Windows 10 is currently running on 300 million computers, and Microsoft has an ambitious target of 1 billion machines for its latest OS. Most of those 300 million installs have come via upgrade or a new PC purchase, but with PC sales declining, Microsoft is exploring new ways to reach its goal.
Back in 2012, Microsoft achieved one great thing with Windows 8 – the ability to run on relatively low-specification devices without compromising on experience. With Windows 10 retaining most of those codes, the ability is still very much there and iBall Excelance takes full advantage of it.
The Redmond-based technology company has turned to Micromax and iBall in India for delivering low-cost computers to the masses, aka the next billion users yet to experience PC-style computing.
iBall Excelance is the cheapest of the two laptops announced by the company. It has the price tag of a smartphone, but runs the modern desktop operating system: Windows 10.
Late last year, I had called Micromax Canvas Lapbook as the best laptop for beginners. Can iBall dethrone it? Read our review to find out.
Specs: Windows 10 Home 64-bit | Intel Atom Z3735F | 2GB RAM | 32GB storage | 11.6-inch HD(1366 x 768) LCD | mini HDMI | USB x2 | 1.1 kg
Price: Rs 9,999
What is good?
If you are buying this laptop, then it is purely for the low-price and Windows 10 ecosystem. In my time with the machine, I found every core Windows 10 feature works seamlessly.
Hey Cortana, open my last document – Works
Hey Cortana, Tell me a joke – Works
Snapping a browser tab and word document – Works
Running multiple desktops – Works (albeit slow)
Switching from desktop to tablet mode – Works
Quick Incoming notifications – Works
I have used many Windows 10-based devices, from budget to premium devices, and after using iBall I am convinced it handles core Windows functions really well.
Designing a good notebook from nowhere is not an easy thing, and iBall has somehow managed to accomplish this. The laptop has the right balance when it comes to weight distribution, and overall aesthetics are pleasing. Our review unit came in a blue colour option, which looks better than the traditional black/grey colour notebooks. The device is compact and easy to carry around.
iBall Compbook Excelance’s speakers are placed at the bottom and are really loud, which is surprising given the size of this machine. I observed very little distortion in these speakers.
iBall Compbook Excelance has one of the best battery life among budget notebooks. If you are a student working on presentations, this is good enough to last one full day. For a working professional, iBall Compbook Excelance can easily manage a workday.
In my own use, I found it lasted nearly six hours with constant internet use, which is decent considering the price of this machine. iBall Compbook Excelance may not be an endurance champion, but it lasts long enough to satisfy needs of most users (especially the ones looking to buy such a budget computer).
iBall has also packed decent hardware to make this one a viable computing option. The 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 screen has good colour reproduction, and the Intel Atom processor coupled with 2GB RAM manages to keep it working smoothly. Though users can play Asphalt 8: Airborne on this from the Windows Store, but I would advise against it.
iBall Compbook Excelance has two full-size USB ports, one mini HDMI port and one microSD card slot, which should be good enough for most users. It skips the ethernet port, but that’s totally fine.
What is not good?
iBall Compbook Excelance won’t appeal to anyone who types a lot on their computers (myself included). The cursor keeps jumping between lines, and it became a nightmare trying to type a review on the keyboard.
I generally keep multiple window tabs open on my notebook, and one of my favourite Windows 10 gesture is the three finger swipe from the bottom to open windows and swiping across them to select one. On iBall Compbook Excelance, that gesture worked, but was never smooth. I often ended up opening up a wrong window, which forced me to use ‘Alt+Tab’ instead.
Trackpads for PCs have matured in the past few years, but iBall doesn’t deliver well on this front. iBall Compbook Excelance has a VGA front-facing camera, and the resolution is too low, even for video calling.
One strange thing about iBall Excelance is the proprietary charging port and the 3.5 mm headphone jack. They are placed on opposite sides, but since they are of same size, I kept getting confused between the two. Design choice matters, everywhere.
Should you buy?
Buying a decent laptop under Rs 10,000 was never possible before, but it is now a reality. iBall Compbook Excelance is good looking, practical and most importantly works where it matters.
It doesn’t have a good keyboard/trackpad, although the trackpad issue can easily be solved by buying an optical mouse. iBall Compbook Excelance also offers good battery life, and students might find it useful.
iBall’s Compbook Excelance should be seen as an initiator of a new era of personal computing on a budget.