116 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent tablet but firmware issues on release: not a model for non-hackers!
* NOTE - I have awarded this tablet 4 stars based on my own level of experience and expectations at this price point. If you do not know how to update firmware, assume two to three stars. I have updated my opinion of this tablet following firmware updates in the comments section.
I already own the AINOL TAB NOVO7 Fire Flame - 7'' HD IPS display (1280*800) dual...
Published 9 months ago by M. Bhangal
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Novo 9
I brought this tablet having read earlier reports, hoping that the new firmware would fix the problems. I downloaded the latest firmware "novo-Spark-20130320-LX-V1" and loaded it onto the tablet, before I started using it. I found the Wi-Fi was ok, did not have any problems even at maximum distance in my house. Even though I purchased it in the UK it was pre-loaded with...
Published 7 months ago by Hughneek
Most Helpful First | Newest First
116 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent tablet but firmware issues on release: not a model for non-hackers!,
This review is from: Ainol Novo 9 Spark Firewire Tablet PC - 9.7" Retina IPS III 2048x1536 Pixel Display, Quad Core A31 CPU, 8 Core GPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Dual Cameras 5.0MP, 10000mAh battery - includes HDMI cable and 8GB SD memory card* NOTE - I have awarded this tablet 4 stars based on my own level of experience and expectations at this price point. If you do not know how to update firmware, assume two to three stars. I have updated my opinion of this tablet following firmware updates in the comments section.
I already own the AINOL TAB NOVO7 Fire Flame - 7'' HD IPS display (1280*800) dual core 1.5GHz android 4.0 ice cream sandwich tablet pc 16GB 5MP dual camera HDMI Bluetooth aluminium alloy Metal casing, which I bought instead of the Nexus 7 based on price and that the Nexus doesn't allow you to add SD cards (the entire Nexus range is predicated on your using Google cloud, which assumes an internet connection, and it will not be free to use in the future), and most importantly, I decided to start cheap to see if a tablet was for me. IPad was a complete no for me: I can't accept a computer than hides its file system even when the user wants to access it, and everything else occurs through a paywall!
I became inseparable with my Novo 7 Fire: e-reader (Kindle, PDFs and CBR comics), watching films on the train, casual gaming, music player for the car, web browsing, and now test environment for my Android programming. Oh, and its also indispensable for my biggest pet hobby, photography (if I connect my Sony Alpha A77 camera to android, I can review images on the Android screen immediately in the field, because Android Gallery picks up the Sony images folder).
So when the 10 inch retina screens came out (9.7 inches for the Novo9, and 10.1 for most 10 inch screens, so there's not much in size between a 9 and 10 inch device!), I knew I had to have one. Having already seen Retina on the iPad/Nexus, I saw that they are perfect for e-readers and photography: at normal viewing distances the resolution is indistinguishable from print and you get far superior colour reproduction.
Giving that my previous Ainol tablet has served me very well, I have had a Novo 9 firewire on pre-order (direct from Ainol) since it was announced.
Firstly, the distinction between Spark and Firewire: nominally its just the colour: Spark = white, Firewire = black, but the actual tablet is called 'Spark' on the case even if its the black version. I would send your seller an email to confirm the colour if it matters (as of this writing, you are most likely to get a white one because the black ones were released a month late). BUT see below, as the initial release of the white ones had bad firmware.
Physically, the build, form factor and screen are excellent: it looks good next to the iPads and Nexus's we have at work (I'm a web developer). The screens are made by LG, so are 'name' screens and not cheap plastic fronted ripoffs. You can't tell the difference between them and the iPad/Nexus screens, and my screen has no dead pixels. In terms of screen form factor, the Novo9 has the same form factor as the iPad (2048x1536 or 4:3, which makes it both better as an e-reader/web browser than the Nexus 10 at 2560x1600 or 16:10, which is better suited for widescreen films, and a little too wide for e-books). Choice of form factor is quite important, because depending on whether you choose 4:3 or 16:10, your screen will be optimised for either movies or e-books/magazines.
You pay a price for the retina screen though: 1/4 of that 2GB is reserved by the GPU, and once you have factored in the OS kernel, you are looking at about 1GB free: half of the memory is gone!
