The Primebook 4G Android laptop, aimed at students, is powered by the MediaTek MT8788 processor. The laptop runs on PrimeOS, an Android-based OS, with a desktop interface, and aims to provide a portable e-learning device at an affordable price.
We used the Primebook 4G laptop with the 4GB RAM and 64 GB storage iteration for fifteen days. Here is what we found out.
In the box
The Primebook comes with a 12V AC adapter for charging, and a pair of Boat wired headphones.
The laptop comes in an all-plastic body with an 11.6-inch HD screen and thick bezels. The device’s build quality is decent, and there is a fair bit of squeaking when opening and closing the clamshell laptop.
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The unit we received came in the matte black colour, giving the Primebook a professional look, reminiscent of older generation notebooks from Lenovo and Dell.
The device comes with a USB port, a charging point, and a mini-HDMI slot on the right. The left side houses another USB port, along with the SD card slot, the memory card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The speakers on the laptops are located on the bottom of the device with the 2-megapixel webcam placed in the centre of the screen’s top bezel.
Overall, the device feels well put together. It is lightweight and easy to carry around.
Performance and display
With its Mediatek processor, the Primebook is able to manage daily tasks with ease. The laptop comes with access to the Android store and users can install apps from outside sources as well.
The laptop manages well when used for day-to-day tasks like writing reports, browsing the internet, and watching content on video streaming platforms. Video quality, though limited to 720p, is decent and it is only when trying to play higher-quality content did the display’s performance falter.
The 1366X768 HD panel is plenty bright with decent colour accuracy. The display tends to get glitchy when used for streaming online content for extended periods. However, we are not sure whether this was due to the display itself or the processor.
With its 4G connectivity, the laptop is capable of making phone calls and ensuring continued connectivity. Connection quality is good when used in an area with strong reception. However, we did find the inclusion of calling features in a laptop odd, especially since the device is aimed at young students.
The 2-megapixel webcam was unimpressive, the video output lacked details, and the overall quality is comparable to that of a feature phone.
The keyboard, though springy, provides good feedback when typing. We did not face any problems even when using it for extended periods of time.
The same, however, cannot be said about the trackpad, which struggled after long periods of use. The pointer would disappear from the screen and we would have to wait for a good two or three minutes before it came back; otherwise, we had to restart the device.
The SD card slot is useful for transferring data and is able to transfer files at a convenient speed. Combined with the 4G connectivity, the device is suitable to use during travel or in outdoor environments.
Built on Android, the OS of the Primebook has a familiar look and feel. And even though the physical device is a clamshell laptop, the OS at times seems to be more suited to a smartphone than a laptop. In the settings menu of the OS, the device is referred to as a Phone, rather than a laptop. Even the setup process requires users to register their phone number when setting up the laptop.
Beyond the UI, the multitasking features could have been better as we struggled when trying to use multiple apps simultaneously. Even opening and closing apps takes getting used to and when using a third-party browser like Chrome, the lack of optimisation is even more apparent.
Apps like Google Docs and YouTube behave differently than they do on either Android or Windows, and users will take time to adjust to the changes. Parents do have the option to switch off voice calls and SMS features by creating alternative profiles.
We also did not find any dedicated applications or checks in place to block mature content on the device.
Overall, the OS feels like a mutant version of Android, with a lot of work pending to make it a viable alternative to Windows or MacOS.
The Primebook comes with a claimed charging time of 10-100% in an hour. While testing, we found it was able to charge up to 75-80% within an hour. In terms of battery life, with its low-resolution screen and an Android-based OS, the Primebook can last well over eight hours with a full charge.
The Primebook 4G Android laptop is a unique offering that aims to fulfil the technology gap for learners in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. The device does offer the functionality of a laptop, albeit with trade-offs. At its price point, the device seems like a good deal. However, a lack of OS optimisations brings down its value proposition.
Since the Primebook will be competing with Android tablets and refurbished laptops from more established brands, which come with the functionality of Android or Windows, it will have to fight an uphill battle to establish itself as a serious option in this space. The Primebook 4G retails at ₹16,990 on Flipkart.