Keyboard and touchpad are borderline unusable; Screen is low-resolution; Speakers are quiet
Even for $199, the iRulu Walknbook 2 is a bad deal because of its awful keyboard, inaccurate touchpad and weak performance.
Don’t call this a review — it’s a public service announcement. iRulu touts its $199 Walknbook 2 (W20) detachable 2-in-1 as a budget productivity machine, but it’s more likely to produce a headache than your next quarterly report. Its Atom processor can’t handle multitasking, and its keyboard and touchpad are among the worst I’ve ever used. The detachable display is surprisingly colorful for a 2-in-1 that’s this cheap, but its weak performance and awful usability make it impossible to recommend.
Nearly everything about the Walknbook’s design gives me pause. While I appreciated the bright-green tablet (it also comes in orange), it looks like it’s from another era. It has a giant, black bezel around the 10.1-inch screen, with a Windows logo on the bottom (the kind you saw on Windows 8 tablets). The black back is an extreme fingerprint magnet. It features the iRulu logo in gray, as well as prominent Intel and Windows logos and a lot of ugly text that other companies go out of their way to hide, like the model number and wattage details.
The keyboard cover is ill-fitting and awkward. It connects to the tablet with five pogo pins and a few magnets, and wraps around the tablet when not in use. As a case, it’s straightforward to use, but setting it up as a laptop is a pain. First, opening the case so that the screen is faceup and ready to go is impossible — it opens facedown. Instead, you have to lift the tablet and then fold the back side of the case like origami for it to sit straight up.
There are no instructions on how to do this, but there are some folds on the case. However, my first instinct was to fold it in a way that was secure on the desk, but it fell over in my lap. Eventually, I found a way to keep it up in either scenario. But while it was sturdy on my desk, it was very wobbly in my lap. The keyboard cover has a piece of fabric that hangs off of the bottom of the keyboard. In theory, you could use this as a wrist rest, but I found it distracting, especially in my lap.
At 1.3 pounds and 10.2 x 7 x 0.4 inches, it’s far smaller and lighter than similarly priced Windows laptops. The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is 2.4 pounds and 11.4 x 7.7 x 0.8 inches, while the Asus L402SA, with its 14-inch screen, is 3.3 pounds and 13.3 x 9.3 x 0.9 inches.
There aren’t many ports on the Walknbook. While I’m a fan of USB Type-C, that’s the only option for both charging and data transfer, so you’ll need some dongles (and there’s only one USB Type-C port). There’s also a mini-HDMI port to use with monitors and a tray to fit in a microSD card (up to 128GB).
A few other touches made me wonder who was putting this together. For instance, the charging cable and wall wart were two different colors, as if someone had already lost a piece and replaced it. And the way the box was decorated made it look like a knockoff product: It uses a variety of logos that don’t quite fit, like Facebook’s “f,” but in red instead of blue, and the Internet Explorer symbol, when that browser isn’t the default in Windows 10.
The 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 display is vivid for such a cheap product, but it isn’t very sharp. When I watched the trailer for Justice League, bright colors like The Flash’s red outfit and the blue light on Cyborg’s forehead stood out, but I couldn’t make out finer details, like the pattern in Batman’s suit and the foam in waves surrounding Aquaman, unless I looked very closely.
The Walknbook’s screen reproduced 98 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is actually impressive for something this cheap (and, unfortunately, muddled by the low-res display). The L402SA was right behind, at 92 percent, while the Inspiron 11 3000 covered just 67 percent of the gamut.
The Walknbook measured 208 nits of average brightness on our light meters, just beating the L402SA (206 nits) and leaving the Inspiron 11 3000 (196 nits) behind. If you want to adjust the brightness, you’ll have to do it in Windows, as there is no brightness adjustment shortcut on the keyboard.
Unlike many other detachable 2-in-1s with keyboard covers, the display on the Walknbook doesn’t shut off when the cover is wrapped over it. You’ll have to remember to press the power button to put it to sleep.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Did anyone quality test this thing before iRulu started shipping it? I doubt it. Besides all the issues I had trying to prop up the keyboard case, its keyboard and trackpad are nothing short of horrendous. I thought the keyboard might have promise, thanks to its 1.6 millimeters of travel and a firm 80 grams of force required to press the keys, but boy was I wrong.
The keys are tiny, at just 0.5 x 0.5 inches (competitors’ keys I tested were 0.6 or 0.7 inches square), and I often found myself mashing several keys when I meant to hit one. To add insult to injury, some keys, like the right Shift and Enter keys, are smaller than you might expect on other keyboards, making it easier to miss them altogether. The two were so bad that I found myself using the touch-screen display as much as possible, which really defeats the purpose of the Walknbook being marketed as a 2-in-1.
