Which brings us to this article, an in-depth review of the Chuwi LarkBook, a 13-inch ultrabook that goes on sale in early 2021 for $399. Chewie sent us this device about a month ago. I’ve been using it ever since and have listed my thoughts on it below.
Long story short: This LarkBook excels in design, construction, screen, audio, and even inputs, but it’s powered by an older, low-power Intel platform, so it’s only suitable for light use, like normal browsing, text editing, and video streaming. It also has a fairly small battery by today’s standards and a keyboard with no backlight – all compromises you have to accept with a computer like this for less than $400.
Disclaimer : Chuwi sent us this laptop to test it and also to sponsor our news when they launch a new product. However, this article is not sponsored in any way, it contains my full and honest opinion of the product, and Chuwi gets no credit for what I share with you here, just like all the other comments on the site. For me alone, it’s perfectly clear!
|Chuwi LarkBook Ultrabook|
|show||13.3 inches, 16:9 aspect ratio, touch-sensitive, glossy
FHD 1920 x 1080 px IPS 60Hz, 90+% sRGB, 250 watts.
|Processor||Intel Celeron N4120, 4C/4T|
|Video||AMD Radeon Vega + Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q 35W 4 GB GDDR6 – with ActiveSync (??)|
|Memory||8 GB LPDDR4 2133 MHz (solder)|
|Storage||256GB SSD (Kingston RBUSNS8180S3256GJ), 2x M.2 2280 mSATA slots|
|Link||Wireless 5 (Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377) 2×2, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Ports||1x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-A 2.0, 1x USB-C 3.1 gen2 with data, DP 1.4 and charging, mini HDMI, micro SD card reader, earphone/microphone|
|Battery||Power drum adapter 33W, 24W, USB-C charging station|
|Size||307mm or 12.08 inches (W) x 201mm or 7.91 inches (D) x ~14mm or 0.55 inches (H)|
|Weight||1.08 kg + 0.13 kg per charger.|
|By the way..,||Unsynchronized keyboard, HD webcam and stereo microphones, four speakers|
Aluminum is used throughout the construction of this laptop, and it is of a much higher quality than I would have expected in this price range. The LarkBook case makes no bumping, folding or squeaking noises, and the matte surface is very comfortable.
In this dark grey colour, it also offers good protection against scratches and stains. The beveled edges will show some marks and bumps over time, especially on the clasp of your watch if, like me, you have your watch on all the time.
Again, branding is kept to a minimum: only a small Chuvi logo on the lid and the DTS logo on the armrest. They put the status LEDs under the screen, which I don’t like, but they are blue and dark and barely noticeable, even when watching movies in a dark room.
Design and manufacturing aside, I think it’s a handy notebook. Chuwi has attached small rubber feet to the bottom, which provide a good grip on the table. They also apply pressure to the screen so you can easily lift it, but you need to have both hands to do so as the hinges are quite stiff, at least on this new product. They keep the screen firmly in place and ensure that the screen does not flicker during daily use.
By the way, the screen is pretty flat, which is very important to me in a laptop, and covered with a protective glass layer, but it doesn’t stand up to touch.
Another aspect I should mention here is that the beveled aluminum edges are a bit sharp for my taste and can be aggressive on the wrist under certain circumstances. This didn’t bother me much, as the very thin profile of the laptop certainly adds to the overall user experience.
By the way, this LarkBook is compact, thin and light for an all-metal device of this finish quality. The fact that it only contains a small battery also contributes to this.
Ports include two USB-A slots on the side, a USB-C with data, video and charging, a microSD card reader and a mini-HDMI port, as well as an audio jack. The notebook charges through a standard charger with a DC-IN port on the left, but it also supports USB-C charging. I noticed that NBC claims this is not USB-C charging, but my device charges perfectly.
If you can forget that there’s no backlit keyboard here, typing on this LarkBook can rival that of much more expensive laptops.
The Chuwi offers a standard full-size layout and a robust typing experience, with just the right amount of movement, surprisingly good feedback and a quiet click. Strangely, the letters are not in the center of the buttons, but only slightly aligned at the left edge, and the tray with the input button is not in the upper right corner either. It’s no harder to press than the other keys and puts the notebook into sleep mode by default, so be sure to disable this feature.
I’ve typed a few thousand words on this keyboard, and I can say it’s better than many other Ultrabook keyboards available today. If I could find a match, I’d probably put it next to the keyboard of the 2017-2018 Acer Swift 3.
Although, as mentioned, it’s not a highlighter and that may be a breaking point for some of you.
