iball CompBook Excelance: For students and first-timers

iball CompBook Excelance
The past few years have seen the price of laptops on a downward spiral; of course mainstream, business and gaming systems (and of course those from Apple) still cost roughly the same, but the entry-level price has come down.

If the Micromax Lapbook breached the Rs 15,000-barrier last year (and came with the latest Windows 10 to boot), this year it is the iball CompBook Excelance's turn, available for less than Rs 10,000. The review unit, with an 11.6-inch screen, looks compact and was just a shade over 1 kg. The matte blue patterned plastic looked good but the build didn't inspire much confidence.

The unit comes with its proprietary 3.5-mm charger; surprisingly, no charging lights came on nor did the unit turn on in five minutes. Turns out I had plugged the charger into the wrong port! The notebook has two 3.5-mm ports on the right and left sides; now you have to look closely or else you'll fail to spot that the right one is the headphones/microphone port, while the left one is the charging port.

Misadventure over, I found the unit comes with two USB 2.0 ports, a miniHDMI port on the left and a microSD card expansion slot on the right. And it runs a 32-bit version of Windows 10.

While this notebook isn't made for gaming due to the Atom processor and 2GB of RAM (and the 32GB of onboard memory), it does handle browsing and office/college work without any hitches. The keyboard, while cramped, isn't overtly uncomfortable and was good enough to type during my daily commute. And Microsoft Word also works without a hitch. But what proves to be the Excelance's undoing is its multi-touch touchpad. While the left click and multi-touch gestures work without hassles, it's nigh impossible to coax a right click out of the PC. Also, the cursor seems to have a mind of its own, especially while typing.

The screen is sharp and has good viewing angles but is a bit too reflective for my liking. The speakers are quite loud and didn't crack up even after cranking up the volume. The battery should last through a work day, provided one doesn't watch videos or listen to music.

The iball CompBook Excelance, at Rs 9,999, is a good bet for a first-time buyer or a student. Just invest in an expansion card and cables.