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I'm a huge fan of low-cost devices, especially if they're done right. The Fusion5 Lapbook is a 14.1-inch Full HD laptop that costs no more than $200.It annoys me that the majority of low-cost devices cut corners when it comes to the screen. More often than not, a low-cost Windows 10 laptop is rocking a screen resolution of 1366 x 768, which on anything above nine inches is unacceptable. So imagine my surprise when I learned that there is, in fact, a full-size, low-cost laptop out there with a Full HD display.
Enter the Fusion5 Lapbook. It's a 14.1--inch Windows 10 laptop that's cheap as chips but is rocking a full 1920 x 1080p display. A low-cost traditional Windows 10 laptop with a 14.1-inch Full HD display is almost unheard of because all the other low-cost sub $200 laptops are usually 11-inches with 720p displays. So the Fusion5 Lapbook interests me mainly because of its screen. But is it a good screen, and is it a good laptop as a whole?
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Fusion5 Lapbook technical specifications
|Display resolution||1920 x 1080 Full HD|
|Software||Windows 10 Home 64-bit|
|Processor||Intel Atom x5-Z8350 1.44GHz|
|Storage||64GB (expandable via microSD)|
|Front camera||2.0MP camera|
|Ports||Mini HDMI, microSD, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, 5vDC port|
Fusion5 Lapbook design
So let's kick off with an important aspect of any device: design. The Fusion5 Lapbook isn't going to be turning any heads. It's all plastic, for a start, and is pretty flimsy and creaky. It's a silver color, meaning it looks metal even though it isn't. That's something going for it, along with the fact that it's also super thin, which is great but is likely why it feels a little flimsy when open and closed.
When open, the device is rocking a black, plastic keyboard and trackpad mingled with its plastic silver shell, which gives it a semi-MacBook Pro appearance. What impressed me was the device's surprisingly thin bezels. These aren't big bezels at all, meaning those of you who can't stand big bezels are going to be impressed with the design of this laptop.
Although it's a little flimsy and creaky, the device feels great and lightweight. This means it'll be a great device to take with you in a bag if you're traveling, as it's lightweight and won't weigh you down. It's also thin enough to fit in basically any backpack, assuming your backpack is big enough to fit a 14-inch laptop. And that's another highlight about this laptop for me: screen size.
Most low-cost laptops never exceed 13-inches. I think 13-inches is way too small, with 14-inches being where the size of 'full' laptops begin. If a laptop has a 14-inch screen, it's considered to be a 'full' laptop in my book. Now I know not everyone agrees with that, as 14-inches is considered by many to be Ultrabook sized. That's true, but in my head, Ultrabooks are also full-sized laptops. I think 15.6-inch laptops are too big. Fourteen inches is perfect, for me.
Fusion5 Lapbook display
This laptop is rocking a 14.1-inch Full HD display. That's 1920 x 1080 in resolution, which is unheard of on a laptop at this size for the price. Now, considering that price, even though the screen is high-resolution, it's not perfect. If I had to describe it, I'd say this is one of the worst 1080p displays I've ever seen.
Even though it's a bad 1080p panel, it's still the best display I've ever seen on a low-end laptop. Of all the sub-$300 laptops I've ever tested, I love the screen on this one the most. It's Full HD, meaning it's not a pixel nightmare like on other low-cost devices. But considering the 1080p panel on this laptop isn't high-end in the slightest, it looks a little washed out and doesn't get all that bright when outdoors.
Viewing angles on this thing are nonexistent. If you're not looking at it dead on, you're going to notice the screen fading away. What's more, colors just don't pop on this display. Everything seems dull and washed out.
Since this is a 1080p display at 14.1 inches, you're getting a PPI of around 156. That's not bad, but it certainly isn't 'Retina' level by Apple's standards. But considering this is an actual laptop, you're not going to be using it close to your face. It'll likely be on your lap or a table in front of you, so you won't notice any pixels at all.
I have noticed that sometimes, the screen will flicker for a brief second. This could just be a minor defect with my specific device, or it might be a universal issue with all Lapbooks. It's nothing groundbreaking, but the issue is there. It doesn't go dark, it literally just flickers the content on display.
Fusion5 Lapbook ports
The Fusion5 Lapbook is rocking a pretty healthy selection of ports. It has one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, a microSD card slot for expandable storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a mini HDMI port for output to an external monitor or TV. I find the port selection to be pretty good for the type of device this is.
What I'm not a fan of is the 5V DC charger. I wasn't expecting USB-C, of course, but DC chargers are annoying and incredibly unintuitive. They break easily too. I also wish they had added a full-size HDMI port and SD card reader instead of the mini variants. It's handy to have an SD card reader of any size of course, but the only time I'm using an SD card reader is with a full-size card that I use with my DSLR.
