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Nobody expected that - Microsoft Surface Pro is a challenge from China

Nobody expected that - Microsoft Surface Pro is a challenge from China

When asked if I wanted to give it a try, I didn’t believe it existed.

Plus, it’s not a weak notebook because Microsoft Surface typically uses Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, while the KUU LeBook runs an Intel Core i7 processor.


 

Introductory

Anyone who reads my articles knows that sometimes I complain a little bit that nothing interesting has happened in recent years, at least with testers ’eyes.

But, if I want to be very honest, this problem didn’t start recently. I started my testing career more than 20 years ago, then still on the PC line. But then I burned out. That is, this is not accurate. Let's just say I lost interest.

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New motherboards, processors, memories have come, but nothing real breakthroughs. Nothing like when we put 3Dfx Voodoo 1 in our machine and the 3D world unfolded on the monitor. Anyone who remembers this knows what it was like when we first saw the 3D landscape below us from an aircraft simulator. My eyes turn to tears when I remember.

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So I got bored. Then came the 3D displays, TVs, I dug myself into it. Active glasses, passive glasses LG IPS panel, NVIDIA glasses. I thought it would be the future, but I was wrong.

Then came the phones, but they didn't care much anymore either. For years, I haven’t found an improvement that is REALLY something of a trend reversal.

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Nowadays, robot vacuum cleaners are the most moving, I love watching the delicacies that programmers program into their little brains. As they map out our apartment, they recognize the objects coming in front of them as they maneuver. That’s when I realize I’m still in love with technology.

And why did I write this long introduction?

Just because a surprise came from there, one that made my eyes shine, from which I really didn’t expect it, from the PC world! And not because it’s some orbital big technological milestone, but because I got a machine to test from a company that I’ve only waved generously at so far. One in a million notebook manufacturers from China…

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This company is KUU. Haven't heard of it yet? I don't admire it. I've had two notebooks from them, and while they were very good in terms of price-performance, they were no different from the other many hundreds of Chinese notes in which the cheapest Celeron processor worked. It had SSD storage, a relatively large amount of memory and plenty of plastic enclosures.

KUU is a Finnish word meaning moon in Hungarian. But why a Chinese notebook manufacturer calls its machines a moon in Finnish, I don’t know.

If there was a company that I didn’t expect anything interesting, really quality, then this was KUU. But what life is like, it was from them that a machine arrived that targeted no less competitor than Microsoft, perhaps its most interesting machine (s), the Surface Pro family.

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This article will show how successful the attempt was, ie whether it is possible to produce the quality and performance of Microsoft Surface at a much lower price, specifically at half price.

Let's cut into it!


 

What is Surface, what is KUU LeBook?

According to the official technical term, these are 2 in 1 machines. This practically means that we get a tablet running Windows and a notebook at the same time. So the difference between a traditional tablet and a 2 in 1 machine will be the keyboard externally, but there is one more thing, perhaps more importantly, the hardware.

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This is because, although they look like a tablet, inside, behind the display, they essentially reside in a complete notebook. Plus, it’s not a weak notebook because Microsoft Surface typically uses Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, while the KUU LeBook runs an Intel Core i7 processor.

So in short.

The 2 in 1 machines are powerfully equipped tablets with the same capabilities as notebooks, for which the manufacturer (Microsoft optionally) also manufactures a keyboard.

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Paper form

In this chapter, we get to know the machine, the hardware, and of course the exterior!

External

An essential part of the KUU LeBook, i.e. where the hardware resides, it is only 9,5 millimeters thick and has dimensions of 205 x 288 millimeters and weighs only 859 grams (+300 grams for the keyboard). Everything from this motherboard to the processor to the display should fit in this thickness and in this housing. This, not just the LeBook, but all similar machines is a real engineering feat.

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According to the manufacturer’s description, the Surface and LeBook don’t seem to be any different, but that’s just the appearance. The Chinese manufacturer claims that the best CNC casting process they use in the industry is a much better solution than Microsoft’s metal stamping process. I don’t want to be an arbitrator on this issue, my knowledge is not enough to make a decision.

The fact that the LeBook’s housing looks terribly hard is a trace of bending when hand-pushed, as if it were all made up of an array. In addition to the discussion, the assembly is first-class, the materials, the design, and the way the connectors sit in the metal housing show that we are facing a high-end machine here.

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Of course, the machine housing is made of metal in all its flavors, there is no place for plastic here. The workmanship is eye-catching from the last small speaker grille to the hinged back hinge.

With regard to the exterior, there are a few more things worth talking about!

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One is that the bottom half of the back cover can be folded out, so this serves as a support for the machine when used as a notebook. The folding angle can be a maximum of ~ 140-150 degrees, which means that you can use the display at any angle, from almost completely horizontal to fully vertical.

