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Smartron TBook Flex Review: An Ambitious Effort With Room For Improvements
TBook Flex is the second offering in Smartron's 2-in-1 line-up and here is how it fairs.
Smartron TBook Flex. (Image: News18.com)
Smartron, one of the homegrown companies in the Indian technology industry which focuses on a whole ecosystem of tech-powered innovations, is highlighted majorly due to a certain section of its offerings. One of them is for the 2-in-1 tablets that the company has launched. The series was recently extended to two with the launch of its TBook Flex back in May this year. We have had an extended experience with the TBook Flex now and here we answer whether it is worth spending your Rs 52,990 (or 42,990 for the base variant) on the 2-in-1 tablets or not.
With the TBook Flex, one inevitable fact is that you will compare it to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 2-in-1s for the straight-up competitive pricing. And you might find the Microsoft device significantly better than the TBook Flex. But keep in mind that the TBook Flex offers an Intel Core i5 at a lower price, if only marginally. And there is no budget option in terms of a lower variant.
The comparison apart, let us look into all the factors that make the TBook Flex an ideal deal and all the segments in which it lacks.
First off, the TBook Flex comes as quite a fresh approach by Smartron for its TBook series. Though it follows on the lines of its predecessor in terms of design, the refinement this time is significantly better, both for the design and the build quality. The colour scheme used, with us having the Orange and Grey combination, is just as striking as elegant.
As a tablet, the TBook Flex is slightly on the heavier side and hence, will also garner your confidence in its robustness, thanks to the magnesium and aluminium alloy used for its build. Using it for a full day’s work is a manageable task though and for that, the battery backup also helps, providing close to 10 hours of online use. Particularly handy is the flex stand at the back that allows a hands-free usage between a wide-angle positioning. Ideally, the TBook Flex should have been a very handy device for the creators out there because of the varied viewing angles, robust built and of course, the Stylus alongside.
The accompanying keyboard attaches good and does not really separate accidentally. It also works quite well and is comfortable to type even for an extensive duration. The faux-leather texture on the insides is a major reason for its ease of use. The key placements is optimal for typing and the single column of ‘Page’ functions at the right is especially helpful. Rest assured, if you don’t need it as a keyboard, it will certainly be helpful as a cover for the tablet.
Extra points to Smartron here for adding Bluetooth connectivity to the keyboard with the TBook Flex. This essentially means that you can connect the detachable keyboard to any other Bluetooth device for work. It allowed us to work through and through with our smartphones, complete with the mouse cursor for navigation on the phone screen. Pretty rad, but with one limitation. It can only be powered by being connected to the TBook Flex itself. Meaning you get limited Bluetooth connectivity after which, attaching it to the TBook Flex is the only option.
A big plus on the TBook Flex are the plenty of connectivity options, including two USB type 3 ports, one on either sides, as well as two USB type-C ports on the left. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left while the volume rockers are placed on the right. The power key, that doubles up as an efficient fingerprint sensor is placed on the top towards the right edge and enables easy access. What’s more, the device comes with two cameras, both at the front and the back. The cameras, however, are average at best in terms of picture quality.
In terms of performance, we found the 2-in-1 to be capable of handling everyday usage including work on Microsoft Office apps as well as the internet. Though its area of strength, if there is one, will certainly be the fine multimedia experience that it is capable of. The 12.2-inch display comes with a 2560 x 1600 resolution, offering ample colours and good quality. The speakers placed at the front-top position also help with this, ensuring no sound is muffled while the TBook Flex is placed on its stand. Playing games on the TBook Flex is also quite a fun experience.
What’s not so cool?
The ‘Ideally’ highlighted above comes as the firepower falls short of helping the creators. Since video production software as well as the graphic designing apps take an extra toll on the processors, the TBook Flex is not really meant for the creator community. You might be able to make your way through the entire project but not in an ideal way and certainly not with ease.
The lack-lustre performance is also reflected in daily, simple operations. While these are mostly ignorable and are gone with a reboot, they happened once too many times for our taste and can seriously hamper work progress, with the need to shut down the tablet altogether. To illustrate this, there was a time when we could only click selectively on the tablet as the rest of the operations would not work. It was a monumental task to even reboot the TBook Flex after this. But since this happened only once, we can not really pinpoint the blame here.
A noticeable challenge is the manual switching to the tablet or the laptop mode once the keyboard is connected to the device. By default, it is not set on ‘Automatic’ and you might want to change this in the ‘Settings’ menu. If not, there is a possibility that you will struggle in bringing up the on-screen keyboard while using the TBook Flex as a tablet.
While the display quality offered by the TBook Flex is pretty neat, the screen of the device is quite reflective. To tackle this, you will have to peak its brightness during daylight use.
Though the TBook Flex is Smartron’s second attempt at bringing a 2-in-1 product to the Indian market, there is still a considerable room for improvement in the device. More so, if it wants to fall into the competitive category in the market, with its pricing being almost equivalent to the counterparts, which are better in several aspects.
In itself, the TBook Flex is quite a proposition but for a limited-use scenario. And with the recent revision in its price bringing it down marginally, the 2-in-1 might appeal, more so now than ever, to those who are limited to using the device for multimedia experiences and daily online and offline working. For graphics-intensive users, you might want to skip this one.
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