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Chuwi LapBook 14.1 review

Chuwi is a Chinese OEM based in Shenzhen with a pretty neat lineup of affordable Windows tablets and 2-in-1s. Chuwi is a global partner for Intel and Microsoft, which inspires a little confidence in this relatively unknown brand.

Established in 2004, Chuwi is very popular on online retailers in China, and the company is now trying to gain ground in other markets. I recently ordered the Chuwi LapBook 14.1, the company’s second laptop, and here’s my review of the same.

Chuwi LapBook 14.1 Specifications

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: 7th Generation Intel Apollo Lake N3450 Quad Core 2.2GHz
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 500
  • RAM: 4GB DDR3L
  • Internal Storage: 64GB eMMC | Expandable up to 128GB
  • Display: 14.1-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS
  • Ports: TF card slot | Micro HDMI | USB 2.0 + 3.0 | 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Front Camera: 2MP
  • Battery: 9000mAh Li-polymer battery

Design

The Chuwi LapBook 14.1 is all plastic, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap quality. Made of high-quality ABS plastic, the LapBook sports a solid and rugged build. There’s no creaking or flexing of any kind and the textured finish is slick and it feels great in the hand.

For the price it comes at, it’s impressive really. Of course, the bright white color with black keyboard and minimalist design is reflective of a Macbook. The tapered design goes from 20.5mm at its thickest point to just 9mm at the front – its thinnest point. Not just ridiculously thin, at less than 1.5kgs, the LapBook is very light too and makes for a perfect portable laptop.

Display

The LapBook sports a 14.1-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS display with 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s bright and sharp and since this is a matte panel, there’s no annoying reflections or glare. The black levels and the colors are pretty good too and it looks fantastic when watching a movie streaming in HD. There’s just 8mm of bezel around it that looks neat.

The anti-glare coating on the panel and the brightness allows you to use it in direct sunlight. The panel also consumes very little power which is reflective in the battery life of the device (along with the fact that there’s no touch digitizer).

For a budget laptop, the LapBook offers an incredible display that not just trumps others in the price segment, but also few priced higher or from a mainstream brand. It’s not a touchscreen though, and that’s the only the downside to this laptop.

Hardware

The keyboard on the Chuwi LapBook is one of the better keyboards on a budget laptop, and offers generous travel between the keys. The keys are spaced out well and feel extremely nice and solid. There are no dedicated buttons for any of the hardware functions, except the power button of course.

Thankfully, the trackpad too works just fine unlike some other Chuwi convertibles. It’s not without woes though, and there are driver issues apparently – it registers random touches or gestures sometimes – which one hopes can be taken care of with a software update. The size of the trackpad too is just fine for a 14-inch laptop. It supports Windows 10 gestures, but you can’t control them or anything.

The Chuwi LapBook comes with a proprietary DC charger which is surprising since other Chuwi devices charge over USB Type-C which would’ve been great here too.

The ports on the LapBook are sufficient. There’s one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port, along with a microSD slot for storage expansion. There’s also a Mini HDMI port for display out and a 3.55mm audio port.

Performance

Unlike the Intel Atom chipset found on most affordable laptops and tablets (including several in the Chuwi lineup), the Chuwi LapBook 14.1 features an upgraded Apollo Lake processor, the quad-core Intel N3450 chip clocked at 2.2GHz along with Intel HD Graphics 500. The company claims that it offers a 30 percent performance boost over the previous generation.

While of course the LapBook is not a powerhouse and neither does it aim to be one, it chugs along nicely in casual usage. It’s powerful than the fastest Atom Cherry Trail processor, but still a step down from a Core M one. As a result of the new processor, the performance is nippy while browsing the web, working on Office apps, or playing casual games. The 4GB DDR3L RAM helps in keeping it responsive and snappy.

But once you subject it to aggressive multitasking, you’d start noticing the limitation. Playing casual games or a few heavy titles with lower visual settings is all okay, but don’t expect to play any graphic or memory intensive game on this one. You can occasionally run a heavy app like Photoshop, but not without experiencing a lag and be ready to close all other apps while you do the intensive work.

One of the unsaid highlights of the LapBook is that it boots up very quickly and is ready to go in a flash. – mighty impressive for a budget laptop with modest internals.

The LapBook boasts of a 64GB flash storage, but it’s eMMC, not SSD, mind you. Still it makes for a slightly snappy performance. The storage is not extravagant, althought you can add a further 128GB of external storage via a microSD card.

The Chuwi Lapbook 14.1 has a 9000mAh battery that offers exceptional battery life. With moderate usage, you can easily have it last for 10 hours – that’s almost an entire day of work. The charging time too is neat, and it takes around 3 hours to charge the laptop from zero to 100 percent when not in use.

Software

The Chuwi LapBook runs 64-bit edition of Windows 10 Home. There’s no pre-installed apps or bloatware – big props to Chuwi for the same!

Windows is activated out of the box and out-of-the box there was an account created to bypass setup and customization. However, I factory reset the system right away, and signed in with my Microsoft account before I started using it. I recommend you do the same.

Verdict

The Chuwi LapBook 14.1 packs in modest internals in a premium-looking chassis. Then there’s the impressive display as well as a brilliant battery life making it a well-rounded package.

At $269.99 on Amazon, it makes for a great purchase for both students and professionals – only if touchscreen is not on your list. It’s not made for power users, but it punches above its price point and delivers good enough performance for casual users.

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What are your thoughts on Chuwi's affordable laptop?