The clickpad is a decent size and is made of plastic with a beveled edge on the surface. It is of robust construction and does not hit the taps. It is highly resistant to shocks, gestures and daily contact. It seems a bit slow though, even if you adjust the speed in the parameters, especially for precise movements. This contributes to the slight impression of sluggishness this notebook gives during daily use.
As for biometrics, there is no biometrics on this laptop.
That’s where most laptops come in on a compromised budget, but not so much with this LarkBook.
In our tests, Chuwi uses a thin IPS panel that offers average brightness and contrast levels, good viewing angles, and 90+% sRGB colors.
There’s no touchscreen support and the panel is covered in glass, so glare and glare will be a problem in bright conditions, but for indoor use it’s a good screen in a $400 laptop.
This is what we got in our tests with the X-Rite i1 Display Pro Matrix :
- Panel HardwareID : Manufacturer unknown, code M133X56 ;
- Coverage: 89.3% sRGB, 65.3% AdobeRGB, 71.2% DCI-P3 ;
- Measured range: 2.18 ;
- Maximum luminance at the center of the screen: 234.02 cd/m2 at power ;
- Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 6.52 cd/m2 at mains voltage ;
- Contrast at maximum brightness : 816:1 ;
- White dot: 7200 K ;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.28 cd/m2 ;
- PWM: Yes, 1 kHz.
Calibration is required to refer to the blue sloping white point. After calibration, we get an evenly lit/colored panel, but this process significantly affects the maximum brightness, which stops at less than 200 nits.
PWM is used to modulate brightness at any brightness below 100% on this panel, but at 1 KHz (source), higher than what most people would find annoying. I haven’t noticed any flicker when using the laptop, but I’m usually not sensitive to flicker anyway.
The Chuwi LarkBook is based on an Intel Celeron N4120 processor with 8GB LPDDR4 RAM and a 256GB SATA SSD (ready to go).
The Celeron processor is almost the Achilles heel of this laptop, as it performs sluggishly for a Windows laptop in this day and age. It’s a 4C/4T processor, but it’s designed with efficiency in mind and runs at a lower performance level than the more powerful Intel Core processors of recent years. Therefore, this LarkBook is only suitable for normal everyday use, such as light navigation with a few active tabs, streaming music or video, text editing, email, etc. Just make sure you keep multitasking under control and don’t worry about some slowness, because your actions won’t be instantaneous on this kind of material.
Well, I’m definitely biased because I’m used to much faster laptops and I can’t tolerate any slowdown on my laptop. Still, I’ve been using this computer to watch videos on Netflix and YouTube for the past few months, and even though it takes some time, the experience is very satisfying when it happens. Even 4K content on Youtube works fine on my device, with no interrupted images, but come on, why would I watch 4K clips on this device? The FHD is sufficient for a 13-inch screen.
The fact that this laptop is passively cooled, so is completely silent, adds to the experience. My unit has no electronic noise, but that’s no guarantee that yours will. Moreover, the laptop only gets warm during daily use, so temperature will never be an issue when working with this small device.
The speakers are adapted to this course. They get loud at a maximum of 80+ dB at head height, but at this level they lack bass and are slightly distorted, so you should keep them at a peak level of about 60%, which is good for everyday use.
Chuwi has also given this laptop a camera, at the top of the screen, where it should be. It’s a little dirty and overloaded, but it does what it’s supposed to do. The microphones are located on the main chassis above the keyboard. So don’t type during a conversation, otherwise they will catch a lot of chatter and drown out your voice.
I should add that my device had issues with slow wireless speeds with the default drivers. Chuwi’s website does not have a trial page for the LarkBook, but you can contact support via email ([email protected]) or via Facebook/Instagram. It’s not perfect and they still need to work on it to be more reliable in the eyes of potential customers, but I was still referred to a driver who solved all the problems for me. Oddly enough, it was an Intel driver, although the WiFi chip used is listed as Qualcomm QCA9377.
I won’t go into the performance figures now, as we do with most of the other laptops reviewed here, simply because this LarkBook doesn’t stand a chance against the modern platforms available today. It’s slow, especially when it comes to multi-wire workloads, so don’t understand it if you plan to manage anything other than the base itself.
I have posted some reference results for you below:
- PassMark 10: Score: 955 (CPU Score: 2775, 3D Graphics Score: 310, Player Score: 4461) ;
- CineBench R15 (best mileage) : CPU 227 kb, single-core CPU 73 kb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 259.35 sec.
For comparison, the Core i3 is the 10th generation. The new generation is 1.5 to 2 times faster for single and multi-wire workloads, and is also much more powerful in the graphics area.
