The predominant tablet trend nowadays maybe towards being lighter, slimmer, squarer and smaller. That’s why we’ve seen lots of compact tablets such as the iPad mini, the Google Nexus 9, the Nokia N1 tablet and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 are being released. However, Jide, a technology company based in Beijing, is going the opposite direction. It recently released an 11.6-inch tablet called the REMIX Ultra, which is also the tablet we’re reviewing today.
If you haven’t heard of Jide Technology, it was a software company founded by three ex-Google engineers with a mission to unlock the potential of Android in order to accelerate a new age of computing. According to Jide, their vision is to make Android a more productive operating system that may someday be introduced to our PCs, and REMIX OS is the key to that vision.
After testing the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet, it’s easy to conclude that it is the closest thing available to replace both your tablet and your ultrabook. That said, the relatively high price could be a sore spot for many users on the fence deciding between it and a notebook — the suggested price for the 64GB version of the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet is $439 (with keyboard included).
Jide REMIX Ultra Tablet Specs
- OS: REMIX OS 1.5 (on top of Android 5.0.2)
- Display: 11.6-inch IPS, 10-point multi-touch, IGZO
- Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
- Processor: Nvidia Tegra 4 (1.8GHZ quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU, plus a 2nd Generation Battery Saver Core, GeForce GPU with 72 custom cores)
- RAM / Storage: 2GB / 64GB
- Function: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, OTG
- WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
- Camera: 5MP back camera, 5MP front camera
- Battery: 8,100mAh
- Extend Port: Micro SD card slot, USB port, 3.5mm headphone Jack, Micro HDMI port
- Weight & Size: 860g / 189 x 295 x 9.5 mm
The REMIX Ultra tablet is shipped with a very well-designed box, inside you will find a tablet, a keyboard, a charger, an OTG adapter, a screen protector, a user manual and a warranty card.
There is also a poster saying “For those revolutionaries that will shape tomorrow”, which demonstrates the vision of Jide and their products.
Design and build
The front is dominated by an 11.6-inch screen, with relatively big bezel to rest your fingers on, whether you hold the tablet in portrait or landscape. Above the display is a 5MP front-facing camera capable of 720P video recording, below the display you will find a home button.
The power/standby key is located on the top side of the tablet, while the volume rocker is hosted on the left side. The silver frame around makes it easier for users to distinguish the buttons.
The right side plays host to a Micro USB port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a charging indicator, a 4 contact magnetic charging port.
The AAC speakers are hosted on the left and right side, which helps to output stereo sound.
A 6 contact magnetic docking for connecting with the keyboard is located on the bottom side.
The rear side of the tablet is made of magnesium aluminum alloy, coated in red or silver so it has a fashionable appeal to it, instead of looking like another piece of cold, black technology.
Like the Microsoft Surface series, the REMIX Ultra has a kickstand, which helps the tablet to stand on your table or lap. The kickstand can open to two different angles, the first setting (40 degrees) is ideal for typing and productivity work when the tablet is on a table, the second (80 degrees) is better for watching videos while the tablet is sitting on your lap.
There is a Micro SD card slot on the back of the tablet, right under the kickstand. Which means you can have 128GB external storage on top of the 16GB/64GB internal storage.
Measured at 189 x 295 x 9.5 mm, and weighs 860g, the REMIX Ultra tablet is big, heavy and thick by today’s tablet standards. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, which is also a big tablet, measures 6.6mm thick and weighs only 465g. And the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, with a larger display, is a lot slimmer and lighter (204 x 295.6 x 7.95 mm, 740g). Even when compared to business-ready Windows tablets such as the Surface Pro 3 (201.4 x 292.1 x 9.1mm, 800g) and the Cube i7 (297*180*9.1mm, 840g), the REMIX Ultra doesn’t have an edge in portability.
While the design of the Jide REMIX Ultra isn’t the most eye-catching or attractive, it’s functional with easy to hold sides and a decent amount of grip. Manufactured by Foxconn, the build quality of the slate is extremely good, too. No matter how much you twist or squeeze the tablet’s chassis, there’s barely any flex to be found.
A keyboard is included in the retail package of the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet. Once attached magnetically to the REMIX Ultra, the keyboard instantly turns the tablet into an ultrabook. The REMIX Ultra keyboard itself looks very much like the Surface Type Cover, it is both a tablet cover and a keyboard. It is very nicely designed, with ideal space between the keys (19.02mm). The keyboard also offers decent key travel (1.2mm), which gives you tactile feedback when you type.
The keyboard also has a small touchpad in its front, but unfortunately the left and right mouse buttons aren’t integrated into the touchpad, so it fails to offer the real mousing experience which many users would prefer.
In actual use, the REMIX Ultra keyboard feels much more comfortable than the Surface Touch Cover and the Bluetooth keyboard cover for the Acer ICONIA W700, on par with the Surface Type Cover. It won’t take long for you to reach your top typing speed. With that said, I still prefer the keyboard base for the Cube i7 REMIX because it looks and feels more like a traditional keyboard.
Display and sound
The 11.6-inch screen on this big tablet from Jide is an IPS panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, providing a pixel density of 189 PPI.
