Chinese laptop manufacturer CHUWI puts out some impressive budget laptops — including the LapBook 12.3, Hi13, and LapBook 14.1 — but none of these that we've reviewed has hit the rock-bottom price of $200 that the HeroBook 14.1 commands. I used this laptop for about a week, and I admit I didn't start out with very high hopes. While some of my worries were founded, the HeroBook is undoubtedly still a steal at this price, and it's a device I think I'll continue using for general productivity work.
$200 (opens in new tab)Bottom line: The HeroBook lacks some common features we've grown accustomed to, but for $200 it's a great way to get your hands on a 14-inch notebook for general productivity work.
- Very attractive price
- Huge Precision touchpad
- 1080p IPS display
- All-day battery life
- Solid design
- Slow eMMC storage
- Display has some light bleed
- 802.11n Wi-Fi (no 5GHz)
- No keyboard backlight
CHUWI HeroBook 14.1 tech specs
CHUWI supplied Windows Central with a review unit of the HeroBook 14.1 with an Intel Atom x5-E8000, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. There's only one configuration available, and it costs $200 (opens in new tab). No, that's not a typo.
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Processor||Intel Atom x5-E8000|
Up to 2.0 GHz
|RAM||4GB DDR3 RAM|
|Graphics||Intel HD 400|
IPS, matte, non-touch
|Ports||Two USB-A 3.0|
|Audio||Four internal speakers|
|Dimensions||13.07 inches x 8.42 inches x 0.83 inches|
(332mm x 214mm x 21.3mm)
|Weight||3.2 pounds (1.48kg)|
CHUWI HeroBook 14.1 design
The CHUWI HeroBook 14.1 gives a great first impression. It has a silver chassis that might be mistaken for an aluminum alloy — it's, in reality, some sort of plastic — and a simple logo emblazoned on the corner of the lid. The laptop is thin, it has a compact footprint, and though it weighs more than a lot of other similarly sized laptops, it's not heavy enough to become uncomfortable when you're on the move.
A single hinge runs along the majority of the back edge, and it allows for the lid to be opened with one hand, a feature generally only seen on premium devices. The lid spreads back to about 110 degrees, revealing the enormous touchpad and wide keyboard that runs from side to side. There's a bit of venting along the inside edge where the hinge is set, but there are no fans in this laptop. It runs quiet and stays cool thanks to a CPU with a low thermal design point (TDP).
When flipping the laptop over, you'll see two small holes on either side that must be for the speakers, though it's hard to tell where exactly sound is coming from. Audio will allow you to hear whatever it is you're watching or playing, but a lot of the time I resorted to headphones as the sound is hollow and a tad tinny at higher volumes.
A 3.5mm audio jack on the right side is joined by a microSD card reader (expandable up to 128GB) and a USB-A 3.0 port. On the left side is another USB-A 3.0, a barrel AC charging hookup, and Mini HDMI. Inclusion of USB-C would have pushed this laptop over the top, but in any case, the selection provides enough for a couple of external accessories without the need for an expansion hub. Since the laptop ships with just 64GB of eMMC storage, the microSD card reader is a convenient bridge until you add an M.2 SATA solid-state drive (SSD) through the easy-access panel in the bottom of the laptop.
Above the display is a front-facing 0.3MP webcam for video conferencing and stills. It's understandably not going to offer a high-definition picture, but it gets the job done if you don't have anything else around. No IR camera or fingerprint reader for Windows Hello is included here, which is no surprise because of the going price.
Overall the HeroBook 14.1 could easily be mistaken for a laptop that costs far more than $200. Its edges are clean, and there aren't any plastic burrs, the hinge is smooth and allows the lid to be opened with one hand, and it's relatively thin for easy portability. For most people, it won't be the appearance of the laptop that keeps them away.
CHUWI HeroBook 14.1 display
Displays in budget laptops usually get the worst of the quality cuts, but the HeroBook's 14.1-inch non-touch display really doesn't disappoint. It has a 1920x1080 (FHD) resolution, the bezel isn't noticeably large and is balanced, and it has a matte finish that does a great job of cutting down on glare when working in well-lit spaces. It likewise has an IPS panel for excellent viewing angles.
