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I’m a little bit in love this morning.
For a limited time, and while supplies last (at press time, inventory showed 161 pieces remaining), GearBest has the Chuwi LapBook Air 14.1-inch Windows laptop for $379.99, plus $1.64 for shipping. (Pro tip: BeFrugal users can score an additional 6 percent cash back! New to BeFrugal? Get an additional $10 back when you sign up via this link.)
If you miss it, there’s another option: Starting Saturday (Nov. 11), Aliexpress will have the LapBook Air for $399.99 shipped, a price that includes a laptop bag. (Pro tip: Here, BeFrugal users can score 4 percent back.)
Chuwi? It’s a Chinese brand that makes some pretty snazzy gear. LapBook Air? Yep, it’s a MacBook Air lookalike that runs Windows and costs significantly less than a MacBook Air.
Is it as powerful? No. Will it get the job done for a lot of people? Yes, indeedy. The LapBook runs on Intel’s Apollo Lake N3450 processor, a modern chip but decidedly entry-level. Thankfully, it also comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage — and has two USB 3.0 ports, a microSD slot and mini-HDMI-out, ahem.
The screen spans 14.1 inches, but as a whole the system is actually a bit smaller than the 13.3-inch Asus Ultrabook I use daily. That’s because there’s a lot less bezel around the display. Chuwi also managed to include dedicated Home, End, PgUp and PgDn keys — full-size ones at that. Speaking of the keyboard, which I found excellent, it offers one-level backlighting — impressive given the price.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I recently got a little hands-on time with the LapBook. For starters, it’s a looker: super-thin, metal everywhere, bright HD display. It looks like it should cost a lot more. As for performance, that can be hard to gauge, but I loaded half a dozen content-heavy tabs in Google Chrome and scrolling remained silky-smooth. (YMMV.)
CNET hasn’t reviewed it, so let me steer you to this ZDNet review. It’s very favorable overall. The big ding is the lack of a touchscreen. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest: My Asus has one; I never touch it.
Indeed, I have only one real problem with the LapBook Air, and that’s its point of origin…
A country far, far away…
Whether you order from Aliexpress or GearBest, this laptop will be coming from Asia — slowly, unless you pay for upgraded shipping. If you need to return or replace it, that may pose some challenges. (The ZDNet review notes, “It is prohibited to send lithium ion batteries through the mail to China and Hong Kong. This means that you cannot return the item if anything goes wrong.” I’ve never heard this before, and I could find nothing online to bear it out — but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.)
Both stores mention a one-year repair warranty, meaning you’d likely be dealing with them rather than Chuwi — and Aliexpress, at the very least, has a US service center.
Another caveat: Support from Chuwi proper is strictly an online affair. If you run into issues, you can submit a ticket or seek help in online forums. But the Live Chat option merely takes you to Chuwi’s Twitter page.
So, what do you think? Too much hassle? Too much risk? I love the laptop itself, and it’s a pretty amazing deal. But I’m on the fence about recommending it. Let me hear your thoughts.
Bonus deal: Syberia ranks among the all-time great adventure games. It’s 15 years old, sure, but no less awesome now than it was in 2002.
It’s definitely cheaper: For a limited time, GOG has Syberia (for Windows and Mac) for free. Price elsewhere: $10-$13.
Bonus deal No. 2: Here’s a rerun of a deal from earlier this year: five Etekcity remote-controlled AC outlets for $21.48 when you apply promo code CNETCODE at checkout. Regular price: $30.
These are great for things like lamps, outdoor lights, even just turning off “vampire” appliances at night. You get two remotes that can pair with some or all of the outlets, and you can turn each outlet on or off with just the press of a button. (Missing but wanted: a universal on/off button.)
I’ve used these extensively (in escape rooms, as it happens), and they work extremely well. Once in a blue moon, a press doesn’t register — but then you press again and it does.