nextbook 101 32gb With Eskom struggling to keep the lights on thanks to the forward thinking ANC, I very quickly realised that I would need a portable device that would allow me to work (or play) when the power went out. I spent many weeks scouring the internet for a laptop that suited my small budget, and struggled to find anything that I thought would be a worthwhile investment. Then I remembered the Microsoft Nextbook range, which was launched in South Africa towards the end of last year.

The Microsoft Nextbooks are available in South Africa through Makro. There are three models: an 8 inch 16 GB model, a 10.1 inch 16 GB model, and a 10.1 inch 32 GB model. Both of the 10.1″ models also come with a Pogo keyboard, making them hybrid tablets . The basic specs for all of these Nextbooks are all fairly similar:

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 with Bing
  • Processor: Intel Quad Core 1.3GHz – Z3735G Atom Processor
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Hard Drive Capacity: 16GB/32 GB, expandable by up 64GB with a Micro SD card
  • Screen Display: 8″/10.1″ 1280×800
  • Touch Interface: Yes
  • HDMI Input: Yes
  • USB Port:
  • Micro SD Port: Micro
  • Built in Camera: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes

The 8″ Nextbook is available for approximately R1500 (currently on special at R1299). The two 10.1″ models come in at R2599 and R2999, depending on if you want 16 or 32 GB of built-in storage. I ended up picking up the 10.1″ 32 GB model since the 16 GB model is end-of-line, meaning that it’s a pain in the butt to find stock. I’ve had it for close on two months and overall I’m happy with the purchase, even if it does have a few issues.

Size comparison
Size comparison

The Good

  • 100% Windows (not like the RT and some other mobile devices)
  • Fairly nice 1280×800 IPS screen
  • Responsive despite the low amount of RAM
  • Decent detachable keyboard
  • Plays older Windows games, or games that will run on a potato (I had League of Legends running on low at 30 fps, although frame drops did occur)
  • Cheap for a fully functional Windows tablet with a keyboard

The OK

  • The battery life isn’t amazing, but will provide you with about 4-5 hours of fairly intense use
  • Isn’t the lightest device, but you won’t struggle to hold it for long periods either
  • Low spec integrated graphics means you cannot output to a second screen at full HD (1080p) for certain apps (Twitch struggled in IE, while Youtube ran fine)
  • Only about 20 gigs of actual space on the device
  • The battery can get quite warm if you’re using it while charging
  • Wouldn’t accept the Microsoft account I use on my desktop machine so I had to create a standalone one for the tablet

The Bad

  • The trackpad is terrible (it sometimes doesn’t double click things properly, or your mouse cursor will jump to a spot that you didn’t want it to)
  • Occasional login bug that will try to verify your identity using the webcam, forcing you to reset the device
  • Cannot use 2.5″ external drives with it (mice and flash drives work fine)
  • If you flip the screen horizontally or vertically, the text won’t be as clear as it is in its default position
  • Pretty bad backlight bleeding on the bottom of the screen (only really noticeable if you’re watching movies that are letterboxed)

Overall Opinion

The screen is not too shabby (considering how rubbish my camera is)
Not too shabby (considering how rubbish my camera is)

The Nextbook has met most of my requirements. It’s essentially a fully functional Windows machine, and I had no issues with using it for browsing, video, and the odd bit of word processing. Unfortunately it’s not going to run any modern games, but you can still play older games on it. Also, don’t expect it to cope perfectly if you hook it up to a TV so you can watch movies or video streams on it. The Atom processor and its integrated graphics may struggle and the video may drop frames or lag. However, it’ll play all HD video fine if you don’t hook it up to a second screen. Finally, the trackpad is pretty terrible, but thankfully you can use the touchscreen for 90% of your navigating in Windows 8.1. Overall, the Microsoft Nextbook is a fully portable and functional Windows 8.1 device. Unfortunately it’s a little bit underpowered and has a couple of quirks, but considering the price I paid, I’m perfectly happy working around these few issues.

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