GamePad Dig­i­tal Pocket

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Tech Advisor - - Contents - Marie Black

When we first set eyes on the Pocket we thought it was a gim­mick. Who is re­ally go­ing to use a Win­dows 10 lap­top with a 7in screen and a fid­dly mouse but­ton? Well I’ll tell you who would: me. (And it’s not be­cause I’m a woman, GPD.)

De­spite look­ing like a toy, the GPD Pocket is amaz­ingly pow­er­ful – for a tiny lap­top, that is. It’s on par with the other Chi­nese bud­get lap­tops we’ve re­viewed, and no less im­pres­sive than any of the Chuwi or Jumper models, for ex­am­ple.

It’s a lit­tle bit more ex­pen­sive than those de­vices, cost­ing £379.23 from GearBest (also fac­tor in im­port duty at 20 per­cent of the value on the ship­ping

De­sign

pa­per­work plus an ad­min fee of around £11), but we think de­servedly so.

This minia­ture lap­top comes with a 10-point touch­screen, an In­tel Atom pro­ces­sor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 128GB of flash stor­age. A full-size USB 3.0 port lets you hook up a mouse or other pe­riph­er­als, and you also get USB-C for charg­ing, a 3.5mm head­phone jack, Blue­tooth 4.1 sup­port and Mi­cro-HDMI.

The lat­ter is im­por­tant, mean­ing you can con­nect it to a large screen us­ing an HDMI ca­ble and use Win­dows 10 to its full po­ten­tial. So this lit­tle lap­top has some big am­bi­tions. This is per­haps the most por­ta­ble lap­top we’ve ever seen, yet its size doesn’t ham­per us­age as much as you might ex­pect – pro­vided you don’t want to use Skype. The GPD Pocket mea­sures just 182x109x19.9mm, mean­ing it can eas­ily squeeze it­self into a hand­bag or jacket pocket.

You will no­tice its pres­ence, tip­ping the scales at around 500g, but most ul­tra­porta­bles weigh in at dou­ble that. Part of this heft can be at­trib­uted to its bat­tery, with a non-re­mov­able 7,000mAh lithi­umpoly­mer cell in­side. In our tests it was good for seven hours and 39 min­utes – that’s at 120cd/m2 (not far off its max­i­mum 140cd/m2) with a video play­ing on con­tin­u­ous loop. It’s not the 12 hours quoted by GPD, but it’s very rea­son­able. Bet­ter still, it will recharge in an hour and a half with a PD charger.

The GamePad Dig­i­tal Pocket is well built, with an alu­minium chas­sis and four small rub­ber feet to

keep it sta­ble on the desk. There’s a vent on the left­hand side and an in­te­rior cop­per ra­di­a­tor that keep it mostly cool, and a speaker that emits au­dio from be­low – we’d like to see this fac­ing the user, though given the size con­straints it’s dif­fi­cult to grum­ble.

The 7in dis­play is of good qual­ity, though not amaz­ingly bright. GPD says it’s stronger than sap­phire glass with 8H hard­ness, and we love the fact it’s a touch­screen – the di­men­sions don’t al­low for a phys­i­cal track­pad. In­stead you get a joy­stick-style mouse but­ton, which is easy enough to use given the small area it needs to cover. It’s ac­com­pa­nied by ded­i­cated left- and right click but­tons.

But while it isn’t the bright­est dis­play we’ve seen, it is crys­tal clear with a full-HD (1920x1080, 323ppi) res­o­lu­tion, and of­fers very real­is­tic colours and ex­cel­lent view­ing an­gles.

Our one com­plaint here is that the bezels to the left and right edges are much thicker than we’d have liked, and the ex­tra space could have been used to make the dis­play larger.

The key­board it­self could have been prob­lem­atic, be­cause cramped keys in­vari­ably make for in­ac­cu­rate typ­ing. We made more mis­takes than we would with a full-size key­board, sure, but not as many as we had ex­pected.

So there’s no num­ber pad or track­pad as you would ex­pect, and the func­tion keys are dou­bled up with the num­ber and sym­bol but­tons, but ev­ery­thing else is where you’d ex­pect to find it and the ma­jor­ity of the but­tons are of a de­cent size and gen­er­ously spaced.

We say the ma­jor­ity be­cause there are a few that are cramped to­gether, such as the A but­ton and half-size Caps Lock key, and the slimmed-down <, >, ? trio. The

Alt, Ctrl and Fn but­tons are also half their usual size, and the Space­bar very short and cut down the mid­dle by the mouse but­ton.

