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Huawei MateBook review: Hip, hip Huawei is just a little too stylish for its own good

Mark Hachman | June 29, 2016
The MateBook is a fine tablet in many ways, but its design involves some sacrifices.

Leather accents, a vibrant display, strong lines: Huawei clearly envisioned its MateBook as not just a luxurious convertible tablet, but as a fashion accessory. But a flimsy folding kickstand is just one of the flaws threatening to bring the whole ensemble crashing down.

While the 12-inch MateBook communicates a premium experience, prices begin at just $699 for a Core m3-based model with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, though the obligatory MateBook Portfolio keyboard is $129 more. At most, you’ll pay $1,199 for a Core m5 version with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Optional accessories include the $59 MatePen as well as the $89 MateDock. Given that the MateBook’s only native expansion capability is a single USB-C port, however, I wouldn’t classify the MateDock as optional. Add together the price of the tablet, keyboard, and dock, and the minimum price you’ll pay increases from $699 to a more realistic $976. Our review unit's MSRP is $849 before accessories.

In our tests, the MateBook proved once again that a Core m-based convertible tablet delivers all the day-to-day performance you’ll need, provided those needs don’t involve intensive gaming. On paper, you certainly won’t regret it. But be aware that the kickstand issue isn’t the only bold choice Huawei made: The company also eliminated the tablet’s rear camera, and there are no SD card slots to be found. Add those drawbacks to the mandatory MateDock, and you may begin wondering if all that speed is worth it.

huawei matebook cases enhanced
Mark Hachman

Huawei’s faux-leather covers for both the MateBook and MateDock gives the convertible tablet a premium appeal.

Unboxing and specs

Out of the box, the MateBook strongly impresses. My review sample came all in white, with all-white accessories, a nice change. (At some point, some hardware maker is going to allow you to buy cables and accessories in different colors, allowing me to distinguish one cable from another at a glance.) The MateBook is accompanied by a chunky power supply that connects to the tablet via its one, lonely USB-C port—which means that, if the tablet is charging, you can’t connect additional peripherals to it without the MateDock.

Huawei also includes a USB-C-to-microUSB adapter, and a small intermediary microUSB-to-USB-A connector. It sounds a bit more complicated than it looks. You can also transmit data wirelessly, via either the 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO Wi-Fi or via Bluetooth 4.1.

huawei matebook matedock nest enhanced
Mark Hachman

Don’t lose these invaluable connector cables—and if you buy the MateDock, there are two “nests” in which to store them.

 

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