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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.

[irp posts=”4303″ name=”IFA 2016: Acer Predator 21 X first look”]

Features

Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme

Will a new brand help them take back the budget segment?

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2018 has been one of the most intense years for smartphones with brands launching new phones every other month. In developing markets, the budget and midrange segments account for a majority of the sales, and in an attempt to establish supremacy, companies have pumped in all their resources.

The markets have reacted positively and sales are steadily rising thanks to improving standards of living, technological advancements, and aggressive competition among brands. Pricing is always the primary factor of differentiation and companies want to offer as much as they can, this means the profit margin is often meager.

Behemoth companies like Huawei want dominance in the high-end as well as the price-sensitive segment. But, it gets increasingly difficult to establish a brand image when you have products in all price brackets. With rising sales, Huawei could’ve been associated with budget phones, and this would make launching flagship phones a challenge, especially when they demand a premium.

To counter this brand recognition issue, Huawei launched the Honor brand a few years back. Honor is known to make feature-packed phones that belong in the price-sensitive bracket. Now, the Huawei brand targets the upscale flagship segment with the P and Mate series.

OPPO is trying to pursue a similar strategy with the Realme brand. Realme made its debut in May this year and has launched a handful of phones since then. Its marketing efforts purely target the budget and lower-midrange segment, as well as the youth.

Realme launched as a sub-brand of OPPO but has since parted ways from the parent in terms of management, product design, and operations. This means, even though OPPO owns and strategically helps out Realme by leveraging its supply chain and research, the brand takes its own independent decisions. Design elements and ColorOS are a few things that are being shared by the two brands for now.

This division enables OPPO to concentrate on its high-end flagship phones like the Find X and R17 Pro. OPPO has taken a massive beating in terms of brand recognition even after spending millions on marketing. According to IDC, sales in Q3 2018 have slumped by 2.1 percent year over year while Xiaomi and Huawei have clocked a staggering 21 percent and 32 percent growth, respectively.

The dip in sales is because of two reasons. Firstly, OPPO intends to concentrate on the high-end segment and not get their brand value saturated further. Secondly, it has slowly taken a step back from the budget segment and handed over the reins to Realme. Though, this doesn’t mean OPPO is out of the race; it continues to launch new budget phones, but it’s clear no intensive marketing efforts are being taken up.

Realme’s strategy has worked out positively in the short term and the company has registered a nine percent market share in India’s Diwali festive season. Realme has been targeting online-only sales for now and being a smaller company lets it be more dynamic.

The dynamic nature means it can make a wider range of products quickly, even strategically launching them to undermine the competition. While the brand was hastily launched in May, the recent branding change already matured and was built with a long-term plan in mind.

In the beginning, Realme seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to Xiaomi’s increasing dominance. We’ve seen the brand rapidly launch new phones in the last few months and they genuinely pack some unique offerings instead of just trying to undercut the competition based on pricing.

Only time will tell whether the division of segments among the two brands have paid off, but for now, it’s a strategy worth investing in.

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GadgetMatch Awards: Best Products of 2018

It’s been a long year

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What a year 2018 has been! The number of outstanding products has been jaw-dropping, so it’s only right for us to create an extensive list to award the ones that wowed us the most.

Truth be told, we have a lot of categories to cover, so let’s get right to it.

Best Premium Smartphone: Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Apple iPhone XS Max

Yes, it’s a tie! For the Android side, the Mate 20 Pro edges out the competition with its smooth blend of performance and unique design. On the other hand, the iPhone XS Max is not just Apple’s biggest phone to date, but also an all-around beast.

Best Midrange Smartphone: Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

With smartphone prices increasing every year, it’s such a breath of fresh air to see Xiaomi keep margins low while producing excellent handsets. The Mi Mix 3 is a testament to that with an incredible form and unmatched performance in this segment.

Best Budget Smartphone: Honor 8X

2018 has been the year of fantastic budget smartphones, and the Honor 8X comes out on top as the best overall. We love everything about it, from the sleek exterior to the fluid interface and long-lasting battery.

