by | November 24, 2017 | Reviews, Windows Tablet

2-in-1 convertible PCs have been gaining popularity in recent years, with Windows 10 fleshing out those devices with features and functionalities. Users like them because they’re convenient, and PC builders and app developers like them because they represent new opportunities.

As one of the best-known suppliers of affordable tablet computers, Alldocube has released quite a number of 2-in-1s in the past 3 years, including many budget Atom-based convertibles for average consumers and a few Core-M powered ones for the high-end market.

The Shenzhen-based company recently released their all new flagship Windows convertible of 2017: the Alldocube KNote. This new hybrid comes with an 11.6-inch display, an Intel Apollolake N3450 processor, 6GB RAM and a new design, and is set to become a strong contender in the market for mid-range 2-in-1s.

 

 

Main Specifications

Brand: Alldocube
Model: KNote
Product type: 2-in-1 tablet
OS: Windows 10 Home
CPU: Intel Celeron N3450
Core: 1.1-2.2GHz, Quad Core
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 500
GPU Frequency: 200MHz – 700MHz
Process Technology: 14nm
Power Consumption: 4W
RAM: 6GB LPDDR3
Storage: 128GB eMMc
External Storage: Micro SD card up to 128GB
Display: 11.6 inch black diamond IPS screen @1920*1080px
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless internet (2.4G+5G Dual Band)
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 2.0MP front + 5.0MP rear
Ports: TF card slot*1, Type-C*1, 3.5mm Headphone Jack*1, DC Jack*1
Battery type: 7.6V 4000mAh, Li-ion polymer battery
Charging voltage: DC 12V 2.5A
Dimensions: 289mm x 180mm x 8.6mm
Product weight: 766 g
Package Contents: SurBook tablet*1, USB cable*1, Manual*1, Power adapter*1

 

Design: a laptop and a tablet at the same time

The Alldocube KNote has a premium look. It doesn’t look like anything Alldocube has released before. In fact, it sort of conjures the image of Samsung Galaxy Book at first glance, with a similar slim build and colors. However, the super high-end Samsung Galaxy Book has a plastic shell, while the KNote has a metallic build.

The front of the KNote is dominated by an 11.6-inch 16:9 display, the bezel is relatively small, but there’s still enough of it for you to rest your fingers on. A front-facing camera is sitting comfortably above the display (in landscape mode).

The rear side of the slate is made of aviation aluminum, and coated in the color of silver. Not only does it look good, it also feels very nice in hands.

The tablet has rounded edges. On the left side you will find a 3.5mm DC jack, a USB Type-C port, a Micro SD card slot which supports cards up to 128GB.

The right side plays host to a 3.5mm headphone jack. The two side-facing speaker grilles are located on the left and right side of the tablet in order to create some stereo effect.

The power button and volume rocker are hosted on the top left side. Strangely, there’s no Windows key on board, you will need to use the touchscreen to return to the Windows desktop.

The Alldocube KNote has a docking mechanism that is similar to the one on the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S and Huawei Matebook, but not entirely identical. The bottom side of the slate plays host to a 5-contact magnetic keyboard port.

With the keyboard cover connected, the KNote will instantly be transformed into a notebook computer.

The build quality of the KNote is extremely nice. The tablet is slim and robust at the same time. Measured at 289mm x 180mm x 8.6mm and weighs 766g, the KNote is pretty portable as a standalone tablet, but with the keyboard attached, it almost weighs as much as a small ultra-book.

We appreciate Alldocube’s valiant mission to get its take on the keyboard cover working for an 11.6-inch tablet, it serves as a keyboard, a kickstand and a protective case at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with the keyboard’s feedback and travel depth – both are quite enjoyable, actually. The touchpad is also very responsive, and its left- and right-click zones at the bottom are set to respond to a comfortable pressure. Also, the keyboard cover’s soft-touch material feels quite comfy to at least rest your palms on, while it offers up little to no flex when bent – a fine sign of sturdiness.

The keyboard cover is flexible when acting as a kickstand, it can be propped up at unlimited number of angles, just like the Surface Pro 4.

The hinge feels pretty robust, and does seem like it’s going to be durable.

However, the keyboard lays completely flat when using the device as a laptop, which isn’t very comfortable.

Still, I personally like the keyboard cover much better than the Surface Pro 3 Type cover. Even though the Type Cover has bigger keys, I just can never get used to the fact that there’s almost no space between those keys. Gernally speaking, the keyboard cover of the KNote is easy to get used to and you can reach your top typing speed with it quickly.

 

 

Display and sound: a device perfect for media consumption

The Alldocube KNote sports an 11.6-inch, 16:9 black diamond screen produced by JDI. When the display is off, the front panel of the tablet looks highly integrated, you won’t be able to easily distinguish the screen and the bezel. When the screen is lit up, it is equally gorgeous.

The display of the KNote is incredibly sharp and clear, with decent color saturation and contrast. Everything looks vivid and true to life. It won’t match the Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy Book and OLED display on Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga, but it is almost as good as an LCD screen could get. The 16:9 aspect ratio is perfect for media consumption, as you can watch most videos in full screen.

The screen is also very bright, we had little problem using it outdoors. And it is not as reflective as the displays we’ve seen on other tablets from Alldocube, you don’t have to worry too much about the glares, even though there are still some.

