Since the launch of the iPad, tablets have been the latest craze for mobile multimedia consumption. With this, Bmorn presents us with the V99 to compete in the tablet arena dominated by the iPad and the Galaxy tabs. Can it hold itself with such fierce competition?
The very first thing that came to my mind after seeing the v99 is how thin its. With only 12mm on its thickest point, it can definitely contend with the iPad2 or the Galaxy tab in terms of sleek hardware design. In addition, it is a lot lighter than both iterations of the iPad which is a big plus for me since it allowed me to hold on the device a lot longer.
Looking at the v99, it can be best described as a giant iPhone 3G with the glossy (read finger print magnet) black rounded back smoothly tapering on all sides with the Bmorn logo slapped on the center. Encompassing majority of the front is the 9.7 inch TFT display with a resolution of 1024 by 720 pixels bordered by a black bezel.
Aside from its thin form factor, another noteworthy feature of the v99 is the number of ports and physical buttons adorning its edges. Starting at the top in portrait orientation is the power button on the right most portion and the 3.55mm audio jack on the left. Nothing can be found on the left edge of the v99 while the right edge is where the dedicated ‘Menu’ button and the volume rocker is situated.
The bottom edge is where most of the ports are located and there is a ridiculous amount of it. Starting from the left, you will find the speaker grill, the DC charger slot which looks like the one you will find in old Nokia feature phones, the micro USB port for alternate charging method and data transfer, the OTG port which supports various peripheral devices like flash drives and 3G dongles, the HDMI port, the microphone pinhole, the uncovered micro SD slot, and another dedicated hardware button for ‘Home’.
The general build quality of the v99 is subpar at best. Lightly pressing on either of the corners, you will feel it slightly creak. In terms of hardware design, the Bmorn managed to keep itself competitive by keeping it simple, albeit resembling already existing devices, sleek and lightweight but somehow sacrificing a bit on its general build quality and sturdiness.
Employing the help of one of my favorite 3rd party application Elixir, I found out that the v99 runs on an ARMv7 single-core processor with a maximum frequency of 1GHz. It also contains a total of 814MB of RAM as well 13.2 GB of internal storage. The v99 runs on vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich, and can possibly be upgraded to Jelly Bean in the near future.
Despite having the most optimized and latest version of Android, I found the performance of the v99 a bit lacking. For instance, screen transitions are not as smooth as expected with most animations stuttering in between. The most common minor glitch I always experience upon locking the device and waking the screen back on, there is a split second view of the latest running application displayed on the screen before showing the lock screen. I am not sure if this is a hardware or software issue but it happens 100% of the time for me to include it in this review.
Aside from this, I have experienced more than twice a MAJOR bug where the screen suddenly decides to be unresponsive to touch. The easiest way to get back on using the device is by rebooting it but again, since turning the device off also depends on a touch based confirmation, I usually resort to waiting for the device to run out of juice. Fortunately/Unfortunately, the v99 drains really quickly and brings me to my next gripe which is battery life. I sure hope this is isolated to our review unit but it’s better to understand the warranty coverage when considering this device.
For a digital device marketed for portability and entertainment, a lasting battery life is essential to provide a good user experience. The v99 manages to go from 100% to 8% in less than 16hrs of being idle. Again, it drained the battery by being idle. I am not entirely sure if most of this bugs and performance issues are hardware or software related but in terms of performance, the v99 didn’t perform well enough to vie for a piece of the tablet market.
One thing that the v99 had going for it is its multimedia capabilities. Despite being let down by some of its flaws, I have to admit that I enjoyed watching most of my movies on this device more than my iPad.
For one, it supports a lot of video formats which is really convenient since you do not have to convert your videos and transfer it directly without hooking it to your computer by using the provided USB adapter. You do get some audio sync issues depending on the quality of your videos, and the speaker is a bit underwhelming but the convenience alone made me wish these features are present in other mainstream tablets.
The display, though not as vibrant as the iPad’s, is not deterrent in enjoying the use of the v99. For games and applications, the v99 managed to run most games without problems except for some. For example Angry Birds ran fine without hiccups but it becomes irritatingly slow when playing Fruit Ninja. But again, I cannot deny the entertainment value of the v99 especially for watching your movies.
To sum up, the v99 could be a capable contender in providing tablet experience with its unique features, full complement of ports and attractive price point of just Php6,900 (Widget City). Despite its capabilities and unique features however, it is held back by its subpar build quality and bugs that greatly affects usability and enjoyment, which are aspects on why the tablet is such a popular gadget today.
Here’s the thing, if budget is important to you and you’re strongly considering this tablet, better ask the store where you’re getting it from if there’s a recent software update (past July 2012) for this device. Oh, and also ask for and understand the warranty coverage.
|Bmorn V99 Tablet PC Specs:|
|9.7-inch IPS capacitive touchscreen (1024 x 768)|
|Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|All Winner A10, 1.2GHz|
|Mali 400 GPU|
|512MB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSD support|
|No built-in 3G but supports 3G dongles|
|WiFi 802.11 b/g/n|
|2.0 megapixel front and rear camera|
|243 x 190 x 11.8mm|
|Php6,900 (from Widget City)|