Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cube Talk79 U55GT Tablet Review

Have you been looking around for a tablet for some late-night reading, watching a few clips on Youtube, or perhaps even writing a few short pieces on Google Docs? Well these were some of the reasons I was on the lookout for a cheap tablet. After hesitating for a long time I began to do some research into tablets from various Chinese OEM manufacturers and ended up buying the Cube Talk79. For less than €150 it's hard to go wrong with it.

This picture from gives you a good idea of the overall look of this tablet. It's not all that different, from the front at least, to an iPad Mini but the back is distinctly different. It's very thin as you can see from the side profile.

The technical details of the tablet are here:

The Talk79 is a slightly smaller version of another Cube tablet, the Talk9X which was released a few months ago and was billed by some as China's best Android tablet. The specification of the Talk79 which I bought, is very similar to it's larger brother and will leave most users very satisfied with its performance.

Because tablets spend so long being held I always think that how they feel in the hand is very important and this one feels properly solid, almost in the same way that an iPad would feel. The similarity with Apple's products doesn't end there, as you can see from the pictures in the link above, it looks quite similar (at least from the front) to the California-designed products. The buttons on the right side, controlling volume and power, are fairly solid but there is more movement in them than is the case with a real top end device. At the same time it is not something I am worried about, I am confident they're going to last the lifetime of the tablet.

Turning on the tablet is easy and running through set-up is also easy. Cube kept the Android OS fairly clean with very few pre-installed apps so it's a clean slate for you to work from. It's a very sharp slate to work from too, the screen resolution and colour production are very good. Apparently it uses the same display as the iPad Mini and it shows, especially when watching HD videos or looking at sharp hi-res pictures. Indeed it is really useful for watching TV shows on if you like to do that with a tablet. The one thing which is noticeable is that brightness is not very adjustable, especially on the "auto" setting, but again it is no great problem and especially so for those of you used to phones or tablets which do not dim/light-up abruptly depending on ambient light. This is not to say that it doesn't work, it's just not all that sensitive.

I rarely use a tablet's, or a phone's own speakers as you can never expect much from them in the way of bass or sections of midrange due to their physical size. In saying that the speakers on the Cube are decent, clear, and loud without being too tinny. They do their job well but linking it up with some speakers or headphones (you can use the 3.5mm jack for this or use Bluetooth) makes a huge difference, obviously. Sound, in this regard, is clear, loud, and far more customisable through an EQ manager.

But what about the overall user experience? Is it smooth, flowing? Is it a joy to use or is a frustrating package of lag and force-closures?

Overall the Talk79 has been very smooth running your usual array of apps such as a music player (Google Music in my case), Chrome, VLC, Pocket Casts (for podcasts), Pocket (for text), Mightytext, Gmail etc. It can handle all of these apps easily and can run them all simultaneously without any hiccups. The screen's touch sensitivity is very good and typing on it is surprisingly easy (I use the Swiftkey app). There have been the odd time when I have pressed the power button the wake the tablet up and have not had a reaction for a few seconds but this has since mitigated (no idea why but maybe the power button was a little stiff from the factory).

Another very important aspect in tablet usage is battery life and the Talk79 did not initially impress me in this field seeing just about 8 hours of usage before it would need to be recharged. However, as I have cycled the battery through a few charges now, that has improved somewhat but a much bigger change resulted in much greater battery gains. This tablet can accept a nano-sim for phone services, and at 13cmx20cm (approx) it is just about small enough to hold in one hand if you DID want to use it as a phone. I've never seen the appeal of that though and rooted the tablet with a PC programme called KingOroot. This allowed me to install "App Master" which will allow you to delete apps which are usually not deletable. I made sure to get rid of all apps to do with phone services in order to save battery life. Even without a sim card the tablet will attempt to search for mobile networks either way and in Android's built-in battery monitor this was taking up quite an amount of battery. In deleting the phone services I can now squeeze out about 12 hours of battery or more.

One caveat to all of this - I don't play any games on my phone or tablet so cannot comment on any of that sort of stuff and I have yet to bother with the camera on it but reviews elsewhere say it is quite good.

Overall, for less than €150 this is a very good 7.9" tablet which will handle all that is thrown at it. I'm not an Android fan-boy but I do wonder why so many people spend so much on Ipad's when they will never use the full capabilities of that device. They could save so much money with something like this and still never use this device's capabilities! If you're looking for a decent tablet on a budget this is a great choice.