Strong is beautiful - in Depth Review of the PIPO M9 Quad Core Tablet

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Reviews' started by fashionluo, May 20, 2013.

  1. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    After the Ainol NOVO8 dream turned out to be a horrible nightmare, I am desperately in need of a decent tablet to test, and PIPO M9 arrived just right on time!


    Key Features:

    ◇10.1 inch 16M-color super IPS display at WXGA resolution (1280X800 pixels)
    ◇Rockchip RK3188 SoC., quad core 1.8Cortex-A9 processor, Mali-400MP4 GPU, 2GB memory
    ◇Stock Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (Already upgraded to Android 4.2)
    ◇16GB of built-in-storage
    ◇2MP front facing camera; 5.0MP rear-facing AF camera with LED flash
    ◇Stereo speakers
    ◇HDMI TV-out
    ◇USB host
    ◇MicroSD card slot
    ◇Standard 3.5mm audio jack
    ◇1080p video playback
    ◇7800mAh Li-Po rechargeable battery


    Retail Package

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    PIPO has never been mingy with the bundled fittings, you will find these things in the retail package:

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    Design​


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    The front is dominated by the 10-inch touch screen and black glossy bezel, rimmed in gray plastic. You will find a 2MP front-facing camera in the middle above the display (vertical mode). The bezel of the M9 is relatively small compared to other 10.1 inchers such as the Cube U30GT2 and the Ployer MOMO20.

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    When it comes to ports and slots, PIPO has never been, and doesn’t plan to be the pioneers of minimalism, you will find a micro SD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 2.5mm charging port, a mini HDMI port, and not one, but two Micro USB ports (one as slave and one as host) along the top edge of the device, which also plays host to a power/standby button as well as a home button. I personally would have preferred to find the physical volume controls instead of the home button, but somehow PIPO has decided we should use the status bar on bottom of the screen to control the volume.

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    Again, where feel is concerned, The PIPO M9 is just right on the ball. The back sports a brushed aluminum finish, which gives the device a feel of expensiveness. And the two sides are plastic, offering the slate a nice and solid grip. A 5MP AF camera is located in the top middle of the aluminum back, along with an LED flash.

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    Unlike the M8, The M9’s speakers are on the back of the tablet and are in danger of being covered by our thumbs. I didn’t like this arrangement at first, as I am clearly more of a fan of the front-facing speakers of the M8. But when I found out that the sound the M9 produced was absolutely the best among all Chinese tablets, I finally found peace with it.

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    The tablet is fairly light and comfortable to hold and while most part of it does feel like plastic, it doesn't feel unpleasantly plasticky or cheap. Its 10mm thickness doesn’t help it win a beauty contest, but actually gives it a feel of sturdiness.


    Display

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    As the primary point for interaction, having a good screen on a tablet is critical. The 10.1-inch IPS+ display on the M9 is plenty bright and offers decent visibility outdoors. The full brightness of can reach 500 nits, which outshines the fourth-generation iPad (400 nits), as well as the tablet category average (287 nits).

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    Unfortunately, the 1280 x 800-pixel panel on this slate has a lower resolution than similarly priced tablets. The CUBE U30GT2 has a resolution of 1920 x 1200, not to mention the Onda V973’s Retina resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. But I am not that big on pixel density, as none of the Chinese tablets with retina display gives satisfactory performance at the moment, I’d rather wait a little longer. The tablet's viewing angles were fair, but reflections got in the way when viewing the panel off axis.

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    Color saturation and contrast ratios of the 10.1 inch Hann Star display are decent, but not as eye-watering as the 9.4 inch LG display sported by the PIPO M8.


    Audio


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    I greatly appreciate that the M9's stereo speakers. Although it does not create the effects in which the sound is coming directly at me in watching movies or listening to music (which the M8 is able to do), I still like its excellent volume, which is even higher than the two HP notebook PCs of mine!
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  2. fashionluo

    fashionluo Senior Member

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    OS & Interface

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    Like most of the RK3188 tablets, The M9 comes loaded with Android 4.1.1 out of the box, but it has already been upgraded to Android 4.2 within the period I was testing it.