Compared with the Novo 7 devices, you lose the home button but gain a back button. You get stereo speakers (but you have to hold the tablet in portrait mode for them to be either side of you). The mic looks much like the ones on the Novo 7s. The lottery of 'will it come on when I try to start it' that occurred on the Fire (it seems to start anywhere between 2 and 10 seconds after you press the start key, and if you press it again before it comes up, it takes the second press as a 'turn off!): if you press start, the Novo9 does start consistently. The Novo9 doesnt have the 'battery stuck at 100%' issues of some of the '7 models. The Novo9 also comes unlocked enough for you to easily install app apk files that you (cough) 'didn't get from the play store'. 'Easily' as in they will always work. So yeah, pretty good if you are a particular type of 'hacker' ;)
Compared with other cheap A31 retina tablets, the big plus with the Novo9 is the battery: 10000mAH vs 7000-8000mAH, and that is why I picked the Novo9 against the other same-price A31s. Remember: that big screen eats power and you need all you can get!
*** Update: to clarify the Novo9 out-of-box 'root' status: it doesn't come rooted but it isnt 'fully locked down' either. This means it will let you install what you want (i.e. any apk file, irrespective of where you got it from), but will prevent applications doing certain things requiring low level superuser access (e.g. an application cannot access hardware directly, so you can't overclock the tablet out-of-box using setCPU). In fact, the only reason to root the Novo9 is to overclock it ***
Although the Novo 9 is a bit thicker than the iPad/Nexus, it is no heavier. Battery life is very good but you cannot charge it using a USB cable (well, you can, but you have to turn the tablet off and it takes over a day!). You have to use the power supply.
I initially thought the touch action was a bit sticky for glass, but soon realised that the screen comes with a plastic screen protector. Its difficult to get this off with a fingernail(or even notice its there!), so to take it off you have to pull it off by sticking sellotape on one corner of the screen and then pulling it up. I suppose you could leave it on, but hey, you're buying for the amazing screen resolution, so why cover it with a slightly blurry plastic layer?! As an aside, I'm sure that any reviews you see about poor touch on this tablet are due to the protector still being on!
Having a bigger screen was a real game changer for me: I can now use it as a screen reader that can display a full page at a time. In terms of performance in games, its excellent. You don't get Tegra enhancements, but games like Dead Trigger look gorgeous and run flawlessly and smoothly. Its excellent for web browsing and unlike the iPad, you get Flash player installed (Flash player is now essentially dead for websites, but is still important for web video).
I bought my tablet direct from Ainol, which works out a little cheaper (I got the tablet, 32GB SD card, and the Novo 9 case for the same price as some sellers are quoting for the tablet alone), but be aware that Ainol seem to be a little remiss with import duty (I had to fork out an extra tenner).
So far so good right?
Now the bad stuff. Sit back, there's a lot of it!
Firstly the case is metal backed. This is very good for build and looks, but can compromise WIFI range. It works fine for me (reception is one bar less than my Novo 7 for the same actual reception, so there are occasions where the '7 will get WIFI, where the '9 will not), but some people report very poor reception.
Secondly, the initial release tablets (all of which are the white Spark versions) have AWFUL firmware on release that make them very slow. You need to know how to update the firmware to the latest version (Go to Ainol main site, and look under 'news' for download links). The Black firewire's come with a better version of the firmware (20130201-V1 ie. 'version released on 1st Feb 2013'), but they are still a bit glitchy on 2D scrolling (PDFs, Perfect Viewer, etc, but strangely, not web browsing, which is very nippy), and the main UI can micro-stutter occasionally. It can also hang for a second or so when you exit a large application (memory management?). Its a bit odd because as noted above, the gaming is actually very smooth! As of this writing, there is probably a need for a firmware update to make 2D scrolling less glitchy or someone to come up with a settings fix (forcing 3D GPU rendering does NOT fix the issue). You will however, get a much more stable tablet (and micro stutter disappears from the main UI) if you use something other than the default launcher. I use Novo Launcher (its free from play store).
