There are plenty of seven inch tablets on the market and all the big Android manufacturers have an offering including Samsung, Google, Asus and of course Amazon. However with the new Nexus 7 costing $229 an up, there is room for something cheaper. The Freelander PX2 is a seven inch Chinese designed and manufactured tablet which comes with a quad-core processor and dual SIM 3G functionality. I have spent a few days playing with the device and this is what I discovered.
I’ll be honest, before I opened the box I wasn’t expecting much in terms of design. If the device was slightly thicker and slightly heavy than say a Nexus 7 (2012) then I would think it was just about par for the course. However once I had unpacked the tablet I was quite surprised. OK, this doesn’t have the same build quality and design as a $400 tablet but the PX2 is actually thinner and lighter than my Nexus 7 (2012).
The bezel (and case) take up about 1.4cm down the side, making it very similar to the Nexus 7 (2012) but along the top it is under 2cm making it shorter than the Nexus 7. In the top bezel, along with the front facing camera, there is a speaker grill which is unusual but logical once you remember that, because of the inclusion of 3G, this tablet can actually be used as a phone!
Since this is a budget tablet there are bound to be a few areas which aren’t bleeding edge and one of those is the display. The Freelander PX2 uses a fairly simple 1024 x 600 display. It isn’t IPS which means that the viewing angles aren’t brilliant. In a completely non-scientific experiment I reckon that text can still be read comfortably even with the device tilted beyond 40 degrees. Anywhere after 45 degrees and the text becomes unclear.
The display’s brightness is average and for indoor use was more than adequate. Outdoors the screen can be seen sufficiently when in the shade but in normal daylight it was harder to see.
The PX2 comes with quite a full feature list considering its budget pricing. Along with the quad-core CPU and dual-SIM 3G support the device comes with GPS, Bluetooth, HDMI output, and a micro SD card slot. The full specs are:
The processor in the PX2 comes from MediaTek and is an extension of the company’s quad-core portfolio. Based on the Cortex- A7 CPU, this SoC also includes the a PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU. In terms of performance the 1.2Ghz CPU and GPU package does remarkably well. Its AnTuTu score was 13749 making it faster than the Nexus 7 (2012) and comparable with the Nexus 10.
I ran Epic Citadel in all three of its quality modes (high performance, high quality and ultra high quality) and the PX2 managed to break the 60 fps barrier for the first two categories (scoring 68.7 and 65.5 respectively). It only faltered in the ultra high quality mode where it managed just 28.7 fps.
As expected with these kinds of numbers, the PX2 felt fast and fluid all the time I used it.
Before moving on to the software, it is worth noting that the PX2 does include GPS circuitry and it does work, but getting a lock can be a long process. My tests both indoors and outdoors showed that establishing my current location could take several minutes. This will likely be OK if you are a casual or infrequent user of apps that requite a precise GPS fix, but if you want to use the PX2 as your main GPS enabled device, you might want to reconsider.
The Freelander PX2 ships with Android 4.2.1 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. A look around the official manufacturers website (www.link-create.com.cn) didn’t reveal any firmware download section. But Android 4.2.1 is still a recent and highly respectable version of Android. The RX2 comes with full support for the Google Play Store and works with all the usual Google apps like Gmail and Hangouts.
For some inexplicable reason the Freelander PX2 comes with a Windows 8 type launcher. If that isn’t your thing (and it certainly isn’t for me) then there is a handy “OS Switch” app which allows you to re-instate the default Android launcher.
It is also worth mentioning that the device comes with root access by default!