On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached 44 words per minute (much less than my usual 107 wpm) with an embarrassing 50 percent error rate (as opposed to my usual 2 percent).
The tiny, 2.9 x 1.7-inch touchpad isn’t much better. It’s erratic: Sometimes, it’s fine, and other times, you can’t make a straight line. The button is stiff, and it felt like I was pressing through to another piece of plastic. Even when I could get them to work, gestures were unpredictable. Sometimes, two-finger scrolling worked; other times, it didn’t.Pinch-to-zoom rarely operated as expected, and often went too far. There were times when I tried to use a four-finger tap to invoke Cortana and ended up with an open Action Center. Sometimes when I tapped, it thought I was clicking.
The Walknbook has quiet speakers that skimp on musical detail. When I listened to Ellie Goulding’s “Something In The Way You Move,” the vocals were clear, but the bass, guitar, drums and synths were almost impossible to distinguish. I mashed the volume button in vain, as the resulting sound wasn’t enough to fill a midsize conference room.
On both its Amazon.com product page and its own website, iRulu markets the Walknbook as an affordable, mobile productivity machine. The description goes as far as to say that it “provides smooth and efficient web surfing, gaming, entertaining and working.” But that is wrong.
With its 1.4-GHz Intel Atom x5-Z8350 CPU, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage, the Walknbook can’t handle any form of multitasking. I had three tabs open in Google Chrome, one of which was streaming a 1080p episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” when I noticed lag when switching between them.
However, the synthetic benchmarks didn’t match my experience. It notched a score of 2,209 on the 32-bit version of Geekbench 4 (the Atom CPU can’t handle 64-bit applications), while the Asus L402SA, with a more powerful Celeron processor, reached only 1,609. This may be because even though the Atom is generally the weaker processor, it has more cores than the Celeron-based Asus we tested.
It took the Walknbook 3 minutes to copy 4.97GB of files, which translates to 28.3 MBps. That’s faster than the Asus L402SA (14.1 MBps) put pales in comparison to the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (84.8 MBps).
The 2-in-1 took 18 minutes and 4 seconds to complete our OpenOffice spreadsheet performance test (matching 20,000 names and addresses), falling behind both the Inspiron (13:14) and the L402SA (13:15).
The Walknbook 2 doesn’t use 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is the latest standard. Instead, it ops solely for b/g/n, so you won’t get the fastest internet speeds.
The Walknbook endured for 7 hours and 6 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which continuously browses the web over Wi-Fi.
The L402SA, with its bigger, higher-resolution display, lasted 6:03, and the Inspiron ran for a whopping 13:39.
The Walknbook has a pair of cameras: a 720p front shooter and a rear camera that takes pictures at 2560 x 1440. Both are lackluster.
In a selfie I took with the front camera, I appeared blurry, as if there were some film over the lens. (I checked, there wasn’t.) The colors weren’t accurate, either: The orange lines on my blue-and-white checkerboard shirt didn’t show at all.
The back camera was better, though it had trouble keeping everything in focus. In a photo I took on our roof, a tree in the foreground was in focus, but the deck chairs and bushes were blurry.
In another shot, our office fruit basket was blurry and out of focus.
If you’re using the Walknbook as a tablet, hold it with care. After we streamed HD video from YouTube for 15 minutes, the device measured 103 degrees Fahrenheit on the back, surpassing our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Software and Warranty
If, with the horrible keyboard and touchpad, you can find a way to be productive on the Walknbook, you’ll enjoy that it comes with Microsoft’s mobile version of Office, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These are free on any device that’s 10.1 inches or less and aren’t as feature-rich as the desktop versions.
But you’ll have to deal with the standard Windows 10 bloatware, like Candy Crush Soda Saga, March of Empires: War of Lords, Twitter, Sling, Facebook and Netflix.
iRulu sells the Walknbook 2 with a one-year warranty.
iRulu pitches the Walknbook 2 as a 2-in-1 PC, but it’s basically unusable as one. The keyboard cover is complicated to set up, and both the keyboard and the touchpad are absolutely horrendous. It’s too slow for productivity, and the low-resolution screen won’t fit much of your work on the desktop at a time. Had iRulu stripped away the keyboard cover and sold it as a cheap Windows 10 tablet (hopefully for a lower price), maybe I could see what it was going for.
But even as a tablet, its Atom processor hamstrings multitasking. Run, don’t Walkn, to another computer. If you want a real productivity laptop for a similar price, consider the Dell Inspiron 11 3000, which is just $180, and offers epic battery life and a 1366 x 768 display (which we don’t usually recommend, but it’s a step up, in this case). While the keyboard and touchpad aren’t perfect on that machine, at least they work.
Usually I say you get what you pay for. But in the the case of the iRulu Walknbook 2, it’s not only cheap, but you can get something better for even less.