Top positive review
Looking for a bargain-basement Surface Pro lookalike? Look no further!
28 August 2018
A couple of weeks ago, while out visiting the mother-in-law's place, she told me that she really wanted to learn how to use a computer and expressed an interest in going to 'silver surfer' classes, where she could learn how to do things on a computer such as reading her emails, buying stuff and those sort of things. There was one catch however: she was going to need her own laptop.
While I was impressed that she was interested in getting one, I was also mildly perturbed as I knew that I - the IT guy of the family - would no doubt have to shoulder the avalanche of questions and solve the inevitable flow of 'problems' that she would no doubt have with any computer that she purchased.
My first task was, of course, to find one for her that wasn't too big or heavy. She initially wanted an iPad, but since I'm no fan of the fruity technology company I decided that something Windows-based (and undoubtedly cheaper) would probably suit her better. There was also the fact that she already had an Android smartphone, so having another purely touch-based device would no doubt serve to confuse her, so I set out on a search for something that would suit her. While searching, I found a few possible candidates, but I kept coming back to this nifty-looking Linx machine. To cut a long story short, I shown her my Surface Pro 3 and said that this Linx machine would be very similar in terms of design and function. She liked the look of it, so I ordered one for her.
Without further ado, let's do a breakdown of what I think of this little thing...
>>>What's in the box?
The Linx 12x64 arrives in a surprisingly premium looking box, and once it's opened you'll find the device, its charging adapter, cable and a set of instructions. It also comes supplied with a screen protector of some sort, but I reckon that it's a tad superfluous as the keyboard folds flat against and covers the screen.
Well, there's no doubt about it - the Linx 12x64 is most certainly a bargain-basement copy of a Microsoft Surface Pro, as I hoped and expected it would be. There are a couple of notable differences, though; the screen is a 16:9 ratio widescreen rather than the 3:2 ratio of the Surface Pro, and the materials used are naturally not as premium. That's not to say that the Linx feels cheap, though - in fact, I was quite surprised by how nice it felt considering the cost. The bezels and rear of the device are clad in glossy black plastic, and on the rear of it you'll find a metal (aluminium, I think) kickstand which is infinitely adjustable and folds flat against the rear of the device when not in use. It's not a heavy gadget, but it has a solid feeling to it and is just about the right weight to make it feel more premium than it actually is.
Much like the premium device which the Linx is valiantly attempting to emulate, its keyboard can be detached to transform it into a tablet. It's simple to detach its keyboard, but it doesn't attach with the same level of magnetic positivity as a Surface Pro one and can actually be a little fiddly to get connected properly again. There's also a small bugbear for me in the fact that there's no way to raise the typing angle of its keyboard, so it will always stay flat against the surface that it's sat upon.
The good news, however, is that the keyboard is actually quite nice to type on - the keys themselves have a fairly positive action to them and I was able to type 'the quick brown fox' over and over several times without too much practise. When it comes to the touchpad below the keyboard, there's some less pleasant news; it's a bit on the small side of things and I unfortunately find it rather frustrating to use. It seems awfully sensitive to gesture commands, so I find that I'm constantly zooming in and out of web pages and minimising windows accidentally with it, so thank goodness for that touchscreen!
Talking of the screen, the Linx 12x64 has a 12.5" Full-HD (1920x1080) LCD panel, which is fairly bright, sharp and colourful and should satisfy most people. Naturally, it pales in comparison to the gorgeous displays on Surface Pros, but at this price you really can't complain. It's a full touchscreen too and responds well to touch commands.
Fact: You'll never buy a laptop based on its sound quality - and in the case of the 12x64, you DEFINITELY won't be buying one for its sound quality. To use a crude and immature description, it sounds akin to a gnat farting through tissue paper. Truly awful. The 12x64 does have built-in bluetooth however, so you could invest in a cheap bluetooth speaker for audio duties.
This is a bit more of a mixed bag, unfortunately. When doing basic tasks such as web browsing, word processing and checking emails, the 12x64 can feel pretty zippy at times - it's 'Cherry Trail' Intel Atom CPU and 4Gb of RAM deal nicely with those sorts of tasks and it's possible to stream Netflix and iPlayer on it with no problems, which should please the mother in law.
If asked to do anything remotely more demanding however, you'll encounter the horrific bottleneck caused by its eMMC-based storage, which sadly represents the Achille's Heel of this device. I first encountered this when I decided to install BitDefender Antivirus on it; something which would normally take a few seconds on most PCs - but on the 12x64 it took several minutes. With SSD prices dropping like a stone, I don't see why they couldn't have whacked a 64Gb SSD into it instead and raised the price a little, because that eMMC nearly cripples the device. I should add that it doesn't make it unusable, though - it just means that you'll need to exercise more patience than you would normally.
Unlike a normal 'proper' laptop, you won't find a bristling array of ports on this device. You get one USB 3.0 port and a mini-HDMI out, which is actually fine. In addition to that, there's a Micro-SD card slot for expanding its storage should you desire more of it and I think there's also a 3.5mm audio-out jack. In terms of Wireless connectivity, it's got full WiFi capabilities, including Bluetooth.
I have to say that I'm actually quite impressed with this little thing! For under £300, you get a full Windows 10 device with a Surface Pro-like design and flexibility, which is constructed from surprisingly premium-feeling materials to the point that you could probably convince people that it cost considerably more.
There are no doubt that it has some issues, with its eMMC storage being the biggest detractor from what could be an awesome device, as it does make a serious dent in what could be a zippy little machine. Bearing in mind the cost however, it's a compromise worth taking, and if you're looking for a basic machine to browse the web, read your emails or write documents on, this should suit your bill perfectly.