Holding the machine in hand, we find a speaker grille and two USB Type-C ports on the front left. There is a grid along the top edge, here the warm air leaves the machine, towards the left corner is the power button. On the right is a 3,5 jack, a volume control, and at the bottom is the grille of the other member of the stereo speaker pair.

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There’s one more thing on this page, but it doesn’t show here you can attach the stylus that came with the machine. A magnet was used for this, which is a convenient solution.

The bottom edge is left, but here’s nothing more than enough to fix the keyboard, and of course the keyboard connector.

Keyboard

The keyboard of the machine is also made of Alcantara material from Italy, which is often used in luxury goods and sports cars. Its advantages are durability and easy cleaning, soft touch and unique texture.

Interestingly, while Alcantara is the material on the cover and buttons on the side of the Surface, the cover is a bit rubbery on the KUU LeBook. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, I think it’s a matter of taste and habit.

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The keyboard has an American layout, which is a disadvantage, but as far as I know, there is no Hungarian layout available for Microsoft Surface, so anyone looking for a machine of this category must be satisfied with it.

Significantly, despite the ultra-slim design, the keyboard has been correctly backlit. A point of good strength, neither too much nor too little, adds a lot to the sense of quality.

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The size of the touchpad is right in my opinion. We can't find clickable buttons on it, but they are there in their usual place. The advantage of the design is that the part above the buttons is also touch-sensitive, so we can control the mouse pointer from a larger area.

As I wrote, at Microsoft, the keyboard is optional, meaning we can buy a machine without it. If my memories don't cheat, the price of the extra keyboard starts at around 50 thousand forints. In the case of the KUU LeBook, on the other hand, the keyboard is part of the package, and in the box you will also find a stylus (i.e. a pencil) with which you can scribble on the screen.

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Display

To be able to scribble on the screen, you obviously need the screen to be touch sensitive, this is the default for a tablet. However, it is nowhere near that this touch-sensitive 12,6-inch IPS display has a resolution of no less than 2160 x 1440 pixels, or 2,5K. The display is not in resolution, but in size it surpasses Microsoft Surface, which has 2736 x 1824 pixels on a 12,3-inch screen.

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Regarding the display, what we can still know is that the image refresh rate is 60 Hz, and the viewing angle is the usual for IPS panels, ie it is extremely wide, 178 degrees. The sRGB color space coverage is approx. 90 percent, just below 70 percent for AdobeRGB.

Hardware

The soul of the machine can come, that is, the processor. In this respect, the KUU LeBook is closer to the previous Surface 6 series, not the newer Surface 7. This is reflected in the fact that the Core i7 processor in it still belongs to the 8xxx family, not to this year's 11xxx. This, of course, doesn’t detract much from his knowledge, as the Core i7 two years ago is also a strong proci, especially if you have to run a tablet.

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But anyway. The performance of such a processor is already paramount. You can crop video, edit pictures, or even play. Of course, the latter is somewhat hampered by the fact that the graphics controller is the Intel HD Graphics 620.

So, the machine works with the Intel Core i7-8550U, which has 4 physical cores, which are able to execute instructions on two threads each. The clock signal of the cores varies between 1,8 and 4 GHz depending on the load. As this is a U-marked proci, we know that it is designed for low-power, specifically portable machines, so the heat output is also low (max TDP 15 watts). At the same time, perhaps because of the very thin engine housing, we also get active cooling in the machine.

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There is enough storage and memory, the former 8 and the latter 512 GB. 8GB of DDR4 (8192MB, 10-10-10-28, dual-channel) is already standard, especially with such a processor, but the M.2’s 512GB SSD storage is far from the usual size. In the case of Surface, 512 GB is only available in the top price range, which typically means half a million forints.

Other skills

I have already touched the connectors on the outside. I still have a comment on these. On the one hand, the welcome to get a USB Type-C connector is the future. I would like to highlight and give a huge red dot for the fact that, according to the description, these connectors are full-fledged, which means that not only can we charge through them, but we can also use them to connect an external monitor, for example.

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However, I miss the traditional USB a bit, I think one of these could have accessed the machine. Especially because there is no memory card reader. I can only rate this with a black dot. But, if we no longer have a memory card reader, we could plug in at least one conventional flash drive. Even if we had a USB A connector.

We also have two-channel Wifi and Bluetooth for wireless connection. We also get cameras, backwards from a 5- forward to a 2 megapixel.

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Another very good thing by the end. A fingerprint reader was also well hidden on the machine. Understand hiding is that the power button on the top edge is the fingerprint reader, so if you enter your fingerprint, it will be recognized by the machine at power-on and will be enabled without a password, PIN, or other ID.

Szoftver

The machine is running Windows 10 Pro, of course a legal, activatable copy. There are two very important things I need to highlight about the operating system. One is that we often find all sorts of crap-installed systems on Chinese machines, and we can often find that changing the language, for example, is not smooth either.

