Detailed Review and Testing of Chuwi V99 Retina Screen Tablet.

After a month of using and testing the tablet, I am ready to present the following review, which is today devoted to Chuwi V99 Retina.
I ordered the tablet on Spemall, as usual: http://www.spemall.com/CHUWI-V99-Retina-Screen-9-7-Inch-Android-4-1-Jelly-Bean-Tablet-PC-with-RK3066-Processor-2048x1536px-Dual-Camera-Bluetooth_g.html You can also check the technical specs of the tablet there.
Now there is no shortage of this tablet anymore, so it may be sent immediately after payment. At first, I ordered Cube tablet with identical specs, but it was delayed for a couple of weeks, and I wanted also to test Chuwi tablet, because it is a new brand for me, so I agreed for replacement. The tablet was sent on 14th November, and arrived 13 days later, which is a bit long for Singapore Airmail, but quite normal for such period at the end of the year, when Post is very busy.

Part I: Package & Build Quality.
The Box of the tablet is good enough. It is not as hard as the boxes of Pipo and Ployer tablets, but it has a soft cradle for the tablet, it is rather thick and hard enough to protect the tablet on the road. The box of the tablet was packed in additional cardboard box and plastic bag, so I received it in a perfect condition, completely undamaged. An inscription “Chuwi” is available on the box, on a package with the tablet, and on the tablet itself – i.e. the device the original, not OEM. It seems like the inscriptions on the back panel are made on metal with the laser, so inscriptions will not be erased, but they are comparatively hard to read. Judging by the serial number, the tablet was made in November. The back panel is made of metal, so the Heat is practically absent. It is usual for the devices, based on Rockchip 3066 and with the metal back panel. I have tested many of such devices and all of them have a good thermal behavior. 

The contents of the box is poor. There is a charger with Chinese plug and a traditional gift adapter, it is 12V, 2А. As I assumed, the battery is not 10000 mAh, though it seems to be 7.4V 5000 mAh, which is equal to 3.7V 10000 mAh. Also there is a data MicroUSB to USB cable in the package. Sure, there are manual and the guarantee coupon on Chinese and English. Also, a mark about quality control passing, and a leaflet in Chinese. But no OTG cable and no earphones.

The build quality is excellent. No claims at all for a month of using and testing. No defects of assemblage or problems with materials observed. There are couple of screen protectors: one with label is for transportation, and another is for everyday use. I would prefer to a have a protector on the backpanel too, but it is the only little claim.

Part II: Screen, Camera, Controls and plugs.

The screen. I think, it is the main reason of buying this tablet, though it has some other essential advantages. The screen of this tablet is just excellent. Sure, it is the best screen among those I tested. Even in a “normal” mode, when the screen resolution is equal to 1600×1200, it looks much better than usual 9.7″ 1024×768 tablet screens. In HD mode (2048×1536) it is even better, a picture is perfectly smooth. Such a high density of pixels on a rather decent screen size calls unambiguously positive feelings. There are many advantages in this screen. The viewing angles are excellent. The colors are practically not distorted under any possible viewing angles. A range of brightness control is very wide. The minimum brightness is perfect for using the tablet in the complete darkness. The maximum is good enough even for the sunny day. The light sensor is unfortunately absent.  There are no dead pixels or other similar defects of the screen. Uniformity of white and black filling are at good level. The contrast ratio is subjectively very good.
But I will always find the reason to complain ;) . On a top border of the screen in landscape orientation there are small flares, which you can detect on the high brightness of the backlight. They are very insignificant, practically invisible on the low brightness, but I saw better uniformity of the black. Well, and on maximum brightness of backlight luminosity of black color is rather high. Certainly, in those conditions when maximum brightness is applied, it will not be appreciable, but still.
However, as a whole the screen, certainly, is magnificent. In the aggregate of characteristics it is best of all tablet screens for today, at least from those tablets which I tested. Probably (and even most likely), in iPads 3 and 4 there are no flares of the screens and this matrix in them looks even better. Probably, the screen of Nexus 10 will once again turn our ideas about the tablet matrixes. But it is not possible for us to buy these tablets for reasonable money today and in the near future. But the screen of Chuwi V99 is excellent in any case. Even for only one this screen the tablet can be recommended for purchase for some applications. However, as I have already said, there are other essential advantages in this tablet.

There are no claims to the touchscreen. The lines in DevTools were sometimes  interrupted, but after the removal of the transportation screen protector the sensitivity has raised. Touchscreen understands 10 simultaneous touches, which is, in general, typical for this standard size of the screen, and is not only enough, but also redundant. Personally I like the touchscreen of Chuwi V99, and I do not think, that you will have any essential claims to it.

