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Alldocube X Review: Media Playback King, But Not Much More

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    Alldocube X Review: Media Playback King, But Not Much More



    The good:
    Sharp, colorful, and bright display.
    Impressive sound quality.
    Nice design and build.
    MicroSD card support.
    18W fast charge.

    The bad:
    Older, less powerful SoC. than competitions in the same price range.
    Poor cameras.
    UI not optimized for the 10.5-inch screen.

    Verdict:
    If you want an inexpensive tablet for media consumption and don't mind a less well-known brand, the Alldocube X is the slate to go for.

    Yes, Android tablet is still a thing in 2019, with major brands such as Samsung, Huawei and ASUS still releasing new slates, and several smaller Chinese brands such as Alldocube, Teclast and Onda still putting on sale more affordable alternatives. Although lagging behind in both popularity and functionality compared to the Apple iPads, some Android tablets do offer better design, better display and sound or generally higher performance-price ratio. The market for these devices is indeed shrinking, but still existent.

    The Alldocube X is a metal-bodied slate which offers Android users a premium-looking design, a fantastic 10.5-inch AMOLED display and great sound quality. But does it match the best of the best in the game, let's find out.




    Design



    Only available in one color at the moment, the Alldocube X looks neat and elegant. The metallic rear and curved sides give the slate an air of luxury.



    The front is dominated by a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display. Bezels on the left and right are relatively small, but bezels on the above and under are quite big. It won't win any beauty contest against the more premium new iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, but is at least on the same level of the Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro. A front-facing camera and a light sensor can be found above the display, the rest of the front looks clean, without any button or branding.



    There is a fingerprint reader on the right side of the tablet, which is not the fastest we've experienced, but still admirably fast. It certainly doesn't feel as instant as my Xiaomi Mi 8 or Vivo X20, but it does beat the in-display fingerprint reader on my Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

    A USB-C port of USB 3.0 standard is also on the right side. Thankfully, you can still find a 3.5mm audio jack on the slate. Many may argue that almost everyone should own a pair of wireless headphones nowadays, but we do appreciate the option that we can still use our brilliant wired headphones with it to enjoy better sound.



    A Micro SD card slot is located on the top side, but to insert a Micro SD card in the tablet you need to use an ejection tool, which is not included in the package that I received, but should be included in the retail package. I used the SIM tool from my Xiaomi Mi8 box and it worked fine.



    A power/standby key and a volume rocker sit on the left side of the tablet. Both buttons have decent travel and give the users a tactile feedback.



    Speaker grilles are located on the top side of the slate, an unconventional placement for this kind of devices.



    The X measures 243.68mm * 173.14mm * 6.9mm, and weighs 495g. It does no fit in our hands as well as those 8-inchers, such as the Xiaomi Mi Pad 4 or the Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4, but it shouldn't burden our hands too much, thanks to the slim and lightweight build. Despite being so thin, the X feels extraordinarily robust, mainly because of its glass front and aluminum back. The build quality is as good as these top-tier products in the market.



    Display



    The X sports a gorgeous 10.5-inch display, which is the same found on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. It is the brightest and most vivid I have ever seen on a tablet. Watching the trailer video, we immediately noticed intense, saturated hues. The 2560 x 1600-pixel display is so sharp that we didn't need to squint to see those very fine details.



    According to the colorimeter, the display of the Alldocube X produces an amazing 219 percent of the sRGB gamut. That makes it the most colorful tablet (or laptop) display we've ever seen, obliterating the 118-percent tablet average, as well as the ratings from the Surface Pro 5 (140 percent) and iPad Pro (122 percent).



    The display is also super bright, emitting up to 460 nits. That makes for a wide range of viewing angles with colors staying strong at 80 degrees to both the left and right. The X tops the 425-nit category average and the 396-nit Surface Pro. And thanks to the super high-contrast AMOLED panel, the X has even better visibility than the 477-nit iPad Pro, which sports an IPS screen.


    Sound



    The Alldocube X offers top firing stereo speakers, which produce loud, and full-bodied sound. These built-in speakers can sound a little harsh at the highest volume, and lacks the kind of soundstage produced by the Quad Harman Kardon tuned speakers found on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 and new Huawei MediaPads. Still, they are much better than average and are definitely good enough for YouTube and Tik Tok feeds. For audiophiles, headphones or external speakers are still very much needed for music and action movies.



