My main machine is a MacBook Pro 15″ from 2015. It’s a beast, still even today being a processing power house that does everything I need it to. Except for one thing really – it’s not very portable.
So, when I went on holiday recently I wanted a device that I could carry through the airport in my hand luggage without it weighing me down and without having to carry half a house brick to power it. The Mac failed at both of those requests.
So I decided to check out a cheaper, smaller and lighter alternative. Initially I was going to go with a Chromebook because I rather liked the idea of that, and I was looking at the Asus C101 Chromebook which is also a flipbook type machine. I went off to Currys PC World with every intention of purchasing one right then and there.
They didn’t have any…
But they did have the Geo 2 in 1, 11.6″ Flex laptop which runs Windows 10 instead. And when I decided I’d buy that instead the sales assistant told me in no uncertain terms not to.
“It won’t do what you want it to do” – she exclaimed, “It’s really only meant to be a kids laptop, it’s really under powered and doesn’t have much storage space either”Curry’s PC World Store Assistant – 2019
To be fair, she’s right on the storage space front. It has a 32 Gigabyte eMMC installed in it, which would definitely be better as 64 Gigabyte since 32 is barely enough to get Windows running properly – particularly if you decide you want to upgrade to a newer version of Windows in the future. But, I decided I could live with that so long as I installed a USB3.0 memory stick to store all my stuff on instead. Update: See this article for how to increase the storage space on the GeoFlex 2 in 1 laptop.
So, I now have just Windows itself on the eMMC and all my Applications and Data are on a SanDisk Ultra Fit 64G USB card which is barely noticeable at the side of the machine.
Don’t use the SDCard interface that comes with the Geo Flex – it’s a USB2.0 interface and horribly slow by comparison to either the eMMC installed or a USB3 thumb drive.
Windows 10 comes with a handy feature called Storage Spaces which helps reduce clutter and alongside this you can also setup where New Applications are installed, New Photos, New Music etc can also be set to be stored on the USB drive instead. This reduces the need to fill up your C: drive eMMC storage and helps this machine run much nicer.
I currently have around 11 Gigabytes free on the eMMC. Enough for every day usage.
So, does the GeoFlex 2-in-1 laptop do what I want it to, or was the sales person from Currys correct?
It does everything I want it to. It’s by no means as quick as the MacBook Pro, nor would I expect it to. But it’s considerably lighter and the power plug is smaller and lighter too. I don’t need a huge carry bag to take it with me and if I’m going somewhere that I know I won’t need to use it for long, the battery life is pretty good too.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the specs and features;
Geo Flex 2-in-1 11″ Specifications
- Intel Celeron N4000 dual core processor running at 1.1Ghz – not a powerhouse but perfectly adequate for every day use. I find I’m rarely waiting for the processor for anything – it’s usually disk or network bound.
- 4 Gigabytes of RAM. This isn’t massive by today’s standards but is generally adequate for a browser and e-mail client open at the same time with some room to spare.
- 32 Gigabyte eMMC storage. This is the only area I’ve really found that lets this laptop down. It would be better for Geoflex to have spent a few quid more and put 64 Gigabytes in it. But, the USB3.0 expansion works well so it’s not such a big issue. The storage space on this laptop can be upgraded with an M.2 SATA drive too.
- 11.6″ touch screen. Yes, it’s a touch screen, which means you can fold the keyboard all the way back on itself and use it as a tablet. Windows automatically switches into tablet mode (if you configure it to do so). The only niggle here is that I can’t find out how to disable the keyboard and trackpad in this mode which is annoying.
- Full 802.11ac wifi capability with dual band. This means you can connect to the faster 5Ghz wifi that is becoming more common these days.
- Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity means you can connect any modern (or not so modern) bluetooth devices such as mice if you don’t get on with the inbuilt trackpad, or speakers if you prefer decent sound quality.
- Built in multi-touch trackpad which works much better under Windows than my MacBook trackpad does under Windows. This is down to poor Windows drivers from Apple to be fair.
- 2 x USB3.0 ports, which work very well for adding additional storage.
- 1 x USB2.0 connected SDCard reader. Don’t use this for regular storage though, it’s too slow. But, it does allow you to get photos off your digital camera quite well.
- 0.3 Megapixel front facing camera. Not a great powerhouse of a camera and you wouldn’t want to use it to take photos. But it does suffice if you want to video call anyone with Skype for example.
