Zync has launched a new budget tablet that is sure to turn heads. The Quad 9.7 has a very impressive feature-set boasting of being equipped with an IPS display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels – almost equivalent to Apple’s latest iPad, which sports the same resolution. The Quad 9.7 tablet runs on a quad-core processor and is as slim as an iPad 2; it even looks like the latter. But does it perform as well as it sounds on paper? Let's find out.
9.7-inch Super HD IPS panel with 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution
Design and build quality
Apart from the physical Home button on the front panel, the Quad 9.7 looks identical to the iPad. What also gives it away is the plastic white trim around the tablet’s edge. The rear panel is made of brushed aluminium and sports only a camera and a speaker grille. The left and right ends of the rear panel are made of plastic for a simple reason—the interface sockets need to be placed here and the internal wireless antenna cannot be barricaded or shielded by a metal panel. Sadly, we did have a peek inside the unit and found that the two antennas are not placed beneath the plastic body, but are actually placed below the metal panel and are shielded by it. This causes an interference with the wireless transmission and the tablet does not pick up Wi-Fi signals at a longer distance where other devices work perfectly well. In short, the wireless network is poor owing to the metal rear panel.
Brushed finished metal rear panel with 5MP camera
Moving ahead, the front panel is an IPS display with an all-glass panel and an aspect ratio of 4:3. There are no physical buttons for Home, Back or Menu, as they are integrated into the Android user interface itself. The only physical buttons available on the entire tablet are the Power/Standby and Back buttons, which are placed on the right side of the tablet’s chassis. Also present on the right side is a 3.5 mm audio jack and the power jack. A port flap is provided on the right side, which houses the miniHDMI port, the microSD card slot and the microUSB port.
All interfaces on the left area of the rear panel
The entire tablet weighs 603 g and measures just 10 mm thick (almost matching the iPad 2's dimensions). The entire frame is firm and has a rugged build quality thanks to the strong plastic chassis and the metal rear panel. Nevertheless, the rounded white plastic edges can get dirty very easily with sweaty hands. The display glass can also get damaged easily if the tablet takes a fall on any of its edges. Make sure you handle this tablet carefully.
9.5 mm thick, volume and power buttons on the right side
The Zync Quad 9.7 runs on an Android Jelly Bean v4.1 operating system. It is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, but sadly, the processor is clocked at just 1GHz by the manufacturer. The reason could be to keep the tablet’s performance stable because the chipset used within is an Allwinner A31 and the minimum compatible operating system required by the SOC is Android Jelly Bean v4.2. Hopefully, Zync will release the Android update for this tablet to perform with all its might. Moving on, the tablet also features a MALI-400 graphics processor and 2GB of DDR3 RAM. The internal storage is a good 16GB, which can be further expanded up to 32 GB using a microSD card. Of this 16GB, only 11.6GB of storage is available for user data, while the rest is occupied by the system ROM and app data.
Quad-core 1.5GHz processor, but clocked at 1GHz.
The display featured on the Quad 9.7 is an LED backlit, 9.7-inch Super HD IPS panel sporting a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. The tablet is equipped with two cameras – a 5MP on the rear and a 2MP on the front. Connectivity options available are Wi-Fi b/g/n, a microUSB port for PC and USB OTG and a miniHDMI interface for connecting large screen displays. Sadly, the presence of a GPS or Bluetooth feature would have made this product an entirely feature-rich tablet ready to hit the road. To complete the features section, the Quad 9.7 is fuelled using two 4000 mAh batteries (a total of 8000 mAh), which is bound to give you a good up-time.
2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage
We tested the Quad 9.7 using the Android benchmarking utilities and here are the scores. AnTuTu scored, 10502, Quadrant scored 3166 and NenaMark2 scored 41 fps. Linpack scored 31 MFLOPS and 102.3 MFLOPS in the single-thread and multi-thread tests respectively. Going by the scores spewed by these synthetic benchmarking utilities, the tablet does not perform at par with other budget quad-core tablets and lags a little behind by a few points. The reason could be the incompatible operating system and/or the underclocked processor – 1GHz instead of 1.5GHz – or even both. Had this tablet featured Android v4.2 and the processor was clocked at 1.5GHz, this tablet would have definitely fared better. Nevertheless, the stability of the tablet is what matters most. We also found the tablet heating up a bit too soon. The metal rear panel gets pretty warm within 10–15 minutes of use, especially when gaming or watching a movie. But even after prolonged use, the tablet does not fail in stability and the heating issue did not show any signs of risk to the tablet’s performance.