Cameras. The frontal 2 Mp camera is quite good, though it is allocated in a rather inconvenient place, in a corner, instead of centre of the tablet. The main camera. Well, it is also 2 Mp. Without Auto focus and flash. One more camera for a tick, if you know what I mean. I would remove this camera at all to save us a couple of dollars and not spoiling the device’s technical specs. Nevertheless, if it is needed, you can make photos and even video with this camera.

The sound in this tablet is very good. For the tablet, of course. There are two stereo speakers, allocated on both sides of the screen and directed in the sides. They obviously work in stereo mode, and sound quite good. The loudness is sufficient, the stereoeffect is noticeable, which is not expected from such a small device. Probably, the idea to direct a sound into the sides is not so bad in general. Clearly, for serious listening of music it is better to connect to the tablet good earphones, but for comfortable view of a movie for one person or small company these speakers should be sufficient. As successfully enough allocated stereospeakers are still rare in the tablets for today, this feature can also be considered as the advantage of Chuwi V99.

Controls and plugs. The set of buttons is standard. There are power button, “Home” button, and the volume rocker.  At the left side on the metal panel there is a small unsigned hole, and not round, but the oval form (?). A set of interfaces as a whole is also standard. There are plugs for earphones, slot for MicroSD memory cards (up to 64 Gb and more), Micro USB for data transfer and connection of peripherals, a microphone. But there is no HDMI out, which is almost standard for the modern tablets. There is an information, that the absence of HDMI out is connected to the high resolution of the screen, which is not supported directly by the Rockchip 3066. It has two integrated digital 1080P channels to send the picture to the built in screen or the external monitor/TV screen, but the resolution of Full HD is 1920×1080 pixels, while the resolution of Chuwi V99 Retina screen is essentially higher, 2048×1536 pixels. Therefore, both integrated channels should be united to send the picture on the built in screen, so both of them are busy permanently. Theoretically, there is still a variant with disconnecting of the built in screen or integration on the motherboard of the additional chip for HDMI, but not in this case.
 On the other hand, with such a built in screen, the resolution (and the majority of other parameters, such as a color rendition, contrast, brightness) of which is higher, than for 99% of monitors and TV’s screen, an HDMI out doesn’t looks like such a necessity.

 

Wireless interfaces. WiFi Tester, despite the metal back panel, shows the record signal levels 1 meter away from my router -27 dBm, I did not see better results yet (UPD. Already saw: Ramos W30 , which arrived just yesterday, based on powerful Samsung Exynos 4412 Quad Core, has shown -24 dBm. And nevertheless, the result of Chuwi is quite good). Wi-Fi problems are not revealed. While moving away from the router, the signal level falls rather quickly. But still remains on the normal level, as well as a transfer rate. A minimum, that I could receive through 2 The concrete Walls on a diagonal is -63 dBm. The built in Bluetooth module is also available and works without problems.

Part III:  Firmware, built in programs, Google Play (Market), root, compatibility. 
The firmware is not rooted out of the box. But it can be easily corrected with ZhuoDaShi program, as well as on the other tablets, based  on Rockchip 3066 (and not only, with its help, for example, I was able to root the Android 4.0.4 phone CDS CD1000, based on Mediatek MTK6577). The manufacturer has installed to the tablet the Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean from November, 1st. The built in Market (Google Play) is available, but many programs were absent from the beginning. In particular, most of my traditional tests showed as incompatible with this tablet. Most of decent three-dimensional games did not want to be installed too. All this, of course, could be easily treated with some hacks of build.prop. But the problem was solved even easier than I expected. After the next upgrade of Play Store most of the programs magically became compatible with Chuwi V99. Not all, but about 90%. Quite enough. Surprisingly, the problems with compatibility are practically absent, despite the non-standard for the Android screen resolution. Basically, screen resolution is multiple (4 times higher) to the traditional 1024×768 resolution, therefore the majority of programs are simply scaled without any consequences. In general, it is the essential advantage of the tablet. Also, there is a number of potentially useful and beautiful widgets in the stock firmware. But, as usual, they support only China and the Chinese language, therefore they are useless for most users outside China and are the first candidates for removal after getting the root.

The battery and battery life. First, as always, I installed the Battery Monitor Widget. The battery on 7.4V, as expected. The battery indicator in obviously somewhat incorrect, as well as the voltage indicator. But the inaccuracy is not critical, about several percents. Indications can sharply fall for several points and then sharply restored. Even the charge percent can increase by itself.
Nevertheless, the battery life of the device is excellent. Despite the application of theoretically gluttonous Retina screen of a decent diagonal and a powerful enough internals (Rockchip 3066 1.6 GHz dual core Cortex A9, Mali-400MP4, 1 Gb of RAM, 16 Gb of flash memory, pair of speakers, etc.), the tablet even with the Wi-Fi enabled and average brightness of the screen is capable to work for not less than 7 hours! In a reading mode with the switched off wireless interfaces 10 hours is not a limit. It is a very good result. Subjectively, the best among all devices I tested. Hyundai Rock X in such mode will work 5,5 hours (good result), Pipo M3 And Ainol Flame – 6 hours, And Pipo M1, probably, will show close results. Other competitors are far behind. Also it is necessary to add that Chuwi V99 practically does not consume energy in a waiting mode and does not discharge the battery, which is also a serious advantage.
Generally, the battery life is the second key advantage of the given device, except its excellent screen, certainly.

