Laptops

Huawei MateBook 13 review: 5 reasons to make the switch

And a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t

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Lots of tech reviewers, including myself, considered the MateBook X Pro as one of the best Windows laptops of 2018. It has the build quality, performance, and look that could easily take on the MacBook Pro.

Naturally, Huawei followed up this major release with a set of new notebooks in early 2019. These include an updated MateBook X Pro, MateBook 14, and finally, the MateBook 13 we have here.

Given its name and pricing — starting at US$ 999 for the Intel Core i5 variant — it’s a given that this is at the lowest end of the MateBook lineup. But don’t let any of those figures fool you; this is one solid product.

I can provide a few reasons why.

Smaller yet equally powerful

Having used the MateBook X Pro as a daily driver for several months now, switching to the MateBook 13 felt like a downgrade at first. I’d miss the quad speaker setup and larger screen, but those were the only losses in the grander scheme. If you took even a single glance at the MateBook 13’s specs sheet, you’d know that it still packs a punch.

The particular model I reviewed, which retails for US$ 1,299, comes with a Core i7-8565U, 8GB of memory, 512GB of fast storage, and a GeForce MX150 GPU. That’s loads of power for a slim laptop that’s only 14.9mm thick with a weight of 1.3kg. That’s also perfect for pushing the 2160 x 1440 pixels on the 13-inch display.

All the convenience is here

I was a little worried that Huawei would remove the fingerprint scanner as a way to cut costs, but fortunately for me and everyone who uses the MateBook 13, it’s still conveniently placed on the power button. Keep your finger on the sensor for a couple of seconds during boot-up, and you’ll go straight to your desktop.

Another handy feature is the fast charger the MateBook 13 comes with. At 65 watts, it can bring this laptop from zero to full in about 1.5 hours, which is similar to what Huawei does with SuperCharge tech on its flagship smartphones. As a bonus, the cable ends in USB-C, so it can quickly charge your handset, as well.

Huawei Share is surprisingly good

I admit, there was some skepticism at the beginning with the Huawei Share sticker placed on the lower-right corner of the notebook. I’ve seen multiple attempts at making syncing between a smartphone and laptop seamless for ages, but nothing has really made it worth the try over simply plugging the mobile device in.

To my delight, Huawei Share legit works. I tap my P30 Pro to the right of the trackpad, and it automatically pairs through NFC. From there, you can select photos, videos, or music you’d like to share between the two devices. The only downside, of course, is that you need a compatible Huawei phone to make this work, which would alienate tons of users.

A much better webcam placement

The biggest complaint of any MateBook X Pro user centers around the notebook’s awkward webcam placement. While the pop-up mechanism is cool, the videos you get out of it aren’t. It’s the lone downside of an otherwise perfect Windows laptop.

Huawei took notes and put the webcam where it belongs on the MateBook 13. It’s right above the display this time and doesn’t add much to the top bezel. It’s a shame that Huawei didn’t just apply this to all of its laptops from the start, but I do miss the privacy I got from the hidden placement of the MateBook X Pro.

Pretty much everything about the design

I believe that 14 inches is the sweet spot for ultra-slim laptops; it provides enough real estate while fitting well inside any sort of backpack. However, the MateBook 13 makes a strong case for why 13 inches is even handier without losing much work space. Because the bezels are still so slim, the display always feels bigger than it looks.

I’m also glad that Huawei didn’t make any comprises with the keyboard and trackpad. The clickiness and response of every backlit key is spot on, and although the trackpad may be a bit too wide for its height, the responsiveness is equally satisfying and it’s so easy to apply gestures on it, especially if you pick the non-touchscreen option.

But then…

As usual, there are a few downsides. The most glaring one is the absence of a USB-A port. One can argue that USB-C is the future — and the MateBook 13 has two of these — but if the MateBook X Pro can have a couple plus one USB-A, so should the MateBook 13. There’s a dongle for this, but being able to plug in straight away is miles more convenient.

As alluded to earlier, this laptop bears only two downward-firing speakers. They can get loud, but clarity is lost at the higher levels, and is totally muffled when placed on a soft surface. And because of the smaller overall heft, battery life takes a hit. I could get easily get over six hours of usage on one full charge, but that isn’t MateBook X Pro levels.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The MateBook 13 is best described as a more affordable MateBook X Pro that doesn’t compromise too much. In effect, it’s yet another MacBook competitor.

With the exception of video calls, there were several moments wherein I wished I’d been using the MateBook X Pro instead, specifically when binge watching shows and plugging in a flash drive.

Otherwise, for the price it commands, the MateBook 13 is one of the best in its class. I love how you can get high performance and a quality build in such a compact package.

The best alternatives here are the MateBook 14 for something a little bigger and Dell’s XPS 13 line, which had been the undisputed champ before the current-gen MateBook series arrived. Now, that crown has to be shared.

Laptops

Samsung, Intel are making a slidable PC

Prototype right now

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When Samsung heralded the coming of the foldable phone, all eyes were unfortunately fixed on the ghastly crease stretching from end to end. Years since that moment, the crease never really disappeared. Smartphone brands did their best to reduce their impact, but it still remains a problem. Samsung, perhaps doubling back to fix the long-standing problem, has introduced a new form factor for the future: the slidable PC.