Fusion5 Lapbook performance and battery
Low-cost Windows 10 devices have never been known for great performance, and the same holds true with the Fusion5 Lapbook. It's rocking an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 CPU, which does work with the Windows 10 Creators Update. It's also got 64GB of internal storage, which isn't the biggest for Windows 10 but should get you by for casual use.
This device is great for web browsing, light editing in Office, and media consumption. It is not good for editing photos in Photoshop, or editing video, or doing any heavy multitasking with lots of different programs. This is a device for casual users.
The Lapbook's 2GB of RAM are not enough to be multitasking with lots of programs. You'll be able to get away with a web browser, an email client, music client and maybe Word or PowerPoint open at one time before you start feeling the lackluster 2GB. Of course, this isn't a device that's designed for any real work anyway, so it shouldn't be much of a concern.
Battery life on the Fusion5 Lapbook is pretty good. We're essentially rocking a tablet-class CPU in this full-size 14.1-inch laptop, so that should mean Fusion5 crammed in a big battery to keep that low-power CPU running. I'm able to get through a day of use no problem with the Fusion5 Lapbook, with the battery lasting around 6 hours before I need to plug it in to charge.
Finally, like most Atom based devices, WiFi on this thing is slow as well. It'll take you forever to download updates, and sometimes even browsing the web can feel slow. Keep that in mind.
Fusion5 Lapbook keyboard, trackpad, and speakers
The Keyboard and Trackpad on the Lapbook is a mixed bag for me. I like the keyboard. It's clicky and although a bit shallow, works for my liking. I do a lot of typing, so the keyboard element on any device is important for me. I've had no real issues with the keyboard on the Fusion5 Lapbook, so all is good in that department. Where things start to fall down are with the trackpad.
The trackpad on the Lapbook isn't great. It has some Windows 10 gestures, such as being able to activate task view with a three-finder swipe, and it also has two-finger scrolling. But they aren't configurable, and the trackpad itself isn't using any trackpad technologies like Precision or Synaptics.
What's more, since the trackpad isn't configurable, you can't easily change things such as the scrolling direction when using the two-finger scroll gesture. Annoyingly, the scrolling on the Lapbook is inverted (for me), meaning when I swipe down with two fingers to scroll, the page scrolls down too, instead of up. It mimics a scroll wheel rather than a trackpad.
I know some people prefer this, so in this case, that's fine. But for me, and many others, this is inverted behavior for a trackpad. There is a way of changing it, but it requires finding out the hardware ID of the trackpad, jumping into the Windows Registry and changing a value to invert it. It's a big hassle for something that should be easily changed.
Finally, and this is probably the worst part of the entire laptop, the speakers. These speakers are dog awful. These are the worst speakers I've ever used on anything ever, and I simply cannot recommend using them in any scenario for any reason. They're quiet, they're tinny, and they're just bad. You will want to use headphones if you plan on listening to music or watching a movie on this device.
What's more, the speakers constantly omit a quiet white noise that you can hear if you put your ear up against the down-firing speakers. Even when in sleep mode, the speakers continue to omit this sound. It's incredibly annoying, especially in a silent room. It sounds like a mini fan inside the laptop, but it isn't because there isn't a fan inside this thing.
I've tried everything to fix it, but there doesn't appear to be a way outside of literally taking the speakers out of the device, which wouldn't be that bad of an idea considering how bad the speakers are. This may not be a big deal to some people, but it's a problem for me.
Fusion5 Lapbook review conclusion
This isn't the perfect low-cost laptop, by any stretch of the imagination. It gets a lot right, but it also falls down in places. It has a bad trackpad, and the worst speakers ever. It's a bit flimsy, and overall you can tell it's a cheaply-made device. But, it's still an amazing device for just $200.
This is a device that's great for young kids who might need a laptop for homework and watching YouTube videos. It's great for casual use, which includes web browsing, watching movies and using Microsoft Office. And it has battery life that lasts long enough throughout the day to do all of that. It's also super lightweight, meaning taking it with you should be easy.
Its 1080p display is a lovely bonus. But as I said, it's definitely one of the better displays I've seen on devices that cost less than $300, so at least it has that going for it. Overall, I really like the Fusion5 Lapbook, and I recommend it for those who may be looking for a laptop for their kids.
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I'm fascinated by low-end laptops, tablets, and PCs, if only because they allow hardware makers to get creative when trying to cut corners while trying to maintain a somewhat good and usable product. I'm a huge fan of HP's entry-level Stream line for this very reason. They're low-cost, fun, and relatable products for your average consumer looking for cheap devices. But not every aspect of low-end devices excites me.
