The Teclast P98 Air and Onda V989 are both using the octa-core Allwinner A80 CPU with 2GBs of RAM, 32GBs of internal storage, USB 3.0, and a 9.7-inch Retina-class screen. Aside from the styling of their cases — the Teclast tablet is more of flat slab while the Onda is sloping like an iPad Air — is there much difference between the two?
Tablet wonk iambillbil in the IMP3Net forum does a hardware evaluation of the Teclast P98 Air and compares it to the Onda V989 he previously evaluated [Google Translate].
iambillbil’s evaluations are often more thorough than formal reviews. When he doesn’t hold back, his evaluations are nearly a gold standard for assisting in buying decisions.
It must be kept in mind, however, that Chinese tablets are in a state of flux, unlike tablets from global brands such as Apple, Asus, Samsung, and the like. While global brands will push out a firmware update one to perhaps three times in a year, Chinese tablets can see three (or more) firmware revisions within their first two months of release!
So, despite what iambillbil has published now, things can change within two months. What often happens is that competing tablets reach a state of parity, making a buying decision coming down to taste: Does this tablet look better than others?
This is why Chinese tablet makers create custom skins for Android (Teclast does tUI, Onda does Onda ROM). They try to create some sense of differentiation other than the styling of their cases. Sometimes a tablet maker will go further — as Teclast is doing by putting split-screening in the Intel-based X98 3G (a feature I’d like to see them add to the P98 Air, but I have zero hope for that).
With that as prelude, iambillbil’s hardware comparison reveals:
1) The Teclast P98 Air has a brighter backlight (forum Comments say Onda has reached parity with a firmware update)
2) The Teclast P98 Air has a shorter battery life — due to the higher backlighting; when screen brightness is adjusted to match the Onda V989, the battery life is about equal
3) Both do ten-point multitouch, with Onda subjectively feeling better — but Teclast can close this gap with a firmware update
4) Speaker volume is about equal although other users report their individual V989 tablets vary
5) The Teclast has a longer boot time (again, firmware could fix that)
6) The Onda V989 does better in a WiFi torture test, being stronger than the P98 Air
7) Internal read/write times for the Teclast are about the same as the V989
8) The Onda V989 does better with wired HDMI output (again, firmware)
9) The Onda V989 has a gyroscope, the Teclast P98 Air does not
10) The Teclast camera software is feature-rich but the 13MP camera isn’t as good as 8MP cameras from major brands such as Apple or Samsung; perhaps firmware will improve things. The Onda V989 has an 8MP camera.
11) The big surprise is that there is very little difference in Geekbench scores between the octa-core Allwinner A80 and the Intel Z3735. See (click for very large):
That basically confirms what I’ve been saying all along. That despite Rockchip and Allwinner hyping the hell out of their CPUs — and goosing AnTuTu scores — this new generation of tablets will satisfy most people for most needs. Sharp differences only really exist with things such as camera quality, the native ability to handle certain non-mainstream video file formats, available ports, and certain sensors. Even battery life can be managed via backlight settings.
Since I have no interest in games, people who require a tablet to play large games need to pay attention to compatibility issues. It’s been shown that, at post time, both the Intel and Allwinner CPUs have issues with some games. Rockchip is the most compatible. Again, these are issues that might be fixed with firmware updates.
These issues become clearer in iambillbil’s performance evaluation, later in this post.
12) Oddly, both the Teclast P98 Air and the Onda V989 exhibit a phenomena I can’t decipher in Google Translate, having to do with when they’re being charged. A user in Comments points out this is a hardware and not a firmware problem; not all Onda V989 tablets exhibit it. So this could be a component or quality control matter, which introduces a random gambling element into buying until it’s been fixed.
As for screen brightness of the Teclast P98 Air, a user in Comments points out that version 2.0 of the Onda V989 firmware boosted the brightness. So it could be equal to that of the P98 Air, but iambillbil no longer has the V989 and can’t compare them.
In the end, iambillbil concludes that, given future firmware updates, the machines will be about equal. And in Comments, iambillbil personally prefers the X98 Air 3G (although he owns a CUBE Talk 9x, which he likes).