I should add that Chuwi puts two SSD slots on this laptop, one of which is already filled with a 256GB mSATA drive and the other is easily accessible through the service bay on the back.
To gain access to the rest of the components, you need to remove the entire back panel, which is held in place by a series of screws, some of which are hidden under the rubber back legs. Chuwi also puts a warranty sticker on all screws, so I wouldn’t usually open the unit, it’s useless anyway since everything is welded.
There’s only a 34-watt battery on the side of this laptop, which is very small by today’s standards for a 13-inch device, so you can’t get much out of it even when combined with efficient hardware.
This is what we got on our test device in terms of battery life, with the screen brightness set to around 120 nits (~70 brightness).
- 7W (~4-5 hours of operation) – Google Drive text editing, 70% screen, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 5.5 W (~6 hours of operation) – Full screen 1080p YouTube video in Edge, screen set to 70%, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 5W (~6+ hours of use) – Netflix in full screen mode in Edge, 70% screen, Wi-Fi ON ;
- 9W (~2-4 hours of use) – Edge mode display, 70% screen, Wi-Fi ON.
Chuwi supplies the notebook with a compact 24 W charger, which connects via the socket input on the right side. Despite the small size of the battery, charging the laptop takes a long time – about 2 hours.
USB-C charging is also available via the USB-C port on the left edge.
The LarkBook is currently available in Chuwi’s online store for $399, and that’s exactly the version we tested here. Sometimes it costs less, with occasional discounts.
Chuwi also sells its products on Amazon, but this new laptop is not yet registered there.
As far as I know, they buy from China or from local warehouses in Europe (Spain?)/United Kingdom/United States. Don’t forget to ask where it comes from, as you may have to pay import duties if it comes from China. Shipping is free for orders over $150, via DHL/UPS, and you can pay by card or PayPal. I don’t normally add these details to our journals because you can find these other articles locally, but not in this case.
The laptop has a one-year warranty. Chuwi’s website states that you will need to send the device to their logistics centres in Spain/Hong Kong for any repairs, the cost of which will be borne by you, as the potential buyer. This should change, they should at least support shipping if the product fails during this year. Otherwise I would not want to buy from them, especially in this part of Europe where we are used to a standard 2 year warranty and a 14-30 day right to return the product without question in case of dissatisfaction.
Having used this laptop for the past two weeks, I get the impression that it’s a rather unbalanced combination of features that makes the LarkBook suitable only for a narrow niche of potential buyers: those who care a lot about the look and feel of their laptop on a day-to-day basis, but don’t have a lot of money to spend or expect much in the way of performance or even battery life.
And that’s because this notebook is far above its class in terms of build quality, materials and design, with no compromises on screen or inputs. However, it’s only based on Intel’s Gemini Lake R platform, which can barely handle the basic cores of a Windows laptop, so you can only do one thing with it: lightweight navigation, music/video streaming, text editing, and a little multitasking.
Furthermore, with only a 34-watt battery, the LarkBook only lasts 3 to 4 hours during the day and 5 to 7 hours during videos, which may be enough for some of you, but not others.
It’s available now on Chuwi’s website for $399. This is a competitive price for a new laptop of this type, even taking into account the lack of power and long battery life. I don’t know if this is the final price I will have to pay and if additional import duties will apply. The website says the laptop will be shipped by DHL, and I know they take care of all the import taxes at the destination, so you may end up paying more.
I also think Chuwi needs to work on the support, driver and warranty pages and make the information clearer for potential buyers, especially the part about the obligation to send the product to another country if it is defective during the one year warranty period and who has to pay for it. All of this together is a warning for someone like me, who is used to a more cumbersome and user-friendly shopping experience here in Europe. Of course, it doesn’t matter much if you buy the notebook from Amazon or another trusted local retailer, but right now the LarkBook isn’t available there.
So much for that article. I think the LarkBook is an interesting choice for $399 if you value a good compact laptop that you just want to use for everyday use. However, it would be more competitive with more modern devices, and I also think Chuwi needs to improve the shopping experience on its website to gain the trust of potential customers considering their products. What’s your opinion?
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Andrei Girbea, editor of Ultrabookreview.com. I have been involved in mobile computing since the 2000s, and you will find mostly reviews and detailed tutorials written by me here on the site.
From long stories with over 16 episodes with memorable characters, there’s nothing like a good Korean drama. There’s nothing like the sense of loss you feel when your favorite show ends.
Between the good, the bad and the ugly, there are some Korean dramas that stand the test of time and can be counted among the best ever. We will present and celebrate our favorite costumes and goosebumps!
