Alcatel is usually associated with high-value, low-price phones which it sells both under its own brand and as an OEM for other brands. Here is a very-low-end laptop-cum-tablet 2-in-1 combo that comes with a giveaway, $558 price tag but availability comes primarily as part of post-paid Vodafone plans where it's $8 per month on a $20 plan or free on a $30 plan (which is naturally much better value). So, is it any good?
The 12-inch tablet portion feels solid and well-built and belies its budget price tag. The folio-style, cloth-covered keyboard case is surprisingly sturdy but it doesn't act as a firm prop for the tablet when in laptop mode – you'll need to keep it on a flat surface that doesn't get jarred too often or it will easily collapse. Nonetheless, the keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to use and well laid-out. The trackpad works as expected and the 11.6-inch, full HD screen is sharp, has good viewing angles, decent colour reproduction and gets reasonably bright. It' all very usable. There's even an "Active stylus" to use on the touchscreen and this worked adequately. It can be stored in a fabric loop attached to the base.
So far so good but what are its limitations? Well they don't take long to materialise. The dual-core Celeron N3350 processor has a stock speed of just 1.1GHz (which can Turbo-Boost to 2.5GHz). It's flanked by just 4GB of RAM and a pitiful 32GB SSD. The latter is further limited by Windows 10 taking up 15GB of that space. When Windows insisted on an upgrade which required 8GB of space to perform, we did not have much room to manoeuvre and had to uninstall several apps. You'll likely need to make use of the microSD card slot and the cloud.
It also scored 1059 in PCMark 10 but Futuremark informs us that this is better than zero per cent of all other runs. It scored 1430 in PCMark 10 Express.
The 6900mAh battery ran the PCMark 8 battery test for an impressive three hours eight minutes. It played our Full HD movie (at moderate brightness and with earbuds) for four hours 20 minutes. You won't get through a day of work but at least the charger is the same size as a phone charger. This combined with its diminutive dimensions of 284 x 125 x 8mm and weighing only 599g means it's still very portable.
Other features include a USB-C slot (also used for charging) and a mini-USB port. There's a volume rocker and a power-button which doubles as an effective fingerprint reader. But not much else. There's a basic, five-megapixel, front-facing camera and the speakers don't get very loud and have no bass to speak of. But that's all to be expected. Ultimately, it’s like a big phone that uses an Intel processor and runs windows.
Despite everything, it performed Office tasks and interacting with cloud apps with aplomb. If you need a basic laptop that's borderline disposable but runs most, full Windows apps, then it's an attractive choice for those on a limited budget.