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Alcatel Onetouch Hero 8 review
The Alcatel Onetouch Hero 8 was announced at IFA in September 2014. It is an 8 inch Android tablet with a 1920 x 1200 WUXGA, full HD display. It is just 7.3mm thick and weighs just 310 grams. This makes the Hero 8 one of the slimmest and lightest tablets on the market.
Internally it is much like the Alcatel Onetouch Hero 2 smartphone. It has an octa-core processor from MediaTek and 2GB of memory. The Alcatel Onetouch brand was born out of a joint venture between the Alcatel, the French telecommunication company, and TCL, a Chinese electronics giant. After a few years Alcatel sold its part in the venture, however the name lives on in Alcatel Onetouch. I received a Hero 8 a few days ago and I have been playing with it ever since, this is what I discovered.
|8” WUXGA Full HD, 1920 x 1200.
2.0GHz, octa-core MediaTek MT8392, Cortex-A7
16GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB
5.0 Megapixel Rear Camera, 2MP Front Camera
GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, IR blaster
GSM, 3G, 4G LTE
Android 4.4 with Google Play
209 x 122 x 7.3 mm, 310g
The design of the Hero 8 is excellent. At 7.3mm thick, it feels slim and lightweight, but due to its aluminium body it feels sturdy and robust. It has a excellent 8 inch display which makes using the device a constant pleasure.
The sides of the tablet are aluminium while the back is made of plastic. On the right side is the power button and the volume rocker. On the bottom edge are two speaker grills and the micro USB port. On the top is the headphone jack, the IR blaster, and an interesting tray for the SIM card and for the micro SD card. The left hand side is intentionally sparse as it leaves room for the MagicFlip covers.
On the back is the camera lens, the flash and a special connector for the MagicFlip covers. The back of the tablet doesn’t attract fingerprints, however if your fingers are at all greasy then smudges can appear.
Several different interesting covers are available for the Hero 8. Known as MagicFlip covers they come in two categories, simple and intelligent. The simple ones are just ordinary flip covers with a magnetic which is used to clip the cover onto the left side of the tablet. The intelligent covers use the same magnetic clip mechanism however they all use the special connector. This connector allows the phone to interact with the cover. For example, one cover has a LED display which shows the time and various notifications.
The display on the Her0 8 is excellent. It is display is borderless and has full lamination, which according to Alcatel Onetouch eliminates reflection. At 1920 x 1200 it has a pixel density of 283 ppi. The display is crisp and the colors are bright. The display is full adjustable in that not only can you alter the brightness, but in the settings there is also the options to change the color warmth and the saturation. This means you can tweak the display to suit your personal preferences.
Overall, the resolution is good and although the pixel density isn’t as high as some other tablets, it is more than sufficient for this form factor.
Like the Hero 2 smartphone, the Hero 8 uses the MT8392, an octa-core processor from MediaTek. There aren’t that many tablets out there which use these octa-core processors, so that makes the Hero 8 different, almost unique. The MT8392 has 8 Cortex-A7 cores and a quad-core Mali-450MP GPU.
The performance of the MT8392 is excellent for apps that perform lots of simultaneous tasks (i.e. with lots of threads). But for apps which are singled threaded, the MT8392 will be slower than a processor with Cortex-A15 or A17 cores.
The Hero 8’s AnTuTu scores are good at 29910. This makes the device on par with the Xiaomi Redmi Note. For Epic Citadel, the demo app for the Unreal 3D engine, the Hero 8 managed 51.0 frames per second (fps) on the High quality setting. The fps was almost the same in High Performance mode at 51.1.
The GPS performance of the Hero 8 was good and the device managed to get a lock indoors and outdoors without any problems.
The battery in the Hero 8 is a 4060 mAh unit. I was expecting a slightly larger battery for a device with an 8 inch display, even the Nexus 7 (2012) had a bigger battery (at 4325 mAh). Admittedly the Nexus 7 (2013) has a slightly smaller battery than the Hero 8, but for an 8 inch device I think the battery could be a bit bigger.
I ran my customary set of tests: YouTube streaming, Epic Citadel, and watching a locally stored video. My Epic Citadel test showed that the phone will handle about 3 to 3.5 hours of intensive 3D gaming. Simpler 2D games will likely run for much longer. YouTube will work for around four hours on a full charge, while for video watching you can get around 4.5 to 5 hours.
Since this is a tablet and not a smartphone, the battery performance isn’t so critical. It doesn’t need to be in your pocket and ready to use, all day long. So although I would liked to have seen a bigger battery in the Hero 8, it isn’t a deal breaker.
The Hero 8 is an LTE enabled device. That means as well as Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth, you also get 4G LTE connectivity. The tablet supports LTE on 800 / 850/ 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600MHz. These bands are compatible with lots of places around the world, especially Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The only real exception is the USA, which needs 700 and 1700 MHz. If a 4G network isn’t available then the tablet can also use 3G on 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz.
The 5 megapixel rear facing camera on this device is more than sufficient for a tablet. The color reproduction could be a bit better, but the results are acceptable for a tablet. Generally tablets aren’t used for taking photos and sometimes I question why manufacturers include rear facing cameras. Front facing cameras (of which the Hero 8 has a 2MP one) yes, but rear, I don’t know.
Photos are taken quickly and the included camera app is excellent. Although simple to use it still hosts a full range of features including HDR, Panorama, Sports mode, and there is even a built-in QR code scanner.
The best thing is to judge for yourself. It is currently snowing outside, so most of these pics are indoors, but I hope they will be useful:
The Hero 8 comes with Android 4.4.2 with a lightly customized skin from Alcatel Onetouch. The launcher uses the custom theme to good effect and the overall UI design is pleasing. The customization is light and there was never a moment when I thought the UI was slowing down the tablet. The notification blind is nicely designed with the background showing the screen behind it using a semi-transparent effect. The settings page is black-on-white rather than white-on-black as with stock Android, however the redesign is pleasing and likable. Overall the UI moves fast, flows freely and enhances the overall experience.
Alcatel Onetouch has bundled a number of third party apps with the device including Deezer and Kobo, plus there is the Peel Smart Remote app for the built-in IR blaster. The device also comes with a special version of Cross DJ which has been customized by Mixvibes. You can also buy the specially designed MagicFlip DJ cover which works together with Cross DJ. If music is your thing, then this is quite a useful setup.
Another neat trick that the Hero 8 has is the ability to run some apps in a window. The window mode is activated from the menu bar at the bottom of the screen and it allows you to reduce an app from full screen to a window. These windows can be layered, one on top of the other, and they can be moved around and arranged as needed. This will certainly be a boost for those who like to multitask.
Alcatel has its own apps store, know as the “App Center”, however the Hero 8 also comes with full Google Play support and all of the normal Google apps are available.
Editor’s Note – We’ve confirmed that the OneTouch Hero 8 will launch at a price of approximately $379 USD. We will keep this updated as we receive more info.
The Hero 8 is a great device. It is thin and lightweight, but yet sturdy. It is easy to handle and the display is a joy to use. The processor package is fast, and the UI is responsive. The software is nice, including the pre-bundled apps, and the ability to run apps in windows. The battery could be a big bigger, but since this is a tablet that is less of a problem than on a smartphone. Overall the device is impressive and worth considering.