Features

A beginner’s guide to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Wizards, unite!

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Niantic, Inc. has just rolled out its brand new game to over 150 countries worldwide over the weekend. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is also a location-based game that uses augmented reality and builds on the current platform of the company’s games Pokémon Go and Ingress.

Quick disclosure: I’m far from being a Potterhead so I might not get the right terms related to the franchise in this article. Although, I’m a long-time and current player of Pokémon Go hence I checked out Wizards Unite.

Onto the game itself. If you’re like some players I know who would rather just get to the game right away and skip the numerous pages of introduction and dialogues, the main plot of the story is pretty simple. A mysterious event called Calamity has struck resulting in certain magical items and beings to scatter in the real world.

It is your job as part of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force to bring these items, people, and creatures back to the Wizarding World and complete your registry. This registry acts like your Pokédex and tells you what you have and things to look out for.

Throughout the game, you will come across different terms, items, and structures. Let’s take a quick look at the basic elements of the game:

Professions – Just like in the books and movies, you can choose from three types of professions once you reach level six. These are Auror, Magizoologist, and Professor.

Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and complements the other two during battles. It’s important to note that you can later on switch professions if you wish to but the upgrades already bought could no longer be reattributed.

Confoundables vs Foundables – In Wizards Unite, foundables are those you hunt down to bring back to their proper time and location. Meanwhile, you banish the confoundables that are responsible for getting the foundables stuck in our world.

Casting Spells – In order to banish confoundables, you need to cast spells by accurately tracing the pattern shown on your smartphones. There are about ten spells available as of the time of writing but the company says they will eventually be adding more. In addition to accuracy of tracing, speed also plays a big part to achieve a “Masterful” trace (there’s Fair, Good, Great, and Masterful).

Spell Energy –  You’ll need to have spell energy to cast spells. Initially, you’re allotted up to 75 energy points and you use them whenever you try to cast spells on the confoundables. When it reaches zero, it’s basically the equivalent of running out of Pokéballs and you could no longer “catch” foundables.

Structures – Structures like Inns and Greenhouses are your way of getting more spell energy and ingredients to make useful potions. Inns will give out energy by dining in them, while Greenhouses churn out ingredients to make different potions. So playing in areas densely populated with Inns and Greenhouses will ensure you have the resources for a more efficient grinding session.

There’s a third kind of structure and it’s the Fortress. A fortress is a place where up to four friends can join forces and battle together different sets of magical creatures to further upgrade their abilities and come across rarer entries for the registry. Every tier gets tougher and tougher so it encourages players to team up with new players and overcome stronger foes.

Potions – As mentioned earlier, you can concoct your own potions by getting ingredients from Greenhouses. As per usual, these potions vary with different effects and can be used in battles either to heal yourself, make the spell more effective, or prevent the foundable from departing away and missing the chance to add it to your registry.

Portkeys – To get you moving while playing the game, you’ll be able to collect Portkeys that only open after walking certain distances in the real world. Right now there are 2KM/5KM/10KM variations of Portkeys and once it’s opened, it has the power to bring you to different locations so you can collect items and even XP.

Now that most of the basics have been covered, here are some tips to keep in mind while playing based on me and my wife’s experiences.

  • Download all assets as soon as you can. This will make loading times faster while performance will be more stable.
  • Turn on Trace Auto-Align to make encounters with AR slightly faster
  • An Inn with a green color serves up to 10 energy points, purple and blue give up to seven, brown up to six, and a pink one only dishes out a maximum of three energy points.
  • Master Notes are secret patterns that reduce brewing time of potions. Figure it out by checking the available patterns at the Potions Info page.
  • As the stages you battle in Fortresses level up, magical creatures grow stronger. Having a friend to fight alongside you will be needed even more so in the higher tiers of Fortress matches.
  • If you see a floating icon with a beam of light above it, it means it’s a high risk foundable with high rewards. Be sure to get it!

  • Use Dark Detectors for rarer foundables to appear, Exstimulo potions against higher risk foundables, and Baruffio’s Brain Elixir before claiming rewards like Portkeys to get double XP.
  • Flags and smoke from Greenhouses and Inns, respectively, signify they’re still on cooldown.
  • Be sure to have enough energy before battling at Fortresses. Quitting during an unfinished session will render the Runestone useless.
  • Turning off AR during encounters is easier for the phone and will save precious battery life.
  • Just keep on playing. Niantic’s games reward players who just keep on exploring new things (or simply staying) in the game.

