by | February 25, 2015 | Reviews

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Cube loves to make tablets with phone functions, and pumps them out in sizes and price points to suit almost anyone.

The all new mid-size model, the Talk 8X OCTA, sports a power-efficient octa-core processor paired with an 8-inch display and a moderate $84 suggested retail price. How does it stack up against similarly-sized rivals? We will take a look.

Before we begin, a note: Cube, unfortunately, has a habit of re-using the names of its tablets, just as a lot of China-based manufacturers do these days. That makes it easy for customers to accidentally buy an older model while thinking they’re getting a good deal on the latest and greatest. The Cube Talk 8X OCTA we’re discussing today is an upgraded version of the Talk 8, and its model name is U27GT C8, rather than U27GT-3G, which is the model name of the older Talk 8. Before you make a purchase, please make sure to check that that’s the one you’re getting.

Cube Talk 8X main specs:

  • OS: Android 4.4.4
  • Display: 8-inch IPS, 5-point multi-touch, P+G
  • Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 (16:10)
  • CPU: MediaTek MT8392 Octa-core CPU
  • CPU Frequency: 1.66 GHz
  • GPU: ARM Mali-450MP4
  • RAM / Storage: 1GB / 8GB
  • Functions: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G, Phone, GPS, A-GPS, OTG, Miracast, FM Radio
  • GSM: band2, band3, band5, band8
  • WCDMA: band1, band5
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Camera: 2MP back camera, VGA front camera
  • Battery: 4,900mAh
  • Ports: SIM Card Slot, Micro SD Card Slot, Micro USB Port, 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Size: 213.3*128.8*9.2mm

Design and build

 

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If you’ve used either the Talk 7X or the older Talk 8, the basic layouts of the Talk 8X should be very recognizable. And that’s mostly a good thing. With rounded edges and a plastic rear, the slate is pretty easy to hold.

 

 

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You’ll find a Micro USB port and a headphone jack on the top, a Micro SD card slot on and a Micro SIM card slot on the back towards the top side. Cube has changed the positions of the hardware controls, the power/standby key and the volume rocker, which used to be put on the right side, are now hosted on the top edge. I personally hate this new arrangement, as it becomes more difficult for our fingers to reach those buttons while we’re using the slate in portrait mode.

 

 

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There’s little on the front bezel besides the VGA front-facing camera, as well as an earpiece. On the back, you’ll spot a 2MP rear camera above, and a speaker below (portrait mode).

 

 

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The slate measures 9.2mm thick, and is obviously much porkier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, which measures 7.2mm in terms of body depth. Fortunately, although the Talk 8X OCTA has a bigger bezel, it still keeps the overall footprint smaller than the Tab Pro 8.4, thanks to the relatively smaller screen size.

 

 

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For me, Cube is simply recycling its hardware when it comes to Talk 8X OCTA’s design. There’s nothing we haven’t seen before besides the new button layout, and the Talk 8X is a cheap tablet which also looks cheap.

 

 

Display and sound

 

 

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The Talk 8X OCTA sports an 8-inch IPS LCD panel at the resolution of 1280*800px. The display isn’t particularly sharp or crisp, but it is reasonably attractive for the price you’re paying. It delivers rich colors that aren’t overdone, and you only really lose brightness when you look at them from sharp angles.

 

 

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The brightness of the display is also quite good, as it is easily visible outdoors, as long as you don’t face the display to direct mid-day sunlight.

 

 

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It isn’t as vivid, clear, bright or glare-proof as the Super PLS panel used on the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, but it is a pretty decent offering for an entry-level tablet which costs less than $100.

 

 

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Cube’s tablets are known for the great built-in AAC speakers, unfortunately, the Talk 8X OCTA is an exception. The rear-facing speaker on the 8X OCTA is pretty bad, even the speaker of the $50 Cube U25GT produces louder, fuller output.

 

 

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I was eager to plug in my Monster headphone whenever the Talk 8X OCTA’s built-in speaker made a sound. With the external audio system connected, the 8X OCTA’s audio performance is pretty acceptable, pretty much in the same class of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, although not as great as my Hi-Fi enabled LG G2 smartphone.

 

 

Software

 

 

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If you’ve ever used a Cube tablet or read our review of the Cube tablets, you’ll know what to expect software-wise. The Talk 8X is running the stock Android interface — it’s simple, smooth and responsive.

There isn’t an avalanche of preloaded software, either. You will have a whole set of Google apps, and some of the applications every Chinese needs to use, fortunately, you can easily uninstall those Chinese apps without the need to root your device beforehand.

