The pandemic brought about a major change in how we use our gadgets. We got more glued to our devices, and some of that was by necessity. Online learning and work-from-home made people switch to better laptops, which opened the market for new players. Last year, Xiaomi entered India’s PC market with laptops that were high on specifications and build but did not cost a bomb. While Xiaomi this year doubled down on its PC portfolio, its close rival Realme made its debut. With the Realme Book Slim, Realme is trying to take on Mi and Redmi notebooks, but more than that, it wants to piggyback on the surge in demand.
Realme Book Slim, which is called Realme Book in China, comes as an affordable laptop. But there is more to this laptop than being just a regular laptop. There is a 2K display, a slim profile, and a promise of a Windows 11 upgrade. Despite its MacBook-inspired design, the Realme Book Slim stands out in the sea of laptops, and that is one of the reasons why I think customers will prefer this laptop for its price. Starting at Rs 46,999, the Realme Book Slim will appeal to customers, but will it be able to create a success story for itself amid the competition from Xiaomi and other brands? I took the Realme Book Slim for a spin, and I think it is a compelling option for you.
Realme Book Slim review: Premium build and excellent screen
Realme is an experimentalist. It likes to throw in some outlandish patterns and effects in the designs of its products, so when I saw the Realme Book Slim for the first time, I was taken aback. It is a contemporary touch to the laptop design that looks premium at best. I do not think I have seen this unique blue colour with a matte finish on a laptop before. Realme calls it Real Blue, but there is also a Real Grey colour option. The finish is uniform across the laptop, and that gives a sense of harmony. The laptop is peculiarly taller than most other laptops that you would find on the market at this price.
It is very less often when you see a laptop and get excited about using it by just its looks. Realme Book Slim is that laptop. The design is silent yet elegant, and that makes it a premium laptop even though it is not. One of the reasons why the laptop looks amazing is the use of aluminium alloy. This also makes the laptop sturdy. That is better than your regular plastic-body laptops. The Realme branding on the back is also minimalist. It is an engraving that shines when light falls on it.
But there is one thing about this design I want you to know. The laptop may need a bit of maintenance. It has a fingerprint-prone surface that you may need to clean every now and then. The surface also begins to look dirty if you do not bother cleaning your gadgets every day. I also managed to remove some paint in the palm-rest area because of the constant rubbing of my bracelet against the laptop. That means you have to be very careful with how you use this laptop.
The laptop’s lid is very convenient to open, but it still needs two hands. Thanks to its 1.38kg weight, it does not feel heavy and fits into a small space because of its thin profile. The Realme Book Slim is around 15mm thick, so it is easy to carry around.
The upper lid has very thin bezels around the display, and that is why the display looks so big. It is not exactly big per se, but because Realme went for a 3:2 aspect ratio, it appears larger. There is the Realme branding at the bottom of the screen, as well, and below it is the hinge. The hinge seems to be durable and works properly. It is very convenient to sign in to the laptop because of the very responsive fingerprint sensor on the power button. The sign-in process uses Windows Hello tied to a Microsoft account.
There are two rubber grips on the underbody of the Realme Book Slim, and they help the laptop fix its position on any surface. Interesting thing: the rubber grip at the top has “Dare to Leap” written on it, and I was kind of amused that some or the other way, Realme managed its slogan on the laptop.
Let us talk about the display now. At least in this price segment, most laptops you have come across have the usual display aspect ratio, which is either 16:10 or 16:9. But Realme Book Slim breaks the convention to feature a 3:2 screen. I particularly realised the advantage of this tall screen when reading stuff online, filling out forms that hide some text fields because the screen is short, and working on documents either on Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Scrolling is less on this display. Productivity-wise, this is a perfect adaptation for a laptop screen, but I am not too sure about it when it comes to watching movies or shows.
Nearly all movies and shows are recorded in the usual 16:9 aspect ratio. (Except for odd ones like Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which is in 4:3 aspect ratio). So when I tried watching the regular stuff on this screen, it crops the video a bit. Not that it is a big issue, but a minor inconvenience for people who are sticklers.
There is a resolution of 2160×1440 pixels on this screen, and I am happy to tell you that everything on this display looks great. Movies, shows, web content, and games all look crisp. This is 1.5 times the regular 1080p resolution, and frankly, it is uncommon even to find that on a laptop at this price. The screen can also get very bright, but I have a gripe here. That is, the brightness control is very moody. There is no light sensor on the laptop, so you have to adjust the brightness manually, but the levels of brightness adjustments are very few. Switching to the next successive level can increase brightness so much. There is no middle ground between very low and very high sometimes. This is particularly true when you are working at night.
