NATPC M009S Review – Cheap Android Tablet

NATPC M009S Review – very cheap capacitive 7 Inch Android tablet. A couple of weeks ago I got my hands on the M009S Capacitive 7 Inch Android tablet from the UK – despite the branding it is actually the MID A710 tablet (the A10 also appears to be an unbranded match).

Reviews of cheap Android tablets are often skewed by tedious comparisons with the iPad or Galaxy Tab – about as useful as comparing a basic Ford with a Ferrari. Yes, they are both beautifully designed tablets that overflow with quality features but they cost 3 to 5 times the price of the M009S.

They also have a 10 inch screen which makes them less portable, almost twice as heavy, less easy to hold and less suitable as an ebook reader – so they’re not always the best option for everyone… If you’re more interested in whether a cheap 7 inch Android tablet can be an excellent buy and, most importantly, provide the usability and features expected of a worthwhile tablet, read on.

NATPC M009S Review – A quick summary is at the bottom of this article.

Price: The Ultimate 8GB version costs £90 in the UK. This is about the lowest price point for an Android tablet with a capacitive screen and with good storage/system RAM.

Operating System: UK versions of this tablet now come with the up to date Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which is better designed for tablets than the previous Gingerbread (Android 2.3) mobile operating system.

CPU and Graphics Processor: CPU – Allwinner A10 Cortex-A8 1.2 GHz and  Graphics – Mali 400 MHz. The CPU is considerably faster than bargain basement tablets which often run at 800 MHz.

The graphics processor has been super smooth at everything I have tried to date – video quality and playback is spot on. Full HD video, Angry Birds, YouTube, Skype video etc are all very responsive with no lag. Apps start very quickly and I really have been hard pushed to tell any difference from more expensive tablets.

Screen: Touch screen, 7 inch, 5 point multi touch capacitive, resolution 800 x 480. The capacitive screen is very responsive and the multi touch works well. Viewing angles and picture quality are good (not up to iPad standard but fine). It doesn’t have an anti-fingerprint coating on the screen (or casing) so be prepared to clean it every now and again.

On any 7 inch tablet the onscreen keyboard is small and a bit fiddly to use in portrait mode but much easier in landscape mode – an external case/USB keyboard combo can be added cheaply for protection and easy typing if required.

The screen resolution is on the low side (e.g. the 7 inch Nexus 7 is 1280 x 800) – this limits the detail that fits on screen and can result in a lot of finger-scrolling around when browsing websites. On the other hand it arguably makes it easier to read with less need to zoom in when reading a webpage. Personally I find it reasonable but if you are used to a higher resolution on a phone you may be slightly disappointed by the lower resolution on a larger screen.

However, the 7 inch screen size (and light weight) does make it excel as an ebook reader – the Kindle app works well, text is clear and page turning is ultra smooth. Like any tablet, use outside can be problematic compared to an actual Kindle but it is possible if you avoid direct sunlight – even the shadow from your own body is enough to make reading a more pleasant experience.

M009S

Overall Build Quality: Excellent – for the price. I was expecting a tablet this cheap to be poorly finished but the quality of the plastics and overall build quality on the M009S are actually very good – the casing feels nice and solid with no flimsiness or unfinished bits. It looks and feels like a polished product twice the price – not iPad quality but not cheap rubbish either.

Memory: RTB UK versions of this tablet come with 1GB DDR II RAM system memory – the cheapest LITE version has 512MB.

RTB Ultimate UK versions of this tablet come with 16GB NAND Flash internal storage – the other versions have 8GB. Storage is further upgradeable by adding a Micro SD memory card (max 32GB). This compares well to the 16GB+ internal storage available in very expensive tablets e.g. the cheapest new wifi iPad (£399) has 16GB of storage.

WiFi: Yes – 802.11 b/g/n. Easy to connect via wireless – I had no issues connecting to 2 wireless routers (wireless G and N) and gained a good wireless signal over distance/through walls, just as good as the integrated wireless in my laptop.

Connectivity: 1 x Micro SD slot, 1 x AC Jack, 1 x 3.5mm Earphone Jack, 1 x Mini USB, 1 x mini HDMI out.

The mini HDMI socket lets you quickly connect to an HDTV allowing pictures and HD video to be displayed on a large screen – this works very well and could even make the tablet a cheap media center computer.

Skype calls resulted in huge echoing feedback at the other end – presumably because the speaker and microphone are so close together (or poorly shielded) so earphones are a must for making calls – sound is then very good quality and the microphone works well.

