Laptops

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019) review: Slimmer and evermore dependable

An upgrade that allows you to make time for things that are more important

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Editing on a 4-year-old laptop that wasn’t made for that purpose will take a toll not just on the machine itself, but on anyone using it. That’s the situation me and my 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro found ourselves in this year. As with any Mac device, it’s still usable if all you have to do is web browsing, word processing, and maybe some minor photo editing.

Pushing an underpowered notebook to do heavy multimedia tasks will suffice for a while but won’t benefit you nor the laptop in the long run. When you find yourself compromising not just speed but creativity, that’s when you know enough is enough. An upgrade is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Number talk

For a little bit more context, the 2019 MacBook Pro that I upgraded to is the 13-inch one — stay with me here — with 256GB SSD storage, powered by the 1.4GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor. I know that just sounds like a bunch of words and numbers mixed up, but to help you visualize: it’s the second one in the current 13-inch MacBook Pro lineup:

You might be thinking — who would give up a severely underpowered MacBook Pro for yet another Core i5 laptop? I’m well aware there are more much better options, including the last two in the infrographic. If power-hungry tasks like video editing are my only consideration for upgrading, I would have easily gone for the most expensive MacBook Pro. Heck, I would have waited for the cheese grater-looking Mac Pro and set up a workstation at home instead. But aside from performance, portability and price are important to me, too.

Beautiful design in a slimmer body

Laptops are made to be portable. Their very reason for being is to allow the user to get things done despite being away from a power source for extended periods of time. For a girl of average height who carries not just a laptop, but a whole gamut of equipment on a normal work day, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is just the perfect size.

When weighed on its own, the weight difference between the new MacBook Pro and the 2015 model or the 16-inch variant is negligible. When combined with a camera, lenses, tripod, hard drives, at least two smartphones, a bunch of cables, makeup, keys, wallet, and a few documents here and there, it will all feel like a whole day of workout.

The weight Apple shed off by making the new MacBook Pros thinner, no matter how miniscule, matters. As someone who also spent more time at airports than at home for the first half of the year, carrying a slimmer, lighter laptop for the latter half made a lot of difference. Every half pound lost is a half pound off my carry on bag.

I’ve been traveling around Asia and Europe with this thing since September. I’ve carried it with me to cafes, restaurants, airbnbs, hostels, meetings, work events — even to trade shows — and it got the job done without doing damage to my back. I can see myself using the bigger model — eventually, when I’ve managed to exercise my way to a stronger back and upper body.

Not to mention the tall order of finding stylish bags that fit bigger laptops — there’s just not a lot of options for women that not only suits my personal style, but also my budget. I remember using a 15-inch MacBook Pro briefly last year. Having to carry a heavier machine in a utilitarian bag that doesn’t go well with anything bogged me down. It just didn’t let me walk with the same confidence as this more portable laptop in a cute briefcase does. Needless to say, the struggle was real.

Apple took the port out of portable

Whether it’s a smartphone or laptop, making a device less hefty usually means making compromises on things that are essential to the user. Upgrading from the 2015 MacBook Pro meant losing two ports that I use the most when editing videos: the SD card reader and the USB-A port.

There is an easy fix, of course — a dongle — but easy doesn’t come cheap. I’m not gonna lie, having to spend extra on a USB-C dongle to add two ports that used to come free with any laptop purchase does not feel like an upgrade. It’s backwards. I can’t even use any of the accessories that came with my iPhone XS with this laptop — something that iPhone and Mac users used to be able to do with older models.

While I love how thin this laptop is, connecting a dongle to a portable device defeats the purpose of it being, well, portable. It’s not entirely impossible for a laptop to have ports built in and be extra portable at the same time. I’ve seen Windows laptops that are of the same heft, if not thinner, that still managed to include a USB-A port.

Thinner body, better battery

While the lack of ports is a big issue for my workflow, battery life on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is actually commendable — another thing that normally gets sacrificed when devices become thinner.

