Embrace the Difference — The CUBE U39GT Hands-on Review

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Reviews' started by fashionluo, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    CUBE has released two new models last month, but it seems the attentions all went to the Talk 79 (U55GT), which has a 7.9-inch IPS display, a quad-core processor and full phone functionalities, that very few people actually noticed the U39GT. However, I am a much bigger fan of this slate, which sports a 9 inch FHD Samsung PLS display, and owns features such as the peppy RK3188 chipset, 2GB RAM, Bluetooth, etc.


    Key Features:

    ◇9 inch 16M-color PLS display at WUXGA resolution (1920X1200 pixels), 256PPI
    ◇Rockchip RK3188 SoC., 28nm quad-core 1.6GHZ Cortex-A9 processor, Mali-400MP4 GPU, 2GB DDR3 RAM
    ◇Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS with heavy customizations
    ◇16GB of built-in-storage
    ◇2MP front facing camera, 5.0MP rear-facing AF camera
    ◇AAC Stereo speakers
    ◇HDMI TV-out
    ◇Bluetooth 2.1
    ◇Anti-rolling frame
    ◇USB host
    ◇MicroSD card slot
    ◇1080p video playback
    ◇5200mAh Li-Po rechargeable battery


    Design​


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    The U39GT looks just like a smaller version of its larger, and older brother: the U30GT2. There’s sufficient amount of bezel on either side of the screen, so you can use it in any orientation. When you're holding the device in landscape, it's really comfortable, but the 16:10 device is so long and skinny that it feels top-heavy when you pick it up in portrait. The iPad's much more amenable to being held both ways — in portrait for reading and browsing, landscape for movies and games — while the U39GT is very clearly designed to be held sideways and used in landscape.

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    Of course, the front is dominated by a 9-inch PLS display made by Samsung. A 2MP front-facing camera sits comfortably on the upper left corner, which can be used for online video chatting. But the intelligent light sensor, which helps the tablet to automatically adjust the display brightness, is nowhere to be found.

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    All the keys and connectors are hosted on the left edge. You will find a power button, a volume rocker, a Micro HDMI port, a MicroSD card slot, a 3.5mm audio jack and a 2.5mm DC port there. The metal trim around the sides gives the tablet a solid feel.

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    The AAC stereo speaker gates are hosted on the right edge.

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    The back of the U39GT is magnesium aluminum alloy, which is not only good-looking, but also very durable. The frosted texture also helps to avoid slippage, and provides a welcome contrast from the glass front. It’s completely bare except for the Brand and regulatory logos, and the 8-megapixel camera in the top right corner.

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    The Chassis doesn’t have a single screw on it, so it feels even more solid!

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    Its 8.9mm thick body also guarantees a solid hold and great portability.



    Display​


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    As much as the superlative the design deserves, the most impressive feature of the tablet has to be its display. Boasting a Full HD resolution of 1920x1280, the slate's 9-inch PLS LCD panel offers effective color reproduction and clarity from virtually any viewing angle, making it the ideal choice for hosting everything, from video content to 3D gaming apps.

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    From the photos above, it is obvious that the U39GT crushed the Beneve Miracle One (Dolphin), which uses the same LG display featured by the iPad2, in both colors and pixel density.

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    However, the brightness is not really satisfactory enough, outdoor viewing would be difficult.


    Audio​


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    CUBE boasts that the AAC technology enhances any audio played through the device, but the stereo speakers on the right side of the U39GT produced average audio. Regardless of what is played -- from Alicia Key's "Brand New Me" to Usher's "Scream" --the sound was not loud at all, as if I was listening to someone's radio from a few meters away.


    Interface

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    The U39GT ships with Android 4.2.2, and adopts a WIN8-like launcher that is exquisitely designed by CUBE, it offers five home screens including a Start home screen, a Social Networking home screen, a Gaming app home screen, an Office app home screen, and a home screen of Other favorite applications. Even the application drawer has been designed very metro-like, and all the shortcuts and widgets will change to cubes once they are dragged onto the home screens to fit the interface.
     
  2. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    Performance​


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    The U39GT is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core rk3188 CPU, backed up by 2GB of RAM. Although this is not really the most cutting-edge SoC. for Android devices, it is still incredibly smooth in day-to-day operation, with almost no performance hiccups, and smooth scrolling in home screens, menus and apps alike. The RK3188’s beefy Mali-400MP4 GPU also means you’re well-equipped for graphic-intense games.

    In our benchmark tests, the U39GT scored at the front of the tablet charts without blowing away the competition. Not simply because it’s powering too many pixels, but more capable chipsets such as Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8064 are now used in tablet products.

