Nextbook Ares and Flexx 2-in-1 Tablets to Launch at CES 2016

The Nextbook Ares 11A 2-in-1 Android tablet will debut at CES 2016 (PRNewsFoto/E FUN)

It doesn’t matter if you prefer Android Lollipop or Windows 10, as long as 2-in-1 tablets are your thing, E FUN has you covered with two of its upcoming products from the Nextbook line, Ares and Flexx, both scheduled to launch at CES 2016.

CES 2016 will surely be a launching ramp for a lot of revolutionary gadgets, but that doesn’t mean that the tradeshow is a forbidden area for more common devices, such as 2-in-1 tablets. Acting as a buffer between regular tablets and notebooks, these products seem to be the best of two worlds. While E FUN’s Nextbook detachables don’t have dual-boot abilities, there is still

The first in line is the Ares 11A, an Android 5.1 2-in-1 tablet that, as its name suggests, packs a 11-inch display with a 1366×768 resolution. Under the hood, the device sports a quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8300 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 64 of on-board storage and an microSD port that allows you to further expand the storage by up to 64GB. In terms of connectivity, the Ares 11A features miniHDMI, microUSB, 2 USB ports in the keyboard dock, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n. When it comes to taking photos and doing video calls, the Ares can handle both with its 2.0 MP front and rear cameras.

“We are excited to expand our Nextbook Ares tablet line in 2016 with upgraded features,” stated Jason Liszewski, managing director and VP of sales for E FUN. “The new Ares 11A was built with consumers in mind to be the right combination of features and price.”

Liszewski is definitely right about that sweet spot, as the Ares 11A will launch in Q2 2016 for $219.99, a price that will be hard to match by other manufacturers.

The Windows version of the 2-in-1 will be available in three versions named Flexx 9A, Flexx 10A and Flexx 11A. All of them run Windows 10 and are powered by the same Intel Atom CPU as the Ares. Besides that, they also feature 2GB of RAM, but only come with 32GB of internal storage that can be furthermore expanded by up to 64GB using a microSD card.

“Coming off a strong holiday season where we exceeded our sales targets, we are extremely excited to introduce new detachables powered by Windows 10, at affordable prices in 2016. Working with great technology partners, these new Nextbooks are sure to be popular as consumer interest in tablets powered by Windows 10 continues to grow,” added Liszewski.

Besides the OS and the amount of internal memory, Flexx and Ares differ in the size and resolution of their screens. Flexx 9A was built with an 8.9″ capacitative multi-touch IPS display that has a resolution of 1280×800, while the 10A packs a 10.1″ IPS panel with the same resolution. Only the 11A matches Ares’ resolution, but at 11.6-inch, it has a slightly larger diagonal.

These three 2-in-1 tablets will be equally affordable, as E FUN has announced that the 9A would cost $149.99, the 10A $199.99, and the Flexx 11A $249. As with the Ares 11A, we’ll have to wait till Q2 of 2016 to get our hands on these devices.

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Amazon’s $50 Fire Tablet Isn’t Just for Emerging Markets

Amazon $50 Fire Tablet 01

When manufacturers launch low-cost gadgets, they typically target developing countries, but there’s a whole different story with Amazon and its $50 tablet.

The newly announced Fire tablet is said to be twice more durable than the latest iPad Air, but there’s no word on how exactly did Amazon measure that. One thing is certain, though. The e-tailer has refreshed its Fire family with 7 all-new products, but there’s no doubt that the most interesting of them all is this low-budget tablet.

Since it carries a price tag of $50 ($49.99, more precisely), one cannot help but wonder if Amazon is turning any profit with this device. As in the case of many other products manufactured by this company, it’s not the tablet itself that brings in the money, but the additional services. Basically, what Amazon would like to see people do is buy (and read) ebooks on the Fire tablet, or just watch TV shows and movies through a streaming services that pay the e-tailer a small commission.

At such a price, some people wouldn’t mind using it as a remote control for other smart devices, or even as their children’s first tablet. I wouldn’t trust kids with a Nexus 9, but a $50 tablet really is something expendable, if it weren’t for the data stored on it.

Amazon has also come up with a deal for families (or even possibly schools): get a six pack by paying for 5 Fire tablets and receiving the sixth for free.

