Laptops are losing weight. Devices look dated within a year, and each year manufacturers find another corner to lop off. The Jumper EZBook Air is no exception, having shameless copied one of the most anemic laptops in the world, the 12” Macbook.
Apple has a history of “addition by subtraction” when it comes to hardware inputs. It removed the optical drive in its Macbook Air, Ethernet ports in the Macbook Pro, and the less significant FireWire port from all its devices. And because the EZBook Air is a straight copy of the new 12” Macbook, we have arguably the most painful removal yet, full size USB ports. I’ve always been against this trend of minimalism in devices; I shout the loudest when a port is removed, but I can’t say that I didn’t benefit from it. For example, my personal favourite device is the Dell XPS 13, which does not sport an optical drive, this being a direct result of this minimalist trend. As a result, I’m trying to keep an open mind while reviewing this Jumper EZBook Air which has eliminated all ports in favour of a lone USB-C port. The good news is that the USB-C port is versatile. It isn’t proprietary to Apple which means adoption rates should rise quickly. The bad news is the USB-C standard is still too new. USB-C peripherals are few and far between, and when you do bump into the rare dongle, it is a lot more expensive than an identical USB 2.0 version of the device. I usually don’t give a verdict in the introduction as I want you to understand the reasoning behind the verdict (and read the entire thing), but I will say that I enjoyed using this notebook immensely and the lack of ports didn’t bother me. The similarities between the EZBook Air and the Macbook end with the physical size and lack of ports. The first difference is price. The 12” Macbook costs $1299, meaning you’ll be spending a grand and change. The Jumper EZBook Air costs $289, less than the “change” on the Macbook. However, that insanely low price comes at a cost. The Atom X5-Z8300 processor is used alongside 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You do get a 1080p 11.6” touchscreen, so that’s definitely a plus. Is this $289 Macbook clone worth your money? Read on to find out.
The Jumper EZBook Air comes in champagne gold and looks more at home in the hands of a Starbucks toting hipster than an executive. It’s pretty obvious that Jumper is gunning for the rose gold version of the Macbook, but the champagne gold is a lot less “rosy” (pink) than the rose gold Macbook. That is, in my opinion, a good thing, as the rose gold colour is definitely not for everyone.
While the champagne gold of this EZBook Air is not for everyone either, it is a lot more neutral than a pink laptop. Being a close 1:1 copy of the Macbook’s design and dimensions, this device looks incredibly classy. The majority of the laptop is metal with a plastic trim and plastic surrounding the screen on the inside.
It tapers to a sweet 4mm at its thinnest point and measures a scant 15mm at it’s thickest. Its size and portability is the killer feature here. Smaller than an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper, this device is extremely portable. The taper in the laptop body makes it feel incredibly compact, and weight is distributed like a champ. I regularly forgot that it was in my bag and would accidentally throw said bag across the room, giving myself a heart attack when I heard a loud thump. Thankfully, The EZBook Air always pulled through.
The cover is quite Spartan, with just the EZBook logo emblazoned in the center. Opening up the laptop instantly renders this device less classy.
Why? The screen is surrounded by thick bezels that do not jive with the classy exterior of the laptop, looking closer to the Macbook Air 11 than the 12″ Macbook. It seems that Jumper neglected to minimize the amount of bezels in this device, and really detracts from the looks of the laptop when opened.
The second culprit is the keyboard. The keys themselves are made out of low quality plastic, the exact same material used in the Jumper EZBook 2. However, the typing experience on these keys is actually a much better experience than on the Macbook’s butterfly keys because there is actual key travel.
The trackpad is high quality and it actually works quite well; while still a far cry from any Macbook’s trackpad, it works quite decently for a Chinese designed laptop. Most importantly, you can disable pinch to zoom, which would inadvertently activate when trying to two finger scroll. You find the single USB-C port on the left and the headphone jack on the right. Jumper has done a mighty fine job of copying the exterior design of the Macbook, resulting in something incredibly small and portable. The EZBook Air is quite a classy device, apart from the two missteps, whether calculated or not, are missteps nonetheless. The large bezels and low quality keys instantly detract from the beauty of this laptop.
