Laptops

There’s more in the making: Apple’s next event is on October 30

There’s more?

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Never in recent memory have we had this many tech events scheduled back-to-back-to-back as this October 2018. We’re only half way through and we’ve been to four so far — launches for the LG V40, Google Pixel 3, Razer Phone 2, and Huawei Mate 20. Sadly, we missed Microsoft’s Surface event.

Techtober, as some journalists call it, is one of the busiest months and it seems Apple wants to end it with a bang as it sends out invites to an October 30 event in Brooklyn, New York. The announcement comes a little over one month after the company unveiled its next generation of iPhones, and only a few days after the more affordable iPhone XR rolls out to over 50 countries and territories.

Thinner bezels will be a running theme throughout the event, as Apple is expected to unveil a new iPad Pro with Face ID, and possibly a low-cost MacBook or MacBook Air as reported by Bloomberg.

 

Laptops

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo: A multitasker’s dream

Is the expensive price tag worth it?

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I used to play MMORPGs while doing my schoolwork. Back then, I dreamed about working on a dual-monitor set up so I can multitask. Of course, my younger self won’t be able to afford a customized set up let alone convince his parents to buy one for him.

It was always a dream, given that my attention span is as short as a goldfish; moving from one task to another, wanting to do a lot of things all at once. Unexpectedly, my childhood dream reemerged when I got my hands on the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo.

Perfect Dual Display

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo was first unveiled in Taipei during Computex 2019, enthralling everyone with a stunning, dual touchscreen display. Everyone dubbed it “The Laptop of Tomorrow” since its futuristic design could be a glimpse of how laptops might look like in the near future.

The ZenBook Pro Duo prides itself with a 4K OLED touchscreen 15.6″ main display. Yes, ASUS combined a 4K clarity and OLED display to show-off how premium this laptop is. Watching any form of entertainment is a visual treat in its humongous, stunning screen. You’ll surely build a mini theater at the comforts of your own home.

Additionally, this laptop boasts its crown jewel — the ScreenPad Plus. It’s a 4K secondary touchscreen display using an IPS LCD panel. Most people were amazed when they saw me working on a dual-display laptop. Everyone was curious and mesmerized but little did they know, it’s not that glamorous. Due to its flat placement, you have to look down to see what’s going on. Honestly, it’s impossible to look and read properly without straining your nape.

On top of the problem with its viewing angle, its aspect ratio isn’t perfect. You need to open a minimum of two apps and a maximum of three to fit the screen properly. The software used in ScreenPad Plus needs a lot of improvement.

Looking at the bright side, the ScreenPad Plus is a great way to multitask. I used to open Slack to keep in touch with my colleagues while I work remotely and play either Spotify or Netflix as background noise. In some occasions, creative individuals can use the ScreenPad Plus as an extension of their workspace while working on an artwork.

One of my favorite artists, Lei Melendres, used the secondary screen to watch YouTube videos while viewing his reference photos as a drawing guide. There’s an add-on stylus, too, in case you really love drawing on your screen.

Power that’s more than what you need

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo has so much raw power, packed with impressive specs dedicated for professionals. It runs on Intel’s best Core i9-9980HK coupled with a 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD. Additionally, it’s powered by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. Just looking at its specs can overwhelm an everyday user.

However, if you use powerful apps like Adobe, Corel, Lumion, and SketchUp, this laptop can support you in your creative pursuits. It can handle editing photos and videos, working on heavy illustrations, animations, and architectural renders.

Play games, but moderately

When it comes to performance, you can’t really say anything bad about ASUS. They really outdid themselves with this chunky, premium laptop. Designed with every power user in mind, the ZenBook Pro Duo can be enjoyed not just by content creators and professionals, but also by gamers.

I have to tell you right from the start: The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo isn’t a gaming machine for all your gaming dreams. It has a problem with cooling, despite its ErgoLift design and Cool-Air express system with five heat pipes for proper venting.

While I have no qualms playing and running multiple apps since, I’m afraid the heat could damage the sensitive components of the laptop. A lot of times, I accidentally break my laptops because of overheating.

Nonetheless, it’s still powerful enough to run Dota 2 and other graphics-intensive games but only do so for a short time. I highly suggest you play on gaming machines if that’s your jam. If you plan on streaming while playing, it has a webcam properly placed on its top bezel but as with any built-in webcams I’ve tried, it’s best to use an external camera to use for better results.

It’s not a laptop

The ZenBook Pro Duo already looks great at first glance, even more so when you test its power and performance. However, only after using it for some time you’ll see how it’s not really a laptop. It’s thick and chunky, too heavy to carry around — definitely not fit for portability.

It has poor battery life, which runs for two-to-three hours of browsing, social media, and watching videos. If you’re a power user, you need to have this laptop stationed in a spot near a power outlet. It felt like I was using a mobile PC than a laptop.

Comfort isn’t one of its strong points

ZenBooks are known for their ErgoLift design. It tilts the laptop to a comfortable typing position, which also improves its cooling and audio performance. This design is truly enjoyable, except for the ZenBook Pro Duo.

Due to the ScreenPad Plus taking a lot of space, the keyboard was pushed down to the edge leaving no room for your palms to rest. To compensate, the laptop comes with an add-on wrist rest, which is another thing to bring unless you decide to put the laptop in a dedicated work station. But even if you have the added palm rest, its keyboard is too spongey to type on.

Additionally, the trackpad was pushed to the lower right side. It’s practically useless, as it’s too small for you to use on a dual-screen laptop. It also doubles as a calculator and a number pad, which you’ll barely need.

