JoyTAB 9.7” (Rev 2) Tablet Review
This is the first time we have managed to get hold of a JoyTAB Tablet - which is a device manufactured by Gemini in China but its support (parts, labour, everything) is 100% provided in the UK.
Mind you before we go into the review this device is supposed to be the Rev 2 of the model but in terms of specs it seems lower than the Rev 1 model!? According to their website apart from the 1GB RAM (the Rev 1 model has 512MB RAM) the CPU is running at 1Ghz (instead of 1.2) and the GPU is also different, so the Rev 2 Model seems slightly under-par in our opinion!
Also a few websites that are selling the device are putting this on as a 10” model with varying specs, so this needs to be sorted out asap* to help avoid any confusion. However our box does have a sticker with 9.7” covering what appears to be the number 10 underneath and the website support even mentions the 10” device in its documentation, so somewhere late into its development the marketing chaps decided that it was unwise to market this as a 10" device (we know 9.7" is close, but it's still not a 10" model!) but it was too late to change the box, hence the possible confusion!
Aside from the marketing mishap this should not detract from the fact that the device has an air of build quality that is impressive given its £199.99 price tag. Sponsored Link: If you're looking at buy now pay later tablet computers, consider a similarly priced yet more compact Acer Iconia A110, which is equipped with a faster nVidia Tegra 3 Quad Core 1.2GHz processor.
The packaging is bright and colourful and opening the box reveals a tablet that looks remarkably like an original iPad!
In fact it’s got a similar 9.7” IPS rated screen and the same 1024 x 768 resolution.
Alongside the tablet you have an instruction pamphlet and a miniUSB cable (which doesn’t charge the device when plugged in to the computer), this is not so good because we would have preferred a universal microUSB connector so we don’t have to lug yet another different cable around with us.
Also there is propriety mains power cable in the box as well so once again this is yet another piece of EQ we have to take with us!
Holding the device in your hand feels sturdy and gives off an air of quality. To the sides you have an array of connectivity ports that include your propriety power connector, a mini HDMI (you can output to a TV in FULL HD), a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD card for expanding the already generous 16GB to 32GB (i.e. its supports 16GB cards) and three identical looking buttons (though these are labeled) to provide volume and power controls.
To the front you have a 0.3MP camera and to the back you have your 2MP camera with the JoyTAB logo etched neatly in the center.
However there is also a sticker to the side which is a little misleading. It lists some of the tablets specs but as it’s next to the lens you would be led to believe this is a 2MP camera with 1080P video recording, however it's not. The 1080P support is for the video player as the camera can only record at 720P.
To the top you have your two stereo speakers which are well placed so they don’t get muffled when you hold the tablet in both hands, though to be honest the speakers do sound a little tinny and don’t have a massive amount of volume.
OS & Screen Glory
Firing up the device for the first time reveals a few more surprises to add to its solid build quality. Firstly the OS is Android 4 (ICS) which is pretty impressive for a sub £200 tablet. Also the IPS 9.7” screen is easily its stand out feature with the IPS providing great viewing angles and the screen producing rich/vibrant colours. This certainly brings to life the icons, videos, YouTube content and pictures we viewed on the device.
In terms of its usability the ICS OS does suffer from a touch of lag which is evident mainly when the device is settling down after a re-boot. This affects the screen response of some of the icons as well.
However once settled the tablet runs reasonably well and more importantly it was stable throughout all our tests, which is key to any Tablets success.
It also provides a fairly bog standard – untouched – list of Android default apps, but it does come with a nice Video player which has 1080P support and various playback controls for adjusting the video to fit the screen (it’s certainly a lot better than a lot of video players we have used in the past).
Additionally it comes with an e-book reader app, a functional multi-touch/flash enabled web browser (which worked well) and a basic video editing suite of software which allows you to transform videos with certain effects (i.e. Sepia). It did struggle with large videos, but even so it could have its uses.
Sadly its claims as a game platform are short-lived. In terms of its virtual benchmark scores it received a score of 700 in the Vellamo tests and 2086 in the AnTuTu benchmark (you can get these apps from Google Play for free). Compare this to the Budget Orange Tahiti which we had a play with a few months back this scored 1145 in Vellamo and 5481 in the AnTuTu tests, but in fairness the Orange has a 1.2Ghz dual-core processor.
In the real-world the tablet could run most of the games we installed, such as Where’s MY Water, Angry Birds etc., but there are traces of lag where the processor and GPU can’t cope.
We can’t be too hard on the product though because it is a budget device and the games are still enjoyable, but just don’t expect to have the same performance as a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Asus Transformer Prime (which are way more expensive anyway) and you won’t be disappointed.
Mind you for general video playback and streaming performance the device was more comfortable, though given its 4:3 display the YouTube players interface was truncated slightly - towards the two far ends - when run in landscape mode. Thankfully this did not interfere with videos themselves which all ran well and the IPS screen was as great as ever!
The camera uses a simple bog standard interface for capturing shots or 720P videos. Without the flash images in low light conditions were not great. But you can get the odd passable shot and display this on the tablet itself.
For Battery tests we set the backlight to max and left the Wireless antenna running (while being connected to the router). We then run a hi-res video for 2 hours and 15 minutes from a full battery and then at the end we check to see how much life the device has left.
Sadly the battery life from a video playback with the above conditions was extremely poor, so poor that it ran down to 24% from a full charge. Without the WiFi running and the backlight set to max this managed to achieve 31% but it’s still bad. You could reduce the max backlight to boost the battery further (because the screen is quite vibrant) but even so the battery will not survive long if you do a lot of web browsing, streaming or playing games.
Charging is also slow with it taking around 5 hours to charge the device, so you don't get a lot of return for the charging investment.
However once again we come back to the specs, strangely the Rev 2 model has a lower battery than the Rev 1, with the latter featuring a 4400mAh battery and this one has a 3600mAh battery, so once again there is a touch of confusion as to which device is the better option.
The confusion relating to the spec is a concern for us, because if we are confused then the standard consumer is most certainly going to be! For this reason we recommend checking the spec first with the supplier if you decide to buy.
Mind you with its extremely poor battery life and so so performance there is less of an incentive anyway.
But we can forgive some areas because after all this is a budget device. Plus there is something about the JoyTAB that makes us want to use it. This could be the ICS OS, solid build quality or fantastic screen (in terms of vibrancy), but who knows.
However if they can release an update to boost the performance and sort the specs out then it may have some uses for those on a tighter budget.
*Update: We mentioned our concerns to the PR company that looks after JoyTAB and while they haven't had a response about everything we spoke of above they have had confirmation that both Argos and Gemini have updated their websites to list the screen size as 9.7" now. We will post any more updates when we get them.
Update 31/05/2012: Rev1 of the JoyTAB is being taken off of the Gemini Website. So hopefully this should spare some consumer confusion!