Features

5 reasons to avoid gaming laptops

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Acer Predator 21 X

There’s only one good reason to buy a gaming laptop: acceptable gaming performance on the go. That’s it.

I’ve met several gamers who’d live and die with their gaming notebooks, and I too occasionally use them for casual gaming when I travel, but the cons easily outweigh the pros.

Before we begin, let’s define gaming laptops as mobile computers with midrange to high-end processors and graphics cards built in. They must also be marketed by their respective companies as notebooks for gamers — whether casual or hardcore.

With that, there’s no good reason to buy one, because…

You can barely call them laptops

From the water-cooled ASUS ROG GX800 to the over-the-top Acer Predator 21 X, gaming notebooks simply don’t care about portability. Whenever I review a unit, I must find a bag spacious enough to fit one of these monsters. The total weight can match a small desktop PC, minus the monitor of course.

Things get worse when you travel by air. Every single time I fly with one, security holds me at checkpoints to open my luggage and inspect my massive rig, thinking it’s a bomb controller or a bomb itself. Every. Single. Time. Needless to say, I’ve since been using something like this or this instead. (I’d love to try traveling with this, though.)

Size comparison: An ASUS gaming laptop next to an HP Ultrabook and curved Philips monitor

You could find much better deals elsewhere

Any serious gamer knows this: For the price of even just a low-end $1,000 gaming laptop, you could afford to build a high-powered desktop PC. I’m talking about being able to stick in NVIDIA’s $450 GTX 1070 graphics card with enough cash to spare for a decent processor and motherboard, plus lots of fast memory and storage.

Sure, it won’t be nearly as mobile as a notebook, but how often do you play while in transit or far from an electric socket? In addition, regular laptops equipped with lower-end graphics cards in the $500 to $600 range are actually good enough for casual gaming. I’ve enjoyed titles such as Child of Light, Portal 2, and I Am Setsuna on a $450 laptop sporting just a GTX 940m graphics card.

Upgrades are limited

One of the joys of PC gaming is designing a setup fit for your graphical needs. This is something you can do with gaming notebooks as well, but only at the beginning. That’s because you’re limited by whatever frame you start out with, so upgrades can only be dealt to the storage and RAM later on.

If you must go for a customizable notebook, Aftershock makes the process as simple as possible. I tried customizing a build in one of their shops in Singapore, and was able to choose from a variety of storage, display panel, and even warranty options. But again, prices begin at a whopping SGD 1,157 for the barest model, so you go back to the question, “Can’t I find a better deal elsewhere?”

You’ll have to stay near a wall

With so much power packed into a relatively small space, these types of machines consume a sinful amount of electricity when plugged in. This also means they get really hot under full load, so you can forget about the lap part in “laptop.” Trust me, I used one these as a pseudo fireplace during cold nights.

To make things worse, you have to keep it plugged in to maximize the processing potential while gaming. You see, most laptops throttle down the performance when working on battery power in order to save energy. This effectively kills the mobility aspect of your investment, and staples you to a wall socket.

This Acer Predator spent more time on a desk than in a backpack or train.

They’re simply too expensive

The starting price for “real” gaming laptops normally hovers around $1,000, and that’s for something equipped with a modest mobile version of midrange graphics cards. If you want a rig good enough for games like The Witcher 3 or the newest Tomb Raider, you must shell out at least $1,500, but even then you’ll be held back by middling performance.

If you just don’t care about your savings, going all the way up to $3,000 will guarantee you a gaming laptop strong enough to run games for the next three years at least. ASUS, Acer, Razer, and the like have notoriously jacked-up notebooks for exuberant prices. The wildest gaming laptop I ever used full-time was MSI’s GT80 Titan, which had a mechanical keyboard, two graphics cards, and a jaw-dropping $3,200 price tag.

Counterpoint: We need them for progress

Gaming notebooks aren’t just for bringing proofs of concepts to life; they’re also cauldrons for previously unthinkable engineering feats. Thanks to manufacturers creating these behemoths, realistic ideas spill over to more practical laptops.

Advanced cooling designs, accurate trackpads and keyboards, and efficient internal components were once exclusive to mobile gaming rigs. Now that the technology has matured, you can find these features on much cheaper mainstream notebooks.

Features

Singapore’s first iPhone XS buyer goes all out

He went for the 512GB storage!

