Chuwi released the Chuwi Hi13 between spring and summer, so now that I’ve been using mine for two months, I thought it was time for a long term Chuwi Hi13 review of both the tablet and the optional pen and keyboard.
Chuwi Hi13 was launched for a price of $349, though it’s usually on sale for less than $300 even, and that’s what makes it such a good value and and interesting Windows 10 tablet or 2-in-1, since it has a large 13.5-inch screen with 3000 x 2000 resolution and active pen support, Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB RAM, USB C, and great Wi-Fi.
The specific model used in the Chuwi Hi13 review is this model, the Chuwi Hi13 (model number CWI534):
http://www.gearbest.com/tablet-pcs/pp_557447.html, together with the official pen and the keyboard dock. There’s a “Hi13KeyBd” coupon code for the keyboard by the way.
Chuwi Hi13 screen
The Chuwi Hi13 screen is already famous for being the same size and resolution as the 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000 resolution Surface Book. But the similarities actually extends even further since the displays are in fact the same displays from Panasonic. The difference is that the Surface Book has a fully laminated display with Gorilla Glass.
But other than that the Chuwi Hi13 display looks the same, and even outputs a little higher brightness, at between 490 to 500 nits on full brightness. This enables the tablet to be used outdoors, and not just on the terrace either.
So with Chuwi Hi13 having a high 6 million pixels resolution, both text and images are sharp with very good contrast and deep black, and it has 100% sRGB which gives it great color accuracy too, making it great to view photographs on. And it’s delivered with a screen protector too. The touchscreen is smooth to touch and swipe, and the 10-point touchscreen is accurate, responsive, and also has palm rejection and support for the active digitizer Chuwi Hi13 pen, called HiPen H3.
The 3:2 screen ratio is a big part of this tablet too, which is the preferred ratio for many uses, especially on a large tablet, which together with the pen can give the tablet that “clipboard” functionality that was incorporated into the design of the Surface Book. Reading PDF files or using Flipboard in portrait mode is great on this tablet because of it.
Chuwi Hi13 build quality and design
The Chuwi Hi13 tablet is covered by an all-metal unibody built by a CNC proess, and features carved edges that brings out the silver shine around the edges of the tablet and around the trackpad/touchpad of the keyboard dock as well. The tablet is 9.2mm thick and feel comfortable to hold and use, with no unneccessary edges sticking out. As a 13.5-inch tablet it is heavier than other tablets of course, with the tablet weighing 1084 grams in my measurement. The optional keyboard weighs 894 grams, and the HiPen 13 weighs 21 grams (with the battery included). One of the reasons it weighs more than a Surface Book, is because Chuwi Hi13 has a much larger battery in the tablet than a Surface Book does.
A Surface Book only has a 18Wh battery in the tablet, with the rest of the battery in the keyboard dock, while the Chuwi Hi13 has more than twice the battery at 37Wh in the tablet, with no battery in the keyboard.
Around the bezel this Windows tablet has a charging/power indicator, a light sensor, a 2MP front camera, and a Windows Home button. And on the back it has another 5MP camera, while on the sides of the tablet, there are 4 speakers, making this one of the rare few quad-speaker tablets, along with an on/off and wake/sleep button, a volume rocker, a a USB 3.0 Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a micro-HDMI port, a micro-USB port, and a microSD card slot with support for memory cards up to 128GB.
Underneath there are two magnetic slots that attaches the tablet to the optional keyboard dock with additional magnets that are strong enough to keep safely in place, along with the gold covered pogo pins the transfers data between the tablet and the keyboard. The HiPen 13 pen or stylus can also be attached magnetically to the side of the tablet, which provides that full clipboard mode and functionality.
Chuwi Hi13 keyboard
The Chuwi Hi13 keyboard dock is a 6 row full-size keyboard with precise keys. There is much less wiggle on the keys than is typical on laptops and 2-in-1 keyboards these day, so that makes typing with confidence easier. The keyboard is covered with metal on top, and plastic underneath with 4 rubber feet that prevents it from sliding. Because there isn’t much inside they keyboard, unlike what would be the case on a laptop, and because the keys are firm, the keys in the middle can produce a little “thumping” sound if you “thump” the keys to write fast.
The keyboard overall is stiff and rigid, which is not always the case with 2-in-1 keyboards, especially the larger ones, so that’s good. There is no flexing to talk of. The angle of the keyboard is also higher at the hinges than at the front, so that the keyboard slopes towards the user, making typing more comfortable and ergonomic.
