Chuwi LapBook 14.1 full review
We've reviewed several Chuwi hybrid tablet-laptops in the past, but this is the first full laptop we've seen from the Chinese brand. Rather than a touchscreen tablet that docks into a keyboard, this is a proper laptop with a laptop processor - albeit a low-energy chip. The LapBook 14.1 is Chuwi's second laptop, almost identical to the larger LapBook 15.6 but with improved performance. Also see: Best budget laptop 2017
Highlights in the specification include a 14.1in full-HD IPS display and solid battery life that should get you through the most part of a working day. It's not a laptop built for ultimate performance, but you'd be hard-pushed to find more for your money. Let's take a closer look at the Chuwi LapBook 14.1.
Chuwi LapBook 14.1 review: Price and UK availability
Chuwi's Windows 10 line is not sold in the UK through the likes of PC World or Amazon, instead you must purchase it through a Chinese dealer such as GearBest which will import it to the UK for you. This isn't at all complicated, and free shipping to the UK is available, but you should note there are some pitfalls.
First and foremost, technical support and aftercare can be an issue should something go wrong. Most people will find no issues and no cause to call for help, but should you find the need you may find getting what you're looking for - an in particular a refund or replacement - more complicated.
Second, because this item ships from China you will likely be asked to pay import duty. This is calculated at 20 percent of whatever value is on the shipping paperwork, plus an admin fee of around £11.
The Chuwi LapBook 14.1 is available from GearBest at the time of writing for £224.68 ($280.26). Even with import duty it will still come in way below £300 and, as we'll discover below, that makes it a real bargain.
Also check out the Chuwi Lapbook Air.
For more advice on buying from China see our grey-market tech buying guide.
Chuwi LapBook 14.1 review: Design and build
We're not going to pretend this is something it isn't, but for the money it's very difficult to fault the design of the Chuwi LapBook 14.1. It's built entirely from plastic, but with none of the usual creaking and flexing. We think it actually looks rather nice for a budget laptop.
There are no cooling fans or heat vents, but the low-power processor inside means the LapBook really doesn't need them. Two speaker grilles are found on the base of the laptop, and while we'd obviously prefer them up top for clearer audio we do like the extra room this setup allows for a full-size keyboard.
It's a US keyboard, with no UK option available, but if you can live without a £ button you'll find it just fine. The scissor-type flat tiles are of a reasonable size, quiet in use and with a nice spring to them. There's no separate numberpad, nor controls for the screen brightness, but everything else is present and correct. Our only real concern is the positioning of the power button at the top right - we kept accidentally hitting this when going for Delete.
The LapBook is white in the main, with a textured surface that stops it feeling overly cheap, while the screen surround and keyboard are black. Unlike most cheap laptops the Chuwi LapBook has incredibly thin screen bezels - just 8mm to the left and right, but a little larger above and below where you get the integrated 2Mp webcam and Chuwi logo.
Whereas most cheap tech comes plastered with various legends and specifications, the LapBook is by contrast very clean and inoffensive, with just a small Chuwi LapBook logo in the bottom right corner of the lid, and a small Intel logo with a few specifications on the rear.
This is a highly portable, thin and light laptop, weighing in at just 1.5kg and with a tapering design that goes from 20.5mm at its highest point to just 9mm at the front. It has a 9,000mAh battery inside that, in our experience, should last most of a working day (obviously depending on your usage). Unfortunately, when the battery does run dry this Chuwi LapBook requires a proprietary DC charger with a two-pin EU connector (you'll need a UK three-pin adaptor), unlike other models in the range that charge over Micro-USB or USB-C.
Speaking of which, you'll find a USB slot on either side of the machine, one USB 2.0 and the other USB 3.0. These ports are joined by a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD slot that can boost storage by up to 128GB and Micro-HDMI, which is useful for hooking up the LapBook to a second screen or projector. There's no ethernet port or SIM slot, though, so connectivity is restricted to dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4.0. Also see: Best Windows tablets 2017
The highlight of the Chuwi LapBook's design is its 14.1in full-HD (1920x1080) 16:9 IPS display. This is a matte panel, which means no annoying reflections or glare, and is usefully bright, sharp and with strong viewing angles and realistic colours. It lies back sufficiently far for comfortable working on a lap, too.