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Whenever new iPhones launch, a familiar scene is people lining up in front of Apple Stores long before launch date. The same is true in Singapore where the iPhone XS and XS Max officially became available on Friday, September 21.

We visited the Apple Store in Orchard Road and caught up with the first person to cop the new iPhones. His name is Daniel and he went all out getting two units of gold iPhone XS Max with 512GB of storage. Watch our interview with him.

The same situation is true elsewhere in the world. In countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and more, lines formed as those who pre-ordered got ready to claim the new iPhones.

This is the first time that the two sizes of iPhones feature the same specs. In years past, there was always a plus model that had more features other than just having a bigger form factor. In 2018, the only difference is the screen size — 5.8 inches for the iPhone XS and 6.5 inches for the iPhone XS Max. Both phones are equipped with the new A12 Bionic processor. Apple says it’s their smallest and most powerful chip to date. Both also sport dual cameras.

The Apple Watch Series 4 also launched today. It’s a significant update to Apple’s primary wearable featuring medical advantages other than the usual improvements. As always, it still is a lifestyle gadget and comes with an array of available looks.

SEE ALSO: Apple iPhone XS unboxing: Beautiful gold color!

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Apple iPhone XS unboxing: Beautiful gold color!

We have them early!

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It’s now mid-September and if you’ve been following technology news, you’d know that means one thing: new iPhones from Apple. And if you’ve been following GadgetMatch closely the last few years, you’d expect us to be brewing content by now.

This year, we got them early. What we are unboxing the 5.8-inch model, dubbed the iPhone XS and the bigger variant, the iPhone XS Max. There’s also a more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone XR coming later in October.

The box has not changed much — it’s still the same minimalist white box with the image of the phone you’re getting. Inside are a packet with manuals and stickers, USB-A charging brick, Lightning cable, and a pair of Lightning EarPods (not AirPods, they just look alike).

It’s worth noting that the bundled charger is the regular adapter and cable from yesteryears, even if the new iPhones already support fast charging. To get fast charging on the iPhone XS and XS Max, you need to spend an additional US$ 75 for a Lightning to USB-C Cable and a 29W USB-C adapter.

Since omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack, these new iPhones are also the first ones to not include a headphone jack to Lightning dongle — an extra US$ 9 purchase if you ever need one.

Unlike previous years where you need to get the bigger model to have the best features iPhones have to offer, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are essentially the same phones — the latter just has a bigger display and battery capacity.

The iPhone XS and XS Max also come in a new beautiful gold color, something similar to our favorite iPhone 8 and 8 Plus color from last year — a subtle, non-tacky shade of gold. A slightly darker gold but shiny stainless steel band also highlights the edges of the phones. Button and port placements have not changed, and the notch housing Apple’s TrueDepth Camera technology lives on.

We have more iPhone content coming in the next few days so make sure to stay tuned for that. Our unboxing video is also coming where we unboxed a new case color as well. Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t yet.

SEE ALSO: Apple iPhone XS cruises to top of AnTuTu benchmark ranking

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Marvel’s Spider-Man, Iron Fist: Now Playing

All about action and some romcom!

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The past few weeks have been crazy for the GadgetMatch team, like always. We’re still recovering from the announcements from IFA 2018 and the recent iPhone launch. Of course, to avoid burnouts, we take breaks and keep ourselves entertained. Here’s what’s now playing for GadgetMatch.

Games to play

Marvel’s Spider-Man
Rodneil: There was so much hype surrounding this game and rightfully so, since Insomniac Games is dealing with one of the most loved superheroes of all time. They had to get plenty of things right and they more than delivered. Insomniac was able to capture the very essence of Spider-Man and translate it into a video game that will please both video game fans and Spidey fans who might want to try the game. It’s a lot of fun to play and you feel exactly like the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swinging across New York.

Movies to see

Bleach (Live Action)
Rodneil: Bleach — both the manga and the anime — was considered one of the top three in its genre during its run. The live action version tackles the Substitute Shinigami arc which is essentially the origin story of how protagonist Kurosaki Ichigo gets the powers of a soul reaper. If you’ve read the manga or saw the anime, you’ll know that this arc flows so seamlessly to the one that follows it that it almost feels like just a single arc. The live action version does a good job of creating some sort of finality in the movie that in case it never gets the green light for a sequel, you wouldn’t mind as much.

