In 2016, Huawei introduced the MateBook, the company’s first-ever Windows 2-in-1. But for 2017, Huawei is blowing out its portfolio with not one but three new Windows PCs in a range of shapes and sizes.
At a briefing in New York, we got chance to go hands-on with two of the three new products and were able to learn about the third, so here are our impressions of the MateBook X, MateBook E and MateBook D.
MateBook X: Superslim with big sound
By packing a high-res 13-inch 2K display, your choice of Core i5 or Core i7 U-series CPU and a built-in fingerprint reader into a body less than half an inch thick, it's clear Huawei’s MateBook X is trying to take down other big name ultraportables like Apple’s 12-inch MacBook and Dell’s XPS 13. The system can be configured with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of SSD storage. But more importantly, no matter what specs you choose, the MateBook X features a fully fanless design. That means there won’t be any fan noise to take away from the audio, and it has less moving parts prone to failure.
The MateBook X is also the first laptop in the world to be Dolby Atmos certified, and its sound system includes stereo speakers co-engineered by Dolby themselves. While we’re going to need longer to really test them, in the short time I had at the briefing, its speakers sounded pretty punchy.
The MateBook X’s fingerprint reader is a bit of tech borrowed from Huawei’s phone portfolio. It's integrated into the MateBook X's power button and works with Windows Hello so that with a single touch, you can wake the system up and login at the same time.
I’m also happy to see that Huawei is embracing USB-C by putting a Type-C port on both the left and right sides of the system. On top of that, Huawei even designed the MateBook X’s USB-C charger to work all kinds of devices, so you can use it to top off everything from a phone to a tablet or even a laptop, just so long as it takes power over USB-C.
And because Huawei knows that everyone still has a few peripherals or older USB Type-A devices they need to connect, the MateBook X also comes with a handy dock featuring HDMI, VGA, and both USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports.
The MateBook X will be available globally in silver and gold, while those in Asia will have a third rose gold option.
MateBook E: Huawei’s second-gen detachable 2-in-1
The new MateBook E is the successor to the original MateBook and it sports a number of notable improvements. The first of which is a redesigned leather cover that features an adjustable hinge which makes the MateBook E more flexible and stable than the previous model. The keyboard itself has also gotten an upgrade thanks to new chiclet-style keys instead of the flat, crowded setup on last year’s MateBook.
Specs include a 2160 x 1440 12-inch IPS display, a 5-megapixel front camera and your choice of Intel Core m3-7Y30 or Core i5-7Y54 CPUs, 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB or 512GB SSDs.
The one thing that seems have been neglected is the MateBook E’s connectivity, as it sports just a single USB Type-C port. However, while it doesn’t come in the box, you can purchase the same dock that comes with the MateBook X separately.
The MateBook E will be available in gray and gold, with blue, brown or pink leather folding keyboard covers.
MateBook D: Making mainstream feel a bit more premium
While the other two MateBooks were available for demo at our briefing, the MateBook D was not. This 15.6-inch laptop seems to be most straightforward of the three, and its most important features include a premium aluminum alloy body and Dolby Atmos speakers akin to the ones on the MateBook X.
It will come with a full HD screen, Core i5 or i7 CPUs and a range of memory and HDD/SSD configurations. You can even equip it with discrete graphics, although since your only choice is an NVidia GeForce 940MX GPU, the system is still going to be too weak for serious gaming.
The MateBook D will be available in gray, gold and aurora blue.
While we're still waiting for official price and availability info, it's clear Huawei is taking its PC business seriously, and if this continues, Huawei could soon be just as big of a player in the computer market as it is for smartphones.
Image credit: Sam Rutherford/Laptop Mag and Huawei.