Coming from reviewing some pro-grade ThinkPad workstations, color and contrast seemed a bit dull, but only compared to a laptop that costs thousands. After a day of use, going back and forth to the HeroBook from my regular Ultrabook didn't seem like much of a change. It gets bright enough for most usage scenarios other than outdoors on a sunny day, and the non-touch aspect helps up battery life. I did see a bit of light bleed along the bottom edge of the display while it was booting up with a black screen, but it's not noticeable thereafter.
I tested color reproduction with a Spyder 5 Pro (opens in new tab) and got back 65 percent sRGB and 49 percent AdobeRGB, both results at the low end of the spectrum. For general productivity work, which the internal hardware is also geared for, the display won't disappoint.
CHUWI HeroBook 14.1 keyboard and touchpad
One of the first things I noticed on the HeroBook was the enormous touchpad that takes up a lot of the space below the keyboard. CHUWI has gone with Precision drivers, and altogether it provides an enjoyable pointing experience. There's about a half-inch along the top of the touchpad and a small area in the middle where you can't physically click — it's hinged somewhere in there — but the rest is good to go. It tracks well, it's easy to perform all Windows 10 gestures thanks to the size, and it's smooth to touch.
The keyboard stretches from edge to edge, providing plenty of room for large keys with ample spacing between and comfortable travel. I typed a lot of words, and once I was used to the size, I had no issues other than the clack of the keys is a bit noisy in an otherwise quiet room. There's no backlight for working in the dark, and the blue Fn labels are hard to see in dim light, but otherwise, it's a decent keyboard even for those who type many words per day. A small addition is a number pad doubling up on the right-side keys, which can be accessed with the Fn key.
CHUWI HeroBook 14.1 performance and battery
The HeroBook has a 5W Intel Atom x5-E8000 CPU with a max clock of 2.0GHz and 4GB of RAM. It's not going to fare well with intensive work, and gaming isn't an option, though it treated me well for relatively heavy web browsing with apps running in the background.
Thanks to the low-wattage CPU, battery life is phenomenal despite coming in at 38 Wh. With a full charge — it doesn't take long to get back to full when plugged in thanks to fast-charge capabilities — I saw between nine and ten hours of general use at about 60 percent screen brightness and a balanced power plan. You should be able to leave for the day and not worry about toting along with the AC adapter, although it is small and easy to tuck away in a backpack or messenger.
A sticky point for me is the eMMC storage, which is quite slow and fills up fast. With Windows 10 and some benchmarking software installed, there's only 22GB left to use for my files and apps. Luckily, the microSD card reader can boost storage up to about 128GB, providing a relatively cheap way to pad space. There's also a panel on the bottom of the laptop that provides quick access to an M.2 SATA SSD slot for further expansion. Considering the $200 starting price, you can add a quality SSD and still be ahead in savings compared to a lot of other 14-inch notebooks out there.
Another thing to note is the Realtek network adapter, which is 802.11n. There's no 5GHz radio option here, which might be a problem for those who are used to the superior speeds. Using the laptop for a week, I didn't notice any dropped signals and I got great reception even far from my router, so at least the 2.4GHz radio is solid.
Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)
|Device||CPU||Single core||Multi core|
|CHUWI HeroBook 14.1||Atom x5-E8000||884||2,417|
|Surface Go||Pentium Gold||2,078||3,934|
|Galaxy Book2 (ARM)||SD850||2,262||7,405|
|HP Envy x2 (ARM)||SD835||2,111||6,314|
|Surface 3||Atom x7||1,078||2,777|
Geekbench 4.0 OpenCL (higher is better)
|CHUWI HeroBook 14.1||4,007|
PCMark Home Conventional 3.0
|CHUWI HeroBook 14.1||1,066|
|LG gram 14 2-in-1||3,452|
|Lenovo Yoga C930||3,506|
CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)