC jack • 3.5mm head­phone jack • 2Mp rear camera • 0.3Mp front camera • Stereo speaker • 6,000mAh bat­tery (charges in four to five hours) • 267x168x9.5mm • 608g

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