I want to note that I’ve seen AnTuTu scores for the P98 Air that range from 51,000 to 66,000. I think when it comes to the Allwinner A80, all AnTuTu scores should be ignored, period. Clearly cheating is involved. Even Rockchip has been caught at it this time. I’d compare them using the Geekbench score — which shows there’s really not much difference between the A80, RK3288, and Intel Z3735.
Now to iambillbil’s performance evaluation [Google Translate].
Graphics performance (click all to enlarge):
1) Teclast still has firmware optimization to do. The only one handicapped is Intel, with its less-powerful GPU. But it’s questionable if people could tell the difference in actual use.
2) System fluency — frames per second — of the UI is a wash. A80, RK3288, Intel Z3735 all deliver about the same performance.
Next is PDF reading performance, using EZPDF. This is of personal interest to me since my primary tablet use will be to read massive Google Books PDFs.
The Onda V989 score is very impressive. But Teclast will likely match it as they optimize the firmware. Anyway, what exactly does it mean? And what kind of PDF did iambillbil use? As I saw again just recently, it seems no matter what hardware is thrown at Android, PDF performance is sub-optimal for my purposes. So while the Onda V989 PDF score seems impressive, I remain very skeptical about what it means to me.
I’m going to skip the games section because it’s of no interest to me. See it at the forum post.
In terms of video, this is the AnTuTu test chart. Good luck:
It must be noted that in past posts that used this test, people objected, saying it doesn’t reflect the real world. So I wouldn’t recommend basing a buying decision on it.
Here’s additional video playback information, which shows the weakness of the Intel CPU and GPU:
iambillbil concludes by pointing out the key issues with the Teclast P98 Air. All of which he believes can be fixed with updated firmware.
Personally, I’m beginning to think Android can’t handle Google Books PDFs to my satisfaction. I have to two tests I want to do before coming to a final conclusion: The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the new upcoming HTC/Google Nexus tablet (if it’s 4:3 aspect ratio).
For anyone else, this latest generation of tablets from China should be satisfactory. There are less performance differences here than the prior generation which used Actions 7029, Allwinner A31s, and Rockchip 3188 CPUs.
iambillbil also does an appearance evaluation of the P98 Air here [Google Translate]. This has nothing to do with comparing it with the Onda V989 but should still be seen for those interested in the P98 Air.
The inside of the P98 Air can be seen in a series of photos posted at Baidu [Google Translate]. There’s no yellow tape, but black tape is evident. The design is otherwise quite clean for a domestic China tablet.
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Busted: How The Onda V989 Gets Its Unbelievable AnTuTu Score
Launder Alert! Onda V989 Review Written By Onda
Onda V989 Gets A Third Review
Onda iPad V989
Onda V989: “Worst Tablet Ever”
Onda V989: Video
Onda V989 Gets Second Review
Root Onda V975i & Onda V989
Onda V989: Customized Firmware
Onda V989 Disassembled
Onda V989: Third Hardware Revision
The Onda V989 Factory
Onda V989: iambillbil Evaluation
Onda V989 Press Material Laundered
Onda V989: 1.0.2 Firmware, Root
OndaBBS Now Works, V989 Beta User Posts
Onda V989 Firmware 1.0.1 AnTuTu
Onda V989: Release Of Firmware 1.0.1
Onda V989 Updated User Report, Benchmarks And Videos
Video: Onda V989 Vs. Xiaomi MiPad With PDFs
Onda V989 Gets First Review
Demo Video Of Onda V989
Behind The Scenes Peek At Onda V989 Packing
Onda Acknowledges Two Iterations Of V989
First User Reports: Onda V989
Onda “Sells Out” Second Tiny V989 Beta Test Supply
Onda Makes Battery Life Claim For V989
Onda Ships Beta Test V989 Tablets
Onda “Sells Out” Tiny V989 Beta Test Supply
Onda Adds V989 To Their Site
Onda V989 Goes On Beta Test Sale July 14th
Onda’s Benchmark Claims For V989 A80-Based Tablet
Onda Leaks Allwinner A80-Based V989