There’s a full-size USB 2.0 port on each side of the keyboard, and a large touchpad/trackpad that has left and right click mouse buttons integrated, with a nice silver carving lining the trackpad. The touchpad/trackpad also has gesture support. The keyboard has 6 low rubber protection pads that protects the display when the tablet and keyboard is closed together, and as a part of the power management it also has auto sleep/wake features that are activated when the tablet is being closed or opened.
They Chuwi Hi13 keyboard also compliments the tablet esthetically too, both when it’s opened and closed, and you can tell that they go together, and that it’s not just some generic keyboard added.
There are top row shortcuts for the speakers, media player, search, email, connected devices, settings, sharing, and screen brightness. And there are two LED indicator lights, indicating the Power On and Caps Lock.
Even when the tablet is attached to the keyboard dock and bent back as far as you can at the 120 degree maximum angle, the tablet still won’t tip over when you touch the screen. You can reverse the keyboard too, and set up the tablet and keyboard in a 2-in-1 tent mode or stand mode. And while the keys won’t work in reverse mode, the two USB ports on the keyboard will still work in reverse mode.
Chuwi Hi13 pen – HiPen H3
The active digitizer/active stylus is one of the other main features that makes the Chuwi Hi13 stand out. The HiPen H3 is is a proper active pen with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and of course accompanying palm rejection features and Windows Ink ready on the tablet with Goodix active pen technologies. The pen weighs 15 grams without the battery, and 21 grams with the battery, and the 1.5V AAAA battery is included in the protective box with the pen.
Chuwi made the HiPen H3 pen for the Chuwi Hi13, and it can be attached to the tablet magnetically on the side, and it attaches well too, so that it won’t fall off even if the HiPen H3 is attached underneath the tablet if you are walking with it. But the pen also has a regular clip on attachment if you want to attach it somewhere else.
The pen is 0.95mm in diameter and 15cm long, with two integrated buttons. Only one of the buttons are programmed with most apps, where clicking the button makes the pen function as an eraser.
The Chuwi HiPen H3 pen tip is 2mm thick, and the nib of the pen is more plasticy than rubbery, so it would be slower and require more drag if it had been more rubbery. The Surface Pen on the Surface Book is more rubbery. There are a few screen protectors that can be bought to induce the “pencil” feel though, which is somewhat a matter of preference.
Personally I haven’t used the included screen protector from Chuwi during the test, and the pen haven’t scratched the display. The friction between a pen tip and the display is sometimes affected by temperature, and the Chui H3 pen is no different. This means that if the tablet and pen is warmer than normal on a hot summer day, then the tip of the pen will feel more rubbery than if both items are colder, like on a cold morning, when the tip of the pen will feel a little harder.
The pen can be tilted and will write down to about 30 degree angles. The palm rejection works as it should, and can also be turned on/off in the Windows settings. The active pen is precise, and the sensitivity levels accurate in all the apps I’ve tried it in, though it’s primary function is probably still sketching, annotations, math, and charts, not ultra precise drawings. Though with the right apps, it can be used for professional art and architectural drawings too where there is software correction.
Is the sidestepping and stairstepping normal? To me it feels like both are at normal levels for active digitizers, but then again I don’t draw professionally, so I drew up a test using a physical ruler, compared to the built-in ruler in a graphics and pen app. As we see, the diagonal lines step a little more outside the course than the horizontal and vertical lines when using a physical ruler.
Tracking is decent, but because the screen isn’t fully laminated, there is a tiny gap between then tip of the pen and the pen input whenever you hold the pen at an angle. Of course, to compensate for that, you can chose between left hand or right hand tilt in settings. You can also decide in Windows pen settings if you want the tracking cursor to appear or not, which will show you where the precise input is, and it appears already from 2mm hover before you touch the screen with the pen.
The pen is normal fast in light apps, and it’s only if you run deep into RAM chugging photoshopping that ms of lag comes to show a little on fast drawing.
This is a low energy device, so the stated battery life for the HiPen H3 is 300 hours of continued use, or 1 hour of use each day for 10 months before the AAAA battery needs to be changed. So naturally I haven’t been able to use up all the battery yet for this Chuwi Hi13 test.
The Chuwi HiPen H3 is only one part of the equation, with the other being the apps. The Chuwi Hi13 tablet comes preloaded with Windows Ink and additional Pen settings in Windows 10, which on tablets is exclusive to Widows 10 tablets with active digitizer support.
