Here’s a 7-inch tablet that will wow you without burning a hole in your wallet – as long as you accept that it’s not an Apple, Samsung or Motorola, but an Ainol product.
While tablet geeks may have heard about the Chinese electronics maker being the first to make an Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, tablet late last year, most consumers in brand-conscious Singapore are probably not even aware of the Shenzhen-based Ainol.
Yet, one of the most appealing tablets now on the market is drawing the crowds in at Sim Lim Square, where the 7-inch Aino Novo 7 Aurora is on display to curious, surprised shoppers.
Besides offering Android 4.0, it sports a sharp IPS (in-plane switching) display, which lets you view images clearly even from narrow angles from the side. IPS, just to be sure, is also what makes the iPad’s screen so good.
The Ainol screen, however, has a really high-resolution – 1,024 x 600 – which makes for pin-like sharpness on such a small screen. The iPad 2, in comparison, pumps out just slightly more pixels, at 1,024 x 768, on a substantially larger 9.7-inch screen.
The China-made device is also extremely thin at just 9.9mm, making it a rival to Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy Tab 7.0 and Galaxy Tab 7.7, which are arguably the sexiest Android tablets on the shelves now.
But most importantly, what makes the Novo 7 Aurora (specs in Chinese) so interesting is its price. The Wi-Fi version goes for just S$220 in Singapore. Just for comparison, that amount can only buy you an iPod Nano at the Apple store.
So, is Ainol’s Novo 7 Aurora the first of an upcoming wave of low-cost Android tablets that will drive down prices once and for all, like what IBM-compatible machines did to PCs after hitting the market in the 1980s? Or will increasingly well-off Singapore users stick with the more well-known brands?
Going by the crowds at the Sim Lim store, you can tell that users here are interested in the low-cost tablet, no matter if it’s made in China (what isn’t made in China, anyway?). Cost is also a factor in the US, where the Kindle Fire has been a hit, exactly because of its US$199 (S$251) price tag.
After a brief hands-on with the Ainol Novo 7 Aurora last week, I can say it’s well worth considering. I can’t say for sure how well it performs until I have it for a few days. But it’s definitely a model I’d get a quick touch-and-feel test before parting with serious money for my next tablet.