If there’s anything we missed or if you want to add to these tips, be sure to leave a comment!

Hands-On

vivo X50 Hands-On: Underrated, overshadowed

It deserves some spotlight

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We’ve all felt inadequate. This is especially when we’re surrounded by people we believe are better than us. This is the feeling I remember after having used the vivo X50 for a few days.

To start with, the vivo X50 is the more affordable sibling in the X50 series. It lacks the features that sets the X50 Pro apart: the Gimbal camera system, a flagship-grade chipset, and 5G connectivity.

But do we even need all the features that the X50 Pro has? For everyday users, the X50 is more than enough, and it deserves to be given a chance.

Like a dapper gentleman

First and foremost, the X50 is gleamingly handsome. If I were to draw a character, the X50 would look like a high-maintenance, dapper gentleman, whose hair and beard were trimmed and sculpted in a barberdashery (a barber and haberdashery in one) like Felipe & Sons.

It exudes a classic appearance that makes you want to hold it. But before you do that, you’d have to choose between the matte Frost Blue and the fingerprint-magnet glass in Glaze Black.

Personally, I prefer the Glaze Black due to my habit of leaving memories behind, like a smudge on a glass. Kidding aside, I love the reflective mirror-like design.

But its design doesn’t matter as much since I tend to slap a case on any phone I use. If I won’t, there’s a ninety-six percent chance of glass phones slipping from my regularly moisturized hands.

Comfortable and entertaining

Surprisingly, the X50 is lightweight and slim enough to sit comfortably in my tiny hands. It can reach the in-display fingerprint scanner easily.

On the front, the vivo X50 prides itself on the same 6.56-inch AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ technology like the X50 Pro. Watching videos and playing games is a treat with its vibrant colors, high contrast, and bright screen.

There’s also an Ultra Game Mode — an exclusive feature found on Funtouch OS 10.5 (based on Android 10). Mobile games like PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legend: Bang Bang are supported by vivo’s gaming feature.

In case you didn’t know, this feature helps you stay focused on your game, whether you’re playing for fun or competitively. Notifications are definitely turned off and your system’s resources are managed well, especially when you opt for Esports mode. There will be no accidental touches, annoying calls, and it moderates your phone’s temperature for smoother gameplay. Moreover, it saves battery.

Serving more than enough of what you really need

Frankly, the vivo X50 packs enough power to fuel your entertainment needs. Whether it’s intensive gaming or seamless performance. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730 and sports an 8GB RAM and 128GB built-in storage.

This handset is also equipped with a 4200mAh battery and supports vivo FlashCharge 2.0, reaching 33W of fast charging. Of course, it uses a Type-C port and cable, just like any normal 2020 phone.

With a bigger juice and near-flagship grade chipset, you can ensure a long-lasting experience. You can play to your heart’s content and binge-watch all 16 episodes of the latest K-drama people are talking about.

In my case, I watched the visual spectacle that is Fire Force — an animé based on the manga of the same name filled with brilliant animation sequences and blazingly hot character designs.

The downside in having this exquisite display while playing games or watching shows is the intrusive punch-hole cutout, which houses its 32-megapixel selfie camera.

Getting that glass skin

Moving to its selfies, the front camera struggles to take clear and decent selfies at low light but performs exceptionally with sufficient daylight.

Even under harsh sunlight, the vivo X50 snaps portrait-oriented selfies perfectly… for the ‘gram. I uploaded my selfies on Instagram Story’s Close Friends feature, handpicking people that are attracted to me so I can receive comments and validation.

Most of them complimented how I looked fresh, striking a close resemblance to South Korean actors’ glass skin apparent in K-dramas. On the other hand, some people were hesitant to compliment me because they’re too afraid to flirt and possibly fall for me. (Just kidding.)

Choosing the real you

But the truth is I’m not pore-less, and I refused to use vivo’s beauty mode since I thought it was too intense. Despite having beauty mode tailored for men, I was still averse since a beautified version of myself is far from how I actually look. And definitely not how I want to be seen.

What seems to be the common case in my selfies is how vivo pads beautification in its post-processing, even if you’re not actively using its beauty mode.

The thing is, vivo’s front camera uses an f/2.45 aperture, which results in backlit photos and brightened selfies. For reference, you can look at the well-lit busy background and cerulean-like sky on the middle photo above. Meanwhile, the photo on the right looks overexposed, even though I’m just basking under the sunlight inside a car.