An active digitizer pen can be used as a mouse too, and not just to write and draw with. But other uses outside of apps, can be something like handwritten search in Google, where handwriting will be converted into text for the search engine in real time.
Chuwi Hi13 speakers and sound
The quad speakers, or 4 speakers in other words, can be loud on all max audio settings, so the sound volume is good. The speakers pick up all normal audible music frequencies, including bass, but these are still tablet speakers, so while the pickup and output of bass is there, the actual output of bass is of course very low compared to large speakers in stereo systems. But the sound is otherwise pleasant and very clear, which is noticeable on vocals and high quality audio, and sometimes in gaming.
This is also helped by there being 4 separate speakers on the sides, with 2 on the left side and 2 on the right side, which creates a more immersive and life-like sound than just a two speaker tablet.
There’s no hiss from either the speakers or when used with the headphones through the 3.5mm audio jack.
The built-in microphone leaves a lot to be desired though. It sounds a lot like talking into an aluminum soda can. Maybe this can be fixed with a software update, but until then, the microphone sound is not good. (I’ve asked Chuwi about it, and will update if something changes.)
Chuwi Hi13 cameras
The cameras are tablet cameras, and as such do not deliver DSLR image quality. This tablet has a 2MP front camera that can film/stream up to 1280 x 720 in resolution, and a 5MP rear camera with auto focus that can record Full HD video at 1920 x 1080 resolution. The front camera is OK for video chats, as long as you set up the light beforehand, since it is prone to overexposure, and needs 2-3 seconds to adjust to the correct color. The rear camera is prone to the same overexposure. The only upside to this is that they actually do better than average in low lit conditions, and the pictures will be softened and not as grainy as tablet cameras often are in low light conditions.
The 5MP rear camera, tested twice here in the photos underneath, is useful for text documents though, so if you need to copy some pages of a magazine or document, the cameras can be used with apps like Office Lens, or photo-to-text apps.
Chuwi Hi 13 performance
The Chuwi Hi13 is powered by the new fanless 14nm quad-core Intel Celeron N3450 “Apollo Lake” processor at frequencies from 1.1 GHz and up to 2.2 GHz in Turbo Boost mode, with a 12-core Intel HD 500 GPU, 64GB of Samsung eMMC storage (with 43GB free since Windows 10 is installed), and 4GB of (1600 MHz) LPDDR3 RAM.
Overall the Chuwi Hi13 is performing really well, generally feeling fast and like it’s always ready to go and do more and new things. That’s always an important feel of any computer device.
And there’s few reasons for that. One of the first reasons has to do with the architecture of the Intel Celeron N3450 processor, which is one of the newest processors you can get in a Windows 10 tablet right now, as an allround processor meant to perform well in the most important everyday tasks that people have right now. Chuwi Hi13 also has dual-channel RAM as opposed to single-channel RAM which helps with performance and multi-tasking.
But another and even more positive reason is that Chuwi, Microsoft, and American Megatrends who have written the BIOS/firmware for the Chuwi Hi13 together, have set up up the processor, GPU, and RAM differently than what would be normal because of the 3000 x 2000 display resolution, and to make sure that the very large resolution doesn’t slow down the performance of the tablet overall by dedicating 615MB of the RAM to the GPU.
This means we can do a surprising degree of gaming on this tablet at high frame rates too, even though lowering the resolution when gaming to HD or Full HD is of course necessary if you want 30fps. Gaming is after all the most demanding of all computer tasks for any computer. The tablet has been set up so that it will handle more games than what should be expected like some first person shooter games, but at the same time Chuwi had to consider the temperature too since this is a fanless tablet. So it can perform, but Chuwi also decided to stay on the safe and not let the tablet become too warm during gaming, with a more than large enough copper heatsink dissipating any heat from the main hardware.
With the large beautiful screen, adventure games are amazing to play on this tablet though, and so are a some simulators and strategy games.
Traders and people in business and finance will like the large screen that can stream 4 live charts or more from the financial markets at once, as it can run multiple live charts smoothly.
The load time for small PDF files is 1-2 seconds in Edge, while a very large 100mb PDF file takes around 5 1/2 seconds to load fully in Edge, or just 2 1/2 seconds in Adobe Reader Touch.
Chuwi doesn’t seem to mention this in their specifications list, but the specs also includes TPM 2.0, accelerometer, and ambient light sensor.
