There is no shortage of budget 3G tablets in the market. Products from brands as well-known as Lenovo and ASUS are now considerately priced. And second-tier Chinese manufacturers are also competing for a slice of the action by making even cheaper slates. The Cube Talk series is arguably the best-selling line of budget 3G tablets in China. As the upgraded version of the once popular Talk 7X, Talk 7X Enhanced and the Talk 7X Quad-core, the Talk 7X Octa-core (U51GT C8) is powered by the much mightier MediaTek MT8392 octa-core processor, but the rest of the specs remain somewhat the same, so as the price tag of RMB499 ($82). Key Features 7 inch PLS display at WSVGA resolution (1024X600 pixels) Weighs 260g, 191*111*10.5mm in Size. MediaTek MT8392 chipset, 1.6GHZ octa-core Cortex-A7 processor, Mali-450MP4 GPU, 1GB RAM Android 4.4.2 Kitkat 8GB of built-in-storage, expandable by TF card VGA front-facing camera & 2MP rear-facing camera 3G WCDMA/GSM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS Stereo speaker USB host Micro SD card slot Standard 3.5mm audio jack 1080p video playback 2700mAh Li-Po rechargeable battery, 4-5 hours battery life Design and Build The Talk 7X Octa-core has inherited the design language of its predecessor. The front of the device houses a 7-inch display surrounded by a black bezel. Following the wonderful tradition of this Chinese manufacturer, the front panel of the 7X Octa-core does not include any branding. Also, thanks to the Kitkat's onscreen navigation keys, the front is devoid of physical buttons, leaving simply the black bezel with an earpiece, a VGA camera, a light sensor and a proximity sensor. On the right side of the device are the rather excellent buttons, with the one piece volume rocker sited just below the power button. They have a very responsive feel and are easy to find with your fingertips. The buttons are colored white to match the finish of the rear side, blending in nicely. Like its quad-core predecessor, the Talk 7X Octa-core has its micro-USB port located on the top of the device next to the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. While it's uncommon to find the USB port on the top of a tablet of this size, it is ergonomically sound as the Talk 7X Octa-core is simple to use while charging. As we once mentioned in the review of the Talk 7X Quad-core, the positioning of this port also helps reduce the costs of manufacturing the tablet, as the circuit board has the connection for the port at the top. Cube has avoided running a cable to the bottom of the tablet as it had to on the original Talk 7 (Dual-core version). The 2MP rear camera is housed in the upper left corner of the white glossy plastic back, which gives the tablet a somewhat cheap feeling. The upper part of the rear side is removable, underneath are the dual SIM slot and Micro SD card slot. The only speaker gate is located at the bottom of the rear side, along with the Cube Logo and some other printings. Measuring at 191*111*10.5mm, it has a smaller footprint than most of the 7-inch voice calling tablets on the market. But it is not slim by modern standards, the Cube Talk 9X is significantly thinner at only 7mm. Display Every year that goes by, Chinese manufacturers make progress on the screens of their tablets. The Cube Talk 7X sports a 7-inch PLS panel, a derivative of the IPS technology found on the great majority of today's tablets. The display of the Talk 7X has an average contrast ratio of 1100:1, which is pretty impressive when compared to the ordinary IPS panels found on most of the budget tablets. The average screen brightness is 330cd/m², high enough to make this slate easy to look at outdoors. The resolution is a disappointment, though, as it is stays at the WSVGA standard (1024*600) seen on the Galaxy Tab P1000 from many years ago. And its cheaper RMB399 ($65) competition – the Colorfly E708 3G Pro tablet now has an IPS display at 1280*800. Interface and Software The Talk 7X Octa-core runs the Android 4.4.2 Kitkat OS, with a healthy amount of customizations on top, but nothing to break the head-to-toe Android feel. The Google Play store works brilliantly on the Talk 7X, with easy access to all the popular apps and games you could want. Although there remains a dearth of tablet apps, especially when you compare it to the wealth of high-quality apps made for the iPad, 7-inch tablets don’t really suffer that much as almost all phone apps still work brilliantly on this smaller tablet screen. Performance As mentioned above, the Talk 7X Octa-core is powered by an octa-core 1.7GHz MediaTek MT8392 processor with 1GB RAM. Although it isn’t really the most cutting-edge setup for an Android device and can easily be edged out by those Snapdragon 800+ powered flagship tablets and smartphones, for the price, it is still a very powerful slate. I am personally no fan of benchmarks, but we did run through some common tests on the Talk 7X Octa-core tablet to see its place in the spectrum of tablet performance. Antutu V5.0 returned a score of 31,708, putting the Talk 7X Octa-core ahead of most of the budget smartphones and tablets, and Geekbench3 reported scores of 439 single-core and 2,311 multi-core, which is even higher than the Allwinner A80T Powered Teclast P98 Air. The Vellamo HTML5 test resulted in a score of 2,400, which is even higher than most flagship Android devices. As for the more concerned graphic performance, the Mali-450MP4 GPU on board didn’t disappoint, either. It is less powerful than the Mali-628MP6, Adreno 330 or the PowerVR G6230 seen on those high-end Android tablets, but it still handles the WSVGA resolution with ease. The 3D Mark returned decent scores in the ice storm, the ice storm extreme as well as the ice storm unlimited tests. In real day to day use, apps open swiftly, graphically intensive games play smoothly, and Web browsing doesn't disappoint. The Talk 7X Octa-core can handle just about anything you throw at it, but running too many applications simultaneously in the background could cause some slowdowns. Having two browser windows open, for instance, makes both load at a slower clip, while the virtual keyboard can take a moment to load. Overall, the performance of the Talk 7X is a huge leap forward from earlier budget Chinese tablets, and times better than my first tablet ever – the Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000. Connectivity Like other tablets from Cube’s Talk series, the Talk 7X Octa-core has full phone functionalities, which means you have functions such as 3G, voice call, short message services, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS on board. Voice calls worked as fine as it is on my LG Optimus G Pro2 smartphone, and I could easily pair the Talk 7X Octa-core with my SmartQ Zwatch via Bluetooth. Wi-Fi reception was also brilliant as I had no problem streaming online music and videos 10 meters away from the router. Battery Life The Talk 7X Octa-core houses a 2,700mAh Li-Po battery, which is less capacity than in most of today’s smartphones, and a leap backward from the 3,000mAh battery the quad-core version has on board. With varied usage including frequent e-mails, some video, a few games and a good deal web browsing, the Talk 7X Octa-core lasts 4 hours 45 minutes, on average. Watching movies only adds an extra 15 to 30 minutes. That's rather poor battery life, especially by today’s standards. Cameras The rear camera is quite simply mediocre and can't really do much either in photo or video mode. The front webcam will do the job for online video chatting, as long as you're in good lighting; otherwise the lags quickly add up. Verdict This hesitant successor to the Talk 7X quad-core was not much progress from its predecessor in almost every respect. The only exception is the performance, as the octa-core processor on board generates much more CPU and GPU power to handle heavier tasks smoothly. The Cube Talk 7X Octa-core is a reasonably priced budget product that can handle the basics, but absolutely not a choice for users with higher requirements.