Smartron t-book #ExpressReview: Surface Pro 4 now has an Indian competitorhttps://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-reviews/smartron-t-book-review-specs-price-2809134/

Smartron t-book #ExpressReview: Surface Pro 4 now has an Indian competitor

Smartron t-book is a good option if you are looking for a sub-50k Windows notebook that also becomes a tablet without much of an effort

  • 3.5
Smartron t-book has a design that is very similar to Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with a retractable hinge
Smartron t-book has a design that is very similar to Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with a retractable hinge

Smartron is the newest kid on the block, trying to make best of the idea of Make In India and Make for India. But a company like Smartron is a rarity in India, for it is a hardware startup. However, to get a bit of a boost, it has roped in none other than Sachin Tendulkar, who has also picked up a small stake in the company.

Smartron t-book

Smartron t-book is the first device from the startup and they have bucked the trend by offering a Windows 2-in-1 first and not a smartphone. Also, opting for Windows at the very outset is something that shows this company is willing to try out a new path. Smartron also seems confident selling its first hardware, but is it worth a buy?

Specs: Windows 10 Home 64-bit | Intel Core M-5Y10C | 4GB DDR3 RAM | 128GB SSD storage | 12.2-inch (2560 x 1600) IPS display | micro HDMI | USB Type-C | USB x2

Price: Rs 39,999

What is good?

What makes a great hardware really great is not just the hardware packed inside but also the design that hides those components underneath. I can say without doubt that Smartron t-book is one of the most beautiful looking Windows 10 convertibles available right now.

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Smartron t-book features metal unibody design and orange colour at the back makes it stand out from the crowd

Smartron has made a nice choice of materials to build its t-book. Our review unit came in grey and orange colour which is far better looking than the full grey variant. Smartron t-book features metal unibody design with a kickstand that doesn’t articulate as much as Surface Pro 4, but it is extremely useful. The orange colour at the back makes it stand out from the crowd and also imbibes a patriotic feeling in some of us.

Smartron t-book runs Windows 10 Home edition out of the box. Microsoft’s desktop operating system has seen its share of update that makes it reliable and user friendly. With zero learning curve and availability of UWP apps from Facebook, the experience is richer than before. Everything works here seamlessly, even Cortana is all ears.

With Windows 10, Microsoft has made touch experience even better than before and we have moved away from traditional interfaces. In order to have a good touch experience, you need a really good display and Smartron t-book comes with a beautiful looking screen. The 12.2-inch 2560×1600 pixels display looks perfect from every angle possible. The colours on this screen are bright and vivid, but I’d have preferred something warmer. Overall, Smartron t-book is an ideal media consumption device. It’s perfect for all those binge watchers out there. Yeah, there is Netflix app on Windows 10.

Under the hood, Smartron t-book has an Intel Core M processor which makes fanless notebooks possible. The processor coupled with 4GB RAM handles most basic day-to-day task like word processing, video streaming and playing very basic games like Asphalt 8. However, I couldn’t manage to stream Xbox games to Windows 10 that easily and this processor is definitely not ready for Forza Motorsport. But Smartron t-book will suffice the need of most Windows users.

Smartron t-book features two full size USB 3.0 port and uses USB Type-C port for charging
Smartron t-book features two full size USB 3.0 port and uses USB Type-C port for charging

Smartron t-book’s most notable feature is the use of USB Type-C port for charging. The big advantage with USB Type-C is the dual use – data and power. The device also has two full size USB 3.0 ports for transferring data or connecting extra peripherals. There is mini HDMI port and microSD card slot which makes it a complete machine.

Smartron t-book turns from a tablet to a fully functional laptop with the help of docking keyboard. The keyboard snaps onto those magnetic connectors on the tablet easily. The keyboard itself is good for typing. The keys are clicky and they offer very good feedback. I didn’t find myself hitting wrong keys even once. It’s an ideal typing experience.

Smartron t-book doesn’t boast of a camera as revolutionary as the one on new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. There is a 5MP rear camera which is good enough for clicking something urgently. The front 2MP camera is good for Skype-based video calls.

The device can easily last one full work day and still have some juice left. I mostly used it for writing, watching videos and reading articles on Flipboard. For my use, it lasted me around 12 hours which is better than Surface Pro 4’s battery performance or better than many other mainstream Windows notebooks.

What is not good?

Smartron t-book is still very much a nascent device and it shows that once in awhile. For example in my initial testing period, the product had issues with device rotation which kept me stuck to landscape mode all the time.

In a device like this one, I prefer to use tablet mode when I take the tablet apart from the keyboard. Four out of ten situations, I saw the device still in desktop mode. The same feature works nicely on Surface Pro 4 and other similar offerings. Smartron says it is working with Microsoft to address such issues by bundling driver updates into the Windows updates mechanism.

Smartron t-book comes with dockable keyboard which also acts as a cover. The keyboard is clicky but the trackpad has very strange behaviour
Smartron t-book comes with dockable keyboard which also acts as a cover. The keyboard is clicky but the trackpad has very strange behaviour

Coming to the tablet itself, if you have ever touched an iPad – then you won’t even consider using this one as a tablet. Smartron t-book is too heavy for a tablet of this size. Surface Pro 4 also has a lightweight tablet.

The keyboard is great but the trackpad is definitely not. The trackpad offers poor response and even basic function like three finger swipe up to reveal open Windows is somewhat slow. Windows OEMs never had good reputation with building track pads and Smartron joins that list.

While charging, the tablet turns extremely hot. Another problem here is that Smartron t-book doesn’t support any other USB Type-C cable for charging.

Smartron has also added it’s own cloud-based software suite called tronX but I could not set it up even once during the review period.

Should you buy?

I’d not hesitate recommending Smartron t-book to anyone looking for a decent Windows 10 convertible machine.

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Smartron t-book’s claim to fame is the ‘Designed and Engineered in India’ engraved at the back

It won’t give you much nightmares and will be ideal for editing word documents and consuming entertainment contents. It offers decent port selection and Windows 10 runs reliably well. It also has very good battery life.

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Smartron promises to fix bugs as and when users report about it. If you are looking for a sub-50k Windows notebook that also becomes a tablet without much of an effort, now you know where to put your money.