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Huawei’s new laptop has a mechanical pop-up webcam in the keyboard

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Perfect for privacy, but less so for flattering selfies

The Huawei MateBook X Pro that was just introduced here at Mobile World Congress 2018 is one of the most impressive laptops I’ve seen in a long while. The 91 percent screen-to-body ratio is class-leading, giving us a laptop with vanishingly thin bezels to match the latest flagship phones. The X Pro is also powerful, has a quad-speaker Dolby Atmos audio system, and is exceedingly thin and light. And it has a webcam hidden away in its keyboard!

Because of its extremely thin bezels, this laptop doesn’t have the space above its display to accommodate a traditional camera, so that had to be tucked away somewhere else. Huawei has gone for the novel approach of disguising the camera as a keyboard button, placing it in between the F6 and F7 keys. It pops up when you want to use it, and closes shut, guaranteeing your privacy, when you don’t.

Companies like Dell (and Lenovo, briefly) have solved the problem of the thin top bezel by putting the webcam in the bottom bezel under the screen instead. That solution has given rise to the “nasalcam” phenomenon / complaint due to the altered angle from which the camera is looking at the user. Instead of being at somewhere close to eye level, the lower cam sits right near the keyboard and thus is more or less looking up your nostrils as you use it. Huawei’s pop-up webcam isn’t doing anything to fix that problem, but it is definitely the coolest nasalcam that’s yet been developed, and it does have the bonus of having a physical privacy cover when not in use.

Update February 25th, 10:40AM ET: Now that I’ve used the webcam for myself, I can say that it’s woefully impractical. In order to actually have it looking at my face, I have to tilt the entire laptop up due to the fixed angle of the camera. It’s a cool idea, but probably shouldn’t have made its way to an actual retail product. People are likely to be super frustrated trying to use this webcam.