5 things to know about the MateBook, Huawei's first-ever Windows device
Huawei and Windows 10? It's a new category for the Chinese manufacturer, but this 12-inch tablet seems like a promising, cheaper alternative to the competition.
When you think of the name Huawei, you likely think of servers or Android devices—or you don’t think of them at all, since Huawei is hardly a major brand name in the U.S. The company is hoping to change that, though, with the introduction of its first convertible Windows tablet, the Huawei MateBook.
The MateBook is a productivity-focused tablet akin to the Microsoft Surface. It’s lighter, thinner, and way more svelte, not to mention it’s accompanied by a trio of accessories that are actually quite useful. Here’s a quick look at a few of the standout features of Huawei’s first-ever Windows tablet, including a closer look at some of its accessories.
It’s seriously stylish
I’m pretty keen on the MateBook’s design. It borrows its all-aluminum aesthetic from Huawei’s MediaPad M2, a 10-inch Android tablet the company announced at CES, though this particular device is a bit bigger with its 12-inch IPS LCD display.
The MateBook’s 6.9mm chassis makes it thinner than the Surface 4, and at 1.41 pounds it’s lighter than the iPad Pro. But even with those figures, the tablet is rather dense. It certainly feels like it has all the hardware of a laptop stowed inside it, though it’s still light enough to wield as a regular tablet.
Inside, there’s Intel Core M-series processor, 4GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of storage, depending on the model you choose. The MateBook also sports a slimmer bezel than its competitors—Huawei said it’s an 84 percent screen-to-body ratio. It’s nice to have all that extra screen space, though it’s a magnet for fingerprints.
Battery life to get you through the work day
The MateBook is fueled by a 4430mAh battery. Huawei says it can last for up to 10 hours of standard use, which the company says is more than its competitors advertise, including the Lenovo MIIX 4 and Surface Pro 4. Of course, we’ll have to test all this in our lab before we can verify this claim, though it sounds promising on paper.
It has a stylish keyboard cover
The MateBook’s $129 water-resistant keyboard case is seriously cool. It’s covered in a premium-feeling leather, so it already offers a professional, business-like aesthetic that you want from a 2-in-1. The keyboard has spacing between the keys for comfortable typing, and the keys are large enough that you’re not accidentally tapping neighboring characters.
The dock adds extra ports
The MateBook’s second accessory is the $89 MateDock. It might not seem exciting at first, but I like all the extra functionality it brings to an otherwise basic Windows tablet. The MateDock connects to the MateBook via USB-C and adds HDMI, VGA, ethernet, and two extra USB ports, so you can hook your MateBook up to a monitor and tack on a mouse and keyboard, too. It comes inside a leather folio case that also houses a super compact 12-volt pocket charger.
There’s also a pressure sensitive stylus
The MateBook is not just for the business-centric. Huawei geared it up for artists, too. The $59 MatePen features 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and an elastomer tip. It’s a bit light, so it doesn’t feel like a real pen, but you’ll experience the same drag and resistance as you would if you were drawing on physical paper. It also doubles as a remote for PowerPoint presentations and features a laser pointer on the back, which is neat though not entirely necessary.
I’m not an artist, but I fired up AutoDesk and tried my hand at painting a basic picture with a paintbrush, a Micron-style pen, and a pencil. The pressure sensitivity only works with a few of the app tools, but it was remarkable how well the tablet picked up on even the slightest of brush strokes. I also liked that as I pushed down on the screen with the virtual paintbrush, the app would react as if they were actual bristles. I want to see what a real artist would think of the stylus before offering my final take, but I’m impressed by what I’ve seen so far.
Is this your next Windows device?
I’ve been slowly phasing out two MacBook Airs from my life in favor of Windows 10 laptops, and I like the concept behind the Huawei MateBook. It’s a lighter, portable alternative to a laptop, and it’s so much more stylish than the Surface Pro 4—but it’s not exactly cheaper. The MateBook starts at $699 for the 128GB model with 4GB of RAM and a Core m3 processor, but I’d at least want the keyboard cover and dock to take advantage of all its capabilities.
The MateBook will be available in the U.S. “in the coming months,” though there’s word that Huawei’s shooting for March.