Of course, you can send us your comments below if we’ve missed any notable entries, and we’ll be sure to look at them to see if they’re included.
The ReviewGeek team presents its picks (in no particular order!) for the best Korean horror dramas of all time.
Strangers From Hell
Divided into 10 episodes, Strangers From Hell is definitely a shorter offering than the usual 16 chapters of Korean dramas on the market. The story revolves around a boy named Jong-woo who moves to Seoul and finds himself abandoned and alone in an apartment building. Unfortunately, it is also shared by some rather scary and boring characters.
From Duk-Young, who laughs like crazy, to Nam-Bok, who is calm and reserved, every character around has a secret he keeps. Over the course of ten episodes we discover this secret and head towards a rather climatic and exciting finale.
Strangers From Hell isn’t particularly scary, but it is an engaging psychological thriller. There are some pretty gruesome scenes in the middle and a few really shocking segments. This is not for the weak, but should be enough to reach those who want a dose of fear and paranoia from their horror.
Read our thoughts on Strangers From Hell in our full season review here!
Beautifully made and steeped in Asian culture, the zombie action thriller Kingdom is a true thrill ride. Split into two seasons, Kingdom effortlessly combines political drama with a compelling action story filled with beautifully shot sets.
The story starts slow, with the first episode featuring the beautiful scenery of Hanyang, South Korea, as we travel back in time to the time of Joseon. Crown King Lee Chang is our protagonist, and while he fiercely argues with the Queen, Dr. Seo-Bi makes a macabre discovery in Jiulhong.
With Li Cheng by their side, the couple realizes that the dead are coming back to life and ruthlessly attacking the living. In the absence of weapons or modern armaments, much of the tension comes from the fact that these men and women must make do with the meager resources around them.
This is one of the few series that balances action and suspense perfectly. The second season only builds on this foundation, hinting at the prospect of a third season.
You can read our thoughts on the Kingdom in our full season reports here!
While it’s easy to see The Cursed as just another horror series, the mystery and ideas presented in this series are enough to make it as intriguing and compelling as ever.
The main plot revolves around Jin-hee, a journalist investigating a brutal case involving Forest, South Korea’s largest computer company. The president of this society is a shaman.
From there, the series manages to weave a nice link between mystery and horror, but it also has a knack for being a little slow at times. But if you can muster a little patience, this offers a fascinating story worth reading.
Goedam is a Korean horror anthology that uses references to folk tales and urban legends to create 8 episodes with varying degrees of horror. From the gruesome and macabre to the good old fear of twists, Goedam is a bit of a mixed bag, but his best offerings are definitely worth checking out.
These 8-15 minute episodes contain a lot of fascinating information, from the woman in the cleavage, the killer in the elevator, and the dead relatives who steal your soul while you sleep. We highly recommend Episodes 1, 2 and 6, but your favorites will probably be different.
Read our thoughts on Goedam in our full season review here!
Well written and undeniably terrifying, The Guest is an obsessive horror featuring an unconventional team, this time between three different characters. Hwa Pyung is a young psychic, born into a family of shamans, who discovers a powerful demon called Son (Guest). This demon has the power to control other demons and also to possess stupid people.
When this demon is at large, Hwa Pyung teams up with Choi Yoon, a boy from a Catholic family, and Kil Young, the daughter of a detective, after their families are murdered by a demon.
Forging a friendship broken 20 years ago to find Son on the hunt forces this unlikely trio to regroup and try to stop him before it’s too late.
The series is well written, with many memorable moments and some pretty intense sections.
Priestist is a scary Korean drama about a young Catholic priest named So-Min. So-Min joins a group called 643 Regia and is taught to exorcise demons by priest Ki-Sun, who is also the founder of the group.
So-Min’s motives are mostly rooted in her past, when her own mother was possessed by the devil and died.
While Seo Min plays on the side of the exorcist, Ham Eun Ho is the victim, a doctor determined to save lives after his own family was involved in a tragic accident. Eun-Ho, an atheist at heart, begins to doubt her life when she witnesses a supernatural phenomenon and comes into conflict with priest So-Min as a result.
It’s one of those dramas that you should definitely watch, but there are definitely a lot of scary moments that are worth it.
Bring It On, Ghost
Bring It On, Ghost is a compelling Korean drama that makes you feel like a ghost hunter with an unconventional crew and soft drama along the way. It’s a lot less horror and has a lot more to do with fantasy romance, but the ghost design is definitely scary, so we decided to add it!
