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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Chuwi Hi13 Review

Chuwi Hi13 Review
PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • $369.99 from Amazon, $374.30 from GearBest EU warehouse
At a first glance the Chuwi Hi13 looks to be a tremendous deal for not a lot of money. It's a 13.5in large-screen Windows 10 tablet with a high resolution and some useful ports and connections, including the ability to attach a magnetically docking keyboard and pair it with an active stylus. But is it too good to be true?


CHUWI HI13 PRICE & AVAILABILITY
Chuwi is a Chinese brand and usually supplied to us for review by GearBest, although this one came straight from the manufacturer. GearBest does list the Hi13, though, and actually that's where you'll get the cheapest deal.

Listed in its Spanish warehouse (G-W-12), which means no additional import duty, the Hi13 alone costs £269.23/€307.21/US$374.30. It's supplied with an EU two-pin plug, so you'll need an adaptor if you plan to use it in the UK (or US). 

If you'd rather buy from a more familiar store, Amazon also lists the Chuwi Hi13 in the UK and US but at a pricier £322.99/$369.99.

If you decide to purchase the optional keyboard and HiPen H3 active stylus we recommend you do so via Amazon, since these are available only from GearBest's Hong Kong and Chinese warehouses, which means you will be liable for import duty. The keyboard costs £39.99 from Amazon UK and $54.99 from Amazon US, while the stylus is £23.99 in the UK and $26.99 in the US.

Altogether, then, the cheapest deal you'll get for all three is £333.21 or $456.28. That's a lot less than you'll pay for a Windows 2-in-1 in the UK, especially if you're looking at the likes of Microsoft's Surface line. But then again, this is no Surface laptop. And you might well decide not to bother with the keyboard and stylus altogether.

CHUWI HI13 DESIGN & BUILD
For the most part the Hi13 is nicely designed for such a cheap device. It has a metal chassis and an excellent high-resolution IPS screen, with a usable 13.5in diameter. This is a 3:2 display with a 3000x2000-pixel resolution ensuring everything is crystal clear. The 10-point touch panel is responsive and works well.

It is usefully bright at 480 nits, and produces decent colours. Viewing angles are good, too, though there is a small gap between the display and the glass when viewed from the side, and there's no Gorilla Glass protection. The bezels are also pretty chunky, which means the tablet when paired with keyboard more closely resembles a 15in laptop than a 13in model.

It feels about as portable as a15in laptop too, weighing in a monstrous 1.1kg on its own and 2kg with the keyboard. We can't even blame a huge-capacity battery for this heftiness, because there's just a 5000mAh cell inside. This should be good for around half a day away from the mains, but if you need longer usage from the Hi13 it's great to see it can fast-charge over a 24W USB-C connection.

Something you will find in abundance inside this bulky tablet is speakers, and there are four in total. But while the volume is reasonably impressive for a cheap Windows tablet, the audio quality leaves something to be desired, both tinny and lacking bass. Still, it's difficult to expect more under £300.
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Because of the low-power hardware inside (which we'll come on to in just a moment), the Hi13 does not require fans for cooling. This, combined with the flash storage, means it is entirely silent in use, though it will get warm under load.

We are pleased to see the addition of a Micro-HDMI port on the Chuwi's left side, which will let you connect it to a TV. This is found along side a microSD card slot, which you will need as there is just 64GB of storage onboard, the aforementioned USB-C port, a Micro-USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Physical volume and power buttons are found at the top left, and there are 2Mp and 5Mp cameras front and rear, which are useful for video chat but not great for photography. At the base is a magnetic docking connection for a keyboard.

Optional extras: Keyboard & stylus
The keyboard and stylus are not supplied with the Chuwi Hi13, so if you want them you'll need to pay extra for them. You might think that's annoying, but actually we're quite pleased. The keyboard is beyond awful.

Yes, it turns this tablet into a 2-in-1 laptop, making it much more useful for productivity. It also has a nice metal design (if you ignore the plastic base), with well-spaced key tiles and two additional full-size USB ports. But it's heavy, it's noisy in use, it has a US layout (UK is not an option), it features ugly rubber nubbins to protect the display and there's a hinge that sticks out below the laptop which is annoying when using it on your lap. But all that is nothing compared to the touchpad.

The touchpad supports gestures, but is over-sensitive. When you're trying to get work done the screen zooming in and out, app windows minimising and the cursor going for a walk on its own is not just an occasional annoyance: it's every damn time.

If you are going to purchase the keyboard, we strongly recommend you make use of the F12 key to disable the touchpad, and add a USB- or wireless mouse. The Chuwi supports Bluetooth 4.1.

The other optional accessory is a stylus, the HiPen H3. Powered by a single AAAA battery with a lifespan of 10 months, this active stylus' 2mm tip supports 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. If you're going to be using the tablet without a keyboard it may come in handy, especially if you're sick of wiping away fingerprints (they are an issue with the Hi13), but be under no pretence that this is some sort of graphics tablet as a result. It's just not got the oomph. Our only real gripe with the stylus is the fact there's nowhere to store it when not in use.
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CHUWI HI13 HARDWARE & PERFORMANCE
Chuwi's Hi13 is not by any stretch of the imagination a powerful Windows device. While you shouldn't even entertain the idea of playing games, nor working hours on end away from the mains, the Hi13 is a useful device for email, web browsing, social media and general productivity tasks (one at a time). It also has a fantastic screen for video playback.

Inside is a low-power Intel Apollo Lake N3450, a 14nm quad-core processor clocked at 1.1GHz but able to boost to 2.2GHz when required. Intel HD Graphics 500 are integrated to this chip, and there is 4GB of DDR3 RAM to boot.

That is exactly the same core hardware as the circa-£200 SurBook Mini, yet its larger, higher resolution screen means it performs less well in graphics tests (you might decide to reduce the resolution as a result, because it's perfectly fine even at a full-HD resolution). It also performed slightly below the SurBook in PCMark10, though a little higher in Geekbench. You can see the results in the chart below.

We touched on the storage earlier, and 64GB is not a huge amount when you account for the operating system and all the apps you're likely to want to install. There is a microSD slot, but no full-size USB connection for hooking up an external drive (unless you buy the keyboard), so you may well need an adaptor.
Connectivity is pretty well covered, though, with dual-band ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and one each of Micro-HDMI, Micro-USB and USB-C.
It's worth pointing out that the cheaper SurBook Mini has two full-size USB 3.0 ports and a higher-capacity 8000mAh battery, but lacks the Micro-HDMI connection and large, high-resolution screen.

SPECS

  • 13.5in (3000x2000, 3:2) IPS touchscreen, 480 nits
  • Windows 10 Home 64bit (Chinese + English)
  • 1.1-2.2GHz Intel Apollo Lake N3450 quad-core processor
  • 700MHz Intel HD Graphics 500
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 64GB storage, microSD slot
  • dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1x Micro-HDMI
  • 1x Micro-USB
  • 1x USB-C
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 5Mp rear/2Mp front cameras
  • quad speakers
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 24W charging
  • 332x220x8mm
  • 1.09kg
  • supports active stylus and keyboard (sold separately)

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