Huawei MateBook review: This stylish Surface clone loses some substance in its design

IDG.TV | Jun 28, 2016

Faux-leather accents and clean, white lines are nice, but the accessories fall short in some key ways.

Given the alternatives, I simply can't see how anyone would buy a convertible tablet propped up with a folding keyboard cover.
And if you feel the same way, don't buy the Huawei MateBook.

Huawei's MateBook is a lovely 12-inch tablet. The faux leather, the solid performance, some commendable design choices -- they all combine to help it stand out. That's why it's so frustrating to have to criticize it for just a single feature.

Huawei sells the MateBook, the MateDock, the Portfolio Keyboard, and MatePen as separate items, but the dock and the keyboard are essential if you want to get anything done. The keyboard enfolds the tablet in an attractive folio case, and the MateDock's cover does the same.

But it's Huawei's floppy iPad Pro-style keyboard case that I just can't stand. Even after you figure out how to fold it up, it only supports the tablet at two angles, neither of which I found comfortable. And trying to balance it on your lap? That's just a bad idea, unless you want a cracked display.

The problem is that since the MateBook lacks an integrated kickstand like the HP Elite x2 or Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet, there's really no great alternative. You're stuck.

The MateBook ships with just one USB-C connector, so the MateDock's expansion capabilities make it pretty much a necessity. Huawei does include a pair of USB adapters to connect a standard USB thumb drive, and they're even conveniently stored within the MateDock's case. But Huawei also made another bold choice: there's no SD card slot anywhere.

Finally, there's the MatePen, which wouldn't be worth mentioning except for its convoluted charging process. And there's a second USB connector...inside it? And a laser pointer? Okay....

Look, Huawei was smart to build in a Core m5 chip into the MateBook. The MateBook's in the upper echelon of convertible tablets in terms of performance. And if the company solves its keyboard problem with the MateBook 2, it should have a winner. But as far as the MateBook is concerned, right now, my advice is simple: Don't Huawei, be happy.