Numerous budget 7-inch tablets have been flooding the Indian market recently. Most of these tablets feature the same internal hardware that are made in China with just a few differences such as GPU type, internal storage capacity and SIM card support. Manufacturers are just implementing the OEM manufactured devices with a different chassis for the looks and branding, and a few of them throwing in additional freebies such as memory cards, protective cases and apps. The operating system installed is never designed to function properly on this hardware as they are not standardised and tend to fail in some area or the other. Manufacturers should concentrate on the entire packaging right from the internal hardware to the external chassis and the operating system. What a user wants is a smooth and fluid user interface with standard options such as Wi-Fi, Storage, HDMI and a good pair of headphones.

7-inch display, 800 x 480 pixels resolution

7-inch display, 800 x 480 pixels resolution

We have seen manufacturers heavily competing each other with their similar Chinese-based 7-inch tablets with freebies and advertisement twists. What they fail to notice is that the price they offer does not justify the product they pack. Similar is the case with the ICE Xtreme 7-inch Android tablet that came into our labs recently. This tablet, when compared to others of the similar standard we reviewed in the past, turned out to be disappointing. Read on and find out what we discovered.

Large fonts for port names, no rear camera

Large fonts for port names, no rear camera

Design and build

The ICE Xtreme, from a new comer ICE X Electronics, is no different from any other 7-inch tablet we saw earlier. The build quality is very much below average, especially when referring to the control buttons. The entire chassis has a firm build, but the exterior is completely glossy and it won’t take much time to get this tablet scratched. The looks are decent as it sports a completely black front panel, but the rear panel is bright white with black text all over the edges. The front features a 2 megapixel camera for video calls and there are absolutely no control buttons for Back, Home or Menu. The rear panel just has a speaker grille and does not feature any camera. The Power and Back button are seen on the top, but the way they are placed, it seems they should have been the Volume and Back buttons respectively. The buttons are very flimsy and do not sport proper tactility, which tends to hinder the ergonomics to an extent. The right side features a USB 2.0 port for 3G dongles and input devices, an HDMI port for large screen displays or TVs, a mini USB PC interface, audio and power jacks and a microSD slot. The display is equipped with a scratch guard, so you won’t have to pay for one. Additionally, the product bundles a leather carry case for safely carrying it around. Bundled along are the charger, USB cable and headphones.

Ports: HDMI, mini USB, micro SD slot, audio, power

Ports: HDMI, mini USB, microSD slot, audio, power

Features and performance

The ICE Xtreme is built using a 1.5GHz Cortex A8 processor and supported by a MALI-400 GPU. It features 1GB of RAM and sports a total of 8GB of internal memory. This storage capacity is split between the ROM, app storage and user data. An additional 8GB microSD card is bundled along with the product. The display is a 7-inch five point multi-touch capacitive screen with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels.

A free protective case is bundled

A free protective case is bundled

We did notice a lot of flaws with the product. Though the hardware specs seem superior (1.5GHz CPU + 1GB RAM) to other similar tablets in the category, the entire tablet is very sluggish. We still haven’t managed to find out the reason behind the hindrance—it could be the app overloaded OS or the faulty drivers. At times, it takes more than four seconds for the tablet to display the screen after pressing the power button, apps take longer to start, the user interface seems sluggish and searching for apps on the play store or browsing the internet is painfully slow. The wireless network drops from time to time too.  

The camera does not function and the app force closes when tapped. Some apps don’t rotate 180-degrees and stay in portrait mode only. A few apps open upside down and you have to turn the tablet around. When you put the tablet in standby mode, the power LED (on the top near the power button) glows constantly draining the battery to an extent. The light goes off only if you power off the device. The rear panel highlights the reset button as the “UPDATE” printed in large font, which can mislead the user in thinking that he can update the tablet by pressing it. Fortunately, when the switch is pressed – “Nothing happens”. We connected the tablet to the Internet, set up our Google account and found that the apps refused to download or get updated. The list could be longer, but we lost confidence on the tablet before proceeding further. It seems that ICE X Electronics was in a hurry to release the tablet before they fall behind others in the market. I hope the manufacturer takes the product back to the drawing board, refreshes the entire product and tests it before releasing the next version. We are not sure if the product that came into our hands was faulty. But this product was replaced with an earlier piece before this one and it had an OS issue that dies immediately after booting.

