BARCELONA: THIS TIME last year, we were cock-a-hoop with excitement over the original Matebook X Pro, as one of the few Windows notebooks that could hold a candle to those pesky MacBooks.
This year, the MateBook X Pro is back with a definite mantra of "if it ain't broke". Sure enough, lay last year's model side-by-side with this one and you'd be hard pushed to tell them apart, aside from a change to the new petal-less version of the logo.
For the benefit of anyone who isn't familiar with it, let's quickly run through the design; there's an aluminium unibody chassis, with what's described as a "14in screen in a 13inbody". What this means in real terms is that the bezels are absolutely tiny - the screen is 91 per cent of the available room, so there's no place for a webcam.
So where is it? Why, it's recessed under what looks like one of the function keys, of course. The advantage of this goes beyond just making more room for screen - it means that if your camera does get hacked, if it's closed, the camera will pick up nothing but black, making it one of the most comfortingly secure laptops on the market - something which given the current climate is not what you'd necessarily expect someone to say about a Huawei product.
That security goes beyond the camera to the power button that doubles-up as a fingerprint reader, with a dedicated chip to isolate your credentials from Windows. It's responsive and to paraphrase Brian Fantana, 80 per cent of the time, it works every time.
The backlit keyboard is a joy to type on and isn't at all hampered by the extra real estate from an enlarged trackpad.
Again, the ports are the same as last year; one USB-C, one USB-A 3.0 and one USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, which sees the first big upgrade - this year it goes beyond mere compatibility to offer full speed, one of the few compromises of the original. That means it's more conducive to eGPU and 4K monitor connections. Of course, there's a headphone jack, but no dedicated HDMI as on some other models - this is cutting edge, rather than legacy.
Under the hood, the upgraded processors are a nice to have, but a switch from 7th generation to 8th generation processor is not something that would justify spending another two grand if you have an existing model.
In fact, the biggest change comes from Huawei's new sharing facility, Huawei Share 3, which makes its debut in the 2019 MateBook range.
Using a combination of NFC and WiFi, it allows you to transfer files at up to 30mb/s - compared with 1mb/s for Bluetooth. Most importantly it does so with a single tap of the NFC tag, embedded right
Huawei Share is a great feature, but has been deliberately made proprietary - it only works with Huawei phones. Whilst the MateBook X Pro remains one of the best notebooks around in its new form, its biggest brag over last year is one that's designed to rope you into their ecosystem.
We don't think that's a justifiable reason, and indeed US models don't have it at all (hmmm… wonder why). If you have a Huawei phone, it's one more reason why this is such a great notebook. If you don't, you'd be as well to find a used 2018 model - the differences are so tiny that the average user won't even notice.
In short, it's great. Really great. But if you wanted a revolution, it ain't that. μ