Conclusions

Over my years as a technology journalist, travelling to events, I’ve used a variety of notebooks for my work. These vary from an old Dell M4400 that weighed over 8 lbs with its two batteries that lasted a total of five hours, down to dual core AMD netbooks, a Cannon Lake laptop with 3 hours battery life, and some extra special thin and light notebooks that last almost all day. There’s even an Arm based notebook in my collection for when I absolutely know I need battery and I only need to charge that once every few days.

My weapon of choice before the global shutdown occurred was the 13-inch Huawei Matebook 13 integrated graphics version (i7-8500U), which I had been using for around ten months since my HP was stolen at Mobile World Congress. One of the best designs I ever had was the Huawei Matebook 13 (2017) model, and I still pine for the day when they requested the sample back – it was an amazing system. These devices have served me well – almost all-day battery life on the aeroplane (when I don’t have a socket), and the design ID was something a bit different to what everyone else had, which was typically Dell XPS 13 units, office-mandated Thinkpads, or Macbooks. Over the years I’ve also used HP Spectre thin-and-light designs, all of which offered the best for a $1200 mid-range product, as well as ASUS Zenbooks.

The Honor Magicbook 14 fulfils almost all my needs here, as much as any of the other previous systems have, for half the price. It is a thin and light design, plenty responsive, with NVMe storage, and good features. Even with all this, I think it is the styling that impresses me most – having a polished space grey chassis with that azure blue chamfered edge is a nice tweak that makes the laptop stand out as something special. As a first attempt at a worldwide laptop, Honor has the fundamentals correct.

There is room for improvement, sure – in order to be taken seriously as a road-warrior type device, it needs 16 GB of memory, and that 240-nit screen needs to be nearer 400 nits. Some users will lament the lack of a touch screen, though some of the big OEMs offer variants with and without it, and Honor may be able to do the same in future. Honor is also late to the market with the Picasso-based Magicbook – it’s coming out at a time when AMD has launched its upgraded Renoir processor line which features better performance and much longer battery life for the same thermal envelope. Laptop manufacturers are also going to be highly competitive, offering some stunning Renoir performance for around the $650 mark, which the Magicbook will have trouble competing against.

As and when Honor updates the Magicbook to AMD’s Renoir processors, this device could really fly. Not only in workload level performance, but things like gaming, and battery life for those on the road. As it stands, the Magicbook 14 I have been testing is still a great device – I cannot believe all of this is available for only $560, honestly. That being said, newer Renoir based devices like the Acer Swift 3 we reviewed recently can be had for as little as $650 today, with Ryzen 7 4700U, 512 GB double storage and better battery life, but lose out on the design.

There is a lot of design ethos here, and I can tell that a lot of passion is built into this machine. For someone who wants a nice-looking machine and cannot find something as competitive at this price point, the Magicbook is a solid option and you will not be disappointed. It is well recommended.

I look forward to seeing the quality and capabilities of what Honor can do in the future. If they can match or better this style, with the latest hardware under the hood for performance and battery life, then it will amplify the already impressive user experience I have had. Along with using the device, I also wrote this review on the Honor Magicbook 14. It did not miss a beat.

 
Gaming Performance
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  • philehidiot - Monday, May 18, 2020 - link

    For now, I won't buy a laptop which is all type C. I'm not relying on dingles to be able to read USB sticks people give me and I'm also not a fan of using a laptop atop my lap with a dongle dingle dangling from a wire, asking for a passing person to catch it / exerting excessive stress on the port as the angle of the dangle changes repeatedly. The idea of a standard is that anyone can use it. Having to remember your dongle, or being screwed having lost it, completely negates the advantages of a standard that everyone uses. USB C doesn't need to force itself on everyone by removing USB A ports. It needs to become part of a slow transition determined by necessity / superiority / price. I am not buying a load of new USB sticks for no good reason except someone changed the standard and wants prettier laptops. Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, May 18, 2020 - link

    Personally, I prefer a mix. One or two USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 for multi-role use with the right cables, and a bunch of USB-A for 95% of the things one needs USB for in the first place. Reply
  • ads295 - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    Just curious, what devices do you use that have you hankering for Type-C ports? Reply
  • nicolaim - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    A laptop is something most people keep for 3, 5, maybe 7 years, so it should have the ports you'll need down the road rather than obsolete ones that are being phased out.
    USB-C also optionally includes Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, HDMI, charging, 20 Gbit/s data rate, same connector as USB4, etc., none of which are possible with USB-A.
    Reply
  • raywin - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    couldn't agree more, i'm stuck on a 2013 laptop and I want an upgrade but don't want to lose my ports, only option right now is the VAIO, this is so close to perfection I may just get it anyway. Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Saturday, May 16, 2020 - link

    Key word: optional
    I don't want schrodinger's port. I want to look at my port and KNOW what it does, not search for the appropriate 1/8" icon.
    Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Saturday, May 16, 2020 - link

    Wow. How do you use your laptop? Without the "massive" bezel at the bottom the screen would be even lower than it already is and you'd have to look down even more.
    And "a bunch of USB A ports"? Thank god for that. I have a Portege with 3 ports and have to travel with a hub. I have two mobile phones, a Logitech dongle nearly permanently plugged in. Wireless headset also need charging, USB memory key and a YubiKey for security. Man, there's never enough USB A ports in a laptop.
    Reply
  • sonny73n - Saturday, May 16, 2020 - link

    The “massive” bezel underneath is perfect. Sometime I lay down on the sofa and watch YouTube while the laptop still on the desk. Nobody should let you design anything, ever. Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - link

    Nobody should let you do PR for a communist nation with a history of human rights abuses, and yet here we are. Not everyone does the job they are most suited for. Reply
  • cfenton - Friday, May 15, 2020 - link

    Do you have any numbers for the display's color accuracy? It looks terrible in the example, but it's hard to compare to others without numbers. Is it worse than the Swift 3, for example? It's nice to know that it can be calibrated, but I can't imagine many people looking for a budget laptop have color calibration hardware. Reply

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