During the summer I had a chance to spend some time with the 9.7 inch Ceros Revolution which included a high resolution display (2048 x 1536) but only cost $240. Ceros has now released a 7-inch tablet called the Ceros Motion and having spent a few days with it this is what I discovered.
The Ceros Motion is competing in the very crowded budget 7-inch market but to distinguish itself this tablet has an IPS display (something really only found at the higher end of the 7-inch market) plus it has phone and 3G data capabilities. In fact it has two unlocked SIM card slots which will work in lots of locations around the world – for calling and for Internet.
The design of the Ceros Motion is actually quite sophisticated. Its overall size is smaller than a Nexus 7 (2012) mainly due to a smaller bezel area at the top and bottom. It is easy to hold and the back is made of a non-shiny plastic which means it doesn’t ever feel slippery. One interesting design feature is that the buttons for power and volume are actually quite large and protrude slightly from the side of the device. If this was a phone they would look really weird, but somehow on a tablet it looks and feels OK. There is also a “Home” button just above the volume rocker which is something I haven’t seen on a tablet for quite a while. Its positioning could be a bit better as it is easy to confuse it with the volume controls.
The top of the device has the headphone socket, the micro-USB socket (which is also used to charge the device) and the mini-HDMI port. The microphone is on the bottom because the device can be used as a phone. This also means that there is a small speaker grill on the front of the device, again for the phone. Access to the micro-SD card slot and SIM card slots is easy through a pop off cover on the back of the tablet.
Although not a full HD display, the 1280 x 800 resolution is high and good for seven inch device. The viewing angles are excellent as the tablet uses an IPS display and the colors are good, I wouldn’t say vibrant but neither would I say bland. Considering that devices like the original iPad mini or some of the earlier seven inch Android tablets used resolutions of 1024 x 768 or less, the 1280 x 800 on this unit is more than sufficient, especially when considering the price.
At the heart of the Ceros Motion is a quad-core 1.2 GHz MTK8389 Cortex-A7 CPU with a Power VR SGX544 GPU. Samsung’s Exynos 5410 Octa SoC uses the same GPU (but probably with a different shader configuration). There is also 1GB of system RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The flash memory is divided up into 1GB of internal storage and then roughly 6GB of internal USB storage. You can also add an SD card and change the default write location for the device.
The full specs are as follows:
In the box you also get a USB charger and cable, a OTG USB cable, some headphones and a protective case.
The tablet uses a fairly vanilla version of Android 4.2.2, however there is one missing feature – the ability to create separate user accounts. This is probably because it is running a phone variant of Android rather than a tablet build.
If you are into rooting and custom firmware upgrades or long term Android upgrades then this tablet probably isn’t for you. However Android 4.2.2 is the current shipping version of Android for many manufacturers.
I installed various different apps from the Play Store and I didn’t find any compatibility issues (something that used to plague Chinese OEM tablets). Games like Riptide and Asphalt 8 installed without any problems.
The 3200 mAh battery is a little below par for a seven inch device, however since this is a budget model it is more than acceptable. As a comparison the Nexus 7 (2012) has a 4325 mAh battery while the Nexus 7 (2013) comes with a 3950 mAh cell. However other budget models from some of the big names have even smaller batteries. For example the Acer Iconica B1 has a 2640 mAh power unit.
During my testing I found that an hour of intense 3D gaming used around 26 percent of the battery. This means that any gaming fanatics should get about 3.5 hours battery life. For other activities like watching movies the battery will give over 5.5 hours of usage. Streaming YouTube videos will work for around 4.5 hours. Leaving it on standby overnight only uses about 5% of the battery, so on average you should get about 4 to 5 hours usage out of this device before it needs to be recharged.
As well as Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth the device has two SIM card slots which can be used for phone calls and/or for a 3G Internet connection. Because of the SIM slots the version of Android included on the device includes all the normal phone type software including a dialpad and SIM management (for choosing which SIM card should be used for 3G).
While using the device as an actual phone is possible, it probably isn’t very practical! But for 3G connectivity and sending text messages it works fine. However it is worth noting that the device only supports WCDMA on 2100 MHz and on 850 MHz. The first number is the ‘normal’ 3G frequency and should work in many places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G network on a different frequency. In Asia and South America this is often 850 MHz, while in Europe it is mainly 900 MHz. You need to check what frequencies your carrier is using to ensure you get the best 3G connectivity from this tablet.
A problem that has affected cheaper Chinese tablets in the past is poor Wi-Fi reception. However the Wi-Fi on the Ceros Motion is solid and works well. During my testing I was able to use Wi-Fi normally within and around my house.
The tablet also comes with a GPS. The inclusion of a GPS system in a budget tablet can often mean poor signal reception and long lock times. The first time I tried using the GPS outdoors it took about 60 seconds to get a lock, but from then on-wards the lock was achieved pretty quickly, normally in under 10 seconds.
At the heart of the tablet is the MediaTek MTK8389. MediaTek processors, like RockChip ones, are a popular choice for cheaper tablets, especially those coming out of Asia. The MTK8389 is a quad-core processor based on ARM’s Cortex A7 design.
Looking at performance benchmarks the tablet managed an average score of 13331 on AnTuTu making the device faster than a Samsung Galaxy S2 and just a bit slower than a HTC One X. Although the score isn’t record-breaking, during normal use the tablet is smooth and doesn’t seem to suffer from any lags or annoying delays. For Epic Citadel the results were good but again not stunning. In High Performance mode the tablet managed a very respectable 51 frames per second and in high quality mode a good 49.7 FPS. However in the ultra high quality mode the GPU couldn’t keep up and the tablet scored just 22.8 FPS.
The tablet has a 5MP rear camera and a very basic 0.3 MP front-facing camera. It can be argued that the most useful camera on a tablet is the front facing one for video chats etc. Although something better than VGA would have been nice, VGA is sufficient for most video conversations. You are unlikely to be using a tablet as your main camera but when something unexpected happens the best camera is the one you have with you. In general the pictures are OK, possibly a little bland, but tweaking the photos with the built-in editor is simple. The camera app has all the usual features including smiled detection, panorama, and HDR.
Here are a few test shots!
The Ceros Motion is available directly from Chinavasion, who ship worldwide, for $179.99 or around 133 Euros. At the time of writing it is on special offer at just $159.99, that is $70 cheaper than a Nexus 7 (2013). Once you pay any possible import taxes it might not be such a good deal for those in North America, but for just about anywhere else in the world (where tablet prices from the main manufacturers don’t reflect the US pricing) this is certainly a good deal.