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Alldocube X Neo review: media playback king on a budget

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    Alldocube X Neo review: media playback king on a budget

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    The good:
    Nice build quality.
    Vibrant, clear and sharp display.
    Decent performance.
    MicroSD card support.
    4G and Phone functions.

    The bad:
    Old processor.
    Big bezels.
    No fingerprint reader or face unlock.
    Sub-par battery life.

    The Alldocube X released last year enjoyed enormous success on Indiegogo. With its dazzling 10.5-inch 2K Super Amoled display, stereo speakers, and AKM AK4376A powered 3.5mm headphone jack, the X was considered by many to be a perfect choice for media consumption. Unfortunately, it was hold back by a relatively weak processor (Mediatek MT8176 SoC) and relatively poor battery life.

    By the end of 2019, Alldocube announced its partnership with Qualcomm, the world’s leading mobile chip maker. Many were hoping that the Chinese brand could release an upgraded version of the X with a Snapdragon processor in it. And here comes the X Neo: An Android tablet with identical design and 10.5-inch Amoled display, but a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 AIE processor, and some other minor changes.


    Main Specs

    Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie
    Screen: 10.5-inch Super Amoled display @2560*1600px
    Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 AIE
    CPU: Octa-Core (4*Cortex [email protected] + 4*Cortex [email protected])
    GPU: Adreno 512
    RAM: 4GB LPDDR4
    ROM: 64GB eMMc 5.1 (supports expansion up to 512GB)
    Battery: 3.8V/7700mAh Li-Po battery
    Cameras: 5MP front / 8MP main
    Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n, 5GHz/2.4GHz dual-band
    Mobile networks: 4G (FDD-LTE/TD-LTE), 3G (CDMA/TD-SCDMA/WCDMA), 2G (GSM)
    Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
    Ports: USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroSD card slot, pogo pin keyboard port.
    Buttons: Power/standby key, volume rocker
    Size: 245.9*175.4*7.2mm Weight: 491g



    Nice, but unimpressive design

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    Just like last year’s X, the Alldocube X Neo looks neat and elegant. The metallic rear and curved sides give the slate an air of luxury. But for a 2020 tablet, the bezels around the screen are just a little too big. Alldocube made an argument that big bezels give users enough to grip and hold the tablet to avoid accidental touches, which makes sense, but I still think people would prefer modern designs of the Apple iPad Pro and the Huawei MatePad Pro. A front-facing camera and a light sensor can be found above the display, the rest of the front looks clean, and you won’t even find any branding.

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    The tablet has a frosted aluminum back, which makes it feel much more premium than the price tag would suggest. Apart from Alldocube’s logo, the camera lens is the only distraction. It’s incredibly clean, simple, and stylish.

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    When holding horizontally, the left and right edge are each home to dual speakers, and there're also a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Type-C charging port on the left.

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    On the bottom side of the slate you can also find a pogo pin port, which can be connected to the official keyboard case.

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    The tablet supports 4G, as well as storage expansion. The SIM card tray is able to carry 2 nano SIM cards or the combination of 1 nano SIM card and a MicroSD card.

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    There are two physical buttons on the right edge of the slate: a power/standby key and a volume rocker.

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    The X Neo measures 245.9mm * 175.4mm * 7.2mm, and weighs 489g. It does not fit in our hands as well as those 8-inchers do, and you can basically forget about one-handed use, but the device didn’t burden our hands too much, either, thanks to the slim and lightweight build. As thin as it is, the X Neo still feels quite robust, even physically twisting the tablet doesn’t reveal excess movement. The overall build quality of this slate is as good as many high-end products in the market.

    One thing that does bother me is the absence of a fingerprint reader, which I loved on last year’s X. I even called Alldocube for their reason regarding the removal of this feature. Their marketing person claimed that the majority of users don’t use their tablets for online payments, so a tablet doesn’t need the same level of security as a smartphone or a laptop. I do understand their point: the absence of a fingerprint reader is not a deal breaker for most tablet users, and the brand can save the cost for more essential features such as 4G connectivity, yet I would have preferred a more convenient way to unlock the screen, instead of having to put in some PIN code or draw a certain pattern.



    Stunning Screen, average sound

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    The Alldocube X Neo sports a gorgeous 10.5-inch Super Amoled display made by Samsung. Resolution clocks in at 2,560 by 1,600, for 287 pixels per inch. With deep, inky blacks and rich colors, the display is really a joy to look at. Color accuracy is also excellent, and the screen is bright enough to use in any scenario.

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    Although the X Neo’s display uses the standard PenTile RGBW matrix, instead of the more celebrated 'PenTile Diamond Pixel' array, sharpness is still good and, while I don’t think color calibration or the screen architecture match Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones, this is still one of the best screens you’ll find in a tablet, and is definitely superior to the LCD panels used on the Huawei MatePad Pro and the Apple iPad Pro.

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    Not just videos and photos look great. The lightweight nature means it’s also an excellent ebook reader alternative, and great for gaming. I read for many hours using the Amazon Kindle app, and provided I changed the background color from white to a paper-like tone, it didn’t tire my eyes. The light, easy-to-hold body allows for extended play sessions when gaming, too. Asphalt 9 is fun, and it’s visually enhanced thanks to the stunning colors and screen.

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    The Alldocube X Neo offers side-firing stereo speakers, which can go very loud. Unfortunately, these built-in speakers can sound a little harsh at the highest volume, and lacks the bass and soundstage produced by the Quad AKG tuned speakers found on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. Still, they are much better than similarly priced Android slates and are definitely good enough for YouTube and Tik Tok. For audiophiles, headphones or external speakers are still very much needed for music and action films.

    Although the X Neo has a 3.5mm headphone jack, it is not powered by the AKM 4376A DAC like last year’s Alldocube X was. The tablet works well with average headphones, only when you plug in a power-hungry professional headset with higher impedance will you start to notice some differences. If you don’t even own headphones above $200, this shouldn’t even be anything to think about.



    System & UI

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    The X Neo ships with stock Android 9 Pie, not the latest Android 10, and there’s customization on top. As much as we love the clean feel of stock Android, it is not optimized for a tablet screen, especially a big, 10.5-inch one.

    You won’t find anything similar to Samsung tablets’ DeX mode. 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 is less and less tablet-friendly. Many of the customized tablet applications in Play Store were released years ago and haven’t been updated for a long time. As a result, most of the apps we tried on the X Neo were just phone apps blown up to fill the 10.5-inch screen, with the majority of them only supporting vertical mode. The ideal solution would be something like the Phoenix OS, which turns Android OS into a multi-window desktop style user interface, but Alldocube doesn’t seem too keen on shipping their tablets with that operating system.



    Decent performance

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    The Alldocube X Neo is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 AIE processor, which has an octa-core CPU (4 Cores of Cortex-A72 clocked at 2.2GHz and 4 cores of Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.8GHz) and an Adreno 512 GPU. This chipset was actually released way back in 2017 and built on 14nm process, so it is relatively old, and doesn’t match the performance of the Snapdragon 675 or Kirin 810 found in many entry-level Android smartphones. But compared to the 28nm MediaTek 8176 processor in last year’s Alldocube X, it is still a solid upgrade.


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    The X Neo notched typical “Snapdragon 660” scores in many benchmark tests I threw at it, but it even bettered the Snapdragon 670 powered Samsung Galaxy S5e in some of those tests, which came as a pleasant surprise.

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    The built-in storage is eMMc 5.1, which is not comparable to UFS storages in top smartphones, but the X did manage to get a result similar to the readings of more expensive midrange tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e in terms of Sequential Read and Write speeds in the Androbench test.

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    In the real-world use, the Snapdragon 660 processor and 4GB RAM are actually enough to drive the tablet for the tasks it is intended for. The X Neo is smooth and responsive most of the time, I had no issues watching 4K YouTube videos in Chrome, and scrolling through my best friends’ Instagram posts at the same time. With that said, there will be some noticeable hiccups when you open too many image-heavy webpages, or have several big applications running in the background.

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    Gaming should not be your main reason to buy a Snapdragon 660 powered tablet. With that said, the tablet can run most games installed from Play Store without issues, but in order to have a smooth visual experience, you need to use moderate settings in big titles such as Asphalt 9 and PUBG. If you insist on going for the highest level of animation and 3D effects, you should expect frameskip and serious delays.
    Last edited by jupiter2012; 05-22-2020, 11:27.

    #2
    Superb connectivity

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    The X Neo supports dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and 4G, you can even use it to make phone calls, but you need to hear voices either through headphones or the built-in speakers, since the tablet doesn’t have an earpiece.

