There’s no doubt that the 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrid form factor is here to stay. From the genre-defining Microsoft Surface to Apple’s attempts to accessorize the iPad into one, it’s proven popular with manufacturers and customers.
While basically every major PC maker now makes some version of the 2-in-1, there are also some upstarts throwing their hats into the ring. Like the subject of this review: the Robo & Kala 2-in-1 from Ntmer Technologies.
Source: Robo & Kala
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This 2-in-1 tablet is light in weight and on the wallet, but not light on performance.
There’s no denying it – this is heavily inspired by the Surface, but that’s not really a bad thing. Microsoft spent years refining the Surface over several revisions and it’s fantastic, so why reinvent the wheel?
The Robo & Kala 2-in-1 (yeah, the name is odd, just roll with it) is incredibly thin and light with a solid metal shell. It measures just 0.28 inches thin and weighs just 1.5 pounds. The “Sea Pine Green” color really is understatedly gorgeous. The Robo & Kala also comes in light blue, pink, silver, space gray, and black, though general availability is limited as Ntmer Technologies fulfills the Kickstarter preorders for the Robo & Kala before the general public.
The kickstand on the back is pretty typical for a device like this. It’s quite sturdy and will easily sit at any angle within a near 180-degree field of movement. I’m really impressed with how sturdy and flexible the kickstand is. It sits firmly at nearly any angle making and never once felt weak or flimsy. I really like it.
Source: Robo & Kala
On the left side are a speaker grill and two USB-C 3.2 ports, while the right side houses another speaker grill and magnets to attach the optional pen. There’s a pogo pin connector on the bottom for the keyboard. Unfortunately, those are all the ports you get. Ntmer targeted this as an ultra-portable, on-the-go machine, so making it thin and light was the top priority. While they nailed that part, I don’t think many people would complain about a few extra millimeters of thickness if it meant they could have a full-size USB-A port and a headphone jack. Not to mention the added space for a larger battery.
Around back, there’s a 13MP camera and stereo speakers, neither of which is particularly great or will see much use in reality. The camera is useful if you need to scan a document or snap a quick picture of a slide during a presentation, but other than that, don’t bother. Same with the speakers: fine in a pinch, but they’re weak and tinny, so I wouldn’t rely on them regularly. And there’s no headphone jack, so I hope you have Bluetooth headphones.
Overall, the incredibly thin and light design make the Robo & Kala a great on-the-go computing companion. Every time I threw it in my bag, it hardly took up any space or added much weight. It’s awesome.
Around the front, things get even more interesting. The Robo & Kala boasts a 12.6 inch, 2.5K AMOLED touch screen – yup, I said AMOLED. While the Surface Pro 9 does have a slightly larger 13″ display, and that nice 3:2 aspect ratio, the AMOLED screen on the Robo & Kala is just gorgeous. It has stunning color reproduction that covers 98% of the DCI-P3 color gamut on an also-nice 16:10 aspect ratio. It hits 600 nits of peak brightness, letting you easily work outdoors or in poor lighting conditions (though it may struggle in direct sunlight).. And it’s all protected by Corning Gorilla Glass to keep it safe from scratches and cracks.
Source: Robo & Kala
I’m really impressed by this screen. It’s quite bright and the AMOLED colors are punchy and vibrant. It leans a bit heavy on the saturation so it might not be as natural as on some other screens, but that’s kind of to be expected on an AMOLED panel. But that’s also not really what you’re going for on a device like this. You’re using it for productivity and content consumption, and for that it’s fantastic.
Unsurprisingly, 4K content won’t look quite as good on this as it will on a true 4K display, but it’s still very enjoyable. As a first-generation device, I wouldn’t expect this to set new standards for display quality, but it’s really good. And for me personally, my laptop is never my primary mode of consuming content so I don’t really care if it’s not the highest quality available. For when I do need to watch something on it, the display is great.
Above the display is a 5-megapixel camera for selfies and video calls, but again, it’s not great. I used it a few times for conference calls and it works fine in a pinch, but if you make a lot of video calls, or you work at a dedicated workstation most of the time, I’d recommend spending a few extra bucks to get a decent dedicated webcam. At least it supports Windows Hello for login, which is awesome. That is unfortunately hit or miss on Windows machines these days, but it’s a great feature and I’m glad to see it here.