It would be unfair to say that the 2019 MacBook Pro lasts longer than the 2015 model. The latter understandably has poorer battery life as it’s been through whatever the equivalent of a world war is when it comes to laptops.

Still, I’m pleased to report that despite losing the extra weight, the 2019 MacBook Pro is so efficient that it lasts me more than a whole work day of writing, managing social media, web browsing, with an hour or two of the Spring Awakening soundtrack in the background.

Whenever I go to the office for our weekly meetings, I find myself never having to take my charger out of my bag. The rest of the team, meanwhile, would take their respective positions beside sockets to plug theirs after just 3-5 hours of use — even when they’re using the newer, high end Windows laptops that they review.

On days when I’m editing, I would normally have to charge the laptop twice as a YouTube video usually takes at least 12 hours to edit. That’s an entire work day of Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.

Despite my protests against the lack of essential ports on this machine, it needs to be pointed out that the two built in Thunderbolt 3 ports are made equally. This means no matter which port I end up plugging the charger to, it will work as expected. The same goes for external storage devices. This consistency is something you won’t get on other laptops that killed other ports in favor of USB-C.

Charging is also fast — with the bundled 61W adapter, plugging it for 30 minutes charges it from 10% to 42%. It takes just about an hour and 40 minutes to juice up from 10 to 100%, even while I’m writing a full feature article on Notes.

A laptop that can handle video editing, and more

Graphic design, illustration, and video editing are three things I need a laptop for. Other tasks like writing and photo editing I can manage to do on a smartphone, albeit at a slower pace.

Importing even short 1920×1080 clips to FCPX on my older MacBook Pro used to take such a long time, that I can finish reading a news article or browsing latest tweets before the pinwheel disappears. Editing on an underpowered machine didn’t just slow me down — it affected my focus, too.

I remember getting derailed from editing so many times while waiting for clips to render. Then came the time when I couldn’t animate or track even the shortest clips anymore and had to rely on someone else to do it for me. Not being able to execute what I had in mind because my laptop couldn’t handle it was not only frustrating — it was draining.

The 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro surprisingly handles anything I throw at it without hiccups — even when I have three projects on FCPX at the same time, and both Photoshop and After Effects running in the background. That’s something the 2015 model could not handle.

The videos I edit are usually just 1920×1080, but I’ve recently edited a one-minute 4K video and it worked out just fine. FCPX renders fast, exports fast, and doesn’t freeze at the most crucial moments. The bump in power has allowed me to be much more efficient and creative; I’ve been able to experiment without fear of apps crashing or having to wait for things to render.

The infamous keyboard

Another design change that allowed this laptop to be so thin is the controversial Butterfly keyboard. I’ve read and heard of complaints about it from so many people. Frankly, it was one of the things I was worried about having encountered that problem on a 2017 model in August.

A reliable keyboard is not just for writing; I use the keys for shortcuts on Photoshop and FCPX as well. Thankfully, I haven’t run into the same problems that plagued 2018 models and older. Any typos made with this thing has nothing but human error to blame. As far as the shorter travel that irks a lot of nitpickers, it’s something that I easily got used to once muscle memory kicked in.

The function keys on the newer MacBook Pro models are also gone. Replacing them is yet another controversial design decision: the Touch Bar. The only time I used any of the function keys was whenever I needed to adjust volume or brightness. I don’t feel like I’m missing out now that they’re gone as I can still do those on the narrow secondary screen that replaced the physical keys.

The Touch Bar still has a long way to go when it comes to functionality. Even when I’m editing videos, I default to keyboard shortcuts instead of the convenient keys that appear on it when I’m on FCPX. Strangely, I find it most useful when I’m on social media duty as suggested emoji are one tap away, eliminating the need to Google them one by one.

