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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The MSI Primo 81 is a 7.85-inch tablet with an Allwinner A31s processor (four Cortex-A7 cores, 1 GHz, PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU), 1024×768 IPS touchscreen, 1 GiB of RAM and 16 GiB of storage space. It has a 2 MP main camera and a VGA (640×480) front camera for video chat, and the operating system is the Android 4.2 (“Jelly Bean”). Let’s test it and see if it is a good buy.

Figure 1 shows the box of the MSI Primo 81.

MSI Primo 81Figure 1: box

Inside the box, besides the tablet, we found a wall charger, USB cable, USB female adapter (to connect USB peripherals to the tablet), and user manuals.

MSI Primo 81Figure 2: accessories

Figure 3 reveals the MSI Primo 81. There are no physical buttons, just the front camera at its top. The borders are very thin, and the screen occupies almost all the front of the tablet.

MSI Primo 81Figure 3: the MSI Primo 81

[nextpage title=”Overall Look”]

The MSI Primo 81 uses a quad-core, 1 GHz Allwinner A31s processor. It has four Cortex-A7 cores and an integrated PowerVR SGX544MP2 graphics processor (GPU).

The seven-inch screen has a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.

Figure 4 shows the back side of the device. It has a one-piece aluminum casing, which gives the Primo 81 a very solid and tough feel. You can see the openings for the camera and for the speaker.

MSI Primo 81Figure 4: back side

Figure 5 unveils the bottom of the Primo 81, where the headphone jack, mini-USB/charge connector, Mini-HDMI output, MicroSD slot, and microphone are.

MSI Primo 81Figure 5: bottom side

At the top of the tablet, there are three buttons: the on/off/sleep/wake button and the volume settings.

MSI Primo 81Figure 6: top side

There are no buttons or connectors at the sides of the tablet.

MSI Primo 81Figure 7: right side

MSI Primo 81Figure 8: left side

[nextpage title=”Using the Primo 81″]

Using the Primo 81 as a tablet is a very pleasant experience. It is very small for a tablet with this screen size (thanks to its narrow borders), thin, being only 0.3” (7.82 mm) thick, and light, weighing only 11.6 oz (330 g). It has the same size and weight of the iPad mini.

The quad core 1.0 GHz CPU was fast enough for a good usage experience. We felt no sluggishness or freezings, although sometimes we felt it could behave a little faster.

The highlight of the Primo 81, however, is its high-quality IPS screen. It has a bright, crisp, and clear image from any direction you look. The resolution could be higher (the ASUS Fonepad, for example, has a screen of the same size and offers 1280 x 800 resolution), but the high image quality and the 4:3 aspect ratio compensate for it.

The Android 4.2 “Jelly Bean” operating system is easy to use and intuitive. Figure 9 shows the initial screen when you turn the Primo 81 on for the first time.

MSI Primo 81Figure 9: Main screen

Pressing the icon with the circle with six dots, you enter the list of applications, shown in Figure 10. The Primo 81 seems to come with only the standard Android apps installed.

MSI Primo 81Figure 10: List of applications

You can install new applications using the Google Play Store, which has thousands of applications and games available.

The 3.7 V, 3500 mAh battery lasted about six hours of web browsing in our hands, which is not bad.

The front camera is only intended to be used in video chats, not for taking photos, because of its low resolution. The main camera, with 2 Mpixels, does not have enough quality for you to leave your camera home on your vacations.

We ran the Android 3DMark IceStorm from FutureMark, and the Primo 81 achieved a score of 4,659. The ASUS Fonepad, for example, scored 2,195 on the same benchmark.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the MSI Primo 81 include:

  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches (135 x 200 x 7.82 mm)
  • Weight: 11.6 ounces (330 grams)
  • Display: 7.85, 1024 x 768, IPS touchscreen
  • Operating System: Android 4.2 (“Jelly Bean”)
  • Main Processor (CPU): Allwinner A31s, 1 GHz, four Cortex-A7 cores
  • Graphics Processor (GPU): PowerVR SGX544MP2, embedded in the CPU
  • RAM: 1 GiB
  • Storage: 16 GiB
  • Memory Card Slot: Yes, MicroSD
  • GPS: Yes
  • FM Radio: No
  • Sensors: Accelerometer
  • SIM slots: No
  • Networks: No
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth:  Yes
  • Rear camera: 2 Mpixel
  • Front camera: VGA
  • Flash: No
  • Battery time: 6 h
  • Battery: 3.7 V, 3500 mAh Li Ion
  • More information: https://www.msi.com/
  • Average prince in the U.S.*: USD 105.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The MSI Primo 81 is an excellent option for anyone looking for a small and light low-cost tablet to browse the web, access social networks, read emails, etc.

It may not have the most powerful hardware, but the high-quality screen and sturdy all-aluminum construction gives it a terrific cost/benefit ratio.

Strong Points

  • Excellent cost/benefit ratio
  • Sturdy aluminum one-piece case with nice feel
  • High-quality screen with wide angle of vision
  • Light and slim
  • No freezings or slowness
  • Many apps available
  • Frontal camera for video callings
  • Memory card slot

Weak Points

  • Mediocre main camera