The Honor MagicBook 14 may be the first internationally available laptop from the Huawei-owned brand, but it’s a powerful debut at a competitive price point. From the specs, through the increased smartphone connectivity, to the comparisons with Chromebooks, there’s a lot to like in this lightweight laptop and its £550 ($699) price tag.
The Honor MagicBook 14 looks premium. From the flat black keys and minimal bezels across the top and sides of the fourteen inch screen, to the shimmering colors of the metal finish and the offset logo on the lid, this is a laptop that has a look that punches above its place in the market… once you peel off the stickers that advertise the features and processors.
This Is One Well Specced Laptop
The specifications are not going to compete with flagship laptops, but as you’ll see the MagicBook isn’t here to put the big boys to the test. But the specs it does have allow it to edge out other laptops in the same price bracket, and performance wise it comes close to matching the next tier of laptops.
At the heart of the laptop is the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, which handled the everyday tasks I would expect of a laptop built around portability – lots of tabs open for web browsing, music player, productivity and office software. There’s no choice in term of RAM or storage – you’re looking at 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage. The 8 GB of RAM helps performance, giving the Ryzen processor room to breath. Storage wise I’m curious as to the decision to partition the SSD to hold an 80 GB C/: drive with everything else pushed to a D:/ drive.
The big winner are the speakers. With four Dolby-Atmos speakers, you’ve got one of the best sounding laptops at this price. Both high and low frequencies have a richness and clarity to them, which helps while streaming the latest blockbuster film.
And it would be remiss to not point out the power button , located next to the backspace key, doubles up as a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello’s biometric security.
All in all, for a laptop priced at £549 in the UK, the MagicBook 14 is great value for money.
Bringing Your Phone And Laptop Together
Let’s talk about MagicLink here. It’s a collection of connectivity tools found on Huawei’s laptops, including those in the Honor range. They work alongside your smartphone to offer easy file transfers in both directions (which includes media files such as pictures,video, and music), and a shared clipboard between the two devices.
One of the biggest advantages is multi-screen collaboration. When the phone and laptops are connected using the NFC, the MagicBook will show you the phone screen. You can interact with this using your mouse and keyboard, essentially controlling your smartphone from your laptop.
The catch here is that this isn’t open to any Android smartphone, you’re going to need one of the newer Honor or Huawei handsets. If you have, then you’re going to find a partnership that works well. I don’t think it’s enough to change both your laptop and your smartphone, but if you have one side of the partnership then you should consider the other, if for no other reason than the quality of life improvements.
It’s Not A Chromebook
For many, the use case of the Honor MagicBook 14 – a lightweight laptop for dealing with emails, social media, web browsing, and office work; with a dash of music and video playback and streaming – matches that of the various ChromeOS powered laptops. So why not get a Chromebook?
The answer is simple. The Honor 14 is not running ChromeOS, it’s running Windows 10 Home. That’s going to make the difference for many, particularly those who have specific software requirements. Tools for editing audio or video may not be available under ChromeOS; specific applications to access university or work servers may be required; an academic course has key software that is for Windows 10 or MacOS only.
Speaking personally as a radio and podcast producer, I need to be able to edit audio files, output them in the correct format, sort out ID3 tags and artwork, and have them FTP’d to a server. The two editing tools that I use, the freeware Audacity, and the paid for Hindenburg, do not run under ChromeOS. If I’m looking for a lightweight ultraportable laptop, the above requirement is game over for myself and a Chromebook.
I won’t be alone in that requirement, even if the key application will likely be different for others.
As with any technology purchase, the first thing you need to do is think carefully about what you are going to use it for. This is especially true if you are looking for a non-flagship device. What do you want to compromise on and what can you not live without. For me, it’s having the apps that are already integrated into my production chain with me on the road; having a lightweight machine which makes being on the read easier; and known that there is a bit more heft and power in my laptop if needed.
Let’s put MagicLink to the side for one moment – it’s a great feature but it’s not available for everyone. How does the MagicBook 14 stand up to other laptops? Pretty well, I have to say. In terms of specifications it is one of the strongest in its price range, with the pairing of the AMD Ryzen and 8 GB of RAM delivering. The other way of looking at the specs is you have the specs of a more expensive machine. Either way, this is value for money.
Not everyone needs every ounce of power out of a laptop for high-end applications. What many need is a laptop that covers the basics with ease, handles the specific apps that make any computer a personal computer, and has enough power so it will not become quickly dated.
The Honor MagicBook 14 delivers all of that. It’s competitively priced, it’s got the capabilities, and the design fits in at home, at college, or in the workplace.
Disclaimer: Honor supplied a MagicBook 14 for review purposes.