I am constantly amazed at the range of Android tablets that are coming out of China. As the song goes there are short ones, tall ones, fine ones, kind ones – okay maybe not kind ones, but there are tablets for almost every need. However the 9.7 inch category still remains popular due to the success of the iPad. Many Android tablet makers including Google (with its Nexus 10) have tried to push the 10.0 to 10.1 inch size and it seems to be working. Personally I find the 10.1 inch form factor just a little too big and I have often found myself preferring 9.7 inch or even 7 inch tablets over larger devices.
The Ceros Revolution is clearly aimed at those who want an Android device that looks physically similar to an iPad (meaning an iPad 3 or iPad 4) and with some of the same specs as the iPad, but without the hefty price! The tablet sports a 9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 IPS display with a pixel density of 264ppi – very similar to the iPad, plus the device is the same height, width and thickness to the iPad (give or take fractions of a millimeter here or there).
Looking directly at the front of the Ceros Revolution it physically looks very similar to an iPad however once you start to turn it around in your hands you will see some interesting design differences that clearly show that this is an Android tablet. One is the lack of volume buttons. The volume is controlled using the soft keys that appear on the system bar on either side of the traditional set of back, home and recent buttons. This makes the device seem more streamlined and in fact to further aide streamlining the HDMI port, the micro SD card slot and the micro USB port are all hidden under a little cover. The only buttons that protrude from the device are the on/off button and just below it a back button.
The device is well constructed mainly out of plastic, including the screen, but for the price that is to be expected. In your hands it feels sturdy and doesn’t suffer from any plastic creaks or groans when you are using it. It is also available in black. A couple of minor negative points are that the device is charged using the supplied charger and can’t be charged via USB, plus there is only one speaker, no stereo here!
With a resolution of 2048 x 1536 the display is very clear and crisp. The viewing angles are excellent and the colors vibrant but yet not over saturated. Using the web at this resolution is enjoyable and high-res photos from sites like Flickr are stunning. When reading an ebook with an app like Kindle the text is sharp and easy on the eyes. The QXGA display has a 4:3 aspect ratio and packs in some 3.1 million pixels. Remembering that 1080p is 1920 x 1080, the display on this device will easily display any HD videos.
Besides the high resolution display the Ceros Revolution also features a quad-core CPU, 16GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM, a 5 megapixel rear camera and an 8000mAh battery!
The full specs are as follows:
The tablet uses a fairly vanilla version of Android 4.2.2 but with some minor changes. There is a section in the settings for controlling the HDMI port. Here the port can be activated and deactivated and the TV screen resolution can be set. There is also a section in the settings for controlling a screenshot button which, when activated, is placed on the system bar along with the volume, back, home and recent buttons. Even though this is Android 4.2, one missing feature is the ability to create separate user accounts. Other than that everything looks standard.
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 most manufacturers.
I installed various different apps from the Play Store and found hardly any compatibility issues (something that used to plague Chinese OEM tablets). Games like Riptide and Asphalt 7: Heat installed without any problems and ran nicely on the high-res display. Unfortunately Asphalt 8 reported that it wasn’t compatible with this device, but that was the only problem title that I found in my quick tour through Google Play.
The 8000mAh battery is impressive and battery life shouldn’t be an issue with this device. During my testing I found that an hour of intense 3D gaming used around 23 percent of battery. This means that any gaming fanatics should get 4 to 5 hours life from this device just playing games. For other activities like watching movies the battery will give over 11 hours of usage. Streaming YouTube videos will probably work for around 7 hours. Leaving it on standby overnight only used 1% of the battery. That means on average you should get about 8 or 9 hours usage out of this device before it needs to be recharged. Maybe more if you are careful.
As well as Wi-Fi b/g/n the tablet also supports Bluetooth and the use of a 3G USB dongle. Although I don’t have a definitive list, the tablet should support any USB 3G dongle listed as Android compatible. In general this means modems from Huawei and ZTE. Because of the support for 3G the build of Android installed on the device includes mobile network related settings about data roaming etc.
A problem that has affected cheaper Chinese tablets in the past is poor Wi-Fi reception. However the Wi-Fi on the Ceros Revolution is solid and works well. During my testing I was able to use Wi-fi normally within and around my house.
At the heart of the tablet is the RockChip RK3188. RockChip processors, like MediaTek ones, are a popular choice for cheaper tablets, especially those coming out of Asia. the RK3188 is a quad-core based on ARM’s Cortex A9 design. The chip is manufactured using a 28 nm process and runs at 1.6GHz.
Looking at performance benchmarks the tablet managed an average score of 14621 on AnTuTu making the device faster than a Nexus 10 but slower than a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. For Epic Citadel the results were good but not stunning, this is because the GPU is now having to render the image for the large 2048 x 1536 display. In High Performance mode the tablet managed a respectable 34.1 frame per second and in high Quality mode 32.9 FPS. In both cases this is more than sufficient for smooth 3D gaming plus you get the advantage of the high resolution display.
During normal use the tablet is smooth and doesn’t seem to suffer from any lags or annoying delays.
The tablet has a 5MP rear camera and a very basic 0.3 MP front-facing camera. With tablets the most useful is probably the front facing camera for video chats and although something better than VGA would have been nice, VGA is sufficient for most video conversions. 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, it suffers from a loss of detail in white areas, but other than that it functions well enough for a tablet. The camera app itself is basic and only allows the white balance to be set. The auto-focus does take a little longer than expected to lock so there can be a delay from when you tap to take the picture and when it is taken, however for a tablet camera it is sufficient.
Here are a few test shots!
The Ceros Revolution is available directly from Chinavasion, who ship worldwide, for $239.99 or 180 Euros. For half the price of an iPad and $150 less than a Nexus 10 you get a quad-core tablet with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage featuring a display with the same resolution as Apple’s Retina display. It is faster than the Nexus 10 and includes a micro SD card slot, something missing on both the iPad and Nexus 10!