Technology

Huawei MateBook 14s (2021): a stylish laptop and good battery life

Huawei is best known as a smartphone maker, but the Chinese company has also been selling laptops for some time. The lineup covers all budgets, with the MateBook D 15 at $ 599.99 at the bottom of the price range, and the MateBook X Pro (2021 at $ 1,799.99 at the top. Near the top spot is the MateBook 14s, a compact 14.2-inch laptop with a sleek and feature-packed design, priced at $ 1,049.99 (16GB RAM / 512GB SSD) or $ 1,249.99 (16GB / 1TB, as described here).

Compact and stylish, this might be the best way to sum up the design of the Huawei MateBook 14s, although those who opt for the plum green color will get a device with a distinctive look. They sent me the gray version, which is a little less exciting, with a deep slate gray frame that, in the right light, has intense purple highlights. Clean lines and rounded corners are the rule, and if minimalism is your thing, you should.

If you want the green model, you will have to forgo the Evo branding and the 1TB SSD as they are only available with the gray version. In all other respects, the specifications of both models are the same.

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The MateBook 14s runs on an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and either 512GB or 1TB of SSD storage. The best performing model is branded Evo and is only available in a gray version.

Images: Huawei

Huawei has compressed the 14.2-inch screen into a compact chassis that is 313.82mm wide by 229.76mm deep. The MateBook 14s weighs 1.43 kg. There are lighter 14-inch laptops, but the trade-off here gives it a solid build. It is advisable to use a sleeve to protect the case from scratches, but it should withstand most handling, even though the specifications do not mention MIL-STD compliance or IP rating.

The 14.2-inch screen fits into a fairly uniformly sized frame, with a 3: 2 aspect ratio offering slightly more screen height than usual. Videos can be formatted, but the aspect ratio really makes sense when you’re viewing websites, writing in web applications, or working in spreadsheets. Huawei claims a screen-to-body ratio of 90%, but we have calculated it at 83.4%.

Huawei installs a touch screen as standard and it responds well in use. The LTPS panel is not as vivid as the OLED, and this is especially noticeable when viewing videos or photos. But it is perfectly suitable for common applications. The 2520 x 1680 pixel resolution (213 dpi) ensures sharp text and images. The maximum display brightness is 400 nits, which can make it difficult to work outdoors in sunny conditions.

The MateBook 14s offers a 90Hz screen refresh rate in addition to the default 60Hz rate. The higher refresh rate can make general use smoother and is activated by a key combination (Fn + R). . When this feature is enabled, the laptop will automatically select the most suitable refresh rate for the task at hand. I set the update to 90Hz and left this setting in place during the review. If this were my everyday laptop, this is what I would do.

Huawei has integrated four speakers in the MateBook 14s. The sound quality is good, with a lot of volume and no treble distortion. The four front microphones have a range of 5 meters and coverage of 360 degrees, according to Huawei. Along with noise cancellation, this microphone design should give you some freedom during voice or video calls.

Fortunately, the 720p webcam is this time in a conventional location, recessed above the screen. Huawei has already experimented with an original solution where the webcam was attached to one of the keys in the Fn row and appeared when this key was pressed. This solution not only provided an unflattering viewing angle for video calls, but also prevented the use of Windows Hello facial recognition authentication. This would have been a real hurdle for some potential buyers.

These two issues are now resolved, but there are two more: the webcam’s 720p resolution could be improved, and there is no built-in cache for the camera, which could quickly become a criterion of choice.

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The large backlit keyboard, with 1.5mm key travel, is a comfortable typing platform. Fortunately, the webcam is no longer sticking out of the center Fn key.

Image: Sandra Vogel /

The keyboard is very pleasant to use. The keys have a 1.5mm travel and the typing action is very satisfying. The slight “click” produced by the keys is not strong enough to be annoying. All the keys are relatively large, with a double height Enter key that is easy to press with precision. The Fn keys are as wide as the QWERTY keys, and the directional keyboard has full-size left and right arrows and medium-size up and down arrows. I never felt embarrassed or limited when writing. The Fn key, which previously housed the webcam, now activates the Windows text-to-speech feature. A fingerprint sensor is located on the circular power button above the keyboard. The touchpad is large and responsive.

With an Intel Core i7-11370H processor, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of SSD storage, the computer I tested is a capable tool for common workloads. If you want to save a bit of money, you can upgrade to a 512GB SSD while maintaining CPU and RAM specs. As indicated above, this option also gives you the possibility to have a green color for this configuration. Windows 10 was delivered in my test sample and of course the laptop is compatible with Windows 11.

The MateBook 14s has a pair of USB-C ports with charging and DisplayPort support, a single USB-A, a full-size HDMI connector, and a 3.5-inch audio jack. Mm. One of the USB-C ports (the second on the left side) supports Thunderbolt 4 on the tested model (16GB / 1TB).

Battery life may be the weak point of a laptop that impresses in other ways, but here it is not. On a full charge, I worked for three hours typing in web apps, streaming videos, and browsing, and during that time the battery dropped 5% every half hour, finishing at 70%. This total autonomy estimated at about 10 hours allows you to work all day.

The 90W USB-C fast charger can recharge the battery in no time. One time when the battery was at 36% I started charging it and it went down to 53% after 15 minutes, 69% after 30 minutes, and 84% after 45 minutes.

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Image: Huawei

Conclusions

Huawei may be struggling (outside of China) with its smartphones right now due to the embargo preventing it from accessing Google services, but the MateBook 14 from 2021 shows that the company is in great shape on its laptops. Now that the webcam integrated in the keyboard is no longer a problem, there are no more obstacles, although it would be nice to have a cover for the webcam, as well as an increase in its resolution.

Battery life is good, the keyboard is fun to use, there’s plenty of storage space and a powerful processor to get things done, while the touchscreen’s 90Hz refresh rate makes work better. It is a pity that the green chassis is not available for the 1TB version.

Source: “.com”

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