Huawei Matebook review:

This Surface wannabe falls flat -- literally

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Huawei Matebook fits a full Windows 10 PC into an iPad-sized tablet chassis. The fingerprint sensor is fast. Its screen and speakers are excellent.

The Bad You'll get periodic pauses when launching applications or loading web pages, and battery life is merely OK. Huawei charges extra for the keyboard, stylus and dock you'll need in order to use the Matebook like a PC.

The Bottom Line If you like what the Matebook offers, pick the slightly pricier Samsung Galaxy TabPro S instead. The TabPro S has an even better screen, better battery life and throws the keyboard in for free.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Battery 6.0

What is Huawei? Just a Chinese company that could become the No. 1 phone maker in the world. Did you know the Google Nexus 6P is a Huawei? You do now. But the company's latest device isn't a phone -- it's a 12-inch Windows tablet that's as slim as an iPad Pro. It's just a shame Huawei couldn't match it by every other metric.

Why to buy

Starting at $699 in the US (roughly £524 or AU$949, though UK and Australian availability is TBD), the Huawei Matebook is one of the first full Windows 10 computers to fit inside an iPad-sized chassis. (Not the 9.7-inch iPad, mind you -- it's closer to the size of a 12.9-inch iPad Pro.) The secret sauce is Intel's new Core M processors, which don't require any noisy fans or other ornate, girthy mechanisms to keep cool.

Correction, 12:15pm PT: We mistakenly thought the Matebook was priced at $899 instead of $699, which positions it more favorably. We've updated this review and bumped our rating to a 7.0 (3.5 stars) accordingly.

Left: The iPad Pro. Right: The Huawei Matebook.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Yes, it's sleek -- and like an iPad Pro (or Microsoft's bulkier Surface Pro), you can attach a wrap-around keyboard folio to turn this tablet into a far more productive machine. I'm typing this entire review on the Matebook's leather-bound backlit keyboard right now, and while I wouldn't want to type a novel on these fairly stiff keys, they get the job done. The built-in touchpad is impressive too, with an extremely fine surface that makes for accurate mousing.

Meanwhile, the Matebook's ridiculously fast fingerprint sensor logs me into Windows with a snap -- seriously, watch our video above. And the Matebook's screen and speakers are among the best compared to other tablets on the market. I actually enjoy listening to music on these speakers, which CNET tablet expert and resident audiophile Xiomara Blanco assures me is a mighty fine compliment. Just don't expect any bass.

huawei-matebook-2016-01.jpg
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These key components don't come in the Matebook package.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why to avoid

Now that I've made the Huawei Matebook sound like a dream computer, it's time to bring that dream crashing down.

Caveat No. 1: Intel Core M-powered computers aren't all the same. A Core M in a thin tablet like this one is notably weaker than one in a laptop-sized chassis. I was able to get all my work done on the Matebook, but sometimes it would bog down. There'd be a huge pause before applications would launch or web pages would load. Thicker Core M machines haven't given us as much trouble.

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