As a rule, I tend to be a bit apprehensive about first generation products. No questioning the intention, but as it is with the starting blocks of evolution, some amount of finetuning is needed in due course. Some of that feedback comes back from users, while a better understanding of the market helps too. Realme is embarking on a similar journey into a product category that is extremely fancied. Laptops, since everyone needs one now. It is not just a want anymore; it is a need. The Realme Book, or the Realme Book (Slim) as it is called, marks the popular phone maker’s first foray into this space. The inspiration seems to be spot on—ultra slim laptop that doesn’t compromise on performance. You’d say the competition is tough, but is it really? Are there any similarly priced alternatives that are this slim?
The Realme Book (Slim) is available in two configurations. The Realme Book (Slim) with the 11th generation Intel Core i3 processor with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD is priced at Rs 44,999 while the Intel Core i5 powered variant with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage costs Rs 56,999. You can have these in the Real Blue and Real Grey colour options. Yes, you are right in a way—there are countless alternatives around these price points, some may be even offering a bit more RAM. The HP Laptop 14s series, Xiaomi’s RedmiBook 15 Pro, some variants of the Dell Inspiron range, to name a few. Yet, I’d raise you the challenge—find me one laptop at these price points that’s 14.9mm thin at its thickest point, personifies portability as effortlessly as this and gets you an aluminum body and not polycarbonate. The closest you’ll get to the Realme Book (Slim) and its overall personality is with the Asus VivoBook 14, priced Rs 58,990 onwards and powered by the AMD Ryzen chips.
There is no other way of saying this—the Realme Book (Slim) gets its inspiration from the Apple MacBook Air, and I mean that as absolutely no disrespect. It is a good thing for us as consumers that Realme has genuinely gotten very close to that sort of design and build. The aluminum helps add that solidity and dash of elegance as you look at the Realme Book (Slim), pick it up and move it around or when a colleague or friend asks you about your computing device of choice. It is a very smooth finish and there is a definite refinement to the overall look and feel. This weighs 1.38kg and simply put, you’ll have no problem carrying this around in a laptop sleeve or backpack. Yet, look at this from side on, and you’d notice the same design tactics that a lot of Windows laptops tend to deploy—the sides are thinner than they actually are, and you’d notice a curve melding into the slightly thicker underbody.
The Realme Book (Slim) has a 14-inch IPS display. And something we’ve noticed in laptops off late including the 2021 update of the HP Spectre and the Mi Notebook Pro, the display is adopting the square-er 3:2 aspect ratio. This is a really bright display and you’re quite well placed too with the 2160 x 1440 resolution which should hold you in good stead for the usable lifetime of the laptop. Colours are rich for the most part, the display has just the right amount of sharpness and it isn’t at all as reflective as I’d have imagined it to be. Yet, two things do stand out from time to time. First, if you set a custom scaling option in the Windows 10 display settings, there is the hint that the screen looks a bit washed out for certain apps and background colours. For instance, a webpage with a white base looks fine but something a bit richer in terms of the colour palette will not come through with as much richness. Secondly, if you dial up the brightness level, there are instances when you’d feel the depth of the black colours has been compromised—mostly visible in 4K content, but not when you’re using this for typical workflow tasks.
You have the option of an Intel Core i3-1115G4 or Intel Core i5-1135G7 processors to choose from. That’ll also define whether you get 256GB or 512GB of storage. What’s a bit restricting is that both options offer just 8GB RAM. That is fine now, and more than enough for most use cases that would involve moderate stress of multitasking, I’d have preferred an option that would give users the chance to get 16GB RAM and future proof their laptop purchase. The unknowns with Windows 11 at this time and the expectation that your software requirements will only go up, in due course of time. I’m testing the Core i5 version here and what’s immediately noticeable is the snappiness of Windows 10 on the Realme Book (Slim) even with a bunch of Google Chrome tabs open (mind you, I prefer using Microsoft Edge, but Chrome is being used here for the noble task of trying to recreate what millions do). Yet, at some point when the tabs are recklessly opened and there are bunch of documents open on the side as well, there are those hints that 8GB RAM may not be a good bet for futureproofing. A fast SSD storage does help though.
The Realme Book (Slim) just keeps going along with no stutter or stress or complaints, but there are definite instances when there is perceptible heating on the underside. That in turn means the fans speed up (there are dual fans pushing warm air out), which doesn’t exactly translate into a silent computing experience. A BIOS update that was rolled out later did help matters (you must update this from the Realme website) but as a rule, this behavior does keep coming up quite often. One could say this is also a side-effect of a slim chassis at work here.
Heating enhances battery drain. That’s a well-known fact. And it is exactly that what has a bearing on the Realme Book (Slim) and how much battery life you get on every tank full. In my experience, this does just over 8 hours when used for office work with the display brightness at 20% (which is bright enough for me). Mind you, the more episodes of fans speeding up happen when you are using the laptop, the quicker the battery drain will be because of the heat.
The Last Word: Realme Have Done A Creditable Job With The Realme Book (Slim)
For what is a first-generation effort, the Realme Book (Slim) does tick off most things on a checklist. Yet, there are the expected refinements which should be on the to-do lists. Judging the value of the Intel Core i5 powered spec, this does demand some level of confidence since you’re breaching the Rs 50,000 price mark. Yet, it is one of the slimmest laptops you can buy, if not the slimmest and that’s if you can find one looking really hard at the options. Secondly, it delivers on the experience with the consistent performance too. Yet, you cannot ignore that the Realme Book (Slim) does exhibit signs of heating from time to time—mind you, this can be solved to an extent with firmware updates to alter the behavior of the fans and how they react to data from the thermal sensors. Nevertheless, I have to say that all things considered, the Realme Book (Slim) is definitely on my list of recommendations.