- The Mi Notebook 14 range of laptops from Xiaomi is a step below the Horizon Edition, and is priced more affordably too
- The 14-inch laptop comes powered by Intel’s 10th-gen Core i5 processor, and comes with SSD storage as standard
- The thin and light laptop offers smooth performance and great battery life
Design and display
The Mi Notebook 14 looks plain and simple, with hardly any design highlights to speak of. One of the reasons for this is that Xiaomi just refuses to put any branding on top of the lid. The silver-coloured device is slightly thicker, bigger and heavier than its Horizon Edition sibling, but still falls in the thin and light category. It tips the scales at 1.5Kg and features a 17.9mm thick metal unibody with anodised sandblasted coating that feels smooth to the touch, doesn’t smudge easily and lends it a sturdy build. On the flip side, the laptop doesn’t really pass the one-hand test and needs both hands to open. On offer are two USB 3.1 ports, a USB 2.0 port, one HDMI and a 3.5mm combo port for connecting a headset. The charger is the same brick that you get with the Horizon Edition, and it uses a barrel-type connector to latch on to the notebook. Unlike the Horizon Edition though, you don’t get a USB Type-C port on the regular version. The lack of an Ethernet port is par for the course, but I do miss a card reader. What I miss more is a built-in webcam, and just like the Horizon Edition, Xiaomi bundles an external webcam with this model too.
Open it though, and you’d be greeted by the 14-inch anti-glare display that offers full HD resolution. The bezels are a tad wider than those on the Horizon Edition, especially the one below the display. You’ll find Mi branding there, and on the lower half, the full-sized keyboard, along with a generously-proportioned trackpad. The IPS LCD display is pretty capable, with nice colours and ample brightness, though viewing it harsh sunlight can still be a bit of a problem. The viewing angles are fine though.The hinge also feels quite sturdy.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is pretty much the same as the one on the Horizon Edition. Which unfortunately means it lacks a backlight. Now this is a bit of a bummer, given how useful a backlit keyboard can be for working in dim light. However, depending upon your usage, you might not give it as much importance as I think it deserves. On the positive side, the keyboard is spacious and doesn’t feel cramped at all. The keys do feel slightly mushy though, and the tactile feedback isn’t as good as I’d have preferred, but maybe that’s just a niggle. The important part is that it didn’t me long to get used to the keyboard, and I found my fingers flying on it very quickly.
The large touchpad works smoothly too, and there’s ample space on either side for your palms to rest comfortably on. A small point to note is that on this model, the trackpad is placed slightly off centre towards the left, unlike the Horizon Edition. The cooling vents are on the bottom, and the pair of 2W speakers are bottom firing as well. The latter are placed slightly towards the sides, closer to the curves of the frame so as to avoid muffling the sound. However, it does tend to get muffled somewhat. The audio quality seems acceptable though.
Performance and battery
With the battery mode set to balanced and usage as described above, I got almost a full day’s use off a single charge. This is quite impressive, and I was pleasantly surprised at the battery life the Mi Notebook 14 is able to offer. Further, the bundled 65W charging brick juices it fully in just about an hour and 20 minutes, which is extremely useful too.
My review unit is the top model in Xiaomi’s Mi Notebook 14 range, priced at Rs 49,999. Brands like Lenovo and ASUS offer stiff competition in this price bracket. And while I think the Mi Noteboook 15 model I reviewed is a very compelling laptop for its price, the variants positioned slightly lower perhaps offer even better value for money. If you choose the same model without dedicated graphics, you’d end up shelling out Rs 46,999, and if you feel 256GB storage is enough for your requirements, the base model of the Mi Notebook 14 costs just Rs 43,999. And this is where the value proposition becomes quite hard to beat. While it could be too early to say how well Xiaomi is taking on the competition in the notebook segment, I think it has made a very strong entry with its debut set of devices.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Good build quality
- Smooth performance
- Great battery life and fast charging
- No built in webcam
- Keyboard isn’t backlit
- No SD card reader