Make it stop Ma, we’re getting dizzy. It’s like a serious case of the neverendings – as prices keep plummeting while specs keep getting better. When will it stop? Will it stop? Can we expect Moore’s Law to turn into some manic perpetual motion machine, feeding our lust for techno until we all explode from the pressure of more, better, faster?
The Freelander PD 800 Android Tablet is the latest proof that the tablet arms race continues, and doesn’t look like stopping any time soon. This 9.7 inch computer, comes with a 3rd gen IPS HD Retina screen with a resolution of 2048×1536, with 264 PPI and 3.1 million – count ’em – pixels. This is the exact same spec as the current iPad Retina model. It’s coupled with a 1.6 GHz quad core processor, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage which can be expanded by microSD up to an extra 32GB.
Throw in some HMDI out (up to 1080p), Android 4.1.1, WiFi, Bluetooth and a form factor that is just 1.6 mm thicker than an iPad 4 and 30 grams lighter, and you have a very interesting budget tablet indeed. Very interesting. To put things into perspective, the iPad 4 only features a dual core processor, which suggests that the processing war is about to start in earnest.
The Freelander PD 800 comes in a very sparse package, which includes a set of earphones, a microUSB to USB adapter, a USB cable and a power brick. The Getting Started guide is a single photocopied sheet of A4 paper, so the company is not going to win an awards for documentation, that’s fer sure. We’re not sure if that’s just because we got a very early unit from the factory, but it’s possible.
However once you get past the initial surprise, what you find is a very capable product, which really does manage to deliver solid performance and a beautiful screen at an incredibly low price. The screen is silky smooth, there’s full support for all the apps on the Google Play store, and the 2GB of RAM and ample internal storage means that everything zips along very nicely, with little stutter or lag.
And yes there is a difference in the quality of the screen, between a typical budget tablet and the retina version on the Freelander. We’re not sure that Joe Public is going to be totally wowed by the extra clarity and crispness of the screen, but it’s one of those things that we’re sure is subliminal, rather like watching TV without flicker and ending up with more relaxed eyes.
As you can see from the video above, the tablet performs really well under most conditions. The WiFi is a pleasant surprise as it offers a definite jump up from the typical lackluster range of budget tablets, and works well from longer distances from the router.
We’re not so sure about the camera however, which at a lowly 5 megapixels seems rather out of place in amongst these kinds of specifications. The images are exactly what you’d expect from a camera like this, which is to say average. The front camera at 2MP is however perfectly adequate for the kind of Skype calls it’s designed for.
We’ll also reserve judgment on the 4000 mAh battery, which seems a little under-specced for this kind of quad-core beast, but it should at least give the same kind of general operation time as other budget models. Just don’t expect anything spectacular and you’ll be fine. Likewise we can see where costs have been cut by incorporating a basic speaker system, but hey it works, and you can always boost the sound with an external speaker for not much money.
Well what’s to say about a tablet at this price which offers such a solid set of specs? From our tests the device works surprisingly well, with above average benchmarks (Antutu at around 15800) and definitely a lovely clear screen experience. It feels solidly built, and while there are definitely cost cutting decisions implemented in various places like the camera and speakers, the core operation seems more than enough to justify the amazing price tag.
If you’re in the market for a new budget tablet computer, this should definitely be on your list, as it combines some great features with compromises that you can live with or work around quite easily.
OS Version: Android 4.1
CPU: RK3188 Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9
Processor Speed (max): 1.6GHz
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot (3G Tethering)
5 Megapixel Rear Camera + 0.3 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
Mic and Speaker
Battery Size: 4000mAh
Usage Time: 6 Hours
Battery Standby: 72 Hours
Display Size: 9.7 Inch 3rd Gen IPS
Display Resolution: 2048×1536, 264ppi
10 Point Capacitive Multi Touch Display
Main product dimensions: 242x190x11mm (L x W x D)
Main product weight: 620g
Price: $259.99 / £160.44