- Nov 25, 2012
As successful as Cube is in marketing their business-oriented Core-M tablets such as the i7, the i7-CM as well as the all new i7 Stylus, the leading brand in the Chinese tablet industry hasn’t forgot its roots, and released arguably the most cost-efficient tablet ever – the Cube i10 Dual Boot.
Powered by an Intel Atom Bay-trail Z3735F quad-core processor and 2GB RAM, the i10 Dual Boot may seem like just another entry-level Windows slate that can’t really do much more than entertainment use and lightweight desktop tasks. However, the 10.6-inch display here changes the whole perspective, as the increased screen real estate greatly improves the productivity of this slate. With a licensed copy of Windows 8.1 and free Office 365 included, the tablet is only priced at RMB699 ($113), easily one of the best bargains we have seen to date.
Cube i10 specs:
• OS: Android 4.4.4 & Windows 8.1 dual boot
• Display: 10.6-inch IPS, 10-point multi-touch, IGZO
• Screen Resolution: 1366 x 768 (16:9)
• CPU: Intel Atom Baytrail-T Z3735F Quad-core Processor
• CPU Frequency: 1.33GHz – 1.8GHZ
• GPU: Intel HD Graphic Gen7
• RAM / Storage: 2GB / 32GB
• Function: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, OTG
• WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
• Camera: 2MP back camera, VGA front camera
• Battery: 6,600mAh
• Extend Port: TF Card Slot, SIM Card Slot, Full USB2.0 Port, Micro USB Port, 3.5mm Headphone Jack, 2.5mm DC Port
• Weight & Size: 580g / 281.2*176*9.85mm
Design and build
Measuring at 281.2*176*9.85mm and weighs 580g, the i10 Dual Boot Edition is certainly not fighting to be the thinnest or lightest tablet in the world. But for a dual boot tablet with a 10.6-inch display, it is quite compact. It is much thinner than the Acer ICONIA W700, which measures at 11.9mm thick, but it is a little porkier than the Cube i7 (9.1mm).
The front of the tablet is dominated by a 10.6-inch IPS display, with the healthy amount of bezel to help you hold the tablet easily, whether in portrait or landscape mode. A VGA front camera sits comfortably above the screen, while a touch-sensitive Windows Key is located below the display.
The two physical buttons are both hosted on the top side of the tablet, while all the ports and slots are located on the left side, including a full USB 2.0 port, a Micro USB port, a mini HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 2.5mm DC port, and a Micro SD card slot covered by a plastic lid.
Most budget tablets have plastic chassis as a result of the cost, but the i10 dual boot is one of the exceptions. It features a metallic rear made of aluminium alloy, usually something we only see on premium tablets. The reason why Cube does not choose cheaper material for such a low-end tablet is unknown, but we applaud such generosity and ambitions.
A 2MP rear-facing camera and two stereo speakers are also on the back of the slate, so as Cube’s brand logo and some basic information of the tablet.
On the bottom side of the tablet you could see the magnetic docking which can help the i10 Dual Boot establish a solid connection to the keyboard cover, but we haven’t received one along with our review unit.
Overall the manufacturing quality of the i10 Dual Boot is pretty good and superior to that of the similarly-priced rival products. Tablets like the Surface 3 or the Cube i7 still belong to a completely different class and give the impression of being substantially more valuable.
Display and sound
The thing that sets the i10 Dual Boot apart from the other entry-level dual OS tablets is its screen size. Although Cube officially stated that the i10 Dual Boot has the same display used on the first Generation of Microsoft Surface RT, yet it is still difficult to assume how big the screen really is if you haven’t owned one. To help you better understand the size of the screen, here are some comparisons we have made for you.
If you put the i10 Dual Boot and the 8-inch iWork 8 3G together, you could easily see that the i10 Dual Boot has a much larger display, almost twice as large as the 8-inch display on the iWork 8 3G.
And if we compared the i10 Dual Boot’s 10.6-inch screen to the Acer W700’s 11.6-inch display, you could see it is smaller, but the difference is less significant.
As for the quality of the display on the i10 Dual Boot, the IPS panel has a resolution of 1366*768, which translates into a pixel density of 148PPI, clearly not fascinating by today’s standards. But given the amount of horsepower the Intel Graphics HD GPU could generate, it is a decent choice as it won’t drag down the performance.
The 10.6-inch display here has all the perks of an IPS screen: wide viewing angles, true to life colors and contrast, as well as fair brightness.
We are able to notice individual pixels while we look at the display closely, but it’s not something that you will focus on after using the tablet for a while.
