Xiaomi, don’t you remember when it was just a name (attached to a $60 billion worth), when we didn’t quite know what it was all about, just that it was a popular Chinese brand inching its way into America? I do. I also remember hearing about the first Xiaomi smartphone becoming U.S. ready. Then, within the blink of an eye, there were Xiaomi devices being released one after another. As of late, the budget-friendly manufacturer has taken its success and branched out further than just tablets and smartphones, now producing countless tech products, from action cameras to smart weighing scales. Just prior to Xiaomi’s press event in Beijing this week, was the announcement of its very first notebook. Dubbed the Mi Notebook Air, it’s pretty easy to guess what type of features the company is going for here.
No longer an “alleged” device, specifications are out and ready to impress- like the Notebook Air’s 13.3-inch full HD 1920 x 1080p display (it also comes in a 12.5-inch variant with the same pixel count), featuring gaming-ready graphics. When we say game-ready, we’re talking Dota 2 gaming, using a discrete graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce 940MX, ready to pull out 85 frames-per-second; something other ultraportables, like Razer’s Blade Stealth, usually lacks while utilizing their own embedded GPUs. This is the official niche of the Mi Notebook Air- crazy good graphics capable on a MacBook Air competitor.
Looking at it, you sure can’t deny it’s “Air”-like elements. It’s very clean appearance is due to an all aluminum chassis, sans any logos on the exterior; and for a much lower-priced product, has an impressive build quality close to, but not as perfect as, its Apple counterpart. On the other hand, in terms of dimensions, Xiaomi’s device has some serious Surface Book resemblances, as its exterior maintains a flatter, more square design. The 13.3-inch iteration weighs 1.28kg and measures 14.8mm thick, while the 12.5-inch option weighs 1.07kg, measuring just 12.9mm thick. Its Apple counterpart actually weighs a bit more, at 1.08kg (there are also two Apple Macbook Air sizes, but for the sake of time management we are simply comparing the larger, 13-inch model).
Other specs on the Mi Notebook Air include an Intel Core i5-6200U processor on the 13.3 inch version, plus 8GB of RAM, a 256SSD (with the option of boosting another 256GB via SATA slot), one USB Type-C, 2 USB 3.0’s, an HDMI port, 3.5mm audio jack, and 40wh battery lasting up to 9.5 hours. The 12.5 model comes with Intel Core M3, 4GB of RAM, less SSD at just 128GB, plus all the same connectivity ports.
Now owning up to its thriving and more diverse ecosystem, Xiaomi has been climbing the charts quickly, and to go up against a notebook model as prestigious as the Macbook Air says a lot about the company’s tenacity going forward. Xiaomi pretty much “ups” Apple on display (hardware is pretty darn close as well), providing full HD on both-sized models, while Apple provides either 1440 x 900, or 1366 x 768 on its two models.
This all sounds impressive, you know, a Xiaomi product seemingly competing with Apple, but if we’re being completely realistic, the MacBook Air is seriously overdue for updates, which might happen as soon as folks start getting their hands on the Mi Notebook Air. But for comparison sake, the two are highly similar. Plus, they say “you get what you pay for”, and while the Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air, in its 13.3-inch variant, costs about $751, or $249 less than Apple’s laptop, I’d say this is a noteworthy first attempt at the notebook by Xiaomi.
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