The Xiaomi Book S should make it difficult for Windows convertibles

With the Xiaomi Book S, the Chinese tech giant is targeting Windows convertibles from Microsoft, among others. The Book S is an oversized tablet with Windows 11 and an optional keyboard. In this Xiaomi Book S preview we get a first impression of the device.

The Xiaomi Book S was presented today and will soon be released in the Netherlands for a suggested retail price of 700 euros. The optional keyboard costs another 150 euros. A stylus pen goes for 99 euros. It is remarkable that the convertible comes standard without a charger. It is available separately for 45 euros, but seems to be standard in the Netherlands. That would be logical because it is not common in our country to sell a laptop without a charger. Computer!Totaal was able to get started briefly with the Xiaomi Book S at a Xiaomi event in Paris.

Sturdy design with few connections

The first thing that stands out is the convertible’s mobility. The Book S has a large 12.4-inch screen, but is relatively handy with 720 grams. It remains a device to operate with two hands, but the convertible does not take up much space and weight in your bag. The thickness of the Book S is also well within limits at 9 millimeters. At first glance, the housing feels sturdy and offers space for a high-resolution webcam (Full-HD) with facial recognition. Also on the back is a camera (13 megapixels), the quality of which seems good enough to sporadically take a photo with a large tablet. The speakers of the tablet could not be tested properly in the busy exhibition hall.

The number of connections on the Book S is limited. One 3.5mm port for wired audio pass-through and one USB-C port that can charge the tablet and connect to a monitor. In the exhibition hall, the tablet is connected to a monitor via a USB-C cable to expand the image. This works smoothly.

A cover that snaps onto the back of the tablet feels luxurious like faux leather. It has a built-in kickstand to tilt the tablet. That is difficult and once the cover fell off the tablet just like that. Someone who has been using the Book S for some time says he recognizes this shortcoming.

The keyboard

The optional keyboard leaves a mostly good impression. The keys have a surprising amount of travel and tap away nicely. They do, however, have a rubbery impression, which makes them appear somewhat sticky. Not disturbing, but they are not smooth keys. The trackpad is spacious enough and works fine, at first glance. You click the keyboard onto the Book S via the magnetic connection. That works properly and the keyboard stays neatly ‘hanging’ when we lift the tablet.

The optional stylus pen was not available so we were unable to get an impression of it.

Mirror screen

The LCD screen has a 16:10 ratio, is touch sensitive and refreshes at only 60 Hz. Some premium Windows convertibles have a smoother 120Hz display. Competitive tablets from Samsung and Apple also have a 120Hz screen. The image resolution of the Book S is standard with 2560 x 1600 pixels and perfectly fine. What is striking in the brightly lit exhibition hall is that the screen reflects enormously – not handy. A layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protects the display against scratches and fall damage. Gorilla Glass 3 is an older glass type and some modern tablets have a newer, stronger glass type installed.

ARM chip must prove itself

The Xiaomi Book S does not contain a processor from AMD or Intel, but one from Qualcomm. This brand new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 chip is a 7nm processor that uses an ARM architecture. Xiaomi had a Qualcomm CEO on stage talk about how good this processor is, but refrained from (usually subjective) comparisons with other processors. An extensive review should show how powerful the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 is and whether Windows 11 runs optimally with an ARM chip. In any case, the Book S has sufficient working and storage memory (8 GB and 256 GB) to deliver a smooth user experience. In a short test with Windows programs and navigating browser tabs, the convertible runs like a charm.

Remarkably, the Xiaomi Book S has a card slot for an SD card so that you can increase the storage memory. Fine, but personally we would have preferred a SIM card slot to be able to use the internet everywhere with this tablet. Although, strangely enough, that is not possible at 5G speed, because the Book S supports 4G but not 5G. And that while the Qualcomm processor is suitable for it. The lack of 5G compatibility makes little difference in the Netherlands because the fast 3.5GHz frequency will not be available until the end of 2023 at the earliest, but in the long term it makes the Xiaomi Book S less complete than competitors with 5G support.

Battery life up to thirteen hours

According to Xiaomi, the battery of the Book S lasts up to thirteen hours with normal use. Of course, this cannot be tested during the short hands-on, so we will come back to that in the review. As mentioned, charging takes place via the USB-C port and goes with a maximum of 65 watts. That’s pretty smooth.

Windows 11 S

Windows 11 S is installed on the Xiaomi Book S. That is a more limited version of Windows 11, intended for devices with simpler specifications and/or with an ARM processor. If you find the S version too limited, you can usually switch to the regular Windows 11 Home software. It was not possible during the short test period to check whether the Xiaomi Book S also supports this, so we’ll get to that.

Preliminary conclusion

The Xiaomi Book S is a sturdy tablet with an optional keyboard that leaves a good impression. The screen looks sharp and colorful, but also reflects a lot, has a standard refresh rate and an older type of protective glass. The hardware makes us curious about an extensive test, because we would like to put the brand new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 processor to the test. Also to find out whether Xiaomi’s claimed battery life of thirteen hours is realistic under normal use. The suggested retail price of 700 euros (excluding keyboard and stylus pen) makes the Book S a direct alternative to the Microsoft Surface Go 3 with Intel Core i3 processor. Reviews call the slower processor and shorter battery life the biggest downsides of the Surface Go 3. It remains to be seen how Xiaomi’s convertible does in these areas and whether the company can offer a better overall package for the same money.

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