Chuwi N100 Minibook X
I bought a Teclast F5 moons ago (See: Teclast F5) I toted it for quite a while, it was a pretty decent small laptop minor quirks reliable N4000 CPU and 8G of RAM. I updated the SATA SSD with something slightly larger. It got dropped and banged up, but continued to work just fine, I decided to shift to something even smaller.
The first was the One Mix 1s, lighted keyboard it was actually quite functional and reliable but the CPU was a teensie bit abysmal 8G of ram, and required a bit of tweaking for Linux. After a time the performance was a bit irritating and I found myself mostly using the Teclast again, though I dropped it again, and the battery was fading a bit, so ..
I got the improved One Mix 2, and a bit later a One Mix 3 for my girlfriend who “wanted one”. The 2 still felt slower than the T5 but was adequate, had a better USB-C experience, but still preferred the HDMI port for a monitor. It lasted for a year-ish, but it started acting flaky and the screen would flake out. so .. Back to the TL-F5, and then…
I went ahead and got a Magic Ben MAG1, that was a similar footprint to the OM3 but without the yoga capability. M8100Y/8G It was a little stronger, had a slightly larger screen, and I really liked it lot. I would still be using it if it too hadn't started having screen issues after about a year.
So I grabbed the OneMix 3, which hadn't really been used was sitting in a closet, and started toting it. Needed a battery, swapped that out, toted that around for about 1 year or so, and low and behold, screen issues. I'm a little irritated.
I'm using the TL-F5 again, by now I've banged it up and the battery is toast. I get a new battery, functional but has a bad or incompatible BMS, I do a work-around repair on the volume switch which got beat up, while i'm in there, and smooth out the crack in the lower bezel, darn thing keeps chugging.
So I break down and get a One-Netbook A1. It worked for 2 months, I was unable to return it, Geekbuying basically blew me off, so my last purchase from them, I've now got 4 dead micro-pc's. Back to the Teclast with the broken volume buttons.
So online, maybe I can find a replacement for the venerable Teclast, now really long in the tooth. I find a B-max Y11, exactly the same footprint as the Teclast N5100/8G perfect! Amazon this time, so I get the thing rattling around in the box, I think it was a return, but I kick it on, and it seems to work fine. I fire it up, and direct clone the drive, then get linux running on it works pretty much with a standard install, snappy response, finally. After about an hour the keyboard simply locks up. Just the keyboard on the laptop, mouse still works, usb or bluetooth just fine. Fiddle futz, give up, re-load windows from the image. Same problem (scowl). Reload image & return the darn thing
So I find another micro-clamshell at walmart.com / returnable, N100/12G ram no nvme/hard drive claims to run ubuntu. I get it try debian, cannot get things to work, Okay the latest Ubuntu then, nope, same problems, display driver just refuses to do anything. Pretty sure this is just a driver issue, too bad it had a built-in ethernet and a USB-C also flakey. Return it. Back to the F5.
So after reading about limited success I picked up one of these little beasts. It is also an Intel N100 based mini laptop, Slightly smaller (1“), than the Teclast, has a kb backlight, dual USB-C a headphone jack and a camera. Like the micro-clamshells it has a rotated screen by default, so a tablet display. For some reason Intel re-invents the wheel for each successive model chip they make, so that none of the drivers work and require complete retooling to function. I wish AMD would just come out with a chip for this space. The driver BS drives me bat poop.
I now believe everything is working as desired, with Debian bookworm (sort of) but definitely requires a bit of manual intervention to get it working. See the article Chuwi Minibook X N100
What I like:
- Compact and tight, smaller footprint than the Teclast but a little thicker.
- Keyboard is reasonable enough for typing without stumbling
- Backlit keyboard
- N100 is very responsive
- 12G RAM is more than enough to run a small VM
- Extra USB-C slot is nice to plug in something odd like a U2F/yubikey while charging without a dock.
- Display is 1920×1200, I like the 16:10 ratio but most monitors are 16:9 can be annoying
- Battery Life is really bad. I don't understand why this machine would have 1/2 the battery life of the TL-F5
- Getting it to work under linux is decidedly non-trivial
- It doesn't like the Dell Dock I have with two 4K monitors. Might be the dock Works flawlessly with gumsticks and single monitor dock
All in all I will be keeping this, hopefully it will not die on me. I upgraded the disk to a 2TB NVME and kept the original Windows disk intact in case something happens in the next month, but overall this is really close to what I was looking for. I'm not really sure what 12G of ram is about, 16G would make more sense, and pretty much hit the mark. If I ever see this form-factor in an AMD I will probably jump on it.