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The Surface Pro 4 is iterative in the best sense of the word
Has Microsoft at last crafted a tablet that can reasonably, without considerable compromise, replace your laptop? Short of going back to the drawing board on the battery, this looks as close as it's going to get.
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Rumours about Xiaomi, the big Chinese smartphone vendor, launching a laptop have been going around for a few months already. Turns out that the company had not one, but two laptops in the pipeline.
Xiaomi is known for producing very nice looking smartphones for not a lot of money, the Mi5 being an excellent example of what the company can achieve, so anything emerging from its design team is likely to get heads turning.
And this was the case when the Xiaomi Air 12 and its bigger brother, the Xiaomi Air 13, were launched in August 2016. Both of them have an air of familiarity that can’t merely be coincidental.
Even the name alludes to another laptop produced by a firm based in Cupertino, California – the MacBook Air is the model we’re referring to and there are a lot of similarities here as we’ll find out.
Note that the Xiaomi Air 12 was sent to us by Gearbest and costs £471 ($590 for the US, which is around AU$780) at the time of writing. Because it caters for a Chinese audience only, everything is Chinese-focused including the plug and the accompanying literature.
It’s worth noting as well that the laptop currently comes with Windows 10 Home Edition (Chinese version) – Gearbest optionally offers a trial version (non-activated) Windows 10 HE allowing you to buy a license. This isn’t ideal as it adds to the cost of the machine.
Also if you’re thinking of a purchase, we strongly advise you to read our article on the pros and cons of buying from Chinese retailers (and generally speaking, outside of the UK).
The next thing you’ll notice is that the box contains a charger, an envelope and a laptop; nothing else. The 45W white charger is very much MacBook-esque with the plug and the power supply unit integrated as one.
That’s all good and well, but just bear in mind that you will need clearance around the power socket as the charger is a tad bulky. And you will need an adaptor to use it outside China. The cable, which is a USB Type-C affair, is about 150cm long, another point to bear in mind.
As for the Xiaomi Air 12 itself, the laptop looks like a metallic roof tile, almost uniform in thickness and, surprise, surprise, devoid of any logo or logotype on the cover.
At 292 x 202 x 12.9mm, it is smaller than an A4 sheet and its thickness is reasonable for a device of this size. Its weight – 1.08kg – puts it bang in between Apple’s MacBook and the Dell XPS 13.