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Topton L4 | Revenge of the Netbook?

C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2021-12-13 2:00 PM
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The recent resurgence of a number of small form factor keyboard-equipped devices has been heartening to see over the last couple of year. The market place has been flush with several different manufacturers who have been jostling for a position in the market based upon a wide range of factors. Yet is price really a key factor in the decision making of those of us who appreciate such small footprint device? And just how low is too low when it comes to price?

Robert Jones dives into the Topton L4 (and its plethora of different third party brand identities) to assess the competencies and performance of what is perhaps by far the cheapest contender in the 2021 sub-notebook device category. Can the L4 live up to the hype of its Chinese no-brand (and completely anonymous) manufacturer and is it an effective competitor to the likes of the GPD Pocket at a killer pricing point in an increasingly crowded market?

Read Robert's review at the link below and let us know your thoughts on the Topton L4 (etc, etc, etc.) here on the forums.

View: Topton L4


If you think you have got what it takes to write a review here on HPC:Factor and have something you'd like to review, get in touch!
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WallyB110 Page Icon Posted 2021-12-13 5:58 PM
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I was about to buy this a few weeks ago and held out for this review. Glad i did, Battery life is bad. 2 hours or so :-(

Getting a J720 instead ;-)

-Walt B

Thank you so much for the review ;-)
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-12-13 7:17 PM
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WallyB110 - 2021-12-13 5:58 PM

I was about to buy this a few weeks ago and held out for this review. Glad i did, Battery life is bad. 2 hours or so :-(

Getting a J720 instead ;-)

-Walt B

Thank you so much for the review ;-)


Glad to have been of service! I was expecting a few compromises for the price, but it's just so poorly implemented (IMO) that it's not pleasurable to use for more than a very short time. I think you'll have a lot more fun with the J720, even with its limitations some 20+ years after release there's just something about it that makes you want to find excuses to use it. I had one for a short time (sold to fund my other projects) and found myself taking it with me everywhere, using it to take notes, run timers, play games and just generally tinker with.
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dl1av Page Icon Posted 2021-12-15 3:11 PM
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OK, this one is really cheap - indeed. You get what you pay for, so it may be usable for some tasks one used a Raspberry Pie with an external display before.

On the other end of the line is a new GPD-convertible as a follow-up for the GPDmicro-PC.

It looks promising, convertible touch screen, all the ports one could need (including RS232) and a decent power. All in ones hand with about the same dimensions as the micro-pc.

But.... the price-tag is also "awesome" and it is expected to sell for about 1500USD after the just starting Indiegogo-campaign.

I love these cute devices and they remind me of the old days of the palmtops but they are less practical to use than a palmtop 30 years ago. Today there is no extra software developed for them, no organizer for the use on the go and on these little displays. They all run in full-HD and with the common PC-software which depends on bigger and bigger screens over the last decades. Without any optimized software they are "nice to have" and "cool for meetings" but to play with my agenda or to iterate with some calculations I prefer to have a minimum of a 13" display to do serious work.

Personally I use a MicroPC and I am in the queue for an Astro but this is only for geek-fun and not for business




Edited by dl1av 2021-12-15 3:22 PM
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-12-17 11:51 PM
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dl1av - 2021-12-15 3:11 PM

I love these cute devices and they remind me of the old days of the palmtops but they are less practical to use than a palmtop 30 years ago. Today there is no extra software developed for them, no organizer for the use on the go and on these little displays. They all run in full-HD and with the common PC-software which depends on bigger and bigger screens over the last decades. Without any optimized software they are "nice to have" and "cool for meetings" but to play with my agenda or to iterate with some calculations I prefer to have a minimum of a 13" display to do serious work.



I agree - Although both Windows and KDE / Plasma have got quite a long way in becoming more touch-friendly there are not a lot of applications yet that work well with touchscreens and especially not on small screens - Terminal-based stuff is great but for most of what I do at the terminal in either OS I don't need much processing power at all, so I may as well be using an ARM-based device and benefit from the better battery life and cooler running. I'm not much of a fan of Android but I think it might be the best option at the moment for small touchscreen devices - So maybe the Gemini / Cosmo / Astro machines are the way to go for now, unless you really need Windows or a more powerful CPU. My biggest issue there is that quite a few apps don't work so well in 'landscape' orientation - I'd be interested to hear how you get on with your Astro though!

Edited by robertojones 2021-12-17 11:53 PM
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dl1av Page Icon Posted 2021-12-20 4:09 AM
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The guys at Planet Computers take their time to finish the product (also chip shortage kicks in), so I think the Astro will arrive by end of Q1/2022 the earliest. Maybe I try a Cosmo first.

As a daily driver I use a Doogee S80. It is like from the "slate" portable computing category of 2002, reminds me of my Fujitsu-Siemens of that time. It is big enough to use it with keyboard and mouse but the Android stuff is not really fit for the landscape mode and other HID than the touchscreen.
There are a few applications that make good use of landscape mode (amateur radio stuff for decoding teletype and fax) but overall it is just an Android cellphone.
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WallyB110 Page Icon Posted 2021-12-20 5:26 AM
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Astro ?
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dl1av Page Icon Posted 2021-12-20 8:28 AM
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WallyB110 - 2021-12-20 6:26 AM

Astro ?


https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/astro-slide-5g-transformer/x/2071...


The engineer from the former Psion PLC is involved and responsible for the design (Martin Riddiford)

Edited by dl1av 2021-12-20 8:31 AM
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timob0 Page Icon Posted 2021-12-20 10:44 AM
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Many thanks for the review! Very thorough and to the point :-)
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2021-12-31 7:19 PM
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Ah, it's arrived on the Google first page finally (with its star rating) if you search for: Topton L4
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