This review has been updated to included the Chuwi Vi8 dual boot model, that has both Windows and Android, plus a micro hdmi port the Windows only version lacked.
Chinese Tablet Manufactures are always looking for new low price points of tablets to ship out to the masses. Chuwi recently launched the low priced $84 Vi8. At this price, you wouldn’t expect anything but a throwaway device right? Well let’s take a look.
The Chuwi, unlike other super low priced tablets actually has a good spec sheet. For starters, it has 2GB of ram, something rare among the cheapest of the cheap, it also sports Windows 8.1 Bing, a full edition of Windows 8.1. It has a Bay Trail Z3735F which can turbo at 1.83Ghz, a 1280 x 800 IPS screen and a mircosd card slot. In fact it has basically the same spec as the Dell Venue 8 Pro 5000 series which retails at $249 which is incredible to say the least.
Build & Quality:
The Vi8 is made of plastic with a textured plastic rear shell made to look like brushed metal. It does help cut back on fingerprints and smudges, but it’s no soft rubberized matte finish like some tablets have. There are no creaks or noises in the finish and at 8mm thin it’s not the thinnest of tablets. 207 mm high and 122 mm wide at 310 grams make it extremely easy to handle. The device has only a Mirco sd slot and micro usb port with OTG support. There is no HDMI output here, this could be a deal breaker for some. (Update: The Chuwi Vi8 Dual OS model has an hdmi port)
The Hynix HBG4e eMMC drive is even a decent 32GB to, other cheap tablets have only 16GB. And after a quick benchmark using CyrstalMark, it was one of the faster ones in terms of read and write speeds. Topping the eMMC drive in my Teclast X98 Air 3G I reviewed.
Around 19 GB was free on first boot, which is about the same as most other Windows 8.1 tablets I have used that employ 32GB of storage. The recovery partition is on the drive itself and hidden to the user. There is also a MircoSD card slot if you wanted to add up to 128GB more storage. MircoSD card speeds maxed out around 23 mb/s.
Screen and touch response:
The IPS display is a 1280 x 800 unit that is bright and offer good viewing angles. Outside viewing performance wasn’t good in direct sunlight, I could hardly make out what was on the screen. After a day of use I discovered my screen had two dead or fixed pixels on the bottom middle area and not far from the stuck pixels was a piece of dust. This could be down to bad luck or a result of the low price point?
The touch screen is responsive and fluid, not like the Voyo A1 I had a while back that required me to press down hard at times to register touches. Due to the 8-inch screen size and no scaling, I found it tricky at times to close windows in the desktop.
The Bay Trail Z3735F is common amoung many Chinese Win8.1 tablets, the performance is snappy and smooth. I could stream 1080p video clips, multi task within the Windows split screen, run various tabs in IE11 and all at the same time. For browsing, basic office docs and video etc this tablet handles the tasks well thanks to it’s quad core CPU and 2GB of 1333 mhz ram. Over all the tablet feels and runs quite quick for an Atom Bay Trail tablet and better some of the larger Bay Trail tablets tested.
|Geekbench 3 Single||Geekbench 3 Mulit||3DMark Ice Storm Extreme||3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited||PCMark 7|
Since the Intel HD gen 7 graphics has to only drive 1280 x 800 pixels, all of the Windows store games I tired ran fast and smooth without any lag or stutters. Load times were good thanks to the fast eMMC onboard. Team Fortresses 2 was playable on low settings with the frame rate dipping to low the 20s when there was a lot of action on the screen.
With only a 5000 mAh battery inside is it enough? Using Battery Bar Pro, your looking around 5-6hours hours of normal web, video and doc use depending on what your doing and screen brightness of course. Personally I would have liked an hour or so more here, but it seems size or most likely cost constraints came into play in terms of battery capacity. But overall it’s good for an 8 inch Windows tablet.
The Chuwi Vi8 features only one speaker on the back of the tablet. It’s a tinny tiny loudspeaker that really struggles. It distorts at maximum volume and overall it’s a poor speaker. One of the worst I’ve heard. One area the Vi8 cut corners on to keep that low price point. Lucky for us there is a 3.5mm jack, which has reasonably clean audio. It’s not perfect however as I did detect the slightest amount of static.
The worse part of this device. The web camera’s on are area where the most cost cutting took place, with a 0.3 MP front facing camera, images looked pixelated and washed out. The rear web cam is not much better. Chuwi Vi8 would have been best to just use a 2MP front facing camera for video chat and leave it at that. Check the below samples to get an idea of just the camera really is.
Chwui Vi8 Dual Boot Photo samples:
Verdict and rating:
For the price and the spec given it’s a hard machine to over look when you think about the Dell Venue 8 which is extremely similar and more that twice the price of the Vi8. But it does have it’s drawbacks, the camera’s are way below par and there is no HDMI output on this tablet. In itself this could be a deal breaker for some (The Venue 8 Pro has no HDMI either) Quality control could be an issue to as my unit had a spec of dust and two dead pixels.
Best price: $83 from BangGood.com
Dual Boot Version Updated 14 April 2015:
I got my hands on the updated Chuwi Vi8 Dual OS version, it’s exactly the same hardware, but it has an HDMI output in the form of a micro HDMI port next to the micro usb port. This was one of the bad points of the first model I reviewed that it lacked HDMI, well now it does and it’s working in Android. But my unit doesn’t want to output video in Windows for some reason. Sees like a drvier issue if the port works in Android. I can also report that this model, did not have any dead pxiels or dust under the screen. It’s the luck of the pot when you buy them.
You get less storage space now since it’s a dual boot machine, but this adds to value of the tablet. An outsanding deal for an 8″ tablet if you ask me. A quad core 1.8ghz CPU, 2GB ram powered with Windows 8.1 fully licensed, Office 365 with one year subscription and Android 4.4.4 all for under $99 dollars, that’s a steal.
In Windows you now get 9.48GB of Free space which is not much and in Android you get 6.42GB. So that microsd card slot will defiantly come in handy, make sure you use a fat32 formatted mircosd card so both operating systems can access the card. Android doesn’t like NTFS. The Android rom is very much a stock Android affair, very plain and this is a good thing. The rom has about 5 Chinese apps you can remove and one you can’t . But it’s not really that bloated compared to some Chinese roms I’ve seen.
Antutu the Chuwi Vi8 Dual OS scores 35000, not a bad score, helped by that 1280 x 800 resolution, all the games and apps I test ran just fine and very fluid. Check below for images of the stock rom and some Android benchmarks I ran.
Android screen grabs: