Neo Shift N81 Review
Dual-boot-capable tablets, those that can run Android and Windows, are very nifty devices that are perfect for those who wants to experience the beauty of both operating systems in one gadget. However, these 2-in-1s are still uncommon. And one of them is the Neo Shift N81.
The Neo Shift N81 was released by the company earlier this month. Unlike some dual-boot devices in the market, this one comes with a keyboard dock which transforms it into a mini laptop and accepts a SIM card for 3G connectivity.
Design and Construction
The first thing you’ll notice about the N81 when you take it out of the box is its metallic build. It’s body is all plastic but the lid has a matte metallic finish which gives off a premium look. The sides are accented with checkered silver strips on both ends perhaps in an attempt to make the device look more interesting.
From here you can also see the 2 megapixel camera, tray for the nano-SIM card, and the NEO branding. From the left, you can see the Windows home button, microSD card slot, headset jack, micro HDMI, microUSB port for charging, and speaker. Also found here is the standard-sized USB 2.0 on the keyboard dock. Now on the other side are microphone and another USB port on the dock, while situated on the front are the power/lock and volume buttons.
Open the lid and you will be greeted by the 8.9-inch display with HD resolution, 0.3MP camera and notification light. If you remove the tablet from the dock, you can see that it connects to the keyboard using metal contacts guided by a couple of plastic tabs onto a hinge. The hinge design is a combination of the design found on the ASUS Transformer Book T100T and Acer Aspire Switch 10.
The docking process is easy to do as you just slide it in and it will lock in place. However, it doesn’t feel totally secure. Hold the keyboard and tilt it upside down and the tablet will easily detach with a light shake. In addition, the hinge doesn’t provide much tilt and it’s wobbly which sometimes causes the keyboard to disconnect.
Speaking of the keyboard, it feels cramped especially if you’re used to using wider keyboards but you will easily adapt to it after a while. The keys are comfortable, quiet, with decent tactility. You can actually do some serious typing on this once you get used to the size and layout.
As for the touchpad, like the keyboard, cramped and small. It’s smooth though but loses sensitivity at the edges, still our pointer can cross the screen in two or three swipes. It’s clicky as well when you’re using the left and right click functions but feels plasticky.
Overall, the N81 has portability got right. It’s small, thin, and light enough to be carried around. It misses a lot though when it comes to the build of the keyboard. The tablet part is ok and actually feels better and easier to handle than the Cherry Mobile MAIA Smart Tab, but the keyboard feels really flimsy which will surely disappoint buyers when it breaks down.
Display and Multimedia
For your viewing pleasure, the N81 has an 8.9-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 or 170ppi. The screen is bright with good colors but no auto-brightness. It has acceptable viewing angles but very susceptible to glare. No mention of any glass protection so our best guess is just a regular scratch resistant glass. If you like watching movies, the large screen should suffice most users.
As for its tiny speaker, audio quality is acceptable but falls greatly when it comes to loudness. It’s audible but only to the confines of a small room. In this case, we certainly recommend a good pair of headphones or external speaker.