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Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air unboxing and first impressions

Xiaomi announced the Mi Notebook Air last July and it’s the Chinese company’s first laptop. And from the looks of it, Xiaomi is taking a stab at Apple’s Macbook line-up.

The Mi Notebook Air comes in two variants – a larger 13.3-inch model that comes with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 940 MX and 256GB SSD and the one we bought to review is the entry-level variant that has a smaller 12.5-inch screen with full HD resolution, an Intel Core M3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD for storage.

From the size and configuration alone, we can say that the smaller variant is positioned to compete agains the 12-inch Apple Macbook which also runs on the same Intel Core M3 processor. The larger variant will complete against the 13.3-inch Apple Macbook Air.

Our review unit is the one in matte silver color with an all metal build. The Mi Notebook has striking similarities with the Macbook although it looks thicker on the sides, actually it’s thinner. The Macbook has a tapered bottom to make it look much thinner than it actually is. With a weight of just 1.07kg, the Mi Notebook is also very light.

There are no markings at the back of the lid to identify that it was made by Xiaomi. Xiaomi is giving the freedom to its users to customize the lid with sticker accessories. The only time you will see the Mi logo is when you open the lid.

The laptop comes with a single USB Type C port for charging and another USB 3.0 for plugging other devices. What’s surprising is that Xiaomi managed to fit a full-sized HDMI port on the side and well as a 3.5mm audio port. What’s missing here is an SD card reader and a LAN port. The Mo Notebook Air also features dual speakers by AKG at the bottom.

The display panel is complete covered in glass from edge to edge. The bezels are very thin too and it reminds us of the one on the Dell XPS 13 though this one has no touchscreen to speak of. The screen is an IPS panel with a full HD resolution of 1920x 1820 pixels. It looks nice and crisp with just the right brightness when you need it.

The trackpad is generously wide with a smooth glass layer on top. The same is true with the keyboard. They’re spaced pretty well with enough travel to comfortably type with. We really liked the backlit keyboard on this one and it’s actually at par with the one found in the Macbook Air.

The only problem we’ve had with this laptop is that the default operating system is the Chinese Single Language license of Windows 10 Home. We tried changing the default language to English from the Control Panel to no avail so we ended up re-installing the OS just to switch to English. The keyboard though is purely in English with no trace of Chinese characters so no problem there.

We’re not expecting much from a Core M3 processor and we’ve had quite a bit of experience with it on the Asus Transformer Book Chi and the 12-inch Macbook. It serves well for basic purposes such a office productivity tools, web browsing and simple photo editing. Don’t expect getting decent gaming experience with this one though the 13-inch model might be better than this.

Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air specs:
12.5-inch full HD IPS display @ 1920 x 1080 pixels
Intel Core M3 dual-core 0.9GHz processor
Turbo Boost 2.2GHz
Intel HD Graphics 515
128GB SSD via SATA
Backlit keyboard
WiFI 802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.1
AKG dual-speakers
1MP webcam
1 x USB 3.0
1 x USB Type-C charging port
HDMI port
12.9mm thick
1.07kg (weight)
600Whr Li-Po battery
Windows 10 OS

It’s a good first try for Xiaomi and so far we’re pretty impressed especially for the asking price. Xiaomi is not officially available in the Philippines but you can get the Mi Notebook Air over at Widget City for Php29,900 {see listing here}.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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9 Responses

  1. Ceal89 says:

    Any tips on how to reinstall the OS in english? Thinking of buying this (but I don’t wanna splurge on buying another Windows License just to Turn it into English)

    • jefe de hudas says:

      perhaps using a windows 10 (1511 version or the latest 1607 anni edition) usb installer: boot from usb flash drive, choose clean installation. perhaps microsoft server will recognize the previous windows 10 single language license and the activation will proceed without hiccup.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Am wondering, does the Bios contain some Chinese characters also? Or purely in English also.

    Otherwise, it might not be easy to flash the Bios to an English one. That is, if their support website had one.

  3. emignatius says:

    I’d want to know more about that glass layered track pad. One of the things that impressed me the most in Macbooks is the track pad and the way it works. If it rivals the track pad in Macs then I’m half sold.

  4. Karl says:

    Nice! Excited for the full review! My only big worry here is the software side. Anyway, I have questions:
    1. Is this also fanless? Usually Core M3 laptops are.
    2. Is the RAM & Storage upgradeable?
    3. How’s the warranty?

  5. Karl says:

    Nice! Excited for the full review! My only worry is the software side. Anyway, I have questions:
    1. Is this fanless? Usually Core M3 laptops are.
    2. Is the RAM & Storage upgradeable?
    3. How’s the warranty?

  6. dyeyar says:

    may pikachu and charizard amiibo hihi

  7. henry says:

    hows the battery life?

  8. Kulapo says:

    Hahaha. Kaya mura to malamang me tracking software na naman from China. Lol.

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