Monthly Archives: November 2014

ENTER

HP 7 Plus – Plus for the Build, Plus for the Price

HP 7 Plus – Plus for the Build, Plus for the Price

 Hewlett-Packard, probably the best IT Company out there. With top of the line laptops and printers and tons of innovation over the past half century, HP is a brand and name which can be trusted and relied upon. It is also home to thousands of hardworking, industrious, cheerful and kind employees any company ever has. One of those being me. Hihihihi.

HP is without a doubt a name not to be ignored especially in technology, but as technology continues to grow the fastest on Smartphones/Tablets, HP may have left the contention to the point that people, especially here in the Philippines, are unaware HP releases some tablets and smartphone here and there once every blue moon.

Today, we gander at a relatively new release from HP. HP 7 Plus. 7-Inch Tablet at a crazy affordable price of only about P4,300.  What does this tablet have in store for you? Read on, and find out!

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  1. Design and Build

 design

HP 7 Plus is an 8.5 Inch Tablet with a 7-Inch Screen. It has no glass protection but it is enclosed in a metallic/aluminium back which makes it feel more premium albeit being heavier. The front houses the screen and the 0.3MP Camera, One side both has the volume rocker and the Power button, the top has the 3.5mm jack, USB Port and the microSD slot which is uncovered. L The back has the 2MP camera, speaker grill at the bottom and metallic aluminium enclosure which makes the device a little bit more premium.

7 Plus is quite heavy and it has LARGE BEZELS. With the trend of less is better with respect to Bezels, 7 Plus fails dramatically. Keeping in mind the ridiculously cheap price tag, it actually feels quite premium sans the bezel and heaviness, the HP Logo at the non-plastic, easy to grip back is more plus for the Plus.

  1. Display

displaay

The 7 Plus sports a measly 1024×600 display which may net conclusion of an eye-sore for a screen especially today where 720p have somewhat become a standard for tablets. Admittedly, display is average at best and could certainly have been much better. For pixel junkies out there, pixels are quite noticeable. Aside from noticeable pixelations, some images, icons, text even games, look stretched out. If you can get over the mediocre display, it actually has one of the better viewing angles for a tablet. It has right amount of brightness to make it visible even with sunlight. Not much can be said for other tablets of the same price range.

 

  1. Entertainment

ENTER

The main function of a tablet should be as a multimedia driver. Period. Functioning as such, 7 Plus, in terms of school grading, would have to be a C+.

Loudspeaker is actually quite loud. Headsets attached, it offers clean audio output. Even at maximum volumes there are no noticeable distortions. Play Music, Google’s stock music player, plays FLAC files out of the box just fine. It is not that loud but is sufficient especially if you are alone at home.

If you are a heavy series watcher, you will be glad to know that Plus 7 can play 480p files and below just fine. Trouble starts to brew when you watch HD videos both 720p and 1080p. Stuttering is Plus 7’s friend. Again MX Player Pro will solve your codec needs.

As for Gaming, stick to the lower tier mainstream games as even games like Minion Rush show significant loading times and lags. Its accelerometer is something 7 Plus left a lot be desired. I always die at the slide L . Moving into HD Games causes a lot more headaches as even Dead Trigger is playable at best.

Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is fine on the 7 Plus. Even if it only sports a 600 display, it was able to play up to 720p videos.

  1. Camera

 CAMERA

Plus 7’s worst aspect would have to be the camera. Sporting a 2MP rear cam and a 0.3MP Front cam just screams absolutely terrible and it is. Partner it with 4.2.2’s stock camera and the result is just awful. The interface itself is laggy and slow and the pictures come out noisy and washed out even at good lighting condition. The front cam looks out of focus. IMHO, this could have been a better tablet if the time spent on the camera was spent on something else, maybe porting it to 4.4.4?

IMG_20141105_101436 IMG_20141105_101441

  1. Software

perf

7 Plus is powered by Quad-core 1 GHz Cortex-A7 Allwinner A31 Processor with 1GB Ram. It has 8GB Internal memory and 5GB useable. Which I think is quite generous with an additional expandable storage slot. Under the hood is Android 4.2.2 which is relatively outdated especially noting that this device was released on last May 2014 where Kitkat mayhem has reached so many devices.

