Continuing our expedition in the less known but highly affordable selection of gadgets, we came across a clever little tablet known as the Hisense Sero 8. Also a Chinese production that is aiming to build products that can expand their reach into the Western market just as well, the Hisense Sero 8 inspires reliability and a good investment when you weigh in the shockingly small amount of money you’ll be paying for it.
We recently reviewed another tablet in this sector that the Hisense Sero 8 reminds us of; more precisely, the Tesco Hudl 2. However, this one comes from a company that has sort of specialized in producing low-cost devices, this tablet obviously being the 8th iteration of the Hisense tablets series. The manufacturer seems to have taken the customer feedback that was received for the Hisense Sero 7 Pro tablet very seriously, and made a decision to improve directly on the various aspects that elicited most concern.
While the Hisense Sero 8 is anything but your brand new release in terms of budget tablets, having come out quite a while ago and even having a “Pro” variant that followed suit showcasing some new features that the crowds requested. But given that it’s nearing December, the time when your wallet ends up suffering tremendously with all the holiday shopping you have to do, shifting our gaze to the wide selection of budget gadgets on the market can turn into a life saver.
So what is there to expect from this highly accessible Hisense tablet? Is it worth its price?
Hisense Sero 8 Design
So what does the Hisense Sero 8 aspire to be? For an 8 inch display tablet, the dimensions that it comes with seem a little bulkier than they should be. At 208.55 x 129.8 x 10.5 mm, the tablet is both taller and thicker than you might be used to if you’ve used a smaller-scale tablet before. One aspect that some users may feel a little put off by is the width of the bezel, which even convinced the manufacturers to correct in the later released Hisense Sero 8 Pro. Even so, in terms of bezel size, it’s gone a long way from the Sero 7.
The thickness is also a slightly unsettling number that we don’t get to see much nowadays. At a thickness of barely over 1 centimeter, you could easily say it’s about the same size of two Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 stacked together; that may prove to be an issue if you’re trying to hold the tablet single handedly, but considering you’ll more often than not two-hand it when you use it, grip should not be a concern.
In order to make up for the extra thickness that the Sero tablet packs, the back of the unibody that the device comes with is covered with a textured plastic surface that makes the tablet easier to hold and handle. Considering its entire exterior is made of carbon fiber and not the more common aluminum alloy, you would think that this tablet spells bad quality and a frail chassis. Surprisingly enough, the Hisense Sero 8 feels like anything but cheap and prone to breaking. In terms of weight, the tablet doesn’t jump a long way away from the standard: no less than 450 grams.
Furthermore, the Hisense Sero 8 may feel as a pretty underwhelming design example for some considering that it’s relatively plain from an aesthetic sense; a fact only empowered by the color variants that it’s available in: only gray.
The back of the Hisense Sero 8 is very simplistic to begin with. A large, round camera sensor is nestled in the upper center of the cover, the Hisense logo resting a couple of inches below it. At the bottom of the tablet there is a strip of speaker holes, as well as the serial number and information regarding the product right above it. There is a chance that the consumer variant of this tablet does not incorporate that particular detail in its build, so if you consider it a problem, do check the retailer images of the product beforehand.
In terms of button placement, I found that the approach Hisense took with it is relatively clever. Aside from the volume rocker that you can find on the tablet’s right hand side (we consider that the default orientation is in portrait mode), all of the other function buttons, ports and slots have been clumped up on the top. Covered from nearly one end to another, this side of the tablet is home to the power button, the microUSB port that is responsible of data transfer and charging, a microSD card slot to expand your storage options as well as a regular 3.5 mm headphone socket.
All things considered, the Hisense Sero 8 is not an outstanding piece of well-designed device architecture; if anything, it feels like it’s trying to appeal to the market and not bring up something new. On the upside however, the manufacturer does give you the opportunity to purchase a separate Hisense Sero 8 case to spike things up – some featuring a pattern on the back that make the tablet more visually appealing.
Hisense Sero 8 Display
The display of the Hisense Sero 8 comes at a meager resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution, which – given the 8 inches diagonal it comes with – doesn’t end up in an outstanding pixel density: only 189 pixels per inch. Because of that the images rendered on the Sero 8’s screen won’t be outstanding in terms of clarity and detail, usually ending up looking a little pixelated at times. However, thanks to the IPS build, we can say that the display renders bright and realistic colors; contrast is the aspect that ends up suffering to a degree in comparison to the AMOLED alternative, which normally accounts for brighter whites and deeper blacks, but the colors look a lot more vivid and sharp on the Sero 8 than they would otherwise.
Viewing angles are pretty good, everything considering, the display managing to pull off a good job no matter how you’re looking at it. It fares relatively well in sunlit environments, though there’s a lot of obvious room for improvement. For the tablet’s price, I believe it’s not an overstatement to say that the display is one of the best you can find for the money you would pay.
