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TM1 laptop review: They got it all wrong

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The Teachers Mate 1 (TM1 laptop), which is a customized laptop made for teachers has been with us for a while. I published a first impression article of the TM1 as soon as I got it and now after using it as my daily driver and subjecting it to a series of tests for months, here is my review of the most talked about laptop among Ghanaian teachers.

I know we are all biased at a point, especially in favour of our favourite brands and devices but I took huge steps to ensure that this review is devoid of any prejudice and also made sure some factors that may affect performance of devices were reduced to the barest minimum. After the testing, I realized they got it all wrong! Stick with me here for a second to know why.

This review will be based on build quality, performance, education materials and distribution.

Build quality

The TM1 laptop is a notebook with cheap plastic chassis. It feels cheap when compared to other notebooks from the HPs, Lenovos and Dells of the world. The plastic chassis attracts lots of fingerprint that could ruin the looks but cleaning it daily with a microfibre cloth makes it almost as new. It is super lightweight and very comfortable to carry around. To be fair, the build is ok when compared to most notebooks. One thing I didn’t like is the strange, quirky Ghanaian flag on the top part of the laptop. Perhaps it’s only me, but it looks quirky to me. I will give it a 6 out of 10 in terms of build, mainly because of its portability.

Performance

Performance is a very crucial and deciding factor for most people when it comes to choosing a device. The TM1 has a a 256Gb solid state drive that improves boot time but actual usage after booting gave me performance nightmares.

The first time I turned the TM1 laptop on, I updated it to the newest version of Windows 10 and updated all the drivers through the default windows update. The performance issues aggravated further. Controlling the mouse pointer using the touch pad was at times jittery or laggy and when that happens only a restart could stop the pointer from lagging.

The sound in the device is weak and not just the output but the sound card as well. For the most part, the audio device disables itself especially when you wake it up from hibernation state. When that happens, it shows audio device not found and nothing can make it work until you restart the device. I had my microphone not working right from day one I got my device. The microphone did not work even when you connect an external microphone. Reinstalling original OEM sound drivers worked for some people but it never fixed my microphone problems. I made a tutorial on how to fix the TM1 sound issues here. Check it out to see if it might fix your sound issues.

The Wi-fi of the device gave me the worst nightmares. Occasionally it doesn’t see my hotspot devices or any of my routers. I had zero success trying to connect to WiFi 6. Updating the network card was like adding insult to injury. I upgraded to the latest build of Windows 11 and it didn’t fix any of the WiFi issues.

The speed of the WiFi was the poorest of all the devices I had. It was even poorer than the low end phones I was using at the time of the review. Fast.com was used to compare the WiFi speed of the various devices.

The CEO of Poetic Systems (Emmanuel Okyere) and I connected the TM1, a low end budget Hp notebook with similar specs as the TM1, an iPad, a macbook and a desktop computer to the same wireless network that has no bandwidth limits and as such gives full unlimited speeds. We used the same browser and the TM1 showed very low speeds.

Results from the other device is shown below:

Result from an iPad

The TM1 was the slowest in all the testings and it reflected with real time usage when downloading stuffs.

In terms of gaming, it couldn’t even handle any of my old games I played as a teenager. Common emulator games such as Mortal Kombat, Super Mario and Killer Instinct from the good old Super Nintendo console struggled to run and there were constant frame drops. I installed the PES 2013 and the players were moving like the super slow motion video recorded on an iPhone. In other words, it was unplayable.

Education materials

Being a teacher, I was very happy when we were promised the laptops will be bundled with education materials and digital tools called EDUKAT. To my dismay, none of the digital tools and teaching and learning materials that could have compensated for the laptop’s absurd total cost and relatively worse performance, were bundled on the device. The only documents found on it was an SBC folder which contains curriculum for primary, which almost every teacher has, thanks to our profound effort of providing all the curriculum and syllabuses to teachers nationwide.

And how beneficial will primary curriculum be to teachers teaching at the JHS? I was amazed when I realized they were for primary and not JHS. So they were totally useless to me.

Distribution of the laptop

One thing that beats my imagination is how the laptops are being distributed to teachers. It is the weirdest distribution I have seen in the whole tech industry. When I went to the Assin South education office to retrieve my unit, I probed the officer in charge to know why other teacher haven’t received theirs and he explained that the distribution is being done in batches. He further explained that for now teachers at the JHS department are the ones receiving and with that, distribution is done based on alphabetical order of the schools in the district. Good luck to the teachers who have their school name beginning with the letter “z”.

This is weird and unacceptable in my opinion since the deduction wasn’t done in batches or didn’t factor any alphabetical order. Why deduct teachers their hard earned monies if you cannot deliver the service you promised?

Final Verdict

Considering the 1500+ cedi price of this thing, nothing about the laptop is commendable, right from specs and performance to distribution of the laptops. Performance is very poor, the software experience is quirky, gaming is nothing to write home about and the distribution is unacceptable.

They got it all wrong!

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