Xidu Tour Pro review: A winner on a budget

An affordable touchscreen compact ultrabook ideal for day-to-day productivity

IT Pro Value
Price
£383 exc VAT
  • Good 1440p IPS touchscreen
  • Excellent backlit keyboard
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Space for a second SSD
  • Battery life only adequate
  • Dual-core Celeron chip a little puny
  • Only one USB-A port
  • No dedicated HDMI port

An interesting side effect of so much of the world’s gadgets being manufactured in or near the Chinese city of Shenzhen is that small, local manufacturers can spring up seemingly from nowhere and deliver really rather impressive products. It's one of the benefits of having a supply chain on your doorstep that’s as deep as it is long as it is wide.

Case in point: This time last month we’d never heard of Xidu (pronounced “zee-do”, presumably) but here we are now testing its new Tour Pro laptop, a smart machine that is an instant contender for our Value award.

The Xidu Tour Pro is an ultra-compact Windows 10 laptop with a mid-sized 2,560 x 1,440 12.5in IPS touchscreen. Its chassis is built mostly from metal, weighs 1.24kg and measures a mere 10mm thick.

Inside, it’s powered by an  Intel Celeron 3867U and is accompanied by 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. It isn’t particularly powerful but, then again, you’re not paying premium laptop prices.

Prior to the Xidu's arrival if you'd said that you wanted a compact ultrabook with a 1440p touchscreen for this sort of money we'd have said you’re living in cloud cuckoo land. This is the first we’ve come across and there’s no direct competition, at this price, to speak of.

The Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air is a nice little laptop with the same sized screen but only a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and no touchscreen. The Core m3-8100Y chip makes it more powerful than the Tour Pro on paper but you only get 4GB of RAM rather than 8GB and it is more expensive than the Xidu, giving little change from £500.

And keep in mind that Xiaomi laptops bought from China often arrive with a Chinese-only version of Windows 10. Reinstalling an English version is not the most straightforward of operations. The Xidu, on the other hand, runs Windows 10 Home in English and updated to build 1909 within half an hour of our first switching it on.

Devices like the Huawei MateBook X Pro, the Microsoft Surface Pro X, Dell's XPS 13 and Apple’s cheapest MacBook Pro occupy a similar consumer space but they’re more powerful than the Xidu and also massively more expensive.

Xidu Tour Pro review: Design

The looks and build quality of the Xidu give little away to the best from the likes of Apple or Huawei. It’s a smart, solid and well-made machine. If we had to pick a hole, then the silver logo on the lid could be a little more restrained. It looks like something you’d find on the boot of a mid-1980s Korean hatchback.

With the exception of the wristrest, the Tour Pro is made entirely from a metal alloy so it feels more expensive than the price tag. The lid is very solid and folds back 180 degrees. Weighing 1.24Kg and measuring 290 x 200 x 15mm (WDH) when closed, it’s about as small and light as you can reasonably expect a 12.5in laptop to be.

Xidu Tour Pro review: Keyboard and trackpad

Poke the Tour Pro hard and you’ll find that the keyboard deck is rock solid. It also has an impressively uniform single-stage backlight. The key action is nigh on perfect and it’s quiet too. The keyboard uses the international layout but Xidu thoughtfully includes a UK-layout silicon keyboard protector in the box. That is a very considerate touch. 

The smooth, Precision-driven touchpad is similarly hard to criticise. At 98 x 62mm, it's a good size and demonstrated no annoying quirks.

Above the keyboard on the right-hand side, you’ll find a power button with a built-in – and reliable – fingerprint scanner, which makes logging into Windows that bit faster and the SSD means boot speeds are pretty nippy, too, at less than ten seconds. The rather dark and mediocre 720p webcam doesn’t support Windows Hello though, so you can’t access anything via facial recognition.

The screen occupies an impressively large portion of the lid's real estate – 88% according to Xidu – and our measurements agree. The side bezels are certainly impressively slim, although the top bezel is thicker and the bottom thicker still.

Storage comes courtesy of a 128GB SATA3 SSD but there is a hatch on the underside to install another M.2 2280 SSD. That is a very flexible set up, especially if you want to install a second operating system.

