There are two ways to make a budget Windows tablet: use cheap current-gen components or build your tablet from older parts.
Chinese PC maker Chuwi has dabbled in both methods from time to time, but the company’s newest tablet takes the latter approach. The new Chuwi UBook X (2023) is a 12 inch Windows tablet with support for optional keyboard and digital pen accessories. And it’s powered by a 7-watt, 4-core, 8-thread Intel Core i5-1210Y processor, which was first released in 2019. The tablet has a list price of $440 for a model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but it’s currently on sale for $359.
That’s the price for just the tablet, but it only costs an extra $40 to get a bundle that includes a detachable keyboard and pressure-sensitive pen.
There’s also a new UBook XPro 2023 that appears to be nearly identical in most respects, but which comes with 512GB of storage and a slightly bigger battery (5,000 mAh). It’s currently on sale for $399 and up.
The Chuwi UBook X has a 2160 x 1440 pixel IPS LCD display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and up to 340 nits brightness, a 38 Wh battery, and a magnesium alloy & polycarbonate body that measures 292 x 208 x 9mm (11.5″ x 8.2″ x 0.4″) and weighs 810 grams (1.8 pounds).
It supports WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 and has a set of ports that includes:
- 1 x USB Type-C (for charging and data)
- 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A
- 1 x micro HDMI
- 1 x 3.5mm audio
- 1 x microSD card reader
Other features include 5MP rear and 2MP front-facing cameras and stereo 0.8W speakers. The tablet comes with a 12V/2A power supply.
The detachable keyboard can be connected to the bottom of the tablet via a set of pogo pins, and the UBook X has a built-in kickstand that lets you position the tablet at angles up to 145 degrees.
Meanwhile the optional pen is a Chuwi HiPen H7 stylus with support for up to 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
If the tablet has a weak point, it’s probably the processor, which is a technically a member of Intel’s 10th-gen mobile lineup, but instead of being part of the company’s Comet Lake family, the Core i5-1210Y chip is an Amber Lake-Y processor based on the same architecture as the older Core m3-8100Y and Core i5-8200Y, but featuring more CPU cores, more cache, and higher max frequencies.
Chuwi probably could have delivered similar performance with a current-gen Intel Processor N100 based on Alder Lake-N architecture, or significantly better performance with a higher-end Alder Lake-N chip like the Intel Core i3-N305.
Using a newer chip would have also allowed the company to include speedier memory: Alder Lake-N chips support LPDDR5-4800 memory, while the UBook X (2023) uses older, slower LPDDR3-1866 RAM.
Don’t get me wrong, I expect the UBook X Pro will probably deliver reasonably good performance for a sub-$400 Windows tablet. It just would have been nice if a 2023 tablet didn’t have 2019 specs.
I’m also not all that confident Chuwi’s tablet will be particularly competitive when it comes to battery life. While the Core i5-10210U is a low-power chip, some of other low-power Chuwi devices I’ve reviewed in recent years have suffered from shorter-than-expected battery life, suggesting they’re not particularly well optimized.