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    Unlike most of the other tablets with stock Android, PIPO has actually managed to leave its own mark. Two sets of exquisite user interfaces are provided for the customers, one is the updated version of the UI we have already seen on the PIPO M8, and the other is developed recently for the M8 pro, now also adorning the M9.

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    I really fell in love with this brand new Metro-like user interface which offers five screens. The middle is the Home screen, and the other four are respectively marked as App, Office, Media and Web. You can easily add shortcuts of your favorite apps on these screens.

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    Unlike the other set of user interface, this Win8-like interface does have a portrait mode.


    Performance​


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    The 1.6-GHz quad core RK3188 processor and 2GB of RAM in the PIPO M9 put up some impressive numbers on my benchmark tests. On the Quadrant benchmark, the M9 scored 5456, nearly twice the average (3,074) and much higher than the Beneve Miracle One, which uses Sammy's quad-core Exynos 4412 processor.

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    On the graphics-focused Nenamark2 test, the M9 scored 56.3 FPS, higher than the category average. But the Allwinner A31 powered ICOO ICOU7GT scored a much more impressive 59.1FPS.

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    The M9’s real-world performance was impressive. With several apps running simultaneously, I was still able to navigate the Note's home screens and apps menus with ease. Graphically intense games like "NFS 17" and “Predators vs Aliens” also ran smoothly.

    HD video playback on the PIPO M9 is even more of a breeze, with the tablet easily coping with 1080p footage of all formats.


    Cameras​


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    I don't get too hung-up about cameras on tablets because they're unlikely to be set to any great task. But PIPO has produced a camera that is actually pretty decent, giving us an F/2.8 aperture lens and flash to get you out of trouble when it's dark. Photos contained plenty of detail, good color balance, and I would happily share them with others.

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    Photos shot by M9

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    Even details are quite authentic

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    2MP front-facing cameras can get the video-chatting done perfectly!

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    Screenshot of the video captured by the M9​

    On the video front, the M9 offers 720p capture, but I wasn’t that happy with the quality, even with perfect lighting, the video can turn out grainy and noisy.


    Connectivity​

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    The M9‘s Wi-Fi module is made by MTK, giving the slate wonderful Wi-Fi reception. Even 10 meters away from the Wi-Fi router, I can still use the M9 to stream HD video online. The addition of Bluetooth2.1 also makes the tablet easier to use in daily life.


    Battery Life​

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    The PIPO M9 has featured a 7,800mAh LI-PO battery. The capacity itself isn’t really that impressive, since lots of tablets are already equipped with 8,000mAh + batteries. However, thanks to the 28nm process the RK3188 Chipset uses, the actual battery life of the M9 is AMAZING. It can single-loop a 720P video (Sammy Adams - Only One) for nearly 12 hours and stream an HD Korean TV show online for over 9 hours!

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    Power loss during standby is also very little, whether the Wi-Fi is on or off!​


    Verdict

    The PIPO M9 is a machine that looks likely to stand the test of time. Its performance is top-notch, its design is stylish. It's also well-specified and well-equipped with ports and connections, offering greater flexibility than you'll find on some rivals.

    The good:

    Extremely powerful RK3188 quad core chipset
    10.1 inch Super IPS display, nice visibility outdoors
    Exquisite Metro-like user interface
    5MP rear facing AF camera with LED flash
    Outstanding stereo speakers
    Great Wi-Fi reception
    Excellent battery life


    The not so good:

    The display is not as wonderful as the one on the PIPO M8
    The design is not as edgy as the M8
    The resolution of the display stays WXGA standard


    Although, as a tester, I should not be biased, yet I still have to say that PIPO is absolutely my favorite Chinese tablet brand at the moment. I strongly believe their differential competitive strategy is going to be beneficiary to both their brand image and market share. Also, PIPO will soon release the all new M7 pro, a tablet with RK3188 SoC. and an 8.9 inch PLS display from Sammy. I am really looking forward to its arrival!
     

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