Chuwi Vi10 Plus Review!

It’s been a little over a year since Chuwi first announced the Chuwi Vi10. In the intervening period, they have released a myriad of other good devices such as the Hi10 and Hi12, with some of them aimed towards Surface alternatives. Just this past July 28th, Chuwi has announced and released their new iteration of the Chuwi Vi10, the Chuwi Vi10 Plus.While some might think that this is a simple chipset update to the Chuwi Vi10, they are wrong. Not only is the chipset updated, but the screen size has been upped from a 10.1” screen to a 10.8” 3:2 aspect ratio screen, coincidentally (or not so much) the exact same screen the Surface 3 uses. I’ve used the Surface 3 before and the display was quite lovely. An obvious shot at the Surface 3, the Vi10 Plus is three times cheaper for the tablet alone but runs slightly slower hardware. It has been marketed as a Surface 3 killer and could potentially fulfill that role if Chuwi plays their cards right. That’s not all. The Chuwi Vi10 will be Chuwi’s first device to run Remix OS 2.0 and one of the first devices to release with Remix OS 2.0 preinstalled. The final tidbits following this Chuwi Vi10 Plus are the accessory options available to this device. There are two keyboard options available, one in the style of the Chuwi Vi10 with a foldable case, and the second being a transformer type keyboard. Chuwi’s track record for releasing tablets has traditionally been excellent, so here’s hoping the Chuwi Vi10 Plus continues that tradition.

Build Quality


When it comes to design, Chuwi has gone for familiar, but subtly so. It is unmistakably a Chuwi tablet but there is a sense of newness that accompanies this tablet. Because the Chuwi Vi10 Plus uses the Surface 3’s screen, the form factor is instantly similar to its Microsoft namesake. If I’m honest, a 10.8” 3:2 tablet is awkward to use sometimes, especially when it weighs over one pound (half a kg). Your arm gets tired quickly as you try to hold on to something with such an awkward ratio; this causes the center of gravity on the tablet to extend farther away from the edges than traditional tablets.

That’s not to say that this tablet isn’t well constructed or feels premium, as the Chuwi Vi10 Plus is forged from an aluminum frame that gives the tablet some serious sturdiness and really resembles the gray version of the Chuwi Hi12.

The array of ports are found on the left side, and included is a USB C port, which is a welcome addition to this device. In a world where devices are getting thinner, ports are being taken out and physical connectivity is rarer and rarer. Sadly, Chuwi seems to be following this trend.

There are actually two keyboard options available to the Chuwi Vi10 Plus. There is a keyboard cover style option in the fashion of the Chuwi Vi10 and the Cube i9, and a magnetic transformer style dock option that I much prefer. I only was able to obtain the keyboard cover keyboard, and it’s actually pretty similar to the Chuwi Vi10’s keyboard.


It snaps into the tablet easily and is not shaken off without significant effort. There is still the felt fabric that adorns the entire case. While I definitely love how this fabric feels, it picks up dust, dirt, water; you name it like nobody’s business. I spend more time cleaning off dirt from this cover than I do typing on it, so that gives you an idea of how easily it attracts dirt. The typing experience is quite likeable. After using a ton of ultrabook keyboards and magnetic docking keyboards, the key travel on this seems bottomless. It has at least twice to three times the key travel on the new Macbook and almost twice the key travel of the Hi12. The keys themselves have a crispy spring back that is a rarity amongst portable device keyboards.

The trackpad is larger than the Chuwi Vi10’s trackpad, partly due to the height of the tablet (the 3:2 aspect ratio is more square). It is responsive, but Remix still has some kinks to work out regarding trackpad operation in Android. The cover holds up the tablet by folding into a triangle at the base of the tablet, a little different from the previous Chuwi Vi10, but the same principle.

The disadvantages of this type of stand have been well documented; it’s next to impossible to use this on one’s lap and should only ever be used on a table. It only has one viewing angle and cannot be adjusted.

Display



The bold, lively, 10.8” display looks incredible. The Full HD (1920×1080) resolution fills the screen from edge to edge and makes it rather tough to see individual pixels from a tablet distance. When using it on the table with a keyboard, it is even harder to differentiate. Even the Macbook has a lower pixel density than the Surface 3.

As mentioned before, the screen reproduces some extremely accurate and lively colours. Flipping through pictures really brings each scene to life as the screen contrasts the colours in such a way only a good screen can. What it lacks in saturation (compared to an AMOLED display) it makes up for in contrast, and this display showcases content at its best. Its maximum brightness stands at an impressive 425 lux, battling it out on the high end of screen brightnesses. The brightness is beautiful in indoor settings, but brightness is only one component in outdoor visibility. The other component, reflection, is what makes it difficult to see the Vi10 Plus in sunlight. The screen is plenty bright for outdoor visibility, but you’ll have to fight through plenty of reflections to get to the screen.

Touch response is slightly less top notch than the screen itself. The touch screen controller seems to be a tad less sensitive to light presses than something like the iPad Air or the Xiaomi Mipad 2 (review here) but is not an issue.

Speakers


The speakers blast out some loud sound. In addition, the stereo effect is quite apparent due to the speaker placement; they are in the same place as the older Chuwi Vi10. For a budget device like this, Chuwi has made the right decision in focusing on volume at average quality as opposed to high quality at average volume, not to mention an extra DAC and amplifier that might be needed to power said speakers.

