A year ago it looked like dual-boot tablets and 2-in-1 notebooks that could switch between Android and Windows might be the next big thing… or at least a thing. But big companies that had introduced dual-OS solutions backed down from actually releasing those devices, reportedly due to pressure from Google and Microsoft.
Now we’re starting to see some honest-to-goodness dual-boot products in the wild though, and they’re not coming from big name companies like Asus. They’re coming from Chinese manufacturers like Pipo, Chuwi, and Cube. My sense is that these companies simply don’t care about pressure from Google or Microsoft — if they can get free or cheap licenses for the software, that’s all the go-ahead they need.
The folks at Geekbuying are selling the new Cube i6 Air 3G for just over $230, and they recently provided me with an opportunity to play with this dual-OS tablet.
The Cube i6 Air 3G features a 9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 pixel IGZO display, an Intel Atom Z3735G Bay Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. It features WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G, has an 8,000mAh battery, a microSD card slot, front and rear cameras, and perhaps the most significant feature is that it runs both Windows 8.1 and Google Android 4.4.
The unit I tested was running a pre-release version of Windows, but I’ve been assured that the device will ship with a fully activated Windows 8.1 license as well as Android.
You can switch from Android to Windows by pulling down the Quick Settings menu and tapping the OS Switch button. There’s an icon in Windows that lets you switch to Android as well.
Note that in either case you’ll have to wait for the tablet to reboot — the operating systems aren’t running at the same time. So if you want to play an Android game and then open a Windows app, you’ll have to wait for the tablet to reboot.
So while in some ways this sort of device offers the best of both worlds, it’s not a perfect solution since you can’t just run Windows and Android apps one after the other without waiting a little while to switch from one operating system to the next. There’s also less free disk space available than you’d normally expect from a 32GB Windows or Android tablet, since each operating system takes up a fair bit of space.
That said, the tablet felt pretty responsive no matter which operating system it was running and it could be an interesting option for folks that can’t decide whether they’d prefer a Windows or Android tablet… but who are pretty sure they like the idea of spending half the price of an iPad Air.
I’ll have a more detailed review of the Cube i6 Air 3G in the future. For now, you can check out some more hands-on photos and a first impressions video below.
I bought one of these and although it is undoubtedly cool and reasonably priced it has a major flaw. The onboard flash storage is too small to house two operating systems and still leave enough room for many applications. Yes you can use a 128GB microSD, but the version of android is kitkat and doesn’t permit apps to be on an external storage, as for Windows, there is more space, but there is a limit to what you might want to put on an external card – movies and music perhaps but dropbox doesn’t work on an external drive, you may not want apps on an external drive, and documents don’t feel very secure on an external drive.
I think I have decided to get this tablet and I am very curious about the dual boot. The difference in price between single (android) and dual boot is minimal so I am wondering if at some time I decided to just want android, is it possible to just make the tab all android (single boot)?
Please be good enough to get me the android English rom of cube i6 air 3g dual boot tablet. My one gave me some trouble with the android os and had to factory reset and now it shows only in Chinese.
have you tried the site u purchased from? or geekbuying.com. they post firmware all the time. Or arctablet.com?
Thanks for your reply, unfortunately they don’t have yet. Can you give me android 4.4.4 Bluetooth share app in an update zip format?
Any issues with the WIFI?
How is geekbuying as a site for purchasing? Anyone have any experiences with them?
I have ordered many items from them, and found to be very reliable. Overall, I recommend them as a professional online supplier. You can chat with them online, and they will reply to any queries to your satisfaction. I have had no issues at all. Higly recommended.
GPS? SD card slot? Please I need to know…
It seems it has both a microSD slot and GPS.
I don’t know that I’m interested in this particular device. However I find it extremely interested that they can put an igzo display of that size/resolution into a device at that price.
will be looking forward to a more complete review. Especially info about the quality of that screen.
Maybe I’m alone on this…. but I’d be more interested in firmware access so I can install windows or android or random linux distro as a standalone OS. Basically I want the same flexibility to make my own OS choice as we get with regular laptops. I want to boot off the USB port, I don’t want to clown around with windows apps X to flash the firmware on etc.
How is the 32gb memory split? Are documents available for viewing and editing on both OSs?
This might not be 100% relevant to this product, but it is possible for them to run Android and Windows 8.1 on the same volume. Android-x86 can be installed on NTFS. I’m not sure if that feature is limited to just Android-x86, or other builds too, but it can be done.
If it turns out that they put android on EXT or some other file system, you could always pop in an SD card, format it to something Windows can read, and keep all your common files on it. Not the best solution.
Awesome that you could get a hands on with this interesting device.
This site rocks
Yes I agree, this is the best review I’ve read about a Dual Boot Tablet this year.
Congrats Brad, well done.
Thanks guys, but I’ll have a far more detailed review coming up within a few weeks… technically I’m still on vacation this week. 🙂
Thanks for the updates. Good battery life is too important in tablets to do without.
Will they be rootable though? As for battery life. Chinese tablets are notorius for exagerating life. You best bet, is to buy a better battery sometime down the line. I have a bigger battery on my Cube U30GT2 that I bought several years ago. Though it’s dated, IMHO I think I still got better specs than most tablets out there! It fits my need anyway!
How hard was it to source the larger battery?
Not hard at all. I frequent Arctablet.com’s forum on my tablet and we have discussed the battery issue ad-naseum. Folks are still posting on issues with their tablets there and alot of pretty good advice is being handed out by people experimenting and taking risks with the U30gt2, amongst other tablets. I got my battery after following the exploits of one such person who bought replacements from an Aliexpress. He even posted how to instruction, but my eyes not being as reliable as they were 20yrs ago I took mine to a pc shop I know off and the guy was able to do a great job soldering in the new batteries.
here is a link to part of the conversation, store link is halfway down.
several folks ordered batteries and were not ripped off and we got what we ordered and much cheaper. Though it does take like 30days to get anything from the ChiCom.
I have a teclast 3G dual boot and the battery life is bad in windows but ok ( not good just ok ) in android.
I just bought the Onda v919 3g dual os. It’s been a great tablet, except for the horrible battery life. I would like to know how well this tablet performs in battery tests. Also does this tablet resemble an iPad air close enough to use its accessories? That’s one of the great things about these iPad nock offs… So many cheap accessories.
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