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Cube iWork 8 Windows 8 Tablet Review - Cheapeast Windows Tablet Ever

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    Cube iWork 8 Windows 8 Tablet Review - Cheapeast Windows Tablet Ever

    Once considered a novelty, 8-inch Windows tablets are now everywhere: Lenovo has two; Acer has two, Dell has one, so does Toshiba. Not to be left out, Some Chinese manufacturers recently started shipping their own 8-inch Windows tablet.

    Good battery life
    Nice display
    Solid design and build quality
    Full desktop functionalities
    HDMI support
    MicroSD card support
    Sensible price

    Slightly sluggish performance with heavier applications
    Poor cameras
    Small internal storage

    The Acube iWork 8 may not stand out in any one area, but it is a small Windows tablet with a solid design, a pleasant display and long battery life.

    Key Features

    8-inch IPS capacitive touchscreen of 1280 x 800 px resolution;
    1.8GHZ Intel Atom Bay-Trail-T Z3735E Quad-core Processor, Intel HD Graphic (Gen7) GPU
    1GB of LPDDR3 RAM
    Windows 8.1
    16GB of SSD built-in Storage
    2MP front-facing camera/2MP rear-facing camera
    Back-mounted stereo speakers
    Wi-Fi 802.11
    Bluetooth v4.0
    USB 2.0 host (dongle required)
    Micro SD card slot
    Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
    HDMI V1.4
    5,000mAh Li-Po battery

    What is the Cube iWork 8?

    The Cube iWork 8 an 8-inch, Windows 8.1 tablet joining the not so great but insanely priced Ramos i8pro and the more impressive Dell Venue Pro 8 as a place where you can get all the benefits of a full Windows PC like access to Microsoft Office and the ability to download desktop applications all in a much smaller, compact body.

    As a member of the second generation of 8-inch Windows 8 tablet line, it is definitely thinner and lighter, yet still dogged by some minor performance issues.


    Looks aren't everything. But to the extent that good design and build quality matter (especially on budget devices like these), Cube is off to a fine start. Unlike most of its rivals, the iWork 8 is more designed for horizontal use, you could tell that from its boot screen and also the logo placement on its back. It makes sense because most of the applications are made for landscape mode. But whenever you want to use it in portrait, the small bezel really helps you to have a solid hold.

    You'll be hard-pressed to find an 8-inch tablet that isn't thin, light and easy to hold in one hand. Nonetheless, all that's true of the Cube iWork 8: measuring at 206*126*10mm, it immediately makes a good case for choosing an 8-inch tablet over a 10- or 11-inch one. The small bezel makes it look even more compact than the Dell Venue 8 pro and the Acer Iconia W4. Weighing at only 340g, it is even lighter than my first 7-inch Galaxy Tab.

    One thing that makes the iWork 8 a bit strange to use at first: It appears to be missing a Start button. More precisely, it has one; it's just not where you'd expect it to be. Instead of a touch-sensitive Start button built into one of the bezels, the tablet has a physical Start key located on the top horizontal edge of the device, right next to the volume rocker. I'll be honest, it took me quite a little while to stop tapping the bezels and go straight for the physical button. That said, now that I've gotten the hang of it, I have to give Cube credit for at least choosing the button location carefully. Since the key sits on the top edge, over toward the left, it's easy to hit when you're using the tablet in landscape mode, and also when you flip it over into portrait, at which point the button is within reach of your right thumb. Still, a capacitive key would've been even easier.

    The power/standby key and all the ports and slots are hosted on the left edge, you will find the 2.5mm DC port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a MicroSD card slot which you will surely need to compensate the small 16GB internal storage, as well as a Mini HDMI port. I am so glad that Cube includes the HDMI output for the iWork 8, which neither Lenovo Miix 2 8 nor Dell Venue 8 Pro has.

    Display and Sound

    Given that the same series of Bay Trail processors power all these 8-inch Windows tablets, there aren't many opportunities for companies to differentiate themselves: It's design, display quality and maybe camera performance. Fortunately, Cube didn't skimp on the screen -- the 1,280 x 800 IPS panel here is just lovely. Although it lacks the exceptional clarity you’d expect on small tablets like the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX 7 or the iPad Mini, colors are punchy, without being too saturated, and the screen is easy to view from various angles. Even at only 30% brightness level, the IPS panel can be bright enough for indoor use, so it is quite possible to enjoy the vibrant screen while still getting long battery life.

    The speakers are also great, loud and clear enough for watching movies in a quiet room, but you would want to plug in a headphone to get more refined sound for music.

    System & software

    In retrospect, it's not surprising that Microsoft decided to showcase Windows 8.1 on 8-inch tablets: Many of the improvements to the OS make it especially easy to use on smaller-screened devices. For example, new keyboard shortcuts allow you to swipe the space bar to cycle through spelling suggestions, and to swipe various letters to expose the punctuation symbols that would otherwise be hidden. Also, you get more options for Live Tile sizes, including an extra small one that seems especially well-suited to smaller displays like this.

    Additionally, all of the other headline features in Windows 8.1 can be found here, including an always-visible Start button in the lower-left corner of the desktop, expanded split-screen options and the ability to take photos from the lock screen (an especially handy feature on a smaller device like this). Also, as you've no doubt heard by now, Windows 8.1 ushers in a slew of new first-party apps, including Reading List (an alternative to Pocket), Bing Food & Drink, Bing Health & Fitness, a calculator, an alarms app and a sound recorder. Meanwhile, other built-in programs have received meaningful updates, with Xbox Radio and a new set of photo-editing tools, to name just two examples.