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Well, with the KUU LeBook, there will be no problem with this, Windows is completely factory. So much so that once it detects where we are geographically, it is already switching the system to Hungarian. So no magic, you don't have to download the Hungarian language, everything goes the way it was invented at Microsoft.

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The other important thing is that the machine is capable of running Windows 11. Of course, I also checked this with the Compatibility Wizard, and this program also said that it could come in 11. That is, since the machine is running legal Windows 10, the upgrade to Windows 11 will be free.


 

Experiences

Of course, I ran a lot of tests, but since there was nothing to compare (I don’t really come across any evaluable computer hardware lately), so I compared the results of the measurements with the numbers on the net.

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I started with the 3D Mark, although I guessed I wasn’t going to love the LeBook because of the 3D capabilities. So it was. The 1892 point (720p) is roughly what you would expect from machines of similar strength. In practice, this means that if we want to play with the new titles, we can only do so with strong compromises, while in the case of older programs that are already a few years old, we get an already appreciable graphic experience.

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PCMark is more of a terrain for this machine, as it allows us to measure capabilities that occur in everyday work. Due to this, I rate the 3720 points I received as good. Again, it’s not outstanding, it’s rather average, but it’s good, it shows that the LeBook is nothing worse than the much more expensive machines in the category.

Likewise, I found no difference in either memory or mass storage speeds, all of which were values ​​that could be expected from such hardware.

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Let's see the negatives.

Two shortcomings I mentioned above are the lack of a card reader and a USB A port. In addition to these, I came across two other things worth mentioning.

One is the sound of the machine cooling. Unfortunately, this is louder than we might expect. It’s not crazy, it doesn’t make the machine unusable, but unfortunately it turns on and off pretty often, making it look even louder.

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I solved the problem by changing the maximum power of the processor from 100 to 75 percent in the power management profile, in battery mode. On the one hand, this is good for battery life, and on the other hand, the cooling is switched on much less often. This seems like a good solution, and it remains just enough.

The other problem is with the keyboard. Although the back facing the hinge is soft rubber, it is not yet soft enough for the back of the keyboard to reach the table when the display is tilted back. This makes the typing comfort not very good, the keyboard “floats” a little above the tabletop.

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I note that the bad feeling decreased during the test, my tip is that the rubber part will release some after a while, and the bad, floating feeling will be most experienced on wild new machines.

There is one more thing, and that is the resolution of the display. Originally, the manufacturer mentions a resolution of 2880 x 1920 everywhere, but there seems to be a last-minute change to the panel because, in reality, the resolution is 2160 x 1440 pixels. Nor is it small, but it is smaller than the resolution of the Surface Pro (2736 x 1824).

Well, the good news is that there was so much bad, from here I can only talk about the LeBook in superlatives.

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If someone has already caught a similar, high-end machine, a Microsoft Surface or a Dell Latitude 12 7210 or similar, they know that these are approx. they come with a status symbol like a phone over half a million. These machines are the pinnacle or cream of truly portable machines, or we can put it anyway, the best.

It is a very good feeling to own and use such a machine, and we get this feeling completely from the KUU LeBook as well. The exterior, the housing gives a real premium feeling, it does not lag behind the more famous and at the same time much more expensive competitors.

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It is comfortable to use and, of course, hassle-free. Aside from the “floating” mentioned above, the keyboard is also good, maybe just the buttons on the touchpad could click a little easier.

We actually get everything from this machine that we would expect from a notebook of a similar category. And the fact that enough iron was packed into a tablet feels quite fantastic.

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One more thing at the end, and that is the stylus that came with the LeBook. Needless to say, in addition to an i7 proci, using it is also close to perfect. The delay is minimal, so you can take notes or draw with it as you like. I really like that because of the magnet, it’s always there at hand, “glued” to the side of the display.

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Summary

I think I’ve described everything, maybe you can feel from the article that if not fully, I’m happy with the KUU LeBook. There are four points that could have been fixed, but I think these are not dangerous problems, and if we look at how much cheaper the machine is than the competing Microsoft Surface Pro, these little things don’t hurt so much anymore.

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If you liked the machine, you can buy it at Amazon. The price is currently, a U5FND8NO with a coupon code instead of 263 thousand forints 247 thousand forints, which could be a lot, but not that, the cheapest Surface Pro is also a good 100 thousand forints more expensive than this, and a machine with 512 GB of storage will double.

If you want to buy, you can do so at the following link:

KUU LeBook 2 is a computer in one

 

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About the Author

s3nki

Owner of the HOC.hu website. He is the author of hundreds of articles and thousands of news. In addition to various online interfaces, he has written for Chip Magazine and also for the PC Guru. For a time, he ran his own PC shop, working for years as a store manager, service manager, system administrator in addition to journalism.