REVIEW | Coby Kyros MID7011 spells entertainment on the go

Seven inches seems to be the sweet spot for tablets nowadays, and US-based electronics manufacturer Coby is going all out with its line of tablets in this category headlined by the Coby Kyros MID7011, a modest attempt at cornering a small market of consumers who want to take entertainment with them wherever they go.

By any means, the Kyros MID7011 is not a looker at first glance — the main body is enclosed in rubbery material that extends from the entirety of the back and hugs the unit up to about half an inch in front. It perfectly complements the design of the main display, which looks a bit fragile and frail compared with other tablets its size, with the material of the rear panel giving the entire unit a more “rugged” feel.

The MID7011 is being marketed as a seven-inch device, but its capacitive touchscreen display is actually marginally smaller than most 7-inchers, considering that the right-side bezel is actually a bit wider than the left. This design signals how the tablet should ideally be held in portrait mode, and gives right-handed users a bit of an advantage when holding it in landscape mode.

Peeking underneath the glass, we easily noticed that there is significant amount of backlight bleeding particularly in the upper left corner and left side of the unit, so much so that we could almost see the backlight element peeking through the very noticeable gap between the screen and the bezel. It might not turn off the typical user, but considering there are other better-made tablets out there, this one’s definitely a deal-breaker.

Connecitivity-wise, we’d go out on a limb and declare the MID7011 as the “Mother of All Ports,” as it’s got every possible port you’ll need in an entertainment tablet: it comes with a mini-USB port, a mini-HDMI port, and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack on one side; and two SIM card slots as well as a 32GB microSD expansion slot up top. The package also comes with a USB-on-the-go cable that fits perfectly on the mini-USB port should you need additional storage space, given that the device only has 4GB of internal memory built in.

One of the major downers is the inclusion of a mini-USB instead of a micro-USB port, which has become the industry standard for mobile charging and device connectivity. By insisting on a mini-USB port, the MID7011 tries to carve its own island in a sea of micro-USB-powered devices. But does it have what it takes to swim against the current? Read on to find out.

Curious software

Under the hood, the Kyros MID7011 is powered by a 1GHz Cortex-A9 dual-core processor paired with 512MB of RAM, which handles the pre-installed Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system quite well, with minimal jerks and lags.

The device comes with several Android apps pre-installed, including a handful of popular Android games such as Temple Run 1 and 2, Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space, Candy Crush Saga, Fruit Ninja, Fruit Slice, Plants vs Zombies, and Cut The Rope. It also has some productivity and social apps out of the box, so you wouldn’t have to worry about downloading them from the Google Play Store.

But then again, after careful perusal of the MID7011 in the first few minutes, we found something that would shock any user that has been acquainted with the Android platform for quite some time now: it doesn’t come with the Google Play Store pre-installed. We tried to download it from a third-party source, but when we tried to install and use it, the app would just quit without even launching.

In fact, it seems Coby has suppressed any indication of an attachment to Google, since during the initial setup for the MID7011, the system wouldn’t ask you to log in to your Google account, like what Android phones and tablets would require you to. When we checked the System app, the option to add a Google account was not available as well.

Is Coby deliberately trying to disassociate itself from Google, and therefore “differentiating” itself from other device manufacturers, despite the fact that it’s using the Android platform? We don’t have the concrete answers, but what we know for sure is that this hurts them more than it benefits the users, since the entire point of the Google Android ecosystem is convenience, and removing any trace of Google from your device seems counter-intuitive, if not entirely counter-productive, from our point of view.

To compensate for the patent lack of a Google-backed app store, Coby included the SlideME market app with the MID7011, an alternative to the Google Play Store that carries most of the more commonly used Android apps out there. Still, it’s no solid replacement for the Google Play Store since even the usual apps that have become staple Android homescreen residents, such as Flipboard and MX Player, would still have to be downloaded through third-party sources as they are not present within the SlideME Market.

At-Par Performance

Performance-wise, the Coby Kyros MID7011 delivers at the basic level. Swiping through different screens and switching through various apps are snappy at best and just slightly laggy at its worst. We tried playing most of the games, including the recently released Temple Run 2, to test for graphics and swipe lags, but found virtually nothing. The only thing we didn’t like while playing games was the all-too-reflective glass that sits on top of the unit’s display, which tends to jar our view while playing.

If you want a more pragmatic test of performance, we’re happy to report that the MID7011 got a score of 6,702 on its Antutu benchmark test, which puts it ahead of local competitors such as the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt, which rates just below 6,000 points despite having a quad-core processor.

Battery life, unfortunately, is sub-par. Though the MID7011′s lithium polymer battery is officially rated at 3500mAh, it easily gave up upon watching three episodes of a 20-minute US sitcom. That works against the device considering it is being billed as an entertainment tablet, with analog TV built in, which could potentially suck considerable amounts of battery over a short period of time.

The MID7011 comes with both a rear- and front-facing camera, but with only 2 megapixels at the rear, we’d say it wouldn’t have made any different if it didn’t come with its own camera. The picture quality is grainy and hazy when used in best conditions, and the lack of an autofocus feature will just throw you off. For casual point-and-shoot and selfie portraits it’s works okay, but don’t rely too much on the MID7011′s camera to capture your life’s greatest moments.

TV-watching on the go

Perhaps the only saving grace of the MID7011 is its analog TV function, which could bail you out of times when you’re stuck in the office and wouldn’t want to miss an episode of your favorite teleserye, or updates on the nightly news.

You can bring out the extendable antenna from the upper-left corner of the device for better signal reception. The accompanying app is intuitive and user-friendly enough that you wouldn’t need to tinker with confusing controls to set up your channels.

While analog TV functions have become almost staple features of low-cost Android phones in the Philippines, the MID7011 becomes a rare exception in that it’s a tablet device, which means you wouldn’t have to squint in order to get a better view of your TV shows. Its 7-inch display, we dare say, is the perfect size for watching local channels in the office or while on the go — that is, if you can get a good signal from your favorite channel.

Verdict

At a steep price of P7,995, it’s difficult to recommend the Kyros MID7011 to the main market it’s targeting — which, we assume, are middle-income earners that enjoy entertainment and watching local TV channels while on the go. Given that there are lower-priced tablets out there (including the Cherry Mobile Fusion Bolt and the Starmobile Engage 7HD), the MID7011 has a lot going against it to be attractive enough for the typical, mall-going consumer.

That it stripped Android of all its Google-ness is a step in the wrong direction, we dare say, given that Android has already become synonymous to Google, to GMail, and to the Google Play Store. The included alternative isn’t even at par with the Google Play Store in terms of the number of apps, which prompts the user to download apps from other sources — a tad bit too inconvenient, especially if you want to get the most bang for your buck from buying this sub-P8,000 tablet.

But if you’re a true-blue local TV fan and don’t want to miss the action in your favorite local shows, the Kyros MID7011 becomes a trusty companion. Unfortunately, consumers seldom buy tablets just so they can watch TV while inside the jeep or in the office, so this unique feature doesn’t add any value to a tablet which could have delivered much more given its decent hardware specs and solid tablet build.

InterAksyon.com