    1) Antutu

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    Although the 15,648 overall Antutu benchmark score is dwarfed by the APQ8064 powered Sony Xperia Tablet Z’s 20,259, it does handily beat the 13,989 notched by the Exynos 4412 powered RAMOS W30HD.

    2) Geekbench

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    In the Geekbench test, the U39GT doesn’t really shine, its 1,205 score bottomed the 4 devices we use for comparison.

    3) Quadrant

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    The Quadrant score of the U39GT is also not that satisfactory, almost on par with the snatch of the should-have-been-weaker RAMOS W30HD, and lags greatly behind the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.

    4) 3D Mark & An3D XL

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    In both the graphic-focused 3D Mark and An3D XL tests, the U39GT notched quite decent scores.

    5) Vellamo and CF-Bench

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    Vellamo is by far my favorite Benchmark application, the scores of certain device are very consistent, regardless of the version of the software. Again the Tablet Z topped the charts, but the U39GT also more than held its own against most of the other quad core tablets.

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    In the CF-bench test, the U39GT also notched a pretty impressive score.

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    In the real world use, the slate is particularly well-suited for viewing PDF books and magazines, with colors displayed vividly and text appearing crisp and clear. It's also well-equipped for handling most gaming apps with minimal compromise, including demanding 3D games like “NFS” and “Asphalt 7”.

    Not everything's perfect yet: scrolling in the browser can still be stuttery at times, and for some inexplicable reason the screen still takes really a while to rotate. But apps don't crash nearly as often, and general slowness and lag is even closer to being totally eradicated.

    CUBE has done a good job with multimedia support and features for its tablets. For video, the U39GT supports MP4, RM, H.264, DivX, Xvid, and WMV files at up to 1080p resolution. For audio you get MP3, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV, and WMA support. You can also mirror your screen using Miracast with supported HDTVs or connect the slate with an HDMI cable.

    The tablet has 16GB built-in storage, as well as microSD support that can add up to 32GB of additional storage to what is already on board.



    Connectivity

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    Probably due to the metal back it uses, the U39GT disappoints in Wi-Fi connection, at a few meters and wall away the data reception could be severely crippled, a strong Wi-Fi tether is strongly recommended if you are going to own this tablet. The addition of Bluetooth V2.1 means you could connect your tablet to things such as input devices, headphones or sound boxes without the annoyance of cables. I only realize the value of Bluetooth when I want to play SEGA Virtua Tennis with my friends!


    Cameras


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    Let’s be honest — most tablet cameras are pretty crappy. The kinds of shooters you’ll find on even a high-end Android tablet are roughly equivalent to the cheap, blurry, grainy cameras found on low-end smartphones. And the U39GT is no exception, neither the 2MP front-facing camera nor the 5MP rear-facing camera delivers high quality shots, even though the rear-side camera has Auto Focus support. If you just need to use them for video chatting or scanning D-bar code, it does get the job done.

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    Photos snapped by the rear facing camera.


    Battery Life​


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    The U39GT’s 5,200mAh battery is relatively small for a tablet with a 9 inch FHD display, even the much smaller and thinner ICOO ICOU Fatty2 (7.85 inch display, 7mm thick) packs a bigger 5,500mAh battery. Well, shame on CUBE!

    However, thanks to the 28nm process and PMU, the longevity of the tablet is better than the battery figure suggests.

    It takes about four hours to charge the U39GT from zero to full, and roughly 7-8 hours to drain it dry. Actual battery life will, of course, depend on how we use the tablet, and variables like high brightness and heavy downloads or streaming will zap the battery a little quicker, but we found it comparable to other 9-inch competitors.

    Battery rundown test 1:

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    Single-looping a 720P MP4 video, the U39GT held its ground for 9 hours and 36 minutes, this was a much better result than what the battery capacity suggested.

    Battery rundown test 2:

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    Streaming an online TV sitcom consecutively, the slate stood up for 7 hours and 48 minutes. Although this is no iPad4 level yet, it is enough time even for the heaviest users in a day.


    Verdict

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    The U39GT is far from being one of the best Android tablets currently, I would give that honor to the waterproof SONY Xperia Tablet Z, the eye-watering Google Nexus 10, and the stylus-enabled Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

    However, with dozens of Chinese tablets coming into the world every day, the U39GT still stands out by simply being the only one sporting a 9 inch PLS display at FHD resolution. At the budget end of the market there are few better alternatives to the U39GT. The device offers solid specs and an impressive screen resolution, costing less than the 8.9-inch PIPO M7pro it is in direct competition with.


    The Good:

    High quality chassis, no screw design.
    Fabulous display.
    Solid Performance.
    Reasonable Price.


    The Bad:

    Uninspiring outdoor visibility.
    5,200mAh battery.
    Poor Wi-Fi reception.
    Incapable cameras.
     

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