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Smartron t.book Flex Review: Versatile Windows 2-in-1 Convertible for everyday jobs
Smartron t.book Flex comes at a starting price of Rs. 42,990. It will be available on Flipkart.
Hyderabad based technology startup Smartron isn't much popular yet; however, it doesn't stop the company from experimenting with technology. The company started with a Windows convertible t.book in the year 2016 and also ventured into Android backed smartphones. Smartron is silently working on a couple of IoT based products, which has the potential to change the way we live our everyday lives in India. The company's most recent product is a premium looking fitness-lifestyle brand- t.band that brings some unique features in the rather boring product category. However, that's not our focus for today.
- Versatile design
- Solid-build quality
- Flexibility of use
- Stylus in box
- Crisp and Vibrant 2K display
- Average performance
- Standalone tablet unit feels heavy
- Battery backup could have been better
- Screen is a bit reflective
We are taking a closer look at the second generation t.book Windows-based convertible, which was long due for a launch from the Indian technology company. The t.book Flex is a detachable 2-in-1 Windows machine with a 12.2-inch WQXGA IPS touchscreen display. Smartron will sell two variants of t.book Flex in the Indian market. The t.book Flex with Intel Core m3 processor is priced at Rs. 42,990, and the variant with the 7th Gen. Intel i5 CPU will be available at Rs. 52,990.
Smartron sent us the higher variant for testing, which looks and feels like the Microsoft's Surface notebooks and is aimed to offer a dual functionality for user's computing and entertainment requirements. Can it deliver the on both? Let's find out.
Design: Portable and Sturdy
Smartron hasn't changed much in the design department and the new t.book Flex looks exactly like the first generation t.book. But this does not bother me much as the design is still appealing and sturdy. The new t.book stands out due to its dual-colored tone and is bound to turn heads wherever you take it along. It is available in Orange-Grey or Black-Grey dual tone color variants.
The hybrid machine boasts a Magnesium-Aluminium unibody design with the rear side partitioned into two parts. The upper portion, which gets a metallic orange shade instantly catches the eye and holds the 5MP rear camera at the top. The grey colored lower portion looks more subtle and also has the kickstand hinge that helps you place the tablet device in PC mode on any flat surface.
The kickstand enables t.book to be used in any angle and precisely to up to 150 degrees, which comes handy while using the convertible with the stylus to draw or write something. However; the kickstand does not seem very promising in taking the extra pressure and you have to be careful while using it in PC mode.
Coming on to the front, the two large speaker grilles sit on either side of the 2MP front camera on top of the display. The left side is dedicated to a number of ports for connectivity including two USB Type C ports, 1 x USB Type 3.0 port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The right side has volume rockers and second USB 3.0 port. One of the two USB 3.0 port is a Thunderbolt 3 port that supports Display Port video output.
The power button sits at the top right corner and also incorporates a fingerprint scanner. You also get a microSD card port to expand the internal storage hidden under the kickstand. The bottom of the tablet has the magnetic ports to connect the keypad and the power button with an integrated fingerprint scanner is positioned on the top right corner of the tablet unit.
How to connect with the bundled Keyboard
The t.book Flex has a 5-pin connector at the bottom to attach the tablet to the keyboard. It's a hassle-free process as the units get attached almost instantly as you bring them closer. Open the hinges at the back and place the setup on any flat surface to get started.
Display: Crisp 2K Screen
Smartron t.book Flex boasts a 12.2-inch WQXGA IPS display with a resolution of 2560x1600 pixels, a 2k screen, which is not a very common affair at this price-point. The display is crisp and offers vibrant colors; however, it is a bit reflective which makes video playback a bit of an issue at extreme angles. The screen comes coated with a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic layer.
Hardware and Performance
The t.book Flex comes in two variants. The one we are using is powered by a 1.20 GHz 7th Gen. Intel Core i5 CPU mated with 4GB RAM. The new CPU is a step up compared to the previous t.book. The Windows convertible works just fine while using multiple tabs in Chrome, streaming videos on YouTube, making PPTs, etc. It is not a heavy duty machine and will disappoint you if you run graphics-intensive tasks. The rear panel of the tablet unit heats up during long video streaming sessions, but not to the alarming levels.
The convertible ships with Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro versions. The ultrabook can also hold SSD cards of up to 128GB. It gets 4GB of DDR3 RAM and Intel Integrated Graphics.
The benchmark results show that t.book Flex is not a perfect machine for serious number crunching tasks but will serve just fine for most of the everyday requirements. You can use it for streaming videos in tablet and in tent mode. Strap on the keypad and you are good to go for typing sessions or other productivity tasks. The audio performance is not good as the speakers sound flat and won't be able to offer an acceptable multimedia experience while watching videos.
Windows 10 on t.book flex works without a glitch and automatically switches between laptop and tablet mode for a seamless experience.
Bundled Keyboard and Stylus
Sadly there's no improvement in the bundled keyboard and it still works just an accessory without any dedicated hardware in it. The quality and design of the keypad also remain the same and it flexes and bends easily. The keyboard comes sans battery and ports. Thankfully, the magnets firmly keep the keypad in place. The keys are well placed and do not feel cramped.
The layout is comfortable and you will not face problem in writing up an article or while creating a report on the t.book Flex. The track pad's performance seems slightly improved on the new keypad but the size still remains a slight issue.
The stylus is a nifty addition to the package and can come handy if you want to bring out the hidden artist in you. It can be used for sketching, note taking, designing illustrations or just to scroll pages while reading or browsing web pages.
The battery life seems a bit troubling on the new t.book. The battery dips down rapidly while streaming videos and running some intensive tasks. We had a discussion with the Smartron team for the battery backup. As per Smartron, the slight dip in the battery power is due to the inclusion of the Thunderbolt 3 USB type C port.
The port is gradually turning into a necessary evil. While it enables you to transfer data at rates up to 40 Gbps, project on multiple hi-resolution displays, connect to an external GPU, opening other amazing computing solutions, it also takes a toll on the battery life.
Thankfully, the t.book goes from nearly zero to 100% charge in less than an hour, which is a relief.
Smartron took a little too long to introduce the second gen Windows 2-in-1, but now it's here and will please the mobile workforce of modern India. Expecting t.book flex to be as powerful and zippy as the premium Surface machines is not fair. It justifies its price tag in terms of computing prowess and work-entertainment flexibility. You can easily work on a Powerpoint presentation, open a number of tabs in Google Chrome (I had close to 12), run VLC in the background and edit a photo in online as well as offline editing software without any major performance issues. I did face some occasional jitters during multitasking but it was nothing alarming.
Overall, the new t.book comes with a premium design, a sharp display, and capable hardware to offer a decent everyday performance without any major issues. It's a great alternative to Microsoft's Surface machines which are just too pricey for everyday users in the Indian market.