PERFORM

As far as performance go, 7 Plus functions fine but you have to take note that it does slowdown especially if you are multitasking. It goes from responsive to laggy after a few apps. Personally, I think this problem can easily be solved by KitKat (Solved My Motorola Xoom Problem), but seeing as relatively no one knows this tablet and it has no dev support, an update is only a normal person’s dream.

 

  1. Battery

 BATT

7 Plus sports a 2800mah battery life. For a tablet, a sub 3000mah battery sounds bad and it is. It has great standby time, but its screen on-time is a measly 1.5-– 2.5 Hours only. As good as its standby time is, a tablet is supposed to function as your multimedia player and netting you below average usage is just unacceptable. I also have to point out that continuous use heats up your battery relatively quickly. The device itself heats up and the battery drop gets much worse. Very disappointing.

Some practical advice, as mentioned earlier, this device is not made to handle HD Videos and games. Sticking to music playing and series watching (20-40 minute episode shows) will net you decent battery life.

 

Executive Summary

scores

CONS:

  • ENORMOUS Bezels
  • Mediocre 1024×600 Display
  • Quite Heavy for a 7 Inch Tablet
  • Game stuttering, long loading times – Not meant for gaming
  • 720p and 1080p video playback stutter
  • Terrible Camera Performance
  • Disappointing battery life
  • No Glass Protection
  • Android 4.2.2 without Dev Support

PROS:

  • Good Build with Premium Feel
  • Expandable Storage
  • Great Audio Headset Output
  • Web Browsing and YouTube Streaming is Good
  • CHEAP

CONC

At P4, 300 HP 7 Plus is kind of a mixed bag. Personally, I would suggest this for those who is tight on a budget who need to get the basics done without much else. And by basic I mean listening to music, light streaming/browsing and watching series.

You can’t expect maximum performance from a minimal price standpoint. For the price and from a trusted well-known brand, HP 7 Plus offers decent performance at best. In hindsight, this phone would have been a lot better if the camera was scrapped and the effort for the camera was shifted to a better display or 4.4 KitKat out-of-the box.

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Looks

Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe – Windows Rebrander Alpha

Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe – Windows Rebrander Alpha

 Cherry Mobile. Probably the most famous, well-received, hated brand out there in the Philippine Market. They have released TONS of smartphones including Cherry Mobile Titan, Omega line up, Cosmos line-up, and probably the one that started their domination the Flare line-up. What do they have that other rebranders don’t? Great Marketing, cheap price for a ‘great’ phone, at least on paper.

Every time Cherry Mobile will release a new device, most, if not all fans, gets excited that even haters line-up to purchase their product. I have been part of two major events, Fusion Bolt and Flare. As unorganized as it is, it catered to the hundreds who waited. A major ehem to ZTE.

With tons of releases of Cherry Mobile to the point of almost monthly basis, CM may have had saturated the Philippine market the same way Samsung has saturated itself to decline [1]. I’m not sure what is happening there at CM but they, again, took a giant leap where no other rebranders had ever taken. Release a Windows Phone. I don’t know if this is the first rebranded windows phone, but I can say it’s the most famous one. This is what propels Cherry to the top, their great publicity. Personally, I have never had a Windows Phone due to its relatively high price for a flagship. I may have stayed away from Rebranders but this one is not one to pass up.

Packing so-so specs, HD Display and a new OS, at least for me, at a very affordable price, does Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe solidify Cherry Mobile’s Rebrander King Status, or is it just a Jump the Shark move from Cherry Mobile? Read on and find out!

DISCLAIMER: This is the first Windows Phone I have had. I have always been an Android Enthusiast. I will try to be as neutral as possible even if I come from another OS.

