Linx 8 review – the sub-£100 Windows tablet
The age of cheap Windows tablets has dawned. Not so long ago we would have winced at the prospect of any £100 tablet, let alone one purporting to run Windows 8.1 for a bargain sum, but it’s fair to say that budget tablets such as the Bush MyTablet and Linx 10 have completely won us over. Now it’s the turn of the Linx 8, an 8in Atom-powered tablet that retails for £90, to steal some of the low-cost limelight.
The novelty of these cheap Windows tablets is obvious. Indeed, look at what you’re getting for the money, and it’s easy to wonder how Linx (or any of the manufacturers in this sector, for that matter) is making any money at all. For £90, you’re getting an Atom-powered device that runs Windows 8.1 with Bing, plus a year’s subscription to Office 365 Personal and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage thrown in for free. Given that the Office 365 subscription is worth £60 on its own, and also allows you to use it on a second PC or Mac, it’s easy to see the appeal.
Linx 8: features and design
The Linx 8 is a smart device for the money, too. Pull it out of its packaging and, while the all-black chassis isn’t going to please the fashion police, it feels nicely put together. The curved edges and grippy matte-black rear make it easy to wield in one hand, and at only 377g it’s no heavyweight, either.
Cast an eye around the Linx 8’s body and you’ll find that all the basics are covered. There’s a micro-USB port for topping up the internal battery, a micro-HDMI port for hooking the Linx 8 up to a monitor or TV, a 3.5mm headphone socket, and a microSD slot for expanding the Linx 8’s 32GB of onboard storage. Spend a couple of quid on a third-party OTG cable, and you can connect external USB devices such as keyboards, thumbdrives or even a USB hub to the micro-USB port – bear in mind, though, that you won’t be able to charge the tablet at the same time.
Single-band 802.11n wireless networking is par for the course at this price, but Bluetooth 4 also makes the grade, so you can connect a keyboard and mouse without having to invest in a USB hub.
There are some minor physical differences to rivals such as the Bush MyTablet. Power and volume buttons are positioned along the Linx 8’s edge, but rather than a physical Windows button, Linx has opted for a capacitive touch-sensitive button on the tablet’s lower bezel. It’s rather too easy to brush by accident, which can be annoying when you’re in the midst of a game or working on a document, but it’s also easier to reach than the tiny Start button on the Bush. It’s very much a love/hate thing.
Sadly, though, if you’re expecting the front and rear 2-megapixel cameras to mark an improvement on the Bush MyTablet’s mediocre snappers, then you’re going to be disappointed. Image quality is desperately poor, with both capturing smeary, low-resolution photos and videos. They’re just about good enough for video chats but little else. Thankfully, the rear-firing pair of speakers save the day. They reach a decent volume and are clear enough to watch the odd video without having to reach for the headphones.
Linx 8: display, performance and battery life
The Linx 8 employs an 8in, 1,280 x 800 IPS display, and image quality and viewing angles are pretty good. The backlight pushes the panel’s maximum brightness up to an impressive 292cd/m2, which is noticeably brighter than the Bush MyTablet, and contrast reaches a very high 1,257:1. We suspect dynamic contrast is at play behind the scenes here.
Colour accuracy isn’t particularly great, however. Whites have a cold, blue tint to them, and skin tones and colours look slightly off as a result. Nor does the Linx 8’s display reproduce a particularly wide variety of colours: primary tones look dull and faded, and our measurements showed that the panel covered only 67.4% of the colours in the sRGB gamut. This is significantly worse than the Bush MyTablet, which covered a more creditable 78.3%.
Performance is pretty darned good for such an affordable device, however. The Linx 8 is powered by Intel’s quad-core Atom Z3735F and despite the frugal 1GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage, the subjective experience is pretty good. Even heavyweight applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Sony Vegas Pro load up pretty quickly, and it’s only once you start trying to really push the CPU hard or run one too many applications side by side that the Linx 8’s hardware reaches its limits.
As if to prove the point, the Linx 8 put in a good performance in both our application and battery-life tests. The Atom CPU manfully worked its way through our Real World Benchmarks to a result of 0.38 – an identical result to the Bush MyTablet. Battery life isn’t to be sniffed at either, and with the screen brightness dimmed to 120cd/m2 and Wi-Fi off, the Linx 8 played back our 720p movie on repeat for 8hrs 10mins, around half an hour longer than the Bush.
Linx 8: verdict
For £90, the Linx 8 is hugely appealing. The small amount of RAM does limit its potential somewhat, but whichever way you cut it, performance, build quality and the range of features on offer are far in excess of what you should be able to expect for the money.
If you’re looking to choose between the Linx 8 and the Bush MyTablet, though, then there really isn’t much to separate them: the Linx 8 just edges it for looks and battery life, while the Bush has the more colourful display.
One thing that may swing potential purchasers, however, is that Linx is offering a £30 cashback deal if you trade in your old tablet. Follow that route and, for only £60, the Linx 8 represents astonishing value. With that in mind, we suspect most people won’t need much convincing.
Linx 8 specifications
|Processor||1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3735F|
|Size||215 x 8.9 x 125mm (WDH)|
|Sound||Stereo speakers (rear)|
|Screen resolution||1,280 x 800|
|Graphics adaptor||Intel HD Graphics|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||1 x Micro-USB|
|Memory card reader||microSD|
|Other ports||3.5mm headphone jack|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1 with Bing 32-bit|
|Operating system restore option||Recovery partition|
|Parts and labour warranty||1yr RTB warranty|
|Price inc VAT||£90|