Huawei gave us a bit of a surprise last year when they introduced the MateBook, a 2-in-1 detachable running Windows 10. It wasn’t a bad effort, but we thought the battery life was a bit short. Otherwise, it got the same criticisms all 2-in-1 detachables get — it couldn’t be easily used in the lap and the performance was a little lacking. In other words, those people wanted a laptop.
That’s exactly what Huawei has this year. Two, in fact — today, Huawei is announcing the MateBook X and the MateBook D, along with a brand new detachable 2-in-1 called the MateBook E. Looks like Huawei listened to those complaints, too — they might be relatively new to laptops, but the MateBook X is no joke.
The MateBook X is the premium option. It’s a 13″ laptop with a 2160 x 1440 3:2 aspect ratio IPS display that can get as bright as 350 nits. Inside, Huawei has sprung for Intel Core i U-series processors with Intel HD Graphics 620, along with either 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM and either a 256 GB or 512 GB SSD. It’s powered by a 41.4 Whr battery that Huawei says should last for 10 hours of video watching at 50 percent brightness.
It’s pretty nice to look at, too. Huawei has used aluminum in the chassis and have added their trademark diamond cut edges to the sides. The bezels are also very small at 4.4 mm, allowing Huawei to get to that web-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio on the display. The laptop will be available in grey, gold, and, of course, rose gold. The best part? It’s very light for such a premium laptop, only weighing 2.31 pounds.
There’s an interesting twist here. Usually when we see fanless devices, they use the more efficient, less power-intensive Core m processors. Well, despite having a Core i processor, the MateBook X is also fanless. Huawei is using a thermal solution they cooked up — they way it was explained to me, the heat is stored in the cooling system when the CPU is under heavy load, then dissipated when it’s under a light load. Can’t say how well it works in practice, but it’s something to watch.
Now for the good stuff — this might be the best sound system we’ve heard on one of these super thin laptops. The secret? Dolby. At this point, Dolby Audio processing is found in tons of laptops. That even goes for their high-end Atmos technology, which creates a sort of virtual surround sound effect. But, the MateBook X is the first time that Dolby has been given the keys to the kingdom. Huawei gave them free rein to design both the hardware and the software, so Dolby was able to design and place speakers in the chassis exactly how they wanted. They placed some nice ones, too — the MateBook X has two upward-firing speaker units with two drivers each, separating bass production from mids and highs production. The result is crystal clear sound that seems like it’s coming from all around you, except it’s coming from a tiny 13″ device. I got a chance to check the MateBook X out last week, and the audio is as good as advertised.
But, when devices become as thin as this one, ports become a problem. That’s the case here — there are no regular-sized USB Type-A ports, just two USB Type-C ports and a headphone port. Fortunately, Huawei is doing customers a solid here — the MateBook X will ship with a USB Type-C adapter that has VGA, HDMI, and USB 3.0 Type-A ports. The laptop also features 802.11 ac dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.
In another cool design twist, Huawei put the fingerprint sensor on the power button located on the top right of the keyboard. That’ll be a one-tap solution, so you’ll be able to go from off to on and unlocked with just one press of the finger.
Huawei didn’t cut many corners, as best we can tell. The only thing that leaps out at me is the 1 MP webcam — you probably won’t get super clear pictures on your video chats, although the dual mics should at least ensure that you sound good.
Next page: The MateBook D and E, plus pricing and availability