However, this nitpicking can be handled easily if you know some tips and tricks in taking better selfies. Overall, the quality looks decent, and any selfie-taker or young professional who’d love to look good for a self-esteem boost will be satisfied with the results.

Putting Portrait Mode on a pedestal

It’s been years, but smartphone companies are still far from perfect in terms of their cameras’ portrait modes. Evident in the X50 is vivo’s attempt to produce cleaner bokeh albeit still unrefined.

When taking photos against a busy background, Portrait Mode should help you produce cleaner outputs while keeping the focus on the subject. But it’s still unpolished, as seen through the cutouts around my hair and shoulders. Additionally, vivo smartly applied HDR which lit my background causing haze around my face and hair.

Forgive me for slapping a clear case meant for the X50 Pro, I just really needed to put a case on.

Using its rear camera, the Portrait Mode had troubles dealing with depth of field (DoF), blurring my arms together with the background in the mirror. If you struggle with Portrait Mode, I mentioned in one of my camera hacks a trick on how to use mirrors to create better depth.

This way, you don’t have to be dependent on maxing out Portrait Mode, which results in ugly cutouts where you’d look like a pasted magazine cutout in a gaussian blurred image.

For every moment you can capture

The vivo X50 uses a quad-camera system similar to the X50 Pro, only with a smaller camera bump and narrower module. It uses Sony’s IMX598 sensor, comprised of a 48-megapixel primary shooter, a 13-megapixel portrait camera (with 50mm prime lens), an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 5-megapixel macro camera.

When compared to phones in a similar price range, the X50 is a mild contender in the camera department. It certainly packs useful features in shooting any type of photos. There’s a 120-degree super wide-angle, a clear 2X optical zoom, and 20X digital zoom.

Shot in auto mode on a 1:1 format (Square)

 

Backlit shot in auto mode on a 1:1 format (Square)

 

Flat lay produced through 2X optical zoom

 

20X digital zoom on a hive in my home’s window

 

Horizontal macro shot taken by placing the cameras close to the flowers

 

Vertical macro shot taken by placing the cameras close to the flowers

While vivo boasts of sharp and crystal clear night shots, I wasn’t able to test it due to curfew restrictions in my neighborhood.

The way our heart beats with strong connections

Casual users like me spend most of our time watching videos and listening to music. Of course, audio is as important as the display and other features. To audiophiles, vivo isn’t worth considering despite starting its humble story with peerless audio tuning.

Regardless, the vivo X50 fills a room loud enough like a night club booming with party speakers. It doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but Type-C wired earphones will still work well.

If you’re down with vivo’s ecosystem, it’s better to get the vivo TWS Neo since it pairs easily with the X50. Just like any other smartphone brand, vivo is focused in creating a seamless connection between its devices. With an R&D focused in audio, you get the same rich sound in both the X50 and TWS Neo.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

On paper, tech junkies might say a lot about its internals, yet vivo is more than the specs it offers. For years, vivo has been delivering an experience that is relevant to casual consumers.

The X50 is a testament to vivo’s history — offering the right power that everyday users need. While there are similar upper midrange phones with better specs and features, the vivo X50 still promises an all-around experience.

It may not have the X50 Pro’s flagship-grade power and extra features, the X50 serves that nearly similar flagship experience, at a reduced price. Undisturbed gaming, near-flagship efficient performance, better selfies and balanced cameras, and seamless ecosystem — what’s there to ask for?

Undoubtedly, it’s similar to the Samsung Galaxy A71. Both handsets are well-rounded, yet the X50 has a better build and design.

The vivo X50 retails for PhP 25,999 (US$ 536) in vivo’s official stores and authorized retail partners. Select outlets will also add in an exclusively X50 fit silicone Comfy case.

SEE ALSO: In having healthy connections through the vivo TWS Neo

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Features

Why the IdeaPad is an ideal partner

For getting started and more

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Lenovo IdeaPad

Every good thing we have today began with an idea. But it didn’t end as just being that.

When you’re in the late stages of college or university education or perhaps about to enter the workforce, this is the time when you’re full of youthful energy and a desire to make a dent in the world.

It’s also around this time that you’re bursting at the seams with ideas on what you want to do, and what you want to contribute to society. You might also be looking for a tool that can help you bring these ideas to life.

It’s a critical time in your life and you may not have the resources for multiple tools. So if you’re putting all your eggs in one basket — or in this case one gadget — let it be something that’s powerful, versatile, and can match all your needs.

Here’s an idea: Perhaps you should get a Lenovo IdeaPad! We think you should choose the new IdeaPad Slim 5/5i or IdeaPad Flex 5/5i. Read on to know why.

