Xiaomi enters laptop game with slick and compact power player
Chinese electronics company Xiaomi has a finger in drones, phones and bikes, and now it's decided to try its hand at laptops. The Mi Notebook Air certainly looks like a good first effort, with a beautiful metal exterior and specs that belie its budget price tag.
The Mi Notebook Air range starts with a 12.5-in model, packing in an Intel Core M processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. Weighing in a just 2.36 lb (1.07 kg), and with a battery life of 11.5 hours, it's designed to be a portable offering in a similar vein to the 12-inch Macbook.
Moving up in the range gets to the 13.3-in model is where things really start to get interesting. On top of the standard 2.7 GHz sixth-generation Intel i5 processor and 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, the bigger Mi Notebook comes with a Nvidia GeForce 940MX discrete graphics card with 1 GB of GDDR5 RAM.
That's something you don't get on specialized gaming ultraportables like the Razer Blade Stealth, let alone the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display.
Storage comes courtesy of a 256 GB PCIe SSD, and there's room for another 256 GB if the included SATA slot is put to use as well. According to Xiaomi, the battery should last around 9.5 hours, although making the most of the GeForce card's potential on the 1920 x 1080 FHD screen will likely take a big chunk out of that claim.
Even though it's packing more screen real estate and more power, there's not a huge portability penalty associated with choosing the 13.3-in Xiaomi notebook. The bigger laptop is just 210 g (7.4 oz) heavier than its 12.5-in cousin, and just 1.9 mm thicker, which is a small price to pay for the extra performance on offer.
As is becoming more common, the Mi Notebook relies on USB-C for charging. Thankfully, you get more than the one USB-C port, with two USB 3.0 slots and an HDMI output also included in the package. If that's not enough, there's also an adaptor in the box with an extra HDMI port and another USB slot. But without an Ethernet port, users will be forced to rely on dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. In a touch similar to Apple's upcoming watch and computer integration, the Mi Notebooks can be opened by Xiaomi's Mi Band smart fitness band.
Pricing for the 12.5-inch Mi Notebook kicks off at CH¥3499 (US$525), while the 13.3-inch model will set you back ¥4999 ($750), which seems outrageously cheap for what's on offer. Unfortunately, there's no indication they'll ever make it stateside – just like most of the Xiaomi range.