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Croma XT1177 tablet review: Good for casual use


























TOP FEATURES


- Wide viewing angles
- Good for casual use
- Economically priced



Electronics retail chain Croma partnered with Intel to launch Croma XT1177, its own Windows 2-in-1 (tablet plus laptop) device at a comparatively affordable price. Based on Intel's reference design, the tablet has been made by PC-maker Datamini.


We try to find out if the tablet is worth a buy.



Build, design and display
A rather plain looking slate, the Croma XT1177 tablet sports a rectangular design with rounded corners and flat edges. Made from plastic, the tablet is not very lightweight and attaching the keyboard cover makes it more hefty. Still, it is more portable than a budget Windows laptop.



Between the wide, glossy black bezel, you'll find the 10.1-inch IPS display, at the front. There's a capacitive Home key with the Windows logo below the display and a camera lens above it.



The 1280x800p IPS display is pretty good even though it's not very bright and vivid. Croma ships the tablet with a screen guard that makes it even more dull. We recommend removing it before using the tablet. It offers wide viewing angles, which makes it better than a number of entry- and mid-level laptop displays. The display panel's touch sensitivity was also good.




Holding the device in landscape mode, you'd be able to locate the 3.5mm headphone jack, a mini-HDMI port, a microSD card slot, a charging connector slot, a micro-USB port and a flap that hides a placeholder for an internet connectivity device (Croma is not selling the device at the moment).



The top edge has thin, plastic keys for volume control and power. Unfortunately, these keys offer poor tactile feedback and feel very flimsy. There's a magnetic connector for the keyboard at the bottom edge while the right edge is free of buttons and ports.




The slightly curved back sports a soft matte finish and is crowded with branding stickers for Croma, Datamini, Intel and Windows. These stickers look cheap and are likely to come off after a few months of use. The back is also prone to smudges. Two speaker outlets are also located at the back in addition to the camera.



The Keyboard case
The keyboard case is the USP of the Croma XT1177 tablet as it converts it into a 2-in-1, productivity-centred device. The case looks like any other folio cover with a suede finish outside, a keyboard at one side and hard material with folds at strategic places on the other. The folds can be shaped into a stand to use the tablet like a laptop on a solid, hard surface. It's not as simple as the iPad Smart Cover but once you know how to bend it, you'll be able to use it without hiccups.




The island style keyboard sits on a plastic panel and features extra function keys for Windows 8 charms and volume control. The same panel also houses a trackpad. We found the keys to be really cramped and while the tactile feedback was not as good as a real laptop keypad, it was better than some portable, Bluetooth keyboards available in the market. Having said that, it's only good as long as you use it for a few hours. We feel ergonomics could have been taken care of in a better manner. You'll have sore hands if you use it the entire day.




We found the trackpad to be responsive and sensitive to the slightest of touch. It also supports two finger scrolling gesture but that did not work flawlessly all the time. The keyboard case does add to the functionality even though it increases the weight of the tablet considerably.



Software
The tablet comes with a 32-bit Windows 8.1 with Bing version of the OS. The latest version of the OS features power and search buttons, ability to pin Modern UI apps to the taskbar, and boot directly to Desktop, among others.



It also offers a better desktop experience and streamlines Modern/ Windows 8 apps with desktop apps. Croma doesn't preload any third party apps so the tablet is free of bloatware. Our unit was loaded with the trial version of Microsoft Office but the retail version will come with an year's subscription of the Office suit.



Performance
Croma XT1177 is powered by a 1.33GHz Intel Atom Processor Z3735D quad-core processor (Bay Trail), integrated Intel HD graphics and 2GB RAM. In terms of performance, the tablet is good for moderate use and for web browsing, casual games and multimedia, and for apps like office suites, and simple imaging editors, among others. If you open too many tabs and multitask between many apps, it becomes a little sluggish. Graphics-intensive 3D games don't run smoothly.



Having said that, the device runs Modern UI apps and games without any problems.



The tablet comes with a 7900mAh battery and offers a good backup. In our tests, it lasted about 7-8 hours while using Microsoft Word, a picture editor, a music streaming service and playing some YouTube videos, keeping the screen at full brightness. In our video loop test, it lasted about 4.5 hours.



While we don't endorse benchmarks, the Croma XT1177 scored 986 in PCMark8 (Home conventional) and 1326 in PCMark 8 (Work 2.0 conventional) tests, and 291 in Novabench. It scored 865 in Cloudgate 1.1 and 9673 in Icestorm 1.2 tests of 3DMark.



The tablet sports a 2MP rear camera and a 2MP front camera for video chats. The rear camera takes poor quality photos which at best can be used for casual, social sharing. The front camera is good for video chats.




The speakers are pretty loud and the sound output was good in terms of clarity though it lacked bass. We feel that the empty slot for the 3G connectivity hardware accessory would confuse consumers. Also, you'll need to carry another charger with you as the tablet does not support charging via micro-USB.



Croma has included a micro-USB to USB adapter so you can connect any USB device including a wired mouse or storage accessory with the device.



The tablet has 32GB internal storage out of which 28.6GB is available to the user. You can use a microSD card of up to 32GB capacity though.



Overall, the tablet doesn't boast of high-end performance but is well-suited for day-to-day tasks.



Verdict



Croma XT1177 is a decent Windows tablet that also offers the benefits of a convertible to a limited extent. You can't really use it as a laptop if the surface is not hard enough. Also, the keyboard is fit for only casual use.



Windows 8 still doesn't offer a great touch experience and the desktop mode is a pain to use without a tracking device and keyboard. The bundled keyboard addresses that concern to some level. At a price of Rs 21,990, the device essentially serves the same purpose that netbooks did a few years ago, albeit with the convenience of the tablet form factor when you're just consuming content.




If you're mainly looking for a tablet for content consumption and apps, we'd recommend the iPad (Mini if your budget is low and iPad with Retina display if you can spend a few thousand rupees more). You can even buy a keyboard case or a Bluetooth keyboard and use it for work. It even runs Microsoft Office!
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