The technical specs are obviously mediocre, but asking for more at this price would just be mean. The manufacturer equipped it with a 7″ IPS display with a resolution of 1024×600 and a pixel density of 171 ppi, as well as a quad-core processor running at 1.3Ghz, and 1GB of RAM. Rear and front-facing cameras were included for basic photography and video calls or selfies. Since the 8GB of internal storage are far from being enough, Amazon enables users to extend this with a microSD card of up to 128GB.

As for software, the Fire tablet runs on Fire OS 5, which is a heavily modified version of Android 5.0 Lollipop. The battery is not exactly the strongest point of this device, but it should be enough for 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching videos, or listening to music. As you can see, gaming is not listed, not because the tablet wouldn’t be capable of running games, but because this activity consumes more resources and depletes the battery much faster.

The amount of supplementary media is absolutely mind-blowing, as there are 38 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, apps and games, all available through Amazon’s own Android store.

Head over to Amazon and get yourself one… or a six-pack! The e-tailer is already taking orders, but it will start shipping on September 30, when the product gets in stock.

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Cube T8 8-Inch Phablet Mixes Android 5.1 and 4G

Cube T8 Android 5.1 4G Phablet 02

Budget tablets rarely sport 4G connectivity, and when that happens, manufacturers usually don’t include phone functionality into them. Cube T8 is a clear exception, as it has some rather impressive specs at a small price.

Cube has quite a few tablets in its portfolio, running Windows, Android, or both. The T8 is based solely on Android 5.1, but given the price, I can understand the lack of a dual-boot environment.

MediaTek’s MTK8735, on which the T8 is based, is a 64-bit chipset that’s designed specifically for phablets. It includes a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 1.3Ghz, and while there’s no word on the manufacturer’s website about the GPU, some sources claim it’s made by AMD, which sounds really weird. Cube equipped the T8 with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM, which might not sound like a lot, but judging by the performance of other devices, I’d say that this is enough for Android 5.1.

To make sure that you’re using the device to its entire capacity, the manufacturer made the T8 a dual-SIM phablet, meaning you can use one SIM for data and another one for voice and texts, or just two SIM cards from two different operators. I’m not sure what combination of frequencies is supported, but at least one SIM will work in 4G networks, both FDD and TDD.

Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, dual-mode Wi-Fi (working in the 2.4 and 5Ghz frequencies), OTG, and GPS, which is yet another great feature to see in a budget tablet. A data connection paired with a GPS sensors can really save lives in an unknown area. In addition to that, it’s far better to use an 8-inch GPS while driving, rather than staring into a 4 or 5-inch display. Assuming that the GPS is accurate, this might really represent a great solution while traveling.

At 1280×800, the 8-inch display isn’t jaw-droppingly good, but on the other hand, it’s also less harsh on the 4,000mAh battery, which allegedly can keep the devices running for up to 5 hours when playing videos. For a casual user, that should be enough.

Cube T8 is currently sold by GearBest for $95.99. This price is more than adequate for its specs, and more than that, it’s less than what the manufacturer itself sells it for.

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Get Online Anywhere with Teclast X98 Air

Teclast X98 Air 01

There’s still a great gap between modern tablets, in terms of connectivity, with some sporting 4G and others having only Wi-Fi. Getting one with 3G, such as the Teclast X98 Air, seems to be the safest bet.

Teclast’s naming scheme for their tablets seems very confusing at first, since there are three tablets bearing the X98 name. Furthermore, the confusion is fueled by the fact that the manufacturer uses Z3735F and Z3736F CPUs in these tablets. Besides the basic model, there is also an X98 Air, and an X98 Air II. The one in question has 3G connectivity via a SIM card, while the Air II can only connect via Wi-Fi. As pointed out in a YouTube video, there are also some differences in the display refresh rate and cameras.

At the core of the X98 Air sits an Intel Z3736F CPU running at up to 2.16Ghz, along with Intel’s 7th-gen GPU. Those two combined ensure smooth operation under both Android 4.4 and Windows 8.1 with Bing, seeing that the tablet comes with both of them. Besides that there are 2GB of RAM and 64GB of ROM, which vary depending on the OS that you use.

As for the display, Teclast insists that it is a Retina one, but with a 9.7″ diagonal and a QXGA resolution (that would be 2048 x 1536, making it a 4:3 screen), it only has 264ppi, which is lower than Retina’s minimum of 300ppi. I’m not a huge fan of 4:3 displays, but as long as this gets the job done, I guess it’s OK.

