The 9.7 inch tablet format established by Apple when it released the iPad still remains popular among consumers and although many Android manufacturers have tried to differentiate themselves by either using a 8.9 inch or 10.1 inch display, companies like Freelander have offerings which try to compete directly with the iPad. I recently got a chance to spend some time with the Freelander PD80, a 9.7 inch Chinese designed and manufactured tablet which comes with a quad-core processor and 3G functionality.
The overall look of the PD80 is similar to the iPad. The bezel and case are just under 2 cm wide (from the edge of the display), which according to my crude measurements is about 1 mm wider than on an iPad 2. So at first glance the PD80 looks very much like a white iPad 2. However there is no round button at the bottom, but there is a small front facing camera. However once you turn the device over it looks very different. The back is made of a silver plastic that doesn’t attract fingerprints but I would imagine it could scratch if treated too roughly. On the back is the 5MP camera and the SIM card slot, which is covered by an oblong rubber plug. The bottom of the device contains all the ports and buttons. The on/off button and the volume rocker are quite slim and not easy to find without looking but they feel robust in use. Next to the on/off switch is the micro HDMI port and the micro USB port which is used to charge the device and can also be used as an OTG USB port via the supplied adapter. There is also a headphone jack and a micro SD card slot (under a white rubber cover). Overall all the ports and buttons are compact and nicely designed.
Since this is a budget tablet, that is designed to compete with the iPad 2, the display only has a resolution of 1024 x 768, however it is an IPS display meaning the viewing angles are good. The brightness is good and the color reproduction is as a good as any budget device. In fact compared to my Nexus 7 (2012) the colors were more vibrant and rich. However it is worth noting that the device does not support auto-brightness.
The PD80 comes with quite a full feature list considering its budget pricing. Along with the quad-core CPU and 3G support the device comes with GPS, Bluetooth, HDMI output, and a micro SD card slot. The full specs are:
- Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- 1.2GHz MT8389 Quad Core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 1024 x 768 9.7 inch IPS display
- 16 GB internal storage
- 3G: WCDMA: 850/2100MHz and 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
- WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 5 Megapixel Rear Camera
- 0.3 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
- Mic and Speaker
- 6000 mAh Battery
- Micro SD Card up to 32GB
- 240 x 190 x 9 mm (L x W x D)
- Weight: 666 grams
The processor in the PD80 is the same as in the Freelander PX2 which I reviewed a couple of months ago. It comes from MediaTek and is based on the Cortex- A7 with a PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU. The performance is very similar to that of its smaller cousin and the 1.2Ghz CPU scored 13245 on AnTuTu.
I ran Epic Citadel in all three of its quality modes (high performance, high quality and ultra high quality) and the PD80 managed over 50 fps for the first two categories (scoring 57.9 and 55.4 respectively). It only faltered in the ultra high quality mode where it managed just 24.2 fps.
These are good results for a budget device and as expected the PD80 felt fast and fluid all the time I used it.
A quick test of the GPS shows that it takes about a minute to get its initial lock but after that it reacquires the signal quite quickly (less than 15 seconds) even after a reboot (but still in the same physical location).
The Freelander PD80 ships with Android 4.2.2 and although there are some forums discussing various firmware options for older Freelander models, it is unlikely that it will be upgraded to Android 4.3 or 4.4. I did actually find a firmware download section on the official manufacturers website (www.link-create.com.cn) but 4.2 seems to be the latest firmware available for all of their products. But Android 4.2.2 is still a fairly recent and highly respectable version of Android. The PD80 comes with full support for the Google Play Store and works with all the usual Google apps like Gmail and Hangouts.