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Xolo Chromebook review: Portable and fast, but you need constant connectivity

We reviewed the Xolo Chromebook for a week and here's what we think of this portable computer

Rating: 3 out of 5
Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi |
Updated: June 4, 2015 11:25:54 am
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Despite their success in the US, Chromebooks — Google’s answer to the laptop — has not been a big hit in India. Recently, Google launched three new Chromebooks by Xolo, Nexian ( a Spice brand) and Asus. The Xolo and Nexian Chromebooks have one USP that will make India stand up and take note, and that is their Rs 12,999 price tag.

But is the price good enough for you to jump on the Chrome OS bandwagon? We tested the Xolo Chromebook for a week and here’s what we think of this portable computer.

Specs: 11.6-inch TFT (1366×768p) display |1.8GHz Cortex A17 Rockchip quad-core processor with 2GB DDR3 RAM | 16GB internal storage with expandable SD card slots | 2 USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, Bluetooth 4.0 | 4200mAh battery | 1MP web camera

Design, Screen: The Xolo Chromebook’s biggest advantage is that it is really, really light given that it weighs just 1.15 kg. The matte finish screen is quite good and personally I kept the screen’s brightness at half and found it quite easy to read and watch videos.

The form-factor is pretty compact and I am glad that Xolo did not add a gloss finish to the outside cover. Sure, the 11-inch screen is not much in terms of resolution, but let us not forget that this Chromebook comes for Rs 12,999, less than what most smartphones cost.

Xolo Chromebook Review, Xolo Chromebook, Xolo Chromebook Snapdeal Xolo Chromebook Amazon, Nexian Chromebook, Chromebook price, Xolo Chromebook specs, Xolo Chromebook features, Xolo Chromebook, Gadgets, What is a Chromebook, Chrome OS, Chrome, Technology, Technology news Xolo Chromebook has two micro-USB ports, an HDMI port, and a slot for a microSD card. (Source: Andrew Clarance)

 

Performance, Usability: If you live in the Google Universe, the Chromebook is perfect for you. It starts up pretty fast, there is virtually no lag, no worries of app freezing if you are connected to a good enough Internet connection, the Chromebook is the best companion you can get. Unfortunately, in India getting that good Internet connection is not always a possibility which is why a lot of people will get frustrated with this. Especially, those who can afford only a computer that costs this much.

In better news, we tried out a dongle with the Google Xolo Chromebook and it worked just fine, although you can’t see how much data you are consuming, since finding drivers for your dongle might not be possible.

The other good news is that while the Chromebook has only 16 GB space, you can easily connect a hard drive and watch your movies, play music, etc. Of course, it does not support all formats and while VLC supported files played easily, if you have music and videos in other formats, there’s a good chance that the native video and music player will fail. Google has promised that it will bring VLC in offline mode to the Chrome OS soon.

Watch quick look video: (App users click here)

Where audio is concerned, headphones or external speakers are a must to watch films or listen to music on the Xolo Chromebook. The audio on the Chromebook by itself is quite terrible and there’s something very jarring about it.

With Chromebook, the biggest problem is that it is pretty useless without constant connectivity. Sure Google Docs is available offline and you can edit and save offline, which is on the Chromebook itself. But if you have not synced Google Docs to the latest saves, they will not reflect in another PC. For instance, I started a new Google Doc on a different PC, but the Chromebook Google Docs app did not reflect that document, until I had switched on the Internet on the Chromebook and let Docs sync.

There’s also Gmail Offline, an app that is useful if you want access to some important emails but without constantly being online. The catch, in order to use the app for the first time you need to be online. Also only those emails show which are in primary and have been synced with the app. Anything not synced will not reflect on the app. YouTube, Google Now, don’t work offline either.

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In short without Internet connectivity, the app that becomes the most useful one on Chromebook is Google Docs.

Battery, Keyboard and trackpad: With the Xolo Chromebook what you get is 10 hours of battery life and it takes around 4-6 hours to charge fully. The battery did last a whole day, but that’s mostly because I found that there was very little I could do on the Chromebook that didn’t involve plugging my hard drive.

While watching a TV series on the Chromebook, I found that the battery levels dropped quite quickly.

The keyboard does not have backlighting and given the size of the devices takes getting used to. I kept mistyping on the Chromebook keyboard, which is surprising considering it’s not really so small compared to the keyboard that I regularly use on my laptop. I’m not a fan of the trackpad either, and I would suggest one gets a USB mouse for this.

So is it worth a buy?

Xolo Chromebook’s biggest advantage is portability and that the fact that you have a device to type on, even if the Internet is not working. Honestly, just 10 years back getting a laptop that gave no trouble meant you had to shell out at least over Rs 30,000, even if all you wanted to do was use Word and browse the net.

Xolo Chromebook Review, Xolo Chromebook, Xolo Chromebook Snapdeal Xolo Chromebook Amazon, Nexian Chromebook, Chromebook price, Xolo Chromebook specs, Xolo Chromebook features, Xolo Chromebook, Gadgets, What is a Chromebook, Chrome OS, Chrome, Technology, Technology news Xolo Chromebook’s biggest advantage is that it is light and portable. (Source: Andrew Clarance)

 

With the Chromebook, Xolo is letting you do that for Rs 12,999. Of course whether the Chromebook is good enough to function as someone’s primary laptop will depend on who uses it.

For students, it might just be the perfect device. They can type assignments, go online as well and it’s really light. On the other hand for most adults, who might need not always be working within the Google Universe, this won’t necessarily be the first choice.

What works in Xolo Chromebooks favour is the speed, the fact that you can connect it to a dongle or a hard and disk and that it is portable. It is a good thing that Google has a helpline running for Chromebook that you can call if you face issues. But whether that will answer every user’s issue is a different matter.

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