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May 20, 2009

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ZhongYi S101 vs Nokia N810: Performance


Text: amanda_lam (invited editor from 《 Da Da 寫意空間 》)

Outstanding screen quality

Like the 4.13 inches resistive touch screen that the N800/N810 provides, ZhongYi S101 is equipped with a 4.3 inches resistive touch screen (4.3 inches touchscreen protectors are easier to find). The ZhongYi's screen is also a 24-bit one, which is better than the 16-bit touchscreen of Nokia N800/N810 in terms of brightness, contrast and saturation. However, the colour temperature of S101 screen is relatively "colder" than N810's, and it tends to be a little bit blue when the brightness is lowered. Whether this is good or not really depends on your own taste.

↑The screen size of ZhongYi S101 is 4.3 inches

↑ he screen size of Nokia N810 is 4.13 inches

Great processor results in great video playback performance

Compared to the TI OMAP 2420 400MHz processor employed by the Nokia N800/N810, the Marvell PXA310 624MHz employed by ZhongYi S101 has much greater speed. This not only results in better performance in application launching and running when compared to the performance of the Nokia tablets,but also results in much better video playback performance than that of N800/N810 (the tradeoff is higher body temperature and rapid power consumption ). For your ease of comparison, I've put a 720x480 2183kbps video clip (a DVD-quality video clip) to both MIDs to test out their video playback performance:

From the above demonstration, we can see that ZhongYi S101 plays the video clip quite comfortably; whereas N810 cannot even play the video clip at a watchable level. (It's well known that Nokia N810 only supports up to 400x240 800kbps MPEG4 / H.264 video clips)


Both Nokia N810 and ZhongYi S101 are equipped with a 640x480 built-in camera; however, the Nokia N810's camera performs particularly bad when you try to use it in indoor environment --- great amount of noises are introduced even though with sufficient lighting. In contrast, the ZhongYi S101 built-in webcam provides much better image quality.

↑Image quality of ZhongYi S101's built-in camera

↑ Image quality of Nokia N810's built-in camera

Of course, both of these webcams are not comparable to the built-in cameras of most modern cellphones. You should never use them for any serious photographing. And since there aren't many applications that can make good use of the webcam, plus the fact that the webcam is located at a location that you won't find it convenient to use it, you won't find it a great loss even if the camera is unusable.

Disappointing software quality and the handicapped Bluetooth support

The ZhongYi S101 comes with an operating system named "MID2008", which is in fact a Linux operating system compatible to the Maemo Linux that is used by Nokia's Internet Tablet series. That said, ZhongYi seems to have tried its best to conceal the fact that they are using and modifying open source software for their own good --- by replacing the icon of the Gecko-based web browser to a Firefox one, by making Gnumeric look like Excel, and even by naming its instant messenging client as "MSN". ZhongYi even removed many essential system features from Maemo Linux, including the X Terminal tool which is a must-have for all Linux advanced users. If we compare the Control Panel screen of both ZhongYi S101 and the Nokia N810, we can see that the configurations available for users to make changes in S101 are so much fewer than N810's:

↑ The Control Panel of ZhongYi S101

↑ The Control Panel of Nokia N810

Despite the fact that the MID2008 operating system is compatible with Maemo Linux, only one software repository that points to woojoy.com is set up by default. However, when we add the Maemo repository back to the list, we can obtain a list of N800/N810 applications that could be installable on the ZhongYi S101 through the Application Manager.

In fact, by installing various libraries, I can put the missing X Terminal back to the ZhongYi MID: [/url]

The web browser that comes with MID2008 is the same as the MicroB browser of Nokia N800/N810 in terms of its utilization of the Mozilla Gecko layout engine. Both web browsers support Grab-and-drag features, and both browsers support the display of both Traditional and SImplified CHinese characters natively, Although both browsers are very similar in terms of functionality and layout engine, there is still one exception that makes the MicroB browser of Nokia N800/N810 remain distinct --- the support of Adobe Flash Player 9. The lack of support of Flash in ZhongYi S101 makes it less flavourable to those users who likes to surf the web sites with Flash contents or to those users who like to play Flash games.

↑ The User Agent String of ZhongYi S101's built-in web browser

↑ The User Agent String of Nokia N810's built-in MicroB web browser

Another disappointing point to mention about the MID2008 operating system is the handicapped Bluetooth support. If you would wish to connect ZhongYi S101 with your mobile phone via Bluetooth dial-up networking for Internet surfing purpose, the software itself would only provide you two settings that are tailor-made to the two Chinese mobile phone service providers. Even though there is an "Others" option in the connection configuration dialog box, I can never get my Nokia 6120 classic working with Bluetooth connection. What's funnier is that when I try to send a file to my computer via Bluetooth, the system pops out a message that says the feature is "Not yet implemented"!! I can't even find any settings in the Control Panel page that is related to Bluetooth connectivity -- Neither do I find a way to pair up my Bluetooth headsets to use them with the phone feature, nor could I be able to connect the Bluetooth headsets in A2DP stereo mode to listen some good music or watch some videos on S101. What a shame!

Comparatively, the Nokia N800/N810 works much better in this area. I did not have to worry about the complicated settings to connect my mobile phone via Bluetooth for Internet connection sharing; file transferring to my PC via Bluetooth as well as using Bluetooth headsets in A2DP mode also work flawlessly on my Nokia N810. I just simply don't understand why MID2008 and OS2008, both Maemo Linux operating system, woulddiffer in so many ways.

Yes, I admit that my view on MID2008 is quite negative, but it is still not an unusable system. MID2008 comes with various desktop and web applications that could be useful to some, including map, flight information (China flights only), weather (China cities only) and stock price enquiry application (again, China markets only) etc.

↑ The Map application connects to Google Maps. The grab-and-drag experience is not as good as Maemo Mapper's.

↑ Why could I enquire Hong Kong's weather? Come on, Hong Kong is now part of China too!

↑ The stock price enquiry application looks quite professional, but I would not comment about it because I never get myself involved in the stocks market!

Compared to N800/N810, another strength of MID2008 is that it natively provides two Chinese input methods for Chinese users --- PinYin and Handwriting Recognition. Although these input methods only support Simplified Chinese characters (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau regions use Traditional Chinese characters instead), and despite the fact that the Chinese handwriting recognition still needs improvements in terms of accuracy and software stability, the inclusion of these input methods is quite a remarkable step for Chinese users and developers in the slowly-growing Maemo Linux community.

Last Chapter: Conclusion

• Nokia N900 vs Nokia N810 尺寸比較
• [狂熱測試] SmartQ 7 開箱、測試報告
• 【原創評測】眾一 S101 與 Nokia N810 大對決
• 智器 SmartQ 7 MID 影片開箱
• ZhongYi S101 vs Nokia N810 - The battle of ARM-based MIDs
• 智器 SmartQ 7 - 7 寸版 SmartQ 5
• [Size Comparison & Quick Impression] Zhongyi S101 MID
• [全港首發] 眾一 MID S101 "領航者" 開箱報告!
• Nokia N810國產進化版 眾一MID S101
• Smart Q5 MID Hands on


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