Microsoft Surface Pro remains the best Windows 2-in-1 convertible tablet that exists. There are many imitation devices on the market, like this Chuwi SurBook too: unique brands and everything.
Unfortunately, the SurBook is far from being a complete replacement for Surface Pro. If you want the 2-in-1 look on a Windows 10 device but can not afford the £ 800 + options from Microsoft, then it’s worth considering.
But it is a clumsy and ineffective Windows tablet, and it offers a frustrating user experience. Read on to see if the savings are worth the commitment.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
At the time of writing, Chuwi SurBook is £ 322.68 from Gearbest, a reliable Asian electronics retailer. Kindly provide us with the sample review.
That price does not include the frankly essential keyboard accessory, which costs an extra £ 35.31. There is also a HiPen for the pencil input that we did not try, but it only costs £ 18.61.
This complete package costs £ 376.60, less than half the cost of the Surface Pro of £ 799 without the pen or keyboard. But there are enough reasons why this is.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
The SurBook feels solid thanks to its metallic finish, but it is relatively bulky and heavy, even without the keyboard cover. Light black bezels around the screen make it reminiscent of the fourth-generation iPad before the iPad Air was launched.
There is a Super Pro-aping slab hinge on the back that is fully adjustable at 125 degrees. This is ideal for positioning the SurBook at the best angle for whatever it is you are doing. However, keep in mind that it scrapes horribly on some surfaces.
There are cameras in the front and back for a photo and video applications, as well as 2 USB-A ports (one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0), a USB-C port and a headphone jack. There is also a TF card slot, which is the same as SD, and the microSD cards will work on it.
In general, the tablet is not a premium sensation, and the economic optional keyboard (in price and feel) does not help with printing.
The tablet without keyboard measures 297.8 x 203.3 x 9.4 mm and weighs less than 1 kg. Add; like 0.35kg to that if you get the keyboard too.
The keyboard has a decent path, but you’ll want to place it on the table when it’s connected since its optional raised position reveals how flimsy it is when you start typing. The textured finish is difficult to keep clean, too.
The keys have no spacing, which means that typing is frustrating, and the flexing of the keyboard itself means that you can accidentally click on the touchpad.
The trackpad, even in the best of cases, is terrible: the cursor moves across the screen without any reason, and its limited gestural controls are, at best, sporadic. Neither does it have backlit keys, which is something to keep in mind and a feature that we miss.
Apart from the appearance of pedestrians, the most important thing about Chuwi SurBook is its content. It is unfortunately not very powerful.
Our review unit had an Intel Celeron N3450 1.10 GHz CPU. It can synchronize to 2.2 GHz if necessary. But paired with 6GB of RAM, it struggled significantly when running more than three programs at a time. A fanless design also worked well enough when multitasking was done.
Often, Celeron processors are suitable for simple tasks on cheaper laptops, but we find commitments too much to support the regular daily use of the SurBook. Unfortunately, trying to edit a Word document, surf the web in Chrome and run Slack caused the device to stutter when we changed windows to the point where we stopped trying to do something and closed everything.
It’s a shame, and it means that SurBook can only deal with one simple task at a time. The screen manufactured by Samsung is a suitable HD 2736 x 1824 12.3 inch screen that comes with a pre-applied screen protector. However, this plastic layer will capture even the smallest fingerprint, so be careful if you want to use this in tablet mode.
It is in an aspect ratio of 3: 2, which is different from the usual 16: 9 we expected. It gives the SurBook a more compact and modern environment and is becoming more common in laptops and tablets.
It’s bright and vivid enough for all the content, although the brightness and colors are better with the screen protector removed (it’s true of any screen on any device in our opinion).
With 128GB of storage, you’ll have enough for basic programs, music and video downloads and a little more, but heavy users will find that it fills up pretty quickly. Fortunately, USB-A ports mean that an external hard drive is an option.
The 2Mp front camera leaves much to be desired, as does the 5Mp rear sensor, but at a price, they are suitable for basic video calls.
The audio from the small loudspeaker grilles at the base of the unit when it is in stand mode is quite good, although it is possible that I look low. Fortunately, you can connect the speakers if necessary through the 3.5mm headphone jack.
The SurBook performs disappointingly considering its price of £322. The £ 241 Chuwi LapBook 12.3 and the £ 192 Jumper EXBook 3 Pro work best in all but one. It shows that the extra money for the SurBook is paying for the 2-in-1 form factor that is unnecessary for simple computing, in addition to having low power.
The duration of the battery is also disappointing. With a full charge, the SurBook limped about three hours of constant use before asking us to turn on the power. Chuwi claims that he can do eight hours, which is a bit low anyway. We can say with confidence that it did not last near this the whole time we tried it.
The SurBook runs Windows 10 Home from the factory and is as simple or complex an operating system as you want. We recommend that you only consider buying the SurBook if you are looking for the first one.
Without a keyboard, you can only use Windows 10 through the touchscreen, which is often very frustrating. You can use the Windows tablet mode that simplifies the interface for touch input or works with the full operating system, but none is fun to use, and if you can afford the SurBook, we recommend that you consider the £ 339 iPad instead.
With the keyboard, the Windows 10 operating system on SurBook is a better and more common computing experience. But, as our benchmarks show, you can spend more than £ 100 less and get a more powerful machine in a classic shell design.
Chuwi SurBook specifications
- Windows 10 Home
- Touch screen 12.3in 2736×1824 IPS
- 1.10 GHz Intel Apollo Lake CPU N3450
- Intel HD graphic 500 6GB RAM
- Main camera 64 / 128GB 5Mp, front camera 2Mp
- 802.11a / ac / b / g / n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- USB-C port
- TF card slot
- 2 USB-A ports (2.0, 3.0)
- 5000mAh non-removable battery
SHOULD I BUY CHUWI SURBOOK?
For the price, the Chuwi SurBook is not good enough. Although it is cheaper than low-end Intel laptops, performance is disappointing, and Chuwi has better products at lower prices.
You may also want to consider spending a bit more to get a better overall laptop in the first place. For £ 349 you can buy an Acer Swift 1, which at the time of writing costs £ 269.99 here.
There are simply better economical laptops. Here are our best options.
If what you want is a tablet, for only £10 more than the SurBook you can get an iPad, which performs all the things on the tablet, as the transmission much better.