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Onda vi40 9.7 inch IPS tablet first impressions

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I received my 16GB Onda vi40 4 days ago. Since then I have tried to torture it with various video, audio, and graphics as well as digging through the operating system itself. Being a software engineer and Android developer, one of my first stops was the hardware and the installed version of Android.

It came with Android ICS 4.0.3 installed, and appears to be the latest build available. The kernel modules included are what you would expect to see on most multimedia Linux computers including support for nfs, ntfs, cifs, fat32, and fuse file systems. It mounts my ntfs formatted external USB 1 terrabyte backup drive without a complaint as well as all of my various size/format usb thumb drives.

As for the look and feel, all I can say is that I am impressed. The back case looks like it is aluminum, but after close inspection, it is in fact plastic, but the feel of the device is very solid . I have not detected any creaks or groans from flexing as I have put it through its paces.

Software impressions

The installed software apps look interesting, but many are unfortunately in Chinese only. The only exception is the Onda Market which does display some of its contents in U.S. English, and perhaps other languages as well. The OS itself is smooth and fast. All of the Ice Cream Sandwich goodness is here, and Google Play (Android Market) works flawlessly showing both free and paid apps.

Because it supports 3g dongles, the standard phone apps are installed as well as bluetooth support (again an addon dongle). 4.0.x comes with an improved browser and it feels much more responsive than previous versions. It stutters on pages with lots of images, but it is very much improved and is surprisingly fast and smooth. I did try out Firefox on it and was not terribly impressed with its performance. Dolphin and Opera also seem to work very well.

My gaming is pretty much limited to Angry Birds, Drag Racing, and Pinball Deluxe so far. All of those are very fluid, and feel just like playing on a PC running BlueStacks HD or similar. Zooming in and out doesn't create any lag or jitter and even in high graphics areas it remains very smooth for the most part. There are some lag issues when the action gets really heavy, but while it is noticeable, it is not terribly distracting and does not affect game play. All in all, Onda has done a good job with their build of Android 4.0.3.

Nuts and bolts

The hardware of the vi40 is becoming something of a standard in the Chinese tablets. Inside, it has an Allwinner Manycore A10 processor. It is actually a Cortex A8 processor clocked at 1008 Mhz (1 ghz) out of the box with 1GB of installed RAM. The nice part is that it has CPU scaling enabled in the kernel, and you have root access as well. Those 2 features mean that you can overclock the vi40 without any drama.

The A10 does not like to be clocked at 1.2Ghz or faster. I have settled for 1.152Ghz and it seems to be nice and stable there. At 1.2Ghz it will spontaneously reboot the first time you run an app, and anything over that just reboots during the overclocking process. I know they tout this as a 1.5Ghz processor, but it isn't (even though the processor interface reports 1.5Ghz capabilities). It is however, a true 1Ghz processor that doesn't mind being pushed to 1.152.

The 9.7 inch IPS touch screen is gorgeous. It does lose some brightness and contrast at severe angles, but it remains perfectly viewable. The 5 point capacitive touch is both accurate and sensitive. If you have a recent smart phone, you won't notice a difference in the touch response. The screen itself is a pentile matrix, and while some hate them, this one does not have pixels large enough to be objectionable unless you are close up or wear strong reading glasses.

The colors are vivid and if held at a normal viewing distance without wearing binoculars, the display is very nice. HD video from the sd card or steamed from youtube work without a hiccup. It came with Adobe Flash 11.1 installed, and I installed the update (11.1.4 I believe), the day it arrived. One interesting item in the Settings app under Tablet information is that the Check for Updates item is enabled and seems to work. I can't confirm that as yet, but it is there, and it does not error or show any weird toast messages.

Oh, and by the way, this tablet fully supports my USB to Ethernet adapter. It even has Ethernet settings included in the Settings app for DHCP or static connections. It did not come with earphones, but I have a drawer full of those things. It did come with male and female USB to mini USB cables. It also charges via the included AC adapter, or through the USB port, so the OTG (On The Go) spec is still alive and well.

Overall, I am very pleased with the look, feel, and performance of this machine. Time is the best test, but for the money, this looks to be a hell of a value considering what it offers. There are many videos of this tablet in action on youtube, so I haven't bothered creating one.

--- Jem
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  1. aPadTVadmin -
    aPadTVadmin's Avatar
    Excellent review Gem.