I don't mind low-end specifications in devices that are designed to be low-end. I am, however, against standard HD displays. Anything lower than 1920 x 1080, at any screen size, in 2017, is a complete and utter 'no' in my book. Unfortunately for me, almost all low-cost Windows 10 devices are rocking standard HD displays, which aren't great even in comparison to a low-end Full HD panel.
So, imagine my surprise when I learned that there is a hardware maker out there building low-cost Windows 10 laptops with Full HD screens! The Fusion5 Lapbook is a full-size, 14.1 inch Windows 10 laptop with a 1080p display, for just $200. What more could I possibly ask for? Built by Fusion5, a UK-based hardware maker, this is a low-cost laptop that, for me, may tick all the right boxes. Here are some of my first impressions of the Fusion5 Lapbook.
I hadn't ever heard of Fusion5 before I came across this laptop, likely because it is a small time hardware maker that has been dabbling with Windows and Android hardware for the last few years. Fusion5 has a record of building all kinds of devices, ranging from tablets to all-in-ones rocking a wide range of low- to high-end specifications. The Lapbook specifically is interesting to me because it's an actual laptop, not a 2-in-1 or tablet.
It's also what I consider to be a full-size laptop. Most low-cost Windows 10 laptops are small, usually rocking at most a 13-inch display. The Fusion5 Lapbook is a full 14.1-inch laptop, meaning there's enough screen to get work done without feeling cramped and constrained. Of course, a bigger screen is only beneficial if you have the resolution to back it up, and with the Lapbook's Full HD display, this device does.
Its display, while the best I've ever seen on a low-end device, won't be winning any awards. Although it's 1080p, it's not the clearest panel I've ever seen. Of course, for $200 this shouldn't be much of a surprise. As a display on a low-end laptop, it's great. But as a 1080p panel compared to other 1080p panels, it's not so great. Still, for $200 there's not much I can complain about. Apart from maybe one thing ...
It has a weird sort of screen protector on it, which is almost impossible to get off. It's stuck on there like glue. I've tried with all my might to pull it off, and it just won't budge. I'm worried that if I try any harder, I'll damage the display. So for now, I left it on, but the screen protector is kind of gross looking and may be one of the reasons why the display looks a bit murky.
The display itself gets relatively bright. In regards to colors, I can best describe it as a rather bland panel. Colors don't pop as you might expect on other displays. I wouldn't buy this device if you need it for any real color uses, that's for sure. But for watching video, browsing the web, and editing documents with Office, this display is perfect.
And web browsing, video watching, and document editing are about all you'll be doing on the Lapbook. This is a low-cost device, and as with all low-cost devices, specifications aren't going to be mind-blowing. We're rocking an Intel Atom Z8350 CPU with 2GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. As with most Intel Atom based devices, performance is not great beyond casual use.
Battery life so far seems to be great. Considering this is a 14-inch device, there's room to put a bigger battery under the hood. Of course, that bigger battery is also powering a bigger and higher resolution display, but so far battery life has been pretty positive for an Intel Atom based PC. Ports include one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, a MiniHDMI port, a headphone jack, microSD card reader, and a charging port.
Build quality is okay. It's plastic all around, and you can tell when holding it. It's not a premium feeling device, but it looks nice when open and closed thanks to its thin profile and silver coating.
The speakers in this thing are beyond terrible. Like, they're the worst I've ever heard, and I only recently gave that award to the NuVision 8-inch Windows 10 tablet. They're tinny, quiet and unenjoyable. What's more, they omit a constant white noise that sounds like a very quiet fan when you place your ear up against the speaker holes. Yeah, this is a pretty serious issue. In a normal environment, you can't hear it unless you put your ear up to it. But in a silent room, you can absolutely hear it when sitting at the laptop at a desk. Muting the speakers doesn't help, and as far as I can tell there's nothing you can do to stop it.
Adding insult to injury, the speakers are downward facing, on the underside of the laptop. So not only are they poor speakers, but they aren't even facing you when you need them. I'm going to say Fusion5 dropped the ball when it came to the speakers. I'd recommend using headphones with this device.
The trackpad also isn't good. It's not Precision, obviously, so it can use all the gestures available in Windows, and it isn't Synaptics either. It's nothing. It's using basic Windows drivers as far as I can tell, and it sucks. But it's usable, which is a good thing. I've got no real complaints regarding the keyboard thus far, but I haven't used it much either.
Fusion5 10.6 Tablet User Manual
The device itself seems promising. It's full sized, with a Full HD display, and an OK build. The downsides are its speakers and trackpad. We'll be doing a full review on the Fusion5 Lapbook soon, so stay tuned to Windows Central for that. In the meantime, are you interested in the Fusion5 Lapbook? Let us know in the comments.
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