On paper, the Robo & Kala is incredible. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 SoC, a high-powered ARM yet power-sipping ARM processor, which is paired with a base spec of 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The 230-type SSD is upgradeable, and retail units will come with a tool to open the door — not many 2-in-1s can say that.
The Robo & Kala performed impressively during my entire period with the device, the vast majority of which was spent running several apps like Pandora, Slack, Spark email or Outlook, and a few others, along with at least 10 or so Chrome tabs all at once. With all that going, I rarely noticed any lag or stutters, other than what is to be expected from running Windows.
The Robo & Kala 2-in-1 is snappy on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor
I also appreciated how the fanless design was able to continue to do all these things without having to throttle itself like crazy to keep up. Granted, I didn’t do any serious gaming on it, but that’s also not what this machine is built to do. For my purposes, it ran like a champ.
Lastly, there were some initial display bugs with streaming video, but those were resolved with a Windows Update. And As this is an ARM-powered device, some Windows apps just do not run, including rather significant ones like Google Drive. So while that ARM processor can bring some great battery life, it also means heavy gaming, and even some potentially crucial apps, just isn’t in the cards.
Source: Robo & Kala
Speaking of battery life, unfortunately, even with the promises of the ARM processor, it just wasn’t good for me. I would get maybe 4-6 hours of screen-on time, which isn’t great considering that there’s a decent-sized 41.4Wh battery pack taking up most of the interior volume. And the standby time was a joke. I’d wake up in the morning and it’d be dead if I’d forgotten to fully shut it down. It could be just the quirks of this being a review unit, a first-gen device, or just Windows being Windows. Regardless, don’t plan to go far without your charger.
At least the battery charges quickly. That USB-C port supports Power Delivery charging and Ntmer included a 65W GaN charger which juices it up pretty quickly.
Keyboard and Smart Pen
Trying to use Windows 11 without a hardware keyboard is the very definition of an exercise in futility, you’ll absolutely need to buy the $100 keyboard. Thankfully it’s pretty solid. I was actually kind of blown away by the typing experience on it, especially after having used dozens of other 2-in-1 keyboards over the years.
It’s certainly one of the best keyboards I’ve used in this form factor, and I had no problem writing for long periods with it – including this review. And even though the trackpad isn’t glass, it is quite large and responsive.
Source: Robo & Kala
One of the most impressive features of the keyboard has nothing to do with typing. Ntmer added Bluetooth connectivity to the Robo & Kala keyboard so when you unmount it from the tablet it automatically reconnects via Bluetooth so you can keep right on typing.
The detachable keyboard can also connect wirelessly over Bluetooth
There’s really not much I can say about the Smart Pen. I’m not an artist, so for me, there’s not really anything here that’s different from any other pen like this on any other device. The hexagonal design with a matte finish makes it easy to hold and the 2-button rocker adds some cool functionality like an eraser and a right click.
The magnets that hold it to the right side aren’t super strong though, it definitely fell off into my backpack a few times. Like the Apple Pencil, it also recharges quickly so you can snap it on to the magnets for just one minute to get 2 hours of use.
Obviously, one of the most important aspects of consumer technology is the after-sales support from the companies and stores you purchase it from. With most companies we take that for granted, but it’s an open question with newer brands. And as this is Ntmer’s first entry into Western markets and their first consumer product… I had questions.
Their official warranty covers all the typical things you’d expect and doesn’t cover the things you wouldn’t (water, fire, smashing it over a chair, etc.) and it’s good for 12 months. If you do need a repair, they have a US-based repair facility and you can email their support team to start that process. While that’s straightforward enough, the question of long-term support for customers remains an open question.
The only way I could find to contact them for basic support was through their website or by emailing them, but when I did contact them through their website I received a response fairly quickly.
Source: Robo & Kala
Ultimately, I’m a pretty big fan of the Robo & Kala 2-in-1. I enjoy this form factor and I think it’s quite compelling to have such a potent productivity machine in such a portable package. It’s really nice to have so much versatility in one device, whether I’m at my desk, the couch, or on the go.
The best part about the Robo & Kala 2-in-1 is the price. Right now, you can get the Robo & Kala 2-in-1 for just $799 on Amazon, and that includes the keyboard. For a comparable Surface Pro 9 (SQ2 chip, 512GB of storage, add-on keyboard), you’re paying well over $2,000. So yeah, the Robo & Kala 2-in-1 is absolutely a no-brainer at that price.