What is the CUBE Talk 9?
The Talk 9 is the latest member of Cube’s Talk series, a line of tablets with full phone functionalities.
The Talk 9 (U39GT 3G) is powered by the 1.5GHZ MTK MT8389T chipset and 1GB RAM
9" 16M-color Super Clear PLS capacitive touchscreen of 1920 x 1200 px resolution
MTK MT8389T Chipset: quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A7, PowerVR SGX544 GPU
1GB of RAM
Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean
16GB of built-in memory
5MP autofocus camera
720p video recording @30fps
2MP front-facing camera
Side-mounted stereo speakers
Wi-Fi 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Direct, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot
Stereo Bluetooth v4.0
USB host (adapter required)
Micro SD card slot
Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
GPS with A-GPS support;
1080p XviD/MKV video support with subtitles
5,300mAh Li-Po battery
Design and build quality (Good)
At 232.6*153.5*9.0mm, the Talk 9 is almost a replica of the U39GT. It also uses a 9-inch FHD PLS display and small, white bezel. The back of the Talk 9 is aluminum alloy with frosted finish, too. The only obvious difference is the plastic part designed to hold the 3G and Wi-Fi antennas.
At the top (in landscape) we find the Power/Lock button and the slim volume rocker next to it.
The left side of the device hosts the 3.5mm audio jack. On the right we find the speaker gates and a Micro USB port for data transmission and charging. As I said in the review of the U39GT and U30GT2, I hate the layout of the speakers, you can easily cover them with your palms while you are holding the tablet in landscape.
The SIM slot and Micro SD card slot is at the bottom. You will need the bundled needle to open the SIM container.
At the back of the slate we find a 5MP camera with auto-focus support.
The Talk 9 can be held with one hand and operated with the other, but at about half a kilo you will soon need to find some kind of support. The build is excellent though, and the frosted alloy rear not only adds a touch of sophistication but also nicely enhances the grip.
Display and Sound (Very Good)
The 9" Super Clear PLS LCD now has a resolution at 1920 x 1280 pixels. This adds up to 256ppi, which is one of the highest available on a tablet at this screen size.
Numbers aside, the image quality is excellent. Viewing angles are very good and blacks look reasonably deep. The outdoor visibility has been greatly improved too.
The AAC speakers produce a quality sound, which is always a strong trait of Cube’s devices.
Like many other Chinese tablets, the Talk 9 didn’t offer anything more than stock Android. But I wouldn’t consider this as a downside, especially after the disappointment of the metro-like launcher on the U39GT.
However, I do have an issue. The dialer of the tablet can only be used in portrait. Which means you have to flip this 10-inch and half a kilo device to portrait whenever you need to make a phone call. But I doubt it be an unsolvable problem, as anything is possible for Android.
The Talk 9 is powered by the MTK MT8389T SoC., which is built on 28nm process and 1.5GHZ quad-core Cortex-A7 processor, its SGX544MP GPU also runs at 341MHZ. Paired up with only 1GB RAM, it is far less powerful than quad-core Cortex-A15 chipsets such as Tegra3 or Exynos 5420, but it should generate enough power for most users.
Antutu 4.x is an overall system performance benchmark which takes into account everything an Android device has to offer, including its CPU, GPU, and storage. The majority of Android devices tend to fall into a comparable performance footprint, which means unless you need to do something very specific with your device, like gaming, then you can expect a similar performance across the board.
The Talk 9 performed pretty well in our Antutu benchmark as it scored a 14630. It isn’t as powerful as the Sony Tablet Z or the LG Gpad 8.3, but it’s certainly a powerful tablet as its score is pretty much within the range of what competing tablets, such as the PIPO M7pro and Lenovo S6000, are capable of these days. Since it performs as well as recently released tablets, what would help differentiate each tablet is based on what they can offer the user, so keep that in mind when considering purchasing any of the tablets we’ve reviewed that have similar performance benchmark results.
The Geekbench is more focused on sheer processing power, the Talk 9 also delivered a healthy score of 1584, which surprisingly beat the RK3188-powered U39GT (1205).
It notched a pretty nice 5353 in the Quadrant V2.1.1 benchmark test, too, putting it ahead of many of the quad-core Cortex-A9 powered devices.
3D Mark was designed to stress the Android device’s graphics processor by running a game-like demo which features a space war between various spaceships.
The Talk 9 performed as well as we expected it to as it scored a total of 3012 in the Ice storm test and 1690 in the Ice Storm Extreme test.
But in the NenaMark2 test, the Talk 9 struggled, running at only an average of 25.3FPS, way below the perfect 60FPS the M7pro delivered.
It notched average scores in the Vellamo HTML5 and Metal tests.
And it really shined in the CF-bench test.
Real world performance is an area no quad-core tablet running Android 4.2 should have trouble. Unfortunately, the Talk 9 does.
For the vast majority of our usage, the tablet worked just fine. It purred along with few hiccups, until you started to pile a few successive activities on the plate.
Sure, opening and running five or six applications at once can be cumbersome and, undoubtedly, a strain on the system. But the Talk 9 often struggled with some simple tasks. Scrolling between the home screens and app drawer would sometimes result in noticeable stuttering. Several times, simply opening a chatting app crushed the tablet.
As wonderful as it looks, the Full HD display and the great number of pixels it carries could put an unwanted lot of pressure on the processor. Also, the speed of the PowerVR SGX544 graphics processor isn’t great, so high-end games will be somewhat slow, although still playable. Casual games that demand less resources should work just fine (like 2D games). Given that games are the single most resource-intensive type of apps, I would recommend buying a faster system if you are “into gaming”.
Thankfully, video playback remains as excellent as it is on any quad-core tablet. The Talk 9 breezed through all the mainstream 1080P videos and lossless music I threw at it. The excellent display and sound also greatly enhanced the overall multi-media experiences.
Browsing even some of the most image-heavy web pages happen pretty fast, and the texts on the full HD PLS display look amazingly crisp. Zooming the pages may be a little bit slow, but overall, still quite enjoyable.
Please don’t buy a tablet if you want to take good photos. You’re going to look like an idiot whipping out a giant tablet to snap your shots, but more importantly, you’re not going to end up with good shots. Most smartphones exceed the performance of tablet cameras because people demand a good camera on their phone. On a tablet, the camera is often an afterthought. Cube has included a 2MP front-facing camera and a 5MP rear-facing camera on the Talk 9, but it won’t do anything that your phone can’t do better.
As the Talk 9 is a cellular tablet with full phone functionalities, you will get all of the phone functions such as 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS here. Connections were solid, almost as solid as my Samsung WP8 smartphone.
Battery life (Poor)
The Talk 9 is powered by a 5300mAh Li-Po battery, which is absolutely below the average of tablets this size. By CUBE's estimates, it should give you 384 hours of standby and 49 hours of music playback. In the real world use, it certainly wasn’t the absolute worst we’ve experienced, nor was it any good. We did our own TR standard tests too, and the tablet managed 6 hours of 720P video playback at 30% display brightness and 5 hours and 12 minutes of online video streaming.
Pricing and availability (Very Good)
You can pick up the Talk 9 now for $180 (RMB1099). This actually is a decent price considering it is a 9-inch tablet and priced even less than a comparable WiFi-only PIPO M7pro with similar display.
The Cube Talk 9 has a lot going for it, including a fantastic Full HD display and a pretty low price. It also does just what a tablet should do and serves as a great companion for your smartphone.