TopJoy Falcon Review – A Windows 10 Mini Laptop (Prototype)

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Topjoy falcon Review
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The Topjoy Falcon is a mini laptop reminiscent of netbooks and similar to the recent GPD Pocket 2 or One Mix Yoga devices.

Marketed as an 8 inch (203mm) pocket-sized computer with the following specification:

  • Intel Pentium Silver N5000 CPU
  • 8G RAM
  • 256G SSD disk
  • 1920*1200 FHD IPS touch screen
  • 6000 mAh battery for up to 8 hours working time
  • 1 x USB A 3.0, 1 x USB Type-C
  • 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 1 x Mini HDMI port
  • Active cooling
  • 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Weight 550g (1lb 3oz)
  • Fits easily in your pocket

Although you would need a large pocket as whilst It is physically small consisting of an approximately 8″ by 5.2” and about 0.7” thick (203mm x 132mm x 18mm) when closed it is in reality too big for the average pocket.

topjoy-falcon-size falcon-ports Topjoy Falcon keyboard Topjoy Falcon Folded Topjoy falcon back

It will soon be available on Kickstarter with an early bird price of $399 and an expected retail price of $699.

I’ve received an early prototype which I’ll review below. The first point to note is that being a prototype there are some outstanding issues already identified and will be addressed:

  • Type-C port: The prototype’s Type-C port locates a little “deeper” than normal requiring a power adapter with a “longer head”. Other Type-C cables or hubs can’t work on Falcon now. We will fix this.
  • G-Sensor doesn’t work well.
  • When close the laptop, the screen won’t turn off.
  • When use it as a tablet, the keyboard won’t lock.
  • The screen is a little bit heavy so that the laptop may fall backward when open. We will adjust the screen weight.
  • Mouse right click button doesn’t work.
  • A button on the keyboard can turn on/off the cooling fan. It doesn’t work now.
  • The battery indicator doesn’t work well.
  • The cooling fan of the sample doesn’t work well. This will affect its performance.

The specifications of the prototype differ in that the SSD is only 128GB, it weighs 703g (1lb 9oz) and Windows 10 is not activated otherwise everything else is as stated.

The device came fully installed complete with a random user set up and various movie clips loaded. I mistakenly reset Windows selecting ‘remove everything’ and immediately found that the drivers could not be found to re-enable touch screen or the included touch pen.

Fortunately I had “played’ with the device before resetting it and found the screen was responsive to touch although the calibration was slightly out when using the touch pen.

So now with a clean Windows installation I started with a quick look at the hardware information:

Topjoy Falcon windows 10 system
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Topjoy-Falcon-hwinfo
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Topjoy Falcon teardown
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I partitioned the main drive so I could install Ubuntu later:

falcon mini laptop disk management
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As usual I ran my standard set of benchmarking tools to look at performance under Windows:

So bearing in mind the cooling fan issue and its impact on performance let’s look at the results compared to other Intel mini PCs:

Intel-mini-pc-windows-comparison-topjoy-falcon-review
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Overall the results are very good with the fan’s impact only being seen on the 2D graphics performance which is lower than expected.

I was also able to run Ubuntu on the device by respining the Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS ISO and updating with the latest mainline kernel and I installed Ubuntu as dual boot Ubuntu.

Interestingly everything works: WiFi, Bluetooth, audio and touch screen. Initially there is an issue with the screen rotation but this can be fixed by the ‘xrandr’ command.

Topjoy Falcon Ubuntu
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I first ran some basic commands to look at the hardware in more detail:


I then ran my usual suite of Phoronix tests to look at performance in Ubuntu:

ubuntu-mini-laptop-systems
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ubuntu-mini-laptop-benchmark-results
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ubuntu-mini-laptop-visualize
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The results show as expected performance with the N5000 CPU performing between the J4005 and J5005 processors.

Ubuntu’s Octane result was also tested and it was marginally better than in Windows:

topjoy-falcon-mini-laptop-ubuntu-octane2
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I also looked at real-world usage by playing videos under Windows using both Edge and Chrome browsers. Under both browsers [email protected] and [email protected] videos played fine:

falcon-windows-edge-browser-4k-video
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falcon-windows-edge-browser-4k-at-60fps-video
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falcon-windows-chrome-browser-4k-video
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falcon-windows-chrome-browser-4k-at-60fps-video
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Although on Chrome the [email protected] video had some occasional dropped frames but were unnoticeable while watching.