The processing power you need 

The IdeaPad Slim 5/5i and Flex 5/5i are equipped with fresh Intel or AMD Ryzen processors to go along with configurations of up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 1TB of SSD internal storage. That means all the computing power and speed you would need to last you for a few years.

Whether you’re dealing with tons of documents, endless pages of spreadsheets, and slide after slide of presentations, an IdeaPad will have you more than covered.

A workhorse like you deserves a partner that can more than keep up. These IdeaPads come with batteries that can stay with you for over 10 hours. Whether you’re making things happen at home or lugging it around for necessary remote work, it’s a device that has enough juice for a day.

Tools that keep you going

If you’re working with videos and images, the IdeaPad Slim 5/5i and Flex 5/5i will surely help in bringing your ideas to life. The only limit is your imagination.

It’s peppered with ports to unlock the multimedia mage in you. IdeaPads typically have a USB-C port, two USB 3.1 ports, a DisplayPort, an SD card reader, and an audio jack. You’re also equipped with competent connectivity (WiFi 5, Bluetooth 4.2). That’s everything you need to work your magic.

If you’re really deep into the arts, the IdeaPad Flex 5/5i comes with a stylus to give your creativity even more flexibility. Flip it however you like and whatever form you’re comfortable with. This is a gadget line that won’t leave you wanting.

A worthy partner

Life is already difficult enough as it is. Make it easier on yourself by choosing a partner that will help you achieve your goals. A partner that can stay with you through the grind and enable you to do things you probably didn’t think you’re capable of.

You need a partner that you can just let loose on without fear that it will give up on you at a crucial moment. This is what Lenovo IdeaPads are built for. They’re designed to provide you better opportunities, greater connectivity, and the ability to transcend limitations with its smarter technology and solutions that unlock your potential when turning ideas into reality.

The IdeaPad Slim 5/5i and Flex 5/5i are pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019 and come bundled with Lenovo’s 3-Year Premium Care warranty upon purchase. This top-notch service provides customers with direct access to Lenovo engineers. They can guide you on basic troubleshooting and do an annual PC Health Check, as well as on-site repairs if absolutely necessary.

Don’t let yourself be held back by machines that fall short of the greatness you wish to achieve. With a Lenovo IdeaPad, you’re equipped with the necessary tools to make it big. Once you have one, all you really need is an idea to build on.


Contact any Lenovo authorized reseller to get your hands on an IdeaPad: http://lenovoph.com/authorizedresellers

This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Lenovo Philippines.

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Apps

How to get NBA League Pass with your telco provider

There are two package options

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NBA action is in full swing. In fact, it has been since August when the season restarted following a shut down that was caused by the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. As of writing, we’re in the thick of the Conference Finals series. If you want to catch all the action, here’s how you can get NBA League Pass through different telecomm providers in the Philippines.

It’s now easier than ever to get access to the games legally. All of Smart, PLDT, and Globe are offering the same price packages.

PhP 85 — Watch any three games of your choice
PhP 485 — 30-day pass for all games including live and on-demand

Here’s how to get the subscription for each provider.

Smart Postpaid and Prepaid
(Also works with TNT and SUN Postpaid)

  • Download the NBA app (iOS / Android /APKPure)
  • On the app, click on the icon at the top-right corner
  • Click sign-in
  • A banner on top of the page will appear for Smart, Sun and TNT subscribers
  • Click ‘Get Started’
  • Enter mobile number for verification and a one-time PIN which will be sent to your mobile number
  • Choose your provider: Smart, TNT or Sun.
  • Choose your NBA League Pass Package (3-game or 30-days) and enter mobile number
  • Confirm your payment by entering the one-time PIN sent to your mobile number
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

PLDT Home

  • Go to pldthome.com/nbaleaguepass
  • Select your preferred package
  • The amount will be added to your next bill
  • PLDT will give a voucher
  • Download and sign-in to the NBA app
  • Enter the voucher in the promotion code field
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

Globe

  • Open the GCash app
  • Go to Buy Load
  • Look for the PayTV tab
  • Choose your preferred package. (Note: The chosen package is valid for 90 days).
  • Confirm payment
  • Open the NBA app and enjoy!

As mentioned earlier, we’re no in the Conference Finals with four teams remaining. Dueling in the West are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile in the East, it’s a battle between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.

A new NBA champion will likely be crowned in the next 30 days so now is the best time to subscribe!

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