Today we have a CHUWI LarkBox microcomputer on review. The characteristics of the device, of course, are not very impressive, but nevertheless, this platform should be sufficient for solving standard office tasks. It is also claimed that this baby will be able to play videos up to 4K! Let's check.
CPU: Intel Celeron J4115
GPU: Intel UHD 600
RAM: 6 GB LPDDR4
ROM: 128 GB eMMC, M.2 SATA expansion slot
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, USB-C (power only), HDMI 2.0, microSD slot, audio out
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.0
Dimensions: 61 x 61 x 43mm
Inside the box you will find: computer itself, 24 watt AC adapter, VESA mount adapter, mounting bolts.
The computer is really microscopic. The manufacturer says it is "about the size of an apple," but it should be a fairly small apple.
On the front face there is a power button and a small LED that glows blue when the computer is turned on. On the right side there is a microSD slot and an audio output.
On the back: Type-C port for power, HDMI and two USB 3.0 ports. By the way, quite a good set.
As conceived by the developers, this PC can also work as a media player, for which the kit includes an adapter for VESA, which is attached with mounting bolts.
The developer separately emphasized that this PC can expand the memory by installing an additional SSD M.2 format.
It was completely incomprehensible to me how an M.2 could be inserted into such a tiny case. And it turned out that you need to unscrew 4 bolts on the bottom cover, remove it - and there was a slot for M.2.
However, it is clear that not any M.2 board will fit here, which come in three sizes (42 mm, 60 mm and 80 mm), but only the smallest - 42 mm long.
Well, about the cooling. A small fan is installed here, and ventilation holes are made in the upper part of the case.
For testing, we use a 12-inch monitor with 4K support.
At the first start the standard installation of "Windows 10 Home" started, the English interface is supported. For 4K resolution, I set the zoom to 200%, otherwise it was too small. After installing the system, about 90 GB of free space is left on the disk.
The eMMC drive is even faster than I expected.
You can also connect a second disk - for this you need to go to "Administration - Computer Management - Disk Management", create a simple volume on the second disk, assign a letter to it and format it under NTFS.
LarkBox Wi-Fi channel speed test passed perfectly!
The Geekbench4 CPU test showed the following average results.
Since the scope of such a PC is primarily office, I looked at how basic office applications work on it.
Considering the fact that the computer is portable and there is not much memory in it (if you do not install an M.2 SSD), then, as I think, it will be most convenient when working on it to use cloud versions of popular applications, especially since they are now well developed and are free. In this case, I used online MS Office, OneDrive as the document storage.
A Word document with a complex layout is normally edited, nothing slows down. PowerPoint presentation is also perfectly editable, there are no brakes. Edited, launched, demonstrated. Viewing PDF in the built-in browser is also fine.
As for the FullHD playback from the built-in PC memory, everything shows perfectly, no brakes. 4K YouTube videos are smooth too. The only thing that I noticed some of the brakes is in switching between windowed and full screen mode of YouTube.
Now the task is more serious - 4K video from disk. When playing through VLC, the 4K player worked without any brakes, HDR also worked out correctly. Interestingly, even via WiFi VLC, the 4K movie (85 GB, by the way) showed excellently, not the slightest delay or lags.
Of course, when testing such ultra-compact devices, the question of temperature arises: for example, various compact media players can get very hot, and overheating is fraught with all sorts of glitches and spontaneous shutdowns.
Here an active fan is used for cooling, which, on the one hand, is good (an active fan is always better than passive cooling), but, on the other hand, it is a source of certain noise. Yes, the fan is audible when it turns on, and it turns on quite often, even when nothing serious is being done on the PC, but the noise from it is small, much less than from a laptop.
The cube feels warm, but it's definitely not hot. Even after the 2-hour 4K video playback test, the case was still not hot. As a result of all tests, the temperature did not rise above 77 degrees.
About the use cases. The manufacturer claims that LarkBox can work as a media player and even attach a special mount for VESA, but I have big doubts that this will be convenient. First, you will need to resolve the issue with the control panel. Secondly, Windows 10 as a media player shell is not very convenient. Thirdly, it is simply not profitable: a specialized set-top box with Android such as Xiaomi Mi Box S costs less, has a remote control and is much more convenient for such tasks.
But, for example, you can carry LarkBox with you in your briefcase so that you can connect it to a TV or projector at any time and hold a presentation - why not? Connecting it to your parents' TV, thus turning the TV into a computer, is also an option. Putting it on the child's table along with a compact monitor so that it all takes up as little space as possible is also a normal scenario. Thus, the usual office and educational tasks of LarkBox are unambiguously feasible.
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