Laptops

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: The MacBook of Windows

2018’s surprise hit

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As a long-time Windows user, I have to admit, I’ve always dreamed of having a Windows version of Apple’s MacBook. The Pro model in particular is an awesome fusion of sturdy hardware and precise software. Dell’s XPS line was often the best Windows had to offer, but they never quite hit every checkbox.

Surprise, surprise: Huawei came up with the closest thing to the MacBook of Windows yet. Yes, Huawei makes laptops; they don’t just specialize in smartphones and sick burns.


It’s called the MateBook X Pro, and it’s the successor to 2017’s MateBook X, which didn’t experience much fanfare outside of China. There was also a regular MateBook in 2016, but it was more of a Surface Pro competitor than a full-fledged notebook.

The MateBook X Pro has been available in select regions for a while now, garnering positive reviews and calls from fans to bring it to their shores. But why is it so coveted? Let me give you the reasons why, as well as some deeper-rooted cons.

Nothing beats its display

There’s so much to love about the MateBook X Pro, but I’m gonna go with the display as its best feature. The 13.9-inch 3K (3000 x 2000 pixels) touchscreen is enough to wow anyone who sees it. Even better: It’s got the highest screen-to-body ratio of any laptop today at 91 percent.

This is as bezel-less as it gets, and there’s no notch to interfere with the sleek design. Where does the webcam go then? Well…

Huawei picked the most unusual webcam location

If you’ve watched our hands-on video, you’d already know what to expect. The webcam pops up with the press of a button between the F6 and F7 keys. It’s innovative and totally bonkers. Check it out:

But as cool as it is — and trust me, I’ve wowed lots of people with this — I still would’ve preferred a top-mounted placement. I’d add a couple of millimeters on the top bezel to house a proper camera.

A login method I can get behind

Perhaps the biggest reason why I’m not a fan of the pop-up camera is that I can’t log in with my face the moment the laptop enters the lockscreen. It’s something I’ve enjoyed on every Windows Hello-enabled notebook I’ve used up until now, mainly those from ASUS and Lenovo.

To remedy that, Huawei integrated a fast fingerprint reader into the power button. If you leave your finger on the button a second longer when turning on the PC, it’ll bring you straight to the desktop — such a time-saver!

Keyboard and trackpad are top-notch

As someone who needs to write and edit articles on a daily basis, I consider the reliability of the keyboard and trackpad as priorities in a computer. Fortunately for me, this MateBook ticks both boxes with flying colors.

While not MacBook Pro levels of quality, the keyboard has just the right amount of travel and it’s so well-spaced — plus, there’s backlighting for when I work in the dark. The trackpad is massive for Windows laptop standards, and its use of Microsoft’s precision touchpad drivers means gesture control and navigation are easy peasy.

Speaker you wouldn’t expect from an Ultrabook

One of the first things normally given up when going for a slim form factor is the speaker setup. That’s not the case with the MateBook X Pro, which has some of the loudest units I’ve ever heard on an Ultrabook.

There are four in total, all Dolby Atmos-certified, making them loud and crisp. Combined with the immersive display, I’ve turned this into my go-to binge-watching machine.

No port problems here

A gripe of mine with newer laptops is the over-reliance on USB-C as the one, true port. Although I agree it’s the present and future of wired connectivity, I still want my USB-A on board.

That’s exactly the case with this notebook: It has two USB-C ports — one that allows charging and the other with Thunderbolt 3 support for plugging in an external GPU or monitor — and a full-sized USB-A for old flash drives and printers. It’s the best of both worlds, and there’s even a 3.5mm audio port so you won’t have to rely on the older Bluetooth 4.1 standard this MateBook uses for wireless headphones.

Performance is a strong point

At this point, there has to be some compromise, right? If you’re thinking that’s on the raw performance, you’d be absolutely wrong. My unit comes with Intel’s 8th-gen Core i7-8550U chipset, 16GB of memory, 512GB of SSD storage, and lo and behold, an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics chip.

It’s amazing how Huawei was able to cram all this power into the 1.33kg, 14.6mm-slim chassis. Admittedly, it does get quick hot under heavy load from games such as Fortnite and Overwatch, but not enough for me to turn the machine off. For everything else, such as photo and video editing, this configuration blazes through apps.

And battery life is surprisingly great

Again, Huawei somehow managed to avoid any glaring weakness in its best laptop to date. Yes, the MateBook X Pro has a 57.4Wh battery which I’m happy to report is designed to last.

If I avoid the overheating mentioned earlier while off the plug, I can get over seven hours of straight usage. It helps that this notebook charges quickly with its compact 65W adapter, which can also be used to top up my smartphones, so I need to bring only one charger on trips.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Since I began using the MateBook X Pro, I’ve found it tough finding faults, in the same way most Mac users feel about their laptops. There are minor hiccups here and there, but nothing deal breaking enough to avoid a purchase.

On that note, actually buying one may be the biggest hurdle. Even though it’s becoming increasingly easier to find through online retailers in different regions, it’s still nowhere near as easy to purchase as an Acer, HP, or even a MacBook.

It’s a shame, since more support for this product would mean a successor, though I think Huawei will produce one either way. Besides a specs bump and improved location for the webcam, I have nothing else on my wish list for next year’s MateBook X Pro Max Plus — or whatever it’s gonna be called.

