The Micromax Funbook Gets Reviewed
When you think of the Indian mobile space, you can’t help but also ponder over budget- friendly handset makers, among which Micromax stands apart. Starting from its QWERTY phones like the Q5 or Q35 to making Akshay Kumar as its brand ambassador, it has always enjoyed a distinct rank among other low-end Indian phone manufacturers. The Micromax Funbook tries to capture that market segment which may be looking buy their first Tablet PC but are not ready to shell out much.
The Funbook is an Android 4.0 device that may just be what the Indian consumers were looking for in the sub 8k segment. Some of its specifications are as follows
- 7 inch capacitive touchscreen (800×480 resolution)
- HDMI slot, mini USB slot, 3.5 mm headset port
- 1.2 GHz Dual Core A8 Processor with Mali400 GPU
- Front facing camera
- WiFi b/g
- 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage
- 32GB MicroSD card slot
- 2800mAh battery
The tablet is all plastic made. The back of the tablet doesn’t give you any cheap material feel while holding. I think it is quite decent, what’s disappointing is the quality of screen panel used here. It doesn’t really give you feel-good experience. This deducts some point for the tablet considering that screen is the interface to interact with a tablet and Micromax still needed to provide a much better panel material for it. On the contrary, the video playback is surprisingly good. Company claims it can play 2160p (also known as ultra HD). Yes, it can play those seriously-high resolution videos but the screen resolution makes all things appear dull. No need to add that viewing angles aren’t much of an help either. I really wish Micromax gave a little more thought over the screen and its picture quality.
The processor under the hood is more than what would you expect t this price point. Coupled with that Mali GPU, it does give a good impression when you play those HD videos (again, screen type fades it out a bit) and flip through the Menu and widgets. One point I would like to highlight here – after booting in, the tablet took a really long amount of time to give a smooth touch response as it is supposed to. The lockscreen took an unusual amount of time and almost 2-3 minutes into the boot process that I could start working on it. The screen supports multi-touch response and the processor did a fairly smooth job in handling such multi-touch gestures and flipping through the widgets and homescreens. Web browsing, on the other hand, was annoying to say the least. I used the native Android 4.0 browser and it was a pain to use that browser on this tablet to get your work done. Heck, even the simple task of opening up a new tab after a Google search took a considerable amount of time to complete. The multi-touch never really worked while surfing through the web (in the native browser, again). Considering how much web browsing makes for an experience on a tablet, this could well be the deal breaker. Coming on to the physical buttons, on the right hand side, there are three buttons – volume rockers and lock/shut down button. The buttons are needed to be pressed quite hard. You may press them casually expecting to unlock the screen but it will only keep you waiting. The buttons are expectedly of low quality but with a prolonged usage, you are likely to get used to it, then again this isn’t a high end tablet req. Moving further, on the front there’s trio of buttons which includes Home button, back and options button which are of good quality, I wish Micromax had used something similar for the volume and power buttons. On the bottom sits the HDMI port, mini USB, 3.5 mm audio jack and micro SD card slot. The tablet weighs about 250 gram, making it really convenient to carry around. You can use it as an E-reader because of the portability it offers with that screen size. It conveniently fits in your hand.
The top and left sides are plain with no buttons mounted on them. As soon as you hold the tablet, you will realize how thick that bezel is. It is so much of wastage of space that could have been given to the screen. Anyways, overall hardware packed in is decent enough. For the price, you can’t expect Samsung like hardware! Just needs some fine tuning!
The lack of a rear camera does hurt. A 1.3MP or 2MP camera could definitely have been thought of for integration with this tablet. Only a VGA front facing camera is somewhat stiff in terms of real world usage. Here’s an opportunity that Micromax lost to stand out in the quickly crowding budget tablet market. I’m however glad that there’s at least a front facing camera to use for those video chats! The quality of the camera is quite decent for a VGA sensor.
The Tablet also allows for browsing the internet by connecting a 3G dongle to the tablet via MiniUSB to USB cable. Perfect thing to have in case you need to use the internet and there’s no WiFi around.
Micromax Funbook runs on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with hardly any UI layers put over it, which is a good thing. ICS is an upgrade that converges both smartphones and tablets and that’s what everyone was waiting for. Thumbs up to Micromax for straight away coming up with an ICS tablet rather than Honeycomb. There are five homescreens/pages in this OS. These are more usable and feature-rich than what Gingerbread or even Honeycomb used to offer.
You can put as many as many as 16 icons (in a 4×4 grid view). If you want to delete a folder or shortcut icon, long-press it and you will automatically get an option to ‘Remove’ that from the screen. On the left hand side-bottom of the screen, there are three buttons placed – Back, Home and Multitask.
The Back button will take you to the previous Menu/screen. Hitting the Home button will take you straight to the centre-most homescreen, which can be quite handy at times you go and mess up about where you wanted to end up in the Menu. The Multitask button is there to show what all apps/widgets you have opened are currently running.
All the running apps are shown in a vertical line and you can swipe them rightwards in order to dislodge them from that multitask view (remind me of WebOS); this may not necessarily close/exit apps. Also, a three-dot button named as action-overflow button comes into the picture as soon as you enter an app. It depends on the app, or the context menu, whether that button appears or not. It is basically an options button for the opened app. I got to say this; there is some fluidity in Menu when you scroll through it, definitely right step for Android on tablets. The Funbook is good enough to do casual gaming. I was able to play Angry Birds and likes without any lags or frame rate hiccups. The touch response is not the best, and understandably so, but it’s not the worst, too. The screen, again allows for reading and gaming without getting the feeling of holding too much in your hands. Micromax has loaded some of its own apps and also a content store. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able get any sort of content out of it.
Not sure if this was just on my unit or if Micromax is yet to bring up any stuff for the users. Some of the categories included are – Education, Games and Apps. You have to sign up for the service and it should supposedly get started that way. Anyways, any user getting this sub8k Tablet gets value for money simply because it’s a 1.2Ghz dual core processor tablet with ICS out of the box, at a time when the only ICS tablet from a major manufacturer is a 50k purchase. There is definitely a lot of coherence in the whole OS and though, there are physical buttons on the top, I hardly used them. Since the hardware isn’t ‘old’ and is running ICS, you definitely will be able to do quite a bit out of the box!
A 2800 mAh battery seems paltry at first for a tablet, considering the Galaxy Note has a 2500mAh battery. While that’s true, I really was able to squeeze a good amount of usable time out of it. If you are traveling and quite frequently, this might let you down a bit. With my usage I was able to squeeze about 5 hours (continuous WiFi and casual gaming). Over a staggered usage it should last for an evening, needing charge for the next day! I do hope there’s another version or some accessory to boost the standby times and increase time between charges.
Micromax has done a good enough job here. One good thing is not promoting and it as a threat to iPads and Transformers of the Tablet World. The tablet is meant for a distinct audience and will definitely bring in the numbers for them. I can’t really compare this with any of the tablets from the major manufacturers as this is a mass market product, priced quite low. For a tablet, it does what you’d expect from it. There’s a bit of refinement needed, but then that’s all software and therefore possible to implement here in the near future. The touchscreen does leave a bit to be desired, but I can’t really complain at this price point. At the current price it seems to be a great device for entertainment and reading. Perfect for when you’d like to have all that but are on a tight budget!
A competent product for the price it is retailing at. Unbeatable value for money proposition.
I’m keen to see what Micromax does with a sub Rs.15k tablet!