Unlike Windows 8, Windows 10 comes with its very own tablet mode, which is automatically enabled when running the operating system on a touchscreen with no keyboard or can be turned on manually whenever you need it.
One of the reasons for doing this is that Windows 10 was developed from the very beginning to be used on a wider variety of devices, so it was only a matter of time until OEMs across the world jumped on the Windows 10 bandwagon and installed it on their own products.
As usual, Chinese manufacturers are among the first to do so, but what’s even more important is that their devices come with a really affordable price. And although the “made in China” tag was previously something to avoid, it’s now becoming a common thing, and at a certain level, one to be proud of, given the design and build quality offered by some Chinese companies, such as Huawei.
Onda V919 Air is one of the devices that allow you to run Windows 10 in the aforementioned tablet mode wherever you go while at the same time providing you with a slim look and build quality that are clearly above what you’d expect from such an affordable tablet.
The Onda V919 Air is available for just $169.99 (€155) at GearBest and comes with features that are really worth the money, especially when looking at the specs sheet.
We’ve taken the device for a spin to see what an affordable Windows 10 tablet is all about, so read on to discover our findings as far as it is concerned.
Design and build quality
Painted in gold, the Onda Air tablet is certainly a surprising appearance. In many cases, devices manufactured by Chinese companies feel plasticky and very cheap, but things seem to be different this time.
The device sports an iPad-like design and is very comfortable to hold in the hand, also thanks to its weight of just 450 grams. That’s quite impressive, given the fact that the iPad Air weighs in just 437 grams.
The tablet features what the manufacturer calls an “ultra-thin body,” and it certainly is so. It measures just 7.9 mm, and this is one of the reasons it’s so easy to carry it around. You can just put it in a laptop bag or a backpack, and the chances are that you’re going to mistake it for a book.
Onda claims its tablet features an invisible screen frame for improved looks, but you can still see the bezels, which could have definitely been smaller, especially for a device that’s so thin.
Furthermore, the plasticky feel we talked about earlier doesn’t exist in this case, as the device seems to be made from thin metal rather than from plastic. The manufacturer didn’t disclose the materials used to manufacture the case, but it’s certainly a good choice because it’s both light and durable.
There are just three buttons on this tablet, two for volume control and one for locking and shutting it down, but we found ourselves using the audio controls only once a day. This is thanks to the very well-optimized Windows 10 tablet mode that lets you adjust volume with a few taps.
Onda installed a 9.7-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels, and it can be used in both portrait and landscape mode quite easily. And yet, Windows 10 just seems to make more sense in landscape mode, especially on the desktop.
The build quality is clearly above average when it comes to Chinese products, and you won’t hear any cracks or squeaks when pressing on the case.
Hardware and performance
Hardware-wise, the Onda Air tablet is just as impressive as any other Chinese product. In plain English, it has everything you’ll ever need (at least for this price).
First and foremost, the device comes with an Intel Cherry Trail Z8300 quad-core processor running at 1.44 GHz, coupled with 4 GB of RAM and eight-generation Intel HD graphics.
At first glance, this seems to be more than needed, especially given Windows 10’s requirements:
|Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster|
|RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)|
|Free hard disk space: 16 GB|
|Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver|
But in reality, the Onda Air tablet feels very slow at certain times, especially when multitasking. If you’re planning to use the tablet for basic tasks such as browsing and playing Solitaire, then it can easily cope with your demands, but anything beyond that needs more processing power.
Don’t even think of playing latest-generation gaming titles because that’s quite impossible, and so is video and photo processing. To speed up the device, we switched Windows 10’s visual effects to the performance mode, and a certain boost was indeed obtained, but not at a level that allowed us to do more than the basic stuff.
Running multiple apps at the same time, such as an email client, a browser, a word processor, and an instant messenger is indeed possible, but you need to be patient when switching between programs. Sometimes, it takes up to several seconds to change apps, and that’s because more processing power is needed. The same is happening when browsing websites with Flash ads, so it’s very clear that a better CPU could significantly improve performance.
Other than that, this tablet has quite an impressive set of features. It has two different cameras of 2 megapixels each on the front and the back, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, 64 GB of storage space, TF card slot, microUSB and microHDMI ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, a speaker, and a microphone.
The 64GB storage capacity could certainly be a drawback for those who want to save lots of documents and files on the device, but fortunately, TF card support is also offered for additional space. Also, the two cameras are nothing special, but they come in handy for video calling. In low-light conditions, your contact can barely see you.
The sound of the tablet leaves a lot to be desired, so when you’re watching a movie or listening to music, it’s better to use headphones. The speaker is loud but lacks clarity and has almost no bass at all, so headphones or an external speaker could be your best friend for audio or video playback.