    The X also comes with an AKM AK4376A Hi-Fi DAC, which is rarely found in a tablet. This DAC achieves -107dB THD+N and 125dB SNR, the best performance in the field as a compact DAC with headphone amplifier for portable audio products. It also has an impressive maximum sampling frequency/resolution of PCM 384 kHz/32-bit. Coming from the Xiaomi Mi8, my audiophile ears did notice a significant improvement in overall sound quality when plugging in my Creative Trio IEM. The bass has a lot more punch, the vocals are crisp clear, instrument separation and positioning are as good as some of my earlier DAPs. I even asked a few of my non-audiophile, iPad using friends to try listening to music with the X, all of them actually said that the X sounded a lot better than their iPhones and iPads, although they couldn't really pinpoint where the differences were. Even the very demanding HiFiMan HE300, which lots of my phones and tablets struggled with driving, works decently with the Alldocube X.



    System & UI



    The X, at least the international edition, ships with stock Android 8.1 Oreo, with no customization on top, none at all. This is both good news and bad news. The good new is that there won't be any bloatware, which normally comes with Chinese phones and tablets. The bad news is that this interface is not really tablet-optimized.



    You won't find anything similar to the DeX mode on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S or the desktop-style Remix OS on some other earlier tablets. The stock screen-split function works fine with most applications, but it doesn't really give you that kind of computing experience the DeX mode offers when there are serious productivity tasks at hand.



    Unfortunately, the Android ecosystem is going towards a direction which cares less and less about tablet users. Many of the tablet-optimized apps in Play Store were released years ago and haven't got any updates in a long time. As a result, most of the apps we tried on the X were just phone apps blown up to fill the 10.5-inch screen, so the user experience on the X won't really rival it is on an iPad.



    Performance



    The Alldocube X is powered by a MediaTek MT8176 processor, which has a hexa-core CPU (2 Cores of Cortex-A72 clocked at 2.1GHz and 4 cores of Cortex-A53) and a PowerVR GX6250 GPU clocked at 600 MHz. The funny thing is, this chipset, which was built in 28nm, was actually released in 2016 to rival the Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 950 and Snapdragon 652. Yet now it powers a tablet made for 2019. There is 4GB RAM to take care of multi-tasking. These are definitely not top-of-the-line specs for a tablet, and pale in comparison with the internals of latest smartphones in terms of horsepower.





    In the Geekbench 4 CPU test, the X scored 1630 in single core and 3994 in multi-core, which is below the average score of mid-range smartphones, which are normally powered by Snapdragon 660 or 710 processors.





    In the Antutu benchmark, however, the X clearly outscored the ASUS Zenpad 3S 10, which uses the same SoC., and the Alldocube X1, probably because of its faster RAM and more efficient Android 8.1 operating system.





    The storage of the international edition of the X is 64GB, with a slot for a microSD for expansion. I inserted a 128GB microSD card and it works fine. The local storage is eMMc 5.1, which won't rival the UFS2.1 storage found in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 and today's top smartphones in terms of read/write speed, but it is still quite decent and matches the storage of midrange smartphones and other high-end tablets, as can be seen in the Androbench score.



    In the real-world performance, the X is smooth and responsive in general, although it lacks the silky-smoothness found on modern flagship smartphones. There are also some noticeable hiccups in scrolling through homepages and settings, but we believe that's more due to the animation settings of this tablet. Launching apps is very fast, but could still be slower than my Xiaomi Mi 8 while loading some big applications.



    The 4GB of RAM is plenty, though. Even playing a 4K video on YouTube in the chrome browser, loading some image-heavy websites in many other tabs, and playing another local 1080P video simultaneously, the X remains smooth and responsive. The X can also keep apps in memory long enough so that you don't feel like you're reloading everything all the time, but when background applications are piling up, there will be noticeable lags and stutters.



    When it comes to gaming, the X had no problem with most of the graphic-intense games at highest settings. "World of Warships", "Shadow Fight 3" and "FIFA Mobile" all ran without a hitch.



    But with highly demanding titles such as Asphalt 8, we had to use moderate settings to ensure playability as there were stutters and delays at the highest setting. The sound and visuals the X offers make gaming on it much more fun than it is on an average smartphone.



