Web Testing: The Diet WBGP
The Web tests consist of a select group of benchmarks from our Web Browser Grand Prix series. For the sake of comparison to those stories, we’re including results from our usual Core i5-based WBGP test system to these charts. While we originally wanted to include the approximately $1,000 PC to all of today’s tests, its scores caused all the other bars in the system and graphics charts to become barely-visible nubs. Fortunately, including the WBGP test system in our Web testing doesn't create any issues with our graphical aides.
In order to show all systems in the best possible light, we chose the fastest browser available for each operating system. In the case of the PCs and the Nexus 7, that would be Chrome, while the iPad 2 uses Safari. Since the Android 2.3-based LG Optimus S is unable to run Chrome, the stock Android Browser remains the best bet. The Kaser, however, is an odd case. Although Chrome can be installed, we know that the stock Android browser is faster at displaying current-gen webpages, while Chrome excels at the next-gen stuff. Therefore, in order to give this (so far) underwhelming product a real fighting chance, we’re testing the Kaser using a mix of the stock Android Browser and Chrome. While Dolphin with its JetPack add-on is technically the fastest browser for Android, we sided with the runner-up, Chrome, in order to make the gadget/PC comparison a little bit cleaner.
Our first benchmark is EEMBC’s BrowsingBench. We chose this test because it measures what is possibly the most telling performance aspect of browsing the Web: page load times for real-world websites. This test has none of the experimental technologies that many of today’s Web benchmarks focus on exclusively. Instead, it tests a handful of popular, yet very ordinary HTML4/CCS2 sites from around the globe.
Predictably, the WBGP test system takes the top spot, followed by the Vista-era office PC. While we already knew that first-gen netbooks provide a sub-par experience, we’re somewhat surprised to see the iPad 2 beat the Dell Mini 10v so soundly. Far below the Atom-based netbook is Google’s Nexus 7, followed by the LG Optimus S. Even when using the stock Android browser instead of Chrome, the Kaser still places dead last, almost 200 points behind the $50 burner. If we had used Chrome in this test, the Kaser's score would have dropped to double-digits.
The BrowserMark placing is exactly the same as that of BrowsingBench, with the only major differences being an increased lead for the WBGP test system, a closer gap between the Dell Mini 10v and Apple iPad 2, and significantly improved scores for the Google Nexus 7.
The WBGP test system’s lead over the Athlon 64 X2-based machine increases substantially. Meanwhile, the iPad 2 falls from third place down to fifth, and the Kaser finally manages to beat the half-priced prepaid smartphone.
Now we’re getting into the next-gen stuff, with a pair of HTML5 performance benchmarks that focus on very different tasks. First up is Principled Technologies' WebXPRT, an HTML5-based Web app benchmark. This test simulates common productivity tasks that are traditionally handled by locally-installed applications, including: photo editing, financial charting, and offline note-taking.
The placing order here remains the same as in Peacekeeper, with all three x86-based machines coming in ahead of their ARM-based competition.
Finally, we have the Impact HTML5 Benchmark, a casual HTML5-based platformer.
In this test, the Nexus 7 pulls ahead of the Mini 10v by a hair, breaking up the x86 monopoly.
Now let’s look at the geometric mean of all five Web browsing benchmark scores.
The price and performance differences are pretty amazing. While the ~$1,000 WBGP test system definitely lives up being worth 10x the price of the Kaser, we’re absolutely shocked by how much better the five-year-old, low-end office PC is than any of the more expensive ARM-based devices. In another surprise, the Dell Mini 10v with its first-gen Atom processor also holds its ground. Right smack in-between the trio of PCs and Android devices is Apple’s iPad 2, which finishes much closer to the third-place Mini 10v than the fifth-place Nexus 7. Utilizing the Android Browser in BrowsingBench allows the Kaser to pull ahead of the LG burner, though if the Kaser had been running Chrome in that test, the scores of these two budget products would have been essentially identical.
Even with the dual-browser scenario, the Net'sPC2 fails to prove that it’s worth twice the cost of the prepaid Gingerbread burner (again, not including the cost of a display). What’s more, the equally-valued Vista-era PC yields about five times the Web-browsing performance as the Kaser.
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Seriously? Another slow ARM processor with a bloated phone OS on a desktop. Tragic.Reply
I have something like that, a bloated Android HTPC that looks a bit like Raspberry Pi.Reply
How about adding it to the NAV system in a 2006 Acura TL that has a 7" touchscreen?Reply
Now AMD's APU is incredibly cheap, add 1g of ram a hdd lying around your home and your way better off with a x86 than this underpowered NO FLASH compatible no nothing system. Why are they even talking about such systems? I'm an Intel fanboy but got a AMD e350 system for my parents. I am amazed how well that little thing works for pretty much anything you encounter in daily use for little money (hdd 120g second hand, case and psu can be purchased for as little as 35$, mb+ram 65$ brand new)Reply
Wow, this is really overpriced or underspecced or both. The Allwinner A10 is simply a crappy chip. Single core Cortex A8, 16-bit RAM interface, 512MB limitation, that's pretty crap. I bought a Chinese tablet (Onda V712) for $125 with a quad core A7, 2GB of RAM and an 1280x800 IPS screen, so if you drop the screen I imagine this could all be put into $100, and provide much better performance. (It's about as powerful as the Nexus 7, a little slower on the CPU side and faster on the GPU side.)Reply
As for Android, it should also be possible to make it more usable. A better specced device would have 1080p native, and allowing to change DPI settings on the fly is likely to do wonders to usability on a bit screen (i.e., scale the UI instead of blowing it up).
Android also has some limited windows. It's a hack, but there are apps which support it, such as Tiny Apps, which provides a notes app, calculator, paint, music player and music recorder all running in their own small windows. There are also floating video players ("floating" is the Android app way of saying "windowed") and floating web browsers.
I think that an Android PC could be made usable (though not great). This one isn't it, and I feel that testing was too limited, but I won't fault you for it because any A10 device is not really worth a second look.
I checked out some Chinese stores, and indeed it's possible to buy something specced link my tablet (Allwinner A31, 2GB RAM, ...) for $90, and some dual core A9 1GB devices in the $80-$100 range. These should be much better than this particular piece of crap.Reply
"armed with a single Cortex-A8 core running at 1.0 GHz. For a little perspective, that's about half of the processing power wielded by the original iPad. "Reply
How come? 1st Gen iPad is powered by Apple A4 SoC which uses a 1GHz Cortex A8. And this Allwiner A10 is powered by the same Cortex A8.
This is very disappointing for a well known techsite.
how did you manage to select such a crappy representative of Android PCs, when for example the similarly priced Minix Neo X5 is several times more powerful and has an excellent, frequently updated OS ?Reply
G-Box Midnight MX2 is another good choice you might want to review. Serves as a good XBMC player out of the box, but can be used as an Android mini PC.Reply
About 6 months ago I picked up a dual CPU/quad GPU android PC stick, for $50 shipped. It lacks hardware ethernet or the plethora of USB ports, but it is pretty darn fast for how cheap it is. I suspect Kaser was the first of the "android pc" vendors to submit something to Tom's but is it too hard to hit up Aliexpress for comparable priced units?Reply