Don’t call it a MacBook: The Mi Notebook Air is Xiaomi’s first laptop

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This is the first laptop computer from Xiaomi, the Chinese company that’s more often associated with smartphones, and for its Apple-like approach to design and branding. It’s no surprise then that the laptop is called the Mi Notebook Air, comes in two compact sizes, and has a sleek body made from a lightweight metal. However, to pass the Mi Notebook Air off as another bland imitator could be an injustice.

There are two models, one with a 13.3-inch display, and the other measuring 12.5-inches. There is a considerable difference between the two, so we’ll take a look at the more capable 13.3-inch version first. Windows 10 Home is its operating system, and an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with a Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics chip provides the power, along with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of super fast SSD storage.

Related: Xiaomi plans Experience Center retail stores, in shift from online-only strategy

The Mi Notebook Air measures just over 14mm thick all round, a few millimeters thinner than the same size MacBook Air, and weighs 1.2kg in total. The laminated screen has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and a tiny 5.5mm thick bezel, which still manages to conceal a single megapixel video chat cam. There’s a full-size keyboard to tap away on, each key is individually backlit, and on the side of the chassis you’ll find a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C charging socket, and an HDMI connection. The battery should return 9.5 hours of use, and will recharge to 50 percent capacity in just 30 minutes.

Interestingly, Xiaomi will release a series of stickers to cover the Mi Notebook Air’s lid, which has no branding on it at all, along with custom fit sleeves made from leather, imitation leather, or microfiber material. If you wear a Mi Band 2 fitness tracker, it can be linked up to unlock the laptop, which is fun. Available in either gold or silver, the 13.3-inch Mi Notebook Air, like many other Xiaomi products, is competitively priced at around $750.

The 12.5-inch Mi Notebook Air is even cheaper, costing the equivalent of $520, but it isn’t as impressive. The Intel Core i5 chip is replaced by a Core M3 and the RAM lowered to 4GB, while the SSD tops out at 128GB. Like the 13.3-inch model, there’s an expandable SSD slot alongside. The smaller screen shares the same resolution and edge-to-edge design, while the weight of the machine drops to 1.07kg, and it’s even thinner at 12.9mm. The lower spec means it’s more power efficient, and the battery will last just over 11 hours.

Xiaomi doesn’t actually build the new Mi Notebook Air laptops, and handed that task out to a company named Tianmi, the same strategy it employs with many of the products in its ever-expanding ecosystem, such as its bike and rice cooker. Revealed alongside the new Redmi Pro smartphone, the Mi Notebook Air laptops will be on sale in China at the beginning of August, but there’s no information they will ever be sold outside of Xiaomi’s regular territory.

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