Besides the ever-present Wi-Fi and the built-in 3G (in the form of WCDMA 2100Mhz), the X98 Air also sports GPS, which is a welcome addition, since you don’t get to see this type of connectivity in every tablet. Combined with 3G, this means that you can shoot up Google Maps (either the Android app or the website, if you’re using Windows) to find out where you are.

The other specs are common for Chinese tablets. Teclast X98 Air features a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP snapper for video calls and selfies, along with a microphone and speakers for calls under Android. The 8000mAh battery should provide up to 7 hours of continuous video playback, assuming that you’re not running any demanding apps in the background.

At $201.29, which is as much as it costs on GearBest, Teclast X98 Air has quite some decent specs, and assuming that everything works as advertised, users should have a great experience using them.

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Cube i7 Remix Tablet Puts Productivity First

Cube i7 Remix OS 01

Remix OS was developed to provide users with a multi-windowed interface in an Android environment, and the Cube i7 Remix tablet is a prime example of how that works.

Jide, a company founded by three former Google engineers, created this user interface in order to make Android feel more like Windows. I don’t know whether Cube is the OEM of their Remix OS devices, or if the Chinese manufacturer has just adopted the UI for their i7 Remix tablet, but it’s great to see this new take on productivity on more devices.

Cube insists on calling the 11.6″ FHD display of the i7 Remix a Retina full-view display (even though Apple might have something against that name). While it is a big display for a tablet, which makes it great for productivity, it would have to have a pixel density of 300+ to qualify as a Retina display, and at its 189 PPI, it’s a bit behind. Now there are two options of how this came to be labeled as a Retina display: either the manufacturer doesn’t know the criteria, or it intentionally distorted the truth in order to misguide customers into buying their product.

The power is provided by Intel’s Z3735F CPU and 7th-gen Intel HD GPU. To provide support for multitasking, the manufacturer equipped the i7 Remix with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of ROM. As for the cameras, a 2MP was placed in front for video calls, and a 5MP sensor for photos can be found on the back.

One of the most impressive aspects about the i7 Remix is the 8400mAh battery that’s supposed to keep the device up and running for up to 8 hours. Assuming you’re using the tablet at the office, that should help you get through an entire work day.

The principle the user interface works on is very simple. If an app can only run in phone mode, it will be displayed on a third of the display, thus leaving room for two other such apps. Of course, Remix OS takes into account that some apps could also be loaded in tablet mode, or even exclusively in that mode. To make Remix OS feel even more similar to Microsoft’s operating system, windows can also be minimized. Provided that you also get the keyboard for this tablet, you have the option to switch between the apps by using key combinations such as Alt+Tab.

Cube i7 Remix runs for $184.99 at GearBest, and the Cube CDK01 comes with a price tag of $62.99. However, customers are able to save a few bucks by getting the entire bundle for $241.68.

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UNU M7006 Android Tablet Focuses on Gaming

UNU M7006 Android Gaming Tablet 01

Entertainment is one of the main reasons tablets were created, in the first place, and there are such portable gaming devices out there for wallets of all sizes. UNU M7006 is on the budget side of things, but it still packs plenty of power for most Android games.

Considering the simplistic design and the modest technical specifications, UNU M7006 is more adequate for kids, or for people who are just making their way into the world of Android gaming. That being said, it’s by no means ugly or slow, but it does have a design that might appeal more to the aforementioned categories.

The M7006 is powered by a RK3188 chipset that includes a quad-core CPU running at up to 1.6Ghz (according to Rockchip, the manufacturer of the SoC), and a Mali-400 GPU clocked at up to 600Mhz. The GPU may not sound like much, but if you come to think about it, it might just be enough for the 7″ 5-point IPS touchscreen display with a 1280×800 resolution.

In terms of memory, this gaming tablet only packs 1GB of RAM and 8GB of ROM, which can be furthermore expanded by using a microSD card. Surprisingly enough, the device even has two cameras, a 5MP one in the back and a 2MP snapper in the front, for video calls and selfies. The 3000mAh battery should keep the device running for up to 3h, considering that you’re playing videos, and not games. That’s definitely disappointing, but if you intend to give this to kids, you probably shouldn’t let them play games for that long each day.

UNU recommends connecting the M7006 tablet to a TV or monitor, using an HDMI cable, as seen in the above picture. A wireless gaming controller is used for playing the games, and if users want to do something else besides gaming, they can use an air mouse/wireless keyboard combo.

