The Teclast F5 is an affordable two-in-one laptop that, on paper, hits all the right notes. But in today's market, there are much better options for your money.
The cost of technology has been steadily decreasing over the years. You can now pick up a laptop or smartphone for just a few hundred dollars, without compromising on features. However, not all cheap laptops are born equal. Performance issues, design difficulties, and bloatware tend to get in the way of an otherwise encouraging device.
The Teclast F5 two-in-one laptop promises to be different. The question, then, is can it live up to these expectations and deliver a high performance, bloatware free, affordable Windows 10 laptop?
Read on to find out what we thought of the Teclast F5, and at the end of this review, we’re giving ours away.
Teclast F5 Specifications
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- CPU: Intel Celeron N4100 Quad Core, 1.1GHz
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600 GPU
- Display: 11.6 inches, touchscreen, 1920×1080 resolution
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- Storage: 128GB SSD
- Camera: 1.0MP, front facing
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n/ac
- Battery: 3850 mAh
- Dimensions: 10.79 x 7.4 x 0.47 inches
- Weight: 1.0810 kg
- Price: $325 from GearBest.com
Some people have commented that the F5 resembles an Apple MacBook. While the comparison isn’t inaccurate, there’s nothing here that truly resembles the unique design of a MacBook. These comments speak more to Apple’s influence across the sector than the F5’s design.
The F5 is a reasonably small device, measuring just 10.79 x 7.4 inches, making it smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. It’s a device that you’d be happy to keep with you in your bag, and at just 0.47 inches thick it’s slim enough, too.
The F5’s chassis is made of aluminum, rather than the plastic finishes you often find on most affordable devices. Despite that, the laptop weighs just over one kilogram. To make the laptop small and light, compromises had to be made elsewhere.
The F5 comes fitted with a compact keyboard, missing some keys like Home, Page Up, and Page Down. Importantly though, the keys don’t feel cheap and typing on them is a pleasant experience. The same can’t be said for the touchpad.
The touchpad can either be tapped or clicked. Tapping works fine in most instances. Tapping with two fingers simultaneously works as a right click. However, if you chose to click down on the touchpad, it feels cheap and creates a lot of noise. It’s a small element of the overall laptop but reminds you that it is in fact a very budget device.
Thankfully, Teclast hasn’t held back when it comes to the internal components. The F5 comes equipped with 8GB of DDR4 memory and 128GB of SSD storage. There are built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi adaptors, and an accelerometer to detect orientation change (as you’d expect from a tablet, but not neccessarily a laptop).
While 128GB of internal storage may not sound like much, Teclast has made it easy for you to upgrade to a higher capacity SSD. On the underside of the laptop is a removable panel which gives direct access to the SSD. The transfer is made easier too, as the Windows key is stored in the UEFI rather than the drive.
The F5’s 11.6-inch touchscreen display is full HD at 1920 x 1080 resolution. There is even a small 1.0 MP camera on the bottom right of the screen. The resolution is relatively low for modern standards, but the camera is a welcome addition. However, the placement at the bottom right of the screen is a little unusual and will give a somewhat unique view when you join video calls.
On the left side, there is a 3.5mm headphone port, volume rocker, power button, and the built-in mic. The right-hand-side is a bit more feature packed. There you can find a micro-SD slot, a second internal mic, a micro-USB port, micro-HDMI connection, and the USB C charging port. USB C enables the port to be used both for charging and connection of peripherals through the same port.
USB C is becoming more commonplace, especially since Apple introduced it to their MacBooks. However, if you’re getting excited at the prospect of carrying just one USB C charger for all your devices, you’ll be disappointed.
Teclast opted for a 24 watt (12V, 2A) implementation, which is mostly out of step with many other manufacturers. The 2016 MacBook, for instance, is designed at 30 watts. This means you can’t charge your F5 with Apple chargers, use your F5 charger with Apple devices, or even use it to charge your smartphone.
Unlike many cheaper or affordable laptops, the F5 comes with a fully-licensed copy of Windows 10. Even more surprisingly, there is a total lack of bloatware. Household names like HP install reams of unwanted, spammy, and potentially malicious software on their laptops. It makes a refreshing change to find an untouched operating system, especially from a less well-known manufacturer.