In contrast playing videos in Chrome on Ubuntu was a similar story to on other Intel processor-based mini PCs with [email protected] dropping too many frames and pausing making it really not watchable:

falcon-ubuntu--chrome-browser-4k-video
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but fine when played at 1440p:

falcon-ubuntu-chrome-browser-4k-at-1440-video
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The [email protected] video resulted in the frames being dropped and was unwatchable:

topjoy-falcon-ubuntu-chrome-browser-4k-60fps-video
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However [email protected] was fine with only the occasional unnoticeable dropped frame:

falcon-ubuntu-chrome-browser-4k-60fps-at-1080-video
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Finally I tried playing some games. First I installed Minecraft and performance was reasonable but loading was slow:

topjoy-falcon-minecraft

Next I tried streaming a game on Steam which worked fine:

falcon-steam-stream

And then to finish I installed a game on Steam playing it locally:

falcon-steam-local

The gaming experience was reasonable and played as expected for this CPU/GPU combo.

Cooling is impacted by the known issue with the fan so I didn’t perform any specific cooling tests. However the body of the device whilst made from aluminum was only slightly warm to touch when the processor was put under load.

As mentioned audio works on Windows and and also on Ubuntu without issues. Network connectivity throughput was measured using ‘iperf’ on Ubuntu:

topjoy-falcon-network-throughput

The network results were comparable with other Intel devices tested.

Finally I measured the battery capacity by fully charging the device and then left it playing and repeating a two hour music video. The battery lasted for 4 hours 50 minutes which is much less than the slated eight hours.

The BIOS appears to be fully locked at this stage:

topjoy-falcon-laptop-bios
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Overall despite the known limitations being a prototype the device performed well. It is an intriguing little device with ‘little’ being the operative word. I often found myself squinting at the screen to make out text and resorting to one finger typing in order to type more accurately. One major improvement would be the inclusion of a full-sized HDMI port rather than the current mini-HDMI. That would allow easier ‘docking’ to use a monitor and keyboard when needed.

I’d like to thank Topjoy for providing the unit for review and keep an eye on their Facebook page for when it will be available on Kickstarter with an early bird price of $399 and an expected retail price of $699. [Update October 24, 2018: The kickstarter campaign is now live]

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Nasp
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The keyboad is so ugly….

reem
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reem

“Fits easily in your pocket”

LOL

Jibril
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Jibril

retail price of $699 … non sense.

mike
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mike

That PC is DOA. I can’t see anyone in their right mind investing in this. I mean the device is ugly and it is way too expensive. I don’t think I could even start to install Linux.

grg
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grg

I actually think the small form factor is quite appealing. Nothing special design-wise, but also not particularly ugly, so I really don’t mind. The planned retail price of 699$ seems too high though, I agree. Also not sure if the two-part space bar makes much sense and I’d have much preferred a real Trackpoint, Thinkpad-style – I guess there’s not enough space for that.
Wonder if the pen is any good on this one here? They didn’t actually market the stylus at all so far, doesn’t even show up on the website, which worries me a bit. But if it’s working at least half-decently, for me it’s a worthy contender with the One Mix 2 Yoga.
I haven’t been able to get a clear idea of how big the difference is in performance between the N5000 used in the Falcon vs. the Core-M they are going to use in the One Mix 2, though. For me it mostly comes down to whether the larger screen and keyboard “outweigh” the presumably better performance and lower weight/smaller footprint of the One Mix 2.
Unfortunately, there’s no really interesting, modern 10″ device available that I know of – the Teclast F5 maybe, but the CPU is definitely weaker there. The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is kind of cool, but I’m not convinced I’d be able to deal with the e-Ink keyboard in the long run (I might rethink if I were sure that I’d be able to use it on Linux and if they’d allow a freer/more flexible use of the e-Ink part as second screen, so that I might use a bluetooth keyboard most of the time). If only Lenovo decided to make a good 10 inch Thinkpad…!