Connections include a USB Type-A 3.0 port, a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm audio jack on the right, plus a full-spec Type-C port and a DC jack on the left. The Tour Pro charged just fine using our generic Type-C Power Delivery charger so you can discard the DC charger if you want.

We'd prefer an extra Type-A port and an HDMI connector but a cheap Type-C hub fixes that problem. Using the DC charger the Tour Pro can be charged in just under three hours.

The 38WHr battery can deliver a maximum run time of around six and a half hours, but that’s the best you’ll get. Push it hard with the screen brightness set to maximum and you’ll drain it in just over four hours. 

Our standard video rundown test returned a time of 5hrs 10mins. In our book, that’s acceptable but not a whole lot more – a side effect of the rather power-hungry 15W TDP processor.

Xidu Tour Pro review: Display

We've nothing but praise for the Xidu Tour Pro’s 12.5in 2,560 x 1,440 IPS display. Its pixel density of 235dpi, maximum brightness of 340cd/m2 and the sRGB colourspace coverage of 99% are all reasons to give it a thumbs up. It’s great to see small Chinese makers using better displays on their budget machines.

As you might expect the fully-laminated screen has a gloss finish, so it is rather reflective but we can live with that. And it’s a touch screen, which at this price is a real boon. The ten-point touch sensor was perfectly calibrated out of the box.

Xidu supplies not one or two but three screen protectors - two pre-applied and one spare, which suggests the screen isn't covered with toughened glass. We removed the pre-applied sheets just because we prefer touching glass to plastic.

The sound quality from the two downwards-firing speakers is not the Achilles heel it usually is with Chinese laptops, either. There is plenty of volume and even a hint of bass. The sound is clear and only gets a little ragged at maximum volume.

Xidu Tour Pro review: Performance

The Pro Tour ‘s Intel Celeron 3867U chip doesn’t exactly pull-the-skin-off-a-rice-pudding when it comes to outright speed but again, it’s usable.

An 8th generation Kaby Lake R processor, it was released in Q1 2019 and supports all the latest video hardware decoding. That’s important because it lacks the chops to make up any deficiencies in this area with raw power. An older chip with this spec would not be able to take full advantage of the 1440p display. As it stands 2160p60 YouTube videos play smoothly and look superb on the Tour Pro.

As a dual-core, twin-thread component with a fixed speed of 1.8GHz, the 3867U’s performance feels somewhere between the Gemini Lake N4100 and the Core m3-8100Y chip when no major demands are made of it. But start asking for more and the absence of the N4100’s extra two cores or the turbo-boost of the Core m3 starts to make itself felt.

The 8GB of single-channel DDR3 memory and integrated HD610 graphics processor helps matters but this is by no means a powerhouse CPU. For general productivity it’s absolutely fine and it feels surprisingly slick but for serious multitasking or anything more graphically demanding than light gaming, it is a little out of its depth.

Across the board, the benchmark scores were actually rather better than we expected, underlining the fact that this chipset delivers more in the way of everyday performance than the specification suggests. The overall score in our 4K media test was higher than we expected at 43. We actually ran the test half a dozen times to make sure the initial results were not freakish outliers.

For those who like to fiddle with the bios (it’s a UEFI bios in a rare move for a budget Chinese laptop) in a deep and meaningful way, we’ve got bad news. It’s thoroughly locked down so you can’t change anything important.  We are, however, pleased that not only did our favourite Linux distros – Clear Linux and Ubuntu – work perfectly on the Touch Pro but that the touchscreen worked too. We weren’t expecting that at all.

Unusually for a laptop of this type, the Tour Pro has a fan. In our review machine it fired up regularly, and for long periods, but it was reasonably quiet even at full chat. Being actively rather than passively cooled gives the Tour Pro a very good thermal profile: It hardly ever gets warm.

Xidu Tour Pro review: Verdict

Provided you don’t want a laptop for serious gaming or jobs like editing 4K video then the Xidu Tour Pro is very hard to fault. The rather weak dual-core processor is a significant drawback but the up-to-date chip architecture, 8GB of RAM, the absence of any thermal throttling and reasonably powerful integrated graphics processor go some way to ameliorate this and makes the Tour Pro feel faster than the numbers suggest.

The 1440p touch display, excellent keyboard and decent Linux support mean that, for the money, the rest of the package can be highly recommended.

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