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Freelander PX2 review - quad core, 3G, 7 inch tablet

The Freelander PX2 is a quad-core, 7 inch tablet that can be bought from China for just $160. After spending a few days with the device this is what I found out.
By
August 12, 2013
Freelander PX2 promo
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:

  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
  • 1.2GHz MT8389 Quad Core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1024×600 7 inch display
  • 8GB internal storage
  • 3G: WCDMA: 850/2100MHz and 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • GPS + AGPS
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 5 Megapixel Rear Camera
  • 2 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
  • Mic and Speaker
  • 3200mAh Battery
  • Micro SD Card up to 32GB
  • HDMI
  • Dimensions: 192x118x10mm (L x W x D)
  • Weight: 305g
px2-antutu-all

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.

px2-launchers
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!

px2-inthebox

The PX2 comes with a 3200mAh battery which is smaller than the batteries found in the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire and the iPad mini. This means that battery life isn’t going to be in the 8 to 10 hour category. My testing has shown that the maximum usage you will get out of the PX2 is six hours from one charge.

I performed three different tests. The first was to watch an MP4 video film which was stored on the internal flash. With Wi-Fi on and the screen at half brightness you can watch about six hours of video. Switching to watching a streaming YouTube video that number drops to around 4.5 hours and using the “Guided Tour” mode in Epic Citadel I calculate that this tablet will handle about 3 hours of heavy 3D gaming.

The device comes with a 5 megapixel rear camera and a 2MP front facing camera. The inclusion of a better-than-VGA camera on the front is a nice point for those who want to use the PX2 for video chats. The main camera takes reasonable pictures and the built-in camera app includes features like face detection, HDR, continuous shooting and panorama.

Here is a small selection of pictures taken with the PX2.

px2-camera-ball
px2-camera-flower
px2-camera-garden
px2-sim1-sim2

As mentioned above the PX2 can double as a phone. It contains two SIM slots and includes all the normal phone type software including a dialpad and SIM management (for choosing which SIM card should be used for 3G). While using the device as an actual phone is possible, it probably isn’t practical!

px2-as-a-phone

However for accessing 3G and sending text messages it works fine. However it is worth noting that the device only supports WCDMA on 2100MHz and on 850MHz. The first  number is the ‘normal’ 3G frequency and should work in many places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G network on a different frequency. In Asia and South America this is often 850MHz, while in Europe it is mainly 900MHz. You need to check what frequencies your carrier is using to ensure you get the best 3G connectivity from this tablet.

So how much does a quad-core seven inch tablet with 3G, GPS and up to six hours of batter life cost? Just $159.99. It can be bought from Chinavasion which ships worldwide but watch out for any import duties that might need to be paid on delivery.

Compared to a Nexus 7, this device is cheap and has quite a number of good features like the HDMI output and an SD card slot. However the competition is tough among tablet makers and if you catch the right offer a device like the Kindle Fire (or sometimes the Kindle Fire HD) can be bought for a similar price – but without the quad-core processor, GPS or 3G of course!