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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.

Physically, the MateBook is rather average, measuring 10.98 x 7.64 x 0.27 inches thick and weighing 1.41 pounds. Once you start toting up all the accessories—keyboard, dock, and pen—the weight climbs to 3.36 pounds, which is laptop territory.

One of the MateBook’s strengths is its 2160x1440 TFT IPS display, one of the higher-resolution displays within the current crop of convertible tablets. We ranked the Samsung Tab Pro S’s AMOLED screen as the one we preferred the most, but you’ll find no fault with the MateBook’s display. (I did encounter a weird, occasional flicker every few hours or so, though I’m willing to chalk it up to a driver glitch.)

Inside, you’ll find sixth-generation Core m5 options. Our unit shipped with a 1.52GHz Core m5 6Y54, significantly faster than the 1.1GHz Core m5 6Y54 included in the HP Elite x2, which we called out as a top performer among the Core m convertibles. (Our unit also shipped with 4GB of RAM, though 8GB options are available.) In our performance tests below, however, we detected some thermal throttling, which could impair the MateBook’s performance if the tablet runs protracted, CPU-intensive applications.

Also be aware that the MateBook ships with just one 5MP front-facing camera. If you’re the type of person who likes taking pictures with your tablet (please don’t), you’ll need to look elsewhere. Fortunately, the MateBook does include a standard headphone jack.

I’m more concerned about a graver omission: There’s simply no SD expansion capability on the tablet, accessory, dock, or keyboard. I know some smartphone tablet makers have made this choice because of aesthetics, as well as the fact that photos taken with a smartphone are almost always loaded into the cloud. But chalk me up as a grumpy old fogey who always likes to have a physical backup option. Sneakernet is still a thing!

The Portfolio keyboard: Form, not function

The MateBook’s Portfolio keyboard is the tablet’s biggest drawback. But first, I must give credit where credit is due: The keyboard cover’s attractive faux-leather folio design enfolds the entire tablet, magnetically clasping it at several points. A small series of pogo pins provides a physical connection between keyboard and tablet, reliably connecting the two time after time.

huawei keyboard enhanced
Mark Hachman

The MateBook’s Portfolio keyboard is very similar to that of the Surface Pro 3, though it only lies flat on a table.

Typing on the backlit, full-size keyboard itself was fairly comfortable, and reminded me of the Surface Pro 3’s Type Cover in terms of key spacing and travel (1.5mm). Still, there are a few quirks: The Insert key was nowhere to be found (no real loss), and the primary function of the F7 key is to turn off the trackpad, a choice I’ve never seen a notebook make before.

 

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