Robo & Kala Windows Tablet Review

My latest review is of a new Windows ARM device, the Robo & Kala tablet/laptop. This product is the only one this new company is currently manufacturing.

While they call it a laptop, it’s essentially a detachable tablet with an OLED display. The tablet boasts some intriguing features, but I couldn’t help but feel that the Windows ARM experience still has some way to go.

The tablet is priced at $799, which includes the keyboard and trackpad component. One of the standout features is its 12.6-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2560 by 1600. The display is vibrant and offers a brightness of 600 nits. But it doesn’t support HDR video.

Under the hood, the tablet is powered by a Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor, paired with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage. Weighing in at 2.34 pounds with the keyboard attached, it’s relatively lightweight and portable. However, I did notice an issue when using it as a tablet. Often, my hand resting on the tablet would result in inadvertent inputs due to its very thin bezels, which was a bit frustrating.

In terms of build quality, the tablet feels premium with its all-metal design. The kickstand at the back is reminiscent of the Surface devices, allowing for adjustable viewing angles. A unique feature is that the detachable keyboard switches to a Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad when detached, allowing for continued use.

The keyboard itself feels pretty nice. The keys are large, well-spaced, and offer a good amount of travel. The trackpad is responsive and offers a firm click. For security, there’s no fingerprint reader, but an infrared camera facilitates facial recognition for logging in.

When it comes to ports, the tablet is equipped with two USB Type-C ports. However, there’s no headphone jack, so you’ll need to rely on Bluetooth headphones or a USB dongle. The speakers, unfortunately, left much to be desired. They sounded tinny and lacked depth. The tablet’s webcam offers decent quality with a 5-megapixel camera on the front and a 13-megapixel camera on the back.

In terms of performance, basic tasks like web browsing felt smooth, especially on an ARM-optimized browser like Edge. Video playback on platforms like YouTube was also satisfactory.

Like most ARM devices battery life here is excellent. This tablet can easily hit the 10-12 hour mark for basic tasks and video watching if display brightness is kept low. The OLED does consume more power than LED displays so other 8cx Gen 3 laptops may do a little better.

When it came to gaming, the experience was mixed. Older games like Half-Life 2 ran smoothly, but more demanding titles like GTA 5 struggled to maintain consistent frame rates. This is a reminder that while the ARM architecture offers benefits like improved battery life, it still lags behind Intel and AMD in terms of raw performance at this price point.

In conclusion, the Robo & Kala tablet is a well-constructed device with a beautiful display. It’s ideal for basic tasks and offers impressive battery life. However, the ARM architecture still has compatibility limitations, especially when it comes to more demanding applications and gaming. If you’re looking for a device primarily for office applications and light tasks, this could be a good fit. But for more intensive tasks, you might want to consider other options.

The Return of Budget 15″ Laptops? Ace Magic Laptop Review

My latest video looks at an inexpensive laptop from Ace Magician, a company that produced some impressive mini PCs I’ve reviewed over the last couple of weeks. While the laptop has its merits, there are a few caveats to consider.

The Ace Magic 15″ is currently available for around $310. However, it’s worth noting that the company frequently offers discounts and coupon codes, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for deals. For the price, the hardware is pretty good. The laptop boasts a 1080p 15.6-inch IPS display, which offers decent viewing angles with no noticeable backlight bleed. The brightness might not be the highest (I estimate around 250nits), but the quality of the display was a pleasant surprise.

Under the hood, the laptop is powered by an Intel N95 processor. While this might not be the most powerful chip on the market, it’s sufficient for basic tasks like web browsing, movie watching, and word processing. The laptop also comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD, both of which can be upgraded if needed.

However, not everything is great. I encountered some issues with the laptop’s Wi-Fi, which is a 1×1 AC Wi-Fi radio. The data transfer rates were not impressive, and I had compatibility issues with the Unifi Wi-Fi hardware I use here at the house. The Wifi/Bluetooth radio is socketed so it’s easy enough to swap out later. Another area where the laptop falls short is the webcam. The quality is subpar, making it unsuitable for professional video calls.

