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:
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.
Freelander PD80 playing Asphalt 8: Airborne.
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nook hd+ would be a much better bet
Yeah, atleast u know you would get support from BN. Do they even sell these cheap Chinese tablets here anyway?
I guess they are scared of getting sued into oblivion, they could pull off any kind of fraud in asia and get away. after a couple of years of really substandard products 2013 has been really different – the mtk6589 based phones are mostly pretty decent buy for half that of most mid-top range phones, you anyway get lemons at that price from market leaders like samsung.
About that amazing deep sleep: budget devices tend to show false battery readings (tested with Galaxy Gio, Ace, Huawei Ideos X5 and ZTE Blade 2). They often get stuck in some level and either suddenly drop a lot or go out of juice even though it says it still has lots of juice left.
And also “ROFL it’s Chinese OMFG can’t buy” :D
usually it’s around 20% from where it falls rapidly – I guess 20 is 10. but it’s not all that bad either. the value for money proposition will be apparent soon. earlier on, “cheap chinese OEM” had to show some kind of a pronounced , ridiculous, and over the top specs in every dept. now that a lot more people are buying it – they are receding on that front. most of the credit goes to the guts – mediatek and other companies like miezu/ oppo/ coolpad amongst a few others
Just a couple of notes: This does work for 3G in the USA: 850 is 3G UTMS for AT&T networks. 2100 is for everywhere else in the world / one minor carrier in US. 850 will get you HSPA 3GPP High speed with AT&T where the normal GSM Side will get you their Edge network low-speed data as well.
Also, I’m not sure about the disdain for China tablets at this point. Since the general inclusion of capacitive, multi-touch panels and overall availability of good CPU and GPU models… many of the China stuff on the market these days are actually pretty competitive from the 15 or so I’ve bought over the last 2 years.
Prior to that in the days of resistant screens, there was an ocean of really crap tablets. I’m sure there are still some. There are a couple of tablets I have that I am positive are simply unbranded versions of name-brand tablets. They just don’t have the OEM packaging, perhaps a feature installed.
Keep in mind… they are *all* China tablets. I’ve also never had any problems with support on any tablet I’ve bought ‘overseas’.
Anyway, in short – this is a really solid, well built, and smoking tablet. For people like me on the go using it mainly for phone and data – remote desktop usage (secure office access for manuals, database usage, etc.) while I’m onsite, Soundcloud and Shoutcast while I’m on the road… I get 1.5 to 2 days out of this unit between recharges and the case that is designed for these is top notch. You cann pick one up on eBay for like 10 bucks.
I highly recommend it – but hey – that’s the great thing about capitalism – your wallet, your choice! :)