Hybrids are all the rage right now. With tablet and laptop sales in decline, tech makers reckon that combining the two products into one device is a winning ticket.
That’s why the iPad Pro, Surface Pro 4 and now Huawei’s new MateBook have all been ushered into existence. Unveiled today at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, the MateBook is a slick-looking Windows 10 tablet that works best with its ultrathin keyboard cover accompaniment and MatePen stylus.
It’s a pretty similar device to the Microsoft’s Surface 3 that we saw last year. That means it’s not as powerful as your average laptop, but a lot more portable. We got hands-on with the Huawei MateBook to see how it shapes up.
Huawei’s phones always look desirable, and the same applies to the svelte, aluminium MateBook. At just 6.9mm thin and 640g, it’s built to squeeze into a satchel without weighing you down.
Its screen is pretty tasty too. A 12-inch IPS number with a 2160 x 1440 resolution, that’s about 216 pixels per inch, text should be easy to read on the MateBook and you’ll have little trouble kicking back with Netflix either. With 128GB storage as standard, 256GB and 512GB models are also available, this device has a decent amount of space for your own TV and movie downloads too.
Dig underneath its display and you’ll find the MateBook features an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB RAM in its base model. That’s the same chip used in Microsoft’s entry-level Surface Pro 4, so the MateBook should be good for your everyday multitasking needs. At least that’s what it seemed like from our limited time with the hybrid.
The MateBook also features a 33.7 watt-hours battery, which equates to a 4430mAh capacity. Huawei reckons you’ll get 10 hours of work out of the device, which seems fair enough to us. That’s about as much juice as you’ll be able to squeeze out of a Surface Pro 4.
Have keys. Will travel?
While the MateBook’s tablet is a classy affair, it’s keyboard isn’t quite as convincing. It’s thin and backlit with a respectable amount of travel in its keys. Crucially, it feels pretty flimsy when you attempt to bash out some words with the cover flexing under the weight of our fingers.
Compared to the Surface Pro’s keyboard cover, Huawei’s effort doesn’t seem as suitable for everyday use. The MateBook does come with a fair few ports and widgets to aid your productivity though. Its tablet has a pin connector so that it can hook up to the keyboard, there’s a USB-C port, volume rocker and even fingerprint sensor that’s placed in between those volume keys. This comes more in handy when you’re using the MateBook as a straight up tablet, but it’s a nice touch for the password averse.
If that’s not enough connectivity for the hyper-productive amongst you, then Huawei has built a MateDock adapter for the MateBook that includes two USB ports, as well as LAN, HDMI and VGA slots.
Windows 10. Straight up
Aside from that keyboard then, the MateBook seems like a well-built device. It also runs Windows 10, without any added Huawei bloatware, which is a boon. If you’ve ever come into contact with Huawei’s Emotion UI for smartphones, then you’ll know that software isn’t really its strong suit.
Windows 10 will also work with the stylus Huawei’s built for the MateBook. This has 2048 sensitivity levels for sketching your thoughts out on OneNote and has three buttons. The first of these kicks the pen into eraser mode, the second is an action button and the third… that activates a red laser on the back of the stylus. Because Huawei.
So how much does the MateBook cost? Well its entry-level model with a Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB storage will set you back €799. Shell out for the most expensive MateBook though, and you'll have to stump up €1799 for a Core m7 chip, 8GB RAM and 512 storage.
That's before you consider accessories too. The MateBook's keyboard costs €19, its MatePen stylus is priced at €69 and the MateDock is available for €99.
We'll find out if this hybrid is worth the cash when it launches in the coming months.