Judging by outward appearances, the Studio 10 doesn’t look or feel cheap. It’s got a substantial, if somewhat hefty, aluminum body that feels sturdy in the hand and yields almost no flex. At 10.1 by 6.9 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and 1.29 pounds, it’s in line with the MID1065 in terms of size and weight. A plastic panel along the left edge houses a microSD card slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB and mini HDMI ports, and a DC power input. Like the MID1065, the Studio 10 syncs via micro USB, but requires the included power brick to charge. The micro USB port also supports USB OTG, and Idolian includes an adapter for plugging in peripherals like USB mice and keyboards—both of which worked fine in my tests.
The 1,280-by-800 pixel IPS display isn’t bad, but it’s unremarkable. It gets bright and viewing angles are good. Colors skew a little cool, as whites have a bit of a blue hue, and I noticed some backlight bleeding at the edges. It’s neck and neck with the Coby MID1065 on the display front, while coming a bit short of tablets like the Toshiba Excite 10 SE.
This is a Wi-Fi-only tablet that connects to 802.11b/g/n networks on the 2.4GHz frequency. During testing, the Studio 10 had some trouble reconnecting to Wi-Fi when woken from sleep—there were noticeable delays even though saved networks were within range. The tablet also supports Bluetooth 2.1 and connected easily with a pair of wireless headphones
Performance and Android
The Studio 10 is powered by a dual-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A9 processor with 1GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Performance is generally swift, and the Studio 10 did well on most of our benchmarks—besting the MID1065 in many categories. And while the MID1065 was plagued by choppy real-world performance, the Studio 10 feels much smoother in operation. Gaming performance is decent, with games like Temple Run 2 running without a hitch, but don’t expect high framerates on more graphically intensive games like Real Racing 3.
The software loaded onto the Studio 10 is a mixed bag. It’s running Android 4.1.1 “Jelly Bean,” which is a step up from the MID1065’s 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” but buggy Google apps hold this tablet back. Google apps like the Play Store, Gmail, and Chrome are disabled by default—you have to dig into the settings, find Developer options, then uncheck “Hide Google Application.” Idolian says it is still working out the kinks with its Google certification, but promised future firmware updates to resolve any bugs. As it stands, the Studio 10 can access the Play Store and its hundreds of thousands of apps, but I found frustrating deficiencies, like the fact that Chrome did not work during testing.
For media support, the Studio 10 handles Xvid, DivX, MPEG4, H.264, and AVI videos at up to 1080p resolution. For audio, you get MP3, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV, and WMA support. Screen mirroring worked fine using a mini HDMI cable, and the tablet was able to output video at 720p or 1080p resolution. If you absolutely need a camera on your tablet, there are front- and rear-facing 2-megapixel cameras, but they are not worth using—details are smudged, image noise is overwhelming, and dynamic range is non-existent.
In our battery rundown test, which loops a video with screen brightness set to max and Wi-Fi on, the Studio 10 lasted 3 hours, 56 minutes, which is disappointing. Compare that with the MID1065’s 4 hours, 37 minutes or the Excite 10 SE’s 7 hours, 37 minutes.
The Idolian Studio 10 may look and feel like a more expensive tablet, but it makes a number of compromises to ring in at a budget-friendly price. Chief among them is haphazard Google apps implementation that can leave novices in the dark. And even if you know your way around Android, the Studio 10 can still give you problems. Performance-wise, it’s right in line with budget options like the MID1065, which is even less expensive than the Studio 10. So if you have more room in your budget, I’d recommend a tablet like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, which gets you a far sharper display, better performance, and a much smoother software experience.