Currently sold for $87.99 by GearBest, the UNU M7006 Android gaming tablet might seem to have a bit of a steep price, considering its modest specifications. However, to sweeten the deal, the manufacturer has included the gaming controller and air mouse-keyboard combo pictured above, so that you have all the tools needed for entertainment. These accessories definitely make the whole deal worth it.

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Chuwi Hi8 Rocks Windows 8.1 and Android on a Budget

Chuwi Hi8 Dual-OS Tablet 01

Ever since Microsoft made Windows 8.1 with Bing free for devices with a display, tablets running this OS (either alone, or in combination with Android) have started springing up like mushrooms after the rain. Chuwi Hi8 is one of the most affordable tablets to run both of these operating systems.

Not so long ago, finding Windows and Android on the same device would have sounded like an impossible idea. However, with the emergence of Intel’s Bay Trail CPUs, getting these two operating systems to cohabit became a reality. Chinese manufacturers couldn’t miss this chance, and started producing a plethora of dual-OS tablets at different price points, depending on the features they have.

Chuwi Hi8 relies on a quad-core Intel Atom Z3736F clocked at up to 2.16Ghz and a 7th-gen Intel HD GPU to run these operating systems and their respective apps. For multitasking, the tablet comes with 2GB of RAM (which are detected as such in Windows 8.1 with Bing, but only seen as 1.87GB on Android). As far as storage is concerned, Win8.1 will show 14GB of ROM, out of the 32GB featured by the tablet, and 6.78GB in Android. That surely doesn’t sound like much, but microSD cards of up to 64GB can be used to expand that.

For an 8-inch display, Chuwi Hi8 has a pretty impressive resolution, especially considering the price. A 1920×1200 IPS MagicColor Panel was used, and the pixel density of 283PPI should make everything look crystal clear.

To stay connected, this tablet relies on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas, as well as USB OTG. In fact, an USB OTG cable is provided in the box, along with the charger and the data cable. The 4,000mAh battery shouldn’t take long to charge, provided that the charger is rated at 5V/2A. According to the manufacturer, that capacity should be just enough for up to 5 hours of video playback. In any case, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to carry a power bank with you, while on the go.

GearBest currently carries Chuwi Hi8 at $92.59, which really is an impressive price, considering the specs and the ability to run both Windows and Android. Sure, the tablet lacks many features, such as a SIM slot for 3G or 4G connectivity, a GPS sensor or an HDMI port, but these can be found in more expensive models. For someone looking for a basic tablet that’s friendly on the wallet, Chuwi Hi8 may be exactly what they need.

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Ulefone Be Touch Knows How to Rock Android Lollipop

Ulefone Be Touch 01

Out of all the Chinese smartphone makers out there that tried to implement the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, only Ulefone got Android 5.0 running properly on its devices, and the Be Touch will prove that yet again.

There are many aspects that make the Ulefone Be Touch worth buying instead of other better known, but also far more expensive alternatives. When building this particular device, the manufacturer made an effort to include high-quality materials, some great design lines and a seamless experience as far as the software is concerned.

The name of the phablet hints at the fact that it comes with a Press Touch ID fingerprint sensor similar to the one found in the iPhone. It’s great to see that Ulefone has integrated the fingerprint scanner in the Home button, as placing it on the back, below the camera wouldn’t have been as convenient.

Be Touch is meant to feel and look stunning. Ulefone has opted for a magnesium alloy board, an aircraft-grade aluminum frame and 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to protect the 5.5″ 1280×720 IPS display. Each and every one of these components will contribute to Be Touch’s overall sturdiness.

To ensure optimal performance, this Android 5.0 Lollipop device will be powered by a Mediatek MT6752 SoC that includes a 64-bit octa-core CPU clocked at 1.7Ghz and a Mali T760 GPU. Multitasking won’t represent a challenge, either, as the phablet will sport 3GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM that can be furthermore expanded with the help of a microSD card of up to 64GB.

As far as the camera sensors are concerned, Ulefone picked a 13MP Sony IMX214 sensor for the rear camera and a 5MP Omnivision 5648 for the front-facing one.

Connectivity wasn’t neglected either, as besides 4G FDD-LTE in the 800/1800/2100/2600MHz bands, Be Touch also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS sensors. At this price point, some would have expected seeing a NFC antenna, as well.

