Taking a MadBadGadgets look at the GPD Pocket 2 Amber Black

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The original GPD Pocket is a UMPC style Windows laptop that also came in an Ubuntu flavour. It was crowdfunded on the Indiegogo site and was a huge success.

GPD came back earlier this year with a GPD Pocket 2 device, which had a better keyboard and a better processor, but this review is focused on the GPD Pocket 2 Amber, which is a mid range black variant of the Pocket 2, and this is what this review will be focused on.

Firstly, it has to be said that the black version of the GPD Pocket is simply gorgeous and there have been plenty of GPD Pocket 2 users on Reddit bemoaning its lack of availability in the more powerful variant of the Pocket 2.

GPD Pocket 2 Amber Black

So, what is the difference between the GPD Pocket 2 and the Amber Black version ?

Well, firstly, obviously the colour ! Other than that there is  the memory (4GB rather than 8GB) and then [EDIT – the Amber Black is now available with 8GB of RAM !] the processor, which in the Amber Black is an Intel Celeron low power 3965Y processor. You can find benchmark stats on the Celeron 3965Y here. The GPD Pocket 2 standard edition features theIntel Core m M3-7Y30 (Kaby Lake) SoC with integrated Intel graphics, which is a step up from what is in the Amber Black.

Having used the Amber Black in real world use I can confirm it seems a lot zippier than the original GPD Pocket which featured an Intel Atom x7-Z8750 Cherry Trail CPU, and in everyday tasks I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how speedy it feels.

Windows 10 seems decently optimised so that RAM does not seem to be a bottleneck and the overall experience is good. YouTube videos play full screen, the odd game I’ve played seemed good so for me performance is much better than I had expected and certainty seems an improvement over the original GPD Pocket and it is very usable.

Also of course there is the difference in price between the standard GDP Pocket 2 and the Amber Black edition. The Amber Black variant is a great deal cheaper than the standard GPD Pocket 2 variant. On Amazon right now the standard silver Pocket 2 is £799.99 and the Amber Black version is £599.99. You may also get it cheaper if you decide to buy directly from one of the Chinese stores.

The build of the device holds no real surprises. On the left hand side of the Pocket 2 there is a Micro-SD card, an earphone port and a USB-A slot.

On the right side there is a USB-C charging port and another USB-A port.

The 7″ screen is bright and contrast and the 1920×1080 (FHD) viewing area is really very good.  Also one thing to note is that when the screen is closed the device sleeps properly. My experience of the original GPD Pocket was that this never worked but the issue has been resolved on the Pocket 2 with the screen ‘snapping’ shut and it sleeping as expected. This makes a huge difference in usability compared to the Pocket 1.

Whilst on the subject of the display I have seen some reports by users of ghosting and screen calibration issues. I did not see any of this on the review model that I used. The screen was perfect in this regards. I have seen that users who had this problem were able to resolve them by updating the drivers from the GPD website so perhaps their models had out of date drivers, I do not know, all I can report is that I did not see any of these issues.

As with the other GPD Pocket UMPC style devices there is no camera which s a shame as it really would be a complete device with a camera. Having said that so many people carry a smartphone these days that the point is probably mute.

The battery is a 7000 Mah battery and coupled with the low voltage processor provides exceptional battery life. In real world intermittent use I was easily able to use it for the whole day and when playing videos non stop it lasted a tad over 5 hours.

The keyboard is real step up in terms of the soft rubbery keyboard experience of the Pocket 1.

There have been a few subtle changes, not all for the better. The left shift key has disappeared and the comma and full stop are not next to each other as would be their normal configuration in a standard keyboard. Caps Lock and tab have also moved. The latter is pretty inconsequential but the former, particularly for those who do more than hunt and peck at a keyboard, is painful. You constantly find yourself hitting the wrong keys.

It is is however not a deal breaker. You are unlikely to be doing long bouts of typing on the Pocket 2 in any case and if you do you will probably end up connecting a full size keyboard. There are also other solutions. I used the open source utility ‘SharpKeys‘ to remap the comma to be a full stop (its natural position), the >’ key to be shift’ and the left cursor key to be a comma. I found this led to a much more intuitive experience in terms of typing. If you would like to do the same you can load and use the same SharpKeys mapping I did from this file.

Another thing that has changed from the GPD Pocket 1 is the Thinkpad type nub for the on device mouse. Instead the Pocket 2 has a type of optical mouse. You can see it in the keyboard photograph about in the top right corner. The left and right mouse buttons are to the very left of the device on the same row as the optical mouse. In practice this works really well as its exactly where you tend to pick up the device to hold it and it is very intuitive. Note that you can also click the actual optical mouse nub for a quick left mouse click.

Some of my software favourites for the Pocket 2 Amber include:

So what is the MadBadGadgets verdict ? A massive hit ! It’s a really nice device, it looks amazing and its a real step up from the original GDP Pocket. If you are real power user you can consider the GDP Pocket 2 silver edition but if you get the black edition I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

 

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