back to article Ports in a storm: The Matebook 14 won't set your world on fire, but it's still a half-decent laptop

September didn’t bring any new Huawei phones, but it did manage to push out a crop of new laptops, including an updated Matebook 14 2020. This machine could be described as a humble mid-ranger, but that would largely be missing the point. On a fundamental level, it’s a business computer with productivity at its heart. And …

  1. Zolko
    Unhappy

    d****k measuring contest ?

    "yet comes with a much larger display"

    this can only be a bad joke: how could ElReg be so dumb as to think that a bigger screen for a laptop is necessarily "better" ? Do you know what people do with UltraBooks ? Would a 17''-er be the best ever possible laptop ?

    That reminds me of late when I wanted to buy a MacBook, and the shop didn't have any macs, so the guy asked me about the specs, and when I said that it had a 2GHz CPU he offered me a much better 2.5GHz CPU ... Windows of course. What is understandable from a random computer store is not possible for here, shame on you.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: d****k measuring contest ?

      15 or 17" screen for any laptop, thank you very much. With at least 1920x1200 resolution.

      There are a lot of over 40 people who find it difficult to work on the current 13" displays.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: d****k measuring contest ?

        Yes, the 15" is for me the perfect balance between portability and ability to read something on the screen without it being too hard on the eyes. A 17" would not work for me because it's a ruddy pain to lug around.

        That said, although I mostly use Macs I'm still in the market for a separate AMD based machine (because I hate losing CPU cycles to managing a backdoor that should have never been in there in the first place) that I can stick a copy of Linux on, so this machine is of interest.

        If it runs Linux.

        Which is again omitted in the review.

        This is still a tech mag, right?

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Linux

          Yes I was thinking that. If some twat's locked it down so I can't remove the malware and install Linux then I'm not interested.

          I haven't used Windows since 2007.

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: d****k measuring contest ?

      dumb as to think that a bigger screen for a laptop is necessarily "better"

      I have experienced an excellent example of this at work. BC (before covid) we were issuing pretty decent Dell Latitude 5400s. I got one myself. Not as shiny or highly priced as some latops but perfectly cromulent. When it hit the fan, the NHS seems to have been loaned a large number of Latitude 5300s. These are smaller, several inches smaller. I would be quite happy to swop for the smaller device. It has a better battery life, exactly the same number of ports and would fit in my backpack even better.

      At work, in a USB-C dock, it is identical. On my dining room table, it would leave room for my lunch as I work from home. No, whilst there are limits in either direction, I think the smaller device is superior.

    3. Graham 32

      Re: d****k measuring contest ?

      > Would a 17''-er be the best ever possible laptop ?

      Yes... *IF* it managed to have the same overall size, weight and battery life of the 14". On laptops it's a compromise all the time. On the desktop no one is asking for 14" monitors.

  2. Fazal Majid

    The 3:2 screen is the single best feature

    That screen has almost as much precious vertical space as a 16" 16:9 ratio screen like the Honor MagicBook Pro. Kudos to Huawei for bucking the trend towards unproductive widescreen displays.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The 3:2 screen is the single best feature

      I'm glad that they've picked up the 3:2 baton, and I've commented on it positively ever time they've been mentioned here.

      Oddly it was Microsoft who started bucking the trend, with their 3:2 Surface models. Since 2012 seemingly every non-Mac laptop available had been 16:9.

      Prior to the Surface range, every appeal I made to the great Register brains trust to name a 16:10 or 3:2 machine had gone unanswered.

      1. Fazal Majid

        Re: The 3:2 screen is the single best feature

        I am slowly transitioning from macOS to Linux, and my new laptop is a 2019 LG Gram 17. Very nice laptop, apart from the ho-hum keyboard (still way better than Apple's garbage keyboards, but that's not saying much). The 17" screen is 16:10 (25600x1600) and an absolute pleasure to work with, as befits a LG. Not a speed demon, but perfectly competitive with current laptops apart from 4000 series Ryzens for multithreading.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: The 3:2 screen is the single best feature

          >The 17" screen is 16:10 (25600x1600) and an absolute pleasure to work with

          25600x1600 isn't so much a screen as a ticker-tape

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Coat

    More placesfor our USB's???

    Er... Sorry. Didn't you get the message.

    You know the one that dictated that ONLY Cloudy storage was to be used from now on! (sic)

    SWIMBO has one of these things (one USB port). She only stopped complaining when I bought her a USB Dongle that has 3 USB-3 ports and an RJ45 connector.

    The latter makes backing things up to our QNAP Nas a lot faster.

    coat. Mines the one with a paper tape repair kit in the pocket. (yes I still have mine)

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: More places for our USB's???

      I don't understand why nobody makes a wireless USB hub.

      1 small usb-A donglein the laptop and a USB hub with wireless keyb dongle, mouse dongle, headset dongle and perhaps a pen drive or two, sat next to a plug socket and/or 5v supply: out of sight.

      Belkin made one in 2008 with a three inch dongle but I can't find one with a small dongle.

      Low bandwidth USB 2.0 would be fine.

      Low bandwidth WiFi and ethernet would be a plus.

      Can you USB over ethernet with a rpi?

      1. Sampler

        Re: More places for our USB's???

        I don't get why more keyboards don't have USB hub's in them, especially the wired keyboards.

        Want to pop a USB stick in, great, there's a few holes above the num pad for you..

  4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    USB-C for power

    USB-C port, which also doubles as the laptop’s power socket.

