There's a number of firsts that you totally expect from Huawei: really thin bezels give you a 13-inch display in the space you'd normally find a 12-inch, it's incredibly thin at 12.5mm and it also will run Intel's Core i7 processors with no fan, thanks to "space age" cooling technology.
The MateBook X also introduces something called Dolby Atmos Sound System and it's promising to totally change audio on your laptop.
What is Dolby Atmos Sound System?
There's two parts to that name, there's the Dolby Atmos part that you recognise from home cinema or movie theatres and then there's the Sound System part tagged on the end.
This is potentially confusing: Dolby Atmos is all about creating an immersive sound space that differentiates itself from common or garden surround sound by adding height: it's being able to place a sound objects above you that really defines the Dolby Atmos experience.
We've seen a slight dilution of that brand over the early parts of 2017. The move into mobile devices like smartphones sees Dolby Atmos branding, but not delivering the experience in the way you would expect if you've see it in the cinema.
So Dolby Atmos Sound System isn't exactly the same thing. It has some of the same aims - creating a greater stereo separation and the ability to create and place sonic object effects, but it isn't the same as a full home Atmos system that will have sounds moving around behind your head, like you're sitting in a sound bubble.
Dolby says that it's about making the sound experience better than it has been before, but accepts that it's not going to be the same as sitting in a Dolby Atmos cinema.
How does the Dolby Atmos Sound System work?
In the case of the MateBook X, the key is that Dolby got to work with Huawei early on in the design process. This means that Dolby could have more input into the design of the speaker drivers, how they were located and housed within the new Ultrabook, as well as the grille design.
Dolby told us that in many partnerships of this type, the audio company is handed the near-finished product and asked to make the sound better, meaning that they have very little real input.
Dolby Atmos Sound System is both a hardware and software solution. It relies on the speaker hardware as well as the software processing to create the effect, with Dolby saying that the MateBook X has bespoke speakers, with two motors each, meaning they can drive more air and create better audio effects - as well as producing sound beyond what you'd expect from a compact notebook.
On the software side, you get a control panel will let you switch between different sound modes - dynamic, movie, music, voice and game - as well as letting you personalise the experience.
Software is important because it's managing the whole process and using the stereo speakers the virtualise the immersive effects.
How good does Dolby Atmos Sound System sound?
First impressions are good. We've not had long to listen in too much depth, but the demos we've experienced create a noticeable immersive effect, the sort of thing you'd expect from a surround sound system, albeit not having rear channels or the sense of a vast soundscape that a good Atmos system will create.
The demos we listened to were at very high volume and things sounded a little shrill, at the high end, but watching the opening scene of Max Mad: Fury Road, the whispers were swirling around us when sitting in front of the MateBook X. Subsequently we've watched a number of movies and found a definite widening of the sound stage, if not quite as impressive as the original demos.
For a 2.0 system in the MateBook X there's surprising depth to the sound quality, so listening to music is pretty good and switching sound modes can make a difference: music is a little flatter than movie, for example.
On the MateBook X is you turn the speakers up full volume there's a still a lot of distortion that destroys the experience and playing bass-heavy tracks will do the same: Dolby Atmos Sound System isn't a magic bullet in that sense, it still has limitations.
Dolby is also promising a great headphone experience and we assume that having a Dolby Atmos Sound System laptop will mean you can get greater separation and more delicate handling from movies, for a more immersive experience - of course you need movies that will deliver that degree of separation. Again, the volume levels on offer far exceed what we'd be able to listen to through headphones, so on the MateBook X, it might be pushing a little too powerfully.
Will Dolby Atmos Sound System be coming to other devices?
Yes. It made its debut on the Huawei MateBook X, but at the launch event, Dolby closed its section of the presentation by saying that it was looking forward to seeing the spread of Dolby Atmos Sound System.
Dolby is presenting Atmos Sound System as something that can be used by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to improve the performance of their audio offering. It's on the MateBook X and MateBook D, but we're sure we'll see it appearing in other devices soon enough.