DataWind’s Ubislate 7C will be the cheapest Android tablet when it launches at the end of May but till then, we can occupy ourselves with plenty of other cheap Android tablets , the latest one being from Micromax. The Funbook sparked quite a bit of interest when it launched as it’s currently one of the cheapest Android 4.0-based tablets in the market. But as is the case with most cheap Android tablets, besides media consumption, it isn’t really good for anything else. Could the Micromax Funbook change that trend? Let’s find out.

Decent design

Decent design

Design and Build
According to Micromax, this is the first tablet to be developed in India. While that isn’t saying much, it is one of the better built sub-10K Android tablets you’ll find. What we really love about it is how incredibly light it feels in your hand. It’s quite slim as well, making it a very good eBook reader. There are no creaking parts even if you apply pressure around the corners. The glass protection for the screen does attract a lot of fingerprints but that’s unavoidable.

Good build quality

Good build quality

We just wish the bezel had been thinner as it’s too thick and makes the screen appear tiny. There are also physical buttons for ‘Home’, ‘Options’ and ‘Back’ which we feel are unnecessary and simply add to the space.
All the connections are grouped together which include a miniUSB port, microHDMI, SD Card slot and a charging port. The USB port also supports USB-on-the-go and Micromax bundles along the cable as well in the box.

 

On video: Micromax Funbook

Features
Interface
The Funbook comes with Android 4.0.3 without any skin running on top so you get the pure ICS experience. While the interface is quick to respond, there are times when it will slow down and get a bit sluggish. The touch sensitivity is strictly average for a tablet in this price bracket. The one annoyance we have with the Funbook is the time it takes waking the tablet up from sleep mode. After pressing the power button, you need to wait a whole 2 seconds (at times, even more) before the screen turns on. This is strange since it packs in a pretty powerful SoC.

A familiar interface

A familiar interface

Micromax uses an ARM Cortex-A8 single-core CPU running at 1.2GHz along with the NEON instruction set for decoding video files. The NEON technology from ARM works in tandem with the Mali-400 MP GPU allowing it to easily offload and decode almost any type of video file, no matter what the container or codec. Along with 512MB of RAM, this ensures a very good multimedia experience which we’ll get into in a bit. AnTuTu gave us a score of 2892 while Linpack gave us a single threaded score of 15 and a multi-thread score of 14.7. While the Mali-400 MP GPU is quite capable, not all games played very smoothly. Shadowgun for instance had quite a bit of framing but other games like Angry Birds Space ran just fine.

Android 4.0

Android 4.0

The screen’s resolution isn’t great (800 x 480) so icons and text have a lot of jaggies around them. Also, the whole aspect ratio of the display seems a bit off as the menus and home screen comes across as stretched. It’s very minor, but it’s there. Also, some of the bundled apps don’t seem to scale well in full screen mode. GTalk for instance has a very weird layout on this tablet.

Media
Micromax hasn’t messed around with the music player so it’s the one from stock ICS. This is not particularly a bad thing since you get equalizer presets and audio enhancements out of the box. The audio quality with a good pair of IEMs is pretty good. The speaker on the Funbook is incredibly powerful as well and will easily fill a small room, although it does tend to distort a bit at high volumes.

A very good video player

A very good video player

Now, coming to the video player, Micromax has used an app called “Super-HD Player”, which is nowhere to be found on the Play Store but does one heck of a job in playing back video files. First off, it can playback any files type in almost any format. It just breezed through 1080p MKVs. The screen is not too bad for watching movies and the low resolution isn’t much of a problem. The player also has a few tricks up its sleeve like the ability to switch any video to stereoscopic or anaglyph 3D.

Connectivity
While there isn’t a slot for a 3G SIM card, the tablet does support USB 3G dongles. USB-on-the-go works well even with a 32GB NTFS formatted pen drive. Portable hard drives don’t work as expected since the tablet doesn’t have enough power to spin the drive. Other features include Wi-Fi b/g but strangely, there’s no Bluetooth. You also get an option for Ethernet in the settings menu which means you can use it via an adapter. Micromax also has their own store called MStore from where one can download games, educational videos, movies, etc. You can even watch live TV through Zenga TV but that’s a paid service. 

The Micromax store gives you access to lots of stuff

The Micromax store gives you access to lots of stuff

Camera
You only get a front facing VGA camera which isn’t too bad for self-portraits under the right lighting conditions. The frame rate is also pretty good and not as choppy as one would expect.  

Not a bad VGA camera

Not a bad VGA camera

Misc. App
Other apps that are bundled along include a File Manager, audio recorder, Aldiko books and Flash player.

Battery Life
With brightness set to 50 per cent and Wi-Fi off, we managed to get exactly 7hours of battery life while playing a DVD video in a loop. This is not too bad but we’ve seen better, like the Ainol Novo 7 for example. 

Physical buttons are a bit wasted

Physical buttons are a bit wasted

Verdict
For Rs.6,499 it’s certainly one of the cheaper Android 4.0 alternatives in the market but it’s far from the best. While it does have good multimedia playback capabilities, the screen resolution isn’t the best for reading text or surfing the Internet. The Ainol Novo 7 Paladin still seem like a better option for a little more money.

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