Good performance; Crisp full HD screen; Built-in fingerprint reader
Expensive; Below-average battery life; Difficult to remove stylus
The Kupa UltraNote X15 is a speedy Windows 8 tablet with a built-in fingerprint reader, but it's held back by short battery life and a high price.
A Windows 8 tablet designed for the security conscious, the Kupa UltraNote X15 is one of the few devices of its ilk with a built-in fingerprint scanner. But that's not all this high-powered tablet offers. Packing a 1920 x 1200 IPS display--also a rarity--as well as an Intel Core i7 processor, 128GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, the X15 comes ready to work. But at $1,599, this slate is significantly more expensive than competing Windows 8 tablets. Is the X15 worth the premium?
On the top right edge of the X15 is a small power button. All of the tablet's ports line the right side: Two USB 3.0, mini HDMI, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a SIM card slot. Along the bottom edge is the X15's proprietary power port and a vent.
The back of the X15 is coated in a soft-touch rubber, which makes holding the device comfortable. Also on the back are two large speaker grilles in the lower right and left corners, and a vent in the shape of a speech bubble.
A latch on the top left is used to secure a removable stylus holder, which hooks into two slots on the left edge. While it's not as seamless as the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, which has a stylus holder built into the tablet itself, we appreciate the effort. However, the stylus was extremely difficult to remove, requiring significant pressure from our fingernail to extract it.
Measuring 10.3 x 7.3 x 0.5 inches and weighing 1.8 pounds, the X15 is lighter and smaller than both the Microsoft Surface Pro (10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches, 2 pounds) and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T (11.9 x 7.46 x 0.49 inches, 2 pounds). However, the Samsung has a larger 11.6-inch display.
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When we watched a 1080p trailer for "Star Trek: Into Darkness," everything from water spilling off the Enterprise to pores in Admiral Pike's face looked wonderfully crisp. Colors, such as the yellow of the Starfleet uniforms, were also fairly vivid.
The digitizer itself was noticeable, especially during darker scenes. However, the IPS panel allowed for great viewing angles; we could hold the X15 at extreme angles, and still see everything on the screen clearly.
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As mentioned, the X15's stylus gets stored in its own dock. However, to recharge the pen, you need to use a second accessory, a small U-shaped holder that connects to the X15 via a USB port. You must line up two metal contacts in the holder with the corresponding contacts on the stylus itself. We wish that Kupa could figure out a way to combine these two accessories into one.
Although large, the X15's speakers don't produce powerful audio. When we listened to "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More" by Barry White, instruments and vocals sounded hollow and weak. We got similar results when we played the unplugged version of "Layla" by Eric Clapton.
During our testing, the X15 kept its cool. After watching 15 minutes of a "Modern Family" episode on Hulu at full screen, the back of the X15 measured 84 degrees, comfortably under our 95-degree threshold.
The X15 is spearheaded by a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i7 3517U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. On PCMark 7, the X15 scored 4,326, blowing past the 2,629 category average. However, it was edged out by the ATIV (4,442) as well as the Surface Pro (4,721), both of which have 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5 3317U CPUs.
The X15 booted Windows 8 in 16 seconds, which is 7 seconds faster than the category average, but a few seconds slower than the Samsung ATIV (13 seconds) and the Surface Pro (11 seconds).
In our OpenOffice Spreadsheet Test, which matches 20,000 names with their corresponding addresses, the X15 took 4 minutes and 49 seconds to complete the task. That's about a minute faster than the Samsung ATIV (5:50) and 44 ticks speedier than the Surface Pro (5:33).
The X15's 128GB SSD took 1 minute and 10 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia, a rate of 72.7 MBps. That's faster than the 56 MBps category average, but nowhere near the Samsung ATIV's transfer rate (170 MBps) or the Surface Pro (124 MBps).
In our 3DMark 11 test, the X15 scored 566, which is well below the 741 category average, but on a par with the ATIV (566), and better than the Surface Pro's mark of 424.
Software and Warranty
Configurations and Accessories
Kupa offers four different configurations of the X15, all of which have a 1920 x 1200-pixel display and 8GB of RAM. Our review model, the X15 Ultra, is the most expensive at $1,599, and includes an Intel Core i7 processor, a 128GB SSD, and is 3G capable. The $1,299 model, the X15 Lux, has an Intel Core i5 processor. The $1,199 model (X15 Pro) has the same components as the Lux, but lacks a 3G module. Finally, the least expensive model, the X15 Elite, costs $1,099; that version offers a Core i5 processor, a 64GB SSD, and also lacks 3G connectivity.
X15 owners can also purchase a multifunction keyboard dock ($199), which includes an extra battery, Ethernet, VGA, SD card slot and a USB port.
|CPU||1.9Ghz Intel Core i7-3517U CPU|
|Storage Drive Size||128GB|
|Storage Drive Type||SSD|
|Display Resolution||1920 x 1200|
|Graphics Chip||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|OS||Windows 8 Pro|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Card Reader Size|
|Warranty / Support||One year warranty|
|Size||10.3 x 7.3 x 0.5-inches|