I rate the volume on the Vi10 Plus around the same volume as the Vi10, which in turn is about the same as the Xiaomi Mipad 2. That’s about as loud as you can get for speakers, and the Vi10 Plus at max volume can hurt your ears if you play the right track. The speakers deliver adequate quality. It won’t blow your socks off (it might with the volume) but it reproduces audio quite faithfully. The one area where it struggles is the bass. Once it gets too low, bass is just completely skipped over. While audio is definitely not the reason you will get this tablet, it is definitely not the reason you won’t.

Battery


The Chuwi Vi10 Plus comes with a slightly bigger battery than the Surface 3 and the Chuwi Vi10. At 8400mAh, the Vi10 Plus’ battery is about 622mAh bigger than the Surface 3 and 400mAh bigger than the Chuwi Vi10. However, with that being said, I am still expecting slightly less battery life from this tablet compared to the Surface or the Vi10, as the Vi10 Plus has a higher power SoC than the Vi10 and Microsoft’s power optimization and heat dissipation will most likely be better than what Chuwi can achieve.

I performed the web browsing test and it died after 7 hours and 8 minutes. I then ran the video playback test and it died after 10 hours and 28 minutes. Surprisingly, the Vi10 Plus matches the Surface 3 in battery longevity in both tests, give or take a few minutes. It also far outpaces the Vi10 in video playback most probably due to significantly reduced power consumption with the new Cherry Trail chip.

The Chuwi Vi10 Plus was able to last me throughout a day quite easily, using the tablet on and off. I had about 5 hours of screen on time, during my activities consisted of web browsing, news, and watching TV shows. At the end of the day, I had 18% left. Quick charging is also an option and I was able to charge from 0-100% in two hours. The Chuwi Vi10 Plus can easily get you through a day of light or medium use, but if you are a heavy user, bring along a charger. A quick 30 minute charge should be enough to top you up for the rest of the day.

Software & Performance

The version of the Vi10 Plus I’m testing only runs Jide’s Remix OS 2.0 and does not dual boot Windows. That will come in the later version that has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Before the release of Remix OS 1.0, dual boot devices used Windows and a stock version of Android. In that case I spent almost all my time in Windows as vanilla Android on a 10” tablet is not as good an experience as Windows is. However, with the release of Remix OS, that has completely flipped around. However, Remix OS 2.0 is much improved over the inaugural release of this productivity focused Lollipop fork.

Again, the main feature on this operating system is true multitasking, where you can open multiple apps at once and use them at the same time. A major limitation that Remix OS had was the fixed size of app windows. You had two options, full screen, or phone size. Switching between either resulted in the app restarting, which was annoying to some degree. However, this new iteration of Remix OS has resulted in a huge change, resizable windows. You can resize many apps without having to relaunch it. This brings Remix OS closer to Windows than ever before. However, there are still certain apps that do not allow live resizing, mainly the Google Play Store and certain games.

Performance in Remix OS 2.0 is pretty great. While apps do take a second to load and close compared to a high end cell phone, it never takes long enough to be an issue. Multitasking almost never slows down. Android was never designed with multitasking in mind but rather was designed to operate one app at a time.


That being said, I can comfortably browse the web through Chrome, edit a word document and listen to a YouTube playlist in the background without the tablet slowing down. It does slow down if I try to listen to music and play a casual game like Clash Royale though. Other than that, performance is not a limiting factor.

Gaming performance is satisfactory as well, it can’t play Android games at the highest settings due to the low 2GB of RAM and the relatively high 1080p resolution, but bumping the quality down from high to low will allow you to play most things. Heat isn’t much of an issue either when not gaming, it does get warm during multitasking but never hot. It does get quite hot if you try playing a game while charging at the same time.

Connectivity

Connectivity here is really not that good. Yes, you do get a USB C and a USB 2.0 port, but the move Chuwi made away from full size USB ports hurts more than it should. There is also a USB C port that I am glad for, as more and more devices are slowly moving over to the new USB spec. Chuwi should have saved some money by completely eliminating the rear facing camera completely and just sticking with a front facing camera. Or they could have eliminated the rear facing camera and put in a better front facing camera for video calls, as the front facing camera is definitely on the low end in terms of video quality.

Verdict


The Chuwi Vi10 Plus is not just another iteration in Chuwi’s endless tablet churning machine. This is an experiment, Chuwi’s first experiment with Remix OS. Cube has experimented with Remix OS with their Cube i7 Remix which received some mixed reviews (I gave it a more positive review) mainly because of the lack of polish in the initial release of Remix OS. Things are different with Remix OS 2.0. Here, we have an extremely cheap entry point into the world that is Remix OS.

In my opinion, Chuwi chose the perfect moment to step into this space, as the first iteration of Remix, while compelling, was lacking compared to its full functioning Windows counterpart. Remix OS 2.0 is much improved, and Chuwi has been able to take advantage of that with the Cherry Trail processor and the beautiful Surface 3 screen while keeping the price low. With that being said, I fear Remix OS might be a hindrance to those less technically inclined looking to buy this cheap tablet. If you are reading this and fall into that category, do not worry, Remix OS is an extremely refined version of Android, and the hardware does its job well.

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