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Fusion5 Lapbook is a budget full-size Windows laptop with an unfortunate flaw

A low-end, full sized Windows 10 laptop with a Full HD screen? Yes, it exists. Here are our first impressions of the Fusion5 Lapbook.

I'm fascinated by low-end laptops, tablets, and PCs, if only because they allow hardware makers to get creative when trying to cut corners while trying to maintain a somewhat good and usable product. I'm a huge fan of HP's entry-level Stream line for this very reason. They're low-cost, fun, and relatable products for your average consumer looking for cheap devices. But not every aspect of low-end devices excites me.

I don't mind low-end specifications in devices that are designed to be low-end. I am, however, against standard HD displays. Anything lower than 1920 x 1080, at any screen size, in 2017, is a complete and utter "no" in my book. Unfortunately for me, almost all low-cost Windows 10 devices are rocking standard HD displays, which aren't great even in comparison to a low-end Full HD panel.

Best Windows 10 Laptops

So, imagine my surprise when I learned that there is a hardware maker out there building low-cost Windows 10 laptops with Full HD screens! The Fusion5 Lapbook is a full-size, 14.1 inch Windows 10 laptop with a 1080p display, for just $200 (opens in new tab). What more could I possibly ask for? Built by Fusion5, a UK-based hardware maker, this is a low-cost laptop that, for me, may tick all the right boxes. Here are some of my first impressions of the Fusion5 Lapbook.

See Fusion5 Lapbook at Amazon (opens in new tab)

The good

I hadn't ever heard of Fusion5 before I came across this laptop, likely because it is a small time hardware maker that has been dabbling with Windows and Android hardware for the last few years. Fusion5 has a record of building all kinds of devices, ranging from tablets to all-in-ones rocking a wide range of low- to high-end specifications. The Lapbook specifically is interesting to me because it's an actual laptop, not a 2-in-1 or tablet.

It's also what I consider to be a full-size laptop. Most low-cost Windows 10 laptops are small, usually rocking at most a 13-inch display. The Fusion5 Lapbook is a full 14.1-inch laptop, meaning there's enough screen to get work done without feeling cramped and constrained. Of course, a bigger screen is only beneficial if you have the resolution to back it up, and with the Lapbook's Full HD display, this device does.

Its display, while the best I've ever seen on a low-end device, won't be winning any awards. Although it's 1080p, it's not the clearest panel I've ever seen. Of course, for $200 this shouldn't be much of a surprise. As a display on a low-end laptop, it's great. But as a 1080p panel compared to other 1080p panels, it's not so great. Still, for $200 there's not much I can complain about. Apart from maybe one thing ...

It has a weird sort of screen protector on it, which is almost impossible to get off. It's stuck on there like glue. I've tried with all my might to pull it off, and it just won't budge. I'm worried that if I try any harder, I'll damage the display. So for now, I left it on, but the screen protector is kind of gross looking and may be one of the reasons why the display looks a bit murky.

Best Cheap Windows 10 Laptops

The display itself gets relatively bright. In regards to colors, I can best describe it as a rather bland panel. Colors don't pop as you might expect on other displays. I wouldn't buy this device if you need it for any real color uses, that's for sure. But for watching video, browsing the web, and editing documents with Office, this display is perfect.

And web browsing, video watching, and document editing are about all you'll be doing on the Lapbook. This is a low-cost device, and as with all low-cost devices, specifications aren't going to be mind-blowing. We're rocking an Intel Atom Z8350 CPU with 2GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. As with most Intel Atom based devices, performance is not great beyond casual use.

Battery life so far seems to be great. Considering this is a 14-inch device, there's room to put a bigger battery under the hood. Of course, that bigger battery is also powering a bigger and higher resolution display, but so far battery life has been pretty positive for an Intel Atom based PC. Ports include one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, a MiniHDMI port, a headphone jack, microSD card reader, and a charging port.

Build quality is okay. It's plastic all around, and you can tell when holding it. It's not a premium feeling device, but it looks nice when open and closed thanks to its thin profile and silver coating.

The bad

The speakers in this thing are beyond terrible. Like, they're the worst I've ever heard, and I only recently gave that award to the NuVision 8-inch Windows 10 tablet. They're tinny, quiet and unenjoyable. What's more, they omit a constant white noise that sounds like a very quiet fan when you place your ear up against the speaker holes. Yeah, this is a pretty serious issue. In a normal environment, you can't hear it unless you put your ear up to it. But in a silent room, you can absolutely hear it when sitting at the laptop at a desk. Muting the speakers doesn't help, and as far as I can tell there's nothing you can do to stop it.

Adding insult to injury, the speakers are downward facing, on the underside of the laptop. So not only are they poor speakers, but they aren't even facing you when you need them. I'm going to say Fusion5 dropped the ball when it came to the speakers. I'd recommend using headphones with this device.

The trackpad also isn't good. It's not Precision, obviously, so it can use all the gestures available in Windows, and it isn't Synaptics either. It's nothing. It's using basic Windows drivers as far as I can tell, and it sucks. But it's usable, which is a good thing. I've got no real complaints regarding the keyboard thus far, but I haven't used it much either.