On the brighter side, the keyboard is decent, with well-spaced but springy keys that offer good travel distance. The trackpad, while functional, can be a bit tricky due to its dual-button design. The laptop also offers a variety of ports, including USB 3, HDMI, and a micro SD card slot. There are two USB-C ports, however one is only for power and the other only works with USB data devices.

When it comes to performance, the Ace Magic 15″ handles basic tasks without issue. Web browsing is smooth, and video playback, especially on platforms like YouTube, is seamless. However, if you’re into gaming, this might not be the best choice. While older games run smoothly, modern titles are not playable, even at lower settings. You’ll need to stream those games from another PC in the house or a game streaming service.

Interestingly, the laptop excels in emulation. I tested it with the PCSX2 emulator, and it managed to run Burnout Revenge at a solid 60 frames per second.

As far as battery life is concerned, I managed to get around six to seven hours on a single charge while performing basic tasks.

For those interested in running alternative operating systems, the laptop can boot up the latest version of Ubuntu and have most of the hardware recognized. Unfortunately the laptop’s audio was not detected properly.

All in the Ace Magic 15″ laptop offers decent value for its price. While there are some shortcomings, especially with the Wi-Fi and webcam, the overall experience is positive. If you’re on a tight budget and need a laptop for basic tasks, this might be a good option to consider.

HP Dragonfly G4 Review

My latest video is a review of the HP Dragonfly G4 is a 13.5 inch laptop. It’s designed for portability but also checks the boxes for performance and battery life. It weighs in at 2.2 pounds (about one kilogram) and comes in a number of different configurations and price points.

In terms of pricing, the review loaner I was sent is priced at $2,279. However, HP provides a variety of customization options, so take a look at their configurator (affiliate link) and see what it might cost based on your specific requirements.

The display of this model has a resolution of 1920 by 1280, with a 3:2 aspect ratio. While this particular model does not feature a touch panel, HP offers other configurations, including some with OLED panels and touch displays.

Internally, the laptop is equipped with an Intel i7-1365U processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of NVMe storage. The RAM is non-upgradable, but the storage can be replaced if needed. Battery life is estimated at around 12 hours, depending on usage and what kind of display the laptop has. The display on our review loaner is the most power efficient but lacks color calibration for creative tasks and comes in at 400 nits of brightness vs. 1,000 on some other display options.

The Dragonfly G4 features a backlit keyboard and a large trackpad that functions quite nicely. In terms of connectivity, it offers two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a full-size HDMI port, a full size USB-A port and a headphone jack.

The webcam on this model is notable for its clarity and the accompanying HP video control software. This software can switch between multiple webcams automatically and pipe the output to Zoom and other popular conferencing applications. This might be ideal for those who are lecturers who may need to get up and switch to a different viewpoint during a webinar. While this capability is something OBS and Vmix can do, it’s much simpler to set up and use here.

The HP video software also has an automatic keystoning feature that will look for documents placed in front of the camera and will automatically rotate them into the proper perspective.

Performance tests indicate that the laptop handles web browsing, office documents and light 4k video editing efficiently. It can also run some demanding AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2 at around 30 frames per second at 1920×1280 using the lowest settings. So while it’s primarily a work machine it is also a decent casual gaming device too.

When tested with Linux, the laptop had some compatibility issues with the most recent version of Ubuntu, particularly with audio and the webcam.

In summary, the HP Dragonfly G4 checks all the boxes for a decent laptop: it’s lightweight, has great performance and has excellent battery life.

Lenovo Yoga 9i (2023) Review 14IRP8

As the back-to-school season approaches, I will be exploring various sent to the channel on loan for review. The new Lenovo Yoga 9i is the first of a few you’ll see over the next couple of weeks and the subject of my latest review. This 2-in-1 laptop, powered by an Intel i7 1360p processor, offers the flexibility of flipping into a tablet or a display mode.