Chuwi Hi13 benchmarks
With the Chuwi Hi13 in performance mode, the benchmark score is over 1400 in single-core in Geekbench 4, with over 4000 in multi-core score. If you switch to battery saver mode in the settings, the single-core score will average around 1250, and the multi-core score average around 3350.
The Samsung eMMC storage is fast, as you can see in the benchmark below, providing great read and write speeds on the memory. And the read and write speeds are as fast as they get for the microSD card that supports memory cards up to 128GB, and the transfer speeds are at full speed for the USB 3.0 Type-C port too, if you want to add storage in form of USB memory sticks or an external hard drive.
Chuwi Hi13 Wi-Fi
The Chuwi Hi13 Wi-Fi is a fast Intel dual-band AC 3165 chipset, meaning complete Wi-Fi cover with dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi support, and dual-antennas as well. The Wi-Fi has a maximum speed of 433Mb/s, and the speed and stability are great, with the range being good.
There’s nearly no bandwidth loss through a regular concrete wall, or when using it outside on the terrace, but the bandwidth will drop if I am 3 rooms away from the Wi-Fi router, or far away outside. But even 3 rooms away on a different floor, the bandwidth is still enough to stream high quality videos at Full HD or 4K. Any further away than that and the bandwidth drops too much. It may still keep the connection, but it will then start to be out of range.
The stability of the Wi-Fi is very good, and it does a good job of keeping and staying smoothly connected all the time.
Chuwi Hi13 battery life
With this 3000 x 2000 resolution tablet being the kind of multi-ability tablet that it is, the battery life depends a lot on the type of use, so here are the Chuwi HI13 battery life averages that I’ve experienced over the last month.
In high performance mode, with 100% screen brightness, the Wi-Fi on while browsing and constantly live-streaming high quality video at 40% audio volume in Edge, with the tablet connected to the keyboard dock, then the battery life will come out at just over 4 hours.
Lowering the brightness from 100% to 50% in this case will increase the battery life with about 50%, or to over 6 hours. And with nearly 500 nits brightness at maximum, you can turn down the brightness on most occasions, as the brightness is good in ordinary situations at between 40% and 80% brightness.
Browsing websites gives it a longer battery life on average, with 5 hours on 100% brightness. Gaming creates the worst battery life, from 3-4 hours down to 1.5 hours depending on how hard you want to press the tablet with graphic intensive frame rates and resolution. Watching downloaded movies can provide some of the best battery life, at 6-7 hours.
Connecting it to Bluetooth speakers, or running IM apps, email, and similar programs that keeps the tablet constantly connected to the Wi-Fi doesn’t seem to be as hard on the battery life as was the case with older processors and Wi-Fi chipsets, so that’s a modern improvement.
In that scenario, if that’s the main use one some days, I may be able to get an almost 8 hour battery life from it if I set the brightness to 40% or less.
Drawing with the pen, but keeping the Wi-Fi on, gives it a 5 hour battery life at 75% brightness.
But overall, despite the 37Wh/10 000 mAh battery, I feel it still could have done with a larger battery.
Chuwi Hi13 charging and power
From default settings it will power off once battery life goes down to 5%. A full charge from there takes me 3 hours and 25-30 minutes from the included 12V/2A power outlet to USB C power adapter (the cable is about 235cm long). If I use the tablet half of the time during charging, a full charge may take around 3 hours and 50 minutes instead
When the Chuwi Hi13 is plugged into the charger, then once at 100% charge it will stay at 100% when it’s in use, even in performance mode with the screen brightness set to 100%. Although this could drop if anyone does the most intense gaming.
This tablet also comes with an additional USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable if you want to charge it with a mobile power bank, in your car, or other USB outlets.
When Chuwi came out with this tablet I was initially very skeptical, but after using it for a while I have to admit I’m impressed by its abilities. It can’t compete with Surface Book on power, but instead offers better value for money as a large Windows 10 2-in-1 tablet with an amazing display.
It weighs more than a Surface Book, battery life could have been better, and the microphone is poor. The hardware power is there to do most things apart from heavy games or heavy video editing. So if you have some favorite software you want to run, check the hardware requirements of them before buying a new device. Otherwise this is the snappiest tablet in the class and price range.
Photographers that wants to view their images on a large screen while on the job, musicians, traders, small business owners, interior designers that wants to knock down walls and expand rooms in architecture apps on a large tablet, artistic, creative, and productive people may all be interested in this large tablet, unless they need the power of an Intel Core processor instead.
– Tom Bowen