GPD Pocket Laptop Review

MacBook Air (left) next to the GPD Pocket Laptop (right)

Ultra Mobile PC’s used to be a huge thing, back in the late 00’s, pioneered by companies like Samsung and Sony, but they faded into obscurity by 2010. There simply wasn’t a viable use for it, and netbooks and ultrabooks took over. This year, it’s making a comeback, in the form of the new GPD Pocket Laptop. It’s designed by GPD and funded on Indiegogo, and while it’s not the most well-known company, I can say that initial impressions indicate that it’s a good quality device. I was always intrigued by the feasibility of a pocketable laptop, but usually only for the cuteness factor. The question is, can this laptop replace… your laptop? Let’s find out in this review.

Design

This thing is tiny. It’s one of the smallest laptop’s I’ve ever seen, and while it doesn’t compare with tablets on thinness, it’s width and length are very compact. The exterior is made up entirely of magnesium, and although it doesn’t look like it in the pictures, it’s solid and feels like you’d expect magnesium to feel. The entire design is very reminiscent of the old MacBook Pro series, down to the hinge design. Perhaps it’s closest relative in terms of design would be the Xiaomi Notebook, as it really does look like a 7″ version of the Xiaomi Notebook. Flip open the display and you’ll find an interesting arrangement. Notably, there is no trackpad at all. None. Instead, you’ll have to settle with the annoying little knob that was once commonplace on the Ultra Mobile PC’s of yesteryear.

That little knob brings back not-so-fond memories, and I’m not looking forward to using it. It’s implementation isn’t bad, but it simply isn’t viable to use that little knob for precision input on a PC. In fact, the 7″ touchscreen does a better job for user input than the pathetic blue knob. From a purely aesthetic point of view, the blue colored keyboard and knob are a bit of an eyesore, and a giveaway that the device is “Chinese”. I’d much prefer it to be white or transparent like the Apple MacBook line, since it nearly mirrors every other aspect of the MacBook. Overall, the design is good, conventional in most places, but unconventional in the fact that it lacks a trackpad, and that it’s absolutely minuscule.

Build Quality

The GPD Pocket laptop is made entirely of aluminium, and as such, the build quality is excellent. It’s also well put together, so there aren’t any noticeable build quality issues. The keyboard and knob leave a lot to be desired, but they’re probably the best they could put in the device, considering the price and space constraints.


Display

The design is unconventional once you open the lid, and the screen is no exception. Instead of a uniform border, the GPD Pocket Laptop seems to squeeze a 16:10 7″ display in the space of a 16:9 tablet, leaving the left and right bezels larger than the top and bottom bezels. It looks weird and unconventional, but it’s actually a great move. The extra height makes the entire experience feel less cramped, which is essential, especially with menu bars and the like. The display itself is a high quality 7″ IPS display, with a resolution of 1920×1200. Again, the resolution of the display is unconventional, since it’s 16:10 instead of 16:9, but the extra pixels mean that it has more screen real estate, and it’s very detailed, at 323PPI. That puts it in the realm of Apple’s retina displays, which GPD calls “Retina Level”.

Resolution and size aside, the display is an IPS panel, so viewing angles are wide. It’s also a relatively bright display especially if you compare it to laptops as opposed to tablets. Though it’s the size of a tablet, it’s a true PC, so considering this, it’s an awesome display for the price and size. Many full sized Samsung laptops with 13″ displays are stuck with abysmal 1366×768 displays, which severely hinder their performance and appeal. Colors are vibrant and accurate, and blacks, although not truly black, are relatively dark. Overall, the display on the GPD is a stunner, and it’s one of the best displays I’ve seen on a laptop this cheap, especially considering the size.

Features

The GPD pocket laptop is exactly that, a laptop, so it doesn’t have many special features like you could expect a mobile phone to have. However, it’s special feature is the size of the laptop itself – it’s absolutely tiny. The fact that GPD is able to put laptop components into a device this small is staggering, and it really does provide the full PC experience in the size of a (very thick) 7 inch tablet. If you consider it a special feature, the GPD pocket laptop has a slew of different connectivity options, which is incredible for it’s size. There’s USB A, USB C, and even Micro HDMI, which is more than enough, and more ports than the much larger MacBook. Another useful feature is the touchscreen, which makes user input just slightly less cumbersome than using the terrible knob.

Connectivity

The GPD Pocket Laptop comes with a standard set of connectivity options, except for GPS, which I wouldn’t expect on any laptop. That includes Wifi and Bluetooth, and it’s large selection of ports make it a normal laptop in every area except for size. The full specifications for connectivity are as below:

– WiFi
– Bluetooth
– USB A x1
– USB C x1
– Micro HDMI x1
– 3.5mm headphone jack x1

Hardware

The GPD pocket laptop is tiny, and as such, it doesn’t have the most powerful specs. Even so, it doesn’t settle for netbook-style specs, and instead opts for some decent hardware. For example, there’s 8GB of LPDDR3 1600 RAM straight out of the box in it’s default configuration, so there’s no messing around with 4GB. It also comes with an ample amount of storage – 128GB, which should be enough for the average user. Where the GPD Pocket has to comprise is the processor. Since it’s fairly cheap, at $399, and now $499 and very small, GPD couldn’t possibly fit the extremely powerful and hot i5 and i7 processors in there. Instead, GPD has opted for the cheaper and slower Atom processors. While it’s disappointing, there really is no other good choice of chip for GPD other than the Atom. Perhaps the M3 chip would be ideal, but it’s more expensive.