There are a lot of improvements needed for the ZenBook Pro Duo’s functions and ergonomics. Seeing this as a first-gen product, it’s forgivable for ASUS since the laptop will only get better in the coming years.

Design and Details

The ZenBook Pro Duo is beautifully designed. It comes in a futuristic and elegant color called Celestial Blue, decorated with its iconic Zen-inspired aluminum finish, and diamond-cut edges that add subtle sophistication. Who wouldn’t be captivated by this laptop?

It feels premium in every touch. Whenever you glide your fingers, there’s this awestruck feeling of touching a glimpse of the future. To add more to its elegance, ASUS engineered Harman Kardon speakers providing decent sound quality.

But the classiness has its shortcomings, too. For a chunky and premium laptop made for creative professionals, it doesn’t have an SD card slot and contains a few ports.

It has two USB 3.1 Type-A, one Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C, one standard HDMI slot, one 3.5mm audio port, and a DC input. Instead of adding more ports, ASUS used the sides to put vents for cooling purposes.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo has a lot of shortcomings, but it’s easily one of the best laptops today. It’s highly innovative and powerful to help you be more productive and creative. It’s an excellent laptop for creators and professionals willing to gloss over the inconveniences such as its ergonomics, poor battery life, and portability issues. After all, it can do everything you want to do, including bringing your ideas to life.

If money is no object, I would say this laptop is my GadgetMatch. However, there’s a lot more that I can buy than this laptop with a PhP 199,995 (US$ 3931) price tag. It’s expensive, but it’s a price we’ll really pay to use a futuristic laptop packed with innovations we never thought we needed.

Like I said earlier, this laptop is a first-generation product. Just like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, this is a welcome innovation. Seeing how smartphones and laptops are getting absurd and weird upgrades, it’s astonishing to see a possibility of what our future gadgets could be.

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Gaming

Dell G7 review: All the heft and the heat

It’s simply one hot package your wallet hopes to afford

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I’d like to be able to play games wherever I go — provided some stable internet connection. I’d also like to have enough power to afford a device that allows me to do so. But in this world we live in, gaming laptops are things that are just out of our reach. Still, it shouldn’t stop us from trying to save up for them.

One such device is the Dell G7 15, a seemingly compact yet powerful gaming machine. The biggest and most powerful member of the Dell G series certainly brings a lot to the table. Performance and portability are its biggest selling points, especially for the on-the-go gamer. But does it really make the cut?

Let’s find out more about the Dell G7 15.

It comes in a slimmer metal finish compared to previous Dell gaming laptops

It has an NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside for unrivaled gaming performance

Ports for power, connectivity, and storage are placed at the back

It also has a customizable RGB-backlit keyboard

Hefty performance all around

Don’t let the slimmer body fool you; the Dell G7 packs a pretty hefty package. It comes with a 9th generation Intel i7 processor inside, a staple across gaming devices. I got around to doing research, Excel spreadsheets, and some video editing with this device. This, along with 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD inside, and you get that kind of speed and power.

Applications load fast, and I almost experienced no lags in trying to do multiple things at once. I even tried loading almost 30 tabs of Google Chrome, while doing some light video editing on Premiere Pro. This device simply does not have the word “lag” in its dictionary as even the most stressful situations keep it going.

Fiery gaming performance

I already knew what I’m getting with an RTX 2060 inside any gaming machine. True enough, my expectations for the highly touted gaming card were met when I tried it on this device. Gaming on this device felt like a visual experience that seemed too real. Color grading for games on the RTX 2060, to me almost comes close to the true colors of objects.

Colors aside, gaming performance with the RTX 2060 was phenomenal. I literally did not experience any lag with all the games I tried on this device, from AAA games to those that require little graphical power. Also, I noticed that visually, nothing was sacrificed for all the power it wields — which is the ideal situation anyway. 

Of course, there’s always a caveat to nice things like ultra-powerful gaming performance. Like most gaming machines, this thing gets pretty damn hot when you play for too long. I personally felt uncomfortable after playing for three hours around the WASD keys. That specific part of the keyboard felt like a frying pan, possibly telling me to take a break from playing Fortnite.

Charging up so quick, it makes you play more

Now, obviously gaming laptops have historically low battery lives. Playing on the Dell G7 for the recommended three hours already drained its entire battery so much. When I wasn’t fully using this device for gaming, I got about four to five and a half hours worth of usage before a full drain. These numbers, honestly don’t provide much in terms of long-lasting performance.

One silver lining to it all is that the device comes with a 60Wh battery that supports quick charging. And that’s not just from the proprietary charging port at the back; even the USB Type-C port to its side allows you to charge the device. The device reached close to 30% within 20 minutes, which is pretty decent compared to the other devices out there.

Of course, the charging brick that comes with the device isn’t so light. Figuratively, this 180W charger packs the necessary juice to supercharge the device. Quite literally, its weight didn’t bother me as much, and I’ve felt heavier chargers in the past. 

The cooling system that’s a little too hot at times

With all that power inside, you need a cooling system that settles everything inside. The Dell G7 has powerful fans inside that basically push all the hot air out. I thought it was a good touch that the Alienware Command Center allows you to control those fans. But, there were a couple of things that bothered me with this cooling system.

First off, in the times I didn’t play games, the fans somehow throttle out of the blue. I don’t know if that’s how these fans work, but I would be deeply concerned if upon startup the fans start to throttle. Second, the fans do take time to throttle when you start playing games, which limits performance overall.

Finally, even while the fans are able to push hot air out, it takes a while for the device to cool down. I get it, you have to be patient — especially when you’re gaming nonstