A tale of two-in-ones

Tags: Knowledge
If you were growing up in India the 1980s, the term “two-in-one” undoubtedly had a special place in your life. It was that magical device that not just played and recorded cassettes, which we called a “tape recorder”, but also — hold your breath! — had a radio built in. Technology has come a long way since then, but out penchant for stuffing more than one functionality into a single device has endured.

Over the past week, one had the chance of taking a couple of modern-day two-in-ones for test drives. One was the Asus Transformer Book T100T tablet-that-turns-into-laptop and the other was the Oplus XonPad 7 a device that can’t decide if it’s a tablet or a phone, and thus becomes both.

Do we call it a “laplet”?

The Asus Transformer Book T100T gives you mixed feelings. On the surface (the pun completely accidental), a sleek and compact laptop/tablet hybrid; but it leaves something to be desired in handling and usability. However, tipping the scales are both the price, about Rs 35,000, and the fact that, when you detach it from its dock, you have in a hand a tablet running a full version of Windows 8.1, and what’s more you get a free copy of MS Office 2013 Home and Student edition.

For anyone used to iPads and Android tablets, the Transformer Book screen will feel inordinately heavy and awkward. But bear in mind that at 10.1 inches, it is quite a bit bigger. True, it doesn’t have the sleekness of design of the iPad and certain other high-end devices, but the touchscreen is responsive and the learning curve for users new to Windows 8 will be the largest hurdle to overcome.

For those interested in specs, it runs on the low-power Intel Atom Bay Trail Z3740 1.33 ghz processor, has 2 gb of ram and 32 gb eMMC (flash memory) storage. However, after setting up you PC, you have only about 7.5 gb left to use. The good news: there is a microSD card slot if you need more space. There are one each of USB 3.0, micro USB and micro HDMI ports, and a promised battery life of 11 hours.

On the negative side, the keyboard appears plasticky and cramped. The touchpad is sub-standard and sometimes erratic — in fact, it is much easier to use the touchscreen. There is no ‘home’ button on the tablet, which is a bummer. Overall, the Transformer Book seems to be a great, if bulky, tablet, but the cheap-looking keyboard dock mars is disappointing.

The tablet-plus-phone

The XonPad 7, brought out by another Taiwanese company, Oplus, straddles the other end of the tablet hybrid — with built-in voice calling and 3G SIM support, it could be referred to by that ghastly epithet of phablet. However, digs aside, at Rs 9,990 (available from Snapdeal.com), a 7-inch display, 16 gb onboard memory (expandable via memory card), 1 gb RAM and a 1.2 ghz Cortex A7 processor adds up to a decent product for its price. There are two cameras, a 5 MP rear-facing and 2 MP front-facing one. The tablet runs Android 4.2 (JellyBean).

Usability-wise, the XonPad 7 is a decent performer if you’re not expecting miracles. One good thing is that it takes a regular-sized SIM card rather than a microSIM. The battery life isn’t great and this isn’t the best Android tablet — with or without SIM functionality — in the market, but it is certainly worth a consideration.

The two-in-ones are

here to stay!

Neither the Asus Transforer Book nor the Oplus XonPad are powerhorses—you get what you pay for. And if they do fall in your budgets, you could do a lot worse with your money. zz

(The author is a freelance technology writer)

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