When Teclast sent Android Headlines its Teclast F15S for review, I freely admit I wasn't optimistic. This isn't a brand that I was familiar with since it's not typically seen in the US.
That predisposition was wholly undeserved, however. And that's something that only became more and more apparent as my review continued. Instead of disappointed, despite relatively weak underpinning components, Teclast left me pleasantly surprised at nearly every turn.
Of course, the Teclast F15S isn't going to be a great laptop for gaming. At least not if you aren't using a streaming service such as Stadia. But it is going to be a great option, among the best for its price tag, for everything else. From schooling virtually to working from home, this laptop could easily be among the best for the money.
Let's dig into exactly why that is.
The hardware here is well-built and the 'feel' during use is about average
One of the best aspects of this device's hardware is its trackpad. Not necessarily because of its design, though. The clickers — this isn't a trackpad that can be clicked just anywhere — aren't marked out or split by a tactile line, for starters. So it requires muscle memory when it comes to right- and left-clicking. Which can be annoying to adjust to but isn't at all a deal-breaker. Especially since tap and double-tap actions work properly.
Moreover, the clickers are also much tighter than other machines I've used over the years. And that made clicking feel just slightly more difficult than it should. But that didn't seem to wear-in during my review of the Teclast F15, either. So that's something that's probably going to stick around. And, at the very least, it speaks to the quality of the build. But some users may find the trackpad clicker uncomfortable.
But the trackpad here is also huge, taking up around a third of the remaining space below the keyboard. In fact, it's a simple task to simply swipe the mouse around the entire screen without lifting the finger up again after starting. So it's incredibly accurate.
Conversely, the keyboard feels slightly too tight and just a little too deep in terms of keystroke distance. That took some getting used to and, once adapted to, it wasn't the most comfortable keyboard to type on. But it simultaneously wasn't too difficult or uncomfortable. So that's not going to be a deal-breaker either.
Aside from the trackpad and keyboard, one of the most interesting aspects noted during my review of Teclast F15S was its easily-expanded storage. The company made that possible with the removal of just a couple of fasteners. But we'll cover that a bit later on.
Teclast also included a charger that allows for convenient use during travel. Instead of having to go buy an adapter, the wall plug here is swappable. And the alternate plugs are included in the box. So you can charge this wherever you are, without needing to spend any extra money. All by simply switching out the end on the wall adapter.
And all of that hardware is packed into a firm, inflexible aluminum alloy shell. So it feels as good as its blade-like modern design looks. And should hold up at least as well.
A Full HD display with wide viewing angles is a hallmark for this laptop
The display topping the overall build, backed in metal just like the rest of this laptop, is more than acceptable for the price. That's because, although it isn't the brightest — becoming somewhat challenging to see in direct sunlight — it is high-resolution. Telecast packed its F15S with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution IPS panel and that worked wonderfully under review.
Better still, that's a 15.6-inch panel, with relatively slim bezels set at under three-quarters of an inch thin. So you're getting a lot of screen real-estate with great clarity and a respectable refresh rate for under $400.
Color accuracy is relatively great as well, although I'd have liked to see more contrast. As are viewing angles. I found during my review of the Teclast F15S that viewing was still quite good even at almost 160- to 170-degrees angle. That's in both vertical and horizontal directions.
Now, this isn't a touch screen. But that's not surprising with regard to the price and saves cost on including a lay-flat or folding display. Instead, the panel can be tilted back to a comfortable 120- to 140-degrees — the company doesn't specify. The angle is great for comfort and the hinge feels rock-solid.
For video output, this laptop does support UHD content at 4K.
Battery life is middling for this Teclast F15S laptop but not at all bad
On battery life, this Teclast clamshell is going to be like any other laptop or electronic. That is to say, the battery life will be extremely subjective. Now, for my test, I left the screen brightness maxed all the way out. And I also tuned the battery optimizations to lean toward performance instead of efficiency. So those who make use of Windows battery-saving features will almost certainly see better battery life than I did.
From there, I tested the battery by simply using the device for four charges and finding the mean average. At the low end, I saw the battery last just short of four-and-a-half hours. That day included more than an hour of firmware updates, some software installation, and a few other battery-intensive tasks. At the upper end, I saw 8-hours and 45-minutes of use. And the average came in at just short of 7-hours overall.
So battery life will vary based on use but, for the mixed-use users this laptop is aimed at, it should be fairly good. With consideration for the screen size and relatively inexpensive hardware here, that isn't at all bad. In fact, it's right around average based on my experiences with Windows overall. But charging is one area that I really felt could be improved.
A full charge-up, with the included adapter, took just 12-minutes short of 3-hours. It would have been nice to see faster charging than this, given that the battery won't last a full day for some users. But the timeframe isn't unexpected for a laptop in this price bracket either, so this Teclast F15S laptop does alright under review on both fronts.
