This is a hands-on review of the iRulu 9.7″ Android Tablet [AZ941]. I did an earlier review of another iRulu Tablet about nine months ago. At the time, the purpose was to try to find a low-cost android tablet that met all the requirements I was looking for; nothing really high end, but still very functional. While I didn’t keep the last tablet from iRulu, they have kept developing low-cost android tablets; selling them through eBay, Amazon and other portals.
Recently, I was approached by a member of iRulu who had seen the previous review that I did on their tablet and they asked me to give them another chance and do another review on their latest version tablet. I purchased the latest quad core tablet through Amazon. It has 8 GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi, HDMI out, USB and microSD memory expansion [32Gb]; all for about $129. My goal was still to find an android-based tablet that performed very well and had a very economical consumer appeal.
iRulu tablet specifications
System Chip: Allwinner A31s CortexTM-A7 Quad-Core 1.2GHz + 8 Shader Engines Mali 400 MP
Operating System: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Size: 9.7″ TFT HD Screen(4:3)
weight: 1.2 pounds
Resolution: 1024*768 Pixels
Dual cameras: Front 0.3MP & rear 5MP
RAM: 1Gb DDR3
Wireless:Support WiFi (Built-in 802.11b/g WLAN Card), Support 3G (3G Dongle Not Included in Package
AC Power Adaptor :Input AC100-240V, 50-60Hz, Output 5V 2A
Battery Pack:3.7V Li-Polymer rechargeable battery, enjoy 8 hours running time
The packaging of the product is exactly as shown below. It includes the tablet, two USB cables, short/basic user guide, stylus and power supply. The tablet is packaged with a Styrofoam casing and my iRulu tablet was delivered by the US Post Office [free shipping].
The tablet that I received was black and gray with a white strip on the back in the same area where the WebCam was located. The front of the iRulu tablet is completely flat the edges of the tablet don’t get any rough edges off the side, on the side of the tablet as the screen transitions to the back cover, there are some areas that tend to catch your finger, but those can be overlooked fairly easy.
Looking at the tablet in its correct orientation, on the front top right-hand side of the tablet, there is the front facing WebCam [.3 megapixels]. On the right-hand side there’s a button for the power and then there are open slots on the side for the power plug, HDMI, two micro USB ports, headphone jack and a microSD memory card expansion slot [32Gb].At the top of the tablet, there’s an option for the home button and options for volume control. Personally, I have not used the home button at the top of the tablet because the display always has the home button on it by default.
On the back of the iRulu tablet, on the left you can see the output for the speaker [singular], the WebCam and a small opening at the bottom right [pinhole] for the option to reset the unit.
My testing of the tablet
I found that the iRulu tablet was very responsive. I didn’t have any problems with getting around inside the android operating system and I never noticed any situations where the performance of the tablet was lagging, staggering or pausing. I did notice some performance issues from time to time, but only during the process of downloading other applications. But system slowdowns are typically expected with all tablets when it comes to downloading applications from the Google Play market.
All the normal things that you expect the android operating system to be able to do, the iRulu tablet does without any problems. Moving from screen to screen or opening up applications, I didn’t see any performance problems.
In my testing with Skype, I knew that the front facing WebCam for this tablet was not high resolution, but the purpose of testing with Skype was to see how well the iRulu tablet did in being able to videoconference.
I found that in the testing with the tablet and with Skype that the tablet didn’t have any problems with doing so, it’s just that the picture coming from the tablet was not perfectly clear; but this was expected. The built-in microphone to the tablet seem to work well enough when doing a video conference, The overall opinion of being able to do videoconferencing with this tablet is that it’s perfectly capable of keeping up.
The iRulu tablet opens up Netflix in just a couple seconds and I didn’t have any problems with using the Netflix application on the tablet. Again, the tablet seems to perform very well with handling graphics and keeping up with requests and proper positioning of the touchscreen.
