If you are looking for your first tablet computer then why not try the F5CS Fusion5 Premium+. This is the fourth A1CS or F5CS tablet that we have bought in our household.
After a range of generic Fusion5 and Xtra's it was time for me to take a step up to their premium range and this new 9.7" slate which will go through the rigors of being owned by me. There will be no professional benchmarking, stress testing and super-power finding. I will though be putting it through its paces in the same way that I work hard, play Temple Run 2 and Candy Crush Saga and write for InfoBarrel and other web portals.
Fusion5 Premium+ Specs
Processor: Cortex A9 Quad Core
These quad-core CPU's run at up to 1.6Ghz on an ARM chip. They are supported by a Mali GPU capable of running dual screen - if you are really inclined to do so - personally I wouldn't although the HDMI output is a great additional feature as well as something called "wireless display".
ARM, who make these processors, have basically dominated the market since tablet computers became popular and are reliable; they are also central to the dual-core processor tech behind many of the Apple iPhone and iPad range.
Display: Retina IPS Capacitive Touch Screen (10 point)
At a maximum resolution of 2048*1535; the Fusion5 Premium+ is packing a sharp picture on a 9.7 inch screen. The good lady wife, who has the earlier Fusion5 Xtra V3 says that she can notice the difference immediately.
RAM: 2GB DDR3
This is pretty much standard on new tablets at the moment. I started to struggle on my Fusion5 Xtra that had 1GB of RAM, it would not handle 2 or 3 programs loaded as well as I had hoped.
Bog Standard Extras
You have your usual compliment of extras that either should be, or generally are normal for tablet computers these days.
- Front and rear cameras are in place offering 2MP which is okay if you are not going to be using it for more than family snaps.
- Wireless connections through bluetooth and wi-fi as well as outputs via HDMI
- Expandable memory through a micro-SD card (up to 32GB)
I'm Sorry: I Could Not Wait
So I broke my vow of temptation and did the un-boxing. I am sorry, there are no pictures of that because lets be honest; there was only a tablet a charger and a very small and basic start-up guide in there. The first thing to remember is that you should give all gadgets a good charge before first use in care the battery had naturally discharged while sitting on the shop shelf or needs a calibrating kick-start.
I have gone ahead and installed some apps from the Google Play Store. The great thing if you are planning to upgrade a tablet, or indeed even have an Android phone, is that you can check your list of apps previously installed so that you can easily find Candy Crush Saga or WordPress.
I have had problems with running the Android WordPress app on other devices, notably my BlackBerry Z10, but it seems that there are very few, if any issues with it on here.
The bump in the hardware specs tough seem to have something good with the responsiveness of the Android stock browser on the Premium+. Indeed I am writing right now on my Premium+ using the stock browser which on previous models made using InfoBarrel difficult.
So far I have tested the browser with the likes of YouTube (mobile interface) and for the authors among you on Bubblews as well. I have not been tempted to install any of the third-party offerings at all yet.
Alternative Browser: FireFox
After a long time of recommending Google Chrome to friends and colleagues, I now also split my time with Mozilla Firefox as a browser of choice right across my computer network. Chrome appears to increasingly have issues with crashing which from what I can tell is because each new Chrome tab in it's browsers creates a whole new process in Microsoft Windows. With each update of Chrome or Firefox though, something different does not want to work with either the PC or our tablets.
One of the first problems that I have had with my new Premium+ tablet is that it had great difficulty in making some of the wireless connections that I take for granted.
Wireless Networks (wi-fi)
One of the issues that I had with my earlier A1CS Fusion5 Xtra tablet was that it did not come with any Bluetooth technology installed. I think that you will probably agree with me that typing out at any length on a touchscreen tablet does have its problems; least of all that you have to keep looking down at the screen instead of relying on those many years of touch-typing that many of us have personalised and honed in on.
So when I started to connect my F5CS Premium+ to my home computer network (which was Virgin Media cable internet using their SuperHub) it was great. I had a perfectly maintained connection and I was installing everything I need from my earlier Fusion5 Xtra thanks to Google Play Store remembering what I have installed.
When I went out of the house though and tried to connect my tablet to my mobile phones portable wireless hotspot though it was a different story and it would see the connection but the phone would not allocate it an IP address. Over the months that I have been using the Premium+ it does appear to have settled down though and as I update you on the progress I am indeed writing this using the the 4G Vodafone connection on my phone.
Not only did I have issues with my wireless networking, but I also had issues with my Bluetooth keyboard. Like the wireless it had apparently connected my input device of choice straight away and I did manage to write a few sentences on it before it stopped working without any obvious reason why.
Since doing the factory reset I have written a sizeable section of this review on my new F5CS Premium+ using a keyboard because as I have said before; any considerable work being done on a touchscreen keyboard is simply wrong.
As part of the testing for this I have connected the keyboard to other devices as well. Indeed I am writing this part of the article right now using my Bluetooth keyboard connected to a BlackBerry Z10 and there have been none of the issues that we have seen with the Fusion5 Premium+. I have also checked the charge of the batteries (I am using premium branded batteries with a built-in power tester) and there is no issue there either.
Update: It appears that in fact this is an issue with changes that Android have made to the Bluetooth component of it's operating system. If you have Android 4.2 or above then you are using the new BlueZ Bluetooth Kernal which has flaws that there is little obvious intention to address.
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Factory Resets - Remember Your Settings
or learn Chinese
The first thing that you will notice when you first load your new tablet from F5CS is that there will be an element of testing that has happened to your device before it has got to you. This appears to usually be that it was connected to the companies wi-fi network so that they could install any updates or additional apps to your tablet prior to dispatch.
Obviously there is a simple way that you can make sure that you find the language setting on your Android tablet and return them to English. Firstly you could learn Chinese, it is a great reason to start learning and if you learn enough that you can use your tablet in Chinese then it might actually confuse anyone who steals it while you are asleep on the train.
The more likely thing to do though is to go into your settings pages and work out where the language and input options are. Once you are in them then each language is written in its native tounge, which makes things easier.
The Premium+ Battery Test
One thing that I like to do when I get a new tablet is to test the battery. Inside the F5CS Premium+ it is an 8000mA offering; but the size of the battery does not matter if the rest of the tablet components hungrily feast on it like it is going out of fashion.
Now so far I have not had a chance to spend all day with the tablet to put it through it's paces but I can tell you something already. As I am writing this I have looked across and seen that I have used exactly 40% of the battery over two or three separate 'sessions':
- Installing a few apps via Play Store on my home wireless network
- Playing around with Spotify for 15 minutes - streaming via my home network
- Watched a few music videos on YouTube
- About 90 minutes of writing on Bubblews and InfoBarrel using a wi-fi hotspot and a Bluetooth keyboard.
The battery life of the Premium+ has actually done quite well over the 2 years or so that I have been using it. I have only two complaints though; when you charge up the tablet the tablet you have to do so with a 9v charger rather than through a standard 5v or micro-USB connection. The other is that you can only charge the tablet while it is switched on, which means that when you unplug it the battery starts to discharge.
Thoughts and Conclusions
So far I have found that the new F5CS Fusion5 Premium+ tablet is a great budget Android device that you would get on well with for surfing, watching video and being generally productive.
If you are in the UK then you can sometimes buy the 9.7" F5CS Fusion5 Premium+ tablet PC used at Amazon in the UK - or one of the companies more recent imports.