Huawei’s first 2-in-1 device looks and feels great, and comes with cool optional accessories.
IF FIRST impressions count, then the Huawei MateBook is a winner. This is the company’s first foray into the 2-in-1 segment, an attempt to marry the convenience of a tablet with the performance of a laptop, and the result is a sleek and slim Windows 10 device powered by a sixth generation Intel Core chip.
The impression I took away with me of the MateBook’s good looks at its launch in Spain earlier this year managed to hold up to closer scrutiny – and then some.
With its fanless design, smooth metal body and rounded edges, this is one attractive device that will certainly turn heads if the world of tech is a runway show.
The MateBook is a slender 6.9mm thick and tips the scales at a mere 640g – it’s similar in thickness to most smartphones and the same as the iPad Pro. It’s even slightly lighter than the latter, although the MateBook’s screen is slightly smaller at 12in.
The display is excellent and ideal for watching movies; the 2,160 x 1,440-pixel resolution makes for sharp images, and colours are bright and crisp.
My review unit (Core m5 chip and 8GB RAM), has a gorgeous gold finish (most others would call it “champagne”, which is more apt) with a brown faux leather case that feels as nice to the touch as it is easy on the eyes.
Laws of attraction
Magnets are a recurring theme in the MateBook, keeping the design fuss-free and elegant. The keyboard attaches to the tablet via a magnetic port; the keyboard case wraps around the tablet and is secured in place with a magnet; the MatePen holder latches on to the case with a magnet; the MateDock sits snug in its wrap-around cover with yet another magnet.
The case folds to form a stand that the tablet can rest on in either one of two angles, which is made possible, again, by magnets.
The verdict? The kickstand works well when using the MateBook on a flat surface, like on a desk, but unfortunately it is a bit of a precarious undertaking to type with it on your lap or while lounging on the sofa. It falls flat more easily than I would like it to, and although it really doesn’t come unhinged that easily, with the right (or in this case, wrong) jostle, it certainly wobbles like it wishes to do so.
Having said that, it is easy to switch back and forth between either desktop or tablet modes, and the spill-resistant keyboard is decently proportioned with adequate key travel to make typing a breeze.
It has backlighting, with four levels of brightness and an ambient sensor, so it turns on when there is insufficient light.
Sitting on the dock
Huawei’s built-in fingerprint scanner, located between the volume controls on the tablet’s right edge, works like a charm for speedy unlocking and logging in. It is my first time using this feature and I am sold.
Below the volume controls sits MateBook’s only data connection – a USB-C port that is used for both power or connecting to external devices. Unless you are a minimalist, this is where the MateDock (RM399) will come in handy with its multifunctional connections. It has two USB ports and an Ethernet jack on one side, and HDMI and VGA ports on the other.
If the MateBook is being charged while in use, however, this means only one other USB port is free as the MateDock is plugged into the sole port on the tablet.
Plus, I would have liked a keyboard volume control, which it lacks.
The MateBook is marketed as a 2-in-1 that can bring you through a whole day’s work with a single charge, but in practice this turns out being possible only if your work day ends shortly after lunch break. Or if you don’t actually do anything at work.
With moderate usage, running it for five hours on battery is a safe bet. But I wouldn’t risk relying on the MateBook for any longer than that without a backup plan. This is quite a setback, as there are other options out there that beats the MateBook in this aspect.
The MateBook comes with the option of a stylus called the MatePen (RM369) for drawing and making notes. Huawei is rather proud of this, and no wonder; it is responsive and precise. Don’t worry about accidentally touching the screen with your hand when using the MatePen – the MateBook’s palm rejection is spot on and I have never had my hand detected as an on-screen touch.
At a touch of a button on the MatePen, you can flip through slides or scroll up and down pages, and the laser pointer for presentations or for playing with your cat is a nice touch.
If you are on the go with your MateDock, there is a pen loop for the MatePen in the MateDock for storage, which does feel more secure than the holder on the case.
A single charge of the MatePen can apparently provide you with 100 hours of usage time. Mine is still going strong on its first charge two weeks ago. But then again, I do not have a cat to torment.
The MateBook (grey or gold, with either a brown or black case) starts at RM3,999, inclusive of keyboard. The MatePen and MateDock is available at vmall.my.
Pros: Light, slim and looks good; has a fantastic display; handy optional accessories.
Cons: Battery life could be better; kickstand works well only on flat surfaces.
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 10 Home
PROCESSOR: 6th Generation Intel Core m
MEMORY: 4GB/8GB RAM
DISPLAY: 12in (2,160 x 1,440 pixels)
STORAGE: 128GB/256GB/512GB SSD
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO, Bluetooth 4.1
PORTS/SLOTS: USB 3.0 Type-C
CAMERA: 5 megapixels
OTHER FEATURES: Ambient light sensor, fingerprint reader, accelerometer, gyroscope
DIMENSIONS: 278.8 x 194.1 x 6.9mm
PRICE: RM3,999 (Core m3/4GB RAM/128GB); RM5,399 (Core m5/8GB RAM/256GB); RM6,699 (Core m7/8GB RAM/512GB)
ACCESSORIES: MatePen (RM369), MateDock (RM399)
RATING: Four stars
Review unit courtesy of Huawei Technologies Malaysia, 1800-22-0086.