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Analysis | Expect to see more mismatches of 4K IPS panels on cheap budget laptops

Downright cheap laptops with a 4K 100% sRGB HDR display are going to become more common for at least the next few months. (Source: Chuwi)
Downright cheap laptops with a 4K 100% sRGB HDR display are going to become more common for at least the next few months. (Source: Chuwi)
We've already posted a few articles about Chuwi's LapBook plus, a $439 USD budget laptop that distinguishes itself with a 15.6-inch 4K HDR 100% SRGB display and unibody metal build. There's a reason why Chinese budget laptops are able to have high-spec panels in them suddenly, however, and it's related to OLED and Chinese subsidies.

We've already made a few news posts and even a full review Chuwi's most recent product, the LapBook Plus. It is an interesting (if not great) one due to its low $439 USD price while sporting a very impressive 15.6-inch 4K HDR panel that is advertised to cover 100% of the SRGB gamut.

You'll start to understand the low price of the laptop when you read our review: It's powered by a 12W quad-core Intel Apollo Lake X7-E3950 CPU that can only turbo to 2.0GHz, has one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, and is limited by a tiny 36.5Wh battery. Chuwi claims that you should be able to get up to 9 hours of battery life with that, but our review showed that battery life was more like 3.5 hours. As we concluded, it's simply a totally imbalanced pairing to have such a display with a terribly slow CPU and undersized battery. So why is it happening?

I believe it's very closely linked to the news I wrote about a few weeks ago regarding the OLED boom and IPS bust in China. As Digitimes reported via their sources, a surplus of IPS panel inventory seems to have been created by a combination of Chinese subsidies leading to overproduction and the sudden increase in demand for OLED displays. It is reported that LED manufacturers are sitting on an inventory surplus worth $9.7 billion USD, and you can bet that they are itching to offload it ASAP. This combination of factors means that OEMs with good relationships with Chinese panel manufacturers (mostly other Chinese brands, like Chuwi and Lenovo, for example) will likely be benefactors of fairly high-specced IPS panels sold at bargain prices.

Normally, panel-manufacturers losses would be consumer gain, but just be aware of the pitfalls of buying such cheap laptops with high resolution panels: They skimp on the battery and CPU to keep costs low, and you might end up with a nearly useless laptop that's too slow to do work on and can't be away from an outlet for more than 3 hours.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 07 > Expect to see more mismatches of 4K IPS panels on cheap budget laptops
Douglas Black, 2019-07-10 (Update: 2019-07-10)
Douglas Black
Douglas Black - News Editor
Douglas Black is a technology analyst, teacher, writer, and DJ. He is also Managing Editor of UltrabookReview.