Realme Book Slim review: Powerful for its price
Realme is selling the Book Slim in two SKUs: one with 11th Gen Intel Core i3 and the other one with 11th Gen Intel Core i5. I have been using the former, and I do not think people with desk jobs that do not require them to do things like video editing need more power than what Realme Book Slim can offer. The processor is 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4, which is a part of Intel’s Tiger Lake lineup. This is a good choice for a budget laptop and backed with 8GB of dual-channel LPDDR4X RAM. There is 256GB of PCIe SSD storage on this version, while the other one has 512GB.
The configuration here is good for people who are into doing office work a lot. That includes browsing the internet and compiling reports using basic Office software. Realme Book Slim did not jam while I continued doing all that work. I could open as many as 14 tabs in Google Chrome, and the laptop would still be as responsive. When I checked the Task Manager to see the RAM left, I was surprised that it was almost full with all that software open on the laptop. But the laptop handled it all very well.
I did try to play some games, such as Psychonauts 2, on the Realme Book Slim, but it was not a good experience. When playing Asphalt 9: Legends, I felt the laptop got a bit warm, although not so uncomfortably, thanks to dual heat pipes and high-airflow fans. But even with a good cooling system, I would suggest you keep your expectations low if you want to run games on the laptop.
Having 8GB of RAM on a laptop at this price category is very common, and so what the Realme Book Slim brings is no exception. But I think that an exception is not needed here. But at the same time, I would tell gamers and creators to move ahead with their decision to buy this with some caution. I do not think 8GB of RAM is going to be enough. And you cannot even solve the problem by choosing the Core i5 variant because even that has 8GB of RAM. The SSD on the laptop transfers files very fast, so I was always flying with my pen drives.
Realme Book Slim’s keyboard is one of the best things about it. Typing on it is so seamless, thanks to the 1.3mm key travel, and the clicky sound makes the entire experience so satisfying. The keyboard comes with backlighting configured to a button alongside the function keys. There are three modes for the backlit keyboard: off, dim, and full. The backlighting is not so sharp, so there is just the right amount of light to see the characters on the keyboard when you are working at night. Its touchpad is pretty large, about the same length and width as that on a MacBook. The touchpad is responsive and supports multiple touches with Microsoft’s precision touch technology. You can tap or click the touchpad with one finger for the left-click operation by default.
One of the popular uses for Realme Book Slim right now is video-calling. The 720p webcam on the Realme Book Slim is decent enough for video calls with good light around. I, however, would have loved a 1080p webcam for better video quality. It would also have been better if there was a shutter for this camera, considering how privacy is something most users weigh in nowadays. The Harman speakers are very loud, and I absolutely enjoyed watching the latest episode of Watch If?. The DTS Audio app preloaded on the laptop is useful in tuning the speakers.
Because Realme Book Slim is a portable laptop, there are only a handful of ports. The two USB-C ports allow charging and reverse charging, as well as connecting to other devices. The USB-A port on the right side will take care of the thumb drives lying around at your house. I found myself using this one more than the USB-C ports because of that. There is also a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack. I am used to using wireless earphones, but the port helps when you have to quickly attend a Zoom meeting without going through the hassle of setting up TWS earbuds.
Realme Book Slim boots Windows 10 out of the box with support for Windows Hello. Everything is standard on the PC, but there is one app that is very handy. It is called the PC Connect, and you can use it to mirror the screen of Realme phones to the PC. At the moment, only the Realme GT and GT Master Edition support this feature. Using the phone on a PC felt a lot more convenient. I could check notifications and even make calls using this app. Realme has already promised a Windows 11 upgrade for the Realme Book Slim for later this year.
Realme Book Slim review: Average battery life
Laptops are infamous for short battery lives. Despite huge claims from companies, laptop batteries last about 4-5 hours at best. The Realme Book Slim is not a game-changer but still better than some laptops. I averaged a battery runtime of 5-6 hours with my typical office work. I also played music on Spotify for about 2-3 hours, so there is that. But Realme’s 65W fast-charging fills the battery fast. It is a USB-C charger, and Realme said it could charge Realme phones at the same speed.
Realme Book Slim review: Should you buy it?
Realme Book Slim is one of the most stylish and convenient laptops you can get for its price. I absolutely love the premium build quality and sleek design that make this laptop very portable. Its good looks complement the laptop, and I think they are one of the reasons customers will buy it. On top of that is an impressive display with a 2K resolution, good colours, and high brightness. The keyboard is among the best I have typed on. The performance is also good, but it has to do more with what you want to do on your laptop. And it does not have to be gaming. Battery life is also a bit underwhelming for people who are mostly on the go.
If you write a lot, work on Excel sheets, or browse the internet, Realme Book Slim will not disappoint you. For an introductory price of Rs 44,999, the Realme Book Slim is a good buy.
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