    Why do manufacturers use such a flimsy, fragile connector for the one cable that will be constantly plugged & unplugged, almost every day? What's wrong with using a decent power connector like HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc., does it really save any money or is it just another part of the build-in obsolescence?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: USB-C for power

      Also limits the power to 100W. A decently anchored coax connector is better. They are also replaceable on the laptop or cable, but I doubt USB-C is.

      It's fashion, it can't be saving money.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: USB-C for power

      My Dell is (in day to day usage) only powered by USB-C, which on modern Dells has replaced the proprietary dock connector on the base of the laptop. There is still a "standard" power adaptor, but not the same standard that Dell have been using for past 10 years.

      Mine comes from a Dell Thunderbolt dock, which provides 130W USB-C PD, as well as two external screens (one 4k, one 1080p), gigabit wired ethernet and a bunch of USB 3 and USB-C ports for connectivity.

      It's nice that everything can be done with a standard system, anyone with a USB-C powered laptop can plug in to my dock and instantly use the extra screens, charging etc. It's less nice that USB-C PD only goes up to 100W, so this Dell workstation class laptop (Precision 5540) that wants 130W can only use specific Dell implementations of it :/

      If you don't have such extremes, there are a bunch of very nice USB-C docks doing standard USB-C PD that can be obtained quite reasonably.

      1. Fazal Majid

        Re: USB-C for power

        Right, but with a single USB-C port that will presumably be taken up by the charger, that leaves no available USB-C port. I would have preferred two USB-C and one USB-A.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: USB-C for power

          It is pretty standard these days to have a dock that on one end picks up supply power, and on the other end connects to the laptop, but also to whatever peripherals you want to run.

          In most cases it means you have just one jack to connect for everything to be online, and as a bonus you will be able other people's power supplies when on location, even those from (gasp) Apple, and vice versa.

          I'm all for USB-C power - it finally ended the racket of proprietary power supplies that has been around since almost forever. If your portable machine is modern enough to have a USB-C supply socket but needs more than the 95 or so Watt that most USB-C supplies can offer you must have an asbestos desk or knees - or ought to consider using a desktop instead.

        2. katrinab Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: USB-C for power

          I have a Thunderbolt dock for my laptop, uses the same connection as USB C.

          It supplies power to my laptop, and also has 3 USB A ports, 2 USB C ports, 2 Display Ports, Ethernet, and a 3.5mm speaker/microphone port.

          That means when I arrive at my desk, I only have to plug in one cable to do everything, unless I want to attach 3 monitors to it (I do), so I also have to plug in a USB C/HDMI adapter to the other side of the laptop.

  5. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    Honor MagicBook Pro ... yet comes with a much larger display.

    The MagicBook Pro is an inferior display. PDFs of A4 are marginal on 1080, the 1440 is far better.

    Comparing inches/Cm without considering aspect ratio and actual number of pixels and actual DPI is meaningless.

    However it does seems physically a little challenging if you don't have it close and have suitable reading glasses.

    I'd rather have about 15" for a 3:2 screen.

    I have a late 2016 Lenovo 14" 1920 x 1080 screen. My 2002 1600 x 1200 screen ( a bit over 15") was better.

    So called Retina screens are no better for PDFs or A4 unless they are larger. Simply having twice as sharp pixels isn't useful if you can only see the same amount of document as a 1080 screen.

    1200 is a minimum vertically, but you need more than 1200 or even more than 1440 if the pixels are more than 133 dpi.

  6. Craig100

    Dell TB16 Dock Madness

    <rant>I've been struggling with a Dell XPS15 i9 and a TB 16 dock with Linux Mint. The dock has a mind of it's own. Often doesn't wake up the displays and often loses partial USB connectivity (i.e. function keys stop working on MS USB keyboard). And all because everything goes through the damn Thunderbolt connector. Also you can't upgrade the software without doffing your cap to some other XPS user that has Windoze installed. Dell really have messed up their designs, not to mention the nostril cam and vicious fan noise. </rant>

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Dell TB16 Dock Madness

      I'm using the Dell WD19 TB with Precision 5540 (basically a rebadged XPS15), and would thoroughly recommend it, works great with Ubuntu.

      For updates, I get firmware and BIOS updates for both dock and laptop through fwupdmgr. Have you tried this?

      fwupdmgr get-updates && fwupdmgr update

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Some vendors' implementation of barrel-type power connectors were fragile - or rather, they weren't but placed a bending moment on the laptop's board and breaking it.

    The USB C socket on my phone has been used multiple times a day (more plug / unplug cycles than I would expect a laptop to endure) for years now, without issue.

    I haven't seen any evidence that USB C sockets result in less durable kit. When next buying a laptop, I personally though would prefer a machine with at least two USB C sockets and that be charged from either.

    If you're really worried, you might investigate USB C magnetic breakaway connectors (though do check they're rated to USB C PD specs)

    1. GlasshalfHull

      Keep away from the Lenovo Miix 520 then. I had three from work where the USB C failed with gentle daily plugging in. The Thinkpad X270 I have now is going strong for now, despite the USB C being used for power, which it isn't on the Miix 520.

  8. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Generous collection of ports..

    It's kind of sad when a "generous collection of ports" means you get 2 USB-A ports, a USB-C that you're stuck using for charging, a video output, and a headphone jack. I consider that a bare minimum, like a car that thoughtfully includes a tachometer and crank windows with its speedometer and idiot lights. At least it has a video output, unlike many tablets.

    Want to plug in a flash drive? Better unplug your external mouse or keyboard, unless you have a wireless combo that uses one receiver or Bluetooth. Still, better than a lot of tablet PCs these days, and even many other laptops.

  9. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Flame

    It won't set the world on fire..

    It might, depending on their quality control, especially with the battery and charger..

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