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HUAWEI MateBook 13 brings the heat on MacBook Air at CES 2019

HUAWEI brought the heat on Apple's MacBook Air at CES 2019 with the introduction of its thin lite MateBook 13 for North America.

Published onJanuary 7, 2019

MateBook 13

HUAWEI introduced the MateBook 13 at the CES 2019 show in Las Vegas. It’s a mid-range laptop residing between the company’s ultra-slim MateBook X and its semi-premium MateBook D. It’s similar to the MateBook X Pro in appearance, though it targets general customers rather than professionals. The new laptop is HUAWEI’s answer to the MacBook Air, measuring just 0.59 inches thin and weighing up to 2.86 pounds.

MateBook 13

The MateBook 13 ships in two versions: One with an eighth-generation “Whiskey Lake-U” Intel Core i5-8265U four-core processor in a Mystic Silver finish, and one with an Intel Core i7-8565U four-core processor in a Space Gray design. Both chips are fairly new, released in the third quarter of 2018 targeting low power consumption in laptops.

For graphics, the Core i5 model relies on Intel’s integrated UHD 620 GPU while the Core i7 model sports a discrete GeForce MX 150 graphics chip with 2GB of dedicated video memory. The GeForce GPU should be ideal for video editing and light GPU-intensive applications, including low-resolution games. The native screen resolution is 2,160 x 1,440, but don’t expect to run games at 1440p. Chilling the CPU and GPU is HUAWEI’s Shark Fin 2.0 cooling system with fans spinning up to 8,000RPM, increasing airflow around 25 percent versus standard laptop cooling.

In a pre-brief before the show, HUAWEI said it crammed a 13-inch touch-capable screen in a 12-inch frame, resulting in a screen-to-body ratio of 88 percent. We didn’t measure the bezels with a ruler, but they were impressively thin. The screen itself relies on an IPS panel supporting 100 percent of the sRGB color space, 178-degree viewing angles, a brightness of 300 nits, and a 1,000:1 contrast ratio. The screen’s aspect ratio is an unusual 3:2.

Both laptops ship with 8GB of system memory. For storage, the Core i5 model provides a single stick-shaped SSD with 256GB of storage while the Core i7 model bumps it up to 512GB. Unfortunately, there’s no SD card slot for additional storage, but you can attach external drives using the two USB Type-C ports, or use the included MateDock 2 adapter to expand the port complement. Both laptops also include a headphone/microphone combo port.

MateBook 13

The Core i7 model we tested during HUAWEI’s briefing was simply gorgeous, sporting a slick, aluminum alloy chassis in Space Gray save for the black display area and hinge. It’s a clamshell laptop, thus the hinge doesn’t turn a full 180 degrees. The backlit keyboard extends across the laptop’s full width while speakers reside on the bottom. The keyboard itself is spill-resistant sporting keys with a 1.2mm travel distance.

Other goodies crammed into the MateBook 13 include Wireless AC and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, a 1MP camera, Dolby Atmos sound, a 41.7WHr battery promising up to 10 hours of local Full HD video playback on the Core i7 model, and a fingerprint scanner built into the “one touch” power button.

HUAWEI Matebook 13 Hands On

“By optimizing the BIOS, HUAWEI makes it possible to quickly start and wake up the computer and to authenticate an individual’s identity,” the company says in a press release. “Additionally, fingerprint information is saved on the device as opposed to in the cloud, ensuring greater security.”

The MateBook 13 arrives January 29  in North America through Amazon and Newegg. You’ll be paying $1,299 for the Core i7 model and $999 for the Core i5 version. Both will be available in other electronics retailers starting February.

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