The integrated speakers are not up to much – volume is low so if you want to listen to music the earphone jack is recommended. Sound quality and volume through earphones is then very good. The mini USB socket is used for connecting to a computer (or for charging – see below) and can also be used to plug in external devices e.g. a keyboard or flash drive etc. – a USB hub can be added if you need more than 1 USB device at a time.

Battery: 4000 mAh. This is good enough to last about 3 to 5 hours depending on your usage – not too shabby for a cheap tablet. The tablet is best charged by the power supply but it can also be charged via USB from a computer, albeit very slowly.

One major drawback is that the screen is remarkably unresponsive during charging – so much so that it makes the tablet almost impossible to use. This could be annoying if you wanted to use it whilst charging but the battery life is good enough that it shouldn’t be a major problem if you are organized and charge in advance if required.

Newer chargers and Android 4.0 ICS software appear to have sorted out these charging problems – they affected early Gingerbread models.

Camera: 0.3 Megapixel Front facing. Necessary skimping in a cheap tablet like the M009S – no rear facing camera so the front one is mainly for Skype video or taking pictures/videos of yourself. The quality is ok for those purposes but not great – similar to a cheap and old webcam i.e. a bit grainy and needs good lighting but better than nothing.

Official Google Play (Android Market): Yes. Full official Google Play (Android Market) – a failing of many cheaper tablets is that they don’t offer the official Market and use a poor imitation with few apps and lots of problems. Happily, the M009S provides the official market so it is easy to download all the common apps like Kindle, Angry Birds, YouTube etc.

Flash Player: Yes. Came with the latest Adobe Flash Player 11.1 installed – needed for viewing many video streaming websites and other multimedia content. iPads of course can’t have Flash because Apple say we don’t need it – well in my opinion we do (certainly for the moment).

G Sensor: Yes. This is the sensor that changes orientation from portrait to landscape automatically as you turn the tablet round – has worked remarkably well for me, very smooth and rarely needs ‘jiggling’ to prompt the change. I have had more trouble on an iPad although it does have a larger screen to rotate…

3G Internet: Can’t really expect 3G internet connection on a cheap tablet – it can be optional on expensive ones. According to the specs it should be possible to use a HUAWEI E1750 (UK) or similar US external 3G USB dongle but I haven’t been able to test this.

A new 3G model has now been released – includes 3G and wi-fi plus audio over bluetooth. Use your own SIM card to surf the net, email, use Twitter etc or make phone calls.

Weight:

365g. Excellent weight – lighter than more expensive 7 inch tablets like the Kindle Fire (413g) and Playbook (425g). Just for comparison, the 10 inch iPad2 (601g) and Galaxy Tab (565g) are obviously a lot heavier again.

Tip: I use the free app No Lock as a simple way to disable the ‘slide to unlock’ screen on resuming from standby which makes it resume instantly.

Summary

Good

Cheap price
Very responsive capacitive touchscreen
5 point multi touch, good quality screen
Quick processor and graphics chip, HD video, very smooth
0.5 to 1GB system RAM – same as many expensive tablets
8 – 16GB storage compares well to many expensive tablets – cheap to add up to 16GB more via a micro SD card
Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) well suited to the tablet
Full official Google Play (Android Market)
Flash Player 11.1
Solid build quality
Light weight
Good wireless
Good connectivity
Good for reading ebooks
Reasonable battery life (for the price)

Bad

Not a great camera (and front facing only) – ok for Skype video
Speakers poor – but sound via earphones is very good quality
No integrated 3G – but may be able to add a 3G dongle
Low screen resolution

Updated Feb 2015the standard version reviewed above is obsolete now but has been replaced by a 10.1″ GPS Android Tablet PC with 32GB Storage and IPS Screen which has far superior features.

Conclusion

The NATPC M009S is a cheap but incredibly cheerful 7 inch tablet. Whilst it lacks some quality and features that expensive rivals offer, it is a very usable Android tablet with official Market, Android 4.0 (ICS), a responsive touchscreen and quick/smooth operation.

It does have bad points but these are more a reflection of price than quality – many can be easily/cheaply resolved but to solve them all would result in a much more expensive tablet e.g. new iPad nearly four times the price…

I have tried even cheaper tablets before and they suffered more serious flaws which made them unusable for me e.g. stylus needed for resistive screens, no official Android Market, sluggish performance, stuttering video playback, poor battery life, poor build quality.

It’s obviously not an iPad or Nexus 7 killer but it does a great job in its own right as a very usable little Android tablet – with a lot of cash left over.

Feb 2015: note that this review is of my original tablet which had 0.5GB RAM and only 4GB storage. The original also used Android 2.3 rather than the newer 4.2 Jelly Bean.