If this is your introduction to the Bleach lore, it doesn’t disappoint. For the most part, it’s a faithful adaptation and was translated admirably to a feature film. If you decide to watch the anime because of this, watch only until the end of the Arrancar arc and definitely skip the Bount arc (episodes 64-109). You’re welcome.

To all the boys I’ve loved before
MJ: To all the boys I’ve loved before is the show I’ve been dying to see ever since I heard it’s going to have its film adaptation on Netflix. It’s a feel-good movie that will make you remember what it feels like to have crushes, secret feelings, and writing letters — things that our teenage selves did back then.

Kissing Booth
MJ: What if you made a pact to your best friend that you can’t fall in love with his brother, even if he’s really, really charming (and hot)? Netflix’s Kissing Booth is about a girl falling in love with her best friend’s older brother and in a sudden turn of events, forced to choose between following their friendship’s set of rules or following her heart. It’s a movie about secrets, loyalty, and betrayal, but above all, it’s a romantic comedy to entertain you during your idle hours.

Set It Up
Chay: I’ve been in the mood for feel-good romcoms lately, and Netflix’s Set It Up did not disappoint. Like most romantic comedies, it’s predictable and cheesy, although it did come with a twist I didn’t really expect. I very much appreciate that both protagonists’ personal issues are realistic enough to be relatable to people my age.

TV shows to binge watch

Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Season 3
Rodneil: Attack on Titan was a well-received anime when it first came out and three seasons in, it hasn’t missed a beat. At first it was just about humans taking shelter inside a walled city for protection versus mindless, humongous, man-eating monsters, only to find out later on that the real monsters lie inside the walls lording over the people trying to survive. Season three is still ongoing and it looks like the theme is about uncovering the truth about the Titans.

Insatiable
MJ: Insatiable means impossible to satisfy, which is all about the main character, Patty Bladell, who was once fat and bullied for her appearance, and turned skinny to get revenge by winning pageants and getting a crown. But it doesn’t stop there. It takes a pretty dark turn when the title comes into play, as the show is also about vengeance, bad decisions, and what it means to be really beautiful. To critics, it’s an inconsistent show. But for the audience, we absolutely love it. It’s really, really, fun!

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2
Marvin: If you aren’t a fan of Iron Fist’s first season, the second one may change the way you look at the series. It’s less centered around Danny Rand, who many viewed to be the main problem of Season 1. Even though he’s the primary protagonist, his lessened screen time allows other (more interesting) characters to shine. Plus, the fight scenes are way more exciting this time — no longer a low point of an action-filled superhero series.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Momoland (All Songs on Spotify)
Rodneil: I have officially been consumed by this K-pop group. “Bboom Bboom” went viral this year and they followed it up with “Baam.” Both songs are lively and great so I decided to listen to the rest of their songs and I haven’t stopped since. My favorites are “Curious,” “Bingo Game,” “Hug Me,” and “Love Sick.”

Sana Bumalik” by Sud
Rodneil: The song itself is just okay; it talks about that universal feeling of wanting someone back. To truly appreciate what Sud did here, you first have to watch the music video for their other song called “Sila.” That’s part one of the story they’re trying to tell. While the songs don’t exactly match the narrative of the videos, they do match the mood, and for fans who followed both videos, it’s exciting to see the cast return as we get to see how their story unfolds.

Cities/Places to visit

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Anilao
Marvin: Anilao, which is found along the west coast of Batangas in the Philippines, is best known for its incredible diving areas, but little do people realize that it’s a perfect spot for a relaxing getaway, as well. Situated on the tranquil side of the ocean and far away from big cities, its beaches are ideal for long walks and star gazing — not at all for surfing or other extreme water sports. But be warned: It’s a lot easier to find than it is to leave.

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Sagada
MJ: Sagada is the best place to visit when you’re on the verge of having a breakdown or you just want to take a break. It’s a quiet, laid-back town situated in the northern mountains of the Philippines. Surrounded by pine trees and fog enveloping the sky and the streets, this place will definitely give you a cozy retreat while wearing your favorite sweater, sipping hot coffee, and doing some soul searching.

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Berlin
Chay:
My first time in Berlin wasn’t short of both unfortunate mishaps and fun stories to tell. It’s a city that doesn’t forget and whose most popular landmarks tell its history. It offers pockets of charming places here and there, efficient public transport, and good food. Admittedly I had way more doner kebab and Vietnamese food during my stay instead of German sausages.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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