Monday, June 17, 2024

REVIEW | Huawei MateBook 16s productivity laptop

Back when Huawei introduced ‘1 + 8 + N’ product and software ecosystem concept in Thailand last July, the brand also showcased a slew of what will initially be the showrunners of its reinvigorated and renewed consumer device portfolio.

Alongside the tablets, monitors, and several other categories, Huawei also released three new laptops under the MateBook D series that come with what the brand calls “a major upgrade.” The Huawei MateBook 16s, Huawei MateBook 14s, and Huawei MateBook D16 will all run 12th Gen Intel Core processors that boost office productivity.

The Huawei MateBook 16s is the company’s answer to the rising trend of remote and hybrid work setups, and the solution to persisting user pain points on available 16-inch thin and lightweight laptops in the market: whether it’s low screen quality, sluggish performance, or an overall poor user experience.

Ideally, the company sees Huawei MateBook 16s as a core daily driver for professionals in the creative space or office workers that need both an enhanced display and stable powerful performance to keep up with more demanding tasks.

When presented side-by-side versus its predecessor, the Huawei MateBook 16 – launched during Q4 of 2021, there are five main areas that Huawei improved on to enhance the productivity experience: a higher resolution front camera with AI-powered features, a faster processor, a more comfortable typing platform, better compatibility within the Huawei device ecosystem, and the addition of a touchscreen display.

Design and display

Since the Huawei MateBook 16s is targeted towards productivity users and not gamers, the overall tone and aesthetic direction of its chassis leans toward a professional and executive design, as evident in the absence of unnecessary RGB lighting and overemphasized cooling vents.

A closer look reveals that ceramic sandblasted chassis, despite its thickness of 17.8mm and heavy-hitting internals under the hood, the traditional clamshell only weighs around 2kg. This weight is considerably higher than the productivity laptop competition, but on the Huawei Matebook 16s, it adds more stability when it’s stationary and the screen doesn’t wobble due to thin hinge components.

In a nutshell, the Huawei MateBook 16s is built like a tank, endures like a rugged device, and feels like a mighty truck – all contrasting its uncompromising performance and arsenal of smart productivity features.

Between the dual built-in front-facing surround-sound speakers that can be used on three different presets: of Smart Optimisation, Ultra-Bass, and Sound Turbo, Huawei slapped a full-size keyboard right at the very center with an ample 1.5mm key travel with a soft-landing design.

In a typical working scenario, the typing experience on the Huawei MateBook 16s is actually a comfortable one. The keys are clicky and well-spaced, there is a generous amount of room further down for both wrists, and it does not feel as fragile as keyboards found on laptops like the Macbook.

Directly adjacent to the keyboard is the large glass touchpad where fingers easily glide and there’s plenty of room that it does not feel restrictive. The clickers are tactile enough without feeling flimsy, and the trackpad height is also an advantageous for users who need to move long distances on-screen without needing to lift their finger, especially with drag-and-drop situations.

While the most common aspect ratio in laptops is 16:9, the Huawei MateBook 16s uses a tall 3:2 aspect ratio for its 16-inch IPS display so it is not limited to fitting 16:9 content, it also has more room to process forms in taller perspectives.

In an office setting, this makes multi-tasking a breeze, albeit discerning creatives will find the lack of 4K resolution a deal-breaker. This shortcoming, however, is redeemed by the presence of a 10-point multi-touch sensitive screen with finger gesture screenshot capability.

The latter is actually expected to be the most exciting functionality for gamers, even though the Huawei MateBook 16s is primarily designed for working professionals in mind. Since this model comes with the Huawei Mobile App engine that removes the need for pesky and unstable emulators by running the mobile applications directly on the laptop via proprietary software, when paired with a touchscreen enables gamers to play games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and other apps available on the brand’s owns ‘AppGallery’ platform.

As a test, we ran other applications aside from MLBB like Garena’s multiplayer battle royale mobile game FreeFire, the free-to-play 3D mobile tank shooter World of Tanks Blitz MMO, Asphalt 9: Legends, Hill Climb 2, PUBG Mobile, and Dragon City. Since the Huawei MateBook 16s we reviewed runs on a 12th generation Intel Core i7-12700H processor clocking at 2.30 GHz with 16GB of RAM, a fact that can be considered overkill at this point, the games ran smoothly without running the risk of third-party emulator instability.

Performance and specs

As mentioned, the Huawei MateBook 16s is powered by a 12th Gen Core processor from Intel. Paired with a peak 5GHz single score speed and 60W TDP in performance mode, this allows users to open large file types quickly and accomplish multitasking operations without lagging.

It’s good to know that while the Huawei MateBook 16s handles resource-intensive tasks, two 75mm Shark Fin fans are working double-time to dissipate heat across 8mm double copper pipes. Alongside its phase-change thermal conductive film, users get an effective cooling solution that is silent in most cases.

There are six ports equipped on the Huawei MateBook 16s: two USB 3.2 Gen 1 slots on the right side, and a pair of USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack on the left side. In the workplace, the port situation can be a little limited to users who require more connectivity.

Software and UI

Moving on from hardware-based connectivity, the Huawei MateBook 16s has more than a few tools geared towards improving collaboration and productivity among its users. For example, since online meetings are essentially the core activity for hybrid work settings, Huawei has installed on-edge dual microphones that pick up sounds up to five meters and improves the call using an AI noise cancellation algorithm that works in three phases: focuses on the voice of the speaker via proprietary voiceprint enhancement technology, eliminates ambient noise with Sound TrueVoice, and acquires more voice details using Sound TrueHD.

The Huawei MateBook 16s also features a 1080p camera with three built-in AI features: virtual background customization, an algorithm that tracks the subject’s position in real-time, and automatic adjustment of the camera depending on the user’s line of vision.

Since this model is part of Huawei’s ‘1 + 8 + N’ concept, it supports fast nearby connection with other Huawei devices. In real-world use cases, this means the Huawei MateBook 16s automatically pairs with wireless Huawei accessories. With a Huawei smartphone, this translates to instant file sharing and screen mirroring.

Conclusion

The Huawei MateBook 16s is a modern productivity laptop that justifies its hefty form factor for stability and quiet performance. It dons a professional design and packs performance that can keep up with most of resource-demanding office tasks, as well as an interface that is purpose-built to streamline connectivity and collaboration from anywhere.

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