I was asked to do a review of a tablet to be used by a certain office, so I got my hands on a demo unit of a Firefly Mobile Inspire.
Upon receiving the unit, I immediately inspected what the box has to say for the unit. Nothing much is given, since this is a demo unit, but there seems to be an array of icons which represent some of its features such us HD Movie, Web Browsing, Music Player, Wi-Fi capable, Game and HDMI. Not very informative, but at least it gave me a glimpse of what this tablet can do.
Upon opening the box, the tablet was placed neatly on the top with the included accessories below in a separate compartment. The accessories included in the unit is a wall charger, USB cable (Standard A to Mini), USB cable (Standard A receptacle to mini) and a Soft case sleeve pouch. The actual retail unit might have an earphone and a micro SD card included, but I’m not sure.
I didn’t find any information about this unit online, also the Firefly Mobile website doesn’t have any information available on their website at this moment.
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread
- Single Core ARM v7 Processor (VFPv3, NEON) 1GHz
- 4GB Internal Storage (around 3GB available for usage)
- 360MB RAM
- 7″ Capacitive Touchscreen 800×480 @ 68Hz
- PowerVR SGX 540 GPU (OpenGL)
- Front-facing VGA camera
- Gravity Sensor
- 3.5mm headset jack
- USB Host/OTG
- micro SD support
- HDMI capable
The Firefly Mobile Inspire looks like a typical tablet that you see everywhere else. Assuming that we are holding it in landscape (width is longer than height), it’s a black slate with a 7″ screen and a single round physical button in front on the right side of the screen, which serves as a Back button. The front-facing camera is also located above the screen with the Firefly Mobile logo embossed with metal highlights below. The tablet has metal edges which gives the impression of a sturdy build, though the front and back sides are made of plastic. On the top edge lies three physical round buttons. The left-most button is the power/lock button. And I have to say that I was surprised to know that the middle and the rightmost button are not volume buttons, they are Menu and Home buttons respectively.
On the right edge lies all the I/O ports, (from top to bottom) 3.5″ headset jack, USB on-the-go (OTG), HDMI port, Reset button, USB host, charging port, Transflash slot, built-in Mic.
The tablet measures 197cm x 125cm x 10cm, thinner than the other tablets of its category. I’m not sure about the weight, but it’s not that heavy for a tablet. The back side is simply a black surface with a Firefly Mobile logo in the middle, the same as the logo in front of the device. The speakers are located on the upper and lower right corner of the unit when you are looking at the back side.
I wasn’t really expecting anything groundbreaking from this device. But I have to say that this device really performs quite well, but didn’t really surpassed my expectations. Performance-wise, this device did its job well. With a quadrant score of 1900, it has the potential to outperform some older Samsung tablets and phones. Scrolling through the home screen is good, with some 3D animations that resemble those of HTC phones. I’m too lazy to try and download HD games, so I stick with Angry Birds, and it was fluid and smooth as hell. Also tried playing HD videos, and surprisingly it can support 1080p, which I think plays well with rare to no occurrence of lag. The volume of the internal speaker is pretty bad, good thing there is headset jack available to plugin your earphones and speakers. Regarding the performance as well, when I enabled all the animations on the Settings, the UI stops responding (temporarily) and alerts me to Wait or Force Close the running application involved. It happened many times and I find it annoying, though the Android core itself didn’t crash and is completely recoverable, it’s such a waste of time to wait for an application to respond.
The durability of the product comes to mind when you first see the tablet, since it’s build largely resemble the generic tablets from China that are usually rebranded by most companies. But I can safely say that although it looks cheap, somehow it doesn’t feel cheap, at least compared to generic China tablets. The physical buttons don’t feel like it can stand a beating like the big boys can (Samsung, HTC, Apple, etc.), but are pretty responsive. The capacitive screen is pleasant enough to use without frustrations. Though if you’re used to high-end tablets in the market, you’ll feel a very slight lag in the response of the screen. The screen brightness is good but not as bright as the AMOLED screens of Samsung tablets. I suggest to lower the brightness of the screen since it can really hog most your battery.
Regarding the camera, it is terrible. My decade-old Nokia phone can shoot better picture than this tablet. The picture that it takes is also reversed, just like when you are looking through a mirror. There are only a few customizations that you can do with the camera and most of them can be left untouched. Though we have to consider that this is a tablet and not a camera, if we want better pictures, get a camera instead.
The user-interface isn’t that bad, it’s a custom UI that still feels like a typical Android tablet. The notification bar is on the lower part of the screen. There are also additional icon buttons on the left of the notification bar for navigation as the Back, Home and Notification buttons respectively. And I’m pretty sure it was redundant since there are already Back and Home buttons physically on the device. They should’ve opted to place a physical volume button instead since some apps on the market doesn’t have a volume control, such as games, so adjusting the volume would be a pain to do.
The battery is not up to par with the famous brands, in my opinion at least. I managed to have it on for only 3 hours on a full charge with Wi-Fi on and brightness at max while playing videos. Though charging the unit only takes around 2 hours using the included wall socket charger, proper techniques to preserve battery life must be taken care of. I suggest to always carry the charger with the unit or bring a portable power bank with you when going out for a trip since the battery is built-in, like most tablets, a reserve battery is not an option.
Like most Android tablets, the Android market is pre-installed and can be used to download apps like eBook readers such as Aldiko, Moon+ Reader and FBReader. I don’t think this product is available for retail as of this writing. When I visit their website, it only shows me their email addresses for inquiry, where I can safely assume that they can be contacted for bulk orders and such. No information or even a catalog is available at their website, which raises a question regarding after-sales support. We know that they will replace or repair products under warranty, but what about software maintenance? I’m not sure about how frequent will they release updates for Android, but there is an Updater (they spell it as Updatter) menu under Settings which checks for software updates.
The Firefly Mobile Inspire is just an average, typical Android tablet that offers you what a common tablet can offer. It’s quite hard for me to decide on how to rate this tablet since I wasn’t informed of it’s price. But if the price is under the P6,000 range, I’ll give it a thumbs up. Hypothetically speaking, the price shouldn’t go over P8,000 or else it will be pale in comparison even with other locally-produced (Note: not locally-made) tablet such as the Cherry Pad Turbo and CDRKing Fastpad. But for now, I could say that this tablet will do for an average user who simply reads ebooks and browses the web casually.
Another Update: I recently found a stall at our local mall, and the Firefly Mobile Inspire is priced at P6,490. Not that bad, huh?