*** Update - Changing Adobe Reader page setting from 'continuous' to 'single page' fixes the issue enough to make it usable (or just use Kindle reader for your PDFs). If you are prepared to dip into your pocket get ezPDF and turn off the page turning effect (so the pages 'turn' by scrolling), you end up with a very fast reader that makes full use of your screen. The issue might actually be somewhat down to page loading times (a graphics heavy page will cause a pause in scroll because it takes time to load... but Android image gallery doesn't even break into a sweat when I am scrolling/swiping/scaling through 24MP files (that's 6000x4000 images!) from my camera - its all totally smooth (and much smoother than doing the same thing on my desktop computer!), so it cant be a performance issue because its not consistent across the board. It might be that some applications (i.e. Adobe, because Photoshop touch also runs like a dog) are just not optimised for quad core, plus maybe the current firmware is still not 100% optimised for quad core either
Comicat works perfctly with the Novo9, and is much better than PerfectViewer and ACV if comics are your thing
Thirdly, as noted above, you can't charge the tablet from USB - it has a 10000mAH battery, and USB is too weedy to charge it rapidly (including if you have a PC motherboard with overdriven USB current, such as some of the Gigabyte motherboards which I use). You have to use the power supply (you need a two prong to 3 plug adapter - check with your seller if one is provided). If you must use USB, you have to not be using the tablet, and turn internet off, then charge overnight: this gets it to 70-80% from flat, which is usually enough for a full day. Once you are fully charged though, the battery lasts AGES! 6 hours of constant use as a PDF reader/watching films. Long enough for most train journeys! The proviso here is that you are reducing screen brightness though: the screen is BY FAR the biggest power drain (a wacking 84% according to Settings > Battery on my Novo 9), so you need to reduce brightness to get a good use time.
Fourth, some features you may expect are not included: no Bluetooth, no light sensor (so no screen auto-brightness) and no GPS. I either don't need or can live without all of them (as far as I am concerned, all except the light sensor is just for bragging rights), but you may have different needs, such as in-car GPS. If you have an Android phone that does near field communications (you place the phone near the tablet, and the phone then uses the tablet screen), you need to buy a Nexus: this tablet doesn't have near field, and most non-nexus tablets have poor implementation as of this writing.
Fifth, in my testing with the actual hardware, the Novo 9 is half as fast as the Nexus 10 (if you believe passmark) or just 25% slower (if you believe AnTuTu). The Nexus 10 is twice as expensive, and you can't add SD cards (both of which are showstoppers for me), *but if you are after pure performance and 'works out of the box', then take the hit and get the Nexus 10*. Seen another way though, the Novo9 is as fast as the Asus Transformer Prime, which is last years cutting edge 10 inch.
The only app that is unusable because of performance is Photoshop touch (looks like it doesn't like quad core). Something I hope to see rectified.
Note that the Novo9 can be safely overclocked by about 20% (1GHz stock to 1.2GHz, which is the rated maximum stable for the A31 chipset), so if you believe AnTuTu, you can get close to Nexus 10 performance with a cheeky overclock. Looking at the AnTuTu ratings, stock gives me a rating of 10533, and 1.2GHz has given other users 12800. The Nexus 10 is not far off at 13251.
Sixth, the big retina screen is of no use if you want to just play 3D games. You can't appreciate the extra resolution on such a high density screen unless you are looking at static images (e-reading, web browsing). If you want a fast 10 inch 3D FPS gaming tablet, don't get a Retina display because it will be wasted on such games and worse, will be a useless performance hog to your needs!
So to conclude:
I find this to be an excellent cheap tablet to move from a 7 to 10 inch screen (assuming 20130201-V1 firmware or better), especially when it doesn't cost much more than the top end Nexus 7. The nexus 10 is clearly the better retina tablet on specs: its about twice as good throughout, except for build quality (about the same - the Novo9 is perhaps even a little better). The issue is whether you want to play twice as much (and also have to take out a subscription for Google cloud services - plus having to have a permanent internet connection just to get your data - in a few years). The Novo9 is less featured, but may be adequate for your needs, and at half the price.