The upper-end configuration with a 4k display is currently $1,400 at Best Buy (affiliate link). The laptop I reviewed looks to be similar to the Best Buy configuration with a 14-inch 4K OLED display, 16GB of non-upgradable RAM, and a 1TB nvme SSD for storage. The display, with its deep blacks and vibrant colors looks great but is not as bright at 400 nits as other premium displays I’ve looked at.

The build quality of the Yoga 9i feels nice and premium. Weighing about 3 pounds, it has a sturdy metal design that feels very well balanced. The integrated speaker bar in the hinge delivers great sound quality, suitable for both music and spoken word. The keyboard, a typical Lenovo strength, is backlit and comfortable to type on, although the key travel is slightly shallow. The trackpad is responsive, and the laptop offers a decent array of ports, including two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The 1080p webcam will look nice for Zoom meetings and an improvement over 720p cameras in older laptops of this class. The camera also has a built-in physical shutter for privacy.

The battery life isn’t spectacular, however. Part of this is due to the high-resolution OLED display that will draw a lot of power. I estimate you’ll get about seven hours of battery life on basic tasks.

Performance-wise, the Yoga 9i didn’t disappoint. Web browsing was smooth, and it handled video editing tasks efficiently. The pen experience was also noteworthy, offering pressure detection and a natural writing feel. On the gaming front, I tried out Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption 2. While it’s not a gaming laptop, it handled these games decently.

I also experimented with Ubuntu on this laptop, and everything ran smoothly.

All in all, for someone heading to college and looking for a Windows laptop, the Lenovo Yoga 9i is a solid choice. It offers a blend of performance, design, and versatility, although one might need to keep the charger handy.

Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga Gen 2 Review

I am finally beginning to get caught up on my backlog of laptop reviews! My latest one is of another Lenovo Thinkbook – the 14s Yoga Gen 2. You can watch it here.

This one is a middle of the road 2-in-1 with an i7-1255U processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. This is the kind of laptop that goes on sale frequently on Lenovo’s website so definitely keep an eye on their product page (affiliate link) if you’re looking for a deal. It’s currently starts at $840 and the one we’re looking at is around $1000.

Performance and battery life are pretty good on this one. It scored well on benchmark tests and in line with other laptops running with this generation of Intel processors. Cooling is efficient and quiet with very little throttling happening under sustained processor loads.

Like other Yoga’s we’ve looked at they have a small pen that “garages” itself on the side of the case. I noticed the pen feels a little more natural than prior iterations, with the screen introducing a little more resistance to make writing feel less slippery.

For upgradeability the Yoga 14s Gen 2 has a second NVME SSD slot that allows for the installation of a second drive. This might be a fun way to dual boot a linux operating system. There is a single RAM slot on the motherboard for memory upgrades, however half the RAM (8GB) is soldered on the main board. So the best you’ll do with this one is 16GB max by adding an 8GB module.

I recommend either purchasing a 16GB configuration or upgrading to 16GB yourself to ensure the system runs in dual channel memory mode – without that RAM slot occupied you won’t get the max performance out of this machine.

My only complaint on this machine is its display. It’s dim at 300 nits, only 1080p, and runs with a narrow 16:9 aspect ratio (most laptops these days have a taller 16:10 ratio).

New Video : Lenovo Slim 7 Pro X Review

Every once and awhile Lenovo puts together the perfect “all rounder” laptop that offers a great mix of price, performance and utility. The Slim 7 Pro X is that machine for 2022.

It incorporates a Ryzen 6900HS processor (the first time machine I’ve reviewed with one) along with an Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU running at 55 watts. It’s just a little over 3 pounds, well built and has a nice 14″ 120hz display. It’s great for gaming, light VR, video editing, and other types of basic work.

I ran a few gaming tests with the GPU disabled to see how the Ryzen graphics worked on their own. Red Dead Redemption 2 ran much better on this vs. prior Ryzen generations which was also confirmed in our 3Dmark benchmark tests.

You can see more in the full review up on my YouTube channel.