This time we have a rather unusual device to review. While we usually review devices with official support, we have a tablet from China called the Chuwi Hi8 running Windows 8 with Bing (Upgradable to Windows 10 & Dual Boots to android). Also, For those Star Wars fans, you’re not the only ones who thought about it, because I’m reading the brand name as “Chewie”, even though it’s spelled Chuwi.
I’ll note though that I had a rather skeptical attitude about his because it’s from an unknown Chinese manufacturer. I’ve always wondered why anyone would order a device from A company with an incomprehensible Chinese brand name when there are more than plenty competitive devices on shelves with warranties and other bonuses. However, when I unboxed and turned on the Chuwi Hi8, my mind was changed. Let’s see how well it represents Chinese tablets for $100 dollars on windows 8 (windows 10).
What’s the Hardware like?
Inside a cheap cardboard box is a tablet charger (with adapter), an OTG Cable, a USB Cable, and instructions (in both English and Chinese), with everything packed tightly and efficiently. Now, while many manufacturers don’t work about materials of the packaging to cut the cost and use cheaper packaging, this is at least a tribute to nature, because packaging like this can be recycled without harming the environment.
Let’s move onto the device: The tablet is made out of plastic, but on the sides it’s flaunted by metal inserts, which makes the devices feel solid in the hands. The plastic itself isn’t bad either, feeling high quality and resembling a tablet from samsung. On the back is the main 2 megapixel camera and speakers, with the back cover having a matte surface and being well assembled. That being said, it does have a bit of flex, but it is almost imperceptible.
The front side is endowed with an 8 inch IPS display with the resolution of 1920x1200 (and an aspect ratio of 16:10). It’s easy to hold in both orientations: there is enough space to hold it well in landscape with two hands and the bezels are small enough to hold comfortably in portrait. In the center of the top is a .3 megapixel FFC and right next to it is the light sensor, and on the lower half is the capacitive windows button. On the right side of the device is the power buttons, volume rockers and a micro SD card slot, and the rest of the ports is on the top, with micro usb and your typical 3.5mm audio jack.
The dimensions of the tablet is 211 x 123 x 9.3mm, while the weight is only 304 grams. It makes for a very small tablet that is easy to hold with one hand while being a very portable tablet that you can just throw in your bag or backpack for on the go.
Intel Inside! The chuwi Hi8 is your typical bay trail tablet, rocking the z3736F quad core processor @ 2.16ghz along with 2gbs of ram, and 32gb of internal memory with a microSD card expansion for up to 64GB more memory. Due to this though, this tablet can run the full fledged x86 OS, being able to run full windows applications. As a test, I installed Heartstone, and it ran without any problems.
The display of the Chuwi Hi8 has a resolution of 1920x1200, and for an 8 inch display, it looks pretty good without any issues, but what is really great is this is all on a device that only costs 100 dollars. The picture is bright with a clear and pleasant contrast. The device comes with a protective film which we kept on the device, but we are confident that if you removed it, the display would look even better. Thanks to it being an IPS panel, the angles do not fade, but because of the film and the glossy coating, in direct sunlight it is hard to read as visibility drops dramatically, but some people won’t have any problems with it.
About the speaker, don’t expect miracles, as bass is nearly nonexistent. Watching a movie, a YouTube Video, playing games or listening to a podcast is all acceptable on the speaker, but you have to be at the maximum volume to get decent sound quality out of it. That being said, from headphones it sounds rather good, so this may be a non issue.
Chuwi Hi8 has a Battery with a capacity of 4000 mAh, and can last up to 5 hours of video playback, but when you run applications that require more resources, the tablet will run less. Other than that, the tablet has what you would expect when it comes to connections: b/g/n Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0. Unfortunately, there is no sim slot, which is a common feature for tablets in this space.
How does it work?
Out of the box, the Chuwi Hi8 comes with Windows 8 with Bing, but the first thing we did was install windows 10, which was rather seamless. Next, we switched the tablet out of chinese, which took a bit of tinkering, but that’s a matter of experience. (In the “Control Panel”, go to “Clock, Language and Region”, then go to the menu “Language”, and select the required languages.)
In the current configuration, Windows 10 running solid. The interface works smoothly, and apps open quickly. It handles pretty much any light weight activities without a sweat, comfortably reading a book, PDF-files, comics, and it also handles more demanding tasks like gaming pretty well, allowing a lot more, because thanks to Windows 10 opening the whole spectrum of PC use. In terms of overall performance, we’re very pleased with the tablet, where the only negative is in the synthetic benchmarks. It turned out that a disk drive Chuwi Hi8 weaker than, for example, Prestigio MultiPad Visconte Quad 3G (once again, Russian link). When using the tablet in everyday use though, it wasn’t an issue: while the competitors may have a better performing SSD in it, all other parameters puts the Chuwi Hi8 ahead.
The Chuwi Hi8 tablet is a surprisingly good experience. The build quality is good, without any flaws. For $100 dollars the display is very good, and is definitely one of the best aspects of the Chuwi Hi8. The tablet is compact and lightweight, to the point that while in a backpack it wasn’t noticeable, and the size allows to place it even in a handbag. It’s also running a complete operating system, Windows 8 (Windows 10), and by connecting the peripherals, it can be used not only for entertainment, but also productivity. It is a pity though that there is no cellular, as there would be an even a broader range of use cases though.
While it lacks official retail presence, it can be purchased in an import store without any issues. The price of the device will start from about 6700 rubles, or 100 USD and along with the tablet, there is a cover keyboard and wireless keyboard availble for purchase.
PS: As an extra treat, the Chuwi Hi8 has the capacity to run both windows and android, clicking the appropriate icon on boot, but that’s another story. (If desired, the user can have the device only run one operating system.)