The physical power key is also gone — replacing it is a glass button that also doubles as a Touch ID sensor. It’s a tiny life-changing hardware change that I didn’t know I needed. Logging in with just a tap of a finger is not only so much faster, it’s also more secure.

What’s essential is visible to the naked eye

The 13-inch MacBook Pro gives 4K displays on other high-end laptops a run for their money. What Apple proves, time and again, with every piece of hardware they make is that it’s the quality of pixels that matter, and not the number.

Mac displays’ color accuracy has always been unmatched, and the same can be said about this device. The last thing I want is to oversaturate video footage or photos because my laptop display is too dull — a problem I haven’t had since switching to Mac.

While some people would prefer to turn off True Tone when editing photos and videos for better color accuracy, I keep it perpetually turned on. True Tone is designed to make whites easier on the eyes. It adjusts automatically depending on the ambient light.

The display is also bright enough that the only time I crank it up to full brightness is whenever I’m working outdoors — under direct sunlight — which rarely happens anyway. Indoors it stays at around 30-50%, and only 10% at night when I’m winding down before sleep.

Of course, a great display translates to a great Netflix and chill experience. I’m no display expert, but even the gloomiest episodes of The Crown registers as accurately as a colorful animated movie like Frozen. I’m also no audio expert, but the speakers are more than loud enough for my needs.

My only complaint about the display is how easily it picks up grime and fingerprint smudges. It’s not a deal breaker; it’s just the only thing that’s not aesthetically pleasing in an otherwise beautifully designed notebook.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s such a relief when you can just do what you need to do without waiting or worrying. Even when things need to be rushed or they happen at the last minute, I know I can deliver because the 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro can. It’s that capable and reliable.

As a Mac user what I appreciate the most about this upgrade is the same thing nitpickers hate about it — its familiarity. The changes between this and the 2015 model are significant enough, but all done in a similar form factor. The slimmer body and its more efficient internals make it feel like what I’m using is new, without having to deal with a learning curve that usually comes with any hardware upgrade.

If you are using a 2015 MacBook Pro or older, and have noticed that it’s slowed you down, consider upgrading to the 2019 MacBook Pro. If you prefer the 13-inch model like me and have an extra SG$ 700 to spend, go all the way and get the maxed out model. You’ll benefit from better speeds, graphics, and more storage. If what you do requires more power, Apple just announced the new 16-inch model that we will also be reviewing shortly.

When life requires you to be on the go, there’s no better machine to help you accomplish your tasks than the 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s thin, light, and narrow enough to be taken and used anywhere — even on an economy class flight’s tray table — yet powerful enough to execute your creative vision and help you get the job done.

What you’re buying when you get the 13-inch MacBook Pro is not just a new laptop; you’re investing in peace of mind, time, and other resources for matters that are more important. Little by little, it’s created space in my life for more ideas, hobbies, self-care, even in-person interactions, that used to be occupied by waiting for clips to render or images to resize. When you have a tool that’s this dependable, you get to do things you never thought you could do again.

Laptops

Jojo Rabbit director threw some nasty shade at Apple

Keyboards are terrible, he said

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Image source: Kyusung Gong / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Yesterday, Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi enjoyed a wide successful night at the Oscars, bagging the award for best adapted screenplay. As is custom, every Oscar winner was interviewed right after their win. Waititi was no different. However, besides talking about his historic win, he went off on a strange tangent.

In the round of interviews, entertainment outlet IndieWire asked about Waititi’s stance on the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and what writers should demand for. Waititi didn’t waste a breath thinking about his answer.

“Apple needs to fix those keyboards,” Waititi waved his hand, cutting the interviewer’s question short.

“They are impossible to write on. They’ve gotten worse. Makes me want to go back to PCs,” he continued. Then, he asks the room if anyone is still using a PC, eliciting a few nods from the crowd.

“On PC, the bounce-back for your fingers is way better.” His fingers mimicked typing on a keyboard. He explains that he has “some shoulder problems,” making Apple’s keyboards even worse. “What happens is, you open the laptop, and you’re like this,” he squeezed his elbows uncomfortably closer to his torso.

