Chuwi HiBook review: Android/Windows hybrid tablet

Chuwi's HiBook is one of few tablets to dual-boot Windows 10 and Android Lollipop, making it a great proposition if you can't - or don't want to - separate work and play. This budget tablet comes in at a great price, too; find out more in our Chuwi HiBook review. Also see: Best budget tablets 2016 UK.

Chuwi is a Chinese brand that is sold in the UK via grey-market sites such as Geekbuying, which supplied our HiBook for review. (US customers can also buy Chuwi devices on Amazon.) Read our advice on grey market tech before you buy.

The Chuwi HiBook reviewed here is sold by Geekbuying for £143.42, while the optional magnetic docking keyboard costs £34.97. Geekbuying didn't supply the keyboard for our review, but we strongly recommend you consider it if you'll be making much use of the Windows 10 OS on this tablet for productivity tasks. As well as adding a full-size keyboard and trackpad it gives you two full-size USB outputs; without it the HiBook has just Micro-USB, Micro-HDMI, USB-C and a microSD slot.

The low price looks even better when you consider that the Chuwi runs a full version of Windows 10 Home, which it dual-boots with a vanilla version of Android Lollipop, putting all the apps you could possibly want at your fingertips. The tablet has 64GB of internal storage, with 50GB reserved for Windows and 16GB for Android; each OS consumes around 6GB. This isn't a huge amount of storage for either OS, but anything you're not storing in the cloud can be saved on to removable media such as a memory card or mobile hard drive. 

To switch between OSes the tablet requires a reboot. Fortunately it performs this pretty quickly, but you should remember not to leave any work unsaved. At startup you can choose to boot Android Lollipop by pressing the volume up key, or Windows 10 by pressing volume down; if you don't make a choice the HiBook will boot into the last used OS by default. A shortcut on the Windows desktop lets you switch to Android, or if you're using Android you can tap the Switch to Windows icon in the drop-down notification bar to revert to Windows.

The HiBook runs much the same hardware as the larger Chuwi Hi12 we recently reviewed. This 12in tablet runs Windows 10 only, but does so using the same Intel Cherry Trail X5-Z8300 processor, 4GB of DDR3L RAM and 64GB of flash storage as this HiBook. Key differences are the smaller, lower resolution screen on the HiBook, a lower-capacity 6,600mAh battery, and the loss of two full-size USB ports afforded by the Hi12's larger chassis. See all budget tablet reviews.

Chuwi HiBook

Chuwi HiBook review: Design and build

On paper the screen on the Hi12 sounds more impressive, with 2160x1440 pixels across its 12in panel. However, thanks to its smaller 10in display, the 1920x1200 pixels (still full-HD) on the HiBook appear just as sharp - sharper in fact, since the HiBook has a 224ppi against the Hi12's 216ppi, but you won't be able to differentiate between the two with such a small difference.

It's a nice screen, with its IPS tech offering realistic colours and good viewing angles at a 16:10 ratio. It's not the brightest screen we've seen, but it's sufficient - and the HiBook supports adaptive brightness controls. We also find its size more practical for using this budget tablet on the road. However, the HiBook suffers the same issue as the Hi12: you need only point a finger in its direction and it smears. Also see: Best Windows tablets 2016 UK.

Ignoring the difference in size between these two tablets, though, the design is very similar. As with its bigger brother the Chuwi HiBook has a silver (also available in gold) metal body that's just 8.8mm thick, which is impressive for a budget tablet. It feels reasonably heavy at 522g, and we presume it would be even heavier with the keyboard, but it's not a major complaint. More importantly, despite its cheap price tag the HiBook feels well made, with no rough edges or creaking parts, and tiny metal screws adding to its durable feel.

The screen bezels are rather chunky, especially given that Android's back, home and recent buttons are found onscreen (necessary since they have no function in Windows). However, in the top bezel sits a 2Mp webcam, which will be useful for video chat if not offering the best quality for selfies, and to the right of the screen (or the bottom if held in portrait mode) is a Windows button that acts as a home button in Android.

Chuwi HiBook

Both tablets feature two cutouts on the bottom edge for docking a magnetic keyboard that also acts as a cover, turning this tablet into a hybrid laptop when required. We're disappointed that Geekbuying didn't send us this keyboard to try, since Chuwi told us it is greatly improved over that designed for the Hi12, which has an infuriating trackpad.

It's quite possible to use Windows 10 with the touchscreen, although relatively small icons and options make it easier to switch to tablet mode. And without a keyboard and mouse, Android is more user-friendly in our experience. Unfortunately, without the keyboard the HiBook has no full-size USB ports for adding these peripherals, although you could connect devices wirelessly via Bluetooth 4.0.

For ports and connections you get reversible USB-C for charging, Micro-USB for connecting devices such as a mobile hard drive, Micro-HDMI for hooking up the Chuwi to a large screen, and a microSD slot for up to 64GB of additional storage. There's also a mic and 3.5mm headphone jack. As with the Hi12, stereo speakers sit at the bottom left- and right edges of the tablet, which means they can be muffled with your palms when held in landscape mode.

On the rear of the tablet is a 5Mp camera, which is best described as functional. We can't imagine many people holding up a 10in, 522g tablet and expecting print-worthy photographs in return. Also here are legends for the various ports, plus a Chuwi logo and some basic specs. It detracts a little from the tablet's overall design, but the HiBook isn't intended as a premium device and it looks better than many of its budget rivals.

Chuwi HiBook