Kupa UltraNote X15 Ultra review

The Kupa UltraNote X15 Windows 8 tablet is equipped to get things done, from its Intel Core i7 processor to an array of attachable extras.
Photo of Kupa UltraNote X15 Ultra

If you’ve been waiting to see a Windows 8 tablet made for the demands of business, take a good look at the Kupa UltraNote X15 Ultra, the Core i7-powered followup to last year’s Kupa X11 Pro Tablet. Equipped with laptop-grade components to rival the likes of the Microsoft Surface Pro and with a modular design that enables several enterprise-friendly accessories, the Kupa UltraNote X15 Ultra is a powerful tablet built with the business user in mind.

Design
Designed for business and enterprise, the UltraNote X15 is a solid Windows 8 Pro-equipped tablet with an array of accessories and modular add-ons designed to meet very specific business demands. At the heart of this modular system is the Kupa UltraNote X15 Ultra, a slim, 1.9-pound tablet with a black plastic chassis and an aluminum alloy frame for additional strength and durability.

The UltraNote X15 measures 0.53 by 10.3 by 7.3 inches (HWD)—similar in size to the Microsoft Surface Pro—but it offers a few distinct differences in design. The first is the battery, which can be removed and swapped out for a second battery ($79.00 list). The side-loading design is a little rough—getting out was a bit difficult, and it caught on a fastener tab while putting it back in—but it’s more than competing slate PCs offer.

Because the UltraNote X15 packs a laptop-grade processor, heat is an issue. Kupa deals with this by adding an internal cooling fan. It doesn’t add much bulk, but it does add some fan noise.

The UltraNote X15 features a 10.1-inch display, with 1,920-by-1,200 resolution and an IPS panel that is bright and sharp even at odd angles. Adjustable brightness up to 400 nits means that you’ll be able to use the display even in direct sunlight, while the 10-point capacitive touch display supports all of Windows 8′s gesture controls. The display also features a 1024-level digitizer, pairing with an electromagnetic digitizer stylus for intuitive control.

Features
On the UltraNote X15 you’ll find a few important ports, with two USB 3.0 ports, mini HDMI output, a stereo audio jack, and a proprietary 40-pin docking connector. There’s also a SIM card slot for optional 3G connectivity—users wanting 4G are out of luck, however, and will need to use a mobile hotspot or dongle. On the bottom bezel of the tablet is an integrated fingerprint scanner, providing biometric security that makes secure logins as simple as swiping a finger.

In addition to the slots and ports on the outside of the tablet, there are several built-in features that should still draw some attention. Front and back facing cameras offer 1.3-Megapixel and 5- Megapixel photo and video capture, respectively. Wireless 802.11n Wi-Fi will be your primary networking connection, but you can also connect to other devices wirelessly with Bluetooth 4.0.

The UltraNote X15 Ultra offers up to 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) storage. Preloaded on the drive is Windows 8 Pro (64-bit), and our review unit came with Microsoft Office 2013 already installed (included in price). Kupa covers the UltraNote X15 with a one-year warranty and offers toll-free tech support via phone and email.

Accessories
Kupa touts the modular design of the UltraNote X15, boasting that attachable accessories allow the X15 to better meet the unique needs of individual businesses. At the present, there are several accessories available—Kupa lists attachable card reader, scanner bay, and video recording units in current materials—but more are in development.

A feature worth mentioning here is the stylus, which also comes with an attachable storage slot. The stylus storage attaches with a sliding bracket that affixes it to the left-hand edge of the tablet. The stylus itself works with the electromagnetic digitizer, so generic stylus replacements won’t be compatible, and replacements sell for $49 (list).

Few tablets give the option of replacing the battery, and even require battery replacement to be done through an authorized repair center. The side-loading design of the Kupa X15 isn’t perfect, but it does allow the use of a second battery when needed for extended use in the field.

As a way to extend both the battery life and the usability of the tablet, Kupa offers an accessory keyboard for the UltraNote X15 that sells for an additional $199. Though not included with our review unit the docking keyboard offers a second battery, along with an expanded selection of ports—Ethernet, VGA output, an SD card slot, and a third USB port.

Performance

The UltraNote X15 Ultra is outfitted with an Intel 3rd Gen Core i7-3517U processor, the same 1.9GHz processor found in the Razer Edge Pro, paired with 8GB of RAM. In PCMark 7, this combination scored 4,487 points and a Cinebench score of 2.73 points. This puts it on par with the best slate PCs out there—the Microsoft Surface Pro offers a slightly better PCMark 7 score (4,768 points) but only 2.39 in Cinebench, while the Razer Edge Pro couldn’t complete PCMark and narrowly led the category in Cinebench (2.77 points).

Multimedia provides a different look at performance. The Kupa X15 finished Handbrake in 1 minute 24 seconds, beaten by the Razer Edge Pro, which managed 1:16 thanks to the addition of a discrete graphics card, but it pulled ahead of the Microsoft Surface Pro (1:28) and the Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro 700T (XE700T1C-A01US) (1:30). The Kupa X15 completed Photoshop in 5 minutes 3 seconds—ahead of all others in the category—but it didn’t do so on the first try, balking halfway through the first attempt at running the test. By comparison the Microsoft Surface Pro (6:11), Razer Edge Pro (5:19) and Samsung ATIV 700T (6:20) scored well behind the UltraNote X15, but without the same issues.

With only Intel’s integrated graphics solution for graphics processing, the UltraNote X15 Ultra has the chops for all of your basic business needs—it finished 3DMark 11 with 1,012 points (Entry settings) and 184 points (Extreme settings)—but it won’t be useful for graphics intensive programs like AutoCAD or gaming.

The UltraNote X15 offers good—but not great—battery life for a slate PC, lasting 3 hours 58 minutes in our battery rundown test. While this was longer than the Razer Edge Pro (3:14), it was beaten by both the Microsoft Surface Pro (4:58) and the Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro 700T (5:12). However, neither of those longer lasting systems are equipped with a Core i7, and neither offer a swappable battery.

Conclusion
While there are several Windows 8 tablets on the market, not all are made for enterprise use, and none offer the customization and modular accessories seen on the Kupa UltraNote X15 Ultra. From the Core i7 processor to the optional 3G wireless, the UltraNote X15 is equipped to get things done, but some may balk at the cost of extra accessories or the clunky quality of the swappable battery. For a more polished experience, stick with our Editors’ Choice, the Microsoft Surface Pro, but if accessories and a wider feature set sound like more of what you need, check out the Kupa UltraNote X15 Ultra.

Specifications
Touchscreen Yes
Processor Name Intel Core i7-3517U
Operating System Microsoft Windows 8 Professional
Weight 1.8 lb
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4000, Intel HD Graphics 4000
Screen Type Widescreen
Type Tablet, Small Business
RAM 8 GB, 8 GB
Networking Options 802.11n
Processor Speed 1.9 GHz
Screen Size 10.1 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 128 GB
Storage Type SSD

Verdict
The Kupa UltraNote X15 Windows 8 tablet is equipped to get things done, from its Intel Core i7 processor to an array of attachable extras.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc