The Onda V975m

This isn’t a tablet I’m interested in. I’m posting about it only because I had to revise my iFive 3 post due to it.

OndaV975mSplash
Click = big

This is 9.7-inch Retina-class tablet using the new Amlogic M802 quad-core CPU allegedly running — if you believe’s Onda’s hype, and you shouldn’t — at 2GHz, with 2GBs of RAM, and an octa-core Mali 450 GPU.

I note it only because it’s set a new record for a Retina-class 9.7-inch — for now — of a 30,000-range score in AnTuTu 4.x.

But if you’re looking for a Chinese tablet with a 9.7-inch Retina-class screen, my advice is to avoid it.

First, and perhaps most importantly, Onda has drastically changed Android into something resembling iOS. The widget screens are gone. Like the iPad, there’s a screen of app icons, period. There’s no App Drawer button, just one for Home.

OndaV975MAndroidHome2

Quoting from the review at IMP3Net [Google Translate]:

V975m quad-core is equipped with its release along ONDA ROM, ROM’s new UI makes this had an impact on the visual contrast with the past UI can be described as a world of difference. UI similar to the overall style and iOS, using a non-desktop design, there is no secondary program menu, all programs are tiled on the desktop, you can create folders to sort and organize the program.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

This is Onda’s new “Onda ROM” initiative, seeking to differentiate itself from other tablets — and to cravenly mimic Apple. Who knows what havoc this will wreak? This new ROM is also present in their iPad Mini clones. Anyone who likes widgets that update is just out of luck. (It’s interesting that Onda is taking this approach while Samsung is going in the opposite direction and nearly burying apps!)

Second, Onda is throttling the tablet in two ways. The first is the CPU is actually generally running at 1.6GHz. It can achieve a max of 1.9GHz — never a clear 2GHz as hyped — only sometimes, when demanding games are run. Another way the tablet is throttled is the UI frame rate setting being lower than the CPU and GPU can handle, leading to some stuttering. Perhaps Onda is doing these things for the sake of battery life but they seem screwy — even sketchy — on the face of it. Maybe these are things that will be fixed in a future ROM update. Who knows and who can tell?

Quoting from IMP3Net:

[AnTuTu] detection display processor up to 1.99GHz, but according to the actual test users, the majority of the processor’s clock speed is usually around 1.6GHz, rarely reach the state of maximum frequency.

And:

… in the new version of the firmware, the frames of the main interface seems locked in a 30FPS, that feeling will be some dropped frames and when the sliding screen transition animations, In the settings interface can indeed go to 52FPS.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Third, the ports require special cables. The USB charging port is deeper than other tablets, requiring a special bundled USB cable. The same is true for the micro (not mini) HDMI-out port (although no such cable is included).

The review at IMP3Net catches the unusual cable:

V975m four core accessories much, only charger, data cable and the necessary instructions and warranty card. Note that, V975m quad-core equipped with special data cable, data cable plug slightly longer than normal, common data line is unable to charge and transfer data, you need to pay attention to take good care of its own data cable.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

And the microHDMI-out port problem:

But it is not too pleasing interface design, interface design mainly because too deep, in addition to micro USB interfaces, HDMI interfaces also have this problem, you need to use a special wire, but the headphone jack is no problem, you can use standard headphones.

Fourth, I have a suspicion that the new Rockchip 3288 is going to hit the 40,000-range in AnTuTu. This suspicion is based on untranslated marketing material I’ve seen that I hope — if I can get it translated — to post about later.

Meanwhile, here’s the AnTuTu 4.x score from IMP3Net:

OndaV975MAnTuTu

Onda’s page for the V975M with full specs.

PadNews has an unboxing and disassembly post [Google Translate]. Despite splaying the tablet’s guts, they missed the special USB cable.

Those who are still interested can see this forum post by iambillbil [Google Translate]. He’s kind of a tablet maniac and buys many of them to post about. Having read his posts for months now, he seems to have a good knowledge of what he’s writing about even if he was once wrong about the octa-core Exynos 5410.

I will not be writing about this tablet again. So you’re on your own after this.

Update Thursday February 13 2014: The above AnTuTu score is likely fraudulent. See: The Onda V975M: Not All That?

20 Comments

Filed under Android

20 responses to “The Onda V975m

  1. tito

    Nice blog!
    I’ll have a daily visit to it in order to get some more information about chinese tablets.
    We all know that their amazing specs not always match their performance so it’s nice to read opinions of people like you about it.

    I’m tired of saying tablets that according to their specs are great but often have problems with quality of speakers, mic, wireless or lags due to a too high resolution for the cpu/gpu they decided to use.

    However I’m tempted to buy this Onda because I could get it brand new for around €150 but after reading your post now I have even more doubts…

  2. Roman

    For a while about a year or so ago I had the perspective that Onda was a “top-tier” (for China at least) manufacturer and I did have significantly less quality issues with their products. I don’t really hold that perspective anymore…. :(

  3. Tito

    Why would you avoid Onda products? Some bad experience related to the quality of the hardware or just software?
    Can we say that their quality controls are really bad or maybe it was only bad luck on the devices that you guys owned?

    Thanks

    • mikecane

      Having read Chinese forums all this time, Onda is repeatedly cited as not being a very good brand for: build quality, software quality {modifying Android), and especially customer service.

  4. @ Tito – I am actually a retailer so I tend to handle a lot of units from a lot of different Chinese brands… There have been some “good” manufacturers I have just gotten some bad batches from… yes that happens… but there are some manufacturers I just don’t bother with at all anymore… Cube probably tops that list, followed shortly by Ainol (their early production run stuff is always junk as they like to beta test on early adopters… they, like cube, also tend to release 4+ revisions of the same EXACT product… fragmenting their firmware and confusing customers…) PiPo almost made my bad list when we were dealing with the M3 (shudder… lots of quality issues) but they are back in my good graces albeit I am cautious … Genius… usually junk… Freelander… .also Junk… and Onda… as of the last 8+ months or so… has been a lot of junk unfortunately :(. Currently more towards the top of my list are FNF iFive (at the very top), Ployer (although they have had a few bad models, but their QC is usually quite good), and yes PiPo is on my list (their products have a cool factor that Ainol kind of goes for but they have better QC and aren’t as evil…). Teclast I have had mixed results from, Hyundai had some interesting stuff for a while… That pretty much sums it up… I just tested a bargain unit from a manufacturer called KNC… it was surprisingly really nice but they stopped production like the next week :(. That is the issue with smaller companies. They might not produce something but for 3 – 6 months…. Anyhow, anymore I say you should consider the actual model first… not blindly follow any one Mfr or Brand because they all go up and down and even the best make duds every now and then. Model first, then take the Mfr into consideration, particularly for Quality Control and aftermarket support (like how often and well they release stock firmware updates…). Regards…

    • tito

      Thanks a lot for your reply Ronan.
      It’s always appreciated to see honest advices from someone who had the chance to test or get feedback from so many models and brands.

      What are your thoughts about Ramos?
      My first chinese tablets is the Ramos i9. Everything is great except the mic, which sucks if you are using it without headphones plugged in and I have the feeling that it’s not only my unit but every Ramos i9.
      Other than that the Ramos i9 seems to be pretty good, but I probably will sell it because although the battery life is good according to some users who have experience with other chinese tablets, I think it should be better so I probably will end up buying the LG G Pad 8.3 or maybe the long awaited Nexus 10.

  5. M. Smith

    I had an Onda Vi40 which had little to no support from Onda in terms of firmware updates so it was a dead end product. So for me, buying Onda is once bitten, twice shy.

    I’m with you Mike, if you don’t need anything right now, you might as well wait for tablets with the RK3288 SoC.

    In my mind, priorities when choosing a ChinaPad come down to this (#1 being the most important).

    1. SoC
    2. RAM
    3. Storage speed (there’s a good topic on this currently over at SD: http://www.slatedroid.com/topic/101657-androbench-test-results/#entry1154457)
    4. Community Support
    5. Battery size
    6. Screen quality (note I didn’t say resolution)
    7. Firmware update history of the manufacturer
    8. Cost
    9. Antenna performance (WiFi/BT/GPS)
    10. Inputs (card reader, HDMI out, etc.)
    11. Outputs (speakers, camera, etc.)
    12. Form factor (7″ vs. 8″ vs. 9.7″, etc.)

    BTW, the necessity of this tablet model needing a “special” USB cable is “exhibit A” of why people should stay far away from this model. If a manufacturer is ignorant enough to design an outer casing in which the depth of the USB port is botched so bad to necessitate a special cable, Lord knows what l travesties lay beyond.

  6. bobb

    I currently own an onda V972 (since jan of 2013) and an ainol fire (first batch that came out), and have no problems with either of them.
    There are a number of developers creating roms for them, and in the case of the V972, it received an early update to 4.4 kitkat. Onda appears to update the roms for many of their “older” tablets.

    At these prices, they are basically “throwaway tablets”, good for a year or two, then give them to your kids, and buy a new one. I think the quality/value for the price is quite reasonable.

