Design

One area where Chuwi has done very well, especially for this price point, is the design of the LapBook 14.1. The entire laptop is unsurprisingly made from plastic, but the plastic has a nice textured feel to it, making it very easy to hold, and it never feels like it’s going to slip out of your hands. The white color is a nice change from the traditionally black or gray PC market as well.

Since this is an Atom core, the laptop doesn’t need a fan, which of course makes the device silent, and, at least on the review sample, there isn’t any coil whine perking up over the lack of fan noise. The bottom features four nice large rubber feet, making the laptop stay planted on a desk or table, and while it may seem silly to mention this, there are still laptops that don’t get this right.

Opening the laptop up, the thin bezels on the display really stand out, and allow the LapBook 14.1 to feel smaller than most 14-inch notebooks. The thin design, starting at 9 mm at the front and tapering to 20 mm at the back, make it very easy to stick in a bag and carry with you. It’s not the lightest design around, but the overall construction is solid enough that there isn’t any creaking when holding the laptop on a corner. Considering the price, the construction is solid.

The keyboard is also surprisingly good. It’s nice to see a black keyboard on this laptop, since it gives great contrast to the white system, and makes the keys easier to see. Hopefully no one is shocked that this laptop does not offer any sort of keyboard backlighting, which is unfortunate, but to hit these kinds of price points, it has to be expected. Key travel is also quite good, and the keyboard feels quite solid, with a much better key feel than I would have expected at this price, and at this thin of a laptop. Chuwi hasn’t stuck with a normal keyboard layout though, and they’ve made the same mistake as some other manufacturers in placing the power button as one of the keys. Having the power button where Delete should be is never a good idea, and can easily cause you to shut off the computer when trying to edit something. It also starts a chain reaction on key placement, because Delete must be somewhere, and in this case, it is above the enter key, forcing the \ key beside the space bar. Although you could likely get used to this, if you ever switch between machines, having keys in odd locations is likely going to cause you frustration, and it would be best if Chuwi would move power off the keyboard.

The trackpad is another story though. It’s not a very good trackpad, and the customization for it is very limited with the included drivers. The default scroll direction is reversed from normal, with no way to change it, and you can’t disable the trackpad with a keyboard shortcut either. For simple operations, it’s acceptable, but if Chuwi wanted to focus its energy somewhere to make the experience better, this would be an easy place to start. The notebook would be better used with a mouse, if possible.

There’s not a lot of expansion, with just a single USB-A 2.0 port on the right, and a single USB-A 3.0 port on the left, along with mini HDMI and micro SD, and a headset jack. The power is supplied via a barrel connector, which doesn’t look very robust. It would have been nice to see USB-C power, although that may not be possible at this price point. My experience with thin barrel connectors is not great though, since they can get bent, or snapped off, and finding a replacement is not always simple since they are not always the same size. It’s also worth mentioning that the USB ports are upside down as well, which is not a huge deal, but it’s a bit weird when trying to plug something in.

Overall, Chuwi has done a decent job on the LapBook 14.1. The design is solid, with a pleasant look and feel, and while it can’t compete with all-metal notebooks, it’s really not meant to. The plastic feels decent, and the matte texture really helps.

Introduction Powering the Chuwi LapBook 14.1: Intel Apollo Lake
POST A COMMENT

75 Comments

View All Comments

  • DanNeely - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    That means Chuwi charges $15 for the real one. It doesn't necessarily mean that's what MS is charging them for it, MS does offer cheaper licenses for low end hardware. With a 64GB SSD this laptop doesn't qualify for any of the thresholds that MS was using last fall though. OTOH MS has been having problems with companies buying the really low end cheap OS license and using it on non-qualifying machines. So it's entirely possible your choices are a fake licence and one not valid for the hardware you're actually getting...

    http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/09/02/hardware-re...
    Reply
  • wumpus - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - link

    Scary. The reviewer blew away windows with no reassurance that Linux was going on this thing (it failed to give the option numerous times). I'd recommend learning to use Knoppix (or some other "live OS") and use dd|compress to save the windows image onto a USB stick or something. Reply
  • GekkePrutser - Sunday, March 12, 2017 - link

    Yep I also do exactly the same as that (using GRML as live OS).

    I always keep the image in case I need to return or want to resell the laptop.
    Reply
  • hojnikb - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    i really wish there were more super cheap laptops in 11-14" range. Something like a 720p 11" display that can run linux for ~100$
    Can't find those.
    Reply
  • dragosmp - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    refurb x205ta aren't too far from that mark Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    I've owned a x205ta and it was a nightmarishly miserable disaster for Linux conversion. As of early last year, there was a 33 page long forum thread in the Ubuntu forums documenting the struggles of people to get Linux working and stable on it. Maybe things have changed since then, but I'd suggest looking elsewhere for a Linux laptop, but people were running them without audio support, with skittish wifi, and periodic crashing. I struggled with one for a couple of months before restoring Windows 8 and donating it to a local charity for resale. Reply
  • andychow - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    I've been waiting for the PINEBOOK ARM Linux Laptop to come out. ARM chip, but 79$ and 99$ for the 11" and 14" laptop, 720p display. Reply
  • hojnikb - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - link

    Same here. Looking for this one just because it's cheap and small, so if i lost it or break it, i don't care.
    Too bad not much info about it.
    Reply
  • BFH - Saturday, March 25, 2017 - link

    Refurbished Acer C720 chrome book fits the bill. I got one for $140 3 years ago. Reply
  • Arbie - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    Thanks for looking into this market and providing a unique review. I see these products available but there's rarely any reliable info on how they really perform. Especially on battery life, where I always suspect the worst since the metrics are so fuzzy. At least, with this review, the picture is clear.

    I bought an HP Stream 11 when they were closed out, and it does fine for web browsing including Youtube-type videos, document editing etc. So this Chuwi machine should satisfy those needs very well.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now