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.

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

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M20 hands-on: Give the users what they want

Awakening of the sleeping giant

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Samsung has been the smartphone market leader for half a decade now, and its flagship phones continue to be an inspiration for everyone. However, while the brand is dominating in developed markets, it has taken a massive beating in the developing ones.

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, the South Korean brand has consistently lost market share in countries like India. Samsung slowly prepared itself to change strategy by the end of last year and intends to go hard in 2019. It announced the new Galaxy M-series lineup of phones in the budget segment and the M10 and M20 are the first ones to roll off the shelf.

The M20 has been launched in India for INR 10,990 (US$ 154) and comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The option with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage costs INR 12,990 (US$ 182). The phone goes up against the Redmi 6 Pro, Realme U1, and even the Mi A2.

To start with, Samsung has opted to go with a basic design, consisting of a plastic body that is curved at the edges and is pretty glossy. The phone is extremely comfortable to hold, and the build quality is top-notch. Even the buttons are very tactile and bezels are smaller.

On the front is a 6.3-inch TFT display with a Full HD resolution and small water-drop style notch on the top. This is the first Samsung phone to feature a notch, and the display quality is surprisingly good. The color production is vivid and satisfying, while the viewing angles are perfect. It is easily visible even under direct sunlight.

For authentication, a fingerprint scanner is located on the rear and it is fast enough. You also have the option of face unlock and it works quickly in well-lit conditions. It has dual-SIM support and there’s a separate slot for microSD card, as well.

Powering the phone is an octa-core Exynos 7904 processor, which is considered to be on par with the Snapdragon 636. It is a very power-efficient processor with more emphasis on the cameras. Day-to-day tasks are handled smoothly and games like PUBG are playable with low graphics.

It has a dual-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor. The pictures clicked during daytime are decently saturated but lack sharpness. Even focus tends to get slow in low-light conditions. The wide-angle lens works best in bright surroundings only and is a very handy tool. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter with built-in beauty enhancements.

It ships with Samsung Experience 9.5 out of the box and is actually well optimized. There is barely any lag and the UI offers a plethora of customizations and features. The company announced that the Android Pie update will be landing soon. Lastly, it has a massive 5000mAh battery that’ll get you through two days of usage.

Xiaomi has been successful because it offers users a balanced product that suits everyone’s needs. With the M20, Samsung goes down the same road. While the recently announced A-series phones were for photography enthusiasts, the M20 is good enough for everything.

The M20 is no disruptor, but an indication that Samsung is gearing up. And as a generation-one product, it’s performing fairly well.

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Cameras

Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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Features

DALLA DALLA, Crazy Rich Asians: Now Playing

A Valentine’s special!

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While we wait for the Galaxy S10 to launch and MWC 2019 to start, let’s take a moment to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

If you don’t have a date, don’t be grumpy. Sometimes, all you need is self-love and entertainment to keep you going. Have some fun alone time and enjoy what’s now playing at GadgetMatch!

Movies to see

Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Marvin: If you’re single and unhappy about it this month, catching a late showing of Dragon Ball Super: Broly may be the best way to release stress in the theater. It’s by far the best Dragon Ball movie yet with tireless action and gorgeous visuals, plus it’s surprisingly friendly to both old fans and those new to the franchise.

Crazy Rich Asians
MJ: Crazy Rich Asians is a film for those who are ready to take it to the next level. It’s about standing up to people who get in the way of your happiness, and choosing what’s best for the person you love. It’s a dash of romance with a sprinkle of comedy to keep you from crying in heart-wrenching scenes.

TV shows to binge watch

Kakegurui
Rodneil: The anime follows a transfer student who seemed sweet and normal at first, but has an insatiable thirst for gambling. It’s a relatively easy watch and you can follow along even if you’re doing something else.

Games to play

Kingdom Hearts III
Rodneil: There’s too much backstory heading into this game that it can get super confusing, especially if this is your first game in the franchise. The story is clunky at best but the game is a visual spectacle. Push the narrative to the side and just play it for the fireworks.

Resident Evil 2
Marvin: I was too afraid to finish Resident Evil 2 on my own as a kid, so I’m glad it’s been remade for my braver adult self. In line with Valentine’s Day, I’d say it’s a perfect game to play with a partner so that you have someone to hold your hand during the most intense zombie sightings. 💕

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Kahit Ayaw Mo Na by This Band
Rodneil: Only caught wind of this song recently and I haven’t been able to stop listening since. It talks about someone wanting to work it out with her/his partner. However, the partner seems unwilling. The music invites multiple listens and the way the words flow is ear-candy.

Shine by Pentagon
Rodneil: My obsession with girl group Twice has served as a gateway to other K-Pop tracks, and this is one of them. It’s simply an absolutely fun song to listen to. A great pick-me-up to get you started in the morning.

Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Grannis
MJ: Kina Grannis’ strings and acoustic guitar rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic love song makes you remember how love is a force you can’t resist. The emotion you’ll feel in this song is overwhelming — ranging from the bliss of being in love to confusion and even heartbreak.

DALLA DALLA by ITZY
Vincenz: The song’s unique and dynamic blend of sounds, from a hip-hop centric intro and bridge up to a contrasting, bright chorus, makes it a great and catchy debut song (their visuals are exceptional, too). Message of the song? It’s all about empowerment and self-love!

Gokigen Sayonara (A Happy Goodbye) by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song caught my ears with its catchy tune and lyrics, which doesn’t usually happen since most J-Pop releases sound so different. Its lively, electro-pop vibe opposes the song’s message about bidding farewell to someone you truly love, but it works.

Cities/Places to visit

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Boracay
Marvin: Now cleaner and more beautiful than ever, Boracay’s beach is the perfect weekend getaway once again. A lot of activities and shops are still unavailable, but if you simply want to soak in the sun and sea breeze, it would be a great time to go once the tourists leave post-Valentine’s.


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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