Laptops

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: The MacBook of Windows

2018’s surprise hit

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As a long-time Windows user, I have to admit, I’ve always dreamed of having a Windows version of Apple’s MacBook. The Pro model in particular is an awesome fusion of sturdy hardware and precise software. Dell’s XPS line was often the best Windows had to offer, but they never quite hit every checkbox.

Surprise, surprise: Huawei came up with the closest thing to the MacBook of Windows yet. Yes, Huawei makes laptops; they don’t just specialize in smartphones and sick burns.

It’s called the MateBook X Pro, and it’s the successor to 2017’s MateBook X, which didn’t experience much fanfare outside of China. There was also a regular MateBook in 2016, but it was more of a Surface Pro competitor than a full-fledged notebook.

The MateBook X Pro has been available in select regions for a while now, garnering positive reviews and calls from fans to bring it to their shores. But why is it so coveted? Let me give you the reasons why, as well as some deeper-rooted cons.

Nothing beats its display

There’s so much to love about the MateBook X Pro, but I’m gonna go with the display as its best feature. The 13.9-inch 3K (3000 x 2000 pixels) touchscreen is enough to wow anyone who sees it. Even better: It’s got the highest screen-to-body ratio of any laptop today at 91 percent.

This is as bezel-less as it gets, and there’s no notch to interfere with the sleek design. Where does the webcam go then? Well…

Huawei picked the most unusual webcam location

If you’ve watched our hands-on video, you’d already know what to expect. The webcam pops up with the press of a button between the F6 and F7 keys. It’s innovative and totally bonkers. Check it out:

But as cool as it is — and trust me, I’ve wowed lots of people with this — I still would’ve preferred a top-mounted placement. I’d add a couple of millimeters on the top bezel to house a proper camera.

A login method I can get behind

Perhaps the biggest reason why I’m not a fan of the pop-up camera is that I can’t log in with my face the moment the laptop enters the lockscreen. It’s something I’ve enjoyed on every Windows Hello-enabled notebook I’ve used up until now, mainly those from ASUS and Lenovo.

To remedy that, Huawei integrated a fast fingerprint reader into the power button. If you leave your finger on the button a second longer when turning on the PC, it’ll bring you straight to the desktop — such a time-saver!

Keyboard and trackpad are top-notch

As someone who needs to write and edit articles on a daily basis, I consider the reliability of the keyboard and trackpad as priorities in a computer. Fortunately for me, this MateBook ticks both boxes with flying colors.

While not MacBook Pro levels of quality, the keyboard has just the right amount of travel and it’s so well-spaced — plus, there’s backlighting for when I work in the dark. The trackpad is massive for Windows laptop standards, and its use of Microsoft’s precision touchpad drivers means gesture control and navigation are easy peasy.

Speaker you wouldn’t expect from an Ultrabook

One of the first things normally given up when going for a slim form factor is the speaker setup. That’s not the case with the MateBook X Pro, which has some of the loudest units I’ve ever heard on an Ultrabook.

There are four in total, all Dolby Atmos-certified, making them loud and crisp. Combined with the immersive display, I’ve turned this into my go-to binge-watching machine.

No port problems here

A gripe of mine with newer laptops is the over-reliance on USB-C as the one, true port. Although I agree it’s the present and future of wired connectivity, I still want my USB-A on board.

That’s exactly the case with this notebook: It has two USB-C ports — one that allows charging and the other with Thunderbolt 3 support for plugging in an external GPU or monitor — and a full-sized USB-A for old flash drives and printers. It’s the best of both worlds, and there’s even a 3.5mm audio port so you won’t have to rely on the older Bluetooth 4.1 standard this MateBook uses for wireless headphones.

Performance is a strong point

At this point, there has to be some compromise, right? If you’re thinking that’s on the raw performance, you’d be absolutely wrong. My unit comes with Intel’s 8th-gen Core i7-8550U chipset, 16GB of memory, 512GB of SSD storage, and lo and behold, an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics chip.

It’s amazing how Huawei was able to cram all this power into the 1.33kg, 14.6mm-slim chassis. Admittedly, it does get quick hot under heavy load from games such as Fortnite and Overwatch, but not enough for me to turn the machine off. For everything else, such as photo and video editing, this configuration blazes through apps.

And battery life is surprisingly great

Again, Huawei somehow managed to avoid any glaring weakness in its best laptop to date. Yes, the MateBook X Pro has a 57.4Wh battery which I’m happy to report is designed to last.

If I avoid the overheating mentioned earlier while off the plug, I can get over seven hours of straight usage. It helps that this notebook charges quickly with its compact 65W adapter, which can also be used to top up my smartphones, so I need to bring only one charger on trips.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Since I began using the MateBook X Pro, I’ve found it tough finding faults, in the same way most Mac users feel about their laptops. There are minor hiccups here and there, but nothing deal breaking enough to avoid a purchase.

On that note, actually buying one may be the biggest hurdle. Even though it’s becoming increasingly easier to find through online retailers in different regions, it’s still nowhere near as easy to purchase as an Acer, HP, or even a MacBook.

It’s a shame, since more support for this product would mean a successor, though I think Huawei will produce one either way. Besides a specs bump and improved location for the webcam, I have nothing else on my wish list for next year’s MateBook X Pro Max Plus — or whatever it’s gonna be called.

Laptops

Infinix launches a new premium notebook lineup

Say hello to the ZERO BOOK series

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Earlier today, Infinix launched a duo of smartphones that each tout a first for the smartphone business. Well, the brand can offer more than just phones. Going along with its new flagships, Infinix has also launched a new premium lineup of notebooks called the ZERO BOOK series.

Infinix ZERO BOOK

The lineup’s first device is impressive in itself. With a workable 323.3 x 211.1 x 16.95mm chassis, the ZERO BOOK comes with a 15.6 IPS display, putting out images in 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 16:9 ratio.

Underneath the keyboard, the notebook sports up to an Intel Core i7-12700H chipset and Iris Xe graphics. It comes with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD of internal storage.

For more power, the series also comes with an OVERBOOST Switch which boosts the laptop’s performance to 54W. Despite the additional infusion of power, it also comes with ICE STORM 2.0, an advanced cooling system consisting of two 65mm fans and a shark fin design to prevent overheating.

Further, the series also has an AI BeautyCam Enhancement for its webcam. Using software, the device automatically improves image quality for video calls. It also has a Dual-mix Array and AI Noise Cancellation which can block out background noise and maximize volume for a user’s voice.

Finally, it comes with a 70Wh battery for juice throughout the day.

Infinix ZERO BOOK ULTRA

Though the ZERO BOOK ULTRA ships in the same size as the regular ZERO BOOK, it is anything but the same.

The ZERO BOOK ULTRA carries an even more packed set of hardware. For example, the device can go up to an Intel i9-12900H chipset with Iris Xe graphics. It goes up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD of internal storage.

Price and availability

Both models of the new ZERO BOOK series are available now. The ZERO BOOK will start at US$ 799. Meanwhile, the ZERO BOOK ULTRA will start at US$ 999.

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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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