Is the Sumvision Cyclone Voyager II a good deal?
A 10.1in tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Cyclone Voyager II retails for around £200. That puts it in a cheaper bracket than the likes of the Nexus 10 or iPad 2, but still more expensive than other 10in Android tablets such as the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+ and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9, both of which are considerably cheaper. Actually, those are 9in tablets, but there really isn't much difference in screen real estate.
However, the only fair comparisons are the Nook HD+ and the Nexus 10, as they also run Android and offer full access to the Google Play store. Good luck finding a Nexus 10 these days. The Nook HD+ is clearly a better deal than the Voyager II, but that is true of all 10in tablets. At £200 the Cyclone is well priced for a 10in tablet.
Look into the 7in tablet world, however, and you'll find a different world in terms of value. The subsidised Nexus 7 will cost you only £159, and the updated Nexus 7 2 costs only £199. Both of these offer significantly better build quality and performance than the Cyclone Voyager II. Heck even the iPad mini is £249 now, and it's a significantly better device than the Cyclone in every respect. And how about the Tesco Hudl - a 7in Android tablet that is better than the Voyager in all respects, and costs only £119. If I wanted a budget Android tablet that's where I'd put my money. (See also: Nexus 7 vs new Nexus 7 2 comparison review: Which Nexus 7 should I buy?)
So if you really want a 10in tablet the Voyager II is not a bad deal. But you get much better products for a similar price in the 7in space. We borrowed our Cyclone Voyager II from eBuyer.
Sumvision Cyclone Voyager II review: build and design
We're on familiar territory here, in the budget Android tablet world. The Cyclone is the now traditional oblong slate of black metal and plastic. Face this tablet front on and you'll note a reasonably slim bezel with a camera lens fixed top and centre. The plastic casing presents as a thing black line around the inset glass display.
The join between glass and plastic is mostly smooth although the glass rides up and down in uneven places. A disconcerting sign. As is the occasional bubble around the edges beneath the glass - it looks like a poorly applied plastic iPad screen protector. This may be unique to the model we tested, but it may also speak to one of the things that often distinguish budget Android tablets: the specs are good, but the build quality is mediocre.
This theme continues around the back. Here a central metallic panel is flanked by two plastic side-panels, each featuring a textured finish to aid egrip. At the top of the central panel we find the rear-facing camera lens, flash, and a pin-hole for resetting the device. Above this is a series of printed white labels explain the buttons that sit on top of the Cyclone.
The design is perfectly respectable, but again there are issues around the build quality of the model we tested. With only a little pressure we could push down on the righthand panel sufficient that we could see into the Cyclone Voyager II's innards underneath the central metal panel.
At 11mm the Cyclone is not thin in today's anorexic tablet terms, and at 605g it doesn't count as light either. But the combination of curved edges and those textured grips make it feel comfortablet in use. You get what you pay for in 10in tablets and the Cyclone Voyager II is by no means terribly designed and built. It is what it is, and that's okay.See also: The 9 best budget tablets: What's the best budget tablet of 2013?
Check out the photos below for a little more detail:
Gentle pressure on the gripped plastic back opens up a gap through which we can see the Cyclone Voyager II's gizzards...
...and little air bubbles appear to be trapped under the glass around the bezel (on our test model, at least)
Sumvision Cyclone Voyager II review: specification and performance
In general use the Cyclone Voyager II's performance matches its build. There's nothing wrong with it and at this price it's a decent deal. The specs are more than a bit decent at this price, too, comprising a quad-core Rockchip 3188 A9 Arm cortex processorrunning at 1.6 GHz, paired with 2GB RAM.
Quantifying our general perception of okay-but-not-great performance, we ran a series of benchmarks. The GeekBench 3 performance test returned scores of 457 (single-core) and 985 (multi-core). This compares to the Nexus 10 which averages out at around 870/1500, the iPad 2 270/500, and the original B&N Nook - not the HD+ - at 350/620. Drop down a screen size and the original Nexus 7 turns around scores of 650/1750. The Voyager's decent score is borne out in real-world use. It's no slouch.
Graphics performance is another matter. We ran the GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 unified graphics benchmark and things looked a little juddery. We'll get to the display below, but the modest test result of 17fps bears out our experience. This is not a tablet for high-end gaming or HD video viewing.
You get 16 GB of Flash storage, of which 12 GB was free on our virgin device. And you can use the MicroSD card slot to expand the memory up to a nominal 32GB. In terms of connectivity we find 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, as well as two mini USB ports, and a mini HDMI port.
There's a 7600mah-cell battery that Sumvision says will last for 5 to 6 hours of use. In our experience that is a little generous. We averaged around 4-5 hours. Decent. See also: The 12 best Android tablets of 2013: What's the best Android tablet?
Sumvision Cyclone Voyager II review: display
And so on to that display. The Cyclone Voyager II sports a 10.1in IPS panel. It has a capacitative touchscreen that is mostly responsive, occasionally a little sticky (in our tests). The resolution of 1280 x 800 means we are looking at detail levels of 149 pixels per inch. This is, again, a middle of the pack result. The Nexus 10 offers exactly twice as sharp a display with a ppi of 300 and unless this is the first tablet or smartphone you have used you will be left flat by the detail offered by the Voyager II.
Detail is not the only important aspect of a display, of course. The Voyager II's screen doesn't scratch easy, which is a good thing. But it is super glossy: you have to like looking at yourself if you want to use this under lights. And boy does it pick up fingerprints. If you are a burglar, do not buy this tablet.
And we found the colours both garish and strangely dull. I'll explain: both within the OS navigation and when looking at images or video we found the colour reproduction a little overwrought. Reds, blues and greens feel dated, and the overall effect is disappointing the display is not a strong point of the Voyager II. See also: The top 10 best tablets: What's the best tablet you can buy in 2013?
Sumvision Cyclone Voyager II review: software
you get Android Jelly Bean 4.1 with full access to the Google Play store. For those of you who have never used Jelly Bean be assured that it is the best ever version of Android. Long gone are the days when Android tablets were simply overblown smartphones. This is a proper, consumer friendly tablet OS.
Sumvision Cyclone Voyager II review: buying advice
I reviewed this product principally because a couple of readers posted on reviews of other 10in tablets to say that this model was - on specification at least - a great deal. And, with a quad-core chip and 2GB RAM, on specification at least it is. The reality is a little more nuanced. The Voyager II is absolutely not a bad product. If you have only £200 to spend and must have a 10in tablet, you could do a lot worse. The Nook HD+ is much the better product, but the Nook is exceptional, and there are plenty of terrible Android tablets at this price. But before you buy ask yourself if you need all 10 inches of screen space. Drop down to the 7in tablet market and you could get the original Nexus 7 or a Tesco Hudl - both of them offer better performance, build and display, for a lot less money. The 9 best 10in tablets: the best 10 inch tablets you can buy in 2013.