    Just purchased an iFIve mini3 and am sure it will do nicely for reading and surfing.

    • mikecane

      >>>good for a year or two

      Should they last that long.

      • bobb

        Both are still running strong and i see no reason to suspect that they won’t continue to do so.
        The nice thing about them is you can root them and get rid of all the crap (write your own roms if you’re so inclined).
        Also, you can actually take them apart and upgrade the batteries for longer use.

        The technology changes so fast, that you can buy new and better for cheaper in a year or two. So why pay big bucks for the best now, when it will be old in a year? It’s a “no win” game.

        At 50 cents a day for cost, it’s pretty easy to buy a new one every year…

        Have you actually owned any of these tablets? And worked with them for any length of time?

        Am interested in what tablets you actually own/owned mike?

        Don’t know about you guys, but I’m not trying to break any encryption algorithms with mine, nor develop games on them.

        Just sayin…

      • mikecane

        >>>At 50 cents a day for cost, it’s pretty easy to buy a new one every year…

        People don’t generally average out the cost like that. And again, you’ve had a good experience. Several people I know have not. When a tablet that cost $300 dies within 90 days, it’s not a 50-cent-a-day average for them.

        >>>Have you actually owned any of these tablets? And worked with them for any length of time?

        I don’t need to. I can read forum posts from owners as well as anyone else to see what’s going on in the real world, outside of compromised Chinese tech site “reviews.”

        And there was Oma. You’ve heard of him? He devoted a *lot* of time to refining ROMs for the Chuwi V88 (and other RK3188-based tablets). Then his own V88 died suddenly. And thus ended the ROMs.

  7. bobb

    It could also be the usual “people only speak when they’re unhappy”.
    I have never before posted about the good experience I have had with my tablets.

    Anyways, I am willing to take the chance with the mini 3, will have to post back in a few months to give an update on how it works out.

    Happy blogging!

    • mikecane

      The thing is, even in China the domestic makers are held in general contempt and people refuse to buy certain brands because of the history they’ve had with them.

      Are you getting the Retina Mini 3? Would like to know how that works out.

  8. bobb

    Just getting the regular one, don’t like paying over $200 for a tablet.
    The retina ones are pre-order, so don’t really know the final price.

    Won’t purchase a tablet unless it can be rooted first, so never “first to buy”.
    Don’t like my tablets leaking personal info.

  9. Pingback: Table Cinesi – Tablet Cinesi Economici -Tablet cinesi top di gamma: Onda V975m

  10. Peter Ong

    I just bought my wife V975m and I use more often then her for 1 month now :) It has the latest v1.0.7 rom so I guess it’s manufactured in Jan/Feb 2014
    The built quality is fine, the touch screen is abv average compared to other Chinese tablets. However, the battery drain do quickly. In idle sleep mode, it took off 20% in the morning from 100% before I went to bed, fully charged.
    2nd thing, it took almost half GB of RAM for the system used and left you with only 1.4Gb to run with your apps!
    To mikecane:
    Sometimes, the built quality & other issues came from the reseller/ distributors: they either don give you the latest original hatches or they give you some used/demo sets in new original packaging. Sometimes they even give you refurbished version. This could happen since for end user, the warranty came from them and not from Manufacturer, there’s no way for you to contact the authenticated source.

  11. iasuka

    Hi guys,

    Just a word from another actual owner of the Onda v973.

    On the one hand, the tabled works. Build quality seems to be pretty good, battery is OK. It’s usable, no questions about it. Retina screen is whopping good – it clearly is the tablet’s selling point. It’s really good for reading fine text, no question about it.

    On the other hand, there are multitude of small but pesky issues such as unusual USB cable used for charging the battery. It just keeps breaking. I have already replaced it six time (and have to modify it every time for the tablet). Also note that cable should be capable of 2A current for charging, otherwise you will get only 0.5A charging current and will be stuck with minimum 5-6 hours to fully charge the battery.
    To add to the above, official firmware is far from being top-notch. And worst of all (for me) is general jerkiness of the interface. It’s just not pleasant to use, even when comparing to other android devices.

    All in all – this one is clearly budget retina screen solution, for those who just can’t afford retina iPad or similarly good Android tablet. My next tablet will clearly be iPad – nothing can’t beat that for sleekness and fluency of interface, with screen being just as good.

    • mikecane

      >>>or similarly good Android tablet

      Who else is putting out a 9.7-inch 4:3 aspect ratio tablet outside of Chinese manufacturers? No one. That’s also why people buy it and others. Market demand.

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