Like most of Cube’s tablets, the i10 Dual Boot’s speakers are clear-sounding, and produce relatively loud, full output that’s just good enough to make me forego my headphones while watching YouTube videos. With that said, I still very much needed my Monster headphone or Astrotec IEMs when I was listening to music.
System and apps
As the model name suggests, the i10 Dual Boot has both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4.4 preinstalled. It is known to all that tablets with screen smaller than 9 inches get free licensed copy of Windows 8 and one year free subscription of Office 365 from Microsoft. But the Cube i10 Dual Boot has a 10.6-inch display, so Cube must pay for the license fee of Windows and Office, and fortunately, the RMB699 ($113) retail price has already covered all of that.
Like the i6, the i10 Dual Boot doesn’t have an OS selector in tis bootscreen, instead it automatically launches the operating system you shut your tablet down from the last time.
Switching between the two operating systems is conveniently accomplished by tapping a software icon on the screen. The switch isn’t instantaneous, the tablet need to perform a full reboot to enter the other operating system, but fortunately it normally only takes less than half a minute.
The 32GB eMMc in our review unit is split up into two partitions: Windows is on one (24GB), Android 4.4.4 is on another (8GB). There’s no direct, automatic sharing of photos, documents, or other app data between the two operating systems. The explanation by Cube makes sense – it is to prevent users from deleting important system files of one OS while they are running on the other OS. After the initial setup, the Windows 8.1 side has only 14GB storage available, which should be enough for a few programs, but a microSD card larger than 32GB is definitely a must if you also need to store media files. The Android 4.4.4 side has only 3GB available after booting into it for the first time, which should be enough for apps, but you still need the Micro SD card for other files, including the data package of those big applications and 3D games.
The Cube i10 Dual Boot comes with an Intel Atom Z3735F processor with Intel HD Graphics, 2GB of memory, and the aforementioned 32GB eMMc drive, the standard internal setup for budget Windows 8 and dual boot tablets. While the i10 Dual Boot isn’t really a powerhouse tablet and delivers equivalent performance with other Atom Bay-trail powered tablets such as the ASUS A100T, it is still measurably faster than those running older-generation Atom processors like the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2.
This can be seen in the benchmark scores, where the i10 Dual Boot scored 1,392 points in PCMark 8 test, topping the ThinkPad Tablet2 (957). Similar results were seen on the Peacekeeper test, where the Cube i10 Dual Boot scored 968, which is significantly faster than the ThinkPad Tablet 2 (951).
In the Android Benchmark tests, the i10 Dual Boot scored as much as some of the most powerful Android tablets out there.
Benchmarks aside, in the real world use, the i1.0 Dual Boot performed like a Champion in Android, handling even the heaviest tasks and some of the most graphic-intense games with ease. In Windows, things are a little different, all apps installed from the Windows 8 app store ran smoothly, with no lag or stutters at all. But like all other Bay-trail powered Windows slates, the i10 Dual Boot did struggle a little bit with demanding Windows desktop applications such as image and video editing programs. Fortunately, the most important productivity tool – the Microsoft Office, which was perfectly compatible with touchscreen operations, ran smoothly on this slate.
While the performance could be expected as we are all very familiar with the Intel Bay-trail series processors, the real issue which we need to mention here is the heat. The rear side of the i10 Dual Boot could easily get warm after working for a moment, and it got really heated running heavy-weight Windows desktop applications.
To sum things up, the i10 Dual Boot won't completely replace those i5 powered ultrabook-class laptop like the Cube i7 does, but it isn't a slouch like older Atom tablets were.
Cube claims that the 6,600mAh battery in the i10 Dual Boot can offer 5 hours of video playback on a full charge, but we did manage to get a little more than that in our standard cngadget battery test. Playing a 1080P video on loop with 30% screen brightness (sufficient for indoor use) and 50% volume from the rear-facing speakers, the i10 Dual Boot lasted 5 hours and 37 minutes until auto shutdown.
The i10 Dual Boot has two cameras on board, one on the front and one on the rear. The front-facing VGA camera can be used for video chatting, but only under decent lighting. The rear-facing 2MP camera cannot really do much in either photo or video mode, and we probably will never use it again after finishing this review.
The Cube i10 Dual Boot has the chops to replace both a mobile tablet and a business docking laptop for entertainment and daily Office tasks. It has full Windows 8.1 compatibility going for it, when connected with a business friendly keyboard cover through the docks, the i10 Dual Boot can really offer a decent amount of productivity. Whenever you needed entertainment, you can easily switch to the Android side and enjoy tons of touchscreen friendly apps. But with a dual boot tablet pried at only $113, you also have to find peace with some of its weaknesses: the not so great screen resolution, the below-average battery life and the heat while dealing with intense tasks.
Full USB port