Jide Remix Ultra Tablet Review: Multi-window Done Right
Jide may not be the OEM that first spring to mind when considering a new tablet, but the crowdfunding-born company produce one of the best productivity tablets available. Renowned for their heavily customised version of Android, Remix OS brings a level of multi-tasking never seen before on Android. Their massive Ultra tablet has had time to receive many updates and bug fixes by now, so lets take a look at what it has to offer.
|Model:||Jide Remix Ultra Tablet|
|Display||11.6” Full HD IPS 1920 x 1080p|
|CPU||NVIDIA Tegra 4*1 A15 Processor 1.81GHz|
|GPU||Tegra GPU GeForce ULP 72|
|SD Card Support||Yes|
|Size||189mm x 295mm x 9.5mm|
|Camera||Front: 5MP Rear: 5MP|
- Design, Build Quality
- Software UI & Features
- Performance & Memory
- Display & Audio
- Battery Life
- Rootability & Future Proofing
- Final Thoughts
Design & Build Quality ^
When I received the tablet from Jide I was taken aback by the effort that had gone into the packaging. I have received many devices in plain brown card boxes with nothing but a product name and serial number before and that is not something that bothers me in the slightest. Removing this tablet from the shipping material I felt something I haven’t experienced for a long time, excitement the box itself was very much like a gift. A large white box made of a thick white cardboard, in the top was the word “REMIX” embossed and inlaid in silver, the bright blue seam running at angles to the box around the edge. This is certainly not something I require from my devices, but is it something I appreciate? Yes.
OTG device and the addition of magnets allow for a more nonchalant approach to charging. It is perfectly feasible to move your tablet in the direction of the charger give a little shake and it will happily snap into place. The back of the device features a classy sheet of aluminium which not only looks and feels great but also does a spectacular job of heat dispersion. This is broken by a hinge at the 1/3 point to provide an adjustable kickstand that will rest at both 40 degrees and 80 degrees.
The units most noticeable feature upon picking it up is the weight, weighing in at 860g/1.9 lbs, this means that you will be making use of that kickstand as most people will be uncomfortable holding it without support for extended periods.
The tablet ships with a detachable magnetic keyboard, featuring 81 keys with a travel distance of 1.2mm meaning that typing is very tactile. Most of the standard shortcuts are supported including Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, and Ctrl+X. The keyboard easily folds up over the screen acting as a cover when the device is not in use and a soft felt finish to the palm rest and trackpad ensure that the screen is not scratched by the keys when closed. When being carried around the keyboard can be attached in reverse, covering the rear of the tablet and keeping it out of the way. A few noteworthy points are that the keyboard only ships with the U.S. configuration meaning that users in other countries may have to become accustomed to the different key placing. Secondly, to use the keyboard the tablet must have the kickstand out or be laid flat meaning that work on your lap is difficult due to space requirements.
Software, UI & Features ^
I have never been a strong advocate for multi-window in Android before, I have certainly used it but have always stopped using it after a short while. I felt that it was an unnecessary feature that was until I used it in Remix OS, resizable windows that can be minimised and brought back with a touch may not be something that I could ever feel the need for on a phone but on a tablet it just feels right and is certainly something that should be integrated on Android devices with larger screens.
The UI is closer to that of a desktop than most Android tablets. The taskbar allows app management in a manner that will feel familiar to desktop users with app pinning, switching and minimisation available with just one click. The ability to resize and freely move apps really allows for mostly flawless multi-tasking and therefore increase productivity significantly. As can be seen in the screenshots, opening a song detection app while watching TV, reading guides while playing games, or discussing media as you watch are all simple tasks. With some minor bug fixes (see below) I could happily see myself using Remix OS on a desktop instead of my current ChromeOS.
RemixOS itself is very different from stock, the major alterations to the system have necessitated some changes such as the addition of a task bar. The notification drawer has been changed to make use of the space better and the settings menu has been skinned to look like Windows. This also means that you are unable to use a 3rd party launcher (we tried and failed to find one that would run).
I did note a few issues:
- Chrome for Android is automatically set to display the mobile version of sites, which means many sites will not display correctly on such a large screen. This can be fixed easily enough though and is an issue with Chrome not Remix OS.
- Some apps refuse to work and can even necessitate a reboot, Hangouts for instance will not open in windowed mode but will instead remain open in the system but disappear from view, as the tablet will then remember that you wanted it opening in windowed mode you will have to uninstall hangouts and reinstall in order to use it again.
- Inbox by Google will open, but the bar allowing you to move the window around doesn’t appear with it so it’s stuck taking up the centre of your screen.
- apps that need to run in the background in order to provide you with notifications such as: social media apps, messaging and email. Will not function correctly out the box, I realised quickly that unless an app was open I would not receive notifications and could not find a solution. After a lengthy search of the Jide forums and searching through the countless threads of people with the same issue I came across a simple answer. Apps were automatically not allowed to run in the background, the solution lies inside the “power manager” app, where you can whitelist apps.
- Some apps such as Hangouts (again) have issues with scaling on a device with an 11.6″ display, meaning that because the app must be run in full screen most of the screen will be blank space.