Performance from Teclast F15S was better than expected
With all of that said, this definitely isn't the most powerful computer on the market today. It packs an Apollo Lake-series processor, just for starters. And that's an Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor. With a clock of just 1.1GHz up to 2.4GHz, multitasking isn't going to be a strong suit for this laptop. Or at least it won't if you're running Chrome and multiple other apps or software titles at the same time.
Given that hardware, in fact, it may be tempting to assume this laptop isn't going to be good for much at all. But not only did the hardware here exceed my expectations, thanks largely to its 8GB RAM. It performed well under just about every day-to-day circumstance I threw its way.
I was able to do some light photo editing, listen to music, use Chrome for work with more than a dozen tabs open, and run a couple of other apps easily. The processing of editing photos was slower than I'd liked to have seen. Meaning that it takes a bit more time to save photos. And, with all of that running, Chrome didn't respond as quickly as I might have liked. Or at least not as well as I've come to expect as a long-time Chromebook user.
However, I was able to get everything finished that was required. And I didn't become too frustrated while doing so. Plus, this laptop features the latest Microsoft Edge browser, phone linking, and more that we'll discuss in the software segment. So it can be a much better experience than Chrome tends to offer on Windows, just for starts. And the latest features haven't been abandoned because of weaker hardware. Instead, each performs just about how I'd expect it to, without frustration.
So this laptop will do perfectly as a mixed-use device. Especially for a light workload from home or as a secondary family device. Or for school.
Audio is decidedly not great, at least not from the speakers
You may have noticed that there weren't any speaker images in the hardware segment above. That's because, for Teclast F15S, the speakers appear to be tucked into the hinge — which didn't work at all under review. Or In fact, the experience was neither clear nor balanced. Bass tones were muddy and almost indiscernible. The speakers lose a significant amount of the middle frequencies in the mix. And highs had a metallic tinge.
The audio via Bluetooth and headphones did not suffer the same issues. In fact, the contrast was effectively night and day. So the problem really does seem to be the placement of the speakers, at the very least. Although, at this price, the speaker hardware could easily be to blame.
The mics, to the contrary, performed exactly how I'd expect them to. As did the associated camera, albeit in standard HD quality. So there shouldn't be any issues, at least on the input side, when it comes to video conferencing or chatting.
Software is Windows 10 and all that entails
Now, I did notice one concerning issue with the hardware upon the initial setup for my review of Teclast F15S. Namely, it wouldn't log into my Microsoft account. The software hung up on the PIN setup screen. But disconnecting from the WiFi and setting up fixed that issue and it would appear that the problem wasn't with the computer but with Windows.
Once logged in, the software here is all Windows 10 Home edition. There aren't a whole lot of extras and nothing really that can't be removed easily. Primarily, what's installed out-of-the-box is Microsoft software and similar productivity software.
That means that, given that the experience was relatively smooth throughout my tests, this will deliver the Windows 10 experience that you'd expect. Teclast doesn't preinstall a bunch of junk OEM software.
Connectivity is well-thought-out, expandable storage was unexpected surprise
Connectivity with Teclast F15S was exactly as expected under review. Its dual-band WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 worked brilliantly, and up to the expectations I had for them. At least on a 200Mbps network and at least with a few different Bluetooth headsets.
There's no full-size HDMI port and there wasn't any way to hard-line the computer directly into the internet though. And that's something users are going to want to be aware of. Instead, this laptop is WiFi-only and utilizes a Mini HDMI for external displays. That latter port worked exactly as expected too, with no lag or other unwanted issues.
In terms of other inputs and outputs, those are a bit on the minimal side but that's not unwarranted. Especially with consideration for the price here. Two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a MicroSD card slot are part of the build. There's also a headphone jack and a barrel-style charging port.
One noteworthy difference though is that Teclast ensures easy access to expand the storage. There's an M.2 2280 SATA port tucked under a separate door on the underside of the keyboard. So you could, with relative ease, unscrew just a couple of fasteners and quickly expand on the included 128GB eMMC storage. The port supports up to a 1TB SSD.
Is Teclast F15S worth its asking price?
Even if you are a tech-savvy power user, there's a good chance you've never heard of Teclast. But the Teclast F15S proves, as shown in this review, that doesn't mean you should ignore the brand. This laptop performed better than expected, with gusto, all from behind an all-metal body. And with a screen that's both large and clear.
The trackpad and keyboard, although saddled by a learning curve, are comfortable enough for long-term use. And Teclast did a great job ensuring that the essential plugs and ports you'd want in a laptop are accounted for. The only real complaint I could lodge about the hardware is in the audio.
On the software side, although this is Windows 10 on comparatively weak internals, performance is more than adequate. At least for most day-to-day users. Teclast manages to carry that over to heavier tasks too. Tasks that are comparable to those needed for education or working from home. All without heating up. Just so long as multitasking doesn't get too intense.
If it's a question of whether this the best laptop on the market, that answer will obviously be "no." There are much more powerful machines available for quite a bit more money. But for its price, Teclast F15S is a decent laptop that's well suited for first-time users. Or for those who need a reliable laptop.