TCL’s First Laptop Is a Cheap Machine With an Underwhelming Screen

TCL’s First Laptop Is a Cheap Machine With an Underwhelming Screen
Image: TCL

You probably know TCL for its value-friendly TVs and smartphones, but now you might come across the company the next time you’re searching for a new laptop.

TCL is expanding into a new category with the Book 14 Go, an inexpensive 14.1-inch clamshell laptop designed for students. I haven’t seen this in person but it seems to have a simple, clean design with what looks like lavender or baby blue finish. TCL calls it “skywriting,” which sounds cool but doesn’t help describe the colour.

Either way, I’m glad the chassis is made of metal, an upgrade over what you get from other sub-$700) laptops. While the lid and underside are coloured, the entire deck is black, from the keys to the touchpad. The keyboard seems pretty standard, the touchpad is a nice size, and at 0.55 inches thick and 1 kg, the Book 14 Go should easily slip into a backpack or briefcase.

Image: Book 14 Go Image: Book 14 Go

What I’m most concerned about is the 14.1-inch display with its 1366 x 768 resolution. I want nothing more than for these panels to go extinct, so to see one on such a large screen troubles me. After all, TCL of all companies should know how cheap 1080p panels have become.

You also shouldn’t expect the fastest performance out of the Book 14 Go, which uses a Snapdragon 7c SoC to drive Windows 11. This low-power chip enables long battery life and 4G LTE connectivity in a mobile package, but isn’t meant to run anything too demanding. The Book 14 Go is for students, so any benchmarks shortcomings will be forgiven if it can power Windows and a few Google Chrome tabs without slowing down. Qualcomm’s chip is paired with Adreno 618 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage expandable via an SD card slot.

Image: TCL Image: TCL

Getting back to the endurance claims, this TCL laptop is rated for 10 to 12 hours of battery life and charges through a USB-C connection. Additional ports include a second USB Type-A, a USB 3.0 Type-A port, and a headphone jack.

The TCL Book 14 Go will cost $US349 (so we’re assuming around $490) when it arrives “in select regions” in Q2 2022.

TCL NXTPAPER 10s

At CES 2021, TCL revealed the NXTPAPER, an 8.88-inch tablet with a paper-like colour E Ink display that could handle video. The announcement was met with cautious excitement from those hoping to read comics or textbooks in full colour, but the tablet never made it stateside.

This year, TCL is giving it a second shot with the NXTPAPER 10s, which the company says was made “specifically with a focus on eye protection.” It reduces blue light, a particularly harmful section of visible light that can purportedly increase eye strain and raise your risk of macular degradation.

Image: TCL Image: TCL

Running Android 11, the NXTPAPER 10s has a 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 colour paper-like touchscreen display. It runs on a Mediatek MT8768E chip with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage expandable to 256GB, and has a 5,500 mAh battery. The tablet ships with a passive pen but also supports a type case, flip case, and a writing pad.

It looks like folks in the U.S. will miss out once again, though; TCL says the NXTPAPER 10 will cost $US249 (which is around $345) when it first arrives in China and Europe later this month.

TCL Tab 8 4G, Tab 10L and TKEE

Also launching at CES this year is a pair of budget tablets called the Tab 8 4G and Tab 10L and a trio of TKEE slates made for children.

The two tab models come in 8-inch and 10.1-inch versions and are powered by an entry-level quad-core Mediatek chips SoCs with 2GB or 3GB of RAM. They run Android 11, come with rear and front-facing cameras, and can expand their storage to 256GB.

Image: TCL Image: TCL

The Tab 8 4G will cost $US129 ($179) when it arrives in Europe in the next few months while the Tab 10L goes for $US99 ($138) and will be sold in select markets.

Made for kids, the three TKEE tablets come in Max, Mid, and Mini versions with the main difference being the size: 10, 7, or 8 inches. These also run Android 11 and earn points for having an adorable yet sturdy yellow bumper case.

Image: TCL Image: TCL

The TKEE series costs $US89 (about $130) for the mini, $US148 (a more pricier $200-ish) for the mid, and $US119 (around $170) for the Max. All of these go on sale in select regions in the next few months.