Ever since the iPad was introduced back in April, manufacturers have been scampering to create a nega-gadget to neutralize Apple's success. Some, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and BlackBerry PlayBook, have decided to face Jobs & Co. head on while others like the Cherry Mobile Superion chose to attack from the bottom. After days of trying out the latter, we finally know what the local handset maker is up to.
Before anything else, we'd like to say that the Superion is, in fact, built to spec by Filipino engineers. However, it is also a fact that the device itself is an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) device manufactured in China. That means it has "twins" all over the world like the Viewsonic ViewPad 7 in Hong Kong and the OlivePad in India.
The Superion is fantastic for something so affordable (take note, the operative clause is "for something so affordable"). It's a decent mobile internet device, a useful note-taking and typing tool, and an excellent show-off gadget. The glances we got from strangers are no different from the ones we got during our sorties with the iPad and the Galaxy Tab. The comparisons with the latter are inevitable so let's just dive into it.
Compared to the Tab, the Superion is thicker build but with a thinner bezel. The combination makes it look more like a regular planner (especially with the faux leather case) compared to the flatter Tab which could be likened to a pad of paper. Both form factors have their pros and their cons i.e.the Superion is easier to handle while the Tab is easier to keep.
Build quality is not bad, although it feels nowhere near as posh as its tiny doppelganger, the iPhone 4. The 7-inch screen is spacious enough for web browsing and typing text via the onscreen keyboard. We did, however, experience some sensitivity issues during our sessions with the Angry Birds. For some inexplicable reason, our egg bombs began exploding even without our intervention.
Speaking of the Birds, we have to point out that while the Superion can handle the game it's not as smooth as you would expect it to be. It takes about 10 seconds for the device to "catch up" with the software. This, obviously, is because of the underpowered and sub-standard 600MHz processor that the unit comes with (the iPad and the Tab both have 1GHz procs). If you fancy yourself as a power user, you will be disappointed with the choppy animation even in non-app environments such as the home screen and the settings menu.
Benchmark app Quadrant gave the Cherry Mobile Superion a respectable (for a smartphone) score of 419. It falls in between the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and the Motorola Droid. Comparing it to other devices that run on Android 2.2 "FroYo" however and it's just embarrassing. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Battery life tops out at a little over a day (heavy Wi-Fi, some 3G use), but if you don't really take CM's "tablet phone" claim, that should be good enough. If you run out of juice, you should have no trouble spotting a miniUSB cable and/or charger - ah generic ports, we love you so.
All in all, the CM Superion makes for a great first tablet. It's too cheap to be called an investment but is pricey enough to be called an indulgence. Think of it as your first girlfriend car: you'll trash it, break it, and experiment with it so you'll know how to take care of and make full use of your second one.
Click here to see the Cherry Mobile Superion in the Buyer's Guide
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