The iPad is also a contender (it 'just works' and is a very nice device for the computer illiterate because it has everything covered and simplified), but I choose not to use one because Apple like to take ownership of all my media and tightly control what I can run... and tend to be more expensive across the board - no thanks!
FWIW, I have access to the latest Nexus, Samsung, Apple and Microsoft surface tablets at work, so can choose any when I want to do some browsing at lunchtime... but I choose to use my Novo9. The others are nicer, but I am happier to have my own device with my own stuff on it: most of the time I don't feel the difference!
I am technically minded enough to perform firmware updates and am assuming I will need to do it at least once to get the best out of my tablet, and because I have done this before, I am not seeing this as an issue. If you are buying for someone less confident then DO NOT BUY THIS TABLET! It is still a work in progress in some areas and there were issues with the initial release stock (which you could still conceivably end up with if you don't know what to ask for). If you can't go up to a Nexus 10, then my advice is to wait until the issues are sorted out. I will update this review if things change.
If you really can't wait (or like me think that firmware updates are pretty much a fact of life with tablets) consider buying the black 'Firewire' model (or confirm from the seller that the firmware is 20130201-V1 or later) as this seems to have less of the WIFI reception and glitchy firmware issues due to its later release (which, reading between the lines was caused by bugfixes on the white 'Spark' edition). This firmware will at least give you a very usable tablet out of the box.
Two stars if you have a release Spark with the initial firmware (unlikely to occur if you are just about to order, commiserations if you pre-ordered the spark and this is what you have), three stars if you buy a current version but are not computer literate enough to update firmware at a later date, four stars if you are happy with having to do a firmware update. Potentially five stars if all the firmware issues get resolved. So we're at four stars max as of this writing.
Speaking for myself, the only issues I have had out of box (with 20130201-V1 firmware) are to do with Adobe Viewer and Perfect viewer scrolling, both of which are fixable via alternative apps. Everything else (browsing, games, UI) is acceptable at this price.
And yes, my Novo 9 has immediately taken the place of my Novo 7, so for me it is a worthwhile update. I get much nicer film viewing (bigger, better screen, FF and RW is much faster, better inbuilt sound), and its much nicer as a PDF reader (scrolling is an issue, but the far better screen trumps it: I no longer use the Novo 7 for e-reading), and MUCH MUCH better for web browsing.
Again, I will update this review when/if things change.
*** Update May 2013 ***
I can confirm that this tablet accepts the following 64GB SDXC card: SanDisk Ultra Android 64GB MicroSDXC Class 10 Bi-coloured Card with Adapter (I'm using the latest official firmware as of this writing). This is a big advantage over other tablets (ie Nexus) that have fixed or cloud storage, especially if you want to load it up with movies/music/ebooks for perusing on the train, and crucial (if like me) you use your tablet as a backup and viewer for a DSLR (I use a 24MP camera, storing both the RAW and JPEG per shot so each photo is about 15-20MB over two files).
I've benchmarked the Novo 9 with Futuremark 3DMark for Android (3DMark being the accepted graphic benchmark by the gaming community), and can confirm that the Novo 9 is half as fast as a Nexus 10 for high end gaming. Real use is a bit different though, as the Nexus 10 is probably overpowered for most users, except those how want to play Tegra 3D shooters (and ONLY for those users - other games are fine). I can confirm this for my actual usage history by looking at setCPU logs - the Novo 9 is at maximum performance during use for 3.7% of the time I have been actively using it, so a doubling in CPU speed hardly seems warranted!
I have opened up my tablet (easy to do with a fingernail - youtube is your friend) to work out what is going on with the wifi. It looks to be down to the antenna being used: its a pretty crappy one (its a bit of aluminium attached to a small sticky foil strip). The wifi DOES NOT get better if you take the tablet back off, so its not down to the metal case. The antenna has a standard IP/IPX connector though so its easy to replace with a better one without requiring soldering. I bought one from eBay (Seller WesternPowers, item is 'ipx ipex u.fl antenna WIFI WWAN EVDO HSDPA HSDPA GSM 3G Wimax antenna'), which ships from the US, but total cost and mail comes to about 3 quid. If you don't want to buy one, then I suggest that you look at the image of that antenna on eBay and cut a bit of foil matching the one in the image, and stick it to the tablet's antenna via the sticky foil strip.
