Smartron came to the tech market with a promise of being the first full cycle IoT company in India and they have been steadily moving towards that goal with concrete steps forward. While doing all that, they have also been regularly working on their device strategy to build into that theme. They have smartphones, hybrid tablets and even wearable devices in their portfolio now. Their latest device is the tbook flex – which is an update to their earlier tbook hybrid. I spent considerable time with the tbook flex and here is my review
On the outside, the tbook flex might look a lot like the original tbook but Smartron has made quite a few upgrades and improvements to this device’s design and specifications, which are based on user feedback. They have also added a few nifty features like stylus support to make the experience better than the previous model.
The tbook flex is actually a tablet with a kickstand and a folding keyboard cover, just like the Mocrosoft Surface Pro. Smartron’s design is flatter and very distinct, but still compact while retaining all the good stuff from the predecessor. The dark metal finish looks quite good, and the device is available in grey and black, or grey with the company’s eye-catching signature orange as a highlight. The body is made of a magnesium and aluminium alloy, according to Smartron, and it felt very rugged, solid and tough to me.
The kickstand is very practical and thoughtfully designed. It’s extremely easy to move and has an expanded 155 degree range of motion compared to the original tbook this helps to get it at angles that are good for prolonged usage. Especially if you want the tablet to lie almost flat as you use it with a stylus, the stand will flex slightly under the weight of your palm. But then I got used to it fairly easily. Very ergonomic and practical.
The first thing you’ll see in the front is that there’s a prominent strip above the screen for the speakers and webcam. This is now a Smartron signature with tbooks and it’s practical because the speakers fire forwards and roughly at ear level when the tablet is inclined. This means that you get very good sound output and it delivers even in a large room with very good clarity. The webcam is bang on the middle of the top in the front and there is a rear camera too. At the top-right corner, there is a power button which also acts as a fingerprint sensor. Setting it up is a breeze, and you’ll have help from the Windows Hello authentication settings to set it up yourself. Just around the corner are two volume buttons.
I am overjoyed to see two full-sized USB 3.0 ports on either side of the body, plus two more Type-C ports on the left. One of those is a full-fledged Thunderbolt 3.0 port which supports DisplayPort video output, while the other is standard USB 3.1 Gen 1 (10Gbps). Either one of them will let you charge the tablet, thanks to standard USB Type-C Power Delivery. There’s also a 3.5mm audio socket and a microSD card slot hidden beneath the kickstand, exactly like on the Surface Pro. Magnetic contact points for the keyboard are on the bottom. The good thing about this iteration of the detachable keyboard is that it is now bluetooth enabled and you need not physically keep it connected all the time. Makes typing easier when you have narrow tables that can rest only the tablet, you can just put the keyboard on your lap and type away. Very useful and practical
Detailed spec sheet:
|2-in-1 Detachable Notebook,Magnesium and Aluminium alloy metallic body
Dual tone body colour (Orange/Grey and Black/Grey)
|12.2” (Diagonal), 16:10 Aspect Ratio,2560 x 1600 Resolution WQXGA IPS Display
Touchscreen with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
|7th Gen. Intel Core m3, 7Y30, (1.00 Ghz up to 2.60 Ghz)7th Gen. Intel Core i5, 7Y54, (1.20 Ghz up to 3.20 Ghz)
|Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615
|40Whr Lithium-ion Polymer Battery
|802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual Band (2.4 Ghz and 5.0 Ghz),Intel WiDi (WiFi Direct), Bluetooth 4.0
|Type-cover Keyboard with Dockpin connectionBluetooth connectivity, Backlit Keys, P2P Trackpad
|In-built fast fingerprint sensor
|Supports Active Stylus
|2 x USB 3.01 x SD Memory Card Slot
1 x Type C USB Thunderbolt 3
1 x Type C USB
|2.0 MP Front facing camera, 5.0 MP Rear facing camera
|DMIC with Noise Cancellation1 x 3.5mm audio jack port, 2 x 8Ω/1W Integrated speakers
|Weight & Dimensions
|950 grams, 1375 g (including keyboard)307.5 x 202.8 x 9.0 mm
|45W Type C PD
tbook flex’s lightweight body with this detachable backlit keyboard makes it easily portable. This hyperlaptop sports a fast fingerprint scanner, making accessibility to important documents not just easier and secure but also faster. The device is also equipped with the latest Thunderbolt(™) 3 USB Type C port that enables you to transfer data at rates up to 40 Gbps, project on multiple hi-resolution displays and connect to an external GPU easily. Not only that, the laptop comes with a type C fast charging to make sure that your laptop is sufficiently and quickly charged when you are in a hurry.
One thing that I liked a lot in the tbook flex is that the keyboard cover is included in the box. This is the difference between buying a tablet and buying a 2-in-1. The outside of the cover has a felt-like finish and will pick up dust very easily. The inside has a faux-leather texture. In terms of comfort and layout, I really liked this keyboard. The dedicated paging keys are very very useful, the arrow cluster is still cramped but is something that I could get used to over time and I am not complaining here at all. There are three levels of back-lighting. It looks like there’s a standard power button in the top-right corner, just like with many laptops, but this is actually only for the keyboard itself when detached. Typing is relatively easy for a portable keyboard. You can adjust its angle of inclination, but it does flex and bend when in use, but the flexing is very nice as a response to keypress if you ask me. The keys are a little stiff, but travel is decent. It’s possible to get used to this keyboard after a little time, and you can definitely get work done. This review is written entirely on a tbook flex and I am yet to see any change in my typing speed.
Designed specially keeping hybrids in mind, Windows 10 on tbook flex automatically switches between laptop and tablet mode for a seamless experience. Get more from Windows 10 with Cortana, Windows ink, gestures and many other exciting features that are deeply integrated in tbook. The Smartron tbook flex weighs 950 g without the keyboard cover, and 1.375 kg with it. In the box, you get a USB Type-C cable, an enormous (and also heavy) 45W charger, and the keyboard cover.
Being a relatively thin and light device,it is quite natural to see this one powered by Intel’s fanless ultra-low-power Y-series Core processors. My review unit features a Core i5-7Y54, which is a dual-core 4.5W part with a base speed of 1.2GHz and burst speed of up to 3.2GHz. There’s also a lower-priced version of the tbook flex with a Core m3-7Y30, these are the exact same processors, just with different speeds and different target segments.
The hybrid comes with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which is practical and more than enough power for a lot of people. The touchscreen measures 12.2 inches diagonally and has a resolution of 2560×1600 in the 16:10 aspect ratio which is convenient for portrait as well as landscape use. There’s a 40WHr battery, 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel webcam, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and Bluetooth.
You get Windows 10 Home with some thoughtful and useful stylus- and touch-optimised apps such as Autodesk Sketchbook preinstalled. The Windows Ink Workspace menu to the left of the system clock lets you quickly scribble on sticky notes or launch pen-friendly apps.
Performance wise, there was absolutely nothing to complain about with this hybrid tablet and I was able to get it up and running fast out of the box. I am quite a heavy user with a lot of resource hungry apps and tons of open browser tabs all the time. The tbook flex is now my primary desktop device and I haven’t had any issues in terms of lag or stutter yet. Butter-smooth and very fast in terms of getting work done.
The display is good and the colors it rendered were cool and practical. Long video streaming sessions and music streaming very very thoroughly enjoyable and there was absolutely no reason to complain or worry about anything. In my books, the display is a hit. Very useful and sturdy.
Battery life is quite good, and I was able use it for long stretches throughout a full workday. Believe me, I did all sorts of things including video streaming and playing casual games, and still had around 15 percent left at night. Charging was efficient and very quick. Overall, the battery hits all the right tick marks in my checklist
The Smartron tbook flex is sturdy, reliable and smooth. And at at INR 42,990 and INR 52,990 for the m3 and i5 version respectively this is a recommended buy from my side if you are in the market for a productivity aid that also makes heads turn when you use it.