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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.

Before you can even begin typing, though, you have to come to terms with the keyboard’s limited adjustability. The Portfolio folds back on itself to support the tablet, in much the same way that the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX did, or the Apple Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro. You can also slide the magnetic coupling up and down for a bit more leeway.

But it’s still not quite enough. If I want to place the MateBook on the desk in front of me, the viewing angle’s actually just fine. But I normally prefer typing with my tablet resting on my keyboard drawer—and if I do so, the angle’s just off enough to bother me. Sure, that may be nitpicking, but everyone has their PC set up just so.

The default viewing angle is excellent for lap work. The lap experience with the MateBook is also slightly wobbly, however, though this is true of most convertible tablets.

huawei matebook slant enhanced
Mark Hachman

Though adjusting the foldable keyboard’s magnetic connection allows you to adjust it a few degrees, the angle is largely fixed.

The MateBook’s large display helps compensate for the limited leaning angles, and you can connect the MateBook to an external display via the MateDock. On a flat surface, like a counter, typing is adequate, though the keyboard lies flat and there’s a quite a lot of transverse wobble across its width. The trackpad is about average in sensitivity.

Comparing the physical kickstand of any Surface tablet (or the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet) to the floppy, folding MateBook Portfolio, however, is like comparing a round wheel to a square one. Numerous competitors have moved on to integrated, fully adjustable kickstands that support the tablet through a range of motion. 

The MateDock: A bit too necessary

While the MateBook’s USB-C connector allows you to connect a single compatible device, you’ll probably opt for the MateDock if you own an older display or simply want the flexibility to connect to multiple USB devices at once. Enter the MateDock.

huawei matebook matedock enhanced
Mark Hachman

The short cord connecting the MateBook to the MateDock limits where you can put it.

About the size of an external battery pack (4 x 2 x 1 inches), the MateDock ships with its own faux leather case, which envelops the MateDock, a MatePen pen loop, and a plastic  housing for both the small USB-A to microUSB connector and the USB-C to microUSB cable. I immediately dismissed the whole thing as pretentious—and later discovered I was wrong. After years of fishing around my backpack for indistinguishable black cables, I found the MateDock’s case quite useful.

 

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