    With such an amazing display, more users will be tempted to store a lot of media files in their X Neo, thus the 64GB built-in storage might not suffice. Fortunately, this tablet supports storage expansion, you can insert a MicroSD card up to 512GB. Even better, the type-C port can also mount most mobile SSD drives.



    Basic cameras

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    There are two cameras on the X Neo, a front-facing 5MP camera and an 8MP main camera. Those cameras can be useful for video-chatting, and scanning QR code, but you won’t want to “archive your life” with them. Even in perfectly-lit conditions, most photos I took with the main camera were either over-exposed or under-exposed, and there wasn’t much life to them. In low light, the photos were simply horrible. In an era when most entry-level smartphones come with triple or quad camera setups, there is really no place for tablet photography.

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    Selfie camera shot

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    Main camera shot




    Subpar battery life, decent charging speed

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    The Alldocube X Neo houses a 7700mAh Li-Po battery, smaller than the X’s 8000mAh. But with a much more efficient processor, the X Neo can give me around 7-8 hours’ screen time on a full charge, while the X could only last around 6 hours.

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    With display brightness and speaker volume both set at 50%, the X Neo scored 7 hours and 25 minutes in the PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Battery test, which was really not impressive compared to other midrange tablets.

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    This X Neo supports Qualcomm’s 18W QC3.0 quick charge. With the stock wall charger, you can fully charge the tablet’s 7700mAh battery in around 3 hours, not bad considering how big the battery is. In comparison, the 2020 Apple iPad Pro also supports 18W charging, but Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 and S5e only support 15W charging. The MatePad Pro is the reigning king in terms of charging speed, as it supports Huawei’s very own 40W SuperCharge, but the cheaper MatePad 10.4 doesn’t have that feature, as it also ships with an 18W charger.



    Verdict

    The Alldocube X Neo isn’t designed to break any new grounds, but it is an Android tablet which gets a lot of essential things right. It has a sharp and colorful display, which makes it perfect for video streaming, web-browsing and even light gaming. The Snapdragon 660 AIE processor is old, but still offers decent performance for basic everyday tasks. 4G connectivity means the tablet won’t be limited to places with connectable Wi-Fi hotspot.

    However, the removal of the fingerprint reader is not really a smart move. Also, the Chinese brand doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to after-sale support, most of their tablets stop receiving firmware upgrades a few months after the release. The X Neo will probably never be upgraded to Android 10, let alone Android R, something you need to bear in mind before making a purchase.

    To sum it up, if media playback is your main focus, the X Neo is really an easy recommendation, in fact you won’t find anything that’s visually on par with this slate in the same price range. But if you use your tablet for more mixed purposes, there are a few other offerings you should look at before reaching into your pocket to get the X Neo.

    Comment


      #3
      hi,
      The Alldocube X Neo offers side-firing stereo speakers, which can go very loud. Unfortunately, these built-in speakers can sound a little harsh at the highest volume, and lacks the bass and soundstage produced by the Quad AKG tuned speakers found on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. Still, they are much better than similarly priced Android slates and are definitely good enough for YouTube and Tik Tok. For audiophiles, headphones or external speakers are still very much needed for music and action films.

      Although the X Neo has a 3.5mm headphone jack, it is not powered by the AKM 4376A DAC like last year’s Alldocube X was. The tablet works well with average headphones, only when you plug in a power-hungry professional headset with higher impedance will you start to notice some differences. If you don’t even own headphones above $200, this shouldn’t even be anything to think about.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by markjonas View Post
        hi,
        The Alldocube X Neo offers side-firing stereo speakers, which can go very loud. Unfortunately, these built-in speakers can sound a little harsh at the highest volume, and lacks the bass and soundstage produced by the Quad AKG tuned speakers found on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. Still, they are much better than similarly priced Android slates and are definitely good enough for YouTube and Tik Tok. For audiophiles, headphones or external speakers are still very much needed for music and action films.

        Although the X Neo has a 3.5mm headphone jack, it is not powered by the AKM 4376A DAC like last year’s Alldocube X was. The tablet works well with average headphones, only when you plug in a power-hungry professional headset with higher impedance will you start to notice some differences. If you don’t even own headphones above $200, this shouldn’t even be anything to think about.
        What is your point by copying and pasting what I wrote.

        Comment

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