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REVIEW: Honor MagicBook 14

Alvin R. Cabral/Dubai
Filed on August 26, 2020
The Honor MagicBook 14 comes in a sleek aluminium finish.

Getting through your work day need not require you to spend that much

Working from home is sometimes not an option. But if you'll be forced to do so, one option you have is to pick a laptop that can help you go through that busy day. There are a lot of things to consider - performance, pricing and some others - before making that decision.

So, we have the honour (pun definitely intended) to take a look at one of Honor's latest laptops, the MagicBook 14. Of course, Honor is a sub-brand of Huawei, so we can expect some good stuff in here.

TALE OF THE TAPE

REVIEW: Honor MagicBook 14 (KT25554825.PNG)

You'll notice no price has been listed; our friends at Honor says that it isn't available yet, but will be soon. Yet doing a check on the Honor UK site, it's priced at £649.97, which is roughly Dh3,120 (it's actually on sale now for just £499.99). If that's the case, then it's even more expensive than the Huawei MateBook 13 2020, which has a higher spec set.

However, the MateBook 13's starting price in the UK is £849.99, which is almost Dh4,100 (a third more than the UAE's Dh2,999 pricing). Given those figures, we're expecting the MagicBook 14's UAE price to be hovering around the Dh2,000 range. We'll hear from them soon enough. 

FORM

For starters, the MagicBook 14 has a very clean look. It's adorned in aluminium all over, from its cover all the way to its base and edges, with a complementary blue lining on the edges of its cover (made with a 'crystalline diamond CNC machine'). And if you look closely at its cover, you may noticed a very little brush effect (or grain, depending how you interpret it).

REVIEW: Honor MagicBook 14 (KT25584827.PNG)

Of course, it has a 14-inch display - not touchscreen, though - with just the right amount of bezels on top and the sides but a bit thick below. 

There are only five ports surrounding the machine: A USB-A on each side, 3.5mm audio on the right and HDMI and USB-C on the left, the latter of which doubles as its charging station, which consequently means you can't plug any USB-C device while you're recovering some power. There's also no provision for a card reader, so you'll need an extra peripheral if that all-important data is given to you on one of those memory cards.

The keyboard has an overall smooth feel, with the keys close to each other and protruding just high enough for your fingers to gently glide over them. They don't make much noise - unless, of course, you pound them hard enough like you do when you're pissed off at certain things.

On the upper-right-hand of the keyboard, just beside the Del key, meanwhile, is the power button cum fingerprint scanner. Took me a while to register my fingerprint, but the speed at which it unlocks the device is commendable.

There are stereo speakers spread under its base, which poses a problem: Laying it on surfaces such beds or couches will definitely muffle the sound. Otherwise, audio is okay, with an equal amount of sound belting out from everywhere.

It's also fairly thin and light, clocking in at 15.9mm and 1.38kg, respectively. But definitely not the lightest; those with weak grips risk dropping it if held from the corners with the screen open. Sure, not the way you'd normally handle it, but there would be times you may; care for your gizmos, people.

And don't bother looking for its camera on top of the screen, because it is - you guessed it - on the keyboard, sandwiched between the F6 and F7 keys. It's a pop-up snapper; just press it to snap it into position, but therein lies the rub - that's the only angle you can get as you won't be able to move it in any direction. You'd better pick the spot where to place the laptop your view won't be obstructed or out of angle.

PERFORMANCE

Going into its innards, the MagicBook 14 has 8GB of memory, storage options of 256GB and 512GB, and an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor with Radeon Vega 8 graphics. This - among other similar specs - makes it comparable to the Huawei MateBook 14 D. It also comes with Windows 10 Home Edition right off the bat.

REVIEW: Honor MagicBook 14 (KT25585827.PNG)

(Just for fun: We all know that there are certain smartphones with more storage space and/or memory than laptops. Not connected to this review, but don't you just love how tech can be squeezed into so little?)

This configuration is a middle-of-the-pack setup, just right for where Honor is positioning this product. It isn't slow; it's also - again - just the right speed, so to speak. While opening and navigating through different apps, pay close attention and you'll notice that there's that split-second delay before you get to your desired task. And while not a direct comparison and just for the sake of argument, it's not as smooth as the Huawei MateBook 13 2020.

One thing we've noticed is while browsing through the Web, it does take some time to respond to clicks and go back and forth pages. This could be a network issue; having tried the device on different networks, there are differences in the response time, but the common denominator is that there are indeed lags - be they short or long.

The most glaring speed bump we've experienced is in video apps, particularly when switching to and from full-screen mode. The MagicBook 14 has a 60Hz refresh rate, which is a figure pretty much common in laptops.

Other than that, it was pretty smooth sailing. There were no issues encountered using local apps, going through Windows Explorer and the like.

It also supports Magic-link, which gives you the ability to anything from control your phone with your laptop to transferring files. Be aware, however, that this feature is exclusive to Honor and Huawei device with a minimum OS version too; that rules out any other smartphone.

BATTERY

Honor claims that the MagicBook 14 has the ability to last up to 10 hours with its all-day battery, with standalone productivity - standalone meaning, in simplest terms, you use it without being connected to a network. You know, being connected does all sorts of stuff to help use up your battery faster.

Alas, with an Internet connection, the occasional video peeks and some Internet surfing, the device lasted about six-and-a-half hours. Fair enough; random use does cause spikes in battery usage.

Which leads us to a rather new test here: The standalone test. For this, we just let the laptop stay on the highest brightness and battery settings and see how long before it conks out... and it did so after 11 hours and four minutes. Indeed higher than the listed peg but, of course, it was idle.

Meanwhile, in our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the MagicBook 14 lost a huge 28 per cent of life - but that was on the battery's best-performance setting, so we're sure this will go down some percentage points as you dial down on that.

Charging is pegged to be a strong point. Honor says the MagicBook 14 - with its 65W charger - can zoom up to 46 per cent in half-an-hour. Let's find out how that went in our test:

REVIEW: Honor MagicBook 14 (KT25555825.PNG)

Hmm... so near yet so far, but 40 per cent of juice in half-an-hour is enough to quench your power thirst. After an hour it really slows down, as evidenced by how we never found out when it reached 100 per cent; seriously, it was approaching the two-and-a-half hour mark and it was still at 99 per cent - had to let it go. This was also done while the device was on, because it doesn't display the percentage while it's off.

AND SO...

The Honor MagicBook 14 is, by all means, a very decent device for its pricing. It does have its shortcomings - particularly its lags - but it has what it takes to be that companion you'll need to do every day tasks.

That said, you can seriously consider this if you have another companion - an Honor or Huawei smartphone in order to use its Magic-link feature. It's very handy to have when you need to transfer stuff from your smartphone, hence aiding productivity and saving you time.

GOODIES: Sleek finish, thin and light enough, good audio, good price

GOOFIES: Lags especially in Web browsing, immovable webcam, speakers muffled on certain surfaces, no card reader

EDITOR RATING: Has its limitations, but if you need a not-so-fancy something for the sake of getting through the day, you can bet on this. Students, take notice. 4.0/5

- alvin@khaleejtimes.com


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