Sep 18, 2012

Ainol Novo Aurora 2, Hardware Review

There were several tablets in the market at the moment, there's iPad first and foremost, that fuels it all, the Meego running ones that first answered to the competitions call, the recently announced Windows 8 high breeds, and last but not the least, Android running devices that dominates the entry level and midrange market with the help of Chinese manufacturers. Ainol is no different, but unlike the rest of the Chinese brands, it seems to offer noteworthy products on its line up with competitive specs and features backed by several support communities. These were the reasons why I decided to buy its current flagship device, the Ainol Novo Aurora II.

The tablet only cost PhP7,149.00 ($172) at the moment but with it, the following remarkable specs:

CPU: Amlogic8726-M6 Cortex-A9 Dual Core(1.5Ghz), GPU: Dual Core Mali 400×2
RAM: DDR3 1G 1333MHZ, Storage: 16GB
OS: Android 4.0.3 full support Google Play
Screen: 7 inch Capacitive Touchscreen, 1024*600 High-resolution IPS Screen
Multi-Touch: 5 points touch
Resolution: 1024*600 Pixels, Visible Angle: 178°
Camera: Front camera, 2 Megapixels
WIFI: 802.11 b/g/n
Flash : Support Flash 10.2 (Adobe designed for Amlogic)
HDMI: Support HDMI 1.4
External Memory: Supports up to 32GB
OTG : Supports exfat, ntfs and fat32
Battery : 4000 MAh, Work Time: Music (WIFI Off) 15 Hours, Video (WIFI Off) 7 Hours, Internet (WIFI On) 6 Hours
Weight: 342g, Size: 186*120*11.9mm

The specs listed is no different from the newest and expensive branded tablets offered by other leading manufacturers, I would even say its better in some aspects but on the other hand, it also got some notable missing features like Bluetooth, GPS and 3G, nonetheless, the device is compatible with any external dongles sold separately in the market.

First impression, at a glance, the tablet has nothing striking with its all black facade. It wasn’t deep black looking like that of Nokia Lumia 800 with its ClearBlack display technology nor does it have the shiny classy appeal. I was a bit surprise though on how smallish it was having use the Asus Transformer Prime, Acer Iconia A500 Tab and iPad 2 before, all 10 inches tablets.

Holding it up is a different story, I was really amazed how light and thin the device was in the hand, about twice or thrice lighter I guess of the aforementioned competing brands. Being a device that I will use primarily for reading books and files and watching movies held up, it was more convenient that what I expected.

Hardware-wise, construction was modest, front screen was made up of glass but not Corning Gorilla branded which means that its scratch prone while the back cover was glossy cheap plastic which could also scratch in no time. I would even say that the device could break when dropped 3 to 5 times, my maximum rough estimate, so it’s very important that the device must be covered by a protective case from day 1. The glass screen also needs also to be covered by a screen protector just in case, scratches are unbearable in touchscreen devices.

Also worth noting on the device’s construction was its side buttons and connectivity ports, Ainol was able to provide quite a number of them even with its smallish dimension. On the top side of the tablet are the power/lock/unlock button, volume rocker and the multitasking control. I’m not happy with the buttons position though; they were closely arrange that I often mis-clicked the decrease volume with the power/lock/unlock button locking the device and disrupting my movie watching. Unlike Symbian movie players were it picks up from where you left when you exit the application, Androids totally refreshed everything from the start, a very annoying mechanism in here.

On the left side of the device are the charger port, micro USB connector, HDMI connector, reset pin hole, micro memory slot and the 3mm headphone jack. Left and bottom side of the tablet is completely button-less. I also like the fact that it has no physical home button in the front screen unlike majority of Android tablets. The 2MP front facing camera is on upper middle part of the tablet.

To wrap things up, Ainol sacrifice the hardware component of the tablet to keep its price down, quite understandable enough but for consumers who will be using this devices for a long period, like yours truly, it’s a huge mistake buying one. I find the hardware construction too vulnerable, a factor that I missed to consider while searching for a tablet to buy. Perhaps because I was just too eager to own one since school had longed started that I've gotten sick bringing books to school, and that I’m also bit short of money that time so I don't have much of a choice. Well, the tablet is still on top shaped as of the moment but I’m not sure how long it will remain that way. I knew that anytime from now I’ll drop the tablet knowing my careless nature, God knows when that happens and for how long it will endure me.

On the contrary, if you’re a type of buyer who belongs to the early adopters who often change devices like a flash of the hand or has a lot of money to spend, then this is perfect device for you. I’m pretty sure the next generation of tablet device is already lurking around so you won’t mind dishing this out as soon as those devices comes out.

To read the Software Review, CLICK HERE.


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