Review: Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition

Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition review: Well-rounded laptop

Xiaomi forayed into the Indian market with Mi 3 in 2014 and within a few years, it became the top mobile company in the country. It followed up with the Mi smart TVs and it too attained the numero brand status that too in a shorter period. Now, Xiaomi is eyeing the consumer PC segment with the new Mi NoteBook.

On paper, it has a good set of hardware and even the design looks pleasing to the eyes, but does the Mi NoteBook deliver the goods. I have been using the Xiaomi laptop for more than two months and here are my thoughts.

The Mi NoteBook was launched in India in June 2020. I have been using the Horizon Editon with Intel iCore 5 for more than five months. Here're my thoughts.

Design, build quality, and display
Xiaomi's Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition comes with a minimalistic design and you won't even find the company name or a logo engraving anywhere on the metallic lid in the front. Only when turning to the back, you will find the details of the company and key features present in the device.

The lid is made of sturdy A5052-series alloy of aluminium and magnesium and has a smooth finish thanks to anodised sandblasting technique. Also, it is said to be resistant to corrosion and abrasion. 

It is slim with just 17.15 mm thickness and weighs 1.35Kg. The new Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition is bit larger than the A4-size paper. Just perfect to easily carry around by hand or even don't have to jostle for space in any standard backpack and it snugs in smoothly without any hassle.

As far as the display is concerned, the laptop a sports a 14-inch full HD (1920x1080p) backlit LED panel. It has very thin 3mm bezels around all the three sides (top, left and right). The base is bit thick and features Mi branding.

With this design, the company has managed to reach 91% screen-to-body feat. But this comes with a cost, as thin bezel leaves no space for webcam. To overcome this drawback, Xiaomi is offering a separate attached camera with the retail package. More on that later.

It has a 16:9 aspect ratio and offers a 178-degree viewing angle. Despite the compact size, the ultra-slim bezel of the screen of the Mi NoteBook Horizon Edition creates an illusion of a big display, and to be honest, I had a good time watching movies for long hours without any discomfort. Also, it has two bottom facing 2W stereo speakers and is backed by DTS Audio Processing. Due to the tapered edge design, the sound output doesn't get distorted. This further enhances the viewing experience. But, have to note that it is not that loud. It is better to get the earphones for a better experience. Yes, it comes with a 3.5mm audio jack on the left side.

The Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition features a compact keyboard with a scissor mechanism and has ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) texture with 1.3mm key travel and 19mm pitch per key, offering a tactile feel while typing on it. 

Though the display gets off the hook for having thin bezels, it took me some time to me get used to the small keyboard. But, within a few days, the muscle memory of my fingers was on target in getting the right alphabets and regain the speed I used to do have while typing on my big keyboard connected to my work desktop.

It also has centrally placed trackpad and have to say, it is very responsive and happy to note that it has palm rejection tech so that the cursor on the screen doesn't go astray when my bottom of my hand press against the trackpad.

However, one qualm I have with the device is that the keys are not backlit and becomes a pain while working in low light conditions.

It has Type-C USB 3.1 x 1, Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 x 2, USB 2.0 x 1, HDMI x 1, 3.5mm audio jack, and one charging port (on the right side). Wireless connectivity features include Dual-Band Wi-Fi (802.11 ac, 2x2) and Bluetooth v5.0.

Performance
Under-the-hood, Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition runs Microsoft Windows 10 Home edition and I am happy to note that, unlike the Xiaomi phones, which come with lots of bloatware, the laptop has only two-- Mi Blaze Unlock and Mi Smart Share. The former helps users with Mi Band 3 and later versions to unlock the device without any hassle. The latter application, as the name suggests, will help in sharing files between Mi NoteBook 14 (HE) and other devices wirelessly faster.

Xiaomi laptop owners will also get a one-month free subscription to the Microsoft Office suite of apps.

The Mi NoteBook Horizon Edition is being offered in two 10th Gen Intel chipsets-- Core i7 and Core 5. Our review unit is powered by the latter. 
The Intel Core i5-10210U quad-core has a normal clock speed of 1.6Ghz and can reach a peak speed of 4.2GH with a turbo boost. It is backed by NVIDIA GeForce MX350 with 2GB GGGR5 VRAM. Users can press Fn+K keys simultaneously to boot the computer to performance mode and switch back to silent mode by pressing the same keys again.

In terms of real-world performance, it was able to work smoothly and with less noise even when I had opened more than 20 tabs on the Chrome browser app. Even while watching high-resolution movies streamed on OTT websites, it did not show any sign of lag-ness.

If you are one, Mi NoteBook won't disappoint you. It supports some of the popular games in full HD (1080p) and HD (720p) including Grand Theft Auto 5, Fornite, CS: GO, Overwatch Rocket League, Forza Horizon 4, FIFA 20, Tomb Raider (original), and users will also be able to play the PUBG Lite, whenever it gets released again in India.


Some of the popular games compatible with Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition. Credit: Xiaomi

Xiaomi's Mi NoteBook does not come with an in-built camera, but the company is offering a plug-and-play USB web camera, which can be placed on top of the display. It does come off looking odd, but actually, I prefer this. Call me paranoid, but after watching the movie about the famed Edward Joseph Snowden, an American whistleblower who copied and released highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA). I have blocked the web camera view with an opaque cello tape on my personal PC.

In the future, if the system is compromised with malware and hackers can take over the built-in camera to track people. So, I am fine with Xiaomi's Mi NoteBook's missing out the camera gear.

"Only the paranoid survive."-- Harold Finch, Person of Interest.

If you haven't watched this TV series yet, get started now. It's one of the finest crime dramas.

Rest assured, the 720p HD camera offered by Xiaomi works well. You can do Zoom video calls, Google Meet, or any applications available in the market without any fuss.

Battery life
Besides the display, Mi NoteBook has the best battery life for a laptop. It consistently gave more than 10 hours. I usually work from 10:30 am and 6:30 pm and will be always on internet either working on articles or going through social media sites for the latest news or do research on a topic. The Mi NoteBook, once fully charged, always gave me more than a day and half of battery life.


Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

It should be noted that if you binge-watch on high-resolution videos, don's expect Mi NoteBook or any similar device from a different brand to offer similar battery life. 
Also, the Mi NoteBook powers up really fast thanks to the 65W charger. It took only a little over an hour to fully charge from zero to 100%.

Final thoughts
As a journalist, I usually work on basic applications just to write stories. Also, I open a lot of tabs most often to do research and also read good articles in my free time. This Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition unit never let me down during the entire time I spent working on it

To sum up, the Mi NoteBook Horizon Edition is a well-rounded laptop. It is packed with the right hardware configuration for a normal home laptop that can also help to do job-related work such as creating presentations. It is also a good companion for children and even professional college students to do projects. 

Pros:
Excellent display for a laptop in its class
Good PC configuration for its price, but the company should have provided the option to upgrade RAM capacity

Cons:
No backlit keyboard
No inbuilt camera, but this is not a deal-breaker, as the company is offering attachable web camera with retail package free of cost

Xiaomi Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition comes in Mercury Grey colour at a starting price of Rs 50,999 on Mi.com, Mi Homes, Amazon and offline retail partners.

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