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59 Responses to: "NATPC M009S Review – Cheap Android Tablet"

  1. Richard says:

    There’s quite a few threads on here. I bought mine in April 2012 and I’m still using the ICS it had on it. It works and so I’ve not messed with it.

    Please post back to let us know how you went on.

    Cheers

  2. Graham says:

    I have been using this tablet for nearly a year now, 8GB version. My only criticism is it does not have a very effective antenna so does not like weak wifi signals. I am curious to know if anyone has attempted to reflash with the newer ICS/Jelly Bean updates (4.2), and if so, would they be prepared to point a newbie in the right direction.

  3. julio says:

    Help!!
    I have an issue with my tablet; I cannot open any installed apps
    also all my information like documents, calendar, accounts just disappear!
    please let me know how to start as a safe mode
    thanks in advance

  4. Grant says:

    I’m new to tablet pc’s and the M009S looks to be a good option for a cheap price. Do any of the M009S series had bluetooth? because I have read alot of reviews for the different models available and some mention bluetooth and others don’t but no one seems to say which model(s) have bluetooth and which don’t.

    • Roy says:

      @Grant – as far as I can tell, only the most expensive model (the 3G) has bluetooth – and that is only for phone audio to a headset e.g. can’t use it for listening to Skype etc.

      The 3G model is also now quite close in price to the Nexus 7 and Fire HD which are both much higher spec tablets (but without 3G) – if you can live without 3G but must have bluetooth maybe take a look at the Nexus 7…

      If you must have 3G then the NATPC is still a decent choice as very few tabs offer it

  5. Donna says:

    Hi, can you use this tablet with any standard dongle, ie 02 dongle, to access the Internet if you are not near Wi-Fi?

    • Roy says:

      Probably not ‘any’ dongle – officially the only dongle supported is the HUAWEI E1750.

      Other buyers report varying degrees of success with other dongles but your mileage may vary – best see the discussion forum for more detail

  6. Peter S says:

    Had mine for about a week now and only managed to join wifi network a few times and then it loses it almost immediately. Even sitting next to the router the tablet says the signal is weak. I notice the tablet has version 2.2 but without the Internet connection I can’t upgrade it ! Any ideas please ?

    • Joe90 says:

      if you did connect then it’s not a password issue – either your router wifi is faulty or the tablet is…

      to work out which is bad, try connecting a laptop/phone to same router and see if their signal is good. Also if you can, connect your tablet to a different router (friend/hotspot) and see if it has a strong signal there. if tablet internal wifi is faulty get a refund/replacement from seller

  7. diddy says:

    Thanks to all who responded in my H of N.
    Recently, Virgin media, upgraded my connection including a new router. The technician .had difficulty with PC connectivity and carried out a full reset. it then worked fine, but not the android tablet. He said it had a fault and left..
    I rang Virgin they said the fault was not the password and that it was the manufacturers responsibility..
    They also said it was not possible to have an ‘open connection’ without a password. However that is not so, as when I told them to remove me from their service, they sent round an engineer who found that an error had occurred with the password and proceeded to leave it open. Now all is A OK

    • Roy says:

      You should hopefully now be using WPA2 encryption if the 2nd guy knew what he was doing – the first one was obviously a ‘technician’ in name only, presumably he came by horse and wore a stetson ;-)

  8. magician says:

    YOU’VE PROBABLY GOT THE PASSWORD WRONG CHECK YOU ARE USING THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF UPPER & LOWER CASE

    • diddy says:

      Thanks Magician
      On an open router – have no problem logging on with laptop or w/printer.
      Need more assistance
      Diddy

      • Roy says:

        Did it ever work? Does it work on other routers or just not this one? Tried switching router off and on? Tried deleting the saved network and reconnecting from scratch?

        If so, reset the wifi network to WPA2 security and try again. Otherwise you may have to reset the device or contact manufacturer for support. It does sound like a password auth issue though…

  9. Diddy says:

    When trying to connect to the internet I get the message ‘authentication problem’ and will not continue. Anyone help please

    • John Cobb says:

      Had same problem. Do you know that the keyboard reverts automatically to lower case after typing each letter in uppercase.
      Click on show password and see what you are typing.
      I did this and its OK now
      Good luck

    • HelenC says:

      Try setting the timezone and the correct date/time then try again – it worked for me on 3 different natpc’s, all with the same problem.
      And the capslock can be set by double-tapping the capslock I think.