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  1. Design and Build

 Looks

Alpha Luxe is 5 Inch phone protected by Dragontrail Glass enclosed in Plastic. The device painstakingly looks similar to most, if not all, Cherry Mobile phone out there on the market. It looks like Cosmos Z, last year’s flagship. The front houses the front cam, and Windows’ usual Back-Windows-Search button. The sides offer the volume rocker and the power button, the back has the protruding camera which makes it wobbly when you put it on a flat surface. It is also covered in glossy plastic which attracts fingerprints like Daniel Matsunaga attracts girls.

looks2

Alpha Luxe is a phone you have seen hundreds of times, it is also quite bulky for a 5 Inch phone. The generic looks is something Alpha Luxe left a lot to be desired. Cherry Mobile has released quite a few phones that look much better than this at the same price. Definitely something to think about for those concerned about looks.

  1. Display

display

Alpha Luxe sports a 5 Inch HD 720p Display. The display feels just about right for the Luxe as its deep black technology makes the colors much more vibrant. Icons look sharp and texts look crisp. Another thing to give point to is the viewing angles. Viewing angles are quite good as tilting the device shows little to no annoying changes and it is still pretty visible even in sunlight. It may only have 3 modes of brightness but it’s highest is just right. Not too bright, not to dim.

 

  1. Entertainment

Functioning as your daily multimedia driver, Alpha Luxe is average at best.

music

Loudspeaker is fine. Plug in your headsets, Alpha Luxe is definitely one of the LOUDEST performers out there. I’m not kidding you. It’s DEAFENINGLY LOUD. It has ok sound quality, but distortions come up the louder you play your music. Avoid playing at max volumes as it has extremely high headset volume with noticeable distortion. Alpha Luxe’s loudness is something to check out for those who want their music extremely loud. I do have to point out that the stock music player has bad codec as it can’t play FLAC files. Also, when you plug in your earphone/bud you will hear some crackling and buzzing sound.

videogames

Sporting a 720p Display, Alpha Luxe might net you the conclusion that it can smoothly play all your videos. While it can play HD to Full HD videos, you have to know that the codec out of the box is extremely disappointing as it cannot detect AVI files. It can play mp4 files, though it had trouble playing Full HD 1080p of higher file sizes. I have not tried using a 3rd party app as I am yet to find a Reliable and Free video player.

As for Gaming, let’s just say at the price point, its ok. Angry Birds Epic plays fine but Metal Slug’s control is sluggish, pun intended and Asphalt 8: Airborne is playable at best albeit the long loading times and lags.

Everyone who is not a company hates Internet Explorer. Alpha Luxe, being a windows phone, carries IE, so that maybe an indication of what is in store for you out of the box. For those looking for Chrome or Mozilla, look elsewhere. There is also no YouTube app so IE, again, is your haven OUT-OF-THE-BOX. As far as YouTube and Streaming on IE, it can get your tasks done but it can be a lot better with installation of another browser.

  1. Camera

 camera

Camera and compromise are partners in crime to Cherry Mobile. Fortunately, for the Alpha Luxe, images are decent on good lighting conditions. It saturates images, but not too much. Low-light is not that good but still ok. Camera Settings are not gimmicky and is just basic. The front has a 2MP Camera and the back has an 8MP Shooter. Check out the pics below.

WP_20141102_003 WP_20141101_008 WP_20141102_001 WP_20141102_002 wp1 (3) WP_20141101_004

  1. Software

os1

Alpha Luxe is packed with 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 (MSM8212) processor and Adreno 302 GPU and 1GB Ram. It has 8GB Internal Storage expandable up to 32GB. For the Operating System, it runs Windows 8.1 OS. This is probably the biggest factor to consider when buying the Luxe. I will make a more detailed review for the OS, but for now here are my thoughts of the OS on Luxe.