Anyway, with that eBay antenna in place, I now have excellent wifi. This does mean that if you are finding wifi a problem (and to be fair, I didn't - I just fixed it because it looked obvious and easy to do, and because I'm a geek), then waiting for a firmware fix may be a forlorn hope as its clearly a hardware issue.
Ive also clocked the tablet with setCPU to 1.2GHz (fantasys scaling) from the default 1.0GHz, as 1.2GHz is the defined max for the A31 chipset according to the chip manufacturer's spec sheet. Battery power hasn't suffered because I've set the min clock down (and that has actually INCREASED battery life as the CPU spends 30% of its time at the min clock according to the setCPU log!). Don't check the setCPU 'Set on Boot' checkbox though as some people (me included) report it doesn't come up from cold boot if you check this.
Finally, I have the Mame arcade romulator running on it (in fact, when I come to retiring this tablet in a few years, I'm seriously considering building it into an arcade cabinet chassis for its final resting place, with all the MAME ROMS installed - nice!), as well as the PC version of Baldur's gate 2 up and running via GemRB. No issues with any of them for performance.
So, as of this writing, I now have a nippy retina tablet with excellent wifi and 80GB storage, and you can colour me pleased.
As mentioned in the original review though, the route I had to take to get to here isn't one for everyone, so this is really an enthusiast's tablet. It has a good build and nice performance and expandibility, but you need to know what you are doing to get the best out of it.
*** Update June 2013 ***
A firmware update that fixes most of the issues with pdfs in Adobe reader has now been released, Novo9-Spark-LX-20130422v1. Amazon doesn't allow you to post urls in reviews, but I've added it as a comment. Only unusable application with no better alternatives is Adobe Photoshop touch. Nevertheless, that firmware update results in a very good and responsive tablet, and I don't think I will be upgrading my firmware again... so, we finally have a mature firmware release!
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Novo 9,
This review is from: Ainol Novo 9 Spark Firewire Tablet PC - 9.7" Retina IPS III 2048x1536 Pixel Display, Quad Core A31 CPU, 8 Core GPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Dual Cameras 5.0MP, 10000mAh battery - includes HDMI cable and 8GB SD memory cardI brought this tablet having read earlier reports, hoping that the new firmware would fix the problems. I downloaded the latest firmware "novo-Spark-20130320-LX-V1" and loaded it onto the tablet, before I started using it. I found the Wi-Fi was ok, did not have any problems even at maximum distance in my house. Even though I purchased it in the UK it was pre-loaded with Chinese apps, and even though these can be removed or disabled, it shows a lack of initial support by Ainol. The mini manual that came with it was also completely in Chinese, without an English translation.
The screen is fantastic, and a joy to use, but that is the only plus point I can give this tablet. It comes with a Quad core A31 CPU running at 1Ghz, and this is far too slow for the apps that I downloaded. It crashes and freezes every day, many many times, I also find that there are lots of apps which cannot be played on this tablet, so cannot be downloaded.
The screen eats the power from the 10000mAh battery, the eqivalent IPad from apple has a 24000mAh battery, which is 240% bigger. On full screen brightness the battery lasts about 5 hours, lowering it to its lowest brightness gives an extra 2-3 hours, but you cannot appreciate its beauty at this setting. Charging the battery takes longer than it can be used for, it takes over 6 hours to fully charge from zero.
The external sdcard is a disappointment also. Most tablets on the market can use the latest class10 sdcard (these are the fastest cards) but the Novo 9 can only use a class6 sdcard, which again makes the Ainol Novo9 slower. This fact is not shown in the selling statistics.
Before I brought this tablet I had a Gemini JoyTab, running at 1.6Ghz with a dual core cpu, and it never ever crashed and ran all the apps I needed. I had to send it back because of a back-light problem, but would swap it now for this tablet. Its battery lasted well over 9 hours.
I think this tablet has been rushed out by Ainol, and lacks some tweaking which will probably be done with later models. I can put up with some degrees of freezing or crashing, but for me this tablet is far too unstable and the battery nowhere near big enough.