“We’ve just got to fix those keyboards,” he finished. “WGA needs to stop in and do something.”

This isn’t the first time that Apple’s keyboards were the butt of a joke. In 2016, Apple ushered in a new era for Mac keyboards — the infamous butterfly switch. Even if you use a PC, you know the butterfly problem by now. Though intended as a feature for comfort, the butterfly keyboard ultimately caused more inconvenience than preventing it, allowing crumbs to get in and destroying keys. Eventually, Apple tried a different material to reduce issues, but kept the butterfly system all the same.

Waititi’s concerns echo the sentiments of Apple’s main market: an army of creatives who write every single day. If the thousands of complaints don’t do it, maybe a critically acclaimed director’s will.

SEE ALSO: This is how Apple envisions the next iMac

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Laptops

Lenovo IdeaPad S540 review: A professional’s daily driver

An essential for every career-driven millennial

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As a 20-something millennial, I always feel like time is running out. I have this inane need to accomplish so much at a young age. Friends and mentors alike remind me that life’s not a race, but I can’t help it — I’m too passionate.

I’ve always been determined to have a high-flying career before I reach 30. Years fly by so quickly, which is why there’s an urge to achieve so many in a short span of time. Not to mention, global warming is real, wars could happen any minute, and we all could be dead soon. I don’t want to die without reaching my dreams.

To achieve my goals, I ensure I’m equipped with the right gear in building my career. For starters, we all need a laptop that does its job so we can focus on our work.

Make an impression through your gear

Enter Lenovo’s IdeaPad S540. This premium ultrabook is a tad better than the IdeaPad S340. However, both laptops look similar due to Lenovo’s design language — which should be revamped if you think about it. I would’ve appreciated it better if the logo’s more subtle (and if it’s probably embossed).

The IdeaPad S540 comes in three beautiful colors — black, grey, and copper. Of course, mine would come in the beautiful copper. After all, millennials have a flair for style — we wouldn’t settle for anything that’s boring.

It comes in a sleek-looking, matte-finished, aluminum body that’s so smooth, you’d want to caress it with your fingers for an entire day. When you present with this laptop, people will know you mean business — serious, but not boring.

Finding comfort in its shortcomings

Its screen is humongous, coming in with a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display. There’s so much you can do with a screen this big, even though it has thick bezels on its top and bottom. Glare could be a problem, especially when you love working somewhere bright and open.

Typing is sweet with this beaut, especially for someone who types a lot. Its keys are evenly placed and big enough for my tiny fingers to press on.

On the other hand, its trackpad remains as Lenovo’s weak point. Just like the IdeaPad S340, the S540’s trackpad isn’t smooth enough for navigation. Gliding your fingers create a squeaky sound that would make your eardrums cringe.

Security-wise, you can finally calm the F down since Lenovo cares about it, too. We all hate spying cameras, thus, Lenovo allows you to cover your laptop’s camera with a shutter whenever you’re not using it. For even tighter security, the IdeaPad S540 has a fingerprint reader located on the keyboard’s bottom right.

Stay connected, wherever

On the left side, you can find the power input, an HDMI port for your presentation needs, and our well-loved USB 3.1 port, along with an audio jack located at the mid-bottom.

Found on the right side are two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and indicator lights.

Side note: Its hinge and design were built to handle being laid flat on a table, for presentation purposes. Do note it doesn’t do yoga. If you want a convertible, better check Lenovo’s Yoga lineup.

Get all your job done

The IdeaPad S540 is more than enough for most professionals. This particular model is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565u at 1.80GHz processor, which can go up to 4.60GHz with Turbo Boost. Additionally, it carries 12GB of DDR4 memory, along with 512GB SSD storage and an Nvidia MX250 GPU.

