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Acube iWork 10 Hands-on Review - All-around tablet & decent laptop

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jupiter2012
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Tablet Acube iWork 10 Hands-on Review - All-around tablet & decent laptop



FOR
Powerful Intel Bay-Trail processors
Sleek build and compact design
Full Windows 8.1
Over 6 hoursí battery Life
Eye-watering IPS display
Affordable Price
Micro SD card support
HDMI port
Brilliant Keyboard Cover

AGAINST
Small internal storage
USB Host requires dongle

BOTTOM LINE
The Acube iWork 10 is an affordable Windows 8 tablet with good battery life and features. Just make sure you always have access to the Internet, as local storage is a little light on this tablet.


Key Features

10.1-inch IPS capacitive touchscreen of 1280 x 800 px resolution;
1.8GHZ Intel Atom Bay-Trail Z3740D Quad-core Processor, Intel HD Graphic (Gen7) GPU
2GB of LPDDR3 RAM
Windows 8.1 (Need to be activated by the user themselves)
32GB of SSD built-in Storage
2MP front-facing camera/2MP rear-facing camera
Back-mounted stereo speakers
Wi-Fi 802.11
Bluetooth v4.0
USB 2.0 host (adapter required)
Micro SD card slot
Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
HDMI V1.4
8,000mAh Li-Po battery


Want the functionality of a laptop with the speed and ease of a tablet? Don't we all. Acube, along with many other bigger names in the PC and tablet industry, has taken another pass at that very Windows 8 dream. The Acube iWork 10 is one of a slew of new 10-inch Windows 8.1 tablets that are starting to make more sense in these connected times. Three years ago, we would have listed this system as unacceptable, since it has very little local storage after Windows 8.1, Office, and system recovery files take up most of the space on the smallish 32GB drive. However, people have become used to almost constant access to the Internet, along with the virtually limitless cloud storage and entertainment streaming options therein. If you take the iWork 10 primarily as an Internet-connected tablet, then the remaining virtues of the tablet bump the system up to an acceptable, nay, recommendable status.

Still, we had our qualms about the many Windows tablets that appeared in the past two year, which were either burdened by the sluggish Intel Atom Z2760 performance, or struggled with portability and poor battery life.

This new Acube iWork 10 seems to have been dealt a better hand, as it runs the full version of Windows 8.1 and the Bay Trail chip is restoring faith in Intel's tablet capabilities. At RMB1,699 ($281), it is really a worthy choice of both a laptop and a tablet.


Design and Features




Measuring about 258*173*10.4mm (HWD), the iWork 10 is quite svelte, only 1mm thicker than the Surface RT (9.4mm) and much slimmer than most of the Windows Tablets. For example the Acer Iconia W700 is 11.9mm thick, and the Surface Pro is at an even porkier 13.5mm. The front of the iWork 10 is dominated by a 10.1-inch display, with decent amount of bezel. And if held in the vertical orientation, the iWork 10 has a Windows Start key at six o'clock.




The hairline finished metal back panel has the Acube logos (both Chinese and English) and some other information we need to know about the device and its manufacturer.


The tablet has a 2-megapixel front camera and 2-megapixel rear camera, both of which can take pictures or interact with Skype sessions. The tablet has accelerometers, G-sensor, and vibration feedback (particularly when you use the Start button), three features that are almost must-haves for this type of product.


The tablet weighs in at a light 613g, even lighter than the Microsoft Surface RT (690g). It is as easy to tote and use as many of the 10-inch Android tablets, requiring much less labor than the Acer Iconia W700 (950g) or the Microsoft Surface Pro (903g).


All the ports and slots are hosted on the left side, you will find a headset jack, a micro USB 2.0 port, a mini HDMI port, a Micro SD card slot and a DC port. Hardware keys are also kept to the minimum, besides the aforementioned start key, only a power/standby key and a volume rocker are in place. The magnetic connector used for connecting to the keyboard cover is in the middle of the bottom side, with one fixing dock on each side.


The micro SD card may be needed to supplement the skimpy storage built into the system. The 32GB SSD only had about 19GB of free space after we went through the initial setup. Thankfully, the tablet comes with very few pieces of pre-loaded software, only the standard Windows 8.1 apps like Skype are included.

For me, the disappointment mainly comes from the absence of a full USB host, we need to use an OTG dongle to connect the iWork 10 with mobile storage or input devices. Microsoft did manage to include a full-size USB2.0 port on the even slimmer Surface RT, it is really a shame that Acube fail to do the same to the iWork 10.


