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
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  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    Here's a link to a reviewer that tested the Lapbook with Ubuntu:

    http://www.cnx-software.com/2017/02/07/installing-...

    The results look promising.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link


    If I could don my tin hat for only a few seconds...Has anyone ever looked at the outbound traffic on these lesser known Chinese designed electronics? There was some controversy with Xiaomi router traffic even iirc.
    Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    A quick search didn't turn up anything. I don't think they're selling in large enough numbers to attract a lot of interest in sniffing their outbound traffic. It's a reasonable concern, but I don't think Chuwi would actively attempt to perform mass data collection. That's a pretty widely cast net that wouldn't reap much value because you're probably looking at largely home users. The data collection would be almost entirely uninteresting. Maybe some social networking, shopping and general web browsing, someone's hidden inappropriate photos and videos...that kind of thing isn't worth a lot unless you have a specific target in mind and in that case its more prudent to isolate that individual rather than everyone buying your products. Probably the best you'd get is access to someone's personal finances and a deep enough investigation would do a lot of damage to business interests. It's really worth more to establish a good brand reputation and land decent numbers of sales than it is to go through the trouble of getting one or two generations of hardware out there to a small number of people that probably are collectively deep in debt and have little liquid cash. Reply
  • fanofanand - Monday, March 13, 2017 - link

    I think the concern would lay more on the government's involvement (The Chinese government is involved with virtually all exported electronics). I agree with every single thing you wrote, but Chinese businesses don't all exist for the sole purpose of making money. Reply
  • Bullwinkle J Moose - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    Good point tipoo

    This article just today and all the turmoil at Samsung and S Korea makes me think we should be looking out for malware popping up in other places

    Even places we have considered to be quite reliable up till now

    https://arstechnica.com/security/2017/03/preinstal...

    Things seem to be escalating but I'm sure the CIA will put a start to any malware threats to this Country (LOL)
    Reply
  • Murloc - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - link

    to make such low costs devices you buy standard chips so I don't think they can put anything in it.

    If chinese-designed chips have espionage software in them, then a bunch of the network infrastructure we rely on is bugged because huawei is everywhere in them. Also phones that use mediatek devices.

    So worrying doesn't make sense, also because it's well-known from the various leaks and stuxnet that the NSA and the CIA and mossad don't need hardware to snoop or damage critical infrastructure so the chinese don't either.
    Reply
  • Meteor2 - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    Nice review of a nice machine.

    Good to read about how Goldmont finally played out. MS must've been pissed when Intel cancelled Broxton, but I imagine it's now Intel's turn with Windows on 835 coming. It's a shame Intel did what they did as Goldmont appears to be good silicon.
    Reply
  • aryonoco - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link

    The main competition in this price category is Chromebooks.

    The fact that you are pitting this device in your comparisons against a Yoga 3 Pro and a Asus UX305, and not a single Chromebook, says all that needs to be said about the sorry state of AT these days.

    Sure, I miss Anand & Brian, but when they left we got Jarred Walton Andrei Frumusanu, who at least knew what they were talking about. Ryan, these new writers you have hired do not stack up.
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Saturday, March 11, 2017 - link

    To clarify an obvious error: Jarred was here 10 years, and both Andrei and Brett were here well before Anand left. Brett has been one of our freelance editors for over two years and attends events such as CES and Build as our Senior Laptop Editor. If you dislike the context of this review, sure, I'll grant you that opinion, but he has a large body of great work under him already. He's not new, he knows the score.

    On the testing front, it's a factor of what we get in for testing at any given time. Ultimately 90% of the time vendors want us to test their premium units, not something low cost. And there's a thousand low-cost options out there to potentially compare them against. When you've got a freelancer with time for 6-10 reviews a year, most of those will be high-end premium reviews. So if something interesting comes along, even at a super low price point, you compare against what you can or have at the time.

    Which in this case, the HP Stream 11 is the perfect comparison point for all these benchmarks. The Yoga/Surface are added to show the comparison to what a high-end notebook investment would be, which users always want to know without having to dig through our results database. We do have some Chromebooks in our database, but they are old. We haven't tested one in a long while (so we don't have one in for retesting), and they were all done by a different reviewer over 1000 miles away at the time. Most of the Chromebooks are Atom based anyway, which is why the HP Stream is still a relevant comparison. Heck, I even recommended the Stream 11 to someone I know a couple of weeks ago, and she loves it (especially now there's a 360-degree hinge version).
    Reply
  • fanofanand - Monday, March 13, 2017 - link

    I get what the OP is saying but it is misguided in this case. Brett's reviews are solid. Some of the review product choices (case and PSU reviews) have been questionable but other than mobile reviews I haven't seen a real decline in the quality of Anandtech's journalism. Yes, they have had some major misses in the last year (especially in the GPU space) but what they have actually written has been fairly solid content. Reply

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