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Huawei MateBook X review

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LAPTOPS? REALLY? Is there anything Huawei isn’t producing these days? We should have known this day would come when Huawei announced its first Windows 10 tablet, the original MateBook. Now, over a year later, the Chinese behemoth has unveiled its successor along with two, very un-tablety laptops: the MateBook X and the MateBook D.

While the MateBook D is a workhorse, challenging the Asus and HP business laptops on the scene, the MateBook X is a 12in Macbook rival, from its slender metal frame, lack of USB ports right through to its high asking price. More than just a pretty fascia, this laptop also crams in a beautiful screen/bezel ratio, ear-popping Dolby hardware and software as well as minimal bloatware. At €1399 though, can it really compete?

Design
Looks-wise, yes it can. This thing is stunning. From its 3:2 aspect ratio screen, super-slim form, amply sized trackpad, comfortable keyboard and a mighty handsome aesthetic, it will likely result in tech love at first sight.

The least sexy thing about the MateBook X is the overbearing ‘HUAWEI’ insignia plastered on its back. I get it, Huawei needs to up their brand presence and what better way to do it than brand-up their best-looking product to date? Still, it’s nowhere near as tasteful as an iconographic backlit fruit… jus’ sayin.

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Dimensions are on the money. Take the screen: 13in and 4.4mm thin bezels means an 84 per cent screen to bezel ratio. It’s pretty much as thin as a slice of turkey, or tofurkey for any vegans out there.

The keyboard portion isn’t much thicker at its thinnest point, with a wedge design that creates space for all the ports at its thickest point. These ports include a USB-C slot either side and a headphone jack to the left. No SD Card slot or full sized USB port put this firmly in MacBook Air territory.

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What the keyboard dock portion does have however is usability in spades. The chicklet keys are well spaced out, back-lit and logically laid out. There are LED indicators for caps and function keys and the statement features, the speaker grill and large trackpad sit above and below the keyboard. The final piece to the MateBook X puzzle is the familiar, circular Huawei fingerprint scanner. This supports Windows Hello and worked perfectly every time we came to use it.

When if comes to build quality, it’s only a little hyperbolic to say that the MateBook X is constructed from a space-age metal brought back in time to ensure Huawei’s dominion over mankind.

Okay, fine… the truth of the matter is that Huawei’s Space Cooling technology integrates microencapsulated phase change materials to improve the thermal performance of the laptop. In English, the metal absorbs and expels heat in a different way to traditional metals used in tech. The result is a fanless, relatively powerful, all-metal laptop.

At only 1.05kg, it’s also easy to carry with one hand, has a sturdy hinge and can be opened by just lifting the lid when on a flat surface, no second hand needed to weight down the keyboard portion.

Screen
The Huawei MateBook X has a 2K display that’s just a little smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. With a resolution of  2160×1440 pixels, it’s pixel density is 216ppi – nice and sharp for a laptop. The screen is shielded by high-quality glass. While this means it’s reflective outdoors, it looks premium.

The fact it isn’t touch-screen means that it isn’t a big deal that the glass attracts fingerprints and general grubby marks very easily. Still, a micro fibre cloth wouldn’t go amiss if you’re planning on presenting from it.

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With a quoted brightness of 350nits, things don’t get as bright as they do on most high-end smartphones or powerhouse editing laptops. But when compared to 12/13in ultrabooks like the regular 12in MacBook, Asus Zenbook 3 and Dell XPS 13, the MateBook X impressively wins out, making it best-in-class for outdoor usability.

The tall aspect ratio also gives you tonnes of vertical space when editing documents, and split-screen multi-tasking is hard-wired into Windows 10, making working across applications both easy and natural.

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