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Micromax Canvas LapTab review: Great Windows Laptop cum Tablet

Micromax Canvas LapTab review


* Micro-USB charging
*Supports 3G data sim cards
*Cheaper than other similar tablets

NEW DELHI: After establishing itself as a smartphone brand offering value-for-money devices with its Canvas smartphones, Micromax started eyeing the 2-in-1s or laptop-tablet hybrid segment.

It showcased the Canvas LapTab, a dual-OS (Android+Windows) laptop-tablet hybrid at CES 2014. However, the device turned out to be vapour-ware and never saw the light of the day despite the company's claims that it was not put in the back burner. It was speculated that Microsoft and Google were putting pressure on device-makers to halt dual-OS devices.

More than an year later, the domestic smart-device giant is back with a LapTab but this time it sports different hardware and is stripped off the dual-boot feature running Windows.

Interestingly, it is very similar to Notion Ink's Cain, a tablet based on Intel's reference design. For the uninitiated, Notion Ink's first tablet, Adam, once dubbed as an 'iPad killer' had also turned out to be vapour-ware.

Is the Canvas LapTab a better 2-in-one device than the Cain? Can it replace a laptop? We try to find out in our review.

Build, design and display
Keeping aside the mechanical keyboard, the LapTab is very similar to the Notion Ink Cain Windows tablet. There are some hardware changes but both are perhaps based on the same Intel reference design.

At the front, the LapTab is a rather plain-looking slate and sports a rectangular design with rounded corners and flat edges. Despite being 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 2MP camera lens above it.

The 1280x800p IPS display is pretty good and is comparatively brighter and sharper than the some other Windows tablets available in the market. It offers decently viewing angles which makes it better than a number of entry- and mid-level laptop displays but there's still some room for improvement. The display panel's touch sensitivity is just average and we noticed that occasionally failed to register taps.

Holding the device in landscape mode, you'd be able to locate the 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro-USB port, a microSD card slot, and a sim card slot at the top edge. The plastic power key and the volume rocker is at the right edge while the bottom edge has a connector and mounts for the keyboard dock. We found the volume rocker key to be really stiff. It's also too small for comfort.

The back features a plastic panel curved slightly at the edges, sporting a nice matte grey finish. There's Micromax, LapTab and Intel branding and the 2MP rear camera.

The LapTab doesn't boast of an extraordinary design but the build quality and finish was satisfactory.

To make the deal sweeter, Micromax offers a Carry Pouch, USB OTG Cable, Earphones and a Screen Guard with the tablet.

Keyboard dock
The Canvas LapTab comes with a mechanical keyboard dock that coverts the tablet into a mini laptop though you don't really get the same level of flexibility. The tablet unit docks with the keyboard with the help of magnets and two mounts. It connects to the tablet via metal contacts and not Bluetooth which means you don't need to charge the keyboard since there's no battery.

However, the solution is clumsy at best. Try tilting the docked device and you'll see the tablet unit wobble and fall off. Also, you'll need to be careful while folding the tablet with the dock when you wish to carry it as one device. We also found the keyboard dock to be slightly on the bulkier side. It does offer the benefit of a full USB 2.0 port though.

The metal dock features an island-style keyboard complete with function keys and a trackpad. The soft keys have depth and offer good tactile feedback but they're cramped and you'll take some time to get used to them. We observed that our typing speed reduced considerably while trying to use the keyboard. The keyboard is only good as long as you use it for a few hours.

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. Interestingly, the entire trackpad is clickable unlike most other trackpads which have a fixed top portion.

The Canvas LapTab 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 task bar, and boot directly to Desktop, among others.

It also offers a better desktop experience and streamlines Modern/ Windows 8 apps with desktop apps. Micromax also offers one year subscription to Microsoft Office 365.

It also comes with free Magzter Subscription of 10 Indian Magazines for 3 months.

The LapTab is powered by a 1.83GHz Intel Atom Processor Z3735F quad-core processor (Bay Trail), integrated Intel HD graphics and 2GB RAM. The mentioned clock speed is the 'turbo boost' one.

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 LapTab runs Modern UI apps and games without any problems.

The tablet comes with a 7,700mAh battery and offers a good backup. In our tests, it lasted about 7 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 5 hours.

The tablet was not able to complete the PCMark test but scored 15321 in Ice Storm 1.2 and 1173 in Cloudgate 1.1 3DMark benchmark tests.

The Canvas LapTab 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.

We found the speakers to be a little soft but the sound output was good in terms of clarity though it lacked bass.

The tablet comes with a 3G sim card slot for data and can be charged via micro-USB which makes it very convenient to carry around. However, the tablet takes a long time to charge with the supplied 2A charger.

The LapTab has 32GB internal storage out of which about 24.4GB is available to the user. You can use a microSD card of up to 32GB capacity though. Thanks to the flash storage the device boots up in less than a minute.

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

Verdict At Rs 14,999, the Micromax Canvas LapTab is an affordable Windows 2-in-1 device that offers decent performance for casual use and portability of a tablet. The highlights of the tablet are support for 3G data and charging through micro-USB which makes it an ideal device for the road warrior. Of course it has its quirks; the keyboard dock is far from perfect, touch response is subpar and speakers aren't loud. Despite these, we feel it trumps the Notion Ink Cain and bulky budget laptops available in the market.

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