Laptops

Lenovo ThinkBook 13S: Designed for today’s young workforce

Work in style

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Business-grade laptops, with its robust security features, tend to look a little too business-y. While it caters to the needs of the business, it almost completely neglects the needs of today’s workforce. That’s what Lenovo hopes to address with the Lenovo ThinkBook 13S.

Lenovo was kind enough to send us a unit in advance but they didn’t exactly make the unboxing easy.


To emphasize security, the box came with a lock. Knowing its key elements was key to unlocking. We’ll share all of it in a few.

The box came with some ThinkBook goodies like a mouse pad, and a laptop stand.

Here’s a better look at what’s inside: The Lenovo ThinkBook 13S, power adapter, laptop stand, and mouse pad.

Now, onto the main event — the ThinkBook 13S. Looks matter, and this laptop does not disappoint in that department.

The mineral gray tone complements its metallic finish

This laptop looks elegant and tough and it’s thank to these: the Aluminum A/C/D covers reduce the weight while also meeting durability standards. Magnesium also helps ensure that it remains light and portable without sacrificing strength.

The Zinc-alloy inside the hinge with powdered metal technology helps endure up to 25,000 open and close cycles. And then the Indium and Stannum-coated hinge enhances corrosion resistance

THAT HINGE THO

Here’s another look because why not.

The five-segment hinge allows it a 180º flat view.

It also has narrow bezels. A 78 percent screen-to-body ratio to be exact.

As mentioned before, security is a major business concern. The ThinkBook 13S didn’t skip on any steps.

The power button is also a fingerprint reader.

It helps provide a stronger authentication to secure online activity. Other security features include Vantage WiFi which performs local risk analysis of WiFi networks, dTPM 2.0 which encrypts and stores user credentials on a separate chip for added security, and for those concerned about web-cam spying issues, there’s the ThinkShutter that slides in to cover the camera.

An optional addition is the Lenovo Security Console. It’s the company’s own security suite that does everything from blocking compromised devices from accessing your data to preventing malware spread, among other things.

Business-grade support

Another reason to lobby for this laptop is its robust business support that include: Think Service and Support, longer warranty, Onsite next business day support, accidental damage protection, premier support option, and international coverage.

Powering today’s workforce

So, it’s secure and stylish, but what else can it really do? With its 8th Generation Intel chip that can be upgraded up to i7 Processor, along with up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and Discrete AMD Radeon™ 540X with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM or Integrated Intel® UHD 620 graphics on Unified Memory Architecture (UMA), as well as the following storage: M.2, PCIe SSD 128GB/256GB/512GB, M.2 SATA SSD 256GB — pretty much anything you need for your daily work.

Pricing and availability

The ThinkBook 13S will is available in two variants with the primary difference being the graphics card onboard. The model that comes with Discrete AMD Radeon™ 540X with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM starts at PhP 54,990 (roughly US$ 1050)while the other that comes with Integrated Intel® UHD 620 graphics on Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) starts at PhP 58,990 (roughly US$ 1126). It will be available in Lenovo Exclusive Stores located at SM North EDSA, SM Mall of Asia, and SM Megamall, as well as Thinking Tools SM City Cebu.

 

 

 

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less

Striking a balance between performance and affordability

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We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.

Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.


It’s done with a polycarbonate body

Instead, goes for a more premium metallic shell

ROG DNA is present

Makes the overall aesthetics look edgier

Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display

Also with slim side and top bezels

Keyboard is backlit

Although this one has RGB color going on

There are distinct WASD keycaps as well

Still emphasizing its gaming origin

Loudspeakers are located at the bottom

Equipped with DTS Studio Sound

Spacious trackpad

Ergonomically placed, too

All the ports remain on the left

Leaves space when using a mouse on the right

A little subtle on the design, but…

The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.

Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.

There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.

Play wherever you go

Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.

It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.

We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.

The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.

With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.

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Laptops

2015 MacBook Pro banned from some flights worldwide

Free battery replacement program still ongoing

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Back in June, Apple announced a global recall for potentially malfunctioning MacBook Pro units shipped from September 2015 to February 2017. The aging device carried a faulty battery that can overheat and catch fire. Since then, the company has offered free battery replacements for affected units.

Haven’t we all heard this story before? In 2016, Samsung experienced a similar controversy with the exploding Galaxy Note 7. The issue caused a massive wave of calamity for the South Korean company. Airports even banned the smartphone from flights. Thankfully, an airport ban hasn’t happened to Apple yet. Until now, that is.


The US Federal Aviation Administration has recently banned the affected MacBook Pro units from American flights. Thanks to Samsung’s 2016 brouhaha, Apple will follow the same safety guidelines. The faulty MacBook Pro units can’t go on flights in both check-in and carry-on baggage.

In contrast, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency issued a more lenient ruling. Instead of a total ban, passengers can bring a faulty MacBook if it remains switched off during the whole flight. Regardless, some European airlines — like Air Italy — have still banned the model from their flights.

Naturally, fixed units are exempt from the ban. Unfortunately, none of the regulating groups have explained the enforcement procedures. Unlike the blatantly obvious Note 7 design, affected MacBook Pro units declare their identities using their serial number. Enforcers must cross-check the serial numbers from Apple’s own database. Enforcing the ban might turn into a nightmare.

Regardless, Apple invites affected users to turn in their units as soon as possible. You can check your unit’s status on this link. If your unit is faulty, sign up for a free battery replacement as soon as you can.

SEE ALSO: Apple discontinues the 12-inch Macbook and 2017 Macbook Air

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