What’s in a brand? When my 10 year old broke his $350 Google Nexus 7 tablet, I set out to find an alternative that would cause less pain to my pocket if the replacement tablet also ended up being dropped. I discovered an absolute gem for just $108!

The Chuwi Hi8 - Dual-boot, hi-res and a fast processor for $108!
The Chuwi Hi8 – Dual-boot, hi-res and a fast processor for $108!

Summary:
Excellent quality and performance. Genuinely surprised at the ‘bang for bucks’ this unit delivers. In fact, it outperforms our other tablets that have cost up to four times the price of this unit!

The Detail:
I’ve previously bought electronics and clothing direct from Chinese suppliers. The electronics have proved to be great value while the clothes tend to be a lot more variable – but that’s another story for another time!

My 10 year old is addicted to Minecraft. He loves it! But for any parent not familiar with the game, chill out! It really is a great way to stimulate imagination and creativity. When he came to me with a shattered screen on his Nexus, I initially did the ‘parent thing’ and told him he wasn’t getting a replacement ‘until he could look after it’! That lasted about a day before I let him play using my phone. That quickly progressed to my 10″ tablet which lead to my search for his new tablet!

I was confronted with either expensive good or low-tech cheap options when searching locally.  Anything under $150 had either a dual-core or slow quad core processor, a maximum of 1GB of RAM and just 8GB of memory. Reasonable performance started to kick in around $225.00 but, at that level, the screen resolution was still only 1024×768. I headed to the internet and China…

Perhaps a bit cheekily, I did a search on ‘tablet + highest resolution + <$150 + China’ and then started working through. I had not considered a dual-boot tablet. In fact, I expected them to be way beyond my budget yet here was this – apparently – high-end model for just $108.

Basic specs:
8 inch P+G Capacitive Touch Screen, 1920*1200 FHD
OS: Windows 8.1 + Android 4.4
CPU: Intel Z3736F Quad Core X86
Storage: 2GB RAM/ 32GB ROM
Dual Camera Front 0.3MP Rear 2.0MP
OTG/ Bluetooth 4.0/ WIFI

I kept reading the specs with great skepticism! I messaged the supplier to confirm that the resolution really was 1920×1200. Yep, confirmed! (For the technophiles, that’s 283PPI.)

I had bought two excellent Lenovo phones from the same supplier previously and was confident that my money wouldn’t disappear without trace. So I ordered thinking I had little to lose since the tablet was only going to be used for Minecraft!

Chuwi Hi8 dual-boot tablet
Their photographer is a lot better than me 🙁

I opted for the free postage yet the unit still arrived in just 17 days after ordering.

It was well packed in an outer carton and then double wrapped in bubble plastic. The retail packaging was very high quality such that you could present this as a gift to anyone.

We have an iPad Mini, an Acer Iconia TAB, an Asus T-100, a PendoPad and a (now dead) Nexus 7 in the home and this is better quality than any of them. Good feel, no flex, excellent finish!

The dual-boot system is incredibly easy to use allowing rapid switching from Android to Windows and back.

Performance is also better than I expected, regardless of price. The earlier Intel Trial Bay chip had a reputation for being a bit sluggish but this latest version is very fast, no doubt helped by the 2GB of RAM that comes standard.

The unit also comes with 32GB of storage but I discovered about 24GB of that is swallowed up by the two operating systems 🙁 Since Android is fairly lean, I’ll blame Win 8.1 and hope that the free Win 10 upgrade is leaner! The good news is that the TF slot can handle another 64GB of memory! (BTW, the Android OS is also upgradeable to V5.1.)

Cameras are adequate but relatively low-res by today’s standards but your phone is more likely to be your camera anyway!

The unit does not have a GPS but, once again, my phone does and I’m far more likely to carry that than a tablet.

Faults? I’ve yet to find any! But I do have one disappointment… the adaptor pins are wrong for Australia!

Wrong pins!
Wrong pins!

But given the plethora of USB charging options in this household, that’s hardly a negative. And I’m quite certain a complaint would see the correct adaptor delivered pronto.

Finally, the supplier, Pandawill, has service agreements with local agents in most countries. Good to know but the warranty doesn’t cover 10 year olds and their accidents 🙂

Here’s my video review which is a lot more comprehensive…

Have you had any experience with the Chuwi brand or with Pandawill? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!

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