Hisense Sero 8 Specs & Performance
Usually one of my favorite topics to discuss when it comes to phones and tablets, the Hisense Sero 8 is a device that gives plenty of room for praise; at least in close comparison to the amount of money the investment will consist of. To make a short list of the specs the Sero 8 packs in, we’ll be looking at a quad core Rockchip processor, 1 GB of RAM memory, an integrated Mali-400 GPU as well as 16 GB of storage.
The Hisense Sero 8 uses an ARM Cortex-A9 core processing unit with the Rockchip RK3188T clocked at 1,6 GHz. This is a relatively commonly employed piece of hardware that the Chinese companies implement in their handheld smart devices. Despite its popularity, the chip is far from the fastest on the market but scores decently on most known benchmarking scales. While this CPU falls behind plenty others, there are ways of improving its performance, most commonly by installing a custom kernel or ROM which will, in turn, allow you to overclock the core processing unit. However, that is not something to tinker with if not very well-versed in technology, which means that you’ll most likely have to stick with the speed it’s capable of straight out of the factory.
The Rockchip RK3188T SoC does however also implement an integrated ARM Mali-400 Mp3 @ 600 MHz graphics processing unit. Not as proficient as a dedicated GPU would normally be, this chip will ensure that you can smoothly run a great number of graphic-intensive apps, drastically falling behind with new titles or 3D rendered games. You won’t have much of a headache with most basic games, the tablet managing to sustain a fluent frame rate.
If you stop to compare the hardware that the Hisense Sero 8 tablet has got to show for itself, it won’t do that well when compared with a large number of comparable devices – some of which have been released as early as 2013. The tablet won’t give you a whole lot of trouble when using its basic features such as operating system navigation, emailing, watching movies, browsing the internet and social media and so on. However, if multitasking in its core sense and gaming are one of your main concerns, you might have to consider saving up for a more expensive but also more capable tablet.
The hard-drive potential may seem limited at first as it is only 16 GB in size but luckily the tablet can be upgraded in that respect via microSD, microSDHC or microSDXC cards that can pack up a few more dozen gigabytes of storage space. Given that on any device, the operating system and the basic apps will normally take up to 4 GB of space, you should start calculating the space you need starting at 12 GB instead.
Hisense Sero 8 Camera
Cameras are really not the strongest point of tablets out there, regardless of the manufacturer the device comes from. The cameras packed on the Hisense Sero 8 tablet are underwhelming to say the least – both rear and front facing. It’s safe to say that you won’t be switching your Sero 8 over your digital camera or even smartphone anytime soon. The only moment when I see that your Sero 8 camera will come in handy is really when there is no other alternative at immortalizing a moment on the go. And even then, the results might prove to be less than satisfactory in the absence of an optical image stabilization feature.
The rear camera is a 2 megapixel piece that can shoot photos in a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels, but is also capable of recording videos in 720p at a maximum of 30 frames per second. The photos you take with it are not great looking to begin with, only losing even more on quality when you zoom in – either when you try to take a photo, or post-shooting.
The front facing camera comes with a questionable existence to begin with. At only 0.3 megapixels, it’s not that clear what the moment when you would even use this camera to begin with is. If lacking any other alternatives, the camera will do when you have to take a video conference right away and there is no other way for you to take it.
Hisense Sero 8 Software & Features
Surprisingly, the Hisense Sero 8 is one of the very few Chinese productions that rely on a stock Android version of the OS installed on it straight from the factory. It features an older version of it however, the Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Despite that, the tablet is thankfully free of any other, personalized skins that manufacturers opt for when they adopt Android. That means that there are no extra, third party apps clumping into the system, making its owner to wait for specialized updates once you purchase the tablet. The only native application to Hisense that you will be able to find on the Sero 8 is the remote app, implemented to allow you to control Wi-Fi based television sets, as well as a different video player.
For the more advanced users, one very much possible aspect of the tablet is the Hisense Sero 8 root. Rooting allows the user to unlock areas of the system that more often you would not have access to. Because of that, you suddenly gain a lot of freedom to experiment with other ROMS and full control over the apps installed on it.
Hisense Sero 8 Battery & Verdict
The Hisense Sero 8 comes with a 4000 mAh battery which is relatively strong by itself to begin with. Given that the display of this tablet is not the brightest and most powerful out there equals with a more disciplined use of the battery – earning you a longer battery life and more uptime when it comes to device usage. Continuous use in form of web browsing for example will earn you about 6 to 7 hours with a full charge; alternatively, HD video viewing will not exceed about 4 hours. No matter how you look at it though, you will find yourself charging the tablet on a daily basis if you use it regularly.
So when is it worth getting the Hisense Sero 8 tablet? Mainly, you should be looking at this tablet as a great alternative when you’re on a budget. For any of the activities that it allows you to perform remotely and the comfort of not having to stick to your computer, the Sero 8 will do the job wonderfully. If entertainment holds a more special place for you when it comes to tablets, however, it’s a lot more advisable to try saving up a little more and go for another variant.
You can purchase the Hisense Sero 8 from a variety of online retailers for $106.45.