    And what of third-party apps? I am happy to report the selection is steadily growing, even if there are still some holes. Flipboard and Whatsapp arrived on the Windows Store recently, so did TED, which launched as I was writing this review. Even before that, we had apps like Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, QQ, Line, Foursquare, Pandora, Rhapsody, Slacker Radio, Amazon Kindle, Nook, Zinio, Angry Birds, Bejeweled, Fitbit,, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Hulu Plus, Netflix, ESPN, ABC Family, ABC News, NBC News, CBS, CBS Sports, CNN, MTV and the AP.

    At this point, the "Windows doesn't have enough apps" argument simply doesn't carry as much weight: The Windows Store catalog is growing, and it's growing fast. That said, if you buy the Cube iWork 8 (or any other Windows tablet), you still won't find every program you're searching for, at least not on the day you buy it. Some notable omissions? Instagram, Tumblr, HBO Go, Pocket and a first-party NPR player, to name just a few. Some major bank and airline apps would be nice, too. Again, though, given how many heavy-hitters eventually made their way onto the platform, we have faith that most of these holdouts will join the fold at some point or another.

    However, the strength of the Win8 system is its accessibility to all desktop Windows applications, which means unlimited productivity. I admit it is not always easy to do everything on an 8-inch screen, but the HDMI port makes sure you are always able to connect to a bigger display.

    Running office 365 on the iWork 8 is simply just amazing, never ever had I expected that I can do everything to my PPTs and excel sheets on such a small device. During my 2-day business trip to Guangzhou, I brought both my 15-inch HP laptop and my iWork 8, and I am pleasantly surprised that very seldom did I need to really use my heavy and chunky laptop, the iWork 8 does everything from sending out meeting invitations in Outlook to revising some PPT slides quite well. But if your work does require a lot of text input in Word documents or running some very complicated calculations in Excel, I would suggest you pair the iWork 8 with Bluetooth keyboard.


    As I already discovered when I reviewed the Cube iWork 10, Intel's new Bay Trail processors are powerful enough to handle not just Windows Store apps, but also lightweight desktop programs like Photoshop, Icon Creator and SAP. That's true here as well: The iWork 8 is fit to run all the above programs, along with Microsoft Office 365 and even some games, as we'll describe in a moment. On the Metro Modern UI side, the iWork 8 flies through animations and transitions, and opens apps quickly. It's worth noting that the iWork 8 has only 1GB of RAM, whenever the tasks pile up, the performance could be crippled.

    It takes 25 seconds to boot up -- about twice the time it takes Acer Iconia W700 to fully load. That said, it is still much faster than most of the PC which uses traditional SATA disk.

    The iWork 8’s biggest talent might actually be web browsing: Pages load quickly and jumping between tabs is a breeze, even with many tabs open, it still remains quite responsive, definitely a much smoother experience than given by the iPad or Android tablets.

    If benchmarks mean anything to you, it notched a score of 498ms in the SunSpider JavaScript test. Remember, too, that lower numbers are better, so this actually surpasses the Nexus 7 2013 edition (1141.9ms), Surface RT (968.2ms) as well as the Cube Talk 97 (972.8ms), closely behind the iPad Air (384.0) and the Cube iWork 10 (420.2ms).

    The more graphically intense Peacekeeper test returned a score of 624, which again put it way ahead of the Surface RT (329) and the Google Nexus 7 2013 (589), but still falls behind the iPad Air (1132) and the iWork 10 (420.2ms)

    As for gaming, the iWork 8’s Bay Trail processor is able to run most of the games you can find in the Windows store. Even so, don't expect it to replace your gaming rig as traditional 3D PC games would struggle due to the insufficient RAM.

    I have experienced no struggle in video playback, as the Xunlei Kankan Player I installed on the iWork 8 easily breezed through all the videos I threw at it.



      The Cube iWork 8 has dual cameras. The 2MP front-facing camera works well with Skype video calls in abundant lighting environment, but I would never use it for selfies given the low quality.

      The rear-facing camera is also 2MP, and has auto-focus support, but the photos it takes don’t even have enough quality for Facebook or Instagram updates.

      Battery Life

      The iWork 8 packs a 5,000mAh Li-Po battery, which Cube specifically claims that it could give the iWork 8 eight hours of battery life. Perhaps with light usage, you can get the tablet to last that long, but in my video-looping test, the iWork managed a more modest seven hours and 11 minutes. With more applications running at the same time, the battery life could even be even shorter, so 6-7 hours of average battery life is what you should expect from the iWork 8.

      The annoying issue actually comes with the charging. It takes unnecessarily long time (4-5 hours) to finish a full charge, pretty strange given the tablet only has a 5,000mAh battery.


      Priced at RMB799 (USD129), The Cube iWork 8 certainly makes a much better sense than Ramos’ attempt at an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet – the RMB1499 (USD241) Ramos i8 Pro. While I personally prefer the look of the Acer Iconia W4, the iWork 8’s a still a well-built tablet with a slightly slimmer and lighter body. The screen might not be class-leading, but it is on par with its higher-priced rivals, it has the capacity to keep you working throughout the day.

      While it is running on a full version of Windows 8.1, it doesn’t mean it’s capable of the same performance as a conventional desktop or laptop. The power on board is sufficient for typical tablet tasks, but if you attempt anything more intensive, the chinks in the armour begin to show. The 1GB RAM makes sense for tablet tasks, but is certainly insufficient for many of the heavy-weight desktop applications.

      To get the best out of Office, you’d need to invest in a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard and mouse, although the HDMI support does mean you can hook it up to a larger display to make working with it more manageable.

      If we had to pick a Windows tablet to use as a tablet, The Cube iWork 8 might be a decent choice, but if you need more desktop functionalities, then you’d better go for the bigger iWork 10.