We did run the benchmarks on the ICE Xtreme tablet. NenaMark scored 21.8 fps while AnTuTu scores 3200 points. Linpack gave results of 15.337 MFLOPS in single-thread tests and 14.128 MFLOPS in multi-thread tests. Quadrant gave us a score of 1017. The tablet scored lower than the ones we reviewed before.

Standard tablet UI

Standard tablet UI

Interface

The user interface is a standard tablet UI that is seen on all similar tablets. Like we mentioned earlier, the interface is sluggish and randomly takes longer time to activate touch commands. We also mentioned about some apps opening upside down. Usually, when the tablet is held in portrait mode, you would hold it in such a way that the front camera is positioned on the top. But in this case, it is the opposite—apps that use the portrait mode open upside down and the auto rotate function that should rotate the app or display by 180 degrees does not have any effect. So if you are to use this tablet, which we assume you won’t, you might not be able to use a video chatting app properly and even though you try, you would end up struggling to face the camera.

There are just too many free apps installed on this tablet, which we think the manufacturer should have kept optional and saved the APKs on the internal memory for the user to install if required. This additionally takes up unnecessary space on the internal app storage and also floods the screen with these app icons. This could also be one reason the tablet behaves sluggish. Here is a list of productivity and entertainment apps that ICE X has generously installed for you.

App drawer filled with free apps

App drawer filled with free apps

Adobe Reader CarWale OliveOffice Pro Interesting facts Ways2SMS
Air control Countdown Widget Painless GRE Kcast Gold Live Wiki Encyclopedia 
Android photo CricBuzz Moneycontrol Labyrinth Lite YuppTV
App installer Currency Converter RacingMoto Mera Rail Nimbuzz
AyurvedaBook Days left widget RealCalc Learn English Flight Tracker
Bloomberg Dhingra Screenshot LinkedIn Hindi Movies app
BookMyShow Doctor At Home Sketch n Draw Indian Tax Calculator Horoscope
Socceer Superstars TouchPal Keyboard Twitter Vidyalayaonline Memory Status


These apps are almost useless for most users and uninstalling them is not possible unless you install a third party app remover. But you will have to root the tablet before you do so, and we managed to easily root the tablet with the SuperOneClick Short Fuse utility.

 Arm V7 1 GHz processor, MALI-400 GPU

Arm V7 1GHz processor, MALI-400 GPU


Media

The ICE Xtreme tablet did manage to playback the test videos thrown at it. These ranged from regular standard definition to high definition 720p videos and they played well. The 1080p videos failed and framed very badly. YouTube videos work well and we had no complaints whatsoever. Audio quality was decent and the music playback has no complaints except for the quality of the bundled headphones, which is below average. You will need to change to a good pair of headphones if you intend watching a movie or listening to casual music on the tablet.

Connectivity ports on the right, controls on the top

Connectivity ports on the right, controls on the top

Connectivity

Nothing much to talk about here as most tablets feature similar connectivity options. This one too features Wi-Fi, 3G Internet via USB dongles, mini USB for PC interface and an HDMI port for large screen displays.

Camera

We could not test the camera as the camera would not function.

Camera error

Camera error

Battery test

The ICE Xtreme features a decent 4700 mAh battery. We ran the tablet with standard definition videos continuously in a loop till the battery died. We did the test keeping the brightness on 50 percent and the audio volume on highest using a headphone connected. The battery life existed for almost 7 hours and 15 minutes. Using the tablet for casual work such as partial entertainment like videos, music, Internet browsing and such gave us a battery life of around 9 hours and 5 minutes before connecting the charger back to the tablet.

Error in market apps

Error in market apps

Verdict

After testing the tablet and stumbling into many flaws, we would definitely not recommend this tablet to anyone. The tablet also does not come cheaper than others in the similar segment which would help make a consideration. If ICE X wants this product to sell, I think it should consider addressing the problems with this product. The sluggish interface, below average build quality, faulty camera, UI rotate problems and many more does not justify the price. To sum up the total, we were very disappointed with the experience of this tablet. If you are looking for a tablet in this budget, there are similar products from Micromax, Karbonn or Swipe. 

Publish date: September 14, 2012 9:44 am| Modified date: December 19, 2013 1:11 am

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