Be Touch’s battery will get from 1 to 35% in 15 minutes, due to a very impressive Quick Charge technology. That being said, it’s a bit disappointing that Ulefone has included a 2550mAh battery, as this capacity might make people look for power outlets before the end of the work day.

Most resellers offer the Be Touch for $219.99, but on GearBest you can get it for $197.89 if you use the coupon code BETOUCH during the checkout procedure.

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Dell Venue 8 7840 Is the World’s Most Interesting Tablet

Dell Venue 8 7840 01

…and not just the most interesting Android tablet, as it easily beats anything Apple would throw at it. For starters, this 8.4″ tablet is the slimmest in the world.

Of course, that alone wouldn’t have made it the most interesting in the world. While a particular company was busy launching the 2012-specced iPhone 6 and the ever-so-not-spectacular Apple Watch, Michael Dell himself took over the stage at the 2014 Intel Developers Conference in San Francisco and introduced this beauty to the world.

Its incredibly crisp display is only matched by the one of the Samsung Galaxy S, and that’s only because the display of the Dell Venue 8 7840 is made by the South Korean giant. Just that… in Dell’s case, the same display is actually better, and that’s explained by the almost non-existent bezel. That’s right, the display of this tablet runs from edge to edge, so the 2560 x 1600 OLED panel provides a far more immersive experience.

With no bezel, how are you supposed to hold this tablet? In a horizontal orientation, there’s a grip to the left that houses the speakers and two cameras. The next logical question is: shouldn’t there be a front and a back camera instead of two in the front? Well, you’re right, but that doesn’t mean that Dell’s wrong. The Venue 8 7840 is equipped with four cameras, so you’ll also find two on the back of it.

What’s the point of having four cameras? 3D photo and video shooting, of course! This tablet is the first one to sport Intel RealSense, a technology that enables the tablet to tell the depth. On top of that, the tablet can also estimate the distance between two points in the picture. The triangulation is performed with the help of three of the four cameras.

While not perfect, the Intel RealSense technology works, so there is a great basis Dell can improve upon. Developers might get to bring their contributions by creating apps to take advantage of this technology.

Not at last, in terms of specs, the Venue 8 7840 includes Android 4.4, a quad-core 2.33GHz Intel Atom Z3580 processor, Wi-Fi (and very probably Bluetooth, as well) connectivity and 32GB of storage that’s furthermore expandable via a microSD card.

Dell has yet to announce the price and the launch date of this marvelous tablet, but it sure made a few Android fans anxious to hold the Venue 8 7840 in their hands.

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Samsung Tab S’ Black Level and Thickness Are a Tough Match for iPad Air

Samsung Tab S

Apple’s iPad Air will finally have to step down from its ivory tower, as there’s a new tablet in town that’s claiming the best tablet in the world title.

The only things that the iPad Air ruled upon were the design, the thickness and the display, thanks to the Retina technology. Other than that, the processing power of Apple’s tablet wasn’t exactly otherworldly. Luckily for Android fans, Samsung decided to launch Tab S, a tablet that won’t be that easy to beat. It features an amazing display with never-seen-before-in-a-tablet levels of black, it’s incredibly slim, and it has a sleek design that will make a lot of heads turn.

I mentioned that the levels of black are unmatched in tablets because the technology was actually ported by Samsung from its smartphones. More precisely, the Tab S comes with a Super AMOLED display that renders black beautifully. This makes text extraordinarily crisp, and colors so bright that put Skittles to shame. Because of the crisp text, books and magazines are easier to read on Tab S that pretty much on any other tablet. The 2560×1600(WQXGA)resolution also helps a lot in that respect.

At 6.6 mm in thickness, Tab S is thinner than the iPad Air by 0.9 mm. That should give Apple a purpose in life, as until now this company was only after people’s money, their strongest argument being the design.

Samsung made it quite clear that the Tab S wasn’t built for Candy Crush Saga. Don’t get me wrong, that game (and many others) will run flawlessly on this Android tablet, but it would be a pity to waste all that power and incredible design on such activities. If it wasn’t obvious already, the Tab S was built for office work, it’s design and specs making it a productivity beast.

Of course, there already are a lot of Apple fanboys that claim that the Tab S won’t ever be able to match the iPad Air, despite all the clear differences. They argue that Apple controls both the hardware and the software of its products, while Samsung can only take care of the hardware, while the OS remains in Google’s care. Of course, they also point out that Android is inferior to iOS, but I always fail to see why.

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