We did a review of the Aurora’s sibling a couple of months ago, the Ainol Paladin and that got a lot of attention for being the first one to have ICS pre-installed out of the box. Not to mention the really affordable price. The Ainol Aurora brings this up a notch by offering a sleeker design and better hardware configuration. Check out our full review of the Ainol Novo 7 Aurora after the jump.
7-inch tablets are a blessing. Theyâ€™re big enough for large screen internet browsing, gaming, and movie playback, but small and light enough to be carried inside a clutch bag. Device manufacturers are aware of the advantages and produced these devices in different styles and forms. One contender in the 7-inch division is the Ainol Novo 7 Aurora, a fairly new player in the local market.
At first glance, the Aurora looks simple yet well-built. You can easily spot that it has a plastic body but doesnâ€™t totally look cheap. Put the tablet in your hands and you’ll notice its light weight and slim form factor. If you come from a thicker and heavier device such as the Kindle Fire, itâ€™ll feel awkward at first but you’ll adjust to it eventually.
The Aurora is filled with ports and jacks which are all located on the left side. There you’ll find the charger port, mini USB (USB charging is supported), mini HDMI, microSD, and the 3.5mm headset jack. The mic is also located here if you need to know. On top are the power button, volume rocker, and a back/return button for a quick app exit. On the front is the 2 megapixel camera for video calling. Turn it on its back and you’ll find the speaker.
Although I like the glossy plastic build on the Aurora, it doesnâ€™t actually feel solid. Tap it and itâ€™ll sound like the entire case is hollow. Tighten your grip around it and you can actually hear the plastic creak. Not really a plus for me.
The tablet runs Android version 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich and runs it well. It’s very responsive, animations and transitions are smooth even when running multiple apps in the background. Youâ€™ll notice some lags every now and then but not to the point that it becomes annoying. In a nutshell the Aurora will give you the best Ice Cream Sandwich experience it can offer. By the way, formatting the Aurora will cause it to revert to its stock language which is Chinese. Since I have no internet access at the time of the formatting, which means I canâ€™t Google a â€œhow-toâ€, it took me almost 30 minutes just to navigate the language setting and change it to English.
The Aurora’s 7-inch display at 1024×600 resolution is a treat. Details are sharp, colors are vibrant, has great contrast, and HD images and videos appear superb. It also has IPS so you get great viewing angles but I wonâ€™t suggest using it under direct sunlight as the display throws a lot of glare. The display also supports multi-touch, sensitive, and of course, a fingerprint magnet.
The front-facing camera works fine for self-portraits. For 2 megapixels I didnâ€™t expect much in terms of quality. I also tried video calling via Skype but the camera doesnâ€™t work properly. I can see my caller clearly but I appear pixelated and discolored on the other end. It’s probably a software issue than a hardware one.
Apps are not a problem. In fact, the Aurora will give you apps you might havenâ€™t even seen before. I donâ€™t want to call it bloat ware since I havenâ€™t figured out yet how some of the apps work because theyâ€™re in Chinese. As a plus, games such as Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds Rio come pre-installed as well as a couple of file explorers and task managers. You wonâ€™t see the Gallery icon here since it’s replaced with QuickPic and Super-HD Player to handle your photo and video files. For other apps that you need, Iâ€™m sure you can find it in the Play Store and the Aurora will run it just fine as long as it’s compatible.
I downloaded Temple Run to test the gyro sensor on the device. The Aurora was able to run the game smoothly, swipes are working but unfortunately the character is always tilted to the left. Itâ€™ll only tilt to the right if you turn it on its landscape position which I think is a stupid way to play.
Like most Android tablets, multimedia is never a problem. Music playback is a breeze and the Super-HD Player app handles my AVI files very well but the speaker is a little bit on the soft side. It can deliver some oomph though and fill a small room but only if you max it out. If youâ€™re planning to play music and watch a movie in a location with lots of ambient noise, may I suggest using a headset instead. I also downloaded the YouTube app to play some HD videos and so far no problems and plays smoothly.
While over-all performance is very good, our synthetic benchmarks will categorically show you which other devices will perform closely like the Novo 7 Aurora.
The Quadrant Standard score is 1541 beating the score of the Nexus S while the Antutu Benchmark score is 2,843 putting it almost putting it very close to the Galaxy S and Nexus S. Lastly, the Nenamark 2 score gives it 24.1fps which is pretty decent.
In my regular use which includes normal internet browsing, light gaming, app downloading, eBook reading and some movies, the Aurora lasted two days before it completely ran out. I was able to keep it alive for three days if I let go of the games and movies. Overall, the Aurora’s battery life is sufficient enough to last a day without charging if you donâ€™t go heavy on it. Should it run low on juice, just plug it to your computer through its mini USB port or use the DC charger.
The Ainol Novo 7 Aurora is a tablet that you’ll surely enjoy and appreciate. On the downside, I donâ€™t like the plastic build of the Aurora. It feels hollow and I donâ€™t like a tablet that makes a creaking sound when I grip it. It gives me a feeling like it’s going to break the moment I lose my temper. You can also hear the plastic buttons rattle when you shake the tablet.
I also noticed that it has a very, very small gap on the left side between the screen and the bezel where you can partially peak at the ports. It’s not really noticeable at first but it gets annoying once you know it’s there. Overall, the Aurora is a good (but not great) budget friendly tablet. It has good display, it’s slim and light compared to other 7-inchers and can handle most of your media needs without any serious hiccups. If youâ€™re not too picky, then I donâ€™t think the cons will discourage you from buying this.
Ainol Novo 7 Aurora specs:
7″ IPS LCD @ 1024×600, 170ppi
1.2GHz Allwinner A10 processor (ARM Cortex A8)
8GB internal storage
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
2MP front-facing camera
3,700 mAh Li-Ion battery
Android 4.0 ICS
189mm x 120mm x 9.9mm
What we liked about it:
â— Slim form factor
â— Decent to good display quality
â— ICS out of the box
What we didn’t like:
â— A bit poor plastic build
â— Separate DC charger (not microUSB)
â— No rear camera
â— No Bluetooth
The Ainol Novo 7 Aurora is available at Widget City for a retail price of Php8,950 (check it out here).
Disclosure: Widget City provided the review unit. They are a display banner advertiser here in YugaTech.