Review : Kangaroo Mobile Desktop PC

Ultra-portable PC features Windows 10 in tiny package

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Product Manufacturer: Kangaroo

Price: $100

The Good

  • Small size
  • Runs Windows 10
  • Excels at most basic computer tasks

The Bad

  • Noticeable lag when using iPad as screen
  • Cannot perform tasks like video editing and graphics editing well
Tablets and smartphones are great. They let us do a lot of the things our larger computers do but in a smaller package, and as long as you're willing to root around the App Store, you can manage to find all sorts of apps that help you do whatever task it is that needs done. But what if you want a computer that runs a full-fledged operating system and not a mobile one? What if you need to run actual software and not just apps? That's when you reach for the Kangaroo, a fully functional Windows 10 computer that's just a little smaller than the iPhone 6.

Small size

Portable is almost an understatement when it comes to the Kangaroo. Coming in at a little under eight inches long, three inches wide, and a scant 0.7 inches thick -- including the dock -- the Kangaroo is designed to be tossed into a pocket, purse, bag, or simply hidden away on your desk behind your monitor. It's the smallest, fully-functional Windows 10 computer on the market currently, and it's designed to go wherever you do.



The specs

Not that anyone is going to be surprised, but the Kangaroo features on-board graphics that aren't exactly top of the line: Intel Processor Graphics (Gen8), but do they need to be? This computer is more of a remote workhorse, and certainly isn't going to be someone's main computer if they're a gamer or a media junkie. That's the same reason we're not too concerned about the 2GB of RAM, either. The Intel Atom x5-Z8500 Processor comes in around 2.24GHz, which certainly isn't churning out any benchmarks that are going to blow your mind, but for a fully-functional Windows 10 computer that is about the size of an iPhone 6, we're certainly not going to be all that picky.



As far as storage goes, the Kangaroo features a 32GB hard drive and a micro-SD slot that allows you to expand the storage a bit, and you've got the ability to upload files to Microsoft OneDrive as well.

Kangaroo Dock

The Kangaroo ships with the Kangaroo Dock, which is absolutely required for functionality -- at least to start with. The Kangaroo dock features your DC-in (adapter) port, a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, and an HDMI port. It's teeny-tiny but incredibly useful, and if you're planning on using this as a computer and not just something that can be remotely accessed from other computers, you're going to grow to love it.



Our favorite thing about the Kangaroo Dock is how tight it fits to the Kangaroo. It's got a 40-pin proprietary connector and two metal prongs that keep it fitted tightly to the computing portion of the Kangaroo. The USB ports are also very tight, and don't feel like anything plugged into them is going to easily fall out.

Initial setup

If you're setting up the Kangaroo dock for the first time, there's a little bit of a song and dance you'll have to do. Even though the Kangaroo allows you to use your iPad as a screen, you won't be able to do this until after you've installed OSLinx, which is a screen mirroring program that you pair with an app on your iPad. So, at the very least, you're going to need an HDMI-enabled monitor, an HDMI cable, and a USB mouse to set up the Kangaroo for the first time.

If you don't have a USB keyboard, you can use the accessibility features, and pull up the Windows on-screen keyboard. After you've set everything up, you can go ahead and pair whatever Bluetooth keyboards, mice, or speakers you want to it to give yourself a little more freedom from cords and dongles. You'll also be able to download OSLinx from the Kangaroo website, which allows you to use your iPad as a functional computer monitor.



Pick your screen

As stated above, one of the coolest things about the Kangaroo is that it gives you a wide variety of screen options. If you've got a computer monitor with an HDMI port, you can use that. If you've got an HDMI HDTV, you can use that as well. HDMI-enabled projector? Sure, though we will admit that the resolution wasn't so great with our Acer projector. With the HDMI, everything is plug-and-play, and it works exactly as it should.



What if you want true portability, though? If you've got an iPad and a Lightning cable on hand, you've got yourself a pint-sized, portable personal computer in the making. Just download and install OSLinx on your Kangaroo, and then add the OSLinx app to your iPad. After that, it's honestly as easy as plugging your Lightning cable into your iPad and connecting it to your iPad, opening the OSLinx app, and following the instructions. One of the coolest things about using an iPad as your monitor is that yes, it becomes a touch screen, though you'll have to use Window's on-screen keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard if you're looking for any real functionality.



We tried ours out with an iPad Mini 2 (and an unbranded Bluetooth iPad keyboard case, if you were wondering,) and it worked well, though we'll be honest: it wasn't our favorite option. There was a little lag, which we were prepared to deal with, but the text size is extremely small and fairly bothersome to deal with. We think that larger iPads would be a bit less eye strain-inducing, so if you've got a larger iPad, we suggest that you take that route instead of the mini-sized ones.

Put to the test

We've used the Kangaroo for various computing tasks, and honestly, it's stood up surprisingly well to many of them. While you're not going to download your Steam library onto it, there's no reason why you can't use it to stream Netflix and Hulu to your TV with it. It handles all the typical netbook-esque tasks pretty well, like browsing the Internet, checking email, and using Microsoft apps. You're not going to want to load Photoshop, or any programs that put a lot of stress on your processor or graphics though, as the computer does noticeably begin to lag when you start to use them. If you're just using it as a computer that browses the Internet, and uses Microsoft Office, it'll stand up to the task with no problem.



Security

On top of typical Windows 10 security features, like being able to set up different types of passwords to protect your computer, the Kangaroo also features a fingerprint scanner. It's a pretty nifty little scanner that hangs out on the side of the Kangaroo, and allows you to log in just by pressing your finger against it. It feels quite a bit like using the iPhone and iPad Touch-ID feature, including the setup, which will require you to place your finger on the scanner multiple times in order to get a good read of your print from many different angles.



Battery life

So we've established that the Kangaroo is designed to be portable, but what good is portability if you're still going to be tethered to an outlet every time you go out? Fortunately, the Kangaroo gets just about four hours of battery life, provided you're not running it extremely hard (eg: Netflix marathon or extended gaming, even if the games are fairly simple). Sure, it's not as much time as you'd get with most laptops, but for a W10 computer that fits in your pocket, it's certainly not terrible.

The verdict

Like a lot of mobile computers, this is very much a "does it do what you need" device. If you're looking for an ultra-portable, yet fully-functional version of Windows 10 to take on the go for typical tasks, this is good. You'll be able to answer emails, browse the Internet, and even stream music and movies with ease. However, if you're just looking for a compact computer to save space in your home, this might not have enough power behind it to do what you're expecting.

We personally enjoyed our time with the Kangaroo -- it's got some real utility to it, and the small package is extremely convenient. If you're looking to add a Windows 10 computer to your collection and don't mind going small, you can get your own Kangaroo from the Microsoft store for $100.

Who the Kangaroo is for:
If you're constantly on the go, and would like the convenience of a basic Windows 10 computer without the bulk of a laptop, this is a great way to have your cake and eat it too.

Who the Kangaroo isn't for:
If you need a robust computer, or at least one that can run video games and graphic and video editing programs, we don't think this is going to fit into your life very well.

-- Amber Neely (@SurferAmber)

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