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.
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. 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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