Chuwi have done well in the 8-inch dual boot segment, this is their 3rd dual boot eight inch and the Hi8 looks exactly like the Chuwi Vi8 Ultimate edition released about the same time. It shares the same hardware bar the screen. An Atom bay Trail Z3736F which can turbo up to 2.16ghz, 2GB of single channel 1333Mhz DDR3L Ram and a 32GB eMMC. What sets it apart from its Vi8 Ultimate sibling is its 283 PPI 1920 x 1200 pixel screen.
What’s in the box:
- 1 x White 5 volt, 2 amp US two flat prong charger
- 1 x White MircoUSB to USB cable for charging and data in android
- 1 x White OTG adapter / MicroUSB to USB 2.0 female adapter.
- 1 x Chuwi Hi8 in…you guessed it, white.
- Plus instruction leaflets in Chinese.
Hardware & build:
Like the Vi8 Ultimate, the build is exactly the same, you have a well put together little tablet with a decent build for the price. It comes in only white (for now at least) At 306 grams, it’s lighter than the Vi8 Ultimate and it must be down to the screens weight, perhaps the Vi8 Ultimate has a thicker metal backing on the IPS panel, since both the batteries capacities are the same and I can’t think of anything else that would make it lighter apart from the screen.
The tablet is a 9.8mm think, but the design slims down around the edges to make it seem thinner than it really is, the tablet has the same metal strips around the left and right sides as the Vi10 or V10HD. This gives the tablet a more quality feel to it in hand and certainly doesn’t make it feel like a sub $100 tablet. There are no movements or creaks where the front and rear halves meet.
The right side of the Hi8 has a power on, volume rocker and just below this the microSD card slot. The slot is the click in and out type. The left side is blank and the bottom you’ll find only a microphone port. On the top, there is a MicroUSB port and 3.5mm headphone port. Sadly there is no micro HDMI port like the Vi8 Super has. My guess is it was removed to cut down on costs since Chuwi has used a better screen and SoC over the first Vi8. So this missing HDMI port could be a real deal breaker for some. You can still output the screen using wirelessly using Miracast of course, but it’s just not the same.
Screen and touch response:
The screen is the key point here as to why you would get this model over other eight-inch tablets on the market or even Chuwi’s Vi8 Ultimate model. At 350 cd/m2 the screen is bright, the brightest 8″ tablet tested so far at the time of this review. It’s 1920 x 1200 screen gives the tablet a nice “Retina” beating 283 PPI, the iPad air’s screen is 264 PPI, so this is sharper, but to be honest looking at them side by side I can’t see the difference. Both look just as sharp as each other and text looks great. Windows scaling is set to 150% by default.
Colors are punchy and blacks are a deep black and not gray as you see on some screens.
The glass and touch digitizer is separate from the IPS panel below, it’s not a bonded unit or laminated display. It has its pros and cons, it will be easier to repair and cheaper. But more prone to reflection. If you’re unsure what a laminated display and non-laminated display looks like, just take a look at the iPad Air Vs the iPad Air 2’s screen and you will see that the first gen model has a noticeable gap on the display and the glass panel above it.
The view angles are good, but the 1280 x 800 Vi8 Ultimate screen has slightly better view angles. See how the screen compared to other models tested:
Touch is responsive and like any newer generation tablet, there is no need to press harder or anything of the sort. What I did notice is it can be hard to close or minimize windows at times due to how small things are. A run of the touch screen calibration tool seems to have improved accuracy. In Android, there are no issues with this as the OS is more touch friendly.
The Hi8 has a 32GB eMMC drive on board for storage. Maybe it’s the batch I received or a measure of cost cutting, but my Hi8 (the Vi8 Ultimate to) has this NCard brand or type of eMMC that’s very slow compared to all the other tablets I’ve tested so far. At around 45 MB/s reads and 35 MB/s writes it’s super slow on the benchmark. It doesn’t feel any slower than other Atom Z3736F tablets I have used for the most part.
