- Ultra-thin and light
- Full-sized, responsive, backlit keyboard
- Touchpad gesture control
- No touch screen
- Gesture controls difficult to remember
- Keyboard hard to read in bright light
Chuwi's Lapbook Air is thin and lovely, and it looks like a laptop costing twice as much.
In October Chuwi introduced a new product to its portfolio of tablets and laptops. This is the LapBook Air -- currently the thinnest model that Chuwi produces. It looks high spec and stylish.
It can easily be mistaken for a MacBook -- apart from its sub-$400 price tag. It is slim and light in my hand at only 1.3kgs (2.87 pounds).
This Windows 10 laptop has a 14.1 inch FHD IPS bezel-less screen which has a large screen-to-body ratio. The resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels with a brightness of 320cd per square meter.
The body is made out of magnesium alloy, finished in micro-matte silver and CNC to give it a sharpness in its design. The Chuwi logo is backlit.
The Lapbook Air has a simplified set of ports. There are two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI slot, a slot for a TF card, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a power cable jack.
It tapers down to only 6mm at its thinnest edge -- thinner than my mobile device. It is very impressive, and even includes a sleeve bag if you buy from AliExpress.
The touchpad has gesture control -- which takes a little getting used to if you are used to using a touchpad just as a mouse. Two fingers brings up the right mouse button menu, three finger touch will activate Cortana, and four finger touch will open the Action Centre.
You can also zoom in and out using two fingers, and browse the web by moving two fingers around the touchpad.
This is Chuwi's attempt to compensate for the fact that the device does not have a touch screen. I found the lack of touch really frustrating.
I reached to touch the screen many times, and I took a long time to use the touchpad to really get the best out of the gesture control. I would have to use this device for a few months before the change of behaviour came easily to me
Inside there is a 64-bit quad-core Apollo Lake N3450 processor at up to 2.2GHz. It has 8GB RAM + 128 GB SSD storage. The Lapbook Air has 9th generation HD graphics with Directx 12 at 700MHz frequency.
An impressive 5G Wi-Fi will deliver a transmission speed of up to 433Mb/s, and there is a 10,000mAh battery which gave me over six hours of Office-type usage.
This Lapbook Air has a 40Gb C: drive and a 76GB D: drive for data -- a nice touch which will make backing up easy.
There is a full sized six-row keyboard with keys that have a good length of travel -- just like a traditional keyboard -- which I love.
One issue I found is that in bright light the white text on the shiny grey keys were difficult to read unless I was directly above the keyboard. Typing in low light was easy due to the backlit keyboard.
The sound is good from speakers at either side of the Lapbook. The front-facing 2MP webcam is adequate for video calls.
One issue that has been pointed out to me by a ZDNet reader is returning an item if there is a device fault. The reader had an issue with his device which Chuwi offered to repair for him.
The problem is that it is prohibited to send lithium ion batteries through the mail to China and Hong Kong. This means that you cannot return the item if anything goes wrong. This is a government issue and nothing to do with Chuwi's 'prompt, courteous' support.
UPDATE: Chuwi got in touch soon after this review was published to let me know that it has repair centers located in UK, Russia, Germany, Hungary, Spain, and USA. It also contacted the ZDNet reader, to determine if it is a hardware issue. If so, it will be sent to the nearest Chuwi repair centre.
I love the look of this laptop -- and particularly like its large screen. This laptop really suits the way I work in the office -- but I would struggle to take this out and about with me. I really missed the ability to touch the screen.
I did not realise how much I use touch to complement my use of the mouse and trackpad. I would need to completely relearn my touchpad habits to get the best out of this device.
It is a beautiful device, but with no touch, could it be my main laptop? Chuwi has just announced its 13.3 inch tablet / notepad hybrid, the CoreBook, on Indiegogo.
Do I chose good looks, screen size, or a touch screen and Windows Hello authentication? It will be a difficult choice for sure.