While we don’t find a display with a mind bogglingly high resolution, we do find a perfectly satisfactory 1080p IPS touchscreen display. Compared to the older Jumper EZBook 2, the screen is a huge improvement, although I suspect this improvement is mostly a byproduct of integrating a touchscreen into the device. Whereas the EZBook 2 boasted a 1080p 14” LED matte display, we have here a glossy 11.6” IPS display with the same resolution. While the 11.6” IPS display is more difficult to use in sunlight because of the gloss, it looks better than the LED display in just about every other situation.
The display has the typical vibrancy and punch of a good IPS display but is definitely far from the best. Compare it to the 12” Macbook and the XPS 13 and the difference is immediate but surprisingly smaller than expected. However, compare it to the Jumper EZBook 2 and the older laptop’s LED display looks dim and muted in comparison. Watching movies and TV shows definitely do show off the display’s capabilities, with colour reproduction being very decent and fairly punchy. However, the true test is browsing through colourful photos.
Colours are punchy and deep, pleasing the eye with every photo. Maximum brightness is relatively high, topping out at 320 lux, slightly higher than the EZBook 2’s 300 lux. However, the Air’s screen looks a lot brighter because of the glossy finish on the IPS LCD screen (vs. a matte LED display).
Stereo speakers are incorporated into the bottom of the device and are exceptionally loud. It matches up to the best phone and tablet speakers in terms of volume, I can watch videos and listen to music very easily in pretty much any situation. However, there is buzzing in the audio at loudest volume. Lower the volume a little bit more and you should be fine. Audio quality is quite average though, it sounds OK when doing music or TV, but it isn’t great.
The 8000mAh battery is a significant step down from the EZBook 2’s 10,000mAh battery. Where the EZBook 2 could provide day long battery life (as long as gaming wasn’t the main task), I am expecting less than day long battery life here with the Air. If you take into account the LCD touch panel, that alone should drain the battery that much quicker. Looping a video constantly depleted the battery in about 7 hours and 30 minutes while constant web browsing varied depending on which browser was used; from 7 hours to 5 hours with Edge and Chrome respectively. Battery life is definitely below what the EZBook 2 could get, and I found myself running out of juice if I used the notebook too much throughout the day. This was typically between 5-6 hours of screen on time; mostly documents, the internet, and TV shows. I could stretch it to 7 hours if all of that was watching local video files. Standby battery consumption is OK; the laptop pulled about 1% per hour. Light and medium users can get through a day without charging while heavy users will definitely need to plug in.
Software & Performance
Here we find Windows 10 preinstalled on a relatively sizeable 128GB of storage. With that much free space, I would have liked to see Remix OS as a dual boot option in this device, but we can’t all have what we want can we? Windows 10 performance is decent enough; I was able to easily work on a word document, excel sheet, and listen to music through YouTube at the same time. However, this device started visibly slowing down while trying to run GIMP which is less resource intensive than the latest iteration of Photoshop. 8 tabs in Chrome was also the limit at which point the device started visibly slowing down while Edge fared a little better at 10 tabs.
