In the Android tablet space, price has always been a key factor in quality. The cheaper the tablet, the lower the quality, and it was almost always an instant no when talking about whether it should be purchased or not. Nextbook is trying to change things up in that space, offering a quality tablet at a relatively inexpensive price — meet the Nextbook Ares 11.
So, how does Nextbook begin to change things when it comes to affordable tablets that aren't terrible? Well, let's take a look at the hardware, software and what you get for the money, and then you can make the decision for yourself.
Nextbook Ares 11 Hardware
The Nextbook Ares 11 is a 2-in-1 tablet, meaning you have both a tablet and keyboard that can be used together or separately. It features an 11.6-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1366x768, which isn't the best we have seen but it is in no way bad either. The colors are vibrant, the viewing angles are great, and it's big.
Inside the tablet, you'll find an Intel Atom Quad-Core Z3735G processor which is clocked at 1.83 GHz and paired with 1GB of RAM. This tablet is by no means a work horse, but for casual gaming, web browsing, document creation and such, it will do just fine. If you're looking to game all the time, you'll likely want to look elsewhere.
As for storage, Nextbook offers 64GB of internal storage, with the ability to expand it through the use of a microSD card. This allows you to keep all your favorite apps and games installed, while also being able to carry around your photos and videos if you so desire.
When it comes to ports, the keyboard has two standard USB 2.0 ports for connecting accessories to the tablet as you may need. On the tablet itself, you'll find the charging port which is unfortunately not a microUSB port, along with a microUSB port, mini HDMI and headphone jack. Even though the tablet does have a microUSB port, putting power to it will not actually charge the tablet.
The keyboard that comes with the 2-in-1 is pretty easy to get used to, though there are a few issues that can get frustrating quickly. The keyboard features blue trim and a backlight, which is great for being able to easily identify where the keys are regardless of how light or dark it is where you are. To separate the keyboard and tablet, there is a button on the keyboard which you press and pull the tablet up. There is an audible sound once the keyboard is docked or undocked, which makes it easy to know you've done it right. The shift key is half the size of a regular keyboard, which for some will be fine, but continually caused an issue for me when trying to type quickly on it.
This solution is less than ideal for a couple of reasons. Through testing, we've noticed that sometimes the tablet doesn't recognize that it's docked in the keyboard, bringing up an on-screen keyboard instead. While this isn't a huge deal, it would be nice if the tablet recognized the keyboard more often. Sometimes, while browsing the web or playing a game, the sound would ding like the keyboard was being docked and undocked, when it wasn't even being touched. If you're going to use the keyboard all the time, you may quickly grow frustrated with how it operates.
Nextbook Ares 11 Software
The Nextbook Ares runs a pretty vanilla version of Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is great for the overall user experience. Anyone familiar with Android can pick up the tablet and use it with ease and not have to worry about a ton of software customization. For me, this is both a good and a bad thing. While skins on Android can be cumbersome and everyone has their opinions of them, I find that on a tablet form factor, some of them can be very useful.
Beyond the standard set of Google Apps that you'd expect to find, the Nextbook Ares 11 also comes preloaded with Nextbook FAQ and Nextbook Guide, two apps to help you get started and moving around the tablet, as well as Demo Setting which is just for demo purposes and requires a password to access. That's it, no huge array of games or silly apps taking up your space, just the bare essentials.
Nextbook Ares 11 Battery life
Inside, the Nextbook Ares 11 features a 9000mAh battery, which for our testing held up rather well. We were easily able to get through a full day worth of usage, playing some games, browsing the web and checking out social media without any problem. Since everyone uses their tablets differently, it's hard to say exactly how long the battery will last for you, but you shouldn't have any issues getting through a full day.
Nextbook Ares 11 Camera
It's a tablet, so if you're looking for an amazing camera you are looking in the wrong place. That said, the Nextbook Ares features a 2MP camera on both the front and back of the tablet. For hopping on a video call, or capturing something quick when it's the only thing in your hand, the cameras will work just fine, but beyond that you can't really expect much else.
Nextbook Ares 11 Bottom line
So, what's the bottom line here? You get some nice hardware on the tablet, a keyboard, and great battery life in a nice bundle. What's not proven here is Nextbook's software updates, so if you are thinking ahead and wondering if the tablet will be updated to a newer version of Android, we don't know that yet.
If you are looking for a high-end tablet you'll likely still want to look elsewhere. If you are looking for something to have around the house, or something for the kids, the Nextbook Ares 11 offers a great value for its $197 price tag.
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