E FUN introduced its first 2-in-1 laptop/tablet with Windows 8.1 just a few months ago, and it sold so well that the company has announced a trio of follow-up models with a range of screen sizes and low prices. We tested out prototypes at CES and bring you our first thoughts.
Build & Design
Unlike some 2-in-1s, E FUN’s upcoming offerings will be more tablets that come with keyboards than laptops with detachable screens because virtually all the ports will be on the tablet portion, with the keyboard dock only adding a full-size USB port. This means the device will have near its full functionality when being used as a tablet, with the keyboard dock needed only to enter large amounts of text.
E FUN’s first 2-in-1 held the tablet and keyboard together with magnets. The company decided this wasn’t secure enough, so the second generation will also use a latch that requires pushing a button to open.
The designers of these upcoming versions are working to make them as light as possible. As evidence, the prototype 10.1 version available at CES is noticeable lighter than than E FUN’s current 2-in-1 with the same size screen.
This new series will include a model with a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 IPS display; as well as one with an 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 IPS screen; and a 12.5-inch version with a 1366 x 768 TN display.
The prototypes on display at CES looked good in our preliminary examination, indicating that E FUN hadn’t gone the easy route to saving money by including sub-par displays. Of course, only more complete testing can really reveal how good a display is.
The prototype units indicate that the shipping versions will have adequate keyboards. This is par for the course for inexpensive tablets: not particularly quiet and with minimal travel, but with standard layouts and good key separation to allow for easy touchtyping..
Ports and Buttons
Built into the tablet portion of all these Nextbook models will be a microSD card reader, mini HDMI video-out port, and micro-USB port, along with the headphone jack and power port. Both the front- and rear-facing cameras will have a 2 MP resolution.
As mentioned, the keyboard dock will have only a full-size USB port, allowing the use of mice and other peripherals. The current Windows-based Nextbook 2-in-1 conspicuously lacks a regular USB port.
No matter the screen size, all of these Nextbook models will run Windows 8.1 on a 1.8 GHz, quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F processor. It’s really too early to definitively say how well these devices will perform in the real world, as prototypes are very unreliable as indicators of how fast or slow shipping products will be, but the processor being used is generally adequate for the types of tasks cheap computers like these are used for: social networking, word processing, web access, and email.
Also, the wise decision to put in 2 GB of RAM will almost certainly mean that we won’t have to repeat the complaints we made about the poor performance of the current Nextbook Windows 2-in-1, which has half that.
The 10.1-inch version will have 32 GB of built-in storage, while the larger ones will have 64 GB. The smaller capacity is probably less than many people will need, while 64 GB is likely to be adequate, especially with a microSD card or cloud storage service filling in.
All three of E FUIN’s upcoming models will include Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.
Battery life is something that can’t be determined in a preliminary examination of a tablet. It takes several days, preferably a week, to really see how long a mobile device lasts under different conditions.
The Nextbook line is best known for its affordability. E FUN’s original 10.1-inch 2-in-1 sells for $199, while the second-generation will include an improved 10.1-inch device for $229, an 11.6-inch one for $249, and a 12.5-inch version for $279.
Time will tell whether these live up to their potential as low-cost laptops/tablets for non-demanding uses. We’re looking forward to reviewing the final versions when they get closer to release.