The drive speed or lack of it is only really noticeable when moving large files to your desktop in Windows or installing an application. It will take a little longer here. In Android, it has no impact it as it’s not so reliant on the storage speed like Windows is.
I just hope this unknown brand of eMMC’s will hold up in the long run. You can see how bad it compares to others in the below chart. It would have been nice if Chuwi went with a Toshiba or Hynix brand of eMMC and I would have more faith in it and you’ll have 2-3x the speed of this one.
Ports & Connectivity:
The Chuwi has limited connectivity options, a MicroUSB port that has a maximum speed of around 40mb/s and the MicroSD card slot. My Samsung Evo 64GB card worked without any issues in both Android and Windows. Speeds were limited to 22-23 MB/s according to CyrstalDiskmark’s benchmark.
I was pleased to see that the microusb + the OTG cable supplied will output enough power to run my Toshiba basics 1TB 2.5 inch external hard drive. Not all tablets can do this, the X98 Air 3G for example requires a powered USB cable or hub in order to run an external 2.5″ drive.
Wireless this time around is handled by Broadcom and not Realtek, which is normally the case with these dual boot tablets. Windows device manager reports a GPS/GLONASS location chipset, but it doesn’t seem to work. GPS is not working in Android and it maybe that part of the hardware is missing or disabled in the bios? The wireless strength around the house is fine and I experienced no disconnections or limited connection issues at all.
Bluetooth 4 and Miracast worked just fine.
I even test out streaming Grand Theft Auto V and Wreckfest from my tower PC, it worked flawlessly and there was not stutter or audio stutter whatsoever. See the below:
Windows & Performance:
At the time of this review the tablet ships with Windows 8.1 Bing and includes one free year of Office 365. What’s not certain is once Windows 10 is released will Chuwi start to ship them out with Windows 10 and will office still be included?
Like all 32GB dual boots you have limited space, Windows has just 10GB of free storage so once the Windows updates start rolling and then the upgrade to Windows 10 you’ll likely to have much less than this. This is why I personally think all dual boots should have at least 64GB eMMC’s for storage.
Performance in Windows is fine, Windows, apps, folders all load up quickly, the tablet boots up quick and IE11 is as fluid as it ever is. The only degraded performance from the slower eMMC drive is large application install times and loading. It’s a bit slower than usual from an eMMC.
- 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme: 7821
- 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited: 14460
- Geekbench 3: 860 single & 2164 Multi
- PCMark 7: 2030
Android Rom, Free Space and Experience:
The Chuwi Hi8 Rom is light weight and so is the launcher. It comes with Android 4.4.4 stock and Play Store is working out of the box. There are some bloatware applications, but all of them can be removed bar one, the Chuwi App store. You’ll to root the tablet in order to remove it.
The rom is quick and I encountered no slow down or stutters. You have a small 6.67GB free user space on the internal storage. Not much at all to play with once you start to download large games.
Below are are screen shots from the Android benchmarks I ran in this video against the Vi8 Ultimate:
The scores in the Epic Citadel benchmark clearly show when running at the native 1920 x 1200 screen resolution, the performances takes a hit against the Vi8’s Ultimate’s 1280 x 800 native resolution.
The AnTuTu 5.7.1 score of 33075, is around 3,000 points behind other lower resolution Z3736F powered tablets.
Switching Operating System:
Windows and Android side by side, it’s just a matter of touching the Android icon in Windows and you’ll boot over to Android. The same goes for Android, just select Windows from the drop down menu. The system will reset and then boot over to the other OS. If you shut down in Android, it will boot in Android.. same for Windows. And if volume down is held on boot, you can choose which OS you want using the volume keys to select and power to start. And it works well using the Insyde bios switching system. It’s slightly different than the Teclast switching system.
As expected gaming at native resolution noticeably slower than the other eight inch tablets that run only 1280 x 800 pixel screens. The GPU has to work much harder to render games in 1920 x 1200, which are normally Android games and the store games from Windows that run at full resolution. Playing older source engine games like Counter Strike Global Offensive, you can at least lower the resolution in Windows to increase the smoothness and frame rates of the game.