Wrapping up

The device itself seems promising. It's full sized, with a Full HD display, and an OK build. The downsides are its speakers and trackpad. We'll be doing a full review on the Fusion5 Lapbook soon, so stay tuned to Windows Central for that. In the meantime, are you interested in the Fusion5 Lapbook? Let us know in the comments.

See Fusion5 Lapbook at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

25 Comments
  • Another laptop that falls in the nowhere range for me, too small for real laptop, too big for a small laptop. For me, the 12 to 14 inch range is the worst size. My current laptops are 11", 15" and 17". The two big ones for the office, the small one to bring with me at coffee shops.
  • "Another laptop that falls in the nowhere range for me," Funny. I'm the opposite. 15" is too big. 12" and below are too small :). I don't see the point to 15". If you need something that big get a desktop. A 15" simply isn't portable unless you're going to drop lots of money. Under 13"? Too small for anything but the most casual of use.
  • Same thoughts I have....13 is the best size for a notebook.  My wife has an 11" notebook and it's great for her,  but a little small for what I do.  But 15" or above is meh,  and 11 inch and below is Meh.   12-13" is perfect.  
  • I would argue that 12" is fine dependent on aspect ratio, but absolutely no less. 
  • What if you need a numbers pad? A 15" is all that you get. Also I use a 15" as a desktop replacement. It's portable enough around the house. It's also less strain on your eyes if your using it for extended periods. I covet the Surface Pro as my travel device ( I currently own the Surface 3-- which is a terrific device despite spec limitations.
  • To each his own I suppose.  I prefer to have multiple devices that are perfect at their tasks than have one which works for all but with compromises.
  • "To each his own I suppose." Wait until your eyes start to change :).
  • Speakers seem very important to at least be loud and hearable on a cheap device. Watching videos on these devices by kids shared with friends seems to be the most common use I see for this type of device. Our kids always choose the device with the loudest speakers, especially if they're in a car.
  • It's good you guys are looking into some actual 'budget' devices, cause in the end most consumers are gonna flock to these low price point windows machines. Well done.
  • In quite a lot of the western world laptops like this are the bread and butter of the regular person. People who won't ever use CAD or photoshop, but who just want something to do basic word processing and web browsing on. This is exactly the kind of thing people who can't afford ipads buy, and what people who need a windows system get because Chromebooks are next to useless offline.
  • Nice Machine
  • I honestly don't get why they even drop the ball with 2GB of ram, double that to 4GB and have done with it.
    The first thing someone is going to do when they get this laptop is install chrome. From there on out, that's pretty much all the 2GB ram used. The entire system is going to run poorly as a result and the performance of this otherwise nice laptop is going to be dire.
     
  • The CPU only supports 2GB ram.
  • Nope, the first thing that you install is Microsoft Word. Because you do your web browsing on your phone and you buy a laptop like this for things that need a full sized keyboard. And if you do want to browse the web then you simply limit the number of tabs that you have open or you turn off autoplay.
  • I will install Linux or Tails...
  • One challenge of reviewing an item is just that: it's only one item. If it has a flaw.... In this case, the constant buzzing sounds like it might have a bad/loose speaker connection. (pun intended)  
  • The worst speakers I know ares on my laptop, a Fujitsu Lifebook A531. :-)
  • Before you bash the speakers too much, did you ever consider that maybe you got a defective one? The white noise hiss especially, it sounds like there may be a hardware or software issue at play. I would contact Fusion5 and see if you can do an exchange.
  • The speakers are horrible. That alone seals the deal for me. Pass.
  • Anytime you're looking for something full-featured in that price range, there are trade-offs. You get the full size, 1080p screen and real Windows 10, but you'll just have to deal with the lousy trackball, mediocre screen, low RAM and weak CPU. You get what you pay for for $200. I just stuck an SSD into an old C2D laptop and upgraded to 4 GB myself. Blows the doors off of something like this, even if I have to live without taking it out of the box brand-new.
  • The link to "Best Windows 10 Laptops" is brokern, it's the same link as this article.
  • It would be great if windows central could do an interview with the ceo of Fusion5. Curious to here the stories of triumphs and struggles to going into making this challenging budget laptop on windows 10. Could be very insightful.
  • ...here... --> ...hear...--> ...read...
  • The Jumper EZBook 3 Pro for about $240 is decent. It has metal build, 13.3" FHD IPS display, 6gb ram, 64gb emmc (but with a m.2 SATA slot) and a quad core celeron (N3450). The latest version has uprated dual band AC WiFi as well. OK it won't be a speed freak but it is perfectly acceptable for most uses.
  • What I need is a portable RDP client with good resolution.  Yes I may check some social media.  But, I have no need for gaming or intense graphics on the device.  So, I don't need horse power - just resolution. Zac raved about the Fusion5 laptop having Full HD 1080p for $200.  I mean Zac is an expert he KNOWS what he is talking about. I followed the link in his article to Amazon.  So, I read the description of the laptop on Amazon.  It says the display is 1366x768.  With many tasks I perform, the dialog box doesn't fit on 1366x768.  But, Zac is an expert.  And it wouldn't be the first time Amazon had their specs wrong. I just purchased this laptop having read Zac's brief review. The laptop display IS 1366x768. - Thanx Zac! BTW - The speakers on mine are fine.  I was hoping Zac's was a just an odd problem.