The GPD Pocket Laptop, of course, has a battery, and a rather large one at that, at 7000mAh. With laptop-class hardware, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 7000mAh battery was depleted quickly, even with an Intel Atom chip inside, although the small 7″ display could save a fair amount of power. This rather large 7000mAh battery is charged through USB type C, which is quickly becoming the new standard for portable devices all across the board. The GPD Pocket Laptop supports fast charging at 5V/2.5A, but it’s not that fast compared to the speed at which phones are charged today. Overall, the GPD Pocket laptop doesn’t shine the brightness on raw power, but it’s not meant for power users, and it probably never will be. If you’re looking for a gaming computer or a workhorse, look elsewhere.

 

Operating System

Unlike many 7″ devices, the GPD Pocket Laptop runs full laptop software, and with that, a full desktop operating system. Instead of android or iOS, the GPD Pocket laptop runs Windows 10, with the usual keyboard and mouse interfaces. It’s a weird concept to have a 7″ device run Windows 10, but it seems to work well in the case of the GPD Pocket Laptop. At the dawn of ultra mobile PC’s, devices running windows were stuck with Windows 7 or the infamous Windows Vista, which weren’t optimised for small displays, and definitely not optimised for touch screens. With Windows 10, the interface runs smoothly, and I’m able to use a combination of the knob and the touchscreen to use the laptop. I’m pleased that they’ve chosen to include a full operating system (windows), instead of a mobile one, like Android.

With the advent of phone turned into desktops, like Samsung DEX, the GPD Pocket Laptop wouldn’t stand a chance, but the fact that it runs windows rather than android puts it a step in front of the convertible phones, like the Lumia and Samsung phones. Overall, the Operating system is the one we all know and love, and it’s left mostly untouched. It’s exactly what you’d want on a laptop and it’s exactly what they’ve given to you in their laptop.

Performance

The GPD Pocket laptop doesn’t have the most powerful specs in the world, but it’s Atom processor is no slouch. Combined with the ample 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and you get a computer which can run perfectly fine for every day use. In the mobile world, the Atom processor is up there with the Snapdragon chips, but we’re talking about a laptop here, and the Atom processors are almost the slowest processors by Intel, save for the Celeron processors. The Atom processor actually runs admirably well, considering it’s powering a full desktop operating system. I’ve used devices with atom processors before, but the GPD pocket laptop runs it even better. Gaming is a no-no on the GPD Pocket laptop, and you’ll likely experience terrible frame rates, since the GPD Pocket Laptop relies on integrates graphics.

Considering all of this, the GPD Pocket Laptop actually has the power to become a full desktop replacement, if you’re very careful with it an don’t expect much from it. It has USB C, which can act as both the charging port and an external display port at the same time. It supports 1080p at 60hz, and 4k at 30hz. It’s not the best, but it’s better than I’d expect from such a weak chipset. Connecting it up to a monitor is easy, and the USB A port makes it easy to connect a wireless adapter for a wireless keyboard and mouse. With an external display, keyboard, and mouse, you have a full desktop replacement. Obviously, if you want any quality sound you’ll want to invest in a pair of desktop speakers, but the sound coming from the single downward firing speaker is actually quite good.

Battery Life

The GPD Pocket laptop has a large 7000mAh battery, but it’s laptop-class internals means that it’s a little more power hungry than the average 7″ tablet. Even so, GPD boasts an impressive 12-hour battery life on the GPD Pocket laptop, rivalling that of the Surface Pro and the MacBook Air. This is impressive, as the laptop is absolutely tiny. In real world usage, you’ll get closer to around 10 hours, but that’s much more than you’d expect from such a small and cheap device. The battery life on the GPD Pocket laptop is even better than the MacBook and MacBook Pro, and MacBooks have always been known for their superb battery life. The battery life on the GPD Pocket laptop is exceptional, and much longer than you’d expect a 7″ tablet/laptop to last.

Options

To cut costs, GPD has only released the GPD Pocket laptop in one configuration and in one color. However, they’ve been fairly generous with their configuration, giving you an ample 8GB of RAM to play with, which should be more than enough for the Intel Atom processor in it. The color of the GPD Pocket laptop is inoffensive, with a plain silver color, similar to the ever-popular MacBook Air. The configuration of 8GB of RAM, 128GB of ROM in silver is the perfect sweet spot for any low-cost laptop, with just enough storage and RAM to be comfortable.

Wrap-Up

While the GPD Pocket laptop isn’t the fastest or most powerful laptop, it’s definitely one of the smallest and cutest devices I’ve seen for a long time since the heyday of Ultra Mobile PC’s. It’s incredibly portable, fitting in a purse or even a large pocket, and runs full windows, so you can be productive wherever you are. The GPD Pocket Laptop isn’t not a workstation or a gaming rig, but for day-to-day use as a mobile PC or tablet, it’s perfect. It’s also very affordable, at just $495.99 at GearBest. If you’re looking for a tablet replacement or a mini-laptop, this could be the one.

 

 

 

 




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