Display and Sound


The 10.1-inch IPS screen has a 1,280 by 800 resolution. Although it is not as High-definition as the displays found on the iPad Air and some of the Android tablets, it still offers excellent color and contrast, as well as a very good viewing angle. You can even put the tablet down on a table to your side and still read text and view images clearly on the screen. Text is quite readable in Windows 8 UI-optimized apps, but if you view text on some apps in desktop mode, they may look small. That said, the screen is clear enough that you can still see the letters clearly. It's not going to win any awards for screen vibrancy, and certainly never going to challenge Retina, but it's good enough - and helps Microsoft keep the price down to a reasonable level.


Tapping, swiping, and prodding the screen was easy and accurate in on the Start screen and in Windows 8 UI optimized apps. It took a little more precision in desktop mode, which is where you'll use all the Windows programs that aren't optimized for Windows 8 mode. We had trouble tapping on small items and text on the screen before we got used to the sensitivity of the touch screen. This is par for the course for Windows 8 tablets, but if you're uneasy about working without a pointing device, you can purchase a stylus, I used the stylus that I bought along with the Acer Iconia W700 and it works perfectly on the iWork 10.


Sound from the system's speakers emerges through two apertures on the tablet's back. While there is the right amount of stereo effect and desirable volume, the richness of the sound is far less excellent than that produced by the Dolby-enabled speakers featured by the Acer W700. Still, the iWork 10 betters my Surface RT in both display and sound.



Software


The Acube iWork 10 ships with an inactivated version of Windows 8.1 (I have found a way to successfully activate it without being charged, lol). If you haven't yet read up on 8.1, I'd encourage you to check out the exhaustive screenshot tour, which breaks down not just the new UI features, but also the new built-in apps as well.


Speaking of new UI elements, you've probably heard by now about the "return" of the Start button. Indeed, there's now a Start button fixed in the lower-left corner of both the Start screen and the desktop, but clicking it just takes you back and forth from one to the other; if you were hoping for a return to the old-school fly-out menus, installing a third party software is the only solution. What's nice, though, is that Microsoft added an option to keep the same wallpaper for both your desktop and Start screen, so that the transition from one to the other feels less jarring; it almost looks like the Live Tiles are floating on top of your desktop. One of my favorite features, actually -- I suggest you try it out.


You can snap more than just two windows side by side on-screen, depending on the size and resolution of the display you're using. You also get more flexibility in terms of how much space every window takes up; it no longer has to be an 80/20 split. Other changes: You can take photos from the lock screen, and accept Skype calls too. Users now have more tile sizes to work with, including an extra-wide one and a tiny, quarter-sized one. You also have more options for arranging your app list, so that alphabetically isn't the only option.


The on-screen keyboard has received some neat shortcuts, which should be especially useful on all those smaller 8-inch tablets, which are easy to type on in portrait mode.


Search also works differently in Windows 8.1. For starters, you can do more just from the right-hand pane where the search results usually appear. From there, you can open apps, click on web results or even play music from the Xbox Music app. More importantly, perhaps, the OS can now create on-the-fly "apps" (for lack of a better word), which pull together all sorts of information on a given search result. For instance, a search for "China" would combine images, news, maps, a Wikipedia entry -- you name it. Just scroll through it from left-to-right inside the app, as it were, and when appropriate, you'll be redirected to other apps, like Maps.


Finally, Windows 8.1 adds a number of native applications, including Health & Fitness and Food & Drink, along with a calculator, alarm and sound recorder. Also, you'll want to check out the Photos app, even if you think you hate taking pictures on tablets: The app has gone from being spare and rudimentary, to actually offering some great editing features. My personal favorite is Color Enhance, which lets you adjust the color on a specific part of the photo using an intuitive on-screen dial. Definitely a must-see as you're giving yourself a tour around the new OS.


Running Windows 8.1 means that the iWork 10 is able to access all the windows compatible software, making it a much more productive device than the iPad, Surface RT or Android tablets. The HDMI port enables its user to connect the tablet to a much bigger display, which further enhances its productivity.

Besides, if somehow you decide that a Windows system is not what you want on a tablet, Acube will soon release an Android ROM for the iWork 10. And even better, you will probably be able to switch between both systems on one tablet.


Keyboard Covers



The Acube iWork 10 does not have a kickstand like the Surface does, thatís why I strongly recommend the buyers of this slate to buy the official keyboard along with the tablet.