There are no problems with Performance in a normal 1600×1200 mode. The interface is sometimes not perfectly fluent, but it is normal for the Android. AnTuTu 3.0.3 has shown a pretty good result – more than 11000 points in a performance mode.

But this version cannot be comparable by results with the AnTuTu 2.8/2.9. Hyundai Rock X with the same internals, but lower screen resolution (1024×768), makes 12000 points in this test. The just arrived powerful Ramos W30 (Samsung Exynos 4412, Cortex A9 quad core 1.4 GHz, 1280х800) – almost 16000. Nevertheless, for 1600х1200 it is still a decent result. With such resolution it is quite possible to play any games. Dead Trigger runs practically fluently, Eternity Warriors 2 is a bit laggy, but still playable.

In HD mode, with 2048×1536 screen resolution, the performance is expected to be lower. But still, AnTuTu  3.0.3 performed 9600 points, which is good.

Other results of productivity tests in the normal and HD modes are shown on screenshots.
I will shortly comment them.
Quadrant. In normal mode, the device has shown result in 4250 points, practically at level of competitors with lower screen resolution. In HD the results are little lower, but still it is 4000 points.

Vellamo. In HTML5 group of tests it shows the results, lower by approximately 20-25 %, than the devices with 1024×768 and 1280×800 screen resolution. What is strange, they do not depend on the mode. In normal and HD modes results are virtually the same. Probably, productivity will be increased in the future firmwares. In Metal group of tests the results identical to the results of other devices, based on Rockchip 3066. Exynos 4412 in Ramos W30 also shows similar results. As a whole, the results are still quite good. The superpowerful Ramos W30 for some reason is even a bit slower in HTML5. 

In Nenamark 2 in normal mode, we get the excellent 49 frames per second. In HD the results are more modest, 36.7 FPS, but also it is a level of Ainol Flame with much lower resolution of the screen (1280×800 VS 2048×1536).

In Basemark Taiji we observe the similar results. 20 FPS in a normal mode and 13 FPS  in HD. Flame Shows 15-16 FPS. Cube Mini U30GT (Rockchip 3066, 1024×600) – 44 FPS. Chuwi V99, as expected, is not a gaming tablet, but it is still suitable for games, especially in the standard mode.

In fill test from GlBenchmark 2.5 we received expected 760 megatexels per second. Here the result does not depend on the screen resolution, so all Rockchip 3066 devices show about the same productivity.

As a whole, the productivity tests show the expected and good enough results.

 

Conclusions:
At last, the final conclusions about the device:
Drawbacks:
1). The Android interface is not quite fluent on the stock firmware. Future and custom firmwares may improve it.
2). Poor contents of the box. No OTG cable in the standard set. There is only the most necessary.
3). Small flares on the screen.
4) Performance in HD a mode is imperfect. However, it is quite expected. But there is a normal 1600×1200 mode in which the tablet is considerably faster.
5). No HDMI. Seems like we won’t see it in the current generation of Chinese Rockchip 3066 Retina tablets.
6). Simple 2 Mp back camera.
Advantages.
1). The screen. And again – the screen. And once again – the screen. And the pixels density. And the colour rendition, which is practically precisely corresponding the sRGB. As a whole, the screen is excellent.
2) Very good build quality, the metal back panel, low heat.
3) Unexpectedly decent sound quality. The stereo is noticeable. The tablet suits very well for the video, though the 4:3 screen is not optimal for this application.
4). The manufacturer has provided a mode with the resolution 1600×1200 (in my opinion, it is optimal), which provides a quite good productivity.
5) Very good battery life, from 7 to 10 and even more hours.
6) The tablet is thin and easy enough for its dimensions and battery.
7) The good and sensitive touchscreen.
8). A good frontal camera for Skype.
9). Quite good Wi-Fi sensitivity. And there is an integrated Bluetooth module.
10). No hardware drawbacks revealed in the course of testing.
Excellent tablet, I should say. Quite worthy choice with the real Retina screen for today. The tablet appeared to be even better than I expected. It has better battery life and better compatibility, and, what is very important – no hardware bugs. We expect the next generation of Chinese Retina tablets in two of three months. But it will be in the next, 2013 year.
And for now, Happy New Year for all!
That is all for today, thank you for attention.

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