We’re already well acquainted with the mobile phones that Xiaomi has brought to South Africa over the last 12 months, and for the most part, we quite like them. So when we learned the firm was bringing its “affordable style” philosophy to notebooks, we had to check it out.

In Johannesburg this afternoon we had the chance to play around with the 12.5inch version of the Mi Notebook Air, and summing up our first impressions is simple; wow.

Yes, it looks a lot like an Apple Macbook, but then what doesn’t these days? It could just as easily be a Dell XPS 13 in disguise. It’s a straightforward and minimal design in ubiquitous aluminium.

Over on the right hand side there’s USB Type C and USB 3.0 ports, while an HDMI 2.0 and 3.5mm jack find a home to the left. It’s a bit tight: we would have loved to see at least one more USB port but we’ll just bite our tongues given Apple’s recent ravaging of input options.

Though when you think about it why would they? The notebook is light and not once while holding it and examining every inch of its brushed aluminum body did we think “hmmm, perhaps they could have shaved a few more grams by getting rid of the HDMI port.”

It’s aiming for ultra-portable, though, as the Intel Core-M processor and mere 4GB RAM attest. That’s not much RAM by modern standards, but should be enough for regular workloads outside of video editing and the like. We’re not expecting it to be much for games, either.

Something that came as a bit of a surprise to us is how┬árobust the battery appears to be. The notebook we were playing around with as sitting at around 86% charge and still reported that it had over eight and a half hours of life in it. Yes, the specifications are low and surely won’t draw much power but goodness gracious that’s a crazy battery. When the Notebook Air is running low on battery users can power it back up again via the USB Type C port.

The keyboard is incredibly comfortable and it lights up when you start typing. The touch pad also support multi-touch.
The keyboard is incredibly comfortable and it lights up when you start typing. The touch pad also support multi-touch.

The big question however is price. Sadly we don’t have an exact price to give and given the volatile nature of the rand we’ll wait until Xiaomi gives us something concrete. If you want to get an idea of how much you’ll have to shell out the Mi Notebook Air, it’s listed at $879 on Nis Store though you will need to add in the cost of importing products into South Africa. We’ll keep you posted on that.

Mi Notebook Air Specs

Dimensions 292 x 202 x 12.9mm

Weight 1.07kg

Display 12.5inch 1920 x 1080

CPU Intel Core m3-6Y30 (Base clock 0.09GHz and Turbo clock 1.51GHz)

RAM 4GB

GPU Intel HD Graphics 515

Storage 128GB SSD

Camera 1MP

Audio AKG customised dual speaker array

Input/Output HDMI, USB Type C, USB 3.0, 3.5mm audio jack

WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac

Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1

Battery 600Wh

Price TBC