This is nowhere near the highest pixel density we have seen on top Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro and Tab S, but still comes close to the point where it is almost impossible to single out individual pixels at a glance.
Quality of the REMIX Ultra’s display is extremely good. Viewing angles are wide, colors accurate, and although it isn’t the brightest display we’ve seen on a tablet, it still has decent outdoor visibility.
While most tablets, especially those from Chinese brands, produce dull, tinny sound from their built-in speakers, the REMIX Ultra tablet offers an above-average performance in the audio department. Not only is the sound more audible, it also has more texture to it. Playing Toni Braxton’s “Spanish Guitar”, I could hear a lot of detail with instrument separation. However, it is still no match for the Galaxy tab Pro 8.4 or iPad Air in terms of volume and bass.
When we plugged in a Monster Inspiration on-ear headphone, the REMIX Ultra was able to drive it at an ear-splitting level. Generally, the built-in speakers are okay for watching YouTube feeds in a quiet room, but headphones are recommended for music and movies.
System and UI
How do you fit 11.6 inches of Android tablet into your daily life? That’s a question Jide and its partners must have pondered at some point during designing the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet, a device that stretches the upper limits of what we usually call a tablet. But the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet is no ordinary Android slate, it offers the users an experience that’s utterly different from what your average android tablets could bring to the table.
The Jide REMIX Ultra ships with REMIX OS, a heavily customized skin on top of Android OS. We often say that we prefer the stock Android UI because most of customized skins have abundant animations and unnecessary features which slow down the overall performance. But with the REMIX OS, it is a different matter.
REMIX OS transforms the ordinary Android experience from head to toe. It feels more like a combination of iOS, Android, Chrome OS and Windows 8. The current version of REMIX OS (REMIX OS 1.5) is built on Android 5.0 with a planned update to 5.1. The REMIX homescreens look very much like iOS, all the applications appear on the homescreen, and there is no widget support. For many of us who are used to checking the weather, the calendar and the latest news in widgets, this can be slightly disappointing.
The Android navigation bar has become a Windows-like taskbar with pinnable apps, an application drawer, a back button and a home button on the left, as well as a multi-purpose Jide button on the right. You can sort the apps in the application drawers by alphabetic, date updated or usage, you can also search for the app you want to open.
The multi-purpose Jide button can be used to switch between full screen and phone size (for multitasking), and can also be used to clear the memory.
Swiping down from proportion of the screen opens the semi-transparent screen which includes the most common settings and notifications. Swiping up then this screen will be swiped off the display.
Jide has also added some right-click menus to the REMIX OS for better mouse support. This greatly enhances the usability and productivity of the tablet.
Icons for the apps currently running will show up in the taskbar. You can switch between running apps by tapping the icons.
If you’re using a full-screen app, the taskbar will hide itself to enhance the real full-screen experience. But whenever you need it, you can bring it up by simply double tapping the screen or swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
Most apps in phone mode are resized to look like they’re running on a smartphone screen. You can fit 2 or 3 apps side-by-side in landscape mode (4 or 5 is also possible if you don’t mind the overlapping).
The windows for the active apps are not resizable by default, but you can enable the “resize window” function to make them resizable by dragging the bottom right hand corner.
When an app is running in phone mode, you can tap the “stick to front” icon to prevent other apps from overlapping it, you can also tap the “minimize” icon to make the app window disappear into the background.
Closing a running application is also extremely easy on the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet. You can drag its icon out of the taskbar, or tap the “x” icon at the top of the app window (in phone mode), or hit the multi-purpose button to bring up a menu with a “Quit App” option.
It is also possible to have an app running in a phone mode in front of an app in full-screen mode. I often stick a social networking app running in phone mode while playing a video underneath in full-screen.
The Jide REMIX Ultra is marketed as a business tablet, and some applications are indeed customized to offer more productivity than ordinary Android tablets. The mail app is designed to work like the email system on Windows 8, with a pop-up writing box. You can even copy text from other mails or other applications on top and then paste it into the writing box.
The file manager also makes interacting with files much easier than with the stock Android file app.
The screen shot function lets you choose the area you want to capture as an image.
The preinstalled WPS office suite is very useful for reading and some simple editing, but if you want to compare it to the fully-featured Microsoft Office for Windows, you will certainly be disappointed. You could also install Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel for Android from Google Play, but they may be even less useful than WPS when it comes to productivity.
As a whole, REMIX OS is a huge step forward for Android OS. It lets you do just about anything you could do with a normal Android tablet, but it adds support for Windows-like multitasking, right-click menus and also other customized features to enhance productivity. Personally, I would say that I have never been a fan of any customized Android skin before, but now I am a huge fan of REMIX OS.
The Jide REMIX Ultra is powered by a 1.8GHZ Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and 2GB RAM. The Tegra 4 processor harnesses four mighty ARM Cortex-A15 CPU cores, plus a second-generation battery-saver core, to deliver both performance and battery life. The reason why Jide has chosen a more dated version of Tegra processor over the latest Tegra K1 may be to keep the tablet from getting over-heated. As the Tegra K1 powered tablets such as the Xiaomi Mi Pad and the Nexus 9 are both reported to get extremely hot handling heavy tasks.
