“The Smartron t.book is the brand’s first convertible, and sports premium specs at a competitive price. Our review”
Convertibles aren’t a new concept when it comes to laptops, with companies like ASUS, HP and Lenovo all trying their hand at the hybrid formula. Few however have managed to get the formula Microsoft managed with its Surface series. So when Indian startup Smartron launched the t.book, we have to admit, we were pretty curious to see what it brought to the table. Particularly because the t.book gives out strong Surface vibes. For the uninitiated, Smartron is a Hyderabad-based startup that recently launched the t.book and the t.phone. For its first product, Smartron has been very ambitious with the t.book, endowing the laptop with decent specs at an affordable price. We’ve had the t.book in our labs for the past few weeks, and here’s what we thought.
Design and display
The t.book sports a convertible form factor with two distinct parts. There’s the tablet component which features all the ports and connectivity options, and a separate magnetically attachable keyboard. The good news is that the keyboard ships with the device, so you don’t need to purchase it separately. The t.book sports a metal design that looks quite striking with its silver and orange combo. The 12.2-inch display takes centre-stage, and with its resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels is great for watching videos. The display is also a touchscreen, to facilitate use in tablet-only mode. We found the touchscreen to be responsive for the most part, but there were a few occasions when taps and swipes didn’t register. Personally, we didn’t end up using the device in tablet mode too often, owing mainly to the fact that it’s very heavy. The other issue is that the device doesn’t switch between laptop and tablet mode automatically, meaning you’ll have to manually enable it each time.
The back panel features an integrated metal kickstand, but unfortunately this doesn’t give you too much room to adjust the angle of the display. We also noticed that the kickstand has sharp edges, which tends to scratch the surface of the table you’re using it on if you move it around a bit.
A good thing about the t.book is that it comes with full size USB 3.0 ports, two to be precise. There’s also a micro-HDMI port, a USB Type-C port (also doubles up as a charging port), a microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 128GB and a 3.5mm audio jack. The top edge features the power button on one side and a volume rocker on the other. The t.book features stereo speakers above the display, along with dual microphones. Interestingly, the device features both a front and rear camera, with 2MP and 5MP resolutions respectively. There’s a magnetic pogo pin at the bottom for the keyboard to attach.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Speaking of the keyboard, you get a full-size unit which is convenient for typing. The keys are well-spaced and offer decent travel, although the keyboard itself feels flimsy. The back of the keyboard features a felt-like finish which tends to pick up fibres quite easily, making it look worn out after a while. Smartron has used a faux leather finish for the wrist rests inside, which make it pretty comfortable, and easy to wipe off in case of spills. The keyboard itself can be docked in two positions, the standard position – and another where it lifts up to sit higher to the display. This angles the keyboard a bit and makes it easier to type. As far as keyboards go, the t.book’s is pretty decent, and should satisfy users who tend to type a lot. The trackpad though is a different story. While the size is decent, it tends to activate Windows 10 gestures with even the slightest contact with your palm. This becomes annoying after a while, because windows keep minimising, and it becomes disruptive to work. We found no way to disable these gestures either, with the end result that we disabled the trackpad altogether and used the t.book with a wireless mouse instead.
Software and Performance
Powering the t.book is an Intel Core M 5Y10C processor with burst speeds up to 2GHz, paired with 4GB of RAM. You get 128GB of storage on board, and the SD card slot should be enough for top-ups. The tbook is equipped with dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac. An advantage is that the device features a hall sensor, which means closing the keyboard automatically turns the screen off.
In terms of day to day usage, we didn’t face any trouble with the t.book, apart from that aforementioned issue with the trackpad. The laptop can handle multiple tabs on Chrome, plus simultaneous running of other apps like Word and Slack, among others. The t.book features a 37 Whr battery, and in our experience, it lasted almost through an entire workday, about 7-8 hours to be precise. In terms of software, apart from Windows 10, you also get a free 30-day trial to Microsoft Office. Smartron’s own apps – tronx and tcloud also come pre-loaded on the device. The former lets you browse Smartron’s other products, chat with a customer care rep, access the forums and view your account. The latter lets you back up all your data to the cloud and lets you remotely access your files. You’ll need to sign up for a Smartron account to use both these apps.
At Rs 42,999, the Smartron t.book doesn’t fall into the value for money range, but it’s still quite affordable if you’re on the lookout for a powerful Windows 10 convertible. Our main complaints with the t.book is its faulty trackpad and kickstand that doesn’t provide enough manoeuvre to adjust the screen tilt to our liking. Most convertibles with similar configurations, like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the ASUS Transformer 3 series will set you back by over Rs 1,00,000, so the t.book is a good choice if you’re keen on a convertible. There are plenty of budget options in convertibles, like the Notion Ink Able 10, ASUS Transformer Book T100HA and Micromax Laptab, but all these devices offer smaller displays, and feature more basic Intel chipsets. If you can ignore its eccentricities, the Smartron t.book is a good option for your money.