When the press release for this tablet crossed my desk last month I thought it had the potential to offer a decent value in the sub-$100 price range. It offers a dual-core CPU, decent screen resolution, and is from a company that has been releasing budget tablets of one type or another for almost 3 years now, so I had thought that it would be one of their better tablets.
The EM63 is your standard Android tablet, one, black. It has the usual glossy front and slightly curved and somewhat slippery plastic back.The single speaker is on the back, and so is the microSD card slot. The camera is on the upper right corner of the front, and the volume buttons, power button, and all of the ports (power, HDMI, micro-USB, headphone jack) are on the right edge.
It has a 7″ screen with a capacitive touchscreen (the full specs are down at the end of the post). The general build quality is decent for the price range, and it has no rough edges or weak seams.
In terms of size, the EM63 is on the small side for a 7″ tablet. I could hold it comfortably in my hand in landscape. Just to give you a sense of scale, I can’t do that with my KFHD.
The screen resolution is a decent 1024 x 600, but that’s about the nicest thing you can say about it.
It’s not a very good screen. The color quality is would best be described as washed out or faded, and that is in comparison to similarly priced tablets. And while the viewing angle was reasonably wide horizontally, the slightest shift vertically caused the color quality to drop off, resulting in even less color detail being visible than before.
But on the upside the backlight is reasonably strong. Like the KFHD and other pricier tablets, the EM63 could double as a flashlight in a pinch.
This tablet has just the VGA webcam on the front (no rear camera). The image quality was much better than I expected for such a cheap tablet, and in fact this is the first decent camera that I have seen on a tablet in this price range. The color quality looked a little washed out, but that could be due to the screen or the lighting conditions.
I have not been able to confirm the battery capacity but I can comment on the battery runtime. It’s pretty bad; according to the tablet’s settings menu, the estimated runtime is around 4 hours. In practice, I have found that I have never been able to use the tablet for 4 hours before the battery dies.
Update: At the suggestion of a reader, I went looking for an app that fixed the battery issue. The app I installed was a free utility called DS Battery Saver and it can be found in Google Play.
Update: Now that the standby issue has been fixed, I stress-tested the battery by running a video. I would estimate that the EM63 has somewhere less than 3 hours of video time.
This tablet unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a sleep mode. Even when the screen is blank and nothing appears to be happening, something is still draining the battery. In the several weeks in which I have owned this tablet I have repeatedly observed the battery meter drop after the tablet was simply sitting there unused. It has even died while sitting on my nightstand overnight, and that is something I have not seen in an Android tablet since 2011. I have not been able to identify any specific process which is running while the tablet was supposed to be asleep, unfortunately.
Audio & Video
Like most other tablets the speaker is mounted on the rear of the case. There’s only one, and it is rather quiet at best. I would rate the sound quality as about mid-range; it didn’t quite enunciate the test words properly in the YouTube videos I watched.
I also tested the EM63 with a 720p video in the usual Android media player. It obviously couldn’t play the video at full resolution but I didn’t see any artifacts and the audio didn’t lose sync or drop out.
I have to say that I wish the screen and battery life lived up to standard set by the rest of this tablet. It’s pretty zippy.
First, this tablet scored 9416 on the Antutu benchmark test. That’s not bad; it’s a better score than what the Kindle Fire HD (2012) got and in fact it is nearly as good of a score as that of the Nexus 7 (2012).
I’m not saying the the EM63 is as good as either of those tablets, but I did find the general speed and responsiveness to be quite good for such a cheap tablet. For the most part the touch screen was sensitive, consistent, and fast to respond to my touch. The on screen keyboard, on the other hand, wasn’t.
Apps were a little slow to load (as compared to my Kindle Fire HD), but the download speed almost equaled that of the older tablet. But that is to be expected. I also think that the performance of the Chrome browser was disappointing; it was sluggish at best.
The EM63 is definitely a 2-handed reader. While I was able to comfortably hold it in one hand there’s no way to also turn the page with that hand; my fingers are all on the edge, and the volume buttons aren’t placed conveniently so they cannot double as page turn buttons.
And if I grip this tablet so I can change the page with my thumb, my grip is weak enough that I could drop the tablet. This is largely due to the thinness and the slippery backside.
Apps & Software
Yes, the EM63 ships with Google Play. I logged in to my account just fine and was able to install apps.
I was able to install the several apps I already owned, including Angry Birds. I can also confirm that this tablet has the full suite of Google apps, including Chrome, Google Play Books/Music/Movies/Magazines, Youtube, Google Plus.
So far as I can tell the EM63 runs a stock build of Android 4.1 JellyBean with only one extra app (Pogoplug, which offers 5GB of free online storage). Of course the downside of running Stock Android is the bloat; those excess Google apps are permanently attached.
Like a lot of budget tablets the EM63 is a mix of good and bad components. The build quality is decent and it has a reasonably fast CPU. In terms of performance this is a decent tablet, but it has a marginal screen and
disappointing battery life.
Still, of the several sub $100 Android tablet I have tried this one is the second best so far, and was only beat out by the Mesquite tablet from HP. The EM63′s 3 major issues are the screen, the minimal amount of storage, and the poor battery life, which is why the HP Mesquite tablet ranked higher.
But the extra $20 to buy the Mesquite might not be worth it to everyone, so this tablet does present a serious alternative.
Where to Get it
- 7″ screen, 1024 x 600
- Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
- 1.5GHz dual-core CPU
- Mali-400 MP GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 4GB Flash storage, (2GB available to the user)
- microSD card slot
- VGA webcam
- HDMI port (no cable included)
- Speaker (mono), microphone