  10. monique says:

    hi guys i have had my A710 tablet for a week now and for the life off me me cant understand why its an android device but i cant seem to download android market so i can get some cool games like temple run that wasnt stored on the device can anyone help me ?? ive tryed to download maket and the icon come up in my apps after installing it but when i click on it it only flashs to market then goes straight back to the main screen ??

    • Kevin says:

      If you’re not in UK or US can you contact the seller to see if they have put a special android version on? should be no issues with market on standard gingerbread or ics unless seller has customised it.

      Was it advertised as full market? If so, seller should help

  11. Robin Perrett says:

    Roy, you said you had problems using the device when it was charging. I use it all the time when charging with no problem. Did you enable this in ‘Settings’?
    robinp

    • Roy says:

      Hi Robin, the original 2.3 model had some screen usability issues when charging (nothing in Settings to help) but newer chargers and ICS 4.0 software sorted out those problems so you can charge and use at same time

  12. tina says:

    YES SORTED IT NOW THANK YOU VERY MUCH i must say its a very good tablet for the price its grat to play games on …the only thing i carnt seem to get on is facebook i can NOT find the app any where is this part of the down fall with the tablet or is there something you can do to correct it …also with the up dates i have a htc and that updates on its own …dose the tablet do it on its own ??? thank you ..you have been a great help x

    • Joe90 says:

      Facebook is in the Market on Gingerbread. some versions of ICS can’t load from/find it in Market – so have to ‘side load’ it – google or see amazon forum for details. latest version of FB app is terrible anyway, check recent reviews…..

      enable/disable auto updates per app in the settings

  13. tina says:

    hi bought one of these about 2 mnth ago now and i carnt get facebook the screen takes ages to respond to touch and the charge dosnt fit the wall sockect and it dosnt charge as the pin on the charger is lose so i carnt comment how good it is becouse i havent had chance to sit down and use it also i dont understand why you carnt get facebook on the tablet as it says you can x

    • Roy says:

      Hi Tina, there was a known issue with the screen being unresponsive whilst charging on Gingerbread but the later chargers and ICS should have helped.

      Assuming it’s not been damaged through accident/dropped etc you should contact the seller re the faulty charger to see about a replacement – loose pin could be dangerous.

      • tina says:

        hi no its not been damaged even tho i have thought about throwing it at the wall a thew times lol iv got another issue tho iv just done a factor rest to see if that will sort it out and now its in chines …HELP i dont have a clue how to get it back to english as i dont read chines x

  14. John D says:

    The installed e-mail app does not work, I get around it by means of Dolphin and the Skype does not work with any of my Names ( I have one for each of my computers), including the one I allocated to this device. Anyone any ideas? Thanks John

    • Roy says:

      Hi John, haven’t heard of any problems with email on either Gingerbread or ICS versions of these tabs, maybe double check the pop/smtp and authentication settings or you can carry on using webmail workaround

      Re Skype, very early versions and non-official market apps had some issues but the latest version (2.8.0.920 from Google Play market) seems to work ok – can you upgrade to it or uninstall/install the latest version to check?

      Note that you may have to use earphones to prevent feedback as the speaker is too close to the mic

      Otherwise, may be worth you asking the question in the Customer Discussion section of the Amazon webpage for your tab as the vendors do participate (or contact them directly).

  15. Roy says:

    Hi Steve, I haven’t heard of any problems with Youtube audio (assume you mean video is ok?) – usually it’s iPlayer if there are are sync/audio issues.

    Have you tried updating the youtube app? If so maybe try removing and reinstalling it to clear settings and cache or try youtube website via browser to see if it works there. Did your tablet come with ICS or did you upgrade it, has youtube ever worked? Just wondering if your ICS ROM may be responsible – likewise for wifi as the M009S is usually rock solid.

    If you’re using a home hub v3 you might consider changing the wifi channel from auto to a specific channel to prevent interference (in my own experience auto scan on hub is implemented poorly). Use an app to determine the best channel – https://techlogon.com/prevent-interference-from-other-wireless-networks/

    • Steve Walker says:

      Roy,

      I’ve tried Youtube using various apps and through two browsers. The picture is always pixelated.
      It was pre loaded with ICS, and I’ve had no other problems. Not a major problem for me really.
      The Wifi cutting out has been solved via the Blade App. But changing to a specific channel was next on my agenda.

      Thanks

    • Roy says:

      Blade Wifi Fix? Yep, gets good reviews, not just for Blade phones. Pixelation is a strange one – if it was a graphics chip or Flash problem I’d expect you to have similar problems with iPlayer and other video sites.

      Maybe post a query in Amazon’s discussion group for your model to see if anyone else encountered and fixed/worked around the problem but I don’t recall seeing it before

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