Starmobile Engage Aura Review
If you’re in the market looking for an affordable laptop, you might want to check this out. Starmobile, known for its smartphone and tablets, has just made a full-blown Windows 10 notebook. And yes, it doesn’t cost as much as other laptops at just a discounted price of Php8k. Here’s our full review of the Starmobile Engage Aura.
Design and Construction
The Engage Aura is a 14-inch laptop with a design akin to a MacBook Air although instead of cold aluminum, this one is made entirely of polycarbonate. As expected, there are a couple of creaks when handling the laptop but everything feels intact.
The left is where the full-sized USB 2.0 port and the 3.5mm headphone jack are.
To its right are the microSD card reader, Mini-HDMI, and full-sized USB 3.0 ports, plus the DC-in with a blue LED indicator.
The 2-megapixel webcam is placed where it should be although there’s no dedicated LED indicator to know if it’s active or not.
We have more LED lights just above the keyboard, three to be exact. One for power, another for caps lock, and another one for the trackpad status.
Speaking of the keyboard, I’m currently typing this article on it and suffice to say, it’s pretty easy to adjust since it’s well-spaced but has a shallow travel. Perhaps my main gripe about it is the placement of the power key. You can mistake it as the ‘delete’ key and put your laptop to sleep.
The trackpad is large but its texture is just too plasticky for my liking. It’ll take some time to get used to the trackpad and in trying to get your palms away from it during typing. Doing so will recognize it as an input which will make your cursor jump around. Good thing, though, is that it uses Windows Precision driver and can detect up to three finger swipes.
The bottom of the laptop is clean with four rubber feet and stereo speakers. You can also access the components through here as it only uses tiny screws.
Overall, the Engage Aura is a looker when placed on a tablet. Of course, one shouldn’t expect an aluminum unibody construction in the price point but the build is fine sans the occasional creaks when adjusting the tilt of the display.
Display and Multimedia
Perhaps the best factor of this laptop is its display. Despite having the same price tag of most 10″ notebooks in the market, or even cheaper, this one has a large 14-inch HD display. The display is a glossy TN panel with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and a 16:9 ratio like most budget notebooks currently in the market. It’s not IPS though but at a screen this size and price, we’re not complaining. Viewing angles are limited but color reproduction is okay and in the same league of other TN panels.
The speakers, on the other hand, are tinny and just won’t do justice to your media but if you’re in a small room, I guess it’ll suffice for a quick YouTube. There’s 3.5mm headphone jack if you wish to listen privately.
The webcam can do 720p stills and VGA video capture @ 30fps. Quality is nothing to write home about and it’s best to be in a well-lit room.
OS, Apps, and UI
It runs full Windows 10 allowing it to run desktop-grade applications including Microsoft Office, Adobe software, and others. It’s already running the Anniversary update and any future updates of Windows will be available as long it meets the minimum specs requirements.
Out of the box, 12.1GB of the 28.2GB available storage is already occupied by the OS. Although, we received a cumulative update immediately bumping its size to 14.8GB. Microsoft Office 2016 comes pre-loaded but you’ll have to purchase a license after the free-trial.
Performance and Benchmarks
The notebook is powered by an Intel Atom-x5 z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad-core processor clocked at 1.9GHz but it registers at just 1.44GHz. It has the Intel HD Gen8 as its integrated graphics unit and 2GB of RAM to handle multitasking which is quite low for today’s PC standards. Plus, it’s not user-upgradeable.
We ran into some performance issues upon initial boot. After letting Windows 10 do its update hobby, things got generally smoother. Still, the setup is underpowered for a notebook you’d want to perform well but at this price point, this is what you should expect.
The notebook is mostly for casual web browsing, typing on a document, and some light gaming. Multitasking is also a bit out of the question here so try to limit the number of running apps. Browsing while working on MS Word is not a problem, though.
We did test its read and write speeds using CrystalMark and here’s the result:
Connectivity and Ports
There are Bluetooth 4.0 LE and Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n available which covers the basic connectivity options for a notebook. There’s no 3G or LTE modem version available for mobile data connectivity.
As for physical ports, it’s got a full-sized USB 2.0 port and a faster USB 3.0 port. For connecting to an external display, there’s a Mini HDMI port.
The notebook has a 9000mAh Li-ion battery that’s sealed inside its plastic body. With our standard video loop test wherein we play a 1080p video using the default video player under Airplane Mode with 50% brightness and volume through headphones, it was able to last for 7 hours and 9 minutes.
At the end of the day, we have to commend Starmobile for releasing a laptop that’s affordable yet doesn’t sacrifice size and portability. It’s hard to find a full-blown Windows laptop under Php10k yet this one is just listed for Php7,990 in Lazada (listing here) for the silver color.
If you want to have the gold one that’s featured in this review, you’ll have to visit a Starmobile store or kiosk and shell out Php9,990 for it. If you’d ask us, we’d rather go for the cheaper one since the difference is just body color.
Starmobile Engage Aura specs:
14-inch TN display @ 1366 x 768 pixels, 16:9 ratio
1.9GHz Intel Atom-x5 Z8350 quad-core processor
Intel HD Graphics Gen8
32GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD, up to 64GB
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
1x 3.5mm headphone jack
1x Mini HDMI
1x USB 2.0
1x USB 3.0
9,000mAh Li-ion battery
351 x 233 x 20 mm
- Large 14-inch display
- Well-spaced keys
- USB 3.0
- Plasticky trackpad
- Non-upgradeable RAM