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Old May 14th, 2013, 01:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Small, but Powerful – ICOO ICOU7GT Quad Core Tablet Hands-on Review



Last year, ICOO has made quite an impact with the ICOU7, the cheapest dual core tablet with an IPS display. I bought one for my dad right after it was on sale. The experience with the ICOU7 is nice, but far from perfect. I grew fond of the smoothness it brought, yet constantly bewildered by its terrible battery life.

This year, ICOO brought us the updated version of the ICOU7: the quad core ICOU7GT, which is powered by the Allwinner A31 quad core chipset and 2GB memory, and also features a 7 inch IPS display at the resolution of 1280*800. While the RK3188 is still struggling to get into a 7 inch slate, the ICOU7GT definitely appeared right on time!


Key Features

◇7 inch 16M-color IPS display at WXGA resolution (1280*800 pixels)
◇Weighs 296g, 188*114*8.8mm in size.
◇Allwinner A31 SoC., quad core Cortex-A7 processor, PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU, 2GB memory
◇Stock Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, will soon be updated to Android 4.2
◇16GB of built-in-storage
◇VGA front facing camera; 5.0MP rear-facing camera
◇Stereo speaker
◇Bluetooth2.1
◇HDMI TV-out
◇USB host
◇MicroSD card slot
◇Standard 3.5mm audio jack
◇2160p video playback
◇3600mAh Li-Po rechargeable battery


Retail Package: Parsimonious





The ICOU7GT is packaged in a gorgeous paperback box, which also plays host to a USB data/charging cable, an OTG cable, and an earphone, along with the user manual and warranty card. The absence of the charger is quite a shame, who would want a crappy bundled earphone instead a charger?


Design: Fashionable



Like the other members of the 7 inch gang, the ICOU7GT employs the minimalist design. Its front surface is adorned with a glossy glass screen, surrounded by a small pure white matte bezel. A VGA front-facing camera designed for video-chatting sits comfortably above the screen.



On the back, there's a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera located in the top left with a Logo right in the center. Although the back is made of plastic, the frosted design of it doesn’t feel cheap at all.


All the buttons and connectors are reasonably placed, you will find on its top edge (Portrait Mode) a Micro USB port for charging and data transmission, a Micro HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a Micro SD card slot which supports cards up to 32GB.


The speaker gate sits on the bottom edge, according to my test, it has a decent volume.


And the left side of the slate plays host to the two and only hardware keys: a power/standby key and a volume rocker. Personally, I love the minimalist approach ICOO took with the buttons, as we can find the other controls in the status bar of the system UI, why do we need the physical version of them on the device?


The slate is only 8.8mm thick, and weighs less than 300 grams, so it’s very comfortable to hold in just one hand.


Display: Eye Watering


The ICOU7GT sports a 7 inch IPS at the resolution of 1280*800, a pixel density of 216PPI. That’s clearly identical to the Nexus 7’s screen.


Specs aside, the ICOU7GT provided one of the sharpest, most-colorful pictures I've seen from a 7 inch tablet. When I look at the same pictures on both the ICOU7GT and an iFive Mini2, colors were noticeably more vibrant on the ICOU7GT.


System & UI: No Surprise



The ICOU7GT ships with Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean), and ICOO promised an Android 4.2 firmware update will come to the device very soon. There’s not much to talk about the system and user interface, as it’s almost 100% stock Android with the full line of google apps. Third party applications are kept to the minimum, and none of them is ICOO-exclusive.


Probably the only thing I should mention again is the 4K player app designed exclusively for tablets with the Allwinner A31 Soc. It is capable of playing 4 clips of HD videos in different floating windows simultaneously. As much as it shows the video decoding and multi-tasking ability of the A31 chipset, it actually is useless on a screen-tight 7 inch tablet.

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Old May 14th, 2013, 01:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Performance: Impeccable


The ICOU7GT is powered by the Allwinner A31 Soc., which is built on quad core of Cortex-A7 processors and 40nm process, each core can speed up to 1.2GHZ. It is also paired with the Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU and 2GB of DDR3 memory.

Whether I was navigating around the OS, playing an HD video or racing around the car in "NFS 17", the ICOU7GT and its quad core A31 chipset provided smooth performance.




On Antutu, a synthetic test that measures overall system performance, the ICOU7GT scored a solid 12,671, even better than the tegra3 powered ASUS Transformer Prime and almost twice as much as the tablet category average. However, the PIPO M9 and its quad-core A9 RK3188 CPU scored a much-higher 17226.

On Nenamark2, a graphics benchmark, the ICOU7GT scored an incredible 59.1FPS, far better than the rest of the quad core tablet gang, thanks to its impeccable SGX544MP2 GPU.

The only benchmark which the ICOU7GT didn’t do very well with is Vellamo, of which the HTML5 Chapter evaluates mobile web browser performance and the Metal Chapter measures the CPU subsystem performance of mobile processors. The 1128 of HTML5 and 363 of Metal even lag behind the scores of some dual core tablets.


Scores can’t tell everything about this slate, in real use, the ICOU7GT’s performance transcends its benchmark scores. The PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU is really astonishing when it comes to running graphic-intense games. I’ve never experienced such speediness during playing “Need for Speed 17: the Most Wanted” and “Asphalt7”. Also, you can never find another chipset more capable of video decoding, all formats of 3840*2160 videos can be played smoothly on the ICOU7GT, and you can even output the image to a larger screen via an HDMI cable.


However, what stuns me the most is its capability of multi-tasking. I did some insane tests on the ICOU7GT, streaming three HD videos in different floating windows, running several apps in the background, and try to play “virtua tennis” and then “fruit Ninja” on the ICOU7GT, and guess what, ICOU7GT coped with them all very well. Only when I was streaming 4 HD videos and play the more power-demanding “IRON MAN 3”, the ICOU7GT started to struggle with smoothness.


Cameras: A Joke


The ICOU7GT has featured a 5MP rear-facing camera, but don’t get fooled by the numbers. Even with good lighting, photos shot by the ICOU7GT can turn out fairly grainy and noisy. The front-facing camera is of VGA standard, and it is even worse than the rear side camera.


Connectivity: Solid


There's not a great deal of connectivity options adorning the ICOU7GT, with the Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth standards making their typical appearances. The wifi reception is solid, yet not so strong as the Samsung P1000, but far better than slates like the CUBE U9GT3 and Aiwa AW920.


Battery Life: Too short


The greatest disappointment of the ICOU7GT is the battery life, as the 3600mAh capacity suggests, the ICOU7GT can barely make it to 5 hours of on screen use. During my video playback test, it lasts 4 hours and 48 minutes before it automatically shuts down due to battery drain, and holds its ground for less than 4 hours streaming online. I don’t care if the 3,600mAh battery capacity is a result of its 8.8mm body, a battery life of less than 5 hours is just too short by any standard!


Verdict



The ICOO ICOU7GT is the first 7 inch tablet that features the Allwinner A31 quad core chipset, and overall, it is a nice slate, if you can get over its crappy battery life. However, its competitiveness is questionable, as slates like the Hyundai T7 and Viewsonic N710 with more mainstream quad core Soc.s and similar screens are at the same price point.


The Good:

Fashionable design, one of the best-looking 7 inchers around.
Excellent build quality.
7 inch IPS display at the resolution of 1280*800.
Decent overall performance.


The bad:

The rear-facing camera is probably the worst 5MP camera I’ve seen.
The battery life is simply toooooooo short.
The price (USD 145) is not reasonable enough.
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