- Nov 25, 2012
First, I have to say that I am really very excited that PIPO has chosen me, along with 19 other people, to review this new tablet. Ive become quite a fan of the device as soon as I laid my eyes on it. As I always go for uniqueness and the feel of black technology (Sorry, Apple!), the PIPO M8 gives me just everything I need!
For people who have never heard of this brand, it is a company focusing on making differentiated tablets in the Chinese market. It is the first Chinese company to market a 7 inch tablet with 1280*800 IPS display, an 8.9 inch PLS tablet as well as this 9.4 IPS display device we are testing today. As far as I am concerned, this marketing strategy has been quite successful, as PIPO has attracted tens of thousands of fans in just a few months time since U1 hit the market.
9.4 IPS Capacitive Touchscreen, 1280*800
Slim Magazine-like Design
Support WCDMA/GSM Mobile Internet (Only the 3G version)
Android 4.1 OS
RK3066 Dual Core 1.6GHZ processor, quad-core of Mali-400MP
1GB RAM, 16GB ROM
5.0 Mega-pixels AF Camera
Front facing Stereo Speakers
Support OTG, HDMI
Support 2160p video playback
Operating System: Android 4.1.1
Model: PIPO M8
Display Technology: IPS Capacitive touch screen
Screen Size: 9.4 inch
CPU Manufacturer: Rockchip
CPU Model: RK3066 Dual core A9 Chipset with Mali-400MP4
CPU Speed: 1.6GHz
Hard Drive Capacity: 16GB
PCMCIA Expansion: T-FLASH (Support 32GB MAX)
Camera: 2MP+5MP Auto Focus
3G: Internal 3G for 3G version, external 3G for the WIFI version
Audio: Built in stereo speakers (frontal)/ Built in Microphone
Battery Type: Li-ion, 6500mAh
Charging Voltage: DC 9V - 2.5A
Item Dimensions/ W*D*H:240x 172 x 9.0mm
Net Weight: 520g
Ports: 2 x Micro USB port (USB Host and USB data port)
1 x Micro SD card slot
1 x 2.5mm DC input (9V, 2.5A)
1 x Audio jack
1 x Mini HDMI port
Wireless Connection:WIFI 802.11 b/g/n; WIFI+3G for the 3G version
I received a gigantic delivery package last Friday, within which there are a slim paper back box which holds the tablet and a warranty certificate, another smaller but thicker paper box which holds the fittings and the manual for this tablet. A protection cover which is more likely an optional fitting more than a bundled one.
And above are all the standard fittings for the tablet.
Theres no questioning that PIPO has come up with a stand-out look for this tablet. From the second you see the M8, its clear that the company is making a statement about how youll live and work with the device. The basic shape calls to mind a folded book or magazine, which is really comfortable to look at even though it feels very different. The device sports a 9.4-inch screen and weighs in at 520g, but it feels lighter in your hands than other tablets on the market because of the way the shape allows weight to be distributed. The tablet is only 9.02mm at its thickest point, and tapers down to a narrow 4.36mm.
Whether or not you warm up to this design is probably a matter of taste, but I found myself a big fan of the magazine shape, in both two-handed and single-hand settings, as well as on a flat surface. The beveled shape makes typing slightly easier when you have the M8 on a desk.
Besides the big screen up front, the M8 features a 2.0 Mega Pixels Front-facing camera, an ambient light detection sensor which enables auto-brightness of the display, and two speaker gates. This is the first time Ive seen any tablets putting speaker gates on the front, but this is actually a very smart move, as you could never block them again wherever you put your tablet, Both the clarity of the outer sound the stereo speakers produces and its volume is very good, better than any other Chinese branded tablets I have tested.
Most of the ports and all the hardware keys are located on the upper edge, including a menu key, an ESC key. a Micro SD card slot which supports cards up to 32GB, a Micro USB Host connector, a Micro USB data port, a Mini HDMI interface, an LED notification light and a DC charging jack. The plug PIPO includes is of the 9V-2.5A standard, which ensures great charging efficiency.
On the left edge lies a 3.5mm audio jack, and on the right a Power/Standby switch which is artistically designed.
On the back you will find a 5 Mega-pixels AF camera which is able to shoot fairly sharp photos, another outstanding feature for the gorgeous device. All of the ports and buttons on the device feel very reasonably placed and easy to find.
In all, the M8 is a distinct device with a lot going for it in terms of industrial design, and there is almost no misstep here that makes the device underwhelming. The skin-feel metal back cover gives the device all the feel of expensiveness it needs, even comparing to those Apple and Samsung tablets which are priced many times more.
The front is occupied by a 9.4 1280x800 pixels screen, surrounded by fairly thin bezel. The screen resolution is the main gripe to be held against the M8, in this day and age of flagship slates with 1080p displays and above. Having said that, it is a very good screen in terms of colors, contrast ratio and viewing angles. The display brightness is also really satisfactory, meaning that you would be able to use the M8 outside even on a sunny day.