Update....... Had this now for a couple of months and wish I had never brought it. Have had the internet problem rear it's head... even when I am 2 feet away from the router it will just not log on...even tells me its out of range. And then all of a sudden it will connect, but still not good range.
I have found and loaded the update to give me Jelly Bean 4.2.2, and still get no improvement... the NOVO 9 Build number is now 20130603-LX-V1.. and the tablet is still as bad as ever. I have had it crash twice, lost all I kept on the internal sdcard, and had to load everything again... now I transfer anything important to my external sdcard.
This is just a really bad tablet ****DO NOT BUY*** you have been warned.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing!,
This review is from: Ainol Novo 9 Spark Firewire Tablet PC - 9.7" Retina IPS III 2048x1536 Pixel Display, Quad Core A31 CPU, 8 Core GPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Dual Cameras 5.0MP, 10000mAh battery - includes HDMI cable and 8GB SD memory cardAll set up for the Play Market. But it came set up as American English. It's relatively straight forward to change to UK English though. The build quality gives Apple and other common brands a run for their money. It plays all of the most complex 3d games with ease. The screen is simply amazing. Super colours and ridiculously high definition. Don't waste you're money on a £400 or £500 tablet. Buy one of these! Oh, and the customer service is excellent. They forgot to ship the HDMI cable. 1 e-mail and 5 days later and the cable was delivered! Buy on Amazon for the A-Z protection and have no worries with import duty!
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
2.0 out of 5 stars weak wifi,
Came with faulty wifi. Worked only in 2 meters from a router. Common problem on Ainol Novo 9.
Refunded and bought PIPO M6, with cheap plastic shell, often doesn't wake up from sleep, but no problems with wifi. Often I think should, better replace wifi antenna on Ainol instead.
Cameras bad on both devices. Images very noisy and soft.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Wifi,
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money. But not the top brand. Well, you knew this already ;-),
1) Stock firmware is early crap. When you purchase chinese devices be ready to search for better firmware. You not only have a choice, that you don't have with iPads, you would also be forced to make on. Personally i am using Android 4.1.2 firmware from Turkish guy X-Calibur (with TWRP and 2GB programs volume added) and hope that in a month or two there would be stable Android 4.2.2 firmware (well, many hotheads already switched to 4.2.2 and claim they feel fine).
There are also reports that CyanogenMod, Paranoid and AOSP projects can be used with fair success on this tablet. And multi-user support is getting implemented too (so my kids would hopefulyl not drain my VISA card purchasing in-game bonuses). It is a start of rather interesting journey for the next couple of years.
So... in the end software support might be better than those of top brands, but you would HAVE to exercise your freedom on the issue. Last firmware versions even made screen brightness okay (stock firmware provides for very dim screen, only good inside the house), hopefully that would not end with screen overheating or battery draining.
2) The screen is covered with soft plastic, nothing like Gorilla. The protective cover is mandatory, as i know now, after making a lot of scratches over the screen. Too late for me, but you can be smarter!
2.1) You may think the screen is somewhat dim (Actually i never made it less than 80% brightness, and this shows how little reserve there is). OTOH it is usually well enough to work in-house and there is no IPS screen working good under direct sunlight anyway. Yet, you can change configuration (manually, by TWRP patches or by recent firmware versions) to boost the brightness significantly. Many did and were happy to report about enhanced screen experience.
3) There were rumors, that Chinese vendors are buying out Retina screen, that Apple rejected after quality tests. I don't know if those rumors are substantiated or are mere jealousy of iPad users, but i have to admit that after two months i have one bright-green dead pixel and about 5 dusk-blue ones. Good point: usually you just don't see them, at least not those dusk ones. Bad point: they seem not stabilized yet. If after two more months they would remain as they are now - i would be happy. But if next 2 months would bring 6 dead pixels more, that would be a very bad prophecy.
iPad can be replaced to another refurbished unit starting with three dead pixels. Judging by this, i have to admit that my tablet's screen quality is worse than the average one of iPads.