 

 

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Another thing worth a note is that the Talk 8X OCTA, like the more premium T7 and T9, supports OTA firmware upgrade.

 

 

Performance

 

 

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Don’t expect to see a performance which will beat high-end offerings such as the T7 and Nexus 9. But it’s not shocking that they can outpace Cube’ own Talk 8, a one-year-old device using an even older processor. It also fares well against the Google Nexus 7, and even the premium Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 – which is labored by its own 2560*1600 number of pixels.

 

 

benchmark

 

The numbers translate well to the real world. The MediaTek chip doesn’t break a sweat while navigating through the interface, and it’s equally adept at both web browsing and video playback.

 

 

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The Mali T450MP4 GPU is a capable if unimpressive chip for gaming. Crazy Cars ran at a very playable frame rate, but never came anywhere near the 60fps smoothness I look for and have only seen rarely in tablets. Other less demanding games like Riptide and Zombie Wood, however, look beautiful thanks to the screen’s large color palette.

 

 

Connectivity

 

 

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The Talk 8X OCTA belongs to Cube’s most popular Talk series, which means it is another tablet with full phone functionalities. Cellular network support, SMS, voice call functions, Bluetooth and GPS are all onboard to make the slate a capable substitute if your smartphone runs out of juice.

Things are working as designed here. The tablet can establish a pretty stable cellular connection for phone calls and short messages. Unlike the T7, the Talk 8X OCTA only supports GSM/WCDMA networks, so you will have to find out what kind of mobile service you have subscribed before you make a purchase. Bluetooth and GPS work well, too.

 

 

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The 8GB built-in storage is clearly too small for the majority of users, luckily a Micro SD card slot which supports cards up to 32GB is on board. If that’s still not enough, the tablet also supports USB on the go.

 

 

Battery Life

 

 

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You’ll find a 4,900mAh embedded Lithium-Ion battery inside the Cube Talk 8X OCTA, which is more capacity than the battery inside of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. According to Cube, this battery will provide more than 21 hours’ music play time, or over 5 hours’ video play time.

 

 

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In an attempt to quantitatively measure the 8X OCTA’s battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran the AnTuTu Battery Test which is available from the Google Play Store. For this test, we set the slate’s display to 100% brightness, which is still plenty bright and easy on the eyes. The Talk 8X OCTA scored 5013, which is average among Android devices.

And in our standard cngadget video looping battery test, the 8X OCTA’s 6 hours and 23 minutes test result also ranks in the middle of the mid-sized tablets.

During our real-world testing, the Talk 8X OCTA had no problem making it through a few days while checking emails, surfing the web, taking pictures, leaving the screen on for 30+ minutes while the tablet sits idle, and playing a few games. We would expect an average user should have no problem making it through an entire day with moderate use as well. Of course, battery life will vary depending on how the tablet is used.

 

 

 

Cameras

 

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(Photo by the rear camera)

I would have been pleased if Cube had just skipped the rear camera instead of giving us what they did. The 2MP camera on the back of the Talk 8X OCTA is a fixed focus lens on a tiny sensor that can’t seem to take a good picture under any circumstances. I can’t scan receipts into Expensify, I can’t read barcodes without multiple tries, and any pictures will turn out soft, grainy and poorly. The front facing camera is fine for a low-bandwidth hangout, but it’s not the camera you’ll want to use to try and catch a mate with a selfie. It’s exactly what you would expect from a budget device when it comes to camera hardware.

 

 

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Surprisingly, the software includes shooting modes like Panorama and HDR, but this is likely because it was easier to leave it in the stock Android camera app than to spend time and money to take it out.

If you’ve an emergency where you have to take a picture and all you have is the Talk 8X OCTA, it would probably be good enough for traffic court or blurry-cam paranormal shots, but don’t buy the Talk 8X OCTA for its camera.

 

 

Final thoughts

 

 

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If you stumbled here from a Google search, and just want a good, cheap tablet with phone functions, the Talk 8X OCTA is probably a good buy. The screen is a little iffy for reading, the cameras are pretty poor, and the speaker is tinny and doesn’t offer much in the volume department. For the most part, though, the slate works well and you’ll like the price. The extremely solid way it’s built — can you tell it impressed me? — is icing on the cake.

If you’re an Android enthusiast with more budget, though, you have other options you should consider. The LG G Pad 8.3 or the Cube T7, for a bit more money you’ll get a much better screen and a more future-proof set of internals.

Should you consider all things and still go with the Talk 8X OCTA, you’ll have a solid, but middle-of-the-road device that’s a perfect coffee-table tablet for a quick peek at the Internet while watching a movie, or for watching the movie itself.

 

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