Windows games like League of Legends, Counter Strike Source, Team Forteress 2 and Dota 2 were mostly playable. But you need to lower the screen resolution in order to get playable frames per second. TF2 and LoL were the most playable games on the Hi8 I tested. See the video below to get an idea.
Running that brighter and sharper screen surely has a toll on the battery life? That’s one of the first things I though when I saw how bright the screen is. Yes, it does takes a toll on the battery, around 10-15% less than it’s Vi8 cousin. I managed only 4 hours and 19 minutes under medium to light use in Windows with the wireless on and brightness at around 40%. This is slightly lower than other tablets with 4000mAH batteries, and much lower than the current 8″ champ, the Cube iwork8 3G.
I conducted a test against the Vi8 Ultimate to see just what an effect the screen has compared to the Vi8’s lower 1280 x 800 pixel IPS. The test was started looping Epic Citadel in the guided tour mode and both tablets with their screens at 100% brightness. Wireless was also on the whole time. More results of this test can be found here if your interested in the Chuwi Vi8 Ultimate Vs Chuwi Hi8.
Heat and throttling:
While benchmarking and pushing the system hard while gaming, the little Z3736F Atom SoC reach a balmy 79 degrees C. This is an okay max temp, around the same figure as other Z3736F Atoms. I’ve seen the likes of the Onda V116w get up to 88 degrees and throttle. HWinfo reported no throttling in my use on the Hi8, as long as it doesn’t throttle I’m happy.
With the tablet powered off I was able to fully charge it from 2% to full, in approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. Charging the tablet while in use will take much longer, a good 5 hours or more depending on your screen brightness and what you’re doing.
Thankfully Chuwi threw away that useless excuse of a loudspeaker that was in the Vi8, the HI8’s speaker is loud and clear for a mono speaker on the back. A tenfold improvement over the old speaker. One downside is due to its location it’s easy to cover up.
Sound output over the 3.5mm plug is almost clear, I can hear the faintest of white noise when nothing is played. Over all this is a good result as many Bay Trail and Atom tablets are plagued with noise and interference over the headphone jack. Even my Surface 3 suffers from some horrible static and buzz.
The front facing camera was not replace and upgraded sadly, it’s still a 0.3 megapixel camera that is down right bad. Just think 2004 mobile phone camera, yep it’s that bad It seems to run at 15fps and images are washed out. I got complaints on Skype my video image looked blurred and not good, it wasn’t my connection but the camera. Hey, at least they could se me, but Chuwi should have replaced this, what’s the cost of a 2MP unit or better yet remove the rear 2MP camera and just add it to the front.
The rear camera is at least 2MP and it’s okay, you will not get any usable images from it. Maybe a passable shot or two if you’re desperate. It has no auto zoom, so you can forget about macros.
Here is a sample of the front camera (Click the images to see the horror in detail)
And some rear camera samples:
The Chuwi Hi8, sets the bar for value for money for what you get on a sub $100 budget tablet. Dual operating systems, Office 365 for a year, a bright and super sharp display and all for under $100 is a bargain. You can’t deny it. The build quality is good and over all it’s a very decent tablet considering its price. The icing on the cake would have been upgraded cameras to at least 2MP on the front and 5 on the rear. And finally an HDMI port would make it one of the best but as it stands it’s still quite the deal.
So if you’re someone that needs a decent camera and HDMI out, give this one a miss. For everyone else that can live without HDMI output and a very average camera this is one of the best 8-inch tablets around in my mind for the price and that beautiful screen. And if you absolutely must have the fastest gaming performance and the exact same build, take a look at the Chuwi Vi8 Ultimate. Finally, if you need 3G, you have the Cube iwork8 3G.
*Please use the Chuwi Hi8 Forum for any serious discussion, it will be much easier.