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Ainol Novo 7 Crystal review


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#1 Soulflier

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:43 AM

Ainol Novo7 Crystal review


Note that the Crystal is not released yet, the final version may differ.



When the Crystal was announced everybody tought that it will be just an updated Elf II or Aurora II. The only differences the specifications revealed were the new multi-angle screen and JellyBean instead of IceCreamSandwich. From the outside they look very alike, the case and the connectors are exactly the same on both devices. I must put a decal on my tablets to be able to tell the difference (actually they have their model written on the back).

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At the first startup I was quite surprised how good the display is compared to the Elf II. The image quality is about the same full frontal, but on the Crystal I can see the image from very extreme angles. On the Elf II even a slight tilt backwards (viewing the screen from the bottom) would invert the colors.

Frontal view. Top: Crystal Bottom: Elf II
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View from the bottom. Left: Crystal Right: Elf II
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View from the Left. Left: Crystal Right: Elf II
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View from the Top. Left: Crystal Right: Elf II
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View from the Right. Left: Crystal Right: Elf II
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The Wi-Fi chip has been replaced by a Realtek chip, it is much faster and much stable than the AMPAK chip in the Elf II. The Crystal can estabilish a 150Mbps connection to the router while the Elf II only reaches 65Mbps link speed.

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The Android 4.1.1 on the Crystal is set to the Phablet UI instead of Tablet UI. This is not a strange thing in a 7” tablet, the Nexus 7 uses the same User Interface layout. It is inconvenient that there is no possibility (yet) to switch between PhabletUI and TabletUI (it seems that the Tablet layout is missing altogether). The only real discomfort of the PhabletUI is that the default Launcher is fixed at portrait mode. You can install any other launcher and set them to Auto-rotate though.
The firmware I had preinstalled on the Crystal came with some chinese apps (some very cool ones, PPTV HD lets you stream full movies) and a complete collection of Google Apps (Calendar, Chrome, Gmail, Search, Google+, Maps, Play Books, Play Magazines, Play Movies. Play Store, Talk, Youtube) and they all work and sync correctly (well I could not test Movies or Books, they are not available in my country).

Google Play Store compatibility is bad. I had to root the Crystal and fix the permissions in order to be able to install some of the most basic apps. This issue was present on the Elf II official roms too.
However, one of the biggest issues is fixed in the Crystal, the Preparing Sdcard error. On the Elf II or Aurora II if you had a few hundred MBs of data on the internal sdcard of the tablet on reboot the Preparing Sdcard notification appeared and stayed there, making the internalsd and externalsd totally inaccessable. This does not happen on the Crystal.
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#2 Soulflier

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:44 AM

The specifications on different webshops said that there are tons of languages on the tablet. Well that is not so.
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The CPU cores run at maximum 1.2GHz each. The kernel level limit is 1320MHz but the CPU mode is set to 1200MHz max by default and there is no option in the Settings to change it like on the Elf II.
I ran some benchmarks but the results were very inconsistent.

Quadrant: 3238
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Antutu: 6606
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Nenamark: 49.7fps
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Nenamark 2: 34.8fps
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CF Bench: 9772, 2922, 5662
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Gameplay video using HDMI Dual Display (image on the tablet's screen and TV at the same time)

Edited by Soulflier, 08 October 2012 - 01:47 PM.


#3 DialerSega

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:49 AM

works the same as the ELF II? same rom's

#4 Soulflier

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:55 AM

No, it is not the same. You cannot use the Elf II's roms on it. Wifi is different, the screen is different.

#5 russy23

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 10:30 AM

so if your looking for you first tablet this would be ideal, but for an upgrade from the elf/aurora theres not much point..

#6 Soulflier

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 10:38 AM

If you have problems with the wifi or the screen you might want to replace your elf II or aurora II. If you don't have problems with your elf/auror, then there is really no point in buying the Crystal.
It is not only good for a first tablet, but if you have a single-core tablet then this can be a cheap upgrade.

#7 Mr. Splodge

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 03:01 PM

Can you tell us if the speaker click/pop bug is present? Does this tab use the ceramic speaker like in the Fire, and does it make a mosquito sound when screen brightness is not on full? Do you know what touch screen controller chip is uses (hopefully not the same as the Aurora II)

#8 Hammerhead61

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 08:24 PM

If you have problems with the wifi or the screen you might want to replace your elf II or aurora II. If you don't have problems with your elf/auror, then there is really no point in buying the Crystal.
It is not only good for a first tablet, but if you have a single-core tablet then this can be a cheap upgrade.



Hello, Soulflier!
I'm looking at the crystal to be my first tablet, and i was just wondering how bad the Play Store compatibility is. I am a complete novice with rooting android tablets, so could it be likely that this 'fix' comes in official firmware? Or would this tablet have to be rooted for the compatibility issues to be resolved? What does the rooting involve? And is this root 100% stable? This is the only issue i have with this tablet, as i would only use it for work.
Thanks for your time!

Also what did you root it with?

Edited by Hammerhead61, 13 September 2012 - 08:53 PM.


#9 WAI

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:27 PM

there is a ROM linked that i have talk with developer of the ROM for me to Link it elsewhere. i will report back when he gives me the go to Link it here. i did however link the thread for the ROM to the OP of this review. it has root and fixes play store compatibility

#10 Soulflier

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 01:55 AM

Can you tell us if the speaker click/pop bug is present? Does this tab use the ceramic speaker like in the Fire, and does it make a mosquito sound when screen brightness is not on full? Do you know what touch screen controller chip is uses (hopefully not the same as the Aurora II)


I did not have the clock/pop bug on the Elf II, or I haven't noticed it so I can only imagine what it is like. The Crystal does not produce any kind of clicking or popping. I don't know about the speaker, I haven't opened the case.

