Friday, May 6, 2011

RENA3 - Blazing Fast Dual-Core $240 7" Android Tablet Review

Post Guest Authored by Tobias Staermose with Forward and Concluding Remarks by Roman

The Tegra II isn't the only game in town anymore when it comes to Cortex A9 processors. NEC recently released its “Renesas” SOC, a Dual-Core Cortex- A9 chipset running at 1 Ghz. Tablets have already shipped with this new hardware. The good GREAT news is that these devices weigh in at a FRACTION of the cost of similar Tegra II devices. Now, with that being said… Do they provide Tegra II performance? No. Despite what some unscrupulous sellers might try to proclaim, these chips can't compete with the Nvidia powerhouse. BUT, they do a pretty amazing job for the budget market. They pump out 1080p video, they provide a PERFECTLY SMOOTH and VERY FAST Android operating system experience. The few tablets available that sport the processor come with 1080p HDMI out, a USB Host port, and several other features that can be hard to find in more expensive name brand components. Today, we are going to discuss one of these exciting new devices.

Enter the RENA3. The pictures of this tablet look gorgeous; this isn't your typical cloned iPad/iPhone ChinaTab. When it comes to tablets though, pictures aren't really worth a thousand words... Thankfully a friend has allowed me to post his own HANDS-ON review of his experience with the tablet over a 3-day period. Here is what he had to say:

--------------------Hands-On Review Kindly Provided by Tobias Staermose---------------------

Okay, I have been playing with the RENA 3 for three days now, and... I REALLY like it.

First off, the screen is GREAT! It's very bright and the colors reproduction is good. It would be nice if it was a bit higher resolution but for the price this is an excellent screen...

The sensitivity and response time of the capacitive touch screen is excellent, and from what I have seen, as good as they come. I would say, "Fruit Ninja" is a joy to play and it never lags... EVEN when I am playing music at the same time! "Asphalt 5" also runs smoothly, once again, with the music player running in the background! I think this speaks to the multi-tasking power of having a dual-core processor under the hood. Overall, I am extremely impressed with the "snappiness" of the whole device. I have only experienced a very slight lag when the device is really pushed.

One of the first applications I installed was the Dolphin High-Definition Internet Browser. Even on my very slow connection the browsing experience felt quick. I was able to run FOUR tabs without any problems or any slowdown. The system remained very responsive.

On the video front, I unfortunately didn’t have an HD video that I could test, but I did load up an .avi at 640x480 and it was no big deal…

Moving on to one of the things that I found most impressive about this device… the battery. It’s almost too good to be true. After I initially recieved the device, I plugged it in and let it charge all night. I then unplugged it around 9:30 the next morning. I played with the USB host port by charging my ipod through it and transferring some files. I then listened to music using the external speakers for about 1.5 hours and then let the device sleep for an 1 hour. I then got back on the device and browsed the internet for a couple of hours, played a few games and loaded several more apps. I then let it go to sleep again. Around 10:30 that evening I took it out to watch a movie and after about 15 minutes the 15% battery warning came up and 15min later it died. I was very impressed by this. It is worth mentioning that the device CAN also be charged via the USB port. This is definitely slower than using the included power adapter but it is a nice option to have in a pinch.

Now it’s not all good… I felt that the build quality is just OKAY… It’s not an “iPad” but it is nice… The only thing that seemed a bit cheap was the line where the two halves of the outer casing meet. Other than that the device itself feels very solid. I actually love that it doesn’t look like an "Apple", and it’s more like a "real" product not a cheap knock-off from China.

There were a few other minor negatives… The USB driver for connecting the device to your pc is not all that great. In fact I believe there is probably a bug someone should work on. I found that connecting a USB thumb drive to transfer files was faster and more stable than plugging the tablet directly in to my pc… The only other bug I ran in to is that sometimes (3-4 times) it doesn’t want to “wake-up” from sleep and you have to "reset" it. The few times this happened I had to hit the restart button; nothing was deleted.

Overall thoughts… I LOVE this device… the more I use it the more I like it. The few quirks it has can be quickly learned and are easy to avoid. Hopefully they will be fully remedied in future firmware. With that being said, there has been a bonus! I think this is going to be an easy device to hack! I was able to root my device in 10 seconds with z4root?! Now I am looking forward to the community developing some good custom Roms!

Here's a breakdown of How I would Score the Device:

The Pros (On a 3-point scale? –Roman)
+++ Overall Responsiveness of the device (scrolling through menus, apps , touch screen accuracy, etc.)
+++ Battery life
++ Size and Weight
+ Wifi reception
+ Buttons (Getting used to their placement takes some time)

The Cons:
--A few bugs (The USB-to-computer connection needs some work)
- Build quality could be better
- Can’t wake the device from sleep sometimes

That cover all of my thoughts so far!


Tobias Staermose

Thanks Tobias for providing a hands-on look at this slick device. It is encouraging to hear that things ran really smoothly on the gaming front. One of my main concerns is that this particular SOC comes with the PowerVR SGX-530 chipset, which does tend to lag behind the significantly more powerful 540 chipset that is paired with the Single-Core Samsung Cortex-A8 SOC found in the Galaxy Tab and HeroTab C8. I would like to see some actual benchmark results down the road comparing the two devices. With that being said, things sound excellent. It is worth pointing out that this device also comes with Wireless-N (based on the specs) whereas most devices shipped from China are only Wireless-G. Finally, I would like to find out some more regarding video playback.

Thanks for reading!

EDIT (06/06/2011):

Interested in buying a RENA 3? The device can be had for only $240 from
TopNotchTablets is actually MY new website/online shop. I did a LOT more reading up on this device and was so impressed I decided to buy one for myself. I fell in love with the device but found it frustrating that so many retailers reported inaccurate information and also FAILED to mention how expensive shipping was. Furthermore, most retailers were based in Asia and could be tricky to deal with. Anyhow, this led me to open up my own online business. I established a relationship with two good suppliers in Hong Kong, got a sample device and tested it heavily. My site is NOT the cheapest place to buy this tablet, but I strive to make it the best. Actually, if you are wanting decent shipping (i.e. getting your tablet in a week, not a month) I AM ONE OF THE CHEAPEST :)...

If you are interested in purchasing from me (or just want all the accurate information on this device before purchasing from someone else...), visit my website at:

Normal Price for Tablet + HDMI Cable is $250 (this includes DHL shipping); however if you use the Coupon Code "RomansTech", it will take the price down to $230 for EVERYTHING including FAST Shipping...

If you PREFER; here is the link to buy from MERIMOBILES. There base price is $217 and it does include shipping. BUT, they use the cheaper EMS or Hong Kong Certified Air Mail which could take up to 30 Days to get to you. If you ADD FAST DHL SHIPPING, the cost comes out to $232 for JUST the tablet. My deal includes an HDMI cable :)... So, if you want to wait a month and get JUST the tablet, you can pick one up for a little under $220.


  1. for the more adventurous buyers, this tab can be found on's sellers with <200$ price tags.
    i ordered myself one for 188$ (registered mail, not DHL)
    another interesting piece of info is that this tab should get GPS/3G upgrades real soon, so if you need these features you should wait a little longer.

  2. @ Anonymous

    Thanks for the update! Appreciate the interesting info and the cheaper price alert!

    I wonder what kind of price this device would be with gps/3g upgrades...

  3. @ Anonymous

    Thanks for the additional info!

  4. I have a question regarding the screen's quality.
    Would you suggest a protection layer?

    Also I plugged in an usb keyboard in a protective case for a faster work, but it didn't respond at all.
    Is this a bug of the firmware or something in the line?

  5. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)