May 24, 2024


Unlimited Technology

Much needed refresh to otherwise boring laptops

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden table: Mi Notebook Ultra

Mi Notebook Ultra

Xiaomi is scripting an amazing success story in India’s electronics industry. It started as a smartphone brand while many would have seen it doing well, almost no one would have bet on the company becoming so big. It was only this year when Xiaomi emerged as the number one smartphone brand in the world, beating big names like Apple and Samsung. It has already extended its dominance to other categories like smart TVs and fitness wearables. Laptops seem to be the next in line.

Xiaomi had launched its first set of laptops (Mi Notebook 14) last year and while they were impressive, we sought for more. The Mi Notebook Ultra, launched late month, seems to have got almost everything right and might be the refresh that was needed in an otherwise boring personal consumer PC segment dominated by the likes of Dell, HP and others.

I can’t be the only one to believe that laptops haven’t been as exciting as smartphones or audio devices in the last few years. There is little to no innovation and consumers are served with similar-looking and performing devices with just updated GPUs. Xiaomi (and Realme too) have made this category exciting once again.

The Mi Notebook Ultra is priced at Rs 59,999 for the entry variant. For that price, you get a large 15.6-inch display with high refresh rate, Intel Core processors, decent battery life and a slim form factor. I have used the laptop for nearly two weeks now and here is what I think of it.

Mi Notebook Ultra review: Design

Xiaomi has put in a lot of effort to ensure that the Mi Notebook Ultra gives you a premium look and experience. It’s almost like it wants the Mi Notebook to be the MacBook of the Windows world. And, steps have been taken in that direction too. It’s difficult to overlook the resemblance to Apple’s MacBook series with the Mi Notebook Ultra coming in a full metal body, grey colour scheme and even a similar-looking keyboard.

a laptop computer

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It’s not as portable as Apple laptops though. The Mi Notebook Ultra comes with a large screen which makes the machine huge. Despite that, Xiaomi has done well to keep the weight down to 1.7kgs, which is reasonable for a 15-inch laptop. The thickness has also been kept at 17.9mm. Overall, the laptop looks excellent, has solid build quality, and feels durable.

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden table

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Mi Notebook Ultra was launched in only one colour variant Lustrous Gray. The lid doesn’t catch too many fingerprint smudges but, isn’t completely immune to them either. The hinge is also very solid and takes both palms to open. Xiaomi has doubled the power button as the fingerprint scanner. It is responsive, but the implementation could have been better.

a close up of a keyboard

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There is also a backlit scissor keyboard which has three levels of brightness, along with 1.5mm of travel. The trackpad is also claimed to be 62 per cent larger compared to the previous Mi Notebook model and supports Windows gestures. It’s good but, doesn’t give you the same experience as an Apple MacBook.

Mi Notebook Ultra quick review: Display

Display is the biggest highlight of the Mi Notebook Ultra and gives it a real edge over competition. And, I give full marks to Xiaomi for making it so good. Only last month the company had launched the Redmibook series laptops and one of its biggest flaws was an average quality display. The Mi Notebook Ultra takes a huge leap in this department.

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden table

© Provided by India Today

It comes with a large 15.6-inch 3,200×2,000 pixels Mi-Truelife+ display with 16:10 aspect ratio, 90Hz refresh rate, 300 nits peak brightness, 100 percent sRGB coverage, TUV Rheinland low blue light certification, and DC dimming. Xiaomi has also kept the bezels quite thin, and you get an impressive screen-to-body ratio which is ideal for streaming content.

a man sitting in front of a flat screen tv

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The screen has sharp, has good viewing angles and impressive colour reproduction. The screen size is also ideal for playing games and for office work. Even content creators or editors who are on a tight budget or prefer Windows over macOS, can consider the Mi Notebook Ultra.

Mi Notebook Ultra quick review: Performance and audio

Xiaomi is giving plenty of configurations to choose from. The Mi 11 Ultra comes in two 11th Gen Intel Core processors – Core i5-11300H and Core i7-11370H. The price starts at Rs 59,999 and this configuration includes the Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM. You can also buy the Core i5 processor and 16GB of RAM variant at Rs 63,999, while the Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM model costs Rs 76,999.

a close up of electronics

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I used the laptop for about a week for usual office work and other stuff. This included replying to emails, working on Microsoft Word or Excel documents, streaming movies and shows on OTT platforms, playing music and to run games. The laptop handles all of these things seamlessly, and I didn’t face any performance related issues.

a flat screen tv sitting on top of a car

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One thing I wish that could have been better though is the audio output. The Mi Notebook Ultra comes with two 2W speakers with DTS Audio processing. The setup is very similar to what Xiaomi had used on the RedmiBook 15 Pro. However, for some reason, the Redmi laptop was louder than the new Mi Notebook.

Having said that, the speakers are still louder than what you get on most Windows laptops, including some premium ones.

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You get a full sized keyboard on the Mi Notebook Ultra which means that Xiaomi has gotten rid of a dedicated numpad. I have no issues with that. The keys have a good feedback and make no noise while typing. The backlighting used by Xiaomi is adjustable to two levels and is enough for working at the night.

The Connectivity options on the Mi NoteBook Ultra include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.1, a Thunderbolt 4 port, HDMI port, USB Type-C port, two USB Type-A ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a table

© Provided by India Today

Xiaomi has skipped the ethernet port on the Mi Notebook Ultra but, you get a built-in 720p webcam. This is again something that was missing on the previous generation laptop. Instead, Xiaomi was shipping the Mi Notebook 14 with a USB webcam.

Mi Notebook Ultra quick review: Battery

The Mi Notebook Ultra packs a 70Whr battery and Xiaomi claims that it can last for around 12-hours. I managed to get around eight to nine hours of battery with regular usage. That’s acceptable on an everyday laptop. The laptop supports USB Type-C charging with a 65W charger that comes inside the box. It should become the standard so that we don’t have to carry different chargers for all gadgets.

Mi Notebook Ultra: First impressions

In my initial impressions, I had said that the Mi Notebook Ultra seems like the most complete laptop from Xiaomi till now. I can further confirm that claim. Xiaomi has come up with a near-perfect everyday laptop, which gets most things right. It looks genuinely good, has a great display, delivers consistent performance, offers impressive battery life and above all, provides great value for your money.

That’s what the users get on this machine. But, if you look at the larger picture, the Mi Notebook Ultra will also force other laptop makers to up their game. We may see increased competition and better products in the coming months. At the end of the day, the consumers will benefit. In simpler words, the Mi Notebook Ultra could be to the laptop market what the Redmi Note series is to the smartphone market.

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