I will check the touch controller. What I noticed is that on the Elf II the touch digitizer does not recognize touches that are very close to the edge (a few millimeters). On the Crystal I can touch at the very edges.

Edited by Soulflier, 14 September 2012 - 01:56 AM.


#11 Soulflier

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:07 AM

Hello, Soulflier!
I'm looking at the crystal to be my first tablet, and i was just wondering how bad the Play Store compatibility is. I am a complete novice with rooting android tablets, so could it be likely that this 'fix' comes in official firmware? Or would this tablet have to be rooted for the compatibility issues to be resolved? What does the rooting involve? And is this root 100% stable? This is the only issue i have with this tablet, as i would only use it for work.
Thanks for your time!

Also what did you root it with?


I rooted it manually, created an update.zip and also had to use Android DeBug (ADB) to install supersu.apk. The rooting is 100% stable.
Now the compatibility could be fixed by Ainol easily, but they never fixed this issue on the older devices so I would not wait for them to fix it. You only need to put a few .xml files in the right directory and do a factory reset. I will probably create a simple patch (root+market fix), that can be installed on any firmware. It is not a big deal.

I will make a custom rom as soon as an official rom is released. It will has root and fixed market.

#12 Soulflier

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:10 AM

there is a ROM linked that i have talk with developer of the ROM for me to Link it elsewhere. i will report back when he gives me the go to Link it here. i did however link the thread for the ROM to the OP of this review. it has root and fixes play store compatibility


Thank you for the info.
I checked out that rom's features and it uses the 0717 source. The firmware I have on the Crystal is dated 0830 so it is newer and I already put root and market fix on it so I do not need that rom. Also I will only use a trusted official rom as base for my custom fw.

#13 Hammerhead61

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:13 AM

I rooted it manually, created an update.zip and also had to use Android DeBug (ADB) to install supersu.apk. The rooting is 100% stable.
Now the compatibility could be fixed by Ainol easily, but they never fixed this issue on the older devices so I would not wait for them to fix it. You only need to put a few .xml files in the right directory and do a factory reset. I will probably create a simple patch (root+market fix), that can be installed on any firmware. It is not a big deal.

I will make a custom rom as soon as an official rom is released. It will has root and fixed market.


Thanks, I'll be looking forward to it :)

#14 Arbalath

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 07:51 AM

er.. correct me if I'm wrong but strangely there is performance decrease (based on Antutu scores) since ELf II. It's like Elf II > Aurora II > Fire > Crystal. Screen gets somewhat better, but experienced no problems with Elf II, ghosting on A II and Fire models seems to have this dying screens bug. Let's hope this one will perform better..
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Tested tablets > Ainol: Elf II, Aurora II, Crystal, Hero, Fire | Pipo: S1, S1PRo, S3, S3PRo, M9, M8Pro | Yuandao: N70s(RK3066), N70s(RK3168) | FNF Ifive: Mini x3

Would recommend any time of the day or night > Pipo M9.


#15 Hammerhead61

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 08:39 AM

Just to let you guys know, the tablet is now ready to ship at ainol-novo.com

http://www.ainol-nov...ystal-in-stock/

#16 Tzul

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:16 PM

Thanks for the review, Soulflier! Interesting stuff.

The Wi-Fi chip has been replaced by a Realtek chip, it is much faster and much stable than the AMPAK chip in the Elf II. The Crystal can estabilish a 150Mbps connection to the router while the Elf II only reaches 65Mbps link speed.

Wow, time to get jealous. The WiFi in my Aurora II is quite stable since I modded the antenna, but the slow transfer speeds are annoying.
I have been wondering who manufactured the WiFi chip in the Aurora II (same as in Elf II). How do you know it is by AMPAK? That's the first time I'm hearing this.

However, one of the biggest issues is fixed in the Crystal, the Preparing Sdcard error. On the Elf II or Aurora II if you had a few hundred MBs of data on the internal sdcard of the tablet on reboot the Preparing Sdcard notification appeared and stayed there, making the internalsd and externalsd totally inaccessable. This does not happen on the Crystal.

As far as I know, this has long been fixed in the other Ainol tablets as well.

#17 Soulflier

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:35 PM

Thanks for the review, Soulflier! Interesting stuff.


Wow, time to get jealous. The WiFi in my Aurora II is quite stable since I modded the antenna, but the slow transfer speeds are annoying.
I have been wondering who manufactured the WiFi chip in the Aurora II (same as in Elf II). How do you know it is by AMPAK? That's the first time I'm hearing this.


As far as I know, this has long been fixed in the other Ainol tablets as well.


I used the application that is called Fing. It can display every device on your network and display many info about them. I know the chips from this.

The 0717 version of the Elf II's firmware still has the preparing sd issue. There are solutions for it though, like formatting the internalsd with 64k setting.

#18 Tzul

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:48 PM

Oh, a MAC vendor lookup, clever. Didn't occur to me before. :)
I can't find the chip on the AMPAK website but it certainly looks like one of theirs. The Ainol Fire appears to be using one of them, too, unfortunately.

#19 kamrar

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:35 PM

@Soulflier What about flash in browser, and battery life?

#20 AndrewDB

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 11:00 PM

Oh, a MAC vendor lookup, clever. Didn't occur to me before. :)
I can't find the chip on the AMPAK website but it certainly looks like one of theirs. The Ainol Fire appears to be using one of them, too, unfortunately.


The Elf II, Aurora II and Fire use a Broadcom wifi chip soldered on a miniature module.




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