The EZBook Air is no gaming powerhouse either, showcasing similar performance to the Jumper EZBook 2 in most games like Asphalt 8 for example. I wouldn’t recommend this notebook for anything other than very light and casual gaming. Apart from being a premium material for notebooks, the aluminum chassis was instrumental in helping to dissipate heat in the EZBook Air. The Air got warm very easily, most likely transferring any residual warmth from the processor to the chassis instantly, and this isn’t a bad thing. The Air never got hot, not even while struggling to run games. The entire chassis of the notebook is one giant heatsink, and that helps keep temperatures within the range of warm and I never experienced throttling at all. One huge upside to this device is the 128GB of Samsung storage. I guess that could be a reason not to implement a MicroSD card slot as 128GB is quite spacious. I had almost 100GB free and had more free space than I knew what to do with. Performance is pretty typical of Atom devices, but it might take a lot longer to throttle due to the heat dissipation capabilities of the aluminum chassis.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the ports… or lack thereof. With just a single USB-C port and a headphone jack, let’s just say that you won’t be physically connected at all. Is it as bad as you think? Well, kind of. Setting up this laptop was annoying. I had to move anything I wanted to copy, movies, TV shows, software, and place it into the shared folder on my desktop. I then had to copy everything over WiFi to the laptop which took forever.
However, after that initial period, I stopped noticing the lack of ports. Now you’re probably thinking, “Liar”, or “shill”, or “dirty paid rat”, and I don’t blame you for thinking those things, as I thought the exact same thing when reading certain reviews of the Macbook. However, there are two very important factors here why I was not bothered by the lack of ports. First, this EZBook Air is not my main device but my secondary device, meaning you have a computer with hardware ports waiting for you at home. Second, this is used as an “on the go” device, meaning I was using it to browse the web, edit documents at Starbucks (or Burger King, less classy but better food), and watch TV shows. In this scenario I was not bothered by the lack of ports because everything was done wirelessly. I really would not recommend purchasing the EZBook Air as your main device just because of how few ports there are. This device would also be good for a student looking for something small and portable to bring to lectures for notes and papers, assuming the two previous factors hold true for you as well. However, if you are purchasing this as your main device, then I will be the first to tell you not to get this laptop. Even though I quickly stopped noticing the lack of USB ports, one thing I did notice was the lack of a MicroSD card slot. The MicroSD card is the de facto way from which I copy media files, pictures, steam game data, and other files to and from my tablets and laptops, and without this slot; I had to rely on copying files over my painfully slow (comparably) home network. I don’t see a reason not to include a MicroSD card slot as it takes up precious little physical space.
Wireless connectivity is impressive, and in my opinion feels like Jumper is trying to compensate for the lack of physical ports. We have wireless AC here, and copying stuff to and from the EZBook Air is incredibly fast over the local WiFi network (my internet is pretty slow). I do have a wireless AC router that can take advantage of the wireless AC chip built into the EZBook Air. However, WiFi reception drops off pretty quick. When I’m 10 feet away from the router, I get incredible speeds. One floor up? I still get very fast WiFi speeds but noticeably slower. Two floors up? Well, it still connects to WiFi, but I can’t access my local media server or the internet.
What did many reviewers say when they reviewed the new Macbook? Is this a nice piece of kit? Yes. Is it overpriced compared to the more powerful Macbook Air? A resounding yes. Replace the word “Macbook” with the word “EZBook” and the exact same thing holds true. The EZBook 2 costs $170 while the EZBook Air costs $289, over $100 more. And what do you get for that extra $100? An aluminum build, more storage and a smaller battery. If we choose a better device based purely on value, the EZBook 2 wins, no question. It even has two full size USB ports. However, I’ve been using the EZBook Air for a week now, and it has completely replaced my EZBook 2, which sits in my bedroom unused. Contrast that with the Air, which I use everywhere; the kitchen, Starbucks, the patio, the toilet. The portability is the main reason why the EZBook Air is used constantly instead of the EZBook 2. The EZBook 2 is by no means a slouch in the department of portability, but it gets completely outclassed by the EZBook Air. Again, if you are a price/performance purist, the EZBook 2 is the way to go. However, if you are still considering the EZBook Air, here are a few things you need to know. Although you get some incredible build quality and class, the bezels and keyboard are not pretty. The lack of USB ports firmly ensconces this device into the “secondary device” situation, and battery life tops out around 7-7.5 hours. If you’re OK with those things, get ready for one of the most well made and portable Atom laptops so far.