Friday, 5 June 2015

Two for the price of one

A few years ago, tablets were touted as notebook killers, but over time, the need for a keyboard was acutely felt. Tablets became consumption devices, used primarily for checking e-mail, browsing the web, playing games and to watch movies. While for productivity: typing documents, working with spreadsheets and presentations, or even replying to long e-mails, people still turned to their laptops and the comfort of a physical Qwerty keyboard. But with the launch of Windows 8 - an OS that combines a touch interface with the familiarity of a desktoplaptop computer - twoin-one devices began making an appearance.

These hybrids comprise a detachable touchscreen that can be used as a slate, and a docking keyboard for whenever you need to type. With the advancements in hardware, these two-in-ones are available at budget prices. You can get almost all your basic productivity tasks done, and these hybrids also work for watching Full HD movies every now and then.

More importantly, if you're looking for a portable gadget to carry along on trips, these two-in-ones strike the best balance between both form factors...


The Lenovo Miix 3 is a sleek two-in-one, with an aluminium body and slim-line keyboard dock that gives it a very elegant ThinkPadlike appearance.

It is the only two-in-one here that sports a Full HD display; colours appear punchy and vibrant. However, the glossy screen is highly reflective and a big distraction.

The dock is not as secure as the Acer One. Using it on an incline or moving it suddenly could cause the tablet to dislodge from the keyboard, but this is not exactly a deal breaker. The device still feels robust.

The Miix 3 comes with a good webcam. Image quality is on the warmer side and the captures in video calls are much better than the Micromax LapTab and Acer One.

This device also scores high on ergonom ics. The dock has two slim USB 2.0 ports that expand to accept a pen drive. Moreover, its smaller keyboard is very comfortable to work on. The keys are proportionately down sized and evenly spaced. Unlike the Acer One's haphazard placement of special keys, this one sticks to the standard positions.

The Miix 3's Full HD display tends to drain the battery . At best, we were able to eke out around six hours of mixed use from this device.

SPECS: 10.1-inch (1920x1200px) IPS touchscreen | 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 32GB (flash), microSD, USB OTG | 2MP webcam | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro HDMI, (2x) USB 2.0 | 6800mAh battery


When taken individually, the LapTab's tablet and dock are solidly built, and with a metallic finish. But when combined, the former attaches itself rather lightly on the latter's magnetic dock, and you stand the chance of dropping either if you do not hold them both when moving the device around. Also, unlike the other two-in-ones here, the tablet can only be docked with its screen facing the keyboard.

As far as ergonomics are concerned, the Qwerty keys on the LapTab's dock are smaller than what you would find on a similar-sized netbook, although they feel springy allow ing you to touch type once you get accustomed to it. What we didn't like, however, is that the charging port sits at the top edge of the screen making it slightly inconvenient to use when docked.

Noticeably missing from the LapTab is an HDMI port, but this is not a deal breaker.

Camera captures during video chats appear washed out when compared to the output of the Lenovo Miix 3, but it is definitely better than what we saw on the Acer One.

On the positive side, it's the only two-in-one that comes with a 3G SIM slot for on-the-go connectivity, and gave us around 6.5 hours on a single charge.

As another plus, the Micromax Canvas LapTab comes with Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite.

SPECS: 10.1-inch (1280x800px) IPS touchscreen | 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 32GB (flash), microSD, USB OTG | 2MP front & rear camera | Wi-Fi, 3G SIM, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 | 7700 mAh battery


If most of your laptop use revolves around the in ternet - sending e-mails, browsing the web, social networking, video chats and using cloud-based apps - then you might want to try out the Xolo Chromebook.What you get is a sturdily-built, but understated machine with a good keyboard that belies its budget pricing. The device is equipped with a 16GB flash drive for storage, and boots up in under 10 seconds. For extra storage, it also has a microSD card slot, and can connect to external hard drives via its two USB 2.0 ports.

Out of the box, the Xolo Chromebook supports popular audio and video file formats including AVI, MOV , MP4, MP3, MKV , OGG and WAV . It handles most Full HD videos without a problem, though you would still need to use headphones or external speakers for better sound.

The fact remains, you need a robust internet connection for this device to be of practical use. You can use apps like Gmail Offline and Google Docs when the computer is not connected to the internet. But to sync your updated files and inbox, you will need an internet connection. That said, this device also works well to edit photos and images, using cloud-based utilities - and you can also find a whole bunch of apps, services and games (including those that work in offline mode) on the Google Chrome Store.

Still, for a computer that is so heavily dependent on the internet, we would have preferred if this machine came with an RJ45 port for a wired internet connection andor a 3G SIM slot.

SPECS: 11.6-inch (1366x768px) display | 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB (flash), microSD | 1MP webcam | 4200mAh | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, (2x)USB 2.0 | Chrome OS

NOTE: All the two-in-ones in this review are evenly specced to run casual games and Full HD videos. Heavy-duty imageand video-editing apps, however, could pose a problem. Also, you will need external speakers or earphones for better audio quality. On the flip side, these machines support USB on-the-go (OTG) that lets you connect a pen drive directly to the tablet's microUSB port for direct file transfer. And you also get full access to apps in the Microsoft Windows store.


The Acer One looks chunky and plasticky when compared to the other twoin-ones here, but it is sturdy to hold and use.The device feels extremely secure when docked with keyboard. The connectors are robust and the link is strong enou robust and the link is strong enough to be safely used on the lap or an incline.And you can also dock the tablet with its screen facing outwards, snap it close and carry it about.

While its touchscreen is bright, it suffers from poor viewing angles. This 2-in-1 comes with two cameras. However, its VGA webcam is quite unfit for video conferencing. If you plan to use your hybrid for lots of video calls, this is a deal breaker.

Also, the Acer One's keyboard takes some time getting used to. For some strange reason, the `M' key has been made narrower than the rest, and the position of a few other keys have been changed. This could affect touch typists.

When it comes to battery, you can expect to get around six hours of use on a single charge.

Still, this is the only two-in-one that comes with a 500GB hard drive in its keyboard dock, apart from the flash storage and microSD slot on the tablet.

SPECS: 10.1-inch (1280x800px) IPS touchscreen | 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 32GB (flash), 500GB hard drive (in keyboard), microSD, USB OTG | 0.3MP webcam, 2MP rear camera | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro HDMI, USB 2.0 | 5700 mAh battery

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