After a few years of middling laptop designs, Chinese tech giant Huawei knocked one out of the park last year with the excellent MateBook X Pro. Now, the company is borrowing many of the features that made the MateBook X Pro stand out and sticking them on a brand-new, less-expensive laptop, the MateBook 13. In addition to the thin bezels and unique 3:2 aspect ratio of its display, the MateBook 13 also sports a generously sized touchpad and USB-C charging. PCMag got a sneak peek at the laptop, which Huawei announced at CES this week. Here’s everything you can expect once it goes on sale on Jan. 29 for a palatable $ 999 starting price.
A MateBook in Mystic Silver or Space Gray
The 13-inch MateBook 13 is available in two colors, including the dark Space Gray finish seen here. It’s very similar to the same-name color in Apple’s laptop lineup. Instead of Space Gray, you can choose a MateBook 13 finished in Mystic Silver. Regardless of which color you choose, the exterior has a metallic finish that feels supremely smooth and pleasing to the touch.
The $ 999 base configuration includes a U-series Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD. Stepping up to the $ 1,299 version bumps the CPU to a Core i7 and adds a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics processor.
A Peek Underneath
The speaker grilles are on the underside of the MateBook 13. On other laptops with this kind of speaker placement, sound can often be muddled. During a brief test outdoors, the MateBook 13 didn’t appear to suffer from this problem, but we’ll have to wait until we test it, cranked up, in PC Labs to be sure.
An Unusual Display Ratio
The MateBook 13 has a rather uncommon 3:2 screen ratio, which isn’t ideal for watching movies but is perfect for word processing or web browsing, since you don’t have to scroll down as frequently to view more lines of text or more of a web page. With a glossy finish and a resolution of 2,160 by 1,440 pixels, the screen displays crisp text and brilliant colors. It’s a touch screen, too, and there’s very little bounce when you tap on it.
The laptop has what Huawei touts as an “88 percent screen-to-body ratio,” which means that the borders around the screen are incredibly thin, adding to the svelte aesthetic. They’re not quite as thin as the almost nonexistent borders on the Huawei MateBook X Pro, but that has a silver lining: The webcam is placed in its proper spot above the screen, instead of being located in the keyboard deck as it is on the MateBook X Pro.
Your Right Ports…
On the right side, all you get is a single USB Type-C port. It doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3 for extremely quick data transfers, however.
…and Your Left Ports
On the left side, you’ll spot an additional USB Type-C port. Unlike the right-side USB-C port, this one is also used as the charging port for the laptop, and you connect the 65-watt power adapter to it directly using an included USB-C cable. The left side also has a 3.5mm audio jack, which supports both inputs and outputs.
A Power Button That Reads Your Prints
The MateBook 13’s power button is located in the top right corner of the base, above the keyboard. It includes an integrated fingerprint reader, which means that you can power up your laptop and log in to your Windows 10 account by touching just a single button.
A Luxurious Touchpad
One of the best physical attributes of the MateBook 13 is its oversize touchpad. It’s similar in size to the giant pad you’ll find on the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro, and although it doesn’t have Apple’s excellent Force Touch capabilities, it still offers a decently smooth and accurate pointing experience.
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