This laptop can handle your habit of opening multiple tabs at the same time, with heavyweight apps like Spotify, Netflix, or even Adobe’s Creative Suite running in the background. I mostly deal with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom, with a bit of video editing on the side — and I was able to do all my creative work albeit only at a bare minimum.

Its display wasn’t made for creative professionals, and it heats up when using memory-consuming software for a prolonged time. But for most users dealing with large files, a bunch of emails, browsing, surfing, spreadsheets, and occasional entertainment like binge-watching on Netflix, the IdeaPad S540 is more than enough.

Being a humongous laptop, the IdeaPad S540 doubles as your business companion and entertainment hub. It has a Dolby Audio speaker system, producing decent sound for all your leisure needs. For those obsessed with audio, you might want to look elsewhere because this isn’t the laptop for you. Better buy a different speaker system and connect it to this laptop.

We might need more juice

If you’re looking at a laptop this big, it’s expected to have a lot of juice. Thankfully, the IdeaPad S540 delivers what’s expected from it. Lenovo boasts up to 12 hours of battery life, but most people nowadays are classified as power-hungry users, rendering the 12-hour promise to be useless since it’s going to be shorter.

For instance, I spent one afternoon in Malongo Atelier Barista enjoying a refreshing Iced Coffee while doing my work. I sat around 4 o’clock in the afternoon with a full battery, diving into a pile of articles to write.

Additionally, I’ve been jamming to my favorite playlist from The Bold Type so I can be more productive. Settings include 100% brightness and max volume, while connected to Wi-Fi. In between sipping my coffee, listening to interviews that I recorded, and social media breaks, the IdeaPad S540 drops 10 to 15 percent of its battery per hour.

Before 8 o’clock in the evening, my battery dropped below 20 percent already, prompting me to charge my machine. Almost four hours for a power-hungry is kinda meh but given my usage, I’d say it did its best. At least, I didn’t encounter any hiccups while navigating my work. It was seamless and smooth!

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re in need of a daily driver, the IdeaPad S540 is an ideal laptop to suit your professional needs. It’s perfect for those looking for a laptop powerful enough to handle multitasking for business and entertainment use.

For PhP 65,995 (US$ 1295), the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 (S540-15IWL, version 81NE0049PH) is a good investment to propel your career. When you’re on your way up on your career ladder, you can buy and use better, higher-end, and possibly flagship laptops that definitely cost a fortune.

For now, this will do. The key to creating milestones in your career is to take baby steps, and buying a laptop to suit your professional needs is one such step you need to take.

Update as of 02/11/2020: Lenovo drops the price for the IdeaPad S540 from PhP 65,995 to PhP 59,995. Additionally, those who will purchase will be entitled to 24-months international and local onsite warranty with Premium Care. Get perks such as On-site service, 24/7 service hotline with senior technicians, priority allocation for replacement parts, annual PC health check, and more. For more information about the warranty, visit their promo page.

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Reasons why the Huawei Matebook D 15 is an easy buy

It’s almost a no brainer

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There’s a sea of laptops available in the market right now. Deciding which one to buy can be truly overwhelming. It also doesn’t help that some of the names are confusing.

Enter the Huawei Matebook D 15. There’s something about this laptop that just feels sleek and clean. And it’s not just the exterior. Everything about it just works.

To give you a better idea, allow us to run down the reasons why this is a seamless, no fuss, everyday workhorse of a laptop.

A premium, modern look

Whether we admit it or not, we care about how our things look. And the Huawei Matebook D 15, well, it looks good. There’s something about its unibody design that just screams premium.

Anyone who sees you carrying this around will think it probably cost you an arm and a leg. Which isn’t the case but unless they ask, I’m sure it’s fine to let them keep thinking that.

In case you’re wondering, yes that’s a metallic body but not the type that’s heavy. Despite being a 15-inch notebook, it weighs only 1.53kg and is pretty slim at only 16.9mm thick.

