Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition hands-on: More hits than misses
If it were not for the lockdown, Xiaomi would have held an extravagant event to announce its foray into the laptop segment in India. After all, it has been one of the most sought-after products from Xiaomi fans, for years. The first laptop “Mi NoteBook 14” has come via Mi, Xiaomi's new sub-brand. Today, we talk in length about the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition, the most premium in what is relatively a very slim portfolio for now.
In case you haven't been introduced to the Horizon Edition, here's what you need to know. The laptop comes with a 14-inch full HD display. It runs on Windows 10 and is powered by Intel Core i5/i7 processor. The laptop has 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and Nvidia GeForce MX350 GPU. The top-end model with Core i7 SoC (which is also on our unit) is priced at ₹59,999.
A cursory glance at the specifications will tell that Xiaomi's premium Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition belongs to a cluttered league of other 14-inch laptops with Core i7 which are priced much higher.
Looks good, but there's more to it
If you think Apple's MacBooks look good, there is no reason to deduct Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition's marks on visual appeal. The design implementation on the Mi laptop is very similar to how Apple approaches its MacBook. And, it is certainly not negative. Xiaomi's Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition uses a blend of magnesium and aluminium alloy for that premium look and feel. From a pure looks point of view, it looks like a matte-finish metallic body in grey colour. There is no Mi logo on the back of the display, so what.
Xiaomi's laptop weighs just 1.35kg. A compact size along with lightweight makes it easy to carry around. It can easily fit in your existing backpacks. We liked the hinge design which seems sturdier and smoother than a lot of laptops we've used in the past.
Keyboard & trackpad
Xiaomi has implemented a scissor key mechanism and chiclet-style key type with a travel distance of 1.3mm. The keyboard has been a great experience thus far. For those who type a lot like us, they will like the keyboard. Well-spaced out keypads means your fingers don't have to be crammed. It took roughly four to five hours to get our muscle reflexes used to the new keyboard. The keyboard, however, isn't perfect. For instance, the arrow keys in the right corner at the bottom feel very cramped. Keypads aren't backlit, something you should expect from a premium laptop.
The trackpad so far has met our expectations. It's relatively larger than you will see in such compact laptops. The trackpad supports multi-touch as well. It's responsive and gets the job done, nonetheless.
The full HD display has a 91% screen-to-body ratio with 60Hz refresh rate, 1000:1 contrast ratio, and 250nits brightness. The display looks fine if not extraordinary. So far, we haven't tried a lot of things on this screen apart from basic browsing and a bit of streaming YouTube. In our relatively little use case, we had no qualms with the viewing angles or overall quality.
A big miss over here is the web camera. Xiaomi in a briefing explained that when the model was finalised, around December last year, it found there was very little use of web cameras on the laptops. The trend, however, changed with the Covid-19 pandemic as millions of people have begun working remotely. To compensate, Xiaomi is bundling a web camera accessory, which we are yet to try out.
Performance and other things
As said earlier, we're yet to run a barrage of tests to gauge the performance of the laptop. So far, in limited use cases, we can say it has worked smoothly. We're a bit apprehensive about the battery life which otherwise seems above average. There are a few smartphone-like settings to help you conserve battery. We guess that the combination of i7 and Nvidia's MX350 should be enough for light to medium-heavy usage. Again, wait for our review to get our final verdict. The sound quality on the laptop has been underwhelming despite it having 2x2W stereo speakers.
Xiaomi's Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is a fine premium laptop. There are more hits than misses. Things like support for web cameras and dedicated memory card slot should have been part of this special edition, in our opinion.
Stay tuned for more features on the Mi NoteBook 14 in coming days.