There are laptops and there are laptops; like you, I see a lot of them and many come down to subtle nuances in the specifications vs. price. Yet, every now and then something comes along with such thought, such engineering, and such a combination of features that it stands out from the crowd.
Earlier this century I was a big fan of ASUS, Gigabyte and even Alienware gaming laptops. They had strong hinges, a solid feel, and definitely tons of features. Of course, they also weighed 4kg or more and carried only an hour of battery life. I say “gaming laptop” but justified it to myself as having the grunt to run a technology business - virtual machines, database servers, IDEs, and more.
Fortunately, with components become increasingly miniaturised but increasingly powerful at the same time, there’s no need for such a huge device when you want a portable workstation. As Ultrabooks became the order of the day I found myself loving the ASUS ZenBook and the Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1. The latter was my choice of business laptop until recently.
Here's where the Huawei MateBook 14 comes in; this laptop has such an impressive combination of design, of screen, of power, of weight, and of experience, that it’s toppled the competition and become my number one favourite. It even includes a dedicated video card, as well as a truly unique recessed web camera for the ultimate in privacy control.
When I first heard of the MateBook, I wrongly assumed it was “just another” consumer-grade laptop - the likes of which iTWire sees all day, every day. Yet, after taking a loan unit for a drive I realised how wrong I was.
Huawei has pulled out all the stops in coming up with a brilliant design experience, combined with high-end specifications.
The screen has an almost unbelievable 4.9mm bezel thickness, except for the bottom bezel of 11.6mm, which needs to be thicker and stronger for the hinge and connections. This makes the panel almost entirely display from edge to edge - in fact, 90% of the panel is the screen. It sports a vivid 2K IPS display with 3:2 2160x1440 resolution and 100% sRGB colour gamut, at 300 Nits brightness. It’s a beautiful display, and the bezel size lets you see more of it.
The screen also supports 10-point multi-touch, with advanced gestures. Not only can you do the usual swiping and pinching, but swipe down with three fingers to capture the screen and recognise and extract the text on a screenshot, for easy editing or pasting. That’s both remarkable and unprecedented.
The body is metallic and sleek, with a chamfered surface and a smooth, cold surface. It's been constructed using an advanced metal-blasting manufacturing process, as well as a diamond-cutting technique to bring a shining metallic lustre. It looks good and feels good too. Weighing merely 1.53kg and at 15.9mm wide you can take it anywhere with ease - the office, a plane (well, lockdown-permitting), outside, and elsewhere.
Despite its diminutive size, and unlike certain other laptop models which require you to carry an array of adapters, the MateBook 14 includes USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack port, and HDMI. Its shark-fin design also permits 18% more airflow for a continuous, quiet, and cool, experience despite the demanding tasks you might run.
All the above is great, but as a writer, I truly love the keyboard. It's a full-sized backlit keyboard. None of this tiny keyboard stuff, or grasping in the dark; it’s a great keyboard that is ultra-responsive and lets you type with alacrity, while scrolling, zooming, and rotating with the touchpad.
The keyboard also hides the recessed 1MP camera. This is something I've not seen anywhere else; literally on the top row of the keyboard is the webcam - not in the display bezel - and which pops out and hides away again at a simple touch. The screen isn’t compromised by fitting in a camera, and you have privacy at your full control. Never worry if your camera is on or not during an online meeting; it’s in your full control to bring it up, maximising your security and privacy. Don’t find yourself on the news because your camera caught you getting changed during a meeting, or because you’ve accidentally exposed confidential data on the whiteboard behind you.
The 56Wh battery includes intelligent power management, offering up to 14.7 hours of 1080p video playback, 13.6h office work, and 10.7h web browsing, as well as the power to run all the photo-sharing, word processing, software development, or whatever you need. The box includes a 65W USB-C fast charger that gets you to 50% capacity in 30 minutes. The charger is small enough it fits in your pocket and can charge your smartphone or tablet too.
Other specs include a 10th generation Intel Core i5 10210U or i7 10510U processor, and a dedicated built-in 2GB Nvidia GeForce MX350 video card. It has a fingerprint sensor that doubles as the power button and starts in seconds. It includes four digital microphones and two high-quality speakers. It supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi on 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and Bluetooth 5.0, with two x two MIMO antennas.
It includes a 512GB PCIe SSD for storage, and comes in 8GB or 16GB LPDD3 @ 2133MHz RAM options. Overall dimensions are 15.9mm x 307.5mm x 223.8mm.
In a colour offering that might make Henry Ford proud, it comes in space grey.
Specs aside, if you have other Huawei devices, specifically Huawei smartphones, you can even drag-and-drop files and photos between your devices with minimal effort, collaborate across multiple screens, and control all your devices with the same keyboard and mouse. This requires the free Huawei Share software to be running on your laptop and smartphone but gives remarkable collaboration opportunities. Make and answer phone-based audio and video calls through your laptop, as well as wirelessly transfer files between them.
All up, the Huawei Matebook 14 is an impressive package in impressive size, and with an impressive price, and you can see why it is a serious contender for your next laptop purchase. Despite an RRP of $2,499, the MateBook 14 is currently available at the Huawei Experience Store for $1,399, and JB Hi-Fi for $1,498.
Here's Huawei's official video.