Back in September, I purchased the Robo & Kala 2 in 1 Laptop. I was looking for tablet that specifically ran Windows. Unfortunately, Windows tablets are few and far between, and those that exist are quite underpowered. That’s not to say that this device is a powerhouse, and we’ll talk about that more in a moment. But I was about to travel internationally for the first time in many years, and I was looking for a laptop that met two important requirements: battery life, and lightweight.
The Robo & Kala 2 in 1 is a tablet with a detachable keyboard, similar to the Microsoft Surface. Impressively, the keyboard works via Bluetooth when fully detached, but will recharge its internal battery just by being reconnected to the base tablet. The entire devices charges via USB-C. It includes a 512GB SSD, which gave me ample storage space for downloading movies from YouTube Premium before my flight. It packed 16GB of RAM meaning its performance when jumping between a few basic applications and multiple browsers, each with multiple tabs open, was no problem at all. Most impressively: this was all happening using the Windows 11 Home edition of Windows on ARM.
Yes, the lightweight tablet formfactor was met by this device coming in at a mere 2.3 pounds, according to it’s Amazon specs, or only 1.5 pounds (690 grams) according to their official website. The battery life I was targeting was absolutely decimated by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, 3.0 Ghz, which seems to downclock itself to 1.44Ghz to preserve battery life, a feature I’m not opposed to.
Yes, despite the Surface Hot Bag issue going back to at least 2016, trying tons of registry tricks and BIOS adjustments, unplugging the laptop before shutting it down, and even just using Windows 10 or Kubuntu Linux instead of Windows 11 on my HP laptop, the computer experienced phantom battery drain any time I wasn’t using it. Rapidly, too. Sometimes in as little as 48 hours in my bag, I would pull out a computer that was otherwise fully charged and it would be dead or nearly dead. I was frustrated, and knowing that I would be traveling, I wanted to have an ARM based Windows portable.
Trouble was, in 2023, I was pretty much limited to the Surface Pro X from 2019! That was, until I heard about the Robo and Kala. Yes, research has been done to pretty much prove that it’s a re-badge of a Chinese tablet, the QX122. It only comes in this blueish-green color, which wouldn’t be my first choice. And, to be completely honest, the bezel is SO small that it makes using it as a tablet kind of frustrating! Add to that the fact that the Snapdragon 8cx is nice in phones, even the 3rd generation version was quite underpowered in a laptop. A beautiful 12.6″ OLED display featuring 2560×1600/16:10 resolution and 600 nits of brightness was perfect for my flight and pulling this thing out on the train while traveling. But if you wanted to sit down and get work done, I hope you’re planning on treating it like a thin client and using Remote Desktop to work somewhere else. Scoring just 380 points in Cinebench 2024.0.0’s ARM version multi-core CPU benchmark, it wasn’t the most impressive device I had ever used.
Still, can I justify the price point? At the time I ordered it, it was on sale for $679.99. The official website as well official store page on Amazon constantly have sales bringing the price down from the typically advertised “$799” price point. For me, coming in at $680, it was just a hair higher than what I was hoping to spend at the time, but it met and exceeded my needs, so I pulled the trigger.
Again, more than anything, I wanted a battery that lasted. It survived intermittent use on a trans-Atlantic flight, watching movies and pre-downloaded YouTube videos in airplane mode with no problems. It stuffed in my bag with no issues and paired with my Bluetooth headphones making for an easy listening experience to listen to music and podcasts. I only needed to charge it once while I was on my trip, and more importantly, after I returned home, I didn’t end up using the tablet for 3 weeks. I have no idea what the state of charge was when I had last used it, I know I had used it some on my flight from France back to the United States — but even after three weeks of sitting idle, Windows on ARM was sitting happy at over 60% battery life.
Also, adding to the fact that it is a Windows on ARM device, although I haven’t thrown all that much at it, so far, I have not found a single x86 application that it failed to emulate. I admit, as an IT Professional, I could have done more to put it through its paces on that front, but at the end of each day, I just treat it as another Windows device without thinking about the fact that it has to emulate x86 behaviors when running certain programs. I install the programs I want and they just run.
The Robo & Kala 2-in-1 is NOT a tablet for everyone. But if you aren’t expecting an extremely performant machine and you’re looking for an excellent travel companion that will allow you to keep in touch and keep yourself entertained, I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed in this device.
The Good: The extreme battery life including reliability when shut down.
The bad: The tiny bezels make it difficult to use as a tablet: you accidentally touch the screen when you don’t mean to.
Nit pick: I wish it was slightly larger so that it could include a 10-key number pad.
This article is not sponsored, not an ad, not solicited in any way; just my own meandering thoughts on a tablet I purchased for the purpose of traveling with nearly 3 months ago.