Huawei MateBook E (2017)
A premium hybrid with minor failings, the updated MateBook will appeal to the style-conscious buyer
SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £1,000 (£1,200 inc VAT) from consumer.huawei.com (estimated price)
Huawei’s first attempt at building a 2-in-1 Surface-like hybrid had its strengths – primarily its looks – but these were hard to appreciate when faced with its unstable folio keyboard design and awful typing experience. Luckily, with this year’s iteration, Huawei has pretty much cracked it. Bound in its folio keyboard case the MateBook still feels quietly luxurious, but the hinged support on the rear now holds the tablet more securely on its magnetic contacts – at a wider range of angles.
What’s more, it’s genuinely nice to use. As it sits flat on the desk or your lap, you miss the more comfortable raised angle of the Surface Pro, but the lightweight action and relatively spacious layout help you get up to speed. The touchpad feels smooth and responds quickly to touch, while the touchscreen itself is sensitive and accurate. Huawei’s pressure-sensitive stylus doesn’t have the weight or finesse of the Microsoft and Lenovo pens, but it’s a fine tool for drawings, notes and annotations.
We always liked the screen on the MateBook E, and the new version’s 12in, 2,160 x 1,440 IPS display is spectacularly bright, colourful and clear. We measured the maximum brightness at 396cd/m² and the average Delta E at a very low 1.73, with the screen capable of showing 99.2% of the sRGB gamut. Sound isn’t as stellar; the MateBook E has a louder, wider sound than your average tablet, but it loses clarity along the way.
Connectivity remains a weakness, with one USB-C connection that’s also used for charging, plus a headphone/ microphone socket. Huawei gets round this by bundling in a breakout dock with an extra USB-C port, a USB 3 port plus VGA and HDMI outputs. This could work out well if you plan to use the MateBook mobile some days, plugged in on the desk at others, but it’s a hassle to carry.
Performance and battery life are more serious concerns. With a Core i5-7Y54 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 250GB SSD, the Huawei struggled with our multitasking benchmarks, finally delivering a score of just 24. Battery life, meanwhile, was one of the worst on test, falling nine minutes short of six hours. Given the competitive pricing, great screen and good design, you might be happy to forgive these shortfalls, but think them through.
ABOVE The MateBook E’s screen is a real strength, with great colour accuracy
BELOW The MateBook is bundled with a breakout dock with extra ports