- For some reason if you have Google Play Movies open you are unable to access the notification tray, and any attempt to do so will result in the tablet crashing and booting you to your lockscreen. This means that if you want to quickly check if you have messages or if a file has finished downloading you are unable.
Performance & Memory ^
The device as can be seen from the specs is certainly not a gaming tablet, it is designed for efficiency through multi-tasking and work. If gaming is your thing games do look glorious on the 11.6″ display and the vast majority will run fine, but you may notice occasional lag and frame skips. AnTuTu returns a mid range score of 41341 while Basemark OS II placed the device just below the 2014 Samsung Galaxy A5 Duos, a little disappointing for spec addicts like many of us, but not something that I actually noticed that much. To explain it simply, I would say it was adequate for day to day usage, and more than sufficient for working, whether it be in the office or the classroom. Apps such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs work great alongside others such as chrome, Remix OS does a great job of handling multiple apps at the same time even with 2GB of DDR3 RAM.
GFXBench places the tablet alongside devices such as the LG G4 Stylus, the Zenfone 5 and the Nokia Lumia 1520 on the high-level tests. However on the low-level tests the device is placed with the HTC One M9 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 and Pro 12.2.
The User experience of the tablet is harboured on occasion by seemingly random crashes and other such errors as can be seen below. On occasion closing a full-screen app will reveal a black screen, with no access to the taskbar or app drawer requiring a reboot in order to use the tablet again. I have seen that from time to time unlocking the tablet will result in a “process system isn’t responding” notice followed by being booted back to the lock screen, rebooting tends to rectify this issue. These issues appear to have been rectified in recent updates.
Display & Audio ^
The full HD display is a clear and bright outfit and at 11.6 inches is perfect for gaming and movies while at the same striking a balance with battery consumption that is vital with a screen of this size. Faint ghost images of previous apps can be seen at times however, this is more likely due to a software issue than hardware. Colours are well balanced and saturation is not too high.
The stereo speakers are both the largest and best I have seen on a device, audio is fantastically clear and even on full volume there is no distortion. These are easily one of my favorite features of the tablet with audio being easy to hear even with moderate background noise. I have on a few occasions now set the tablet down and decided that the benefit gained from plugging in the tablet to my office’s speakers was simply not necessary when in the same room.
Audio recording comparison of the Jide tablet to a Xiaomi Mi Note:
Both cameras are of the same quality and are capable of 1080P videos and 5MP, 2560 x 1920 photos. The significant size of the tablet almost surely means you are not likely to be carrying it around with you ready to take photos of day to day occurrences when you have your phone with you. Meaning that the camera here is likely intended for video calls and the like, the lack of flash can be an issue in low light situations and pictures usually end up with mild distortion or lines running across them. Even in well-lit areas images can appear muted with a significant lack of colour. I reiterate, if you are just wanting to make a call on Hangouts or Skype, it should be fine. If you are hoping to take amazing landscape shots, be sure to pack your phone.
Battery Life ^
Battery life is incredibly varied on this device, the system handles basic tasks well but more advanced tasks kill the battery very quickly. I have been able to have Microsoft word, Powerpoint and Chrome for Android open for the majority of 6 hours on a regular basis. However you will probably need to plug your tablet in if you intend on streaming more than 2 hours of video while on full brightness. Charging on a daily basis is something you will have to do if you are using the tablet regularly as it is easy to get carried away and have several battery draining apps running on screen at once. I have tried to charge the device with a power bank with micro-USB but with an 8100 mAh battery this is going to be a long and laborious process.
Rootability & Future Proofing ^
Root has been reported by many as achievable easily with KingRoot, however with an OTA for Remix OS 2.0 (Android 6.0) arriving in the coming months, you may wish to hold off for now as rooting will disable OTAs such as the one demonstrated in the video below.
Regarding the future proofing of the device, I have had the impression since day one that this is a tablet designed for general office work and productivity for which the specs are more than adequate and will continue to be so for a long time coming. High-end games and intensive apps may stutter now, but we have yet to see how the next big update will affect them although the chances of stretching the specs further seem unlikely. When asked about the possibility of a 2nd Ultra tablet with improved specs, Jide informed me that “We do have exciting announcements in the works and we’ll share in a timely fashion. Please stay tuned!” So of course, keep an eye on the portal and we will let you know if anything interesting turns up. With a little extra RAM and a larger battery this tablet could really stand out from the crowd as a near perfect tablet for productivity.
Final Thoughts ^
The software is exceptional while many of the issues currently being reported are said to have been fixed in the coming update which should roll out in early 2016. The thought of having Remix OS 2.0 run on a device like the Pixel C is an exciting prospect and not entirely unlikely as the OS is already officially available for several Nexus tablets through their site. When all is said and done, the tablet is a perfect example of what can be done when an OEM focuses on a problem like multitasking and achieves something that leaves you thinking it should be readily available in some form on stock Android. If you are interested in picking up a Remix Ultra Tablet we negotiated a $50 off voucher and free shipping if you head to their store via the link below!