- Built in microphone which can be useful for creating screencasting videos or making those video calls.
- Lithium Polymer battery with up to 6 hours battery life. I’ve found the battery life to be quite good though this is going to depend on what you’re doing with it.
- Micro HDMI connector to enable you to hook up to a bigger screen, extend your Windows desktop or hook up a projector for meetings etc.
Pros and Cons
- As cheap as some of the Chromebooks that are available but runs Windows 10.
- Good battery life for every day situations. Isn’t going to be great for gaming demands (but then this isn’t designed for that).
- Tent mode or tablet mode both work well with Windows 10. The inbuilt accelerometer works well to detect screen orientation and the touch screen is accurate and responsive.
- Incredibly portable – which was my main reason for purchasing. Very thin and lightweight and doesn’t take up much space at all. Great if you’re going on holiday but need a full blown Windows experience to manage things while you’re away.
- Good connectivity through the USB ports.
- Full HD touch screen with excellent clarity and contrast making colours look nice. I haven’t tried it outside on a sunny day yet though.
- Definitely not enough in built storage.
- Can get a bit slow if Windows Defender is scanning or something is using that eMMC drive a bit hard.
- Storage, RAM and processor are not upgradeable – at least not easily if at all. The RAM and processor are adequate and most laptops won’t allow processor upgrades anyway. But the storage is a problem. Update: The storage can in fact be upgraded.
- Trackpad and keyboard seem to remain active even in tablet mode. I’ll update this post if I find a solution to that because it’s inconvenient and annoying.
- Only available from Curry’s PCWorld – who’ll likely try to sell you a more expensive brand/model.
Other Operating Systems Available
This is very much not for beginner users, but I have installed both CloudReady from Neverware, and PrimeOS on this laptop and both worked quite well. The accelerometer isn’t detected under either of these operating systems so you don’t get the benefit of automatic switching to tablet or tent mode though. But everything else worked, including the touch screen which surprised me.
If you want to have a play with either of these operating systems on the Geo Flex 2 in 1, you can create a bootable live USB system which means you don’t lose the Windows operating system. Booting from USB is pretty much the same speed as booting from the internal eMMC to be fair.
Curry’s PC World are notoriously bad for providing support, although I am only going by historic anecdote here as I’ve not used them for support issues for quite some time so they may have improved a lot.
Having said that, when I broke the laptop by installing PrimeOS onto the main eMMC and finding it didn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped, I also broke the restore image partition. This meant that I couldn’t re-install Windows directly from the laptop.
I downloaded the latest Windows 10 ISO ( the October 2018 release ) and created a bootable USB using Rufus. This got my Windows back up and running but some of the drivers weren’t available through Windows Update. As a result I e-mailed Geo support directly and requested the drivers. To my surprise they replied very quickly ( same day! ) with a link to download a package of drivers which I could then install.
So far 10/10 for Geo support.
Gaming on the Geo Flex 2 in 1?
Is it possible? Well, I’m no heavy duty gamer, although I do like to play Eve Online now and then, and I’ve recently got into Elite: Dangerous too. Both of these however are massive downloads and I haven’t bothered to try to run them on the Geoflex yet. I might, just for giggles.
Minecraft on the Geo Flex
Minecraft on the other hand works an absolute treat on it. The framerate is perfectly adequate and the render distance can be turned up all the way with little issues. There’s times when the scenery in the distance doesn’t render straight away, but it usually comes in quite quickly and doesn’t stutter the game at all. I’m sure the frame rate isn’t as smooth as my gaming desktop but who cares – I can’t carry my gaming desktop on a plane or train with me.
If you want an ultra-portable PC laptop to play Minecraft then I can confirm this little beauty does it well. It will warm up a bit though because there’s no active cooling in it at all.
This little laptop works a treat for me. Despite Curry’s sales people trying to put me off. It’s no power house and it definitely won’t replace your daily drive if you’re a graphic designer or needing anything demanding. But for writing blog posts, or administering machine remotely – which is what I wanted it for, it is absolutely perfect.
Watching Netflix on a train or playing Minecraft are equally well handled and for the money I really think you actually just can’t beat this little box.
P.S. I recommend the SanDisk Ultra Fit USB3.0 pendrive for adding storage. It’s quick enough and doesn’t stick out the side too much. Normal USB keys stick out too much and risk getting bent.