Thanks to the microUSB support, you can also connect a mouse and keyboard, but converting the device into a laptop would be quite a difficult thing to do since there’s no kickstand available (such as the one available on Microsoft’s Surface).
We’ve saved the best for last. The 9.7-inch IPS LCD has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels and doesn’t seem to disappoint. While colors are nothing out of the usual, and it’s very clear that it’s not Super AMOLED, the display seems to be optimized for better battery life, without affecting its responsiveness in any way. It won’t miss any of your taps, especially when typing, so it certainly meets expectations, but without excelling in any way, though.
For this price, this is quite a feature lineup, but for better performance, certain upgrades are still needed. And yet, there’s no doubt that many would rather wait a little bit longer when loading apps than pay a few extra bucks.
Onda claims the tablet should provide up to 7 hours of battery life, but real-life figures are a little bit lower. During our tests, we achieved approximately 5 hours in continuous usage mode when playing videos, but if you’re planning to play games with brightness at the maximum level and audio volume at 100 percent, autonomy can drop to 3 hours.
That’s not quite impressive for a tablet, that’s for sure, but there are several reasons the Onda Air tablet can’t go beyond this.
First of all, its 7,000 mAh battery is rather small for a nearly 10-inch device that’s supposed to stay with the display turned on most of the time. That becomes obvious in standby mode, where battery life could go to approximately 2 days (if no apps are left running on Windows 10).
And second and perhaps more importantly, this tablet runs the full version of Windows 10, which, as we know, is a very capable operating system that lets you do pretty much anything on a computer. The truth is, Windows 10 does come with optimizations and features specifically implemented for tablets, but this doesn’t mean that it’s flawless.
Windows 10 is work in progress and is never done (at least, that’s what Microsoft itself said), so on a tablet such as the Onda Air, it does have an impact on system performance. If you plan to use the device just for basic stuff such as browsing, we recommend you to keep the power saving mode always on (you can enable it from the battery icon in the system tray).
In addition to build quality, the software side of the Onda Air tablet is definitely a strong point. The device runs Windows 10 (although an Android version is also available), so you can install absolutely all apps that you currently have on your laptop or PC.
Windows 10 now has a dedicated tablet mode that’s aimed at devices such as the Onda Air, so menus are larger, context menus items have been overhauled to be used with the touch, and most pre-installed apps are designed for both mouse clicks and finger taps.
While this is clearly a good thing, there still are apps and features that need to be improved, including File Explorer, which can be barely used without a mouse.
In tablet mode, Windows 10 switches from the Start menu to the Start screen and replaces the taskbar icons with dedicated buttons to access the task view and go back or forward when using an app.
You can easily enable and disable the tablet mode from the action center, with the same feature also providing you with access to notifications, but also to quick settings, such as VPN, location, and quiet hours.
Windows 10 is definitely more appropriate to be used on a tablet than Windows 8, and although the charms bar is no longer there, all options are just where you’d expect them to be, even if you’re using touch as the input method.
The Windows button on the tablet lets you access the Start screen instantly, but we’ve found its position rather unfortunate, as you can easily press it by mistake and thus close an app and get back to the Start screen without specifically wanting it.
Windows Store apps are also there, and they are specifically aimed at tablets, as all are optimized for the touch, but the lack of popular items continues to be a problem for Windows 10. Even though we were using a tablet, we found ourselves running desktop software more than store apps. Of course, some Win32 programs can hardly be used without a mouse.
Fortunately, you can also connect a mouse to this tablet thanks to its microUSB port, but given the fact that only such a connector is available, a USB hub might be needed for additional peripherals.
The bottom line
On paper, the Onda Air tablet is definitely an appealing buy, mostly thanks to its rich feature lineup that includes pretty much everything you’d want from a Windows 10 device.
It has a decent processor, enough storage capacity if you don’t want to move your movie collection on the tablet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB that lets you plug in additional accessories such as a mouse and keyboard, microHDMI to connect it to a TV or projector, TF card for additional storage, cameras for video calls, and a decent screen that proves to be quite responsive.
In reality, however, the processor shows its limits, and there are significant slowdowns when using multiple apps at the same time. Certainly, multitasking is a thing that we all do these days, so you either learn to live with it or don’t buy the tablet.
When it comes to basic stuff such as browsing the web or sending emails, the Onda Air really meets expectations, but for anything beyond this, it struggles.
The build quality is surprising to say the least, especially because we’re talking about a device made by a less popular company that’s based in China, but also because it costs only $150.
Overall, this is a pretty good package, and it’s worth a shot if you want Windows 10 for browsing and emails. Otherwise, going for Android could be an idea that’s just as good.