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.

CES 2021

ASUS unveils its new ZenBook Duo 14

Improved design, powerful internals, and a dynamic ScreenPad Plus

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ASUS continues to push the boundaries of its innovative products. Last year, they introduced the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14, a one-of-a-kind laptop which introduced the ScreenPad Plus. Essentially, you get a laptop with two screens that allow you to multitask and have more creative control. This year, the company is launching its latest iteration of the device, with some changes.

In terms of the overall design, the new ZenBook Duo 14 comes in a magnesium aluminum alloy chassis for a more sophisticated look. As soon as you open the laptop, it will still come with the patented ScreenPad Plus but with a hinge change. This time, the hinges that the ScreenPad Plus rest on are much stronger and incorporate ASUS’s ErgoLift in the process. As a result, this allows more airflow while you run strenous tasks like photo and video editing.

Also, the ScreenPad Plus’ UI gets an upgrade in terms of functionality with ScreenXpert 2.0. With this new Control Center, you can customize the flow of the applications on the second screen with ease. Apart from ASUS utilities and a dedicated Launcher, it also comes with a Control Panel that supports Adobe products like Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects. Basically, you have more tools and settings to tinker with, to your liking.

All of these comes with powerful hardware to suit the creative mind or the young professional. Inside, the ASUS ZenBook Duo 14 sports up to an 11th generation Intel Core i7 CPU and 32GB of RAM. With up to 1TB of SSD storage, you can keep all your work files and projects up and running in no time. Also, you can opt to get the device with a dedicated NVIDIA MX450 GPU.

Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.

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Hands-On

ASUS ZenBook Duo (2021) Unboxing and Hands-on: Double The Fun!

Is it still the laptop of tomorrow?

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ASUS launched their first first dual-screen laptop, the ZenBook Pro Duo last 2019 at Computex Taiwan.

This 2021, the Full HD LCD display might be a drawback from the 4K OLED display. Still, it has a new and improved ErgoLift Hinge that ASUS is proud of. And with power-packed specs, pen support, and dual displays, this laptop might just be for a creative or content creator like you.

More of ASUS’ latest ZenBook Duo in our latest unboxing and hands-on video right here.

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CES 2021

Honor Band 6 and MagicBook Pro 2021 unveiled at CES

Launching soon in international markets

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Honor is now an independent company and does not have any ties with Huawei. Despite the recent transition, the brand is back at CES and has announced two new products in its global portfolio — Honor Band 6 and MagicBook Pro.

The Honor Band 6 has a massive 1.47-inch AMOLED display with 2.5D curved glass on the top. The band looks like a watch due to the large display, finding a sweet spot that isn’t too small or too big. The left edge of the device has Honor branding embossed into the shell.

The fitness tracker has five health monitoring features, which include SpO2, heart rate, sleep, stress, and menstrual cycle. There are ten workout modes, with six of those detected automatically.

The Honor Band 6 leverages Bluetooth 5.0 and packs a 180mAh battery capable of delivering up to 14 days of battery life on a single charge. It’s priced at CNY 249 (US$ 39), and sale is limited to China right now. However, we expect a gradual launch in other markets soon.

The MagicBook Pro has a 16.1-inch display, and Honor claims it has 100 percent sRGB coverage for color accuracy. Powering the laptop is Intel’s Core i5-10210U processor, coupled with the NVIDIA GeForce MX350 GPU. Everything else remains the same as last year’s offering, including 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage.

The battery is rated at 56Wh, and a 65W charger is provided along. It can go from zero to 50 percent within half an hour. And Honor says the laptop can deliver 11 hours of usage on a single charge. Honor has revealed its price yet, but we expect it to be around US$ 1,000. The company will announce availability details based on regions.

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