Best Bang-for-Buck Smartphone: Pocophone F1

Without a doubt, no smartphone disrupted the market as much as the Pocophone F1 has. The performance you get for the price you pay is mind-blowing, making this the biggest steal of a deal in 2018.

Best Selfie Smartphone: Vivo NEX S

Not only is Vivo’s NEX S the best at taking selfies, it also has the coolest implementation. We’ve been using it since its launch, and we still can’t get enough of its pop-up camera. There’s nothing like it!

Best Special Edition Phone: Porsche Edition Huawei Mate 20 RS

It doesn’t get much classier than this. The Porsche Edition Mate 20 RS takes everything that makes the Mate 20 Pro so great and adds a smooth touch of leather on the rear and signature styling on the interface.

Best Gaming Smartphone: ASUS ROG Phone

It was in 2018 when gaming smartphones truly matured, and none have done it better than the ROG Phone. You can’t find a better mix of performance and cooling than this, and the variety of accessories simply sweeten the deal.

Best Smartphone Feature: SuperVOOC

Who wouldn’t want the fastest charging technology in existence? While manufacturers kept upping battery capacities, OPPO focused on speeding up the already-fast VOOC to create SuperVOOC, which can fully charge a phone in less than an hour!

Best Tablet: Apple iPad Pro (2018)

At this point, the iPad Pro isn’t just a tablet anymore — it’s pretty much an alternative to the traditional laptop. This year’s iPad Pro is so fast, so well-designed, that it stands above all competitors by a mile.

Best Laptop: Huawei MateBook X Pro

The MateBook X Pro is a Windows laptop we never thought we’d see: It has an unparalleled screen-to-body ratio, gaming-level performance, and superb battery life. Why are we seeing a notebook this great only now?

Best Convertible: Lenovo Yoga Book C930

The Yoga Book is back, and it’s better than ever! The C930 follows up on the original Yoga Book with an improved dual-screen form and all the power and battery life you need out of a thin-and-light convertible.

Best Gaming Machine: ASUS ROG Strix Scar II

There have been lots of awe-inspiring gaming devices this year, but the ROG Strix Scar II takes the cake as the most well-rounded product. We’re in love with its near-borderless display, and how the rugged look matches the top-grade hardware.

Best Wearable: Apple Watch Series 4

When choosing a smartwatch, an Apple Watch is always a serious consideration with its sharp looks and buttery-smooth interface. The Series 4 is the lineup’s most daring entry yet, and is what we want most on our wrists.

Best Professional Camera: Sony A7 III

The Sony A7 III achieved the holy grail: placing a full-frame sensor and interchangeable-lens mount inside a relatively affordable body. It does everything we ask of it, whether for low-light photography or smooth video recording.

Best Compact Camera: Sony RX100 VA

Sony’s RX100 VA made an already-incredible pocketable camera even better. It’s been our go-to compact shooter this year, thanks to its impeccable image quality and ease of use.

Best Action Camera: GoPro Hero 7 Black

This was a no-brainer: The Hero 7 Black is the culmination of GoPro’s constant drive to create the best-performing, most user-friendly action camera in the market. Shaky video is definitely dead here.

Best Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3

Now in its third generation, the WH-1000XM3 delivers some of the best noise canceling and sound quality we’ve ever experienced in mainstream headphones. We can’t get enough of these cans!

Best VR/AR Experience: HomeCourt

When we want to up our basketball game, we look to HomeCourt to monitor our progress and improve our skills. It works flawlessly with our iPhones, and its straightforward interface simply makes us want to shoot more hoops.

Best Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro

It was a tall order, but DJI managed to make the hottest drone even more desirable. The Mavic 2 Pro ups the ante in every single aspect, from image quality to flying performance, while making all other drones in its class seem inferior.

Best Vehicle: Honda CR-V 2018

Out of the all the cars we drove this year, Honda’s 2018 CR-V impressed us the most. The way it presents a high-tech interior while maintaining the power and fuel efficiency of its diesel engine is unheard of at this price point.