For many, Windows 10 is one of Microsoft’s best releases, finally equipping the operating system for the mobile age. Microsoft has even billed Windows 10 as “the last edition” of Windows. Instead of releasing new-milestone editions, the company plans to continually update, so a license for Windows 10 may well mean you never need to purchase Windows again.
In recent years there has been a worry that Chinese manufacturers have been silently installing malware and spyware on their devices to sell overseas. Although these may sound like wild conspiracy theories, there is enough evidence out there to make you feel slightly unsettled. The F5 doesn’t help itself either. Booting the laptop for the first time, you find that a default user has already been set up before shipping. It’s also worrying to see that Secure Boot has been disabled.
However, no rogue processes are operating in the background, nor are any suspicious programs installed. In fact, the network monitoring tool GlassWire showed no unusual or suspicious activity at all. If you at all concerned, then you could always reset the PC from the Windows settings.
Teclast F5 Battery Life
One of the most critical aspects of a mobile device is battery life. The F5 has a battery capacity of 3850mAh. While that number sounds high, it’s worth noting that some of this year’s flagship smartphones ship with 4000mAh batteries.
For a laptop device running a full operating system, that relatively small battery isn’t likely to go far. That hypothesis was confirmed during testing, where off-charge the F5 lasted less than three hours. This wasn’t three hours of intensive use either, just checking emails, web browsing, and some writing.
This paltry battery life may be the single biggest reason to avoid the F5. A laptop is designed to be portable and not tethered continuously to an outlet. What good is a laptop that may not even be able to make it through a single film on Netflix?
Arguably one of the most considerable downsides of the F5 is Teclast’s choice of CPU. The laptop is powered by the Intel Celeron (formerly Gemini Lake) N4100. The most notable feature of this CPU is that it is cheap. A quick online search and you’ll see that it is almost exclusively used in affordable and low-end devices. That’s not to say that it is necessarily bad, but don’t expect high performance from the F5.
Analysis performed by the benchmarking company PassMark gives the N4100 an overall CPU mark of 2333. When compared against the Intel Core i5-6360U found in the entry-level MacBook, it falls far short. The i5-6360U scores almost double, achieving a CPU mark of 4836.
If you’re on the lookout for an affordable laptop to check your emails, browse the internet, and open a few documents, then this may still be the laptop for you. However, if you’re hoping to play games, edit photos and videos, or do anything outside of some light browsing, then you’re best to look elsewhere.
One of the F5’s most desirable features is its ability to transform from a regular laptop to a touchscreen tablet. These kinds of devices are often called hybrid laptops. However, a hybrid can entirely detach from the keyboard or dock, leaving just the touchscreen tablet.
The F5 is more accurately described as a two-in-one device—a laptop that can function as a tablet. The screen hinges enable 360-degree movement, allowing the screen to fold back and lay flat against the underside of the laptop. The physical keyboard is disabled, and Windows enters Tablet mode. While functional, this setup isn’t optimal.
As the physical keyboard is still on the underside, you end up holding or tapping on the keyboard when in tablet mode. It’s not comfortable, but it works…most of the time. There were instances where the communication between the hardware and software seemed broken, and the F5’s keyboard would still be enabled.
When it all works as it is supposed to, Windows 10 recognizes this change and can switch into Tablet mode, where the entire operating system is made more touch-friendly, and the physical keyboard is disabled. You may have seen Windows in touch-mode before, and it is a great add-on feature to the operating system.
That said, Windows just isn’t a touch-first system, no matter how hard it tries. It’s not as elegant as Apple’s iOS, nor does it have the simplicity of a touchscreen Chromebook. Whether you’ll be that interested in tablet-mode will entirely depend on what you hope to do with the F5.
Should You Buy The Teclast F5?
Although the F5 has a lot going for it, it’s difficult to really recommend.
If the F5 were released five years ago, it would be an easy purchase. Now, though, there is a lot of competition around a similar price that simply offers much more. Android tablets like the Kindle Fire have cornered the entertainment market and are available at almost a tenth of the cost. Chromebooks excel at web browsing and other daily activities. The recent addition of the Google Play Store is a great boon fro Chromebooks, too.
Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with the Teclast F5—but there is nothing particular right with it either, which is why, perhaps, your money may be better spent elsewhere.