Huawei MateBook full review
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At MWC 2016, Huawei has announced a new Windows 10 tablet which will rival the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, among others. We've been able to fondle with the device so here's our Huawei MateBook hands-on review. Also see: Best new phones, tablets, laptops & more at MWC 2016.
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The device is Huawei's first 2-in-1 Windows convertible so the firm is breaking into new territory. The firm told PC Advisor it is aiming to offer consumers a combination of value and mobility.
Huawei MateBook review: Price and release date
At the launch of the MateBook Huawei gave no indication of a price or release date. We now know the device will launch in the US on 11 July but a UK release date is still unknown.
You can pre-order the MateBook from the Microsoft Store starting at $699. That's for a model with an m3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. You can choose from other models ranging up to $1,199 which will bag you an m5 chip, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Those prices are for the tablet alone so you'll need to spend $129 on the MateBook Portfolio keyboard to use it fully. Then the MateDock and MatePen are more optional accessories priced at $89 and $59 respectively.
Also see: Huawei Mate 9 review
Huawei MateBook review: Design and build
Looking much like the Media Pad M2 which we saw at CES in January, it's essentially a bigger version running Window instead of Android so has a focus on productivity. The MateBook is a thin and sleek tablet which has an aluminium chassis – it's a svelte 6.9mm and lighter than its Samsung rival at 640g for the tablet alone. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.
We're told the MateBook may be sold as a tablet on its own but the device is designed to work in conjunction with the keyboard dock which comes in a false leather finish. It works in a very similar way to the Galaxy TabPro S and doubles up as a protective case. The screen-to-body ratio is impressive at 84 percent, which Huawei claims is unique to the market.
A magnetic pogo pin port attaches the two parts together so there's no need to faff around with Bluetooth to connect them. The keyboard is backlit and has four different levels of brightness; the distribution of light is rather uneven, though. With the tablet connected to the case, a section folds up to support the screen but only at one viewing angle which is a shame. The display is IPS which helps for viewing angles but even so we often find the need to make adjustments to avoid reflections and the like.
Like the rival devices we've mentioned, the MateBook is a tablet first, laptop second – those looking for a design the opposite way around should check out the Microsoft Surface Book.
There's also a glass trackpad which is quite large and after a quick play, feels nice and responsive. The keys have a decent amount of travel – 15 percent more than rivals, according to the firm - but do feel a bit wobbly and certain keys, as is often the case, are tiny in order to be squeezed in. The keyboard is powered from the tablet, like with Microsoft's Surface.
The MateBook, thanks in part to the process (see below for details), has a fanless design meaning it stays nice and quiet. Huawei tells PC Advisor that it has implemented an eight layer 'heat shield' which dissipates the heat across the aluminium chassis evenly. We haven't had long enough with the tablet to give a verdict on this element.
We took a look at a white/gold model but Huawei tells us there will also be a moonshine grey/black option, too.
Huawei MateBook review: Hardware and specs
Matching the Galaxy TabPro S, the MateBook offers a 12in screen with a 2160x1440 resolution. As you would expect, it's touch enabled and we're told it can reach over 400nits in terms of brightness. The display seems high quality after our hands-on time but we'll test it further.
As mentioned the tablet has a fanless design, thanks to an Intel Core M processor. There will be models with a Core M3, M5 or M7. On the memory side, there will be either 4- or 8GB of RAM and storage choices are 128-, 256- or 512GB. You'll be able to choose from Window 10 Home or Pro.
What Huawei hasn't made clear is which will match up, although it seems there will be three different SKUs. The model we took a look at consisted of a Core M5-6Y54, 8GB of RAM and Windows 10 Pro so we suspect the M3 model will be the only one with 4GB of RAM.
There's just a headphone jack and USB Type-C port on the tablet itself, due to it being so thin, so if you want more connectivity you'll want to get the adapter which Huawei has made for the MateBook. It may be bundled with some models but we're not sure. It comes in a false leather case and offers two USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI and VGA – as well as a throughput USB-C port.
The case for the adapter also has a loop to hold the stylus which is similar to the Surface Pen. Again, it's unclear whether this will come with the device or be sold separately. Huawei says it is 'artist grade' with 2,048 pressure levels. It also has two buttons for erasing and actions, plus a laser pointer for old school bonus points.
Another thing you'll find on the tablet, hidden between the volume buttons, is a fingerprint scanner. We weren't able to try this out ourselves but Huawei says you can use it 360 degrees so it doesn't matter which way round you press your finger on it.
It's refreshing to see a tablet without a rear camera (we're anti tablet photography) but there is a 5Mp front facing camera for useful things like video calling. Other specs include top-mounted stereo speakers (which we didn't have time to test out) and a 33.4Wh battery which Huawei says will provide 10 hours of general work – documents and web browsing – or 29 hours of music playback.
Below is an overview of the MateBook specs, it's just a shame we don't know when you'll be able to buy one or how much it will cost yet. We suspect it will be cheaper than its Microsoft and Samsung rivals but we'll have to wait and see.
• Windows 10 Home or Pro
• 12in IPS display (2160x1440)
• 6th-gen Intel Core M processor (M3/M5/M7)
• 128/256/512GB storage
• Wi-Fi 802.11ac
• Bluetooth 4.1
• 5Mp front camera
• Fingerprint scanner
• USB Type-C
• Stereo speakers
• 33.4Wh battery
Huawei MateBook: Specs
- Windows 10 Home or Pro
- 12in IPS display (2160x1440)
- 6th-gen Intel Core M processor (M3/M5/M7)
- 128/256/512GB storage
- Wi-Fi 802.11ac
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 5Mp front camera
- Fingerprint scanner
- USB Type-C
- Stereo speakers
- 33.4Wh battery
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