General performance of the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet is strong, if nothing especially impressive. Navigating through the home screens is smooth, opening applications is fast, browsing pics in the gallery app is also extremely snappy, every picture slides in and appears instantaneously or close to it. Videos look good, too, and, like photos, playback begins just as you tap the play button. Graphics-intensive websites load fast, almost on par with the Apple iPad Air2. Working on an office program while playing an HD video in the foreground, the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet still remains perfectly responsive.
If benchmarks are more convincing to you, we’ve listed the benchmark scores of the Jide REMIX Ultra tablet above, along with the scores of other tablets for comparison. It is clear that the Jide REMIX Ultra fares pretty well against other high-end Android tablets.
I do have detected some stutters and pauses when there are several big applications running in the foreground in phone mode, but it can be expected as tablets and smartphones with even the most cutting-edge specs also struggle with heavy multi-tasking.
The Jide REMIX Ultra tablet offers lots of connectivity options. It features Wi-Fi a/b/g/n support, with 2.4GHz and 5GHz band compatibility. Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA support are also available. Bluetooth 4.0 is on board to take care of local data transfer.
There is a micro SD card slot as well, on top of the 64GB of internal storage. The micro USB port on the side supports USB on the go, and can host all kinds of input and storage devices, including my 500GB mobile hard drive.
Unfortunately, the Jide REMIX Ultra doesn’t have an HDMI port, nor does it support MHL, which is quite a disappointment.
The REMIX Ultra packs an 8,100mAh Lithium polymer battery, which isn’t really big for a tablet this size. Even with the help of the efficient power management of the Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, the battery life of the REMIX Ultra is underwhelming.
In our standard cngadget battery rundown test, we loop a 1080P video on the REMIX Ultra with 50% of screen brightness and 50% of volume through the built-in speakers, the tablet lasted 7 hours and 37 minutes until automatic shutdown. This is no match for the 12 hours and 11 hours we got respectively from the iPad Air and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, and puts the Jide REMIX Ultra in the middle of our rankings.
In the real world use, the Jide REMIX Ultra didn’t live up to our expectations, either, especially as we tended to do more multi-tasking on the REMIX Ultra than we did with average Android tablet. With some Youtube feeds, some social internet, some typing with the keyboard attached, some gaming and internet browsing, we were constantly left with 30% – 40% of battery life at the end of the day. So for moderate to heavy users, charging on a daily basis is needed.
Like all tablets nowadays, the REMIX Ultra has dual cameras, a 5MP front-facing camera and a 5MP main camera on the back. While the front-facing camera is nice enough for video-chatting on Skype and Wechat, you won’t want to use it for selfies. The rear-facing camera can take Okay photos when there is decent lighting, but who would use such a gigantic device to take pictures?
Photo taken by the front-facing camera
Photos taken by the rear-facing camera
Just when we begin to lose interest in Android OS on tablets, the Jide REMIX Ultra arrives with flying colors. It’s amazing that Jide has managed to build such a premium looking and wonderfully versatile tablet out of the REMIX Ultra, we have never seen an Android tablet more solid, more productive, or more laptop-like. This is truly hands-down one of the best tablets out there.
However, Like many products that try to be two things at once, the REMIX Ultra does neither as well as those designed for one function, and we really have a hard time trying to figure out what kind of users the device is marketing towards. It may have surpassed most of the Android tablets and iPads in terms of performance and productivity, but it is still nowhere near what high-end Windows tablets when it comes to handling business tasks. It does have access to all the applications in Google Play, but its size and weight become a real burden when we try to use it as a media-consuming device.
The REMIX OS is not perfect, either. Running several applications in windows is indeed very cool, but whenever you want to switch a running application from phone mode to full screen, or the other way around, the app has to go through being closed and then reopened, instead of just zooming in and out like it is accomplished on the LG Optimus UI.
Besides their very own REMIX Ultra tablet, Jide has also been releasing REMIX OS ROMs for popular tablets such as the Nexus 10, Nexus 9 and Xiaomi Mi Pad. They are also working closely with major Chinese tablet brands like Cube and Onda to release tablets shipped with REMIX OS.
The Jide REMIX Ultra is nicely designed, well-built and provides users with arguably the best Android experience on a tablet, it could easily replace your chrome book, iPad or Galaxy Tab. However, if you want it to offer as much productivity as the ultrabooks and tablets with full Windows system, you will be disappointed.
Also, at $439, the REMIX Ultra tablet is certainly priced much higher than average Android tablets from China: the Cube i7 REMIX, which runs the same REMIX OS, is priced at $225 with a keyboard base included; the Teclast T98 4G, which features a beefier processor and 4G support, is also priced at only $225. Even compared to some Core-M powered Windows tablets such as the Cube i7 Stylus ($338) and the ONDA V919 3G Core M ($322), the REMIX Ultra doesn’t have an edge in the price department.
Even if Jide fails to sell the REMIX Ultra tablet, REMIX OS is here to stay. With Jide furthering its partnership with other tablet manufacturers, we will certainly see more tablets running this amazing Android skin in the coming months.