Sep 21, 2012

Ainol Novo Aurora 2, Software Review

Tablet computers are mobile devices with touchscreens interface which were primarily created to bring a new, convenient and interactive way of web browsing, reading books, playing games, watching movies, listening music, and even telephony for the high breeds.

Ainol Novo Aurora 2 is a typical tablet with a Dual Processor and running Android Operating System (OS) soaked with an Ice Cream Sandwich, a version lower than the latest on Googles stable, the Jelly Bean, but as semi-latest as it may seemed, I still find the overall user interface clunky with noticeable freezing of frames as you navigate, unresponsiveness clicks, delayed swipe, among the rest of Android's systematic issues. This would mean that the problem is in the architecture itself, that no matter how many CPU cores will manufacturers used on their devices, the problem still remains.

The tablet uses the built in user interface of Android, the very much customizable system, yet growing wary through the years. How long had the icon and widget base system exists, decades already, its high time for the Google to create something new and futuristic like what Microsoft did with Windows 8, they were able to defy the norm and edge the competition out being fresh and different. Microsoft will even integrate Windows 8 to multiple devices from smartphones, tablets to laptop and desktop computers creating seamless experience unlike Androids fragmented ecosystem.

On the part of being customizable, its no less than the best in the market making it highly attractive for geeks and the highly imaginative. Users can change launchers which gives varied interactive experience, live wallpapers making the once frigid Homecreen active, add or remove widgets that can be re-size to preference, among others, the possibilities are endless as long as developers keeps on creating applications for the OS.

And speaking of applications, Google play offers hundred thousands of them from games, productivity tools, books, travel, etc., you'll never run out of options but like Apple's, majority of which are senseless and fillers which confirms the study made stating that 40% of Google Play's apps were nuisance.

Of all the system I tried, Android is the most difficult to configure, users have to be very geeky to understand what kernels are, roms, roots, obb, data, etc., to fully enjoy it to the fullest. I'm a degree lower than the super geeks so the system is not for me and so are the rest of the mass market. Forget Android if you get irritated with technical words, you meet them a lot using the system, you could instead go for Windows 8 or iOS if you want your life to be less complicated.

Having produce by manufacturers in China, the tablet has several Chinese blotwares and I find these annoying since I don't speak the language. There were repacked roms though that can be installed to remove these apps but again, too geeky to do at the same time needs a lot of courage from users since one false mistake will turn the precious tablet to bricks.

Screen-wise, the tablet has an IPS LCD screen with 1024 x 600 resolution. If this seemed familiar, thats because its the same screen that iPad and iPhone used. Well, its quite bright all right but not in a natural way, I still find AMOLED screen better in terms of color saturation and contrast. It also doesn't blend well on direct sunlight even in full brightness. Not that the tablet is created to be use outdoors but it will really be best if you can use it in whatever situation, sunny or dim. The high-resolution on the screen would mean that the icon size and widgets will not look awkwardly large than those tablets with lower resolution and that you can add more icons and widgets on the Homescreen.

Connectivity option includes WIFI, HDMI and USB. As essential as it is on a tablet computer, Aurora 2 failed to secure one of its most important feature, web connectivity via WIFI, the tablet's one and only out of the box gateway to the internet. The tablet has the most worst signal connection of all the device I've used that even in a 2 meter distance from the router, I could only capture 2 bars unlike my other devices. My rough estimate, its as good as 4 meters only from the router with walls excluded on the consideration. Good though that this is only a software glitched since there were available roms that could fix the problem, but again, to risky for non geeks. USB port connects fairly with a PC but Ainol doesn't provide PC suite so the connectivity relationship between the tablet and PC is purely copy and paste. HDMI is supported but it doesn't have an HDMI connector. The tablet could reach up to 3 hours of web browsing, very much below average.

Entertainment feature seems to work fine on the tablet. I like to watch movies on it with a headphone on because I find it more convenient compared to my bulky laptop or my smallish screen Nokia N8. Audio on the other hand was mediocre, it doesn't have much of personalization features or settings. Battery life in watching movies or videos is impressive, I could finished up to 3 full length movies on it in single charge. As mentioned earlier, audio player has nothing extraordinary, but what I failed to mention earlier was that the audio quality using the speaker sucks big time. The sound is diminutive and it crackles in high volume. The tablet could last 3 hours as a stand alone music player.

Gaming, the tablet is impressive on this area, it could run heavy 3D games that I've knew of with great graphic rendition for those that were specifically suited up for tablets but worst for with those games that were created for smartphones. An issue that we could relate to the fragmentation of Android ecosystem. Problem here is, there were only few of games for tablet consumption.

And last but not the least, eBook and PDF reader, the main reason why I brought a tablet courtesy of my cousin who showed me how good and necessary a tablet is for students using her iPad. But unlike the aforementioned, Android's pdf reader is only a step higher to archaic that I need to buy a suitable reader to satiate my need. Its high time for Android to improve this area and make it workable for users.

Perhaps I also need to mention the heating problem of the tablet concentrated on the left side. Puzzling because of all the tablets that I've tried, this is the only one that had this issue. Its not overheating because its tolerable but its wearisome. With the tablets plastic back cover, the constant heat might expand the plastic and detach the cover off. And speaking of battery, the tablet performs poorly on this matter. I've already mentioned a few power usage earlier but to give you an overview, I don't think the tablet could last 4 hours if you will use it heavily with 4-5 applications open. That's how poor it is in power management. It could reached as much as 16 hours on standby mode though with no applications open on the background.

To wrap thing up, Ainol Novo Aurora 2 was a dream come true for users who cant afford an iPad or other equally expensive tablets from refutable brands, but having tried the device, I would advice readers to be practical and smart specially in this economically challenging times. The tablet is far from what users expect, its vulnerable first and foremost, it's clunky, buggy and lastly, difficult to configure. Don't be fooled by the aesthetics that Android is showing on the software or Aurora 2's hardware specs that speaks of dual cores and graphics, these were just fronts to attract consumers. What matters most is the experience you get from the product and how dauntless your mind is in using it. Smart devices were supposed to be helping people make life easier, the tablet offers exactly the opposite.

Comments are welcome.

To read the Hardware Review, CLICK HERE!


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