Chuwi Hi13 Review
Chuwi’s one of the few Chinese tablets manufacturers out there always looking to put the best screens and 3:2 ratio ones in their tablets, well them and Cube. The Chuwi Hi13 continues on with a 3:2 ratio screen like the popular Hi12, but this time around the screen size has increased from 12-inches to 13.5-inches and a resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels. The PPI or Pixels per Inch is 267, meaning it’s a sharp screen and max brightness tops out at 498 Lux which is also very decent. Sounds like a great screen right? Well, it is, in fact, the same IPS panel used in Microsofts Surface Book.
Design and Display
What about the build quality? It’s very similar to the Hi12, HiBook, and other Chuwi tablets. A unibody rear housing made from aluminum in silver only (No ugly gold here!) Sadly this tablet is missing a very handy full-sized USB port. It has a Type-C port (USB 3.0 spec) and MicroUSB 2.0 port, both require adaptors (Not included!) Micro HDMI, Micro USB 2.0, 3.5mm jack and a full speed MicroSD card slot.
The front glass and black plastic frame are screwed and clipped into place on the Hi13 with 4 x T4 TORX screws to hold it in place. While this works fine, I notice that around the front where the two halves meet it’s possible to hear some flex when applying pressure.
Overall the build quality is decent for the price, just don’t expect Surface Book finish quality.
The laptop comes with a 13.5 inch 3000 x 2000 IPS/PLS panel with glass Goodix touch digitizer. So a top screen with great brightness, contrast and with good blacks. sRGB 100% coverage, but while it might be the same screen as used in the Microsoft Surface Book it doesn’t look as good due to two factors, it’s not fully laminated. So there is a gap of 1mm between the digitizer glass panel. And It comes with a pre-applied screen protector because it isn’t Gorilla Glass like the Surface Book, but plain old soda lime glass, prone to scratching easily. And it’s very prone to reflections.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The Hi13 keyboard is very similar to the Hi12’s second generation keyboard. But larger than the Hi12’s to accommodate that larger screen. The keyboard has shortcuts for media, screen brightness, print screen and all your page up/down, end and home keys. I measured the key travel to be more or less 2.0mm. Not as much as the Lap books 2.2mm but good to type on the very firm. It is a little loud as sound tends to travel through the keyboard when you’re hammering out an email etc. The underside of the keyboard is made of a rubberised matte silver finish and is made of plastic. The whole top of the keyboard is metal giving it a quality feel, a stark contrast to the first gen Hi12 all plastic keyboard.
The touchpad is reasonably sized and accurate. It does the job, but nothing like the touchpad on my Surface Book and Mi Notebook. I often trigger that stupid swipe down to minimize Windows gesture making this touchpad annoying to use at times. So it supports gestures and has the left and right mouse buttons incorporated within the
The keyboard also has two USB 2.0 ports left and right. And the tablet can be flipped around and used in the dock, so the dock keyboard acts as a stand for the tablet. Since the pogo pin is a 10 pin one, the USB ports in the keyboard will work when inverted which is a nice touch. touchpad. They are a little noisy those mouse buttons with a louder than normal click to them.
The HiPen H3 has a good quality feel to it, it’s powered by one AAAA battery that is thankfully included in the box. The pen has a good weight to it, looks a little like the N-Trig Surface Pro 4 and Book stylus. Two buttons on the side and the top also works. Accuracy is good pressure sensitivity and palm rejection works fine. Sketching with the Stylus is okay, but not at the level of my Surface Pro 4 with its rubber tip and fully laminated screen.
The Hi13 has 4 speakers, on each corner facing outwards. They sound flat and lack volume. But you can use programs to help increase the volume and quality. See this thread in the forum (Increase Hi13 speaker volume), it’s for the Hi12 but same applies here. But overall disappointing poor speakers! The microphone located on the left side and has some static over it (front web camera sample in the review video) The 3.5mm jack also suffers from some type of static or interference from the CPU. Possible lack of shielding around the port and RealTek audio chip?
Hardware and Performance
The Hi13 feels for the most part quick and snappy, there is at times some lag when tapping the start menu. I believe this is mostly because the GPU is driving a 3000 x 2000 resolution screen which is more demanding than the typical 1920 x 1080 screens as seen on other Celeron N3450 tablets or notebooks I’ve reviewed.
The Intel HD GPU is where Chuwi has worked a little magic, they have dedicated 600Mb of RAM permanently to the GPU so free RAM is a little less than most 4GB Apollo Lakes without that extra dedicated to the GPU. But it has made quite a difference when playing games for example or any intensive task requiring more from the GPU. Frame rates are some of the best I’ve seen from this chipset. But it’s not just due to that extra dedicated RAM, they have applied a few other tweaks in the bios level I believe.
Sadly not as good as I had hoped for 6-7 hours use using Edge and Chrome multitasking with 40% brightness. That same use on the Hi12 would still give you around 9 hours at least, but we do have a larger higher resolution screen to drive. And RAM is now dual channel accounting for even more power consumption. And the Apollo Lake does use more power so maybe my expectations were too high?