4) Wi-Fi is very problematic issue for this tablet, its #1 problem. Worst thing about it is that it is VERY RANDOM. Lot of people just do not experience any trouble at all, while for others symptoms are very different and effects of different fix attempts are very different too. As for me, i think the problem is with those Chinese girls who don't know how Wi-Fi antenna works (actually, i do not know this as well, that is not a complaint) and when they hastily assemble it (you can easily find YouTube posts about how Chinese tablets are assembled and testes), they make subtle mistakes that only antenna pro could see. Different mistakes result in different non-repeatitive problems. And metallic case, acting like a radio shield, makes the issue yet worse.
I read a lot of forums regarding this Wi-Fi problem.
4.1) Some guys were tampering with the settings of their router (Tried that too. Wi-Fi changed from "awful" to "bad" and that in my own house. Would i be in some hotel or McDonald's - i would have to use THEIR Wi-fi setup, not to impose my own one. So, that does not count for fix).
4.2) Some guys bended the antenna and got better results (Yet other argued they just got antenna working better on some Wi-Fi channels and worse on the rest, so in effect this is just like the fix above).
4.3) Some guys replaced stock antenna with some notebook antenna from e-bay. Results are very mixed, from full repair to getting even worse.
4.4) Some soldered USB Wi-Fi dongle inside the tablet: but results were less than perfect: metallic case seems to be too good a shield. Unless the case would be carved to make the dongle head look out, that would make little change.
4.5) Some guys drilled holes in the case. And some had positive results. But they most probably just changed some independent factor during drilling. If you have micro-oven you can look through its door - there is a lot of holes in the mesh but still that "Faradey cage" effectively cancels all the radiowaves used to heat you mill. Thus holes should not enhance wi-fi experience per se, radio waves are not a visible light.
4.6) Personally i used a stripe of metallic kitchen foil to provide the antenna with... capacitance? i don't know. But it took me two hours of time and zero money to fix Wi-Fi in my tablet.
4.7) Other people, starting with the same idea, ensured perfect electro connection from the metallic tablet's cover to the "ground" side of antenna and removed connections from cover to other elements of PCB. They also reported very good results.
So... purchasing this tablet you have a fair chance to get very bad Wi-Fi performance, but you also have a fair chance that fixing it would only take a little time.
5) Speakers... They are weak. They are positioned in a dumb way (their head look into dead wall, and the outlet is made at the speakers perimeter). And they are positioned to be used in portrait mode (do you know many movies, that have more height, than width?). Well, personally i use headphones to what movies anyway, why would i bother people around me. But... The speakers are nowhere near loud. Some people may suggest you using programs like Sound Booster, and while they may make a difference, there are also reports of speakers damaged due to over-boosting. You're warned.
6) the stock Launcher is slow, especially in early firmware versions. So after you re-flash it to some new firmware, changing the launcher must be a good thing to do next.
6.1) Nova launcher. Not bad. Kind of mainstream. Clean one, does what it must, not much to add.
6.2) Apex launcher: paid version is about the same as paid Nova. Free version gives more control than Nova (especially control by gestures), so i guess it is superior choice instead of free Nova edition.
6.2) Lightning launcher. Great idea. UNIX way - make fast minimalistic program, that can be flexibly enhanced in any way needed to user by extensions. Kind of Firefox of launchers. Alas... those extensions tend to be paid and buggy (at least with Retina screen). After i could not change the wallpaper due to extensions crashes i had to remove it.
6.3) Smart Launcher. When you're online, it would check your application and sort it for you, according to categories like "games", "music", "www", etc. If you need ultra-simplistic launcher, that would only provide you to launch a program or game and nothing else. Truly, give it a try. If not for you, it might be a good choice for your kids or grandparents.
6.4) Go Launcher HD (aka Tablet Edition). Good and flexible one. Might be considered a reference point for many other launchers. But it i not anywhere close to that astonishing beauty that you could obtain by installing Go Launcher onto the phone. Well, still a decent one. NOTE: does not mistake it with Go Launcher EX - the latter one would be impossibly slow on Retina screen. Actually i tried this remembering the magic Go EX with Driad2 theme made on my Sony phone. Alas, the magic was only for phones... Still i decent and flexible launcher.