Best Toy: PlayStation Classic

The classics are back in a complete yet portable package! The PlayStation Classic offers a solid roster that not only produces strong nostalgia, but also introduces now-retro games to a whole new generation of gamers.

Best Smart Speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

Every smart home needs a matching smart speaker, and nothing has been more fitting this year than the third-generation Echo Dot. It’s louder, more robust, and listens way better than models before it — absolutely essential for homebodies.

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Oops! OnePlus, Samsung figure in blunders: Weekend Rewind

They had a rough week

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. OnePlus won’t have first phone with latest Qualcomm chip after all

So about OnePlus getting first dibs on the Snapdragon 855 SoC, well, it’s not accurate. The announcement was just lost in translation.

In a report by Engadget, it appears there were two sets of slides for OnePlus’ presentation at the Snapdragon Summit in Maui. One is in English while the other is in Chinese. It was the English version that said OnePlus will be the first to get the Snapdragon 855 but it was mistranslated from Chinese which apparently said “among the first” and not the first.

Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 855 SoC in Hawaii which is a 5G-enabled chip among other things. Earlier this week, Samsung and Verizon also announced plans to release a 5G phone in the US in the first half of 2019.

2. Samsung caught using DSLR to promote live focus feature

Speaking of Samsung, the company also starred in their own blunder this week when they were caught using a photo taken with a DSLR to promote the live focus feature of the Galaxy A8 Star.

It was Dunja Djudjic of DIYPhotography who spotted her work — something she licensed on photo site EyeEm — on Samsung Malaysia’s website that implies it was taken with the Samsung phone. However, this was not the case as Djudjic says a DSLR was used to take the photo.

It’s common practice for advertising materials to be sourced from stock image sites. However, it shouldn’t be the case when promoting a smartphone camera’s capabilities. Samsung phones do take good photos so it’s a little puzzling why Samsung Malaysia went with this direction.

3. Samsung and Huawei will come out with holed phones in December

More on Samsung but on a less controversial note. The Korean company is set to announce their first holed smartphone on December 10 — the Samsung Galaxy A8s.

The date will be historic as Samsung looks to beat everyone to the punch by launching the first official smartphone to have a selfie camera within the display. Nothing is confirmed yet, but specs-wise the Galaxy A8s could have a 6.3-inch display with a Full HD+ resolution, Snapdragon 710 chipset, up to 6GB of RAM, and a 24MP selfie camera.

Huawei won’t be too far behind as they’re also announcing a phone with a similar front-facing camera setup on December 17.  The phone will be called the Nova 4.

The main Nova series always sports the top Kirin chipset despite not being part of the premium P or Mate series. When the Nova 3 was announced, it was rocking the Kirin 970; this means the Nova 4 might have the new Kirin 980.

4. iPhone XR has the best single-lens camera

Apple’s decision to stick to one has been validated. In a smartphone market filled with at least dual-camera setups, Apple still opted to go with just one on the more “affordable” iPhone XR.

DxOMark finds the iPhone XR’s camera to be a great performer scoring 101 points overall. This makes the iPhone XR the highest-rated single-cam device tested by DxOMark.

Question is, can the iPhone XR keep the throne for long? DxOMark has yet to put the Google Pixel 3 to test. It will be interesting to see once the result for Google’s latest smartphones comes out since the Pixel 3 has been killing it in smartphone photography — single lens or otherwise.

5. God of War is Game of the Year

God of War wins big at The Game Awards 2018 — the biggest awards show in gaming. The PlayStation 4 exclusive topped other interesting titles for Game of The Year including fellow PS4 exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man, Celeste, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Monster Hunter: World.

God of War also won Best Direction and Best Action/Adventure Game. Other notable games that got wins are Florence for Best Mobile Game, Dragon Ball FighterZ for Best Fighting Game, Fortnite for Best Multiplayer Game.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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