In my testing of using Netflix with the iRulu tablet, I didn’t have any problems with video playback. The selection of the movies and the video playback and the ability to change positions in the movies was not an issue.
I didn’t have good luck with Plex. On this tablet, the movie playback was having some problems. I was able to connect with Plex and I was able to browse my movie library, but the playback of the movies would work intermittently, even on the same movie. Take for an example, I was trying to watch Ironman; at first Plex reported it couldn’t play the movie and then the next time, it played the movie. And when it played the movies they did fine. It was getting them started that was the issue.
I don’t blame iRulu on the Plex issue, I point to the devs at Plex for their application not working properly. I say this because Netflix worked perfectly, this means that something was not being handled properly on the Plex application or the Plex server side.
I loaded two video games from the Google Play market on to the tablet that I thought that would be a proper test for the 3-D graphics engine and abilities. The two video games were Beach Buggy and Fast Racing.
I played video games for about an hour and I didn’t notice any overwhelming/noticeable problems with playing video games, and I thought the graphics were being handled very well. At no point, did I see problems with the video lagging or where the audio was working properly.
Both games offered the ability to control the vehicles either by tilting the tablet or using my thumbs to touch the screen to go left and right. I didn’t have any problems by using either one of these methods to control the vehicles. The tablet seem to perform very well with tilting it left to right and detecting the proper positioning. The capacitive touchscreen continued to work very well with touch controls.
HDMI, Bluetooth and USB
As noted above, this iRulu tablet has several ports on the side. I wanted to try to make sure that I tested those ports as much as I could.
The iRulu tablet doesn’t come with a HDMI output cable, but plugging up the iRulu tablet to a compatible big-screen TV with an HDMI input is fairly easy to do. In my testing, it was very easy to plug in the HDMI cable to the tablet and to the big screen TV and then the display is on screen.
The Bluetooth capabilities of the tablet seem to work perfectly. I have two Bluetooth headsets, Bluetooth keyboard and a Bluetooth external sound cannon; all these Bluetooth devices were detected and used properly without any issues. The Bluetooth sound cannon came in very useful because the problems with low volume from the tablet speaker.
The tablet has two micro USB ports on the side. The packaging of the tablet includes a 12 inch micro USB cable, that allows you to plug the tablet directly into your PC to transfer files; video and audio files. The other USB cable that included is approximately 6 inches long and it allows you to plug in standard USB devices into the android tablet.
I also tried to use a memory card reader, that would allow me to read a standard SD card, but it was not detected properly and therefore I wasn’t able to use/access it.
Everyone is always interested in the longevity of the battery with portable devices. The packaging of the iRulu tablet indicates that the runtime of this tablet with a full battery is eight hours. While I was doing my testing, I was putting the tablet through its paces. I was downloading applications, I was playing games, I was video conferencing; I was doing a whole bunch of stuff.
When I received the iRulu tablet initially, the tablet came fully charged, which was terribly convenient. By my estimations, I was able to get at least a full five hours of use out of the tablet before I get any kind of notification to recharge. That five hours was what I would consider intense usage. Having said that, I think that the runtime for the battery, for this tablet, went very well.
For instance, I charged the tablet yesterday to full capacity, but today I haven’t been loading applications or playing games consistently, but I’ve been turning the tablet on and off checking emails and browsing the web and checking this and that, and I haven’t seen the battery usage on the tablet dropped considerably yet. At this point, it’s been off the charger for approximately 10 hours and I still have 63% battery left over; it’s holding up very well.
This latest tablet from iRulu is definitely a solid performing tablet. Despite the speaker volume being low and the placement of the camera, which are problems with other tablets as well, this tablet gets the job done. It has a quad core processor for fluid handling, a substantial graphics rendering engine to handle higher end games & video conferencing, and the battery life is really good. My thoughts are that this would be a great for a gift for a friend/family member, or if you just want something to have to casually browse the web on the couch; or just kill time with a random game. For the price, it’s a confident purchase.