Linx 10 review
With Android and iOS dominating the world of mobile devices, Microsoft has decided to do something drastic: it’s encouraging manufacturers to produce a raft of ultra-cheap Windows devices. We’ve already seen and been impressed with the Bush MyTablet 8in; it’s now the turn of the Linx 10 – a 10in tablet for only £79 on Amazon UK.
To label the Linx 10 simply a budget tablet, however, would be to do it a disservice. Just like the MyTablet, it’s a full-blown Windows PC in a compact chassis. It runs Windows 8.1 32-bit “with Bing”, includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal and, with the addition of a USB keyboard, mouse and monitor, you could conceivably use it as your main PC.
Linx 10 review: hardware and performance
Inside, there’s a quad-core Intel Bay Trail Atom Z3735F CPU running at a base frequency of 1.33GHz (which will burst at speeds of up to 1.83GHz), and since it doesn’t scrimp on RAM in the same way as the Bush – it has 2GB instead of the miserly 1GB of that compact device – you should be able to keep a few more Chrome tabs running and multitask without things slowing to a crawl.
In practice, the tablet acquits itself perfectly well in everyday use, and feels surprisingly responsive. Windows 8.1’s tile-based touch interface whizzes by without hitching; scrolling and panning in Internet Explorer is as smooth as you like; and even running demanding desktop apps such as Photoshop isn’t too frustrating.
Just for the hell of it, we kicked off a 1080p video render using Sony Vegas Pro 10, and experienced very little slowdown while continuing to use the Linx 10 to browse the web and write this review in Google Drive. It’s lightyears better than the sluggish, unresponsive Aldi Android tablet we reviewed recently, and the Linx also put in a competitive performance in the mobile benchmarks, with Geekbench 3 scores of 784 and 2,204 in the single- and multi-core elements of the test, and a SunSpider time of 514ms.
It’s all rather impressive, but it’s worth remembering that you’re not getting close to the number-crunching abilities of a Core i7 or Core i5 here, so those CPU-heavy tasks – such as those video renders – will take some time. In our Windows-based application benchmarks, the Linx 10 returned an Overall score of 0.33 – a touch slower than the Bush MyTablet, and about what we’d expect of an Atom-based device.
Gaming isn’t a strong point either: the more demanding games we tried weren’t 100% smooth, with FIFA Ultimate Team and Despicable Me: Minion Rush proving only just playable. Sadly, though, we couldn’t get GFXBench to run at all during our testing – there seem to be some incompatibility issues at play.
And although we were a little disappointed with battery life, it’s far from disastrous. The claimed runtime is only six to eight hours, but dim the screen a touch and you should be able to eke out an hour more. With the screen set to a brightness of 120cd/m2, the Linx 10 lasted 8hrs 59mins.
Linx 10 review: display, design and cameras
Screen quality is surprisingly good, though. The 1,280 x 800-resolution, 10.1in display uses IPS technology, ensuring good brightness, contrast and viewing angles.
Measured with our colorimeter, the Linx 10’s display beamed out at 329cd/m2 (much brighter than the Bush MyTablet) and it delivered a solid contrast ratio of 823:1. Colour accuracy isn’t a strong point, however. Bolder hues look oddly muted, with photos and video lacking the punch of pricier devices, but in general, this is a decent screen for a tablet of this price.
And it’s housed in a chassis that, if not particularly classy, feels robust and well made. Finished in matte, soft-touch black plastic, the design of Linx 10 apes the look and feel of Amazon’s HDX tablets, if not their slenderness and lightness. The slightly weak-sounding speakers are rather impractically mounted on the rear, and the screen picks up grease and grime rather too much for our liking. However, you do get a decent array of ports and sockets.
There’s mini-HDMI for adding a second screen, microSD for expanding on the integrated storage, and a micro-USB socket with USB On-The-Go support for connecting peripherals directly (an adapter cable is provided in the box).
The tablet is charged via a standard DC connector, so you can charge it and use your peripherals simultaneously. There’s also an optional keyboard stand case available (£30), which attaches to the docking port on the bottom edge. We weren’t sent this for review, though, so we can’t pass judgement.
Wireless provision comprises Bluetooth 4 but only single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, and the tablet has 32GB of integrated storage – generous for a budget tablet, even taking into account the fact there’s not more than 16GB free after Windows 8.1 and the Linx 10’s recovery partition have taken their share.
The cameras are this tablet’s weakest area. On the positive side you get front- and rear-facing snappers, but they both capture at a low resolution of 2 megapixels, and the resulting images and video are lacking in detail and contrast, and look smeary and unpleasant.
Linx 10 review: verdict
The Linx 10 doesn’t quite represent the bargain that the Bush MyTablet 8 does. It’s considerably more expensive at £159, and compared with other popular budget tablets, such as the Android-based, 8.4in Tesco Hudl 2, it’s a less capable piece of hardware, with poorer battery life and a lower-resolution display.
However, once you take into account the Office 365 subscription (worth £48 alone) and the fact that, connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, it could very well serve as your main home PC, that price begins to look a little more palatable. If you’re after a tablet that can serve as entertainment device and a basic home PC in one low-cost package, the Linx 10 is definitely worth putting on your shortlist.
Linx 10 specifications
|Processor||Quad-core 1.33GHz (1.83GHz burst frequency) Intel Atom Z3735F|
|Screen resolution||1,280 x 800|
|Memory card slot||MicroSD|
|Size (WDH)||258 x 11.5 x 172mm|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1 32-bit|
|Price||£159 inc VAT|