Speaking of 15-inches, it’s actually a 15.6-inch FullView display. The 87 percent screen-to-body ratio is another testament to the premium look and feel of this notebook.

It really feels like you see more and the whole display real estate is maximized. That display, by the way, has been certified to reduce the light effect that puts strains on our eyes. That means you can go straight from working to Netflix and chillin’ without worrying too much about harming the windows to your soul.

Seamless access to your phone

There’s this one feature that has kept Apple users in their ecosystem — it’s called AirDrop. It’s basically a seamless way to transfer files from your phone to your laptop and vice versa. It’s one of the most convenient things to ever exist.

The feature hasn’t been rivaled. At least, not until Huawei Share came along. Huawei Share gets the concept of the AirDrop and takes it a step further.

Turn on NFC and Bluetooth on your Huawei or Honor phone, and simply place it on top of the Huawei Share sticker on the right hand area of the Matebook D 15. This will instantly sync your phone to the laptop.

You’ll have a floating screen that will let you access everything on your phone through the notebook. This means you can quickly get to all your messaging and chat apps in just one window and not worry about downloading PC versions of those apps.

Yes, you also have access to the phone’s cameras in this mode. Can you imagine the possibilities?

Fast and secure fingerprint power button

This feature seemed like an obvious decision with phones bearing fingerprint sensors, it made sense to bring it over to laptops.

The fingerprint power button on the Huawei Matebook D 15 does exactly what its name suggests. It powers the notebook while simultaneously authenticating its users’ identity. This whole process takes just a few seconds, it doesn’t even feel like it’s doing two things at once.

Speaking of security, you will be happy to know that this notebook’s webcam won’t be able to “accidentally” capture you. With security concerns about webcams being accessed remotely, Huawei employed a recessed camera system.

The camera is hidden under a key that sits in between the function keys. Press down on it to reveal the camera when you actually need to use it. It’s a simple solution but one that lets you rest easy.

2-in-1 in three ways

The first two ways we’ve actually talked about already. First is with Huawei Share. The new function gives you a Mobile phone PC experience — that’s something that feels new and truly groundbreaking.

Next is the fingerprint power button. You not only power the device, it also makes sure that the person turning it on is supposed to be able to access it. Two things happening at the same time.

Lastly there’s the charger. The Huawei Matebook D 15 uses a type-c interface charger. Thanks to the usb-c’s power negotiating tech, you can charge not only the notebook but also your phone using the same light and compact power brick. Again, 2-in-1 and absolutely efficient and convenient.

Ready to deliver where it matters

At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Yes, those are all great features but can it actually get work done?”

The short answer is yes. It’s a laptop equipped with the AMD Ryzen 3500U processor. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a processor that’s often been compared to the Intel Core i5 8250u. What that means is that this laptop is more than capable of handling everything you do on a browser along with the usual Microsoft office suite.

It’s also good enough to handle some Photoshop work. If you feel like pushing it, this machine can also handle some light video editing thanks to its 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD storage that’s paired with 1TB HDD storage.

Premium portable performance

As far as the basic to intermediate stuff that you have to do on a laptop, the Huawei Matebook D 15 can more than handle it.

The fact that it comes in a light and thin form-factor means it won’t break your back even if you carry it around all day — a boon for the young workforce today who thrive in working remotely.

The sleek look means you wouldn’t be ashamed to whip this out during a meeting or a presentation. There probably aren’t too many notebooks at this price point that look nearly as elegant.

So if you’re looking to purchase your first laptop, it’s almost a no brainer — the Huawei Matebook D 15 is an easy buy.

Pricing and availability

The Huawei Matebook D 15 comes in Space Grey. It retails for PhP 37,990. Pre-order period is from February 8 to 14, 2020. Those who pre-order will also get a hold of PhP 9,990 worth of freebies including a Huawei T3 8″ tablet, a Huawei Bluetooth mouse, and a Huawei backpack. The freebies are on a first come, first serve basis.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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