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Is the MateBook X Pro’s hidden webcam innovative or just unnecessary?

Huawei MateBook X Pro review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

As we pointed out in our hands-on with the new Huawei MateBook X Pro, the upcoming laptop has a bizarre feature: Its webcam is concealed beneath one of the keys on the keyboard. While it’s nice to have a hardware solution to privacy concerns — the camera can’t very well spy on you when it’s tucked away beneath the keyboard — but its bizarre placement makes us wonder if the laptop webcam might have outlived its usefulness.

The webcam is one of those features that we tend to take for granted, every laptop has one, so it stands to reason that every laptop should have one, right? Well, what if Huawei’s solution, hiding the webcam beneath the keyboard, means an end to mandatory webcams on laptops?

According to our poll so far, people are more skeptical of their webcams than find them useful anyways.

That’s not to say that people don’t use them, but as we’ve seen from Dell’s XPS 13 lineup, webcams placed beneath the display tend to offer a less-than-flattering angle for videoconferencing. At what point are laptop manufacturers like Huawei and Dell going to just concede the fight? Is it better to have an awkward webcam than to not have one at all? After all, chances are you’re carrying a webcam in your pocket right now — and the amount of people who cover their cameras with tape is increasing all the time.

Webcams are ubiquitous and an expected feature to find in a laptop, but more and more often they’re kind of in the way. As manufacturers are looking to shave millimeter after millimeter off of those display bezels, the placement of the trusty old webcam becomes something of an obstacle. That’s why the Dell XPS 13, and Huawei MateBook X Pro opt for nonstandard webcam placement. It means they can shave those bezels down to the bare minimum. Unfortunately, that means the webcams aren’t as useful as they are when they’re located at the top of the display. Which begs the question, is Huawei’s solution innovative or style over substance?

So that’s the question this week. Is the Huawei MateBook X Pro hidden webcam an innovative way to deal with a pesky problem, or is it just a solution in search of a problem? If nothing else, it’s definitely eye-catching.

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Jayce Wagner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
A staff writer for the Computing section, Jayce covers a little bit of everything -- hardware, gaming, and occasionally VR.
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