This doesn’t bother us so much in terms of us­abil­ity as it does the messy look it cre­ates. The in­con­sis­tent spac­ing and siz­ing, cou­pled with full-size leg­ends, hurts our eyes some­what. There’s no back­light­ing ei­ther, though the labels are bright enough to make use in a dark­ened room pos­si­ble.

The Chi­clet keys are quiet in use, and you soon be­come fa­mil­iar with their lay­out. Un­for­tu­nately, though, this is a US key­board, and a UK ver­sion is not avail­able. You can con­fig­ure Win­dows 10 to use a UK English lay­out, though you’ll have to re­mem­ber some of your but­ton leg­ends will no longer tally.

Per­for­mance

Per­for­mance is per­haps one of the most sur­pris­ing as­pects about the mini GamePad Pocket. We won’t pre­tend this is a work­horse, be­cause it isn’t, but it is faster than we had as­sumed it would be. It’s also just as fast as any other bud­get Chi­nese lap­top, so more than ca­pa­ble of your daily com­put­ing tasks.

The mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als for the Pocket lap­top are mildly amus­ing, com­par­ing it to the MacBook Air and pointing to its 128GB stor­age/8GB RAM as com­mon ground (ig­nor­ing the dif­fer­ence between the In­tel Atom used here and In­tel Core i5 se­lected by Ap­ple).

It also claims per­for­mance be­yond the Mi­crosoft Sur­face 3, which ini­tially sounds like an out­ra­geous claim un­til you re­alise we’re not talk­ing about the Pro model here. Mi­crosoft’s cheap­est (and now

dis­con­tin­ued) Sur­face is an In­tel Atom-tot­ing beast with sim­i­lar per­for­mance in our bench­marks. (It also has a larger, brighter screen, a less cramped key­board, front and rear cam­eras, stereo speak­ers and comes from a brand you know and trust.)

Pow­er­ing the GPD Pocket is a 1.6GHz In­tel Atom x7-Z8750 quad-core pro­ces­sor that can Turbo Boost to 2.56GHz, plus 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 128GB eMMC stor­age. Graph­ics are in­te­grated to the pro­ces­sor, but ca­pa­ble for low-in­ten­sity games.

We ran the Pocket through our usual bench­marks and recorded 1342 points in PCMark 8 Home (1495 ac­cel­er­ated), and 3411 points in Geek­bench 4 (1152 sin­gle-core). That’s de­cent per­for­mance for a bud­get lap­top, and es­pe­cially one of this size.

We use GFXBench to test on-screen graph­ics, and here the GPD Pocket turned in 31fps in T-Rex, 16fps

in Man­hat­tan, 13fps in Man­hat­tan 3.1 and 9fps in Car Chase.

It’s worth pointing out there is no sup­port for stor­age ex­pan­sion, though you can plug in an ex­ter­nal hard drive via USB or make use of the cloud.

The com­pany claims this is the first 7in pocket lap­top to sup­port 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, though we tested it in its out-of-box con­fig­u­ra­tion run­ning Win­dows 10 Home.

Ver­dict

The GPD Pocket lap­top is more ex­pen­sive than some Chi­nese bud­get lap­tops, but de­spite its small di­men­sions you get a lot for your money. No lap­top is more por­ta­ble than this de­vice, and com­bined with an HDMI ca­ble and a sec­ond screen it has big am­bi­tions. The touch­screen eases hand­held use, and per­for­mance

is more than ad­e­quate for daily tasks. There are, of course, down­sides though – no mat­ter how well de­signed the key­board is never go­ing to be as us­able as a full-size model, and there’s no track­pad. Cam­eras are also miss­ing from this de­vice, rul­ing out video chat with­out plug­ging in an ex­ter­nal we­b­cam.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 7in full-HD (1920x1080, 323ppi) 10-point touch­screen

• Win­dows 10 Home 64-bit

• 8GB DDR3 RAM

• 128GB eMMC stor­age

• 1.6GHz In­tel Atom X7-Z8750 quad-core pro­ces­sor

• In­tel HD graph­ics

• 1x USB 3.0

• 1x USB-C

• 1x Mi­cro-HDMI

• 3.5mm head­phone jack

• Mono speaker

• 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi

• Blue­tooth 4.1

• 7,000mAh non-re­mov­able lithium-poly­mer bat­tery

• 182x109x19.9mm

• 503g

Credit: IDG

Credit: IDG

Credit: IDG

Credit: IDG

Credit: IDG

Credit: IDG

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