6.5) Go Launcher Next3D - the one i am trying now. This tablet, comparing to rival RK3188 system-on-chip, has great 3D power (half of that of iPad) but worse 2D performance. So i was curious to evaluate Next3D. It is really worth trying! It is not matured yet, but is getting better week by week. The most troubling part for now are 3D widgets, that are slow and unreliable. But the launcher itself is pretty cool, and it is not demo for 3D effects, it really tries to only use 3D when the usability asks for it. Give it a try, with 3D widgets or without them, if you like to have feature-rich launcher.
7) Just some random advices, not worth a separate topics.
7.1) temperature. When playing 3D or charging - or especially when doing both! - the back cover gets really hot. That is a good sign, it means that the heat is not isolated inside like in thermos, but is conducted outside for cooling. But then the cover MUST be cooled by free air access. I suggest to pull the tablet out of any bag/cover when playing/charging it. And i also suggest not to hide it's metallic back case with some vinyl "textures", that many shops offer. Just let the tablet cool itself as much as it needs.
7.2) There were reports that some customers did not removed the transportation film from either the screen (causing bad sensitivuty and dizzy responsiveness) or from the camera (causing pictures quality much worse than they could be). Just check it, when you would get your one.
7.3) Skype... new tablet-centric layout sucks, if anythngi for total lack of protrait mode. Open Skype's setting and switch to "classic mode". At least for this year.
7.4) Many people reported the tablet got 1.5x faster after they removed DRM support, SMS support, and other things they needed not. Did not tried that, so just report for information.
Overall i am happy that i purchased this gadget. One of my mates purchased the same tablet for her kids after my advice and i hope in a month i would be able to compare her experience with mine. She's not the geeky person like me, so it would be really interesting to learn from her.
For me tablet is more about reading and surfing, rather than gaming (thus i opted for Retina) so today perhaps i'd choose some RK3188 based tablet, like Pipo M6-Max. But there is never a final and ideal choice, you know. For its price and date, Ainol Novo9 is a very descent machine. And now you even can purchase a blue-coloured one, if you want a creative weirdo image for yourself ;-)
8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY ! --- AWFUL SERVICE THE WORST I HAVE SEEN TO DATE,
The tablets have crashed on me on numerous occassions and i have to hold down the power button and then reboot. I mean the software android 4.1 has been around a while and they should have had it married to the hardware before release .. i thought firmwares were meant to be improvements . I my view Ainol Nova DO NOT have the Android Software and Hardware Married.
I tried this product and thought not only for my pocket and value for money give the small guys a chance , but i am bitterly disappointed . Their customer service is autrocious to say the least . I have written to them wanting to return them and 6 emails later over the last week and guess what no reply ... so may just have to bin them !
I will advise DO NOT BUY and with the theme of the above review , whilst they are the more expensive brands i may just stick to them . ( I DONT KNOW MAY BE IN THE NEXT YEAR OR SO THEY MAY GET AN UPDATE RIGHT ) I am an Android Fan and think the Apple short change their fans with latest hardware .. so Google Nexus here i come .
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not So Good,
Product well again with specification too good to be true with low price tag,but the hype lasted until i turn the wifi. poor signal and keep disappearing somewhere and appearing from mist and just could not do anything. i wondered if it was the unlucky one tablet with the problem but quite few people already raise the concern about it.wonder if the production company going to take on board and understand the basic functionality and to fix it,not the wifi router setting etc..as we are buying the product to work,not the other items connect with it to be fixed or modified as they always advise.
only good thing was its resolution thats about it basically.so upon purely my experience alone i will advice caution until the company start installing bit more reliable,more update,stronger wifi and processor sofware.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good first prize tablet,
The delivery was made on time. The packaging was good.
The tablet hangs regularly and must be restarted. The battery has a life of approximately 6 hours with wifi and more without.
I recommend this item.
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Ainol Novo 9 Spark Firewire Tablet PC - 9.7" Retina IPS III 2048x1536 Pixel Display, Quad Core A31 CPU, 8 Core GPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, An... by Ainol
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