    Video playback works even better. The X scored 872 in Antutu Video Tester benchmark and had no problem decoding all the video clips we played on it. It also has no problem playing all 2K videos in the YouTube app and all 4K YouTube videos in the chrome browser. With a dazzling 2K AMOLED display and impressive sound quality, watching videos on the X is the best experience we have ever had on a tablet.



    Simple productivity tasks such as writing an email, editing a photo, splitting a video clip and making small modifications to a document generally work fine. Limited to what the Google Play Store offers, it is impossible to consider serious creative work with the X, or any Android tablet for that matter. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 and Huawei MediaPad M5 both come with a pressure-sensitive pen, and should enable users to do some sketching and take handwriting notes, but not much more. Windows-based devices are still more solid choices for productivity.



    Cameras



    The X comes with an 8MP front-facing camera and an 8MP main camera, both of which are of F/2.8 aperture, but both are simply just usable.



    The images produced by the main camera are not satisfying at all : colors are quite poorly produced, and everything feels a shade too dark and fake.



    The camera on the front works okay for video chats when there is good lighting, but it is not the kind of camera you want to take selfies with. Both camera support 720P video recording. However, due to the lack of any obvious form of stabilization, footage looks very shaky. These are definitely not the cameras you want to archive your life with, any entry-level smartphone could do a much better job at that.



    Battery



    The 8,000mAh Li-Po battery under the hood normally gives us 7 hours of screen time on a full charge. I got on a high-speed train from Guiyang to Chengdu on Feb, 4th, playing two episodes of "I am the Night" and a movie called "Overlord", with the display brightness set at 50%, 4 hours later, I got off the train with 45% battery left on the X.

    The X supports fast charge, and the stock wall charger gives an 18W output, which could fully charge the device (from 0% to 100%) in less than 3 hours. It is a big improvement from previous Allodcube tablets, which normally demanded 5-6 hour for a full charge.



    Competition



    Priced at $269, the X is not a cheap device. In fact, it is the most expensive Android tablet from Alldocube to date. In the same price range, you can find the Xiaomi Mi Pad 4 Plus (10.1-inch), which comes with an inferior 10.1-inch IPS display, but has a more powerful Snapdragon 660 AIE processor, higher battery capacity, and LTE support. There is also the ASUS ZenPad 3S 10, which is equipped with the same MT8176 processor, but pales in comparison in other dimensions. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 costs significantly more, but falls behind the X in almost all categories. In addition, the base model of the new Apple iPad released in 2018 costs only $60 more than the Alldocube X, but it offers many more optimized apps which can utilize the tablet screen real estate a lot better, and a much stronger brand presence. And for consumers who focus more on productivity, there are also many Windows-based hybrids under $300 on the market.

    Below this price point, there are a bunch of tablets with the similar or even faster SoC. from less well-known Chinese brands such as Chuwi, Teclast and Onda, but none of those slates compares with the X in terms of display, audio, design and build quality.



    Verdict

    It is very disappointing to see a 2019 tablet powered by a 2016 processor, even the Alldocube X1, which was released last year and costs much less than the X, came with a beefier Mediatek Helio X20 Deca-core processor.

    Also, Google Play Store is not really tablet-friendly. As shipments of Android tablet have been on a downward spiral for 15 straight quarters, Google's very own new Pixel Slate is now running on Chrome OS and foldable phones are still clunky early prototypes, the eco-system for Android slates is only going to get worse for the next couple of years.

    Also, given Alldocube's infamous reputation of stopping upgrading the firmware of their devices after a year since the release, the X will highly likely be stuck with Android Oreo forever. For those who care about firmware upgrade of their devices, the Xiaomi Mi Pad 4 Plus will be a more future-proof choice.

    With that said, we do think that the Alldocube X focuses on what's the most important for an Android slate. When it comes to brilliant displays, the X stands at the top of the mountain with a ton of color and brightness, with very few competitions. If you are looking for a tablet mainly for media consumption, the Alldocube X is an easy recommendation. The only other option which offers the same level of visuals is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, but that will cost you $380 more. Of course, it offers more horsepower, more functionalities and productivity with the DeX desktop mode and the S-Pen, but if these are not compelling features for you, the X will almost save you a fortune.
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