We used to say that Chromebooks were the best way to get a cheap, yet decent, laptop. Prices have crept up a bit recently, though, and you may well be tempted by the £200 Windows 10 laptops that have popped up from Chinese retailers.
The GoBook N1410 is one such laptop. Its specs seem almost too good to be true: a 14in Full HD screen, a quad-core processor and an all-metal chassis. And it looks a lot like a MacBook Air to boot.
But all this for just £200? How is that even possible? Well it is possible, since there are plenty of Chinese laptops with similar specs at this price, but they usually have quite a few compromises.
GoBook N1410: Price
You can buy a GoBook from Light In The Box for £208.94. And that’s with free delivery.
The bad news is there’s a high chance that you’ll be charged import duty, which amounted to around £20 in our case: we received an invoice from DHL a week or two after receiving the GoBook for review. Light In the Box offers ‘duty & tax insurance’ for around £5.50. It says customers who pay this fee can be refunded if they do get charged import duty.
A warranty card is included in the box, but doesn’t state the duration. The manufacturer is based in Shenzhen, but there are no contact details aside from a street address. Light In The Box itself offers a three-month warranty where you can return a faulty product to a European warehouse.
Do check out alternatives in our roundup of the best budget laptops. And also take a good look at the latest Chromebooks, which are still great.
Design & build
The GoBook is unashamedly a MacBook Air clone, as are many of the GoBook’s competitors, and it looks good. There’s a bevel around the edge of the deck which adds a classy touch.
Build quality is about the level you’d expect from an entry-level laptop, except that this isn’t metal-look plastic: it’s an aluminium chassis and lid. The metal is quite thin, but the GoBook feels sturdy enough.
The overall finish is decent, save for the thin black plastic covering the screen hinge which slightly gives away the budget price. It’s a shame it isn’t silver.
There’s no logo on the lid at all. This could be a plus if you don’t want people judging the brand, but it means acres of bland metal.
There are two USB 3 ports with a headphone jack on the right-hand edge and a mini HDMI output and microSD slot on the left.
Stereo speakers live on the underside of the GoBook. Sound is reflected off whatever surface it’s sat on. They’re not very loud and sound as thin as the laptop itself.
The screen is, as you might guess, a weak point. It may have a 1920×1080 resolution, but the matt-finish TN panel delivers weak colours, limited contrast and relatively poor viewing angles. Such facets are unsurprising for a budget screen, but you’ll be able to live with them if you require a laptop for undemanding tasks such as email, shopping, word processing and spreadsheets.
But if you want to edit photos, although the Celeron processor is powerful enough, the screen’s washed-out colours make it tricky to do any colour correction.
It’s bright enough for indoor use, and the matte finish cuts down on reflections. But it isn’t really bright enough for outdoor use.
You can get a better screen at this price: Jumper’s EZbook 3 Pro has a 13.3in IPS screen (also with a matt finish) for roughly the same price.
Keyboard and trackpad
There’s no option for a UK keyboard, which means you’ll get a similar US layout to a MacBook. It’s not difficult to adjust to, and the keyboard itself is perfectly good for typing even long documents. There’s no flex and the keys have enough travel.
Unlike some big-brand laptops, the Home, End, Page Up and Page Down keys aren’t secondary functions of other keys so navigating around document isn’t a chore.
The main function keys are primarily for brightness, volume and media playback. If you need an ‘F’ key, you’ll have to press the Fn button.
Again, it’s understandable that there’s no glass trackpad at this price and – on the whole – the pad is pretty responsive. You can click in the bottom third, on the appropriate side depending on whether you want a left- or right-click. The front of the trackpad sits slightly proud of the deck, or at least it did on our review model, and required some force to click (but you can, of course, tap the pad lightly to get a left-click).
We’ve seen other laptops with the Celeron N3450 – the Jumper EZBook 3 Pro, for one – so we already knew not to expect scorching performance.
Paired with 4GB of RAM, it managed 4108 in Geekbench 4 (multi-core) and 14fps in GFXBench’s Manhattan test. (It almost scraped 30fps in the ageing T-Rex test.)
Windows 10, therefore, runs at a slower pace than you’d find on a £500 laptop and that’s when it’s box-fresh and not clogged up with lots of apps and games. Everything takes a few seconds to launch, even if you’re just opening the Task Manager or Control Panel.
But once the app is running, performance is more than acceptable: just don’t expect it to be anything other than adequate.
Casual games also play fine but, similarly, don’t expect to play Assassin’s Creed: Origins.
Oddly enough, the 64GB of (slow) eMMC storage is partitioned. The Windows partition has around 5GB free, with 25GB in the other partition for user data. If you buy a GoBook, the first job is to use some handy partitioning software to get rid of the divide and use the space all as one.
Even then, 64GB is likely to fill up fast unless you’re careful to only store stuff in the cloud and make sure those files aren’t replicated on the GoBook. In this respect, a Chromebook does make life easier.
GoBook says that the 4550mAh battery is good for 6.5 hours of video playback and 8.5 hours of music playback. In our tests, looping a 720p video with the screen set to 120cd/m² brightness, it ran flat in just over 4.5 hours. Not exactly a stellar performance.
The EZBook 3 Pro managed six hours, 15 minutes, which is another reason it’s a better choice than the GoBook.