Notion Ink Cain SBE: Brilliantly Designed Tablet

Cain SBE with Stylus

The Tablet segment is currently fighting an almost futile battle with the phablets and the super phones. In this competitive segment, windows has the very strong Surface devices holding the flag of windows high. Notion Ink has been doing amazing work with thoughtfully designed and functionally adept devices. Their latest offering is the Cain Signature Black Edition. I got a chance to spend some time with this device. Here is my review of this tablet

Cain SBE with Stylus

Here are the specifications, the device has a 10.1-inch IPS LCD display with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. It runs on a 1.3 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F processor (Intel 646 MHz HD graphics) and has 2 GB of DD3 RAM. The unit I got had  64GB internal storage and could be further expanded up to 128GB via a microSD card.

The tablet has a 2MP rear camera and a 2MP front-facing camera equipped with OmniVision OV2680 sensors. The tablet includes 3G (via built-in UltraStick), WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Mini HDMI, USB OTG and a supports USB 3.0. The device has a 7900 mAh battery.

The Notion Ink Cain Signature Black runs Windows 10 and comes in Metallic Back color and the price is Rs 20,990 for the 64GB variant that is available only on Snapdeal. There is going to be a 32GB variant for Rs 18,990, which will be available soon. The package has a magnetic case with built-in keyboard. The Notion Ink Cain Signature Black has a killer accessory  called the ProPen aka ‘Active Stylus’ which is by far the best designed and most functionally useful stylus I have seen after the S-Pen that comes with the Galaxy Tablets. This stylus used in conjunction with the Bamboo paper app can bring out the painter, scribbler, artist in you!

Pen on keyboard

In the look and feel department, amazing work has been done. I was thoroughly impressed with all the three pieces of this brilliant device. The tablet itself has a premium feel. The buttons on the side give good tactile feedback and feels nice to touch. The magnetic snap-on keyboard feels just like the laptop keyboard that we are all used too. The numeric keypad is missing but not missed. Connecting it is as simple as snapping it on and switching it on. No hassles at all! The keys are not like chiclets, they are in between chiclet and normal size. Took a bit of getting used to, but after a while felt pretty nifty to use.  The third piece is the most brilliant of all – the sylus! Looks and feels just like a snappy ball point pen. I spent hours together with the stylus and felt like I was young again!

Stylus Writing

And much to my son’s amusement, I realized how out of touch we are with actual writing! Given the typing and tapping that we all do constantly that is hardly surprising! The top flap of the magnetic keyboard cover neatly folds itself into a backrest for the docked tablet when we want to put it on a flat surface and work on it like a laptop.

With Flap on

The display is vivid. The color balance and rendering are brilliant. Nothing amiss there. I played video of varying resolutions and clarity and had a great viewing experience. There was no noticeable stutter anywhere. The default set of programs and apps installed are ok for an average user. For power users who do a lot of work on the move, you will need to add a lot of additional stuff.

Screen and Keyboard

And unfortunately, there is the only hitch I see in the device, 2GB RAM simply does not cut it. Details of that are below. But I would like to state categorically here that for the average user, there is absolutely no hassle. But in the spirit of a review, load testing is a must.

Cain SBE View

So, here is what I did to get a full and first hand feel of what the users of this device will experience. I replaced my regular laptop with the Cain SBE and tried using it just like my laptop. And there I noticed why the tablets haven’t become all the rage in replacing desktops. I added MS Office, Visual Studio and some image editing software that I use normally. While there was enough space to install them, the RAM just wasn’t enough to handle them running in parallel. It would have been brilliant if this amazing device had at least 4GB of RAM. And as an OS, Windows 10 has a slightly heavy footprint in terms of storage, hence pulling the device a tad bit down.

Pen Tip

I then tried using Office separately and  then Image editing separately. Finally just VS, the result was better. If Notion Ink can come up with another iteration that handles all these together and has 4GB RAM, that would be a definite deal breaker.

Verdict

I want to buy this one! If you are someone who travels around as part of your profession, this is a brilliant device! Being online, blogging, Skype etc are a cinch with this one. The battery is good too! A very well thought out Windows Tablet! I am impressed!

 

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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