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Huawei MateBook E Review: Subtle Refinement

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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Huawei

Overview

Despite their large global presence in smartphones, Huawei isn't a brand widely known to US consumers. While this has improved year by year with the introduction of unlocked phones from and their Mate brand, I don't think that most Americans realize how big of a consumer electronics company Huawei is.

One of the more recent categories that Huawei has entered is the Windows notebook and tablet market. Starting with the announcement of the original MateBook at Mobile World Congress in 2016 (see our subsequent review here), the MateBook line was expanded this year to include two traditional notebook form factors—the thin-and-light MateBook X, and the more mainstream MateBook D.

With the introduction of these new products, the 2-in-1 tablet formerly known as just the MateBook has been slightly revised and renamed to the MateBook E, the product that we are looking at today.

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Huawei MateBook E  (configuration as reviewed)
Processor Intel Core m3-7Y30
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 615
Memory 4GB LPDDR3
Screen 12-in 2160x1440 IPS
Storage

128GB SanDisk SATA SSD

Wireless Intel 8275 802.11ac + BT 4.2 (Dual Band, 2x2)
Connections 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C
Audio combo jack
Battery 33 Wh
Dimensions 278.8mm x 194.1mm x 6.8mm (10.98" x 7.64" x .27")
2.43 lb (1100 g) 
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $699 - Amazon.com

Click here to continue reading our review of the Huawei MateBook E!

Just like last year's MateBook, the MateBook E utilizes Intel's low power Core m3 and m7 processors. These 4.5W CPUs don't offer nearly as much performance as their 15W ultrabook-destined siblings, but are generally adequate for basic productivity tasks.

The MateBook E tablet itself seems to be largely unchanged from last year's model except for the upgrade to a Kaby Lake-based CPU. The form factors are identical, except for a slightly different set of contacts along the bottom to connect to the new keyboard dock. 

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The 3:2 aspect ratio display makes the most out of the 12" form factor of the MateBook E. The 2160x1440 resolution is a great balance between extremely high resolution displays while still being usable without having to turn the display scaling feature of Windows 10 to 200%, like I have to do with some 4K mobile screens.

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The new keyboard dock on the MateBook E brings welcome improvements from the previous design. Instead of a folding origami design like the iPad Pro, Huawei has moved to a design similar to the Surface Pro with the exception of the hinge being integrated into the keyboard instead of into the tablet.

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The keyboard itself is one of the better options I've used as far as tablet keyboards go. While the keys feel mushy compared to a traditional notebook keyboard, it didn't seem to affect the accuracy of my typing.

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Additionally, the increased spacing between keys from last year's model means that the keys caps themselves are smaller than a "full-size" notebook keyboard.

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In a similar vein, the trackpad on the keyboard dock is better than I expected. Palm rejection is quite good, although it is less of a problem considering the relatively small size. I would have liked to see Huawei adopt a glass covered trackpad like the Surface Pro instead of the coated plastic that they currently use, which feels like it might deteriorate from finger oil and continued use. 

My time with the MateBook E's keyboard dock hasn't been all pleasant, however. I had numerous connectivity issues when waking the tablet up from sleep mode, where both the keyboard and trackpad are unresponsive. They start to work again once I detach the tablet and reconnect it, but that's a less than ideal solution. This could likely be fixed with a software update, but we have no knowledge of one coming to address this issue. 

One not so positive aspect inherited from the previous generation MateBook device is the ports or rather lack thereof. You are given one USB-C port, running at 5Gbps, and a 3.5mm audio jack for combination headphone and microphone, that's it. While the USB-C device ecosystem certainly has advanced since the last MateBook, the inability to charge and USB devices without an ungainly dongle is disappointing at best.


November 15, 2017 | 11:33 PM - Posted by BlackDove (not verified)

Huawei isnt well known... except for the times when they got caught selling backdoored electronics since theyre an arm of the Chinese government.

November 16, 2017 | 01:50 AM - Posted by nonnymous (not verified)

To be fair, anyone selling devices with modern x86 CPUs in them is selling you a device with back doors for US 'intelligence' agencies, their friends abroad and whoever those agencies are selling that access to.
From what I've read about US and Chinese intelligence agencies, the former seems to be engaged aggressively in industrial and political espionage while the latter seems mostly concerned with suppressing dissent at home. Not being a Chinese dissident, Chinese back doors don't bother me as much.

November 16, 2017 | 02:02 PM - Posted by Rexyl (not verified)

Agreed. I'd rather the Chinese have eyes in my personal life than my own government.

November 17, 2017 | 02:50 PM - Posted by ADRIAN FLORIN LAZAR (not verified)

What about linux drivers for this machine ?
Or possibility to install ChromeOS ? - custom ChromeBook ;)

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