The weakest component is the trackpad. It's a large, matte-touch trackpad centrally located below the keyboard. It supports gestures but unfortunately it's just too sensitive, and we found that in use we'd routinely click the bottom corner and open the Start menu. For occasional use it should do the job, but for anything more you will want a proper mouse. Also see: Best 2 in 1 hybrids 2017
Chuwi LapBook 14.1 review: Core hardware and performance
The Chuwi LapBook 14.1 comes with the same 64GB storage and 4GB DDR3L RAM options as most cheap Windows 10 laptops and tablets, but the processor has been upgraded. Rather than the Intel Atom X5 Z8300 Cherry Trail chip we usually see, this laptop has been fitted with the Intel Celeron N3450, an Apollo Lake processor clocked at 1.1GHz that can Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz when required. It is said to offer a 30 percent performance boost over the previous generation.
This is still not a fast laptop by any stretch of the mind, but it is quicker than many of its rivals as a result of the new processor, and also benefits from Intel Graphics 500. Our benchmark results show just how much of a difference this new combination can make when compared to a Z8300 laptop such as the similarly priced Jumper EZBook Air.
Whereas the EZBook scored 1052 points in the PCMark8 Home test, the Chuwi scored 1411. It also beat it hands-down in Geekbench 4, with 3664 points against the Jumper's 2050.
Graphics were also slightly improved, with the LapBook turning in scores of 28fps and 13fps in GFXBench T-Rex and Manhattan where the Cherry Trail laptop managed 26fps and 13fps respectively. We also recorded 10fps in Manhattan 3.1 and 7fps in Car Chase for the LapBook.
It really isn't all about the benchmarks, though, because this is not a laptop that has been designed to be a powerhouse. Its intended usage ranges from writing emails and enjoying social media to browsing the web and some casual gaming at low settings. For that type of use it is very responsive and feels incredibly nippy, but compare it against one of the best laptops you can buy and there's no competition.
One thing we were very pleasantly surprised by is how quick the Chuwi LapBook boots up and is ready to go. We have never seen a laptop - especially a budget laptop - so quick on its toes.
Using flash storage is often a good way to speed up a laptop, and the LapBook has 64GB as standard of which you'll find around 35GB is available. This isn't a true SSD but eMMC storage, which is basically like a microSD card. You can add a further 128GB of storage via a microSD card or plug in an external hard drive if required.
When compared to the Jumper EZBook Air this Chuwi has more than a faster processor and improved graphics on its side. There's also the larger screen, higher-rated 2Mp webcam, support for microSD, and more ports - the Jumper has a single USB-C port, which is out of action for peripherals as it charges.
In common with that laptop it runs a full version of Windows 10 Home 64-bit with zero bloatware. This has been activated but out of the box a Chuwi user account has been set up - you may wish to factory reset it before making yourself at home.
Bear in mind before you buy the Chuwi LapBook that it is not intended to be user-upgradable. So don't buy it assuming you're getting a cheap deal that you can improve with a few simple upgrades. Buy it for what it is now.
Read next: Best laptops 2017
Chuwi LapBook 14.1: Specs
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- 1.1GHz-2.2GHz Intel Celeron N3450 (Apollo Lake) quad-core 64-bit processor
- Intel 9th-gen Graphics 500
- DirectX 12
- 14.1in full-HD (1920x1080, 16:9) matte IPS display
- 4GB DDR3L RAM
- 64GB eMMC storage
- 1x USB 3.0
- 1x USB 2.0
- 1x Micro-HDMI
- DC charging port
- microSD support (up to 128GB)
- dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Bluteooth 4.0
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 2Mp webcam
- built-in dual-channel speaker
- 9,000mAh lithium-polymer battery (up to 4 hours video playback)