TCL has, for the longest time, been a mainstay in the entry-level market for smartphones, TVs, and tablets, targeting Asia, parts of Europe and Africa. Most Kenyans are already familiar with their line-up of TVs currently dominating the television market in the country. In an attempt to further diversify their brand, the Chinese company has announced in the just-concluded CES 2022 their first laptop intended for students and other buyers looking for a bargain.
Alongside the budget laptop, they have also announced 6 new tablets and a pair of virtual reality glasses. Further proving their focus on the entry-level market, the company has claimed the tablets and laptop will “provide educational experiences for learners of all ages”
The new laptop has been branded officially as TCL Book 14 Go and will run Windows 11 out of the box as well as having 4G LTE connectivity.
With the size already being hinted at in its name, the 14.1-inch laptop will have a resolution of 1366 x 768 and a 16:9 aspect ratio. TCL is promising the battery powering the laptop, rated at 40Wh, will be able to last for 10-12 hours, which would be perfect for a student’s daily needs if it translates to real-world performance.
Following on the steps of a few other budget notebooks, the laptop is ARM-based with the Snapdragon 7c CPU powering it, as well as having the Adreno 618 GPU for doing the heavy lifting in graphical intensive activities. The internal storage tops out at 128 GB, with an SD slot being provided as a way of getting more storage should you require it.
The laptop has been given an official listing of $349 (Ksh 39,500) but we will have to wait and see what price will be recommended once it hits Kenyan shelves later in the year.
Personally, I am not impressed at all with the specs and the pricing of the notebook. A 720p display on a laptop in 2022 is just asking for failure. Smartphones are already getting better displays at prices less than half of what the recommended retail price of this laptop is. Even users who are not particularly tech-savvy will still notice something is off with the display because of being used to higher resolutions in their other devices.
Since the notebook is targeted at students, it naturally draws comparison to a Chromebook in the same price bracket. The Chromebook 315 at around Ksh 35,000 in Kenya has a better display at 1080p (Full HD) while at the same time also having a much faster intel processor. This makes the TCL Book 14 Go a much less appealing option even before it even hits our shelves.
Running Windows 11 instead of Chrome OS is a plus for the TCL laptop, but at face value, it still looks like a terrible deal unless the Chinese company tweaks the pricing before release.
TCL might still find a way to turn this laptop into a win, either by improving the specs sheet or reducing the pricing. Both options are expensive to the company, and it will be interesting to see how they navigate its launch.