Say hello to the F7 Plus from Teclast, the follow up to the F7 which we reviewed back in June 2018. The F7 Plus comes with some notable improvements, but faces some stiff competition in the form of the Teclast F5, the Chuwi LapBook SE, the Jumper EZBook X1 and indeed the Jumper EZBook X4, and also, if your budget can extend far enough, the Teclast F6 Pro.
Online Chinese retailer, Gearbest, provided us with the sample and sells the Teclast F7 Plus for $360 at the time of writing. Note that while this price includes delivery, it is exclusive of any taxes that may be levied by HMRC or the courier companies on behalf of the vendor. Want to buy tech from online Chinese retailers?
Yes, Teclast, as you might guess, is one of the more prolific Chinese laptop vendors on the market with no less than eight laptops and 2-in-1 devices in its portfolio, and an equal amount of Android tablets. Uniquely amongst manufacturers, it also sells solid-state drive and memory (RAM) products.
The F7 Plus embraces the same design as the F7 (and reminds us of the Chuwi LapBook SE) which is itself loosely inspired by Apple’s minimalist, functional design, one that embraces curves and a brushed metallic finish as found on the older MacBook Air. Compared to the F7, the F7 Plus has a darker color scheme equivalent to Apple’s space grey (as opposed to silver), and the bezel is black as well.
The F7 Plus stands out for providing an impressive overall combination of components rather than anything specific. It manages to pack the Intel Celeron N4100 CPU with 8GB of LPDDR4 system memory and a 128GB SSD (M.2 type) accessible via a flap under the laptop.
The Gemini Lake processor is already 15 months old and while its TDP (the amount of heat it emits) is far lower than the Pentium J4105, we hope to see the latter power more laptops one day. The SSD is one of Teclast’s own, the NS550-2242, which is the same drive as used in the F7, and it allows this laptop to effortlessly pull ahead of other eMMC-equipped N4100 notebooks.
The 14-inch IPS display has a Full HD resolution and is covered by two screen protectors. Make sure you remove both to improve your viewing experience.
The battery is significantly smaller (37Whr versus 50Whr) than its predecessor, but is still powered by the same white 24W power supply unit. Teclast included four speakers to enhance the audio experience of the laptop, as well as a 2-megapixel webcam. Other features include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.
The keyboard has just a little bit of flex when used, and is logically laid out, spanning over 31cm. We like the fact that it sports an extra-large Escape key as well as dedicated ones for right click, home/end, and page up/page down.
The typing experience is mundane with the key tiles being large enough to avoid mistakes, and with plenty of space between them. There’s no mushiness evident here, thankfully, and good travel and feedback ensures that you should be able to enjoy touch typing as much as we did on the F7 Plus.
The touchpad is one of the biggest that we’ve come across, which is both a good and a bad thing – the negative aspect being that our palms touched it more often than we’d like when touch typing.
The battery life has improved markedly from its predecessor, reaching 5 hours 29 minutes compared to 2 hours 2 minutes for the F7, despite the much smaller battery capacity. This leads us to believe that the model of the predecessor F7 we received for review was probably from a bad batch.
Last but not least, we were pleasantly surprised by the audio capabilities of this laptop which is not as thin and boxy-sounding as some of its rivals.
The business take
Teclast is not a well-known brand compared to the likes of Lenovo, Dell or HP, but we’d wager some money that if we blind-tested this laptop with notebooks from those established players, a lot of businesses wouldn’t be able to distinguish between entry-level models, which is where the F7 Plus sits with a sub-$400 price.
It doesn’t have any specific business features like a fingerprint reader, a TPM chip or Windows 10 Pro, and as such, may struggle against established manufacturers if you have clear B2B requirements. But then again, none of them offer something as cheap as the F7 Plus.
The convertible laptop comes closest at $480. It is a much more powerful model with a Core i3 CPU and 256GB PCIe SSD, but it only has an HD display, albeit a touchscreen one. The HP Pavilion x360 14t touch is also a touch-capable model which retails for $430, but it doesn’t have an SSD (though it’s available for an extra $160) or a Full HD display (available for $100 more).
You get a free Teclast wireless mouse when you buy the F7 Plus, but that’s more of a sweetener than a deal-maker. However, Teclast’s current flagship model needs no crutch to establish itself as one of the contenders at the low-end of the market – if you can live with the caveats of buying from abroad.
With a Full HD display, an excellent battery life, great performance levels – boosted by the SSD – plus a generous keyboard size, and sporting a surprisingly affordable price tag, the F7 Plus should be near the top of your buying short-list.