Budget Android tablets are gaining popularity and we see these products blooming from every old and new manufacturer around the country. While the 7-inchers are the most popular ones, larger screen Android tablets seem to be the next phase. We did review a few 9 and 10-inchers in the recent past, but here is an 8-incher that begs to differ from the rest. The Ira Icon MID M801 Android tablet from WishTel was with us for a while and we scrutinised it to our best.
Design and build
The Ira Icon MID M801 is built using a very rugged metal shell. It has a glossy front panel and a silver coloured aluminium back panel. The frame is very sturdy and feels nice and tough. The front panel has a capacitive touch button each for Home, Back, Menu and Search. The rear panel has two grilles for the stereo speakers. The left side features a SIM slot and a small opening for the microphone, while the right side has the volume rocker and power button. A weird On/Off toggle switch was also present alongside here, but it does not function at all. Neither the manual nor the website states any function or feature for this switch—wonder why it is here. One would think it is for toggling the auto-rotate or switching off the tablet completely.
Camera, stereo speakers, metal rear panel
The bottom has sockets for mini HDMI, headphone, microSD card, mini USB and micro USB connectors. Surprisingly, the mini USB slot is for the PC interface and USB OTG connector, while the micro USB slot is only for charging. Here again, we wonder why WishTel would put in two different USB connectors when it could do with just one. Anyway, the mini USB interface does not help charge the tablet when connected to a PC; hence, you would have to carry along the micro USB charger wherever you go.
As for the aesthetics of the tablet, it definitely is a good looker from the front, but the rear panel looks a bit awkward due to a large plastic black strip on the right side. The reason for the plastic strip could be that the GSM antenna might be placed behind it to prevent transmission losses due to the metal body. The tablet is 14 mm thick and weighs 605 g. It is also a tad heavier due to the metal frame and the large battery pack within.
Mini USB PC interface and OTG, micro USB for charging only
Features and performance
The IRA MID M801 runs on the Android ICS operating system, which is powered by a 1.2GHz ARMv7 CPU. The graphics processor is GC800 from Vivante Corporation. The system utilises 1GB of RAM and has a built-in storage of 8GB, which can be expanded up to 32GB using the microSD slot. Of the 8GB built-in storage, 6GB is available for user data storage, while the rest is shared by the system for the OS (ROM) and the app storage.
The display is a large 8-inch TFT LCD sporting a resolution of 768 x 1024 pixels. The front panel has a VGA camera for video calls and the rear has a 2MP camera as a regular shooter for photos and videos. Connectivity options are Wi-Fi, 3G (SIM card), Bluetooth, mini USB for PC interface and USB OTG, a microSD card slot and a mini HDMI for routing videos to a larger display or LCD TV. The built-in battery is 5500 mAh and the manufacturer claims around three to four hours of maximum usage.
We did find a lot of goof-ups in the specifications of the product on both the box and the website. The box states the display having a resolution of 800 x 480 and the website does not state anything. The website also states the thickness to be 8 mm while the actual thickness is 14 mm. In addition, the website states the operating system as Android GB 2.3. If you download the brochure for the same product from the website, you get the Ira Icon 7-inch tablet brochure. Either there is a mix up of the specifications on the website or it is not properly updated. Bundled along with the product is a pair of earphones, a travel charger, a mini USB PC interface cable, an OTG cable and a sleeve.
mini HDMI, microSD slot, headset jack
We used the tablet for quite a while and found it to be sluggish to quite an extent. At times it would work flawlessly, but most of the times it would run slower. We also noticed during our testing that the tablet uses a 1.2GHz processor, but it is clocked at 1GHz. This makes us think if the tablet is actually a 1.2GHz or just a 1GHz that is marked with higher speeds for sales. Though there is a GPU to power the graphics, the tablet’s interface is sluggish as compared to other tablets with almost similar specs.
We did test the tablet for its performance using standard benchmarking apps. Quadrant gave us a score of 1572 and AnTuTu scored 2325. NenaMark gave frame rates of 16 fps while Linpack scored 15 MFLOPS in single-thread tests and 13 MFLOPS in multi-thread tests. As per the tests, the tablet scored almost 20–25 percent lower scores than other tablets with similar hardware specifications.
Volume and power buttons, a useless On/Off button
The tablet supports a wide variety of media formats for audio (MP3/WMA/APE/FLAC/AAC/OGG/AC3/WAV) and video (H.264, H.263, VC-1, MPEG 1/2/4, DIVX 3/4/5/6, XVID, WMV 7/8, VP8, VP6, AVS) out of the box. We did throw a bunch of standard to high definition movies at the tablet to know what it could deliver; while SD and HD videos played flawlessly, we noticed a little framing during HD 1080p videos. One would not notice the framing easily, but when the video has a fast motion or action sequence, or a quick panning of the video is present, the framing is highly visible. As far as clarity is concerned, the higher resolution display delivers crisp videos with good colours and decent brightness levels. As for viewing angles, it is the same as all other tablets—the viewing angle from the bottom causes loss in video quality and gradually tends to invert the picture.
SIM card for 3G Internet and voice calls
The audio quality of the built-in stereo speakers is below average. It lacks mids and bass while the highs are a bit too shrill. The audio volume is loud enough, but it could still be better. The bundled earphones are very flimsy and fragile. The audio quality of the headset too is below average. You might need a good pair of headphones to enjoy decent audio from music or movies. The headset is good enough for voice and video calls, but it does not feature a call answer/end button on the mic.
A few apps are bundled for productivity and entertainment
The Ira Icon MID M801 uses a 5500 mAh battery and the manufacturer claims a 3-4 hour maximum battery life. We conducted a video loop test where we ran a standard definition video continuously until the battery ran out. The battery lasted for 3 hours 25 minutes in this test. We then juiced up the battery back again and then started using the tablet casually by running a video, playing some audio, streaming some media, browsing the Internet and lastly, playing some games. This time the battery lasted us for around 4 hours and 10 minutes. However, this test is basic and the actual battery time will obviously vary from user to user depending on the type of applications used on the tablet.
The IRA Icon MID M801 from WishTel is a decent tablet with good display quality. Also, support for 3G SIM for voice calls and Internet is the only advantage. The average battery life, below average audio quality and sluggish performance are the major drawbacks. Retailed at Rs 12,999, the tablet seems steeply priced for just an inch-larger display than the conventional 3G SIM based 7-inchers around. We recommend you look around for another tablets with 3G SIM offering before considering this tablet.
Published Date: Dec 08, 2012 09:40 am | Updated Date: Dec 08, 2012 09:40 am