Chinese device maker Chuwi recently launched a 13.5 inch tablet with a Microsoft with a Microsoft Surface Book-like display and a 12.3 inch laptop with a Surface Pro 4-like screen.
So what’s next? How about two new tablets with distinctly Surface Pro-like designs.
Spotted by Notebook Italia at the Hong Kong Global Sources Fair, the Chuwi SurBook and SurBook mini certainly look like they fit on the Microsoft Surface family tree. But these two new tablets are likely to be a lot cheaper than Microsoft’s tablets… and less powerful too.
The larger tablet has a 12.3 inch, 2736 x 1824 pixel display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, just like the Surface Pro 4. And it has a built-in kickstand, designed to prop up the tablet when you’re using it with a keyboard, just like every Surface tablet released to date.
But while Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 tablets feature Core M or Core i chips, the Chuwi SurBook is powered by an Intel Celeron N3450 quad-core Apollo Lake processor. That should make it both cheaper and slower than a Surface Pro.
The good news is that it has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but the SurBook has eMMC 5.0 storage, which is slower than the PCIe storage Microsoft uses.
Other features for the 12.3 inch model include a microSD card slot, a 5MP rear camera, a 2MP front camera, a USB Type-C port, mini HDMI port, 3.5mm headset jack, full-sized USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, and 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Chuwi SurBook mini
Chuwi’s smaller model has a 10.5 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and the same Celeron N3450 processor and 6GB of LPDDR3 memory as its big sibling.
Like the SurBook, the smaller mini has an adjustable kickstand and uses eMMC 5.0 storage, but this model has just 64GB.
Other features include mini HDMI, 3.5mm audio, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports, and the same front and rear cameras and wireless capabilities as the larger version.
Surface-like… but different
One of the key differences between these tablets and Microsoft’s is the choice of a lower-power processor. That should help keep the price low while offering support for HD video playback and basic computing tasks.
But there’s another thing that sets these models apart from Microsoft’s tablets: Notebook Italia reports Chuwi plans to offer models with Windows 10 and/or Ubuntu Linux. For obvious reasons Microsoft only offers its tablets with Windows.
It’s also worth noting that it’s been a while since Microsoft has updated its Surface tablet lineup. The company will probably introduce new models this year, although it’s unclear if Microsoft has a new small-screen model on the way. The 12.3 inch Surface Pro got an update last year, but the last time the company introduced a new model with a sub-11 inch screen was 2015.
When can I buy one?
Chuwi plans to run a crowdfunding campaign for the SurBook in May, but pricing and the final ship date haven’t been announced yet.
Still, given Chuwi’s track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if the tablet goes on sale in China shortly after the launch of the crowdfunding campaign.