This time we bring you a device that has given the european pubic a lot to talk about since it hit the market. We present bq’s Maxwell Plus, gracefully provided to us by bq.
The Maxwell Plus hit the market labelled as a budget tablet, and it wasn’t long until we found out this was a category that didn’t quite fit it.
The Maxwell Plus came packed in a good-looking cardboard box which accommodated it as well as some other needed accessories. Inside the box we found the following items, which you can also see in the unboxing video:
- bq Maxwell Plus
- Usb cable
- Charger Adapter
- Quick Started Guide
- Accessories Guide
As you can see it brings only what is needed for a regular tablet user, but it would have been nice to have a set of earphones in the packet as well.
Design and Ergonomics
The Maxwell Plus is a common looking tablet, whose looks provide a robust feel as well. bq made a good looking dark grey tablet with a rugged back that facilitates its handling, allowing the users to easily hold it with one hand while using it with the other.
The body of the Maxwell Plus is an al plastic body with rounded corners and it is indeed very pleasant to hold.
On the front of the device you find the screen and the front camera. On the left you will find the 3.5 mm headphone jack and on the bottom the micro SD card slot, which is very useful since the Maxwell Plus only has 8GB of internal memory (4G free for the user to use). On the right side you find the miniUsb port , the HDMI port and the device’s microphone.
On the top you have the power/lock button and the volume rocker, these buttons are placed in a good position that facilitates their use to either right or left handed people. Finally on the rugged back you will find the speaker that gives a decent oomph when watching a movie or hearing your favorite tunes.
It’s worth a mention that every side of the device has some kind of protuberance that may lead some users to not liking it, as some would rather have all input ports restricted to one or two sides in order to avoid bumping into them when handling the device.
Since the microphone is on the spot where you would usually put your hand to grab the tablet it leads us to think it might not be a good spot unless you lay down your tablet during a conference call to avoid covering the microphone.
As far as we are concerned, 7 inch tablets are the best, yet, if you are interested in playing games like NFS that make use of the device’s oscilloscope capabilities.
The screen has a nice rim around its borders that feel good while you’re handlind the Maxwell Plus. When it comes to viewing angles, as you can see from the photos, it is almost impossible to look at the screen and lose sight of what is displayed.
As you might have noticed there was no mention of a luminosity sensor earlier, and that is because the Maxwell Plus doesn’t have one and this makes the user go to the settings menu every time there’s a need to adjust the screen brightness. We have no valid reason to justify bq’s decision to leave this sensor out of the Maxwell Plus…
Even though the brightness has to be calibrated manually, the Maxwell Plus behaved well in environments with high luminosity and what was displayed on screen was always visible to us, unless you take into account light reflecting on the screen, but that is to be expected. Colors were portrayed beautifully by the Maxwell’s IPS screen.
Performance and Software
bq provided the Maxwell Plus with Android’s 4.0.4 version, and then again with the update for 4.1.1.
You have 5 homescreens available which you can customize as you want with your wallpaper, shortcuts and widgets. On your lock screen you have the usual unlock options, you can go to your homescreen, to the camera or to Google Now.
Since the Maxwell Plus was the flagship of bq, you might expect it to come loaded with proprietary applications, but this isn’t the case by any means. The device comes with only 4 preloaded applications:
Es File Explorer
This application enables the user to manage their files easily and effectively. The Es File Explorer allows the user not only to manage the files on the Maxwell Plus internal memory and SD card but also to manage files in a server through FTP, or manage files in your network shared folders. bq definitely choose wisely when they got to this point in the development process. This is a great addition to the preloaded applications on the device.
This is a useful e-book reader that supports ePub and fb2 file formats and all the user needs to do to start reading is put the ebooks into the Books folder and go to the FB Reader library to find them. The library has the ability to organize your e-books by many different categories while also allowing you to browse the file system in order to find any e-books that weren’t automatically detected by the Reader’s scan.
As the name hints at, the Movie Studio allows you to edit videos directly on the Maxwell Plus after recording them, avoiding an unnecessary step of transferring them to your computer. Of course the Movie Studio also allows you to take pictures from your gallery and insert them into a video clip. There are no video or audio effects available for you to insert into your videos, like there are in Samsung’s or LG’s video editors but it still is a well made application and the user interface is clear enough to show you at a first glance what you can do with the Movie Studio.
Office Suite Viewer
At first we thought the Maxwell Plus had the full version of Office Suite, which would have been a great addition to the preloaded applications but after opening the application we realized this simply was a reader and didn’t allow us to do anything related to file editing without asking us to buy the full version. Nonetheless, the Office Suite Viewer allows you to open and view text files, spreadsheets, presentations and PDF files, which means the ability to check work related Office files in your deice on the go is there, so it still is a useful application.
And that’s it when it comes to preloaded applications, of course you still have the usual Android applications that come with every Android device, like Gmail, Google Maps, Gtalk and so forth.
We performed the usual benchmark tests with AnTuTu, Quadrant Standard and NenaMark 2, you can check the results below. Beside the benchmark tests, we also took a test driver on the Maxwell Plus by trying out several games and applications currently available on the PlayStore. We tried out NFS Most Wanted, Dead Trigger and Beach Buggy Blitz on the bq and never encountered lag or any other kind of performance issue whatsoever while trying out these games.
Taking into account that the Maxwell Plus has a Dual Core and 1GB of RAM we knew that it could handle most of what we threw at it but we were pleasantly surprised when we decided to see if it could handle the new Real Racing 3, and it still ran the game, although a few performance issues showed up while using the device to turn, by trading that for the touchscreen commands, it was still playable, so cudos to the Maxwell.
Connectivity an Battery Life
The Maxwell Plus behaved really well when it came to web browsing speeds. Even when the wireless signal was at a bare minimum we could still count on bq’s tablet to surf the web or simply check out our emails.
With a 7 inch screen one knows that sometimes there’s a need to zoom in on stuff in some websites, the Maxwell Plus handled that gracefully as well, rendering text and images at a decent speed.
On to battery life, the 4000mAh battery tucked into the Maxwell Plus behaved admirably and we got up to 15 hours of constant use with email checking, website browsing and gameplaying. In a more standby-ish mode, with the wireless on when needed and only checking in on email and browsing some web sites the battery lasted us up to 28 hours.
The Maxwell Plus took the Nexus 7 route and discarded the rear camera, keeping only the fron facing camera to allow its users to make video calls via Skype or Hangout.
The front VGA camera can be used via Android’s stock camera interface and takes decent pictures when there’s daylight outside. Of course being a VGA camera you can’t count on etting much out of it but it is definitely enough if you’re a regular user that just needs to make a few video calls here and there.
Outdoor Video Sample:
Indoor Video Sample:
If you’re looking for a great performing tablet at a low price tag, you should seriously consider the bq Maxwell Plus. When comparing it to the known Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, which has a 1GHz Dual Core processor and 1GB of RAM, and showed a lot of flaws before an update to Jelly Bean was available, you will notice the price tag difference, being that the Maxwell Plus costs 140€ and the Tab 2 of 8GB is costing around 170/180€.
Having tested both the Galaxy Ta 2 7.0 and the Maxwell Plus, I would say your decision between both would probably fall to the question of the existence of the rear camera. If you don’t need a rear camera and don’t have enough money the buy the Nexus 7, go with the Maxwell Plus, on the other hand, if you truly need a rear camera go with the Tab 2 7.0.
Review by: AndroidEmotions Team @ AndroidEmotions