desktop tours Right or wrong, Huawei has earned a reputation for being a risky proposition when it comes to security. It’s almost beggar belief, then, that the Chinese Goliath’s flagship Matebook X Pro laptop has a literal hidden webcam, lurking under a fake function key on the top row of its keyboard.
Touch the key and it clicks lightly, then lifts up to reveal the camera.
It’s a terrible place for a camera because when the laptop lies flat on a desk and close enough to type, the view would probably delight an ear, nose, and throat surgeon conducting a remote exam. . Needless to say, that angle isn’t going to show your best side during a Zoom or team session. And you can’t change the angle without having to move the entire laptop to an odd position or put it too far apart to type.
Your reviewer, as seen via Huawei’s webcam when the MateBook was in a comfortable typing position.
Click to enlarge – if you dare
What’s even more complicated is that the laptop’s 3.5mm audio jack is located on the back of its left edge, meaning that wired headphones with an average length of cord have just a little extra distance to stretch as you do your work in a more photogenic position. We do.
Huawei has decided to put the camera in this strange place in the name of privacy protection, which is great, but I found the camera inadvertently popped up when I opened and closed the laptop.
The camera isn’t integrated with Windows at all—so when the key it’s hidden under is down, using any camera-enabled app results in inexplicable blackness. It’s easy to forget such a novel hardware design and certainly deserves a little help from the OS.
Placing the camera under a key gives the laptop a very thin bezel around its screen. The result is a 13.9-inch screen in a 13-inch laptop. But the awkward camera placement also means it’s difficult to use a laptop for one of the main applications that require laptops these days.
Huawei’s hidden webcam … Source: Huawei. Click to enlarge
At least it’s a good camera, and a lovely screen – the 3K display has 3000×2000 resolution and is vividly bright and makes beautiful contrasts between colors. I’d happily work on it or watch movies all day—and I almost mean it, as the machine slid its way through six hours of unconvinced use.
The display’s touch sensitivity is sharp and sharp, but Huawei’s swipe-to-screenshot feature didn’t work reliably for me, despite the seller saying it’s an important part of its ability to add value in a very crowded laptop market. Moving forward as a performance.
This feature also seems redundant, considering that the Windows Snipping Tool does a decent job with a keypress that many users may have missed. The screen is so bright that every touch makes an impression and after a day or two the machine looks messy, so swiping up to take a screenshot just adds to the smearing.
The laptop is powered by an Intel 11th-gen Core i7-1165G7 quad-core processor that can go through gears from 1.2GHz to 4.7GHz. The laptop includes Intel Iris X graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid state drive.
The machine did decently well on my go-to job: running Handbrake to transcode a five-minute 4K video file to 1080p, taking six minutes and 20 seconds for the job. It was just two minutes slower than the Core9-powered Asus laptop I’ve used on my previous desktop travel adventure.
However, Huawei struggled quite a bit to run the same workload in an Ubuntu VM under VMware Workstation. Fans of the laptop got quite a workout as it struggled to function in 16:11, which was more than twice the time required for the Asus.
The fan of the machine also kicks in randomly, and unnecessarily often. Connecting an external monitor can sometimes be especially taxing on a laptop, but on other occasions it doesn’t affect performance. Some light workloads caused the machines to struggle – downloads were a bugbear – but on other days it ran effectively under heavy loads.
The machine wakes up feeling angry. Opening it often results in either hanging applications or strange errors such as inability to play audio. Other applications just didn’t come with the machine. My favorite cycling metaverse, the Zwift, limps into action and then hangs—the performance is far worse than a very old Windows laptop that does my everyday work.
At least the laptop’s biometric-enabled On button was fast and accurate, meaning the unusual number of restarts required to work with the machine wasn’t made frustrating by body biometrics. The touchpad is also pleasingly responsive and generously sized.
A single USB-A port and dual USB-Cs is a sufficient combination, but demonstrates PC-makers’ unfounded optimism about the proliferation of USB-C monitors. The laptop didn’t struggle with the nameless USB-C dongle I use for things like wireless keyboard dongles and HDMI.
The machine is very beautiful, and certainly thin and light.
But it’s also remarkably forgettable and you can do better for it for the $2,000 or so Huawei charges — perhaps with the 2022 version of the MateBook Pro X that’s starting to dribble in stores around the world.
Sadly, Huawei will not be offering a version of the machine outside China powered by its own motherboard and Kunpeng 920 processor. I say that as I came away from my time with the laptop, thinking that Huawei could do better, and that perhaps controlling the hardware would be a factor that could allow it to plug the loopholes that led to this issue. Make the machine a hollow experience for your desktop tourist. A journey to remember.