This is my first Windows phone and I can say I am very impressed with its responsiveness and simplicity. It has a no-gimmick, no shit approach. After unlocking the screen you get your Tile Screen which is customizable to your heart’s content. You can remove, add, replace, and resize tiles however you please. Swiping down from the top gets you to the notification and quick settings. Holding back gives you recent app list. And swiping to the right from the home screen takes you to an alphabetical list of all your apps. It’s very simple and easy to use.

cortana

One of the best features of Windows Phone is Cortana. Cortana is an assistant which you can use offline swatting Siri and Google Now out of the competition. Cortana may not be as extensive as Siri but at least it’s far better than Google Now offline or online. The only advantage Google Now has would be the hot word detection. Voice assistants are horrendous for Filipino-accented people like me but Cortana does way better than Google Now does.

os2

One of worst things about Windows Phone would probably be the Store. With the problems I had earlier, I thought hey, this will be solved easily by third party apps, let me go to the Store. To my surprise, it terribly lags behind Android and iOS and its search function is beyond crap. I searched for YouTube and there were a lot of apps which are questionable. I searched the net for reliable audio players and video players but all of them COSTS MONEY. Contradictory to what Alpha Luxe, hopefully, aims to do. Provide quality Windows experience on a budget.

os3

Using it as a phone is fine as call quality is ok both as a receiver and transmitter, though as a receiver, I did notice that when the one on the other line is speaking louder, there are some noticeable buzzes. Not much of a big deal, it’s just something I noticed (Maybe caused by the other phone). The keyboard is ok as it learns your words provided you register it 1 by 1. I would also like to point out that Microsoft 8.1 has easier integration to Microsoft Office like Lync and Outlook.

As far as actual performance go, despite carrying a relatively old hardware, Alpha Luxe is buttery smooth, seamless, responsive and fluid.

 

  1. Battery

 battery

Android and Cherry is probably the worst possible combination for battery life. Period. As for Windows, Alpha Luxe sports a 2000mah battery and it can pretty much last you through the day. As for me, it was able to last me one and a half day before reaching 10%. This may be due to my relatively low usage. Quite, good honestly.

 

Executive Summary

scores

CONS:

  • Bad build Quality, looks cheap
  • Bad Audio and Video Codec
  • Limited Apps (OS Problem)
  • Good Apps costs MONEY $$$
  • No Free Solution to codec problems
  • Distortions at Max Volume
  • Lags and stutter on HD Games and Videos

PROS:

  • Great for those who want to check out Windows Phone
  • CORTANA IS LOVE
  • Simplistic and Minimalistic UI
  • Extremely Loud
  • Expandable Storage
  • Good Camera
  • Good Viewing Angles
  • 720p HD Display
  • Windows is Fast and Responsive
  • Dragontrail Glass
  • Good Battery Life
  • CHEAP

At an SRP of almost P5, 000. Alpha Luxe kinds of feel like a mixed bag. On one hand, this is probably the best Windows Phone out there in the market at this price, on the other, there may be better options for you out there. For those who have been with the same OS for too long, a leap into Windows Phone maybe one of the most frustrating thing to do, especially if what you do on the other OS on a daily basis is missing in the phone. In contrast, it breathes a new life and opens your door to a new ecosystem with tons of other choices.

When is Alpha Luxe a good choice? Hmmm. I would say Alpha Luxe is a good buy for those who:

  • Want to try Windows Phone at a cheap price
  • Wants fast no-gimmick approach OS at a cheap price
  • Deafeningly loud music
  • Is ok with getting the basics done without much else.
  • Need Microsoft Office Integration (Outlook, Lync)

When is it a bad choice? For those who:

  • Needs various FREE third-party apps to get shit done
  • Are Heavy iOS/Android users (As the change maybe drastic)
  • Are YouTube streamers
  • Web Browsers
  • Heavy Gamers

Straight up, Alpha Luxe is not something to buy impulsively unless you have tons of cash to spend. I actually did not enjoy it on my first two days but I began to do some reading and found out that I may not be one of those who Microsoft targets as their audience. Cherry Mobile has done a great job in leaping into the Windows Market, I’m not sure if this is the first rebranded one but it is the only one I know. Alpha Luxe breathes a new leash of life to Cherry as continuous release of android smartphone indubitably saturates the market. It may also nab Cherry the Innovators of the year award in the first ever Norman3000 2014 Awards.

If you are looking for a good start for Windows Phone, be sure to check out Luxe’s faults before jumping the wagon, if the bad passes, it is one of the fastest, loudest phone out there!

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[1] http://www.androidauthority.com/whats-happening-samsung-545108/