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Gemei G9 Android Tablet Hands-on

Leave it to the chinese

April 6th, 2012

I got the ASK 731SP SmartPad about a year ago, and a recent trip to Hong Kong enabled me to get my paws on a more recent device. The Gemei G9 show just how much has happened on the Android tablet market the last year - for about the same price, you now get a much faster and cooler-looking unit. Read on for more.

The Gemei G9 on top of its box.
The Gemei G9 on top of its box.

SmartPad vs G9

The first thing you notice is the screen. While the SmartPad was pretty small with its 7 inch display, the G9 is considerably larger, sporting a 9,7 inch display with a 1024x768 pixels resolution. In fact, the G9 is almost exactly 2x the size of the SmartPad. Here are some other key differences:

  • Faster CPU, 1.5GHz vs 660 MHz
  • 16 GB internal memory vs 4 GB
  • Two cameras, rear 5MP and front-facing 1.3MP (vs none)
  • Android 4.0.3 vs Android 2.1
The G9 makes the SmartPad look like a little person.
The G9 makes the SmartPad look like a little person.
This case was made for an iPad and fits perfectly. You might have to drill some holes for audio jack and USB ports though.
This case was made for an iPad and fits perfectly. You might have to drill some holes for audio jack and USB ports though.

Ports and buttons

Apart from standard stuff - MicroSD slot, headphone jack, USB port, charging port - the G9 also has a USB host port and an HDMI port. I have tried getting the HDMI connection to work but I keep getting nothing (please post a reply if you happen to have any idea why).

Strangely, the volume rocker and back button stopped working a few days ago. Luckily, they are not critical as you can use soft buttons instead, but it sort of makes you wish for world wide warranty for a short while.

Back of the device. All buttons and connections are placed in this corner. We can also see the speakers and the rear camera.
Back of the device. All buttons and connections are placed in this corner. We can also see the speakers and the rear camera.

The USB host function allows you to hook up a keyboard or mouse to it. I tried a USB hub and was able to connect a mouse, a keyboard and a USB stick - and it all worked!

A mouse connected via the USB host port, using the provided adapter cable (which keeps falling out). The black-and-blue mouse cursor is visible on the screen.
A mouse connected via the USB host port, using the provided adapter cable (which keeps falling out). The black-and-blue mouse cursor is visible on the screen.

Web browsing and general usage

The TL; DR version: Install Opera Mobile!

The built-in web browser is slow at rendering web pages, sometimes not rendering at all, and frequently crashes. I tried Dolphin but saw no improvement. Opera Mobile works much better though. It generally feels very fast and light-weight. Strongly recommended. That said, I still don't quite get why the stock browser works so poorly on this device.

Generally, the tablet handles the GUI rendering just fine and the interface is snappy and is fun to work with. However, the tablet occasionally tends to hang for short moments when too much is going on. It has even led to the unit rebooting by itself a few times. Stability is serviceable but not great.

Apps

The Android market, or Google Play, offers a lot of applications. I first tried out two that did not work on the SmartPad: Angry Birds and Skype.

I went for Angry Birds Seasons first. Much to my delight, it installed and played just fine, no complaints at all and a big step up from... nothing.

Next was Skype. This, too, installed and ran. Much to my surprise, the front-facing camera even worked. Not perfectly, mind you - the other party could see you, but the colors were way off; magenta and cyan with large bars running through it (it does not do that when using the camera for shooting). Sound was ok though so it definitely passes in my book.

However...

  • 3D games don't seem to work. I have tried running a few but none of them have worked so far, crashing on start. No biggie for me but still a shame. I did see a video of someone playing Shadowgun on the device though so it should be possible in some cases.
  • Package file invalid error sometimes occurs when downloading an item from the market. Exiting, killing and restarting the market app seems to do the trick.
  • Not compatible with your device is another common message. Some apps don't seem to show up or don't want to install. TuneIn Radio for example. Downloading and installing the APK-file from elsewhere works though, and the app runs.

The camera

I doubt anyone will buy this device as a DSLR replacement, but since it has two cameras, let's at least try out one of them. Here are some shots with the rear camera:

In daylight, image quality is acceptable. Often though, the color balance is a bit off and dynamic range is not great.
In daylight, image quality is acceptable. Often though, the color balance is a bit off and dynamic range is not great.
100% crop of the above and it looks pretty noisy. According to the EXIF data, ISO speed was 1 (!).
100% crop of the above and it looks pretty noisy. According to the EXIF data, ISO speed was 1 (!).
The camera lacks a flash and under low-light conditions, the pictures just get way too dark.
The camera lacks a flash and under low-light conditions, the pictures just get way too dark.

Final words

While the quality may not exactly be top-notch - buttons not working, flimsy USB cable, and the occasional crash - the tablet is still fun to use. Zooming and panning is fast, the screen is big and while no rocket, it's considerably faster than the SmartPad. For around 1800 Hong Kong dollars/175 EUR/230 USD, you do get a lot of tablet. If you don't mind a bit of fiddling and tweaking, and can accept a few flaws, you will have fun with this.

The box says it all.
The box says it all.
April 10th, 2012 04:43

Decent run down of the device. Sorry to hear you have had some of those build quality type issues, but glad to hear it is workable for you. In regards to your article here are some things that may you or your readers out.
1) Head on over to SlateDroid.com Forums.
- You will find plenty of threads and support for the Gemei G9 in it's own section
2) Download the ICS firmware posted there and install it
3) Run the "SuperScript" and you can open up the market and compatibility along with rooting and tweaking.

In regards to Skype, there is a fully working previous version 2.5.x.x posted in a separate thread that you can download and install to have working video both ways.

The battery life on the device is already great, but can be made even better by downloading SetCPU and following the settings guide thread in the Benchmark section of SlateDroid.

Keep up the good work!

Tasselhof

April 11th, 2012 19:11
Erik

Thanks for the feedback! I will try out what you suggested; I might post another article about it later on how it went.

August 15th, 2012 09:50
Spaceman

Hi Erik,
I have tried getting the HDMI connection to work also but I also get nothing (please post something if you have any update to why).

August 16th, 2012 20:30
Erik

Hi Spaceman,
guess I'm not the only one then. ;) I'll post info here if I get it to work.

October 12th, 2012 18:45
Jon

Have you heard of the GemeiG9T?... you should probably do a review on that!

October 12th, 2012 18:50
Erik

Hi Jon,

thanks for the info. Since my G9 is faulty (broken buttons), I will try to have it replaced or repaired. Maybe I could pay a little extra to get the G9T? Will have a look next time I'm in Hong Kong.

December 18th, 2012 20:14
Erik

Just a quick update - they let me change the G9 in Hong Kong for a new one. The buttons now work, and the built-in browser is much more stable. :)

May 22nd, 2013 06:41
Shana

I recently bought the Gemei small tablet G3A in china for about $70 Australian and am happy with it- use the small SD card to play movies and the wifi works good enough- charging it now but don't know how good battery life is.

May 22nd, 2013 23:30
Erik

Shana: Sound good, have fun! :)

January 14th, 2015 15:13
rama

I just bought it ana I am very happy

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Erik Moberg  2019