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Laptops

Xiaomi’s ‘MacBook killer’ now has a 4G variant

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Xiaomi, contrary to what you’ve been hearing lately, isn’t just a smartphone company. (Company executives are keen to point out that they’re a software or internet company.)

It’s built all sorts of stuff, from accessories to TVs to rice cookers and bags. Recently, it debuted a cool electric scooter that eagerly folds with the touch of a button.

Today, Xiaomi went the boring route and unveiled a MacBook Pro killer with LTE connectivity similar to a smartphone. Dubbed the Mi Notebook Air 4G, the Windows 10 laptop boasts great specs, and is capable of speeds of up to 150Mbps over a mobile data network. This is Xiaomi’s second foray into the PC industry, following the unveiling of the Mi Notebook Air, which launched in July this year.

To sweeten the deal, Xiaomi said users would receive 4GB of free data per month for 12 months from China Mobile, which has been tapped as its carrier partner. The state-owned operator boasts the most users in the world with about 835 million subscribers as of May 2016.

The Mi Notebook Air 4G retains the same full-metal design of the previous model (again, in silver or gold). Like the original, it also comes in two sizes: there’s a 12.5-inch variant powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM, the same processing package you’d find on many entry-level ultrabooks; the bigger 13.3-incher gets bumped up to a sixth-generation Core i7 CPU, alongside an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics chip and 8GB of RAM for improved gaming performance.

Storage options go as high as 256GB for the 13.3-inch model, while the resolution maxes out at 1080p on all screens. Connectivity options include up to two USB 3.0 ports, a Type-C port, an HDMI port, and a standard headphone jack. Battery life is rated between 9.5 and 11.5 hours, depending on the screen size. Both laptops run Windows 10 (presumably of the Single Language variety).

Besides the free monthly data, there’s really no upside to upgrading to either notebook if you already own the previous Notebook Air. Worse still, the inclusion of the data plan appears to have bloated the price considerably. Earlier this year, the smaller Mi Notebook Air sold for 3,499 yuan, or around $500, at launch. By contrast, the new Mi Notebook Air 4G starts at 4,699 yuan (about $680), whereas the bigger version is priced at 6,999 yuan ($1,000).

Laptops

Google lead designer reveals prototypes of Pixel 2, Home Mini, Pixelbook

A touch of human

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It’s not too often that we get a behind-the-scenes look at the drawing boards of premium hardware products, but when we do, it’s magical.

Ivy Ross, who’s the lead designer of Google’s latest devices, revealed the ideas and executions she and her team put into making their gadgets.

Published on The She Word (a series featuring the women of Google on the company’s blog), Ross discussed a variety of topics ranging from her early beginnings as a young designer to the aesthetics of Pixel and Home devices.

When asked what the most important design principle of Google’s hardware is, she had this to say:

Human. By that I mean friendly, emotionally appealing, and easy to fit into your life and your home.

She goes on to explain that three-dimensional and tactile aesthetics are important after spending so much time in front of flat screens. That’s why her design team puts so much emphasis on fabric materials.

Through images, the blog post also showed off the progress from multiple prototypes to finished product for Google’s most important items:

The visual progression of the Pixel 2 XL’s design is arguably the most interesting. You can see how the flagship phone went from a squarish panda to a more rounded one.

Ross became the head of design for Google’s hardware team in mid-2016, and has since made her mark as the company’s most human designer to date.

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Computers

Microsoft’s new patches may be harming your PC

The Meltdown and Spectre patches are duds!

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The Meltdown drama continues. Days after researchers confirmed the existence of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, big firms like Microsoft and Apple started issuing patches against the bug. Microsoft’s fixes, however, might be doing more harm than good.

Microsoft’s series of patches have been causing issues among those who installed it already. Users are reporting that the patches have caused their PCs to run slower than usual.

Surprisingly, Microsoft themselves have confirmed the reports. A wide range of devices are indeed slowing down because of the patches. The firm has also listed down the affected PCs, as described below.

First, PCs that run Windows 10 on newer processors like Skylake and Kaby Lake show “single-digit” but hardly noticeable slowdowns. Meanwhile, PCs that run Windows 10 on fourth generation or earlier chips will suffer from noticeable slowdown. Finally, those that run Windows 8 or 7 on older chips will be most hit by the performance issues.

The chaos doesn’t even stop there. Some users have even reported that their PCs have stopped booting entirely. In an open thread on Microsoft’s support forums, a user suffering from a bricked PC has been joined by a torrent of users who are suffering from the same issue.

As with the performance issues, Microsoft has issued a statement regarding the unbootable state. This time, they have pinpointed that AMD processors are to blame for the issue, citing a lack of documentation on AMD’s part.

Microsoft has since halted distribution of the erring security patch to AMD processors. Their support team is working to resolve the issue among those already affected by the issue. Meanwhile, Microsoft and AMD developers are working to put out a more stable fix for the Spectre flaw.

Despite the lack of workable fixes for the issue, Microsoft is assuring its users that harmful exploits have not been discovered out in the wild. Not yet, that is.

SEE ALSO: Newly discovered bugs leave two decades of devices vulnerable

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CES 2018

ASUS ROG Strix SKT T1 Hero Edition first ever hardware to tap into eSports

It looks to be a good start!

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ESports has been kicking up and getting its long overdue attention. To support fans of the community, ASUS aptly teamed up with SKT T1 to make a special edition of their new iteration of the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Strix gaming laptop line. And, it’s a mouthful of a name: ROG Strix SKT T1 Hero Edition.

The ROG Strix SKT T1 Hero Edition sports a RGB backlit keyboard, a 15.6-inch Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels) LED display with a wide-viewing angle of 178 degrees, a refresh rate of 120Hz, and an anti-glare panel. It runs on an Intel Core i7 7700HQ processor, coupled with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics. It has 16GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD, and 256GB SSD.

This special edition of the ROG Strix has a USB Type-C port, four USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, an audio jack, a mini-DisplayPort, and an RJ45 jack.

It’s the first time that ASUS has created custom units for eSport professionals and it looks to be a good start. A nice touch to the laptop is the team’s logo plastered on the lower-left part of the cover and sick accents on the chassis, but the highlight of it all is SKT’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s signature on the bottom-right side of the keyboard palm rest.

SKT T1 is one of the world’s most successful League of Legends teams earning multiple World Championship titles. Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is no-question the most popular League player, winning Best Esports Player at the The Game Awards in early December last year.

The ROG Strix SKT T1 Hero Edition comes with posters, a jersey, and a mouse pad with SKT T1 and ROG logos. The laptop costs US$ 1,700 and will be available early this year.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG Strix GL503 Review: Too little or too much?

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