During Intel’s Innovation event, Samsung Display and Intel unveiled a prototype device showcasing a unique (but not altogether new) concept. Instead of a foldable hinge, the 13-inch display “slides” into a 17-inch display. Both companies effectively created a tablet that can turn into a laptop.

Since the prototype already works as a display, it’s easy to see how an eventual device might work. Starting off as a large tablet, the device expands and connects to an external keyboard (or another accessory).

The prototype should look familiar, too. Although Intel uses “slidable” as a term, other brands — like LG — have created similar form factors but labeled as “rollable.” Unfortunately, LG exited the smartphone business before creating a workable product for everyone.

Without other brands, it looks like Samsung and Intel are both on the hunt to bring the device to reality. At the moment, it is still a prototype. There is no timeline for a product yet. However, Intel seems resolute that foldable isn’t the future of PCs.

SEE ALSO: Samsung teases that sliding, rolling displays are coming

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Computers

Lenovo ThinkPad P16s, ThinkStation P360 now in the Philippines

Two new Think products

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ThinkPad P16si
ThinkPad P16s

Lenovo continues to be in a league of its own. After making new IdeaPad and Yoga laptops available earlier this month, Lenovo has introduced two new products in their Think lineup: the ThinkPad P16s Gen 1 and ThinkStation P360 Ultra.

ThinkPad P16s Gen 1

Price — starts at PhP 95,999

The powerful and high-performance ThinkPad P16s Gen 1 is powered by up to the latest 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processors and NVIDIA T550 or Intel Iris Xe graphics.

It can support up to 48GB DDR4 memory and up to 2TB PCIe SSD Gen 4 storage, making it ideal not only for work but also gaming.

The display is 16-inch, 400 nits (2560 x 1600) screen. It has Intel WiFi 6E and Intel Thunderbolt 4, with a suite of ports and slots for seamless and high-speed connectivity.

While reliable and durable, the laptop also comes in a lightweight and slim design, weighing just 1.7 kilograms and with a thickness of 20.5mm for portable use.

ThinkStation P360 Ultra

ThinkStation P360 Ultra

ThinkStation P360 Ultra

Price — starts at PhP 114,799

On the other hand, the small but powerful ThinkStation P360 Ultra is boosted by up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 12900 vPro processor for a maximum power of up to 5GHz, and advanced graphics options such as the NVIDIA RTX A5000.

Half the size of traditional small form factor desktop workstations, the machine supports a wide range of tasks for professionals and even creatives, making it one of its kind for its size.

It has up to 64GB of DDR5 memory and up to 1TB of SSD PCIe Gen4 storage. The ThinkStation P360 Ultra also has seven (7) USB ports, including 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Dual onboard ethernet and WiFi 6E options ensure access to superfast networking connectivity. Pair it with wireless keyboards, mice, and monitors, and you’ll be able to take productivity to a whole new level.

The release of these Think devices follows Lenovo’s release of three new Yoga laptops — the Yoga 9i, Slim 7i Pro X, and Slim 7i Carbon — and three new IdeaPads — Slim 3 and 3i, Slim 5i, and 5 Pro earlier this month.

 

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Laptops

New HP Spectre, Envy laptops unveiled: Pricing, specs

A creative’s sidekick

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The newest lineup of HP Spectre and Envy laptops have finally been released in the Philippines, offering a great sidekick for professional creators.

They are the 13.5-inch Spectre x360 Laptop 14 and 13.3-inch Envy x360 Laptop 13, which come with up to the latest 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processors and Intel Evo. The laptops are also equipped with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and up to 2TB of PCIe 4 storage.

When it comes to display, the devices have up to 4K OLED displays which have a 120Hz refresh rate, supported by Intel Iris Xe graphics.

Speaking of which, the 2-in-1 touch display laptops support multi-gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom, double tap, and press and hold, and have a variety of screen sizes, from the 3:2 to the 16:10 aspect ratio to fit the content nicely.

Your next meeting also gets a level up, as the the laptops come with these premium features:

  • 5MP camera
  • HP AutoFrame and Dynamic Voice Leveling
  • Backlight Adjustment and Appearance Filter
  • Bi-directional microphones with AI noise cancellation
  • Quad speakers

HP Spectre

Pricing

Check the list below for a quick glance of the corresponding prices of both the new HP Spectre and Envy laptops.

Spectre

  • ef0038TU (Core i5, 8GB+512GB): PhP 87,990
  • ef0039TU (Core i7, 16GB+512GB): PhP 96,990
  • ef0042TU (Core i7, 16GB+1TB): PhP 102,990
  • ef0043TU (Core i7, 16GB+2TB): PhP 115,990

Envy

  • bf0045TU (Core i5, 15GB+512GB): PhP 69,990
  • bf0046TU (Core i7, 16GB+512GB): PhP 77,990
  • bf0047TU (Core i7, 16GB+1TB): PhP 82,990
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