The design of the Keyboard cover is brilliant, even more so than the tablet itself. The extended part can be folded into a stand when you need to use the iWork 10 as a laptop.


And unfolded it can then protect the back of your tablet.


The connection of the iWork 10ís Keyboard cover is similar to that of the Surface. The magnetic connector on the bottom edge of the tablet instantly catch hold of the optional keyboard cover, so that you never have to guide them in.


The keyboard is more similar to the Type Cover, rather than the Touch Cover of the Surface, because it does offer pretty desirable key press depth. I found that I could type quickly with a low error rate, though I never totally got used to the closeness of the keys. We wouldn't be surprised if you came to prefer the Touch Cover once you got used to it, and it only cost RMB399, which is about $66 in US dollars.




The Keyboard offers greater press depth than the Surface Touch Cover and the Bluetooth Keyboard of the Acer W700.



Performance




The iWork 10 comes with a quad-core Intel Atom Z3470D processor, 2GB of DDR3L memory, and the aforementioned 32GB of SSD storage. The combination resulted in a CINBench R10 score of 3,262 points, which is the top for Atom-powered tablets. The ThinkPad Tablet 2 (1,754 points) was slower due to its older dual-core Atom processor, and the Lenovo Miix 2 10í (3,303 points) scored close ahead of the iWork 10, since it shared an almost identical internal configuration. But the Acer W700, with its powerful i5 Processor, smashed them all with an astonishing 6898 points.


Sunspider, which tests Java performance, logged a result of 420.2ms on the iWork 10, putting it way ahead of the Surface RT (968.2ms), ThinkPad Tablet 2 (733.6ms), and 2013 version of Google Nexus 7(1141.9ms), closely behind the iPad Air (384.0) and Acer Iconia W700 (266.7ms).


The more graphically-intensive PeaceKeeper returned a score of 1012, which again put it way ahead of the Surface RT (329) and almost all the ARM-structured devices, but still no match for the 3516 points the Acer Iconia W700 delivered.

Essentially, if you've been holding out for a system that will perform like a full ultrabook laptop, the iWork 10 is as close as you can get while still using a power-sipping Atom processor.


In real world use, the iWork is extremely responsive, handling everything from scrolling through the start screen to opening image-heavy websites with speed. I havenít experienced unbearable lags and hiccups in the two weeks that I spent with it, though delays did occur on a couple of occasions while background tasks pile up. Yet, the iWork 10, with Windows 8.1 on it, is still much faster than most RK3188 Android tablets. Sometimes it feels even faster than the i5 powered Acer Iconia W700, as the later is obviously labored by its own 1080P display.


Battery Life


That energy-efficient processor helps the iWork 10 eke out an excellent 8 hours 11 minutes on our battery rundown test (720P Video Looping), which is virtually neck-and-neck with the Surface RT (9:04), and much more time than the Acer W700, which barely made it to five hours powring its 1080P display and hungry i5 processor. This means that the iWork 10 will easily entertain you beyond a normal workday, even if you use it as a laptop.



Verdict



If you are only looking for a media-consuming device, your money would probably be better spent on an Android tablet with a higher-resolution display, I can easily list a dozen of these tablets for you if you want me to. But if you do need a tablet for both entertainment and business use, and hope to keep your expenditure to just under $300 (before accessories), then the iWork 10 makes a strong argument for buying a Windows 8 tablet instead of a cheap laptop, Chromebook, first-generation Apple iPad mini, or Android tablet. It is able to access the full Windows-compatible app library and will work with the same browser plug-ins as your home laptop. The skimpy leftover free storage does concern us quite a bit, but it should be on your short list if you have access to a 64GB micro SD card to shove into the iWork 10's expansion slot.


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Maduro78
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Screen looks awesome

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jupiter2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maduro78 View Post
Screen looks awesome

Sent from my HTC6500LVW using Tapatalk
The screen is good, but not as high-def as many of the Android tabs, I think it is nice they put overall performance before the screen.
 
jupiter2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maduro78 View Post
Screen looks awesome

Sent from my HTC6500LVW using Tapatalk
I think Win8 tablet will dominate the market eventually.

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oile
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Thanks for your accurate review!
Very interesting device
..:: LG OPTIMUS 3D ::.. ICS
 
jupiter2012
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Thanks a lot for reading.

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wangyiling
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Thumbs up awesome tablet

hope android rom
 
jupiter2012
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Originally Posted by wangyiling View Post
hope android rom
Thanks a lot!

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10.1-inch, intel quad-core, ips, tablet, windows 8
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