The main character is Park Bong Pal, a student who can see ghosts and communicate with them. To earn some extra money, he signs up as an exorcist to help people defeat the ghosts that haunt them.
Along the way, he meets Kim Hyun-ji, the spirit of a 19-year-old student who is unable to escape this level of existence. A professor at Bong Pal University named Hye Song, who has an unexplained link to the two, may be the key to deciphering what happened.
Well written, Bring It On, Ghost offers those unconventional team vibes that make this Korean drama a true entertainment.
Ghost DetectiveGhost Detective is, not surprisingly, a detective who hunts ghosts. Specifically, we have the usual male/female pairing in this horrific drama, as ex-military man Lee Da-il works as a private investigator with Yo-wool, who becomes his assistant. Fearless and seeking the truth, the two men joined forces and began to investigate the death of Yo-wool’s younger brother.
In addition to this ongoing story, there is a more episodic story in which the two men solve different cases. To make the proceedings even more intriguing and mysterious, a mysterious woman dressed in red by the name of Sung Woo Hye appears at various crime scenes where the pair turn up.
With a good balance of drama, suspense and horror, The Ghost Detective offers some truly nerve-wracking moments. It should also be noted that this drama won the award for best actor in a drama and the award for best supporting actor, which means that this film will definitely be praised by the critics.
White ChristmasWhite Christmas is a much older drama than most of the others on this list and doesn’t have the same production concept as some of the newer titles. But don’t let that put you off.
That claustrophobic eighth. The second episode of KBS takes us specifically to the Gangwando Mountains. There, in a prestigious private school called Su-shin. Since all students and staff live in the dorms, it is a 24-hour Christmas break and students are left inside…. with the exception of 7 souls who remain in the school.
Hateful letters promising the death of everyone are distributed, and the students soon realize that there is a killer among them. The question is, who?
This intriguing mystery is mixed in with the more thematic idea of what drives someone to become a killer. While this film doesn’t have many scary segments and the ending is certainly a bit ambiguous, there is something here to recommend if you’re looking for an odunite mixed with horror elements.
Based on the webtoon of the same name, Sweet Home is a fight for survival as humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. When people outside suddenly turn into monsters, a group of inept tenants in an apartment complex are forced to work together. Naturally, fever, fear and paranoia begin to consume our heroes. It only gets worse when a few people get the same infection they are trying to avoid.
When the monsters show up, Sweet Home picks up the pace and tension, with 4 episodes of breathtaking action. It’s not until halfway through the series that we stop to learn more about the characters we’ve been following. It serves as the proverbial deep sigh for the finale of this 10-part series that leaves the door wide open for season 2.
There will probably be those who don’t like this kind of serialization of Korean drama, but Netflix’s latest foray into horror is certainly promising and offers more than just a few moments of suspense.
Read our thoughts on Sweet Home in our full season review here!
Village: Mystery of Achiara. Actually, more mystery than horror, the village: Achiara’s Secret combines elements from Twin Peaks, Midsomer Murders and other mystery series to create a small horror town that slowly scratches at its cheery facade to reveal something very ugly and shocking at its center.
Central to this story is Chiara, a quiet and peaceful village with little crime. Unfortunately, the villagers’ world is turned upside down one day when English teacher Han So-young discovers a buried body. With no identity or motive, it’s up to rookie cops Park Woo-Jae and Seo Yoon to figure out what’s really going on.
If you’re looking for an irresistible prototype with a disturbing and unsettling atmosphere, this is definitely worth a look.
Save Me is a pretty scary drama with a very suspenseful premise. The main plot here revolves around a religious sect called Goseonwon, which controls much of the country and a large number of followers. Although they pretend to be a peaceful community, there are probably dark secrets behind this pleasant facade.
After his son’s suicide, Sang-mi’s family is torn apart when the emblematic leader Baek Joon-ki lures them to the dark side. With his father completely lobotomized and his mentally unstable mother, Sang-Mi is stuck in this nightmare-like hell.
The real story takes place three years later, when four men, unaware of the existence of a cult lurking in the shadows, approach Sang-mi, who whispers: Save me! What follows is a mix of thriller, drama and mystery as all these people work together to try and infiltrate the cult and rescue Sang-mi from the hell she’s trapped in.
There are a few really exciting moments here, and that’s largely due to the spiritual leader, who plays the role of cult leader perfectly.
Here we go, we’ve picked the best Korean horror dramas of all time! We will update this page regularly as we see more Korean dramas and respond to any requests.
What do you think of our list? Have we considered your favorites? Or did we miss some riveting drama? We’d love to hear from you, so let us know in the comments below.
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