After a lot of research, I finally settled on buying the Ainol Novo 10 Hero from Focalprice for $180-$20 coupon = $160.
AMLogic 8726-M6 1.5GHz Dual Core Processor
1280x800 IPS screen
The tablet came 2 weeks after purchase, due to snail mail (china mail), however, there was no customs fees. The protective packaging was absolutely horrible, the only thing protecting the box containing the tablet was a paper envelope, which came with several tears and numerous creases. The box, tablet and contents were all unharmed.
After opening the box, it seems like Focalprice included a charger, even though the webpage clearly stated that a charger would not be included. A USB cable was also found inside the box. Apart from that, there was nothing else except for the manuals.
The tablet itself had a factory installed screen protector installed, as well as a decorative red sticker on the top left of the tablet, which is easily taken off. The quality of the materials is quite good, the metal backing feels sturdy and the glass touchscreen also has a good solid feel. The headphone jack seems a little too recessed, so certain earphones might not work as it will not plug far enough into the jack for the proper connections.
Quality control however, is another story. The touchscreen is attached to the metal body of the tablet via clips, and one of these clips were not snapped into place, and I had to snap the clip into place myself. If anyone has to do this, do not be alarmed when you hear something akin to cracking and breaking when you snap the clip back into place, it is normal.
Powering on the tablet, the screen is quite good, as it uses the same display as Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. The screen is not quite bright enough to be read directly in the brightest noon sunlight, but anything darker and the screen is quite legible.
The touch response is another story. To anybody who bought this tablet and has extremely terrible touch performance, take the screen protector off. The touch sensitivity will improve vastly. However, there is one niggle that seems to be the problem of the software, and that is scrolling via flicking your finger doesn't quite work very well, as a short flick down may result in the screen scrolling the opposite way, and vice versa. This can be annoying at times, but its not too big a deal.
The firmware that came with this tablet was quite good, prerooted, mine was 20121219 (The first firmware was 201201031), which doesn't seem to have any problems with it whatsoever, but I upgraded to 20130308 just for good measure. You can check what firmware you have by going to settings, scrolling all the way down, hitting "about tablet" and looking at "build number" you'll find what firmware your tablet came with.
This tablet comes with google play, where you can download apps, and there are many apps that are not compatible with this tablet. It can be fixed easily by tricking Google into thinking that this tablet is a Samsung tablet. The instructions can be found here:
Novo 10 Hero 0308 FW - SlateDroid.com
Battery life on the tablet is also stellar. I used it for 5h 58min at 100% brightness, wifi on, reading magazines.
It lasted 9h 47m at 50% brightness, wifi on.
Finally, it lasted 15h 2m light use, varying brightnesses, screen was on for about 5h.
The wifi performance on this tablet is average. It gets 1-2 bars signal from a router in the basement, 1 floor below. My max download speed I've obtained on this tablet 1MB/s using atorrent. The maximum download speed of my home internet is 1.7MB/s.
The dual speakers on this tablet are amazingly good. I was expecting crappy, tinny speakers, but watching movies/TV Shows through XBMC is a total pleasure, as I can hear conversations even in the kitchen when things are cooking.
Quadrant - 3493
Antutu - 9006
Both my 8GB Class 10 Patriot 8GB MicroSD card and my 32GB Class 10 MicroSD card worked flawlessly with it as well.
General performance is very good, the tablet feels snappy when scrolling through homescreens/app drawer, and the stock browser does the job very well, zooming in/out, moving the page around all feels very good.
I bought this tablet from Focalprice for $160, as I had a $20 coupon. For $160, this tablet is completely excellent for the price. So far, there is no 9.7"-10.1" tablet with a decent dual core and an IPS screen that sells for $160.