After the 7-inch tablets making their mark in the Indian market, it seems now it's time for the larger screen-based budget Android tablets to show their faces. We saw the 10-incher Micromax Funbook Pro taking a stand recently and now we have the 9-incher Ultratab A900 from Zen. Check out some of its features along with its good and bad sides.
Design and Build
The Ultratab A900 has an all glossy shell with a black front and a white rear panel, which is a big invitation to fingerprints and stains. The edges we noticed are slightly sharp due to a possibly unfinished job. The A900 has a firm and sturdy shell and feels rugged and nice to hold. The front panel comprises the display with a front facing camera on the top right. The rear panel has a speaker grille and towards the left side is the micro SD card slot. The volume rocker and power switch sit on the top while the right side features all the interfaces such as the micro USB and mini HDMI interfaces along with the audio and power jacks. The A900 looks classy and definitely scores high on aesthetics.
Android ICS, 1.5GHz CPU, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage
Features and Performance
The A900 is powered by an ARMv7 Cortex A9 processor clocked at 1.5GHz supplied with 512MB of RAM. The graphics processor is the same as others – the MALI 400. The internal storage is left at 4GB and can be expanded up to 32GB using a microSD card. The display is an odd and large 9-incher with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:9. The oddly-sized display makes the product look less bulky, but we were disappointed to see a lower resolution on a screen this large. A front facing 1.3 MP camera is available on the extreme right (top) of the front panel, but the angle of the camera is a bit off and you need to tilt the tablet slightly to get into the frame. This is a big issue, as the display has a problem with the viewing angle and inverts the colours if you view it from the top or from the bottom with even a slight change in the angle. This display issue is also clearly visible and very disturbing while watching a movie or using it for other work. The quality of the display is also below average; it has washed out colours and the brightness levels are slightly lower than any other tablet we have reviewed so far. The video and photo quality on the display is not as crisp as we expected to see. Lastly, the low resolution on a large display also is a bit annoying, as you can easily notice the pixel grains from a short distance. Another issue we witnessed is the display panel itself seems to be placed slightly towards the bottom right of the frame and you miss almost 1 mm of the display on both the left and right sides. These are the few display related issues that pull down the rating.
The white glossy back is a dust magnet and not scratch-resistant
We tested the performance of the tablet using our benchmarking utilities and here are the results. AnTuTu gave us a score of 3126, Quadrant scored 1298 and Linpack scored 30.188 MFLOPS and 25.352 MFLOPS in single thread tests and multi-thread tests respectively. Lastly, Nenamark2 gave out scores of 27.1 fps. Comparing the scores of the A900 with the Micromax Funbook Pro, it seems the latter perfoms almost 40 percent better.
The Ultratab A900 ships with Android ICS v4.0.x and uses the stock tablet home launcher. The user interface is smooth and does not feel sluggish at any given point. There are a few apps thrown in free, which comprise of some games such as Angry Birds, Rummy, Raging Thunder and a few more. Other apps also include productivity to entertainment apps such as Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Cricket Predict, Astro, Kundali and a few other.
Display angles are disappointing
The tablet can play most media types and content as usual, which include MPEG1/2/4, MJPG, H.263 and H264 for video, MP3, WAV, AAC, MP2, WMA, JPG, JPEG, BMP and PNG respectively for audio and image. We did play a few regular to HD and full HD movies to check if the playback was smooth enough for entertainment, and it did not fail us. Media playback of full HD content was flawless, but as we mentioned, the flaws in the display (visible pixels, washed out colours and bad viewing angles) make it a little disturbing. Watch it from a distance and you will be fine with it. The audio from the built-in speaker is audible enough, but the quality is not up to the mark. It lacks the clarity and volume one would expect, especially whilst watching a movie. You would have to wear your headphones to enjoy videos personally or hook it up to an audio amplifier or speakers if you have company. The bundled headphones also do not perform well. They sound like you are playing music in a tunnel. Opt for a better pair of earphones if you want to enjoy music and videos on this tablet.
Mini USB, microSD slot, power and audio jacks on the right side
Connectivity options remain the same as with all other tablets in the category. Wi-Fi and 3G via dongle is as usual, Ethernet connectivity and cable Internet using PPPoE protocols is also possible, but again, only via the USB OTG dongle.
Android ICS with stock tablet launcher
As mentioned earlier, the battery within the tablet is a 4000 mAh battery; we did a few tests to gauge the working life of the tablet on a single charge. A continuous video loop to simulate using the tablet continuously for video entertainment was performed. The battery lasted for almost 4 hours and 55 minutes. We then recharged the battery and tested the tablet by streaming audio, video and using Internet for around an hour each and repeated the same test until the battery died. This time the battery lasted around 6 hours and 10 minutes. The battery life would be completely dependent on the usage. Gaming takes up more battery power than listening to casual audio.
Some free apps for fun, work and socializing
Verdict and price in India
After analysing the entire tablet from hardware specs to display quality and performance to battery life, it is a bit difficult to recommend the tablet to anyone out there. Priced at Rs 7,999, the deal seems great if we compare it to the Micromax Funbook Pro, which is available for Rs 9,999, the price difference for one inch at a 2,000-rupee difference is huge. However, since the tablet has its set of flaws and benefits – for example, the bad display quality, good performance and good battery life – we can consider the deal for both the tablets good enough in their respective spaces. To finalise the entire experience, the tablet has a nice form factor of 9 inches, a good battery life, good performance and a great price. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a better quality large display, especially for entertainment purposes, the Micromax Funbook Pro is a better tablet unless you are ready to forgo the battery life.
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