When manufacturers compete on price, the only winners are the customers.
Just over a decade ago, when Android was still in its infancy and Apple had just launched the iPhone, Asus debuted the Eee PC 701, a tiny computer that gave rise to the first true wave of affordable mobile computers.
Online Chinese retailer, Gearbest, sent us the review sample and sells the Teclast Tbook 10 S (opens in new tab) for around £127 ($170) at the time of writing. Note that while this price includes delivery, it is exclusive of any taxes that may be levied by HMRC or the courier companies on behalf of the vendor. Want to buy tech from online Chinese retailers? .
Compact, portable, hackable and cheap, it was like almost nothing else before it and triggered a voracious appetite for light and then thin-and-light laptops.
Fast forward to 2017 and we have the Teclast Tbook 10 S, a 2-in-1 convertible tablet PC which is, in some fashion, the spiritual child of the first Eee PC.
The Tbook 10 S is part of a new generation of devices which have been designed, built and sold by Chinese manufacturers like Teclast, cutting out any middlemen and delivering outstanding value-for-money to the end user – although this comes at a (hidden) price.
The model that we reviewed is supplied with a soft cover keyboard (opens in new tab), Teclast’s own take on Microsoft’s Type Cover that comes with the Surface 2-in-1 tablets. It costs £21.75 ($28) and has a foldable stand.
The better fit, though, has to be the TL-T10S which is an accompanying metal keyboard dock (opens in new tab) that matches the colour scheme of the Tbook 10 S. At £41.66 ($56), it is more expensive but you’re guaranteed a better typing experience and it has a full-size USB port as well.
The tablet itself is beautiful constructed with a champagne gold finish that’s a far cry from the days of poorly glued together parts commonly seen in early tablets. It is made of milled CNC metal (aluminum) as well which makes it far sturdier than a lot of its rivals.
With a footprint of 245 x 166mm, a thickness of only 8mm and a weight of 565g, the Teclast Tbook 10 S is surprisingly portable thanks to a thinner-than-usual bezel (only 13mm) that surrounds the 10.1-inch display. Indeed, the bezel is so thin that the Windows home button can barely fit in.
There’s a front-facing camera (2-megapixel model to match the screen) on the bezel and along the edges you’ll find one POGO connector (for hooking up the keyboard), two speakers, a microphone, a proprietary power connector, a mini-HDMI connector, a microUSB – which can be used to charge the laptop – and a microSD card reader, a power switch and volume buttons.
The back is adorned with a white Teclast logo and there’s no rear camera, which may come as a surprise for some.
Here is the Teclast Tbook 10 S configuration sent to TechRadar Pro for review:
CPU: 1.44GHz Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (dual-core, 2MB cache, up to 1.92GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400
RAM: 4GB LPDDR3
Screen: 10.1-inch WUXGA display
Storage: 64GB eMMC (SanDisk)
Ports: microUSB, mini-HDMI, microSD card reader, audio port, proprietary power connector
Connectivity: 802.11n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 2MP HD webcam
Size: 245 x 166 x 8mm (W x D x H)
In terms of tech spec, the Tbook 10 S is miles ahead of the 10-year-old Eee PC 701, naturally. It has as much system memory as the 701 had on-board storage (4GB) and everything else is several orders of magnitude better.
The tablet runs Windows 10 and Android 5.1 (which is not upgradable); you can choose between the two operating systems at startup using a simple point and click interface.
Teclast’s tablet is powered by an Intel x5-Z8350 CPU, which is the absolute cheapest x86 CPU available on the market. This Cherry Trail model has four cores, four threads, runs at 1.44GHz, has 2MB cache and a TDP of only 2W.
Oddly enough, Intel’s documentation suggests that it supports only 2GB of system memory although the TBook 10 S has twice that amount. The Intel HD Graphics 400 GPU that comes on this system-on-a-chip has 12 execution units and a frequency of 200MHz.
As expected, it uses slower eMMC storage (Sandisk SEM64G) to cut corners and offer as much capacity as possible. However, don’t expect miracles as the presence of two operating systems eats into the free storage allocation.
Inside are the necessary RF components for 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, as well as a 6.02Wh/5.8Ah battery.