Our Third Fusion5 Tablet in the Office

I am a great fan of budget tablet computers and I have written before on InfoBarrel about the A1CS Fusion5 range of tablet computers. The company has rebranded in the footsteps of their top-selling range of tablet computers and for the third time we have bought a F5CS Fusion5 tablet for the household. At less than £150, the F5CS Fusion5 Xtra V3 should be just as good as it's predecessors.

Lets start with something most important; comparing the core specs of the original Fusion5 Xtra (which we reviewed here) with the new Fusion5 Xtra V3:

 Fusion5 Xtra V1Fusion5 Xtra V3
Processor AllWinner A10 (1.2GHz) Cortex A7 (1.5GHz Quad Core)
Graphics Mali 400Mhz
Display size 10.1" screen at 1024x600
Operating System Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 Android Jelly Bean 4.1
System Memory (RAM) 1GB DDR3 2GB DDR3
Storage 16GB NAND Flash Micro SD (up to 32GB)

It is also worth noting that the Fusion5 Xtra V3 has been superceeded again by the F5CS Fusion5 Premium+ which is running Android 4.2.2 and a host of other upgrades.

F5CS Fusion5 Xtra V3Credit: Darren Whittenham-Gray

The Fusion5 Xtra V3 is not going to be a world-beating tablet and certainly if it was placed along something like a Galaxy Tab or anything by Apple then it is going to struggle to catch up. At the same time though you are not paying for the same specifications that you expect from higher end models; remember that this tablet is still only £150.

The specifications are clearly a vast improvement on the original Fusion5 Xtra tablets in the range and further so than its earlier predecessor the standard Fusion5 line that A1CS originally distributed. The updates have been done where they are most needed though, in the processor and the RAM as well as little extras like the inclusion of Bluetooth in the V3.is

As with previous incarnations this tablet comes with full access to the Google Play Store and a range of applications to get you started; your previous back-catelogue of Android apps are also available for you to install including any that you have paid out for on older devices.

Google Play Store

As you would expect from an advertising behemoth such as Google; to use the Play Store you will need to sign up for a Google account, or sign in with your existing one to download apps and games. For existing users this is obviously not an issue, but for new users this might mean creating a connection to Google+ and many other connected web services.

Wi-Fi Only - No 3G

To keep the price down, in line with all other budget tablet computers the F5CS Fusion5 Xtra v3 has no 3G or 4G adapters. The tablet runs on wireless connections only which is not a problem if you have a wireless router at home or use the tablet in huge built up cities like London; but if you are taking it travelling and need Internet access then you might choose to invest in a portable Wi-Fi hotspot or check whether your cell phone can do this instead.

MF60 black mobile Hotspot (21.6 PA+ UMTS 2100M Display)
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Oct 8, 2015)
ZTE offer a great range of both mobile cell phone devices and portable Wi-Fi hotspots.

If you are only connecting 1 device at a time then the slower 21.1Mbps models are perfect when you want to be mobile on the move, on a budget.

We have already found that the Fusion5 Xtra V3 is more reliable at maintaining the wireless connection on a home wireless network than the original Fusion5 and even is more reliable on a mobile hotspot than our now 2-year-old Fusion5 Xtra (Version 1).

New to Fusion5 Xtra - Bluetooth

I am so massively impressed with the Bluetooth that when I bought the F5CS Fusion5 Xtra v3 I also had to buy her a bluetooth keyboard. Being able to turn your tablet computer into a small laptop using it is great for people who like to work at length on the train and to prove it I stole the keyboard from under my good lady's nose for a few hours and connected it to my BlackBerry Z10 cell phone.

Both on the tablet and the mobile phone I was able to get good speed and the delay between typing on the keyboard and it appear on the screen was minimal enough to really not matter; with a budget tablet you can expect of course for the battery to take a bit of a hit if you were to use it for an extended amount of time as your tablet (and indeed my Z10) is forced to keep up a Bluetooth connection.

This is actually a big bonus because the Fusion5 Xtra range only come with a micro-USB port to connect up your peripheral devices. F5CS do offer a "full-size" USB adapter but it is not the same when you have to connect cables and leads to the tablet. As part of the update the tablet now also supports USB OTG (On The Go) which with the adapter means that you can use it to rad USB sticks and plug-in conventional wired keyboards more readily.

Anker® Bluetooth Ultra-Slim (4mm) Aluminum Keyboard for iOS (iPad Air 2 / Air, iPad mini 3 / mini 2 / mini, iPad 4 / 3 / 2), Windows and Android 3.0 and above OS with Built-in lithium battery / Aluminum Body T320
Amazon Price: $25.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 8, 2015)
A Bluetooth keyboard is essential if you are going to be typing at any length on a tablet computer or mobile phone. I type long documents on my BlackBerry Z10 and I use one all the time.

Play Store Apps and Games

If you already have a Google Play Account on another tablet then you will be wanting to bring your existing apps and games across and that is great as this tablet has full access to the Google Play Store. One big improvement is that this tablet now supports Google Chrome browsers which before were too powerful for the tablet to handle.

There are a number of apps that we swear by in this house when using our Android tablet computers and if you are buying a tablet or have one already you should give them a try

  • ES File Manager - This app allows you much more freedom to browse not only files on your tablet but also further around your computer network. We have a server in the house which stores a lot of music and film files. Unlike the stock file manager, this one finds them all.
  • Kingston Office - This free office app is a suitable replacement to store and read files in the Microsoft Office 1997-2003 formats. We have not yet tested it with .docx and .xlsx (new MS Office) file types though.
  • AVG Anti-Virus Free - If you surf the Internet then you need to make sure you stay protected. It is not normally the case that we hear of virus infections spreading around the Android community, but never say never.

Battery Life

Although we have not had a chance to stress-test the battery yet we plan to test it by:

  • surfing the Internet for 90 minutes
  • watching a 1 hour program on BBC iPlayer
  • Installing and un-installing a few programs
  • listening to a 1 hour radio program on the BBC

A typical heavy use day in many families.

Final Thoughts: F5CS Fusion5 Xtra

F5CS Fusion5 Xtra V3Credit: Darren Whittenham-Gray We love the A1CS and F5CS range of tablets. They offer a budget tablet computer that you can get on with and last a few years, which is what you expect from something this cost-effective for around the house use.

If you have got this far then you might want to buy a F5CS Fusion5 Xtra V3. You can buy a Fusion5 Xtra v3 on Amazon in the UK. You may also want to check out the new F5CS Fusion5 Premium+ if you are looking for  a new tablet computer from the same company.

The F5CS Fusion5 Xra V3 tablet computer Darren Whittenham-Gray 2014-01-17 4.5 0 5