Stock Android Jelly Bean user interface
The Quad has a stock Android Jelly Bean tablet user interface and launcher. There are some free apps pre-installed on the tablet, which include a few games, productivity apps and utilities. Apart from these, standard apps for social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GTalk, Skye and MSN Messenger are also installed. The user interface is pretty smooth, but we did find it slowing down for a bit a few times during our tests and usage. The issue could be improper memory management and we guess a third-party utility app would take care of that too. Overall, the issue is minor and there seems nothing to worry about.
Basic pre-installed apps for gaming and social networking
Display and media
The display used on the Quad 9.7 is an LED-backlit Super HD IPS panel. The panel sports a resolution higher than full HD and stands at 2048 x 1536 pixels, which translates to almost 264 ppi, or 263.92 ppi to be precise. The resolution is the same as that seen on Apple’s third generation iPad with Retina Display. We must admit that it is currently one of the first budget Android tablets to have a resolution higher than full HD in India. However, there are a lot of tablets sporting a similar display resolution screen and are already on sale in China and online shopping websites. These tablets won’t take too long to make their presence felt in India.
AnTuTu system information
The display on the Zync Quad is very crisp and clear thanks to the IPS display panel. The viewing angle is very good, colours are bright and vibrant, and brightness and contrast levels are also very good. Videos are pretty much enjoyable, especially animated movies. But there is only one issue that one could complain about – as most videos are widescreen, they cannot make complete use of the entire screen because the display has a ratio of 4:3 and not 16:9. This results in large black bands on the top and bottom, ending up wasting a good amount of display area. But it isn’t as bad and the HD IPS display is definitely not going to spoil the show.
4K Video player; video playback app pre-installed
The audio from the onboard speaker is very low and playing videos and music is almost useless. In order to enjoy your music and flicks, you would have to make use of a headphone – this is where we missed the Bluetooth feature. The bundled earphones are in-ear type, but have a very bad build quality. The wires are measly thin and short too. The audio quality is equally bad and we would recommend replacing them with some better ones if you want to enjoy music and movies. But wait a minute, the audio power output from the tablet itself is a bit low. If you are watching a movie that has a low audio track, you might as well have a headphone amplifier installed. We did find watching a movie with a low audio very difficult to hear with a good pair of headphones. The same movie was perfectly audible on a different tablet. So make sure you have a perfectly transcoded movie to enjoy.
4:3 ratio display has large black bands for widescreen videos
The battery onboard the Zync Quad 9.7 is a dual 4000 mAh battery wired internally in a series to be a single 8000 mAh tank. The battery does last long enough for around 7 hours and 15 minutes at a stretch when using it purely for standard definition videos. The battery life would be cut short depending on the type of usage. If you are using it for gaming, then the battery life would be reduced drastically. Overall, the tablet should suffice you through most of the day before you reach for the charger. The tablet won't charge via the USB port using any conventional charger. This is also a drawback on the tablet as you would have to carry along the tablet’s charger when you are travelling and using it for longer durations. The charger is a standard 5V 2A one with a thin connector like those found on a Nokia phone charger. So if you are lucky, a connector equivalent to a 5V phone charger might just work for you; however, the charging time would be longer.
Verdict and Price in India
Priced at Rs 13,999, the Zync Quad 9.7 is definitely a steal. Considering the major factors such as display resolution, IPS LCD panel, quad-core CPU with 2GB RAM and the build quality, the tablet is definitely value for money. However, the shortfall of the Wi-Fi performance, the underclocked processor, the missing Android update and the poor performance of the onboard speaker should be considered. There are other tablets in the same budget sporting quad-core processors with 10-inch IPS displays, but this one seems to stand out as a class apart. Until there are other tablets with a better display and without the minus points of this tablet, we would definitely recommend the Quad 9.7.
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