Inside the M8, you will find a healthy dose of familiar Android guts. The device is powered by Rockchip RK3066 dual core A9 chipset, running at 1.6GHZ, meaning youll get solid performance on all almost all applications. According to previous tests with other tablets powered by this chipset, RK3066 is arguably the most powerful dual core ARM processor. The M8 has 1GB of RAM onboard and 16GB of internal storage. The device also sports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an array of sensors (gyro, light, accelerometer, etc.).
Most tablets these days must be judged on their software. In the case of Android Jelly Bean tablets, thats not exactly a Herculean effort.
PIPO is no different in the sense that the company has opted for slight tweaks in the software rather than a major overhaul. The M8 utilizes largely the same build of Jelly Bean as other tablets (like the Galaxy Tab 8.9), though there are a few notable differences.
First, PIPO has designed a customized M8 homescreen which does not have a portrait mode, this can be quite annoying sometimes when you exit an portrait-default application like an E-reader or games such as Temple Run.
The widgets and icons of the regular applications have been revised to fit the custom UI. Having seen lots of stock Android UIs, I find myself quite a fan of those cute, crystal-like icons. As the M8 has no hardware controls for volume adjustment, PIPO has put the virtual volume rocker in the permanent android status bar, along with a screenshot button and the regular ECS key, Home key and Task Switcher.
PIPO has also preinstalled a few applications and games on the M8, but one of them PIPO-exclusive. You can easily find them free in any android market app.
The rear-facing 5.0 Mega-pixels camera does a great job of capturing images if youre into holding a nearly 10-inch tablet up while you snap away. As Ive said in many other tablet reviews, taking photos with the cameras on tablets are completely silly to me, even though I actually have seen quite a few Chinese and Japanese people doing that in public. I certainly wont. On the other hand, the front-facing camera here is a step up from most other models, and Im happy to see PIPO trying to improve the specs on what is normally an afterthought.
Just know this: even though the rear camera is probably the best I have seen on any Chinese tablet, it wont replace a real camera or decent smartphone option mostly due to the size of the device and awkwardness in use.
You can also capture 480P videos with the M8, though this seems even more bizarre to me than snapping photos. Quality was solid, though the devices awkward size made it tough to get steady content.
As I have mentioned above, the RK3066 chipset, although seemingly a little outdated as a bunch of quad-corers have already hit the market, is still able to provide more than enough power to run the device smoothly over a variety of applications.
Some benchmark scores of the M8 and the comparison to other dual core devices.
In terms of General performance, the device seemed speedy running graphically intense games. And the experience of video playback is also very pleasant as the chipset can easily supports all formats of videos to at least 1080P. Thanks to the updates Google has made for Android4.1, the responsiveness and smoothness is better than ever. It doesnt pale even compared to the Apple iOS.
As for connectivity, M8 has probably the best WIFI reception of all Chinese tablets I've tested, Online video streaming is possible even when you are 10 meters and some walls away from the WIFI router.
Besides, M8 also has built-in Bluetooth, which is a rare feature for Chinese slates. The WIFI version of the tablet can also get access to 3G network through connecting a 3G network card to the device through an OTG cable. And the 3G version has built-in 3G module which supports WCDMA/GSM SIM card. As I've only received a WIFI version, I cannot tell you how well the 3G module works on the M8.
Battery life on the M8 seemed solid to me, as the device features a 6500mAh rechargeable Li-PO battery. In my intense 720p video playback test, the M8 lasted nearly 8 hours, which is quite something considering that most Chinese tablets can hardly stand 5 hours of screen-on use. However, I did notice a more pronounced drain on the battery when the device was sleeping than my Tegra2 powered Samsung Galaxy Tab8.9 and Motorola XOOM, and I felt it fell short of competitors like the Ainol NOVO10 (8000mAh battery) and FSL Fast (8000mAh battery) in terms of overall battery longevity.
Another annoying issue is that the device does not support charging under the shutdown state, even though the charging efficiency with the 9V-2.5A plug is quite amazing (A full charge only takes as short as 3 hours).
Fascinating industrial design
Great looking display
Excellent front facing stereo speakers
Solid battery life
Wonderful WIFI reception
Not so good stuff:
Incapability of charging under a shutdown state
Pricier than alternative options
Android slates are mostly competing on specs and price these days, rather than with design and overall experience.
The M8 goes for RMB1199 ($193) from PIPO, and, granted, this is $200 less than the market-leading iPad Mini, or the original 9.4 inch Sony Tablet S which is powered by the quad-core Tegra3 chipset. But for the same $200 price you can get the Exynos Qua-core Ramos W30, or the brand new Ployer MOMO19 with quad-core A31 and 2GB of ram.
The M8 does offer some features to differentiate itself from the competition, though, apart from the distinctive looks, like the very capable cameras and battery. Other than that, you can find plenty of decent Android tablets with this screen resolution and processing power for even less.
Overall, those who'd appreciate the more distinctive, elegant look will find the M8 right up their alley. But for those who just want a cheap Chinese tablet with a big screen and decent processing power, there might be other options.