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InFocus Kangaroo Pro Mobile Desktop
Computer Reviews

InFocus Kangaroo Pro Mobile Desktop

The “Pro” version of this mobile desktop has potential for computing budgets, but remains a underdog.

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InFocus is not wasting any time with the Kangaroo PC. From our first review last year, the plucky mobile desktop (desktop?) has gone through a couple of small alterations to beef itself up. Keep in mind that their latest $199 Kangaroo Pro is an upgrade of the original model we played with only a few months ago, and meant to show the computing “teeth” at the smallest common denominator.

But first, we should briefly talk about the idea of the “mobile desktop” itself. Why would anyone get a mini PC like this when you could have a laptop? Well, think of them as desktop computers that have been miniaturized considerably to fit in your pocket, sans the keyboard, mouse, and monitor, and you don’t have to immediately plug it in thanks to internal battery power. This may sound counterproductive but the biggest advantage is price, which is an area that nearly all new laptops have yet to capitalize on.

The Kangaroo Pro is basically double the fun compared to the original, due to the new and aptly-named Dock Pro, which offers not only bulk but added connectivity as well. The previous model introduced the clever but scarcely equipped ‘Dock’ concept and the Pro offers more ports than ever before. You now get one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, VGA (for whatever reason), HDMI, audio, and an Ethernet port; there’s even the option of installing your own 2.5-inch hard drive for additional storage if the on-board storage isn’t enough.

As for the detachable desktop portion, you can expect the same specifications from before. A quad-core 1.44GHz Intel Atom processor (x5-Z8500), 2GB of LPDDR3 memory, Bluetooth 4.0/802.11ac Wi-Fi, and 32GB of flash storage comes standard. This also includes the niceties a fingerprint reader, micro-USB, and MicroSD slot (SDHC/SDXC). The full home version of Windows 10 is included too.

Despite the extra ports and the slight pouch-like resemblance, the dock is really the only thing augmented for the Pro. The computing module is untouched and primed for straightforwardness and workaday duties, being a good choice for Microsoft Office and other applications.

Internet browsing and all of the procrastinating that comes with it is handled well, and the wireless capabilities of the Intel Wireless-AC 7265 card is nice while providing Bluetooth 4.0. It still works excellently but it’s hard to argue the advantages of having a strong and stable Ethernet option when you need one – a missed opportunity for the smaller dock in terms of pairing interference. So it’s great that wired connectivity is there when you really need it.

Much of what was said about the original Kangaroo setup can be repeated here, for better or worse. The Pro works efficiently for productivity and media streaming as a file hub, if ultra-high resolutions (4K/60p) aren’t high priorities. I spent a night watching shows and movies running natively (both blockbusters and cinematic schlock), finding the latency smooth up to 1080p in quality. Of course, you’ll shouldn’t be obsessively multitasking in order to avoid frame lag.

As an objective set by my managing editor I had to play games on it, I openly scoffed at the challenge because the Kangaroo isn’t a gaming powerhouse by any stretch, even running on my highly capable home network. For what it’s worth, I was mostly right in my initial doubts. Don’t get me wrong, you can emulate 16-bit games with ease and do Minecraft with some occasional hiccups, but take the Pro into the modern age of Steam downloads and settings need to be turned down to avoid crashing.

And besides, the main goal was I given focused on trying to use PS4 Remote Play. It was an absolute failure, especially when opting for a Wi-Fi connection (the ad-hoc function is specifically for PS4-Vita direct connection). The action in Street Fighter V was not only a sea of glitch-looking artifacts and a vomitorium of random pixels, but control input was delayed by almost three seconds. The game was in fact, unplayable and only fared slightly better with an Ethernet feed. Game streaming with the Xbox One using the native Windows 10 app was only a minor step above, but not recommended either.

Bringing expectations back to reality, a quick benchmarking with the JetStream online JavaScript test gave us a score of 49.158 (± 7.5584) — easily above most Chromebook figures but average among other budgeted Windows laptops. We expected as much considering its size and internals under the hood. The Li-ion battery should still be used either sparingly or as a last resort since we clocked just 2:46 hours from a full charge, same as before.

OSLinx app is still featured for use with the Apple iPad, working in tandem via embedded server in the Kangaroo and the iPad acting as mobile monitor. I briefly tested it and it did work but the lack of Bluetooth keyboard support and 1024×768 resolution hurts a promising concept, it’s still a much-needed work-in-progress.

To reiterate, the Kangaroo Pro is largely the same computing experience as before. The only real difference is that you’re paying an extra Benjamin for the dock and all those ports you actually wanted. But I kept asking myself: “If this is the Pro, then where’s the added performance from the recent Kangaroo Plus module?”, and that would have been a better pairing for this neat little pouch. It seems to be a very sensible fix, one that InFocus could easily address and turn this Kangaroo into a believable pro rather than emerging underdog.

About the Author: Herman Exum