The built-in speakers of the Alldocube KNote are just mediocre. They are not nowhere near as loud as the built-in speaker on my vivo X20 smartphone, the sound coming from them also lacks details and depth. Even my non-audiophile ears couldn’t really accept them for music and movies. With that said, these speakers are still better than the ones found on the Surface Pro 3.

System and apps: the minimalist approach

The KNote ships with Windows 10 Home and a valid license. Alldocube takes a minimalist approach when it comes to the user interface and applications. There’s not much preinstalled than the regular Windows 10 apps such as Groove Music, Cortana, Skype and Windows 10 Store.

There are quite a number of touchscreen friendly apps in Windows 10 store, you can get things like Hulu and Netflix for TV and movies. There’s also Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for social networking, Spotify for music, and Flipboard for news feeds…. But if you compare Windows 10 Store to the more established Google Play Store and Apple App Store, you will surely be disappointed. Not only is the Windows 10 store outmatched in the number of apps, most apps also fall short to their Android and iOS counterparts in terms of quality. You can also run traditional desktop Windows apps on the KNote. Productivity apps such as Microsoft Office 2016 and nEO iMAGING worked fine on the slate, so did most of the media playback apps. Whatever you can think of, you can find it on Windows. The KNote I received is a retail unit in mainland China, so the Windows it ships with is Windows 10 Home (Simplified Chinese), and I wasn’t able to install other language packs. Units sold overseas may be preinstalled with other versions of Windows 10 Home.

 

 

Performance: a portable friend for light tasks

The combination of the Intel Apollolake N3450 processor and Intel integrated graphics produced benchmark scores typical of the Celeron ilk.

In the cross-platform Antutu V6 test, the KNote scored 88,706, ranking behind most flagship Android smartphones.

In PCMark 8 Home Conventional, which measures overall system performance in a variety of tasks, the KNote was returned 1,311, on par with the scores of those Atom-based tablets.

In CineBench R15, which measures hardware and processing performance, the KNote scored 103cb in CPU and 10.76FPS in OpenGL.

The older CineBench R10 reported 1,331 for single-core and 4,162 for multi-core in the CPU rendering test.

In the Geekbench 4 CPU test, the KNote notched 1,376 in single-core and 3,925 in multi-score.

In the Fritz Chess Benchmark, the KNote scored 2,628. The thing that confused me was that the Teclast X3 Plus came with an internal set-up almost identical to the KNote, yet it beat its Alldocube counterpart in almost every benchmark test.

The 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test mainly measures the GPU performance of a device, and the KNote scored 20,352 in it.

The KNote has 128GB eMMc internal storage, which is definitely no match for the SSD used in high-end ultrabooks in terms of speed, but still scored more points than most HDD in the AS SSD Benchmark test.

You won’t be doing video production with it, or using it in your photo studio, but at least it can run Photoshop, which some budget laptops are unable to do. But lightweight tasks such as emails, web surfing, business documents, and media consumption didn’t really challenge the KNote, as it stayed smooth and responsive most of the time. Thanks to the 6GB RAM, the tablet can also handle a fair amount of multi-tasking. You can watch a video and browse through some image-loaded webpages at the same time without hiccups and delays.

As expected for affordable detachable hybrids, 3D gaming isn’t a strong suit. When we tested it on both Heaven and Valley at medium detail settings and 1,920*1080 resolution, it turned in rates of a mere 7 and 8 frames per second (fps), respectively, while we consider 30fps the threshold for smooth gameplay. With that said, most games we installed from Windows 10 store did run smoothly, game lovers could still enjoy some light gaming with the KNote.

We expected a long battery life from convertibles, and we couldn’t say we were too satisfied with the KNote, which played our test video for 7 hours, 25 minutes before shutting down (under the settings of 50% brightness, 50% volume through the speakers). Although it still betters an average laptop, it falls short of the Lenovo Miix 320, which turned in a phenomenal 12:26, and the Asus T102HA, which we timed at 14:14.

 

 

Cameras and Connectivity

The Alldocube KNote has dual cameras: a 2MP selfie camera on the front and a 5MP main camera on the rear. Both cameras disappoint in terms of image quality, and the rear camera is almost useless as even the lowest end smartphone could take better photos.

There’re dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, G-sensor on board. The Type-C port could be transformed into an Ethernet port, or an HDMI, or a full USB 3.0 Type-A port with different adapters. If the 128GB storage isn’t enough for you, you can double it up with a Micro SD card.

 

 

Verdict

Priced at $355 (with keyboard cover included), the Alldocube KNote is not cheap. In fact it is priced higher than the Alldocube Mix Plus, which offers a beefier Core M3-7Y30 processor, a faster SSD and stylus support. However, the KNote has a more modern and interesting design, a bigger and better display, and a better-looking keyboard. It really comes down to what is more important for you when choosing between these two. Personally, I would still recommend the Mix Plus, simply for its ability to run heavier applications, although its 10.6-inch display may be too small for serious productivity tasks sometimes.

We wouldn’t recommend anyone to use the KNote as their only PC, especially for those keen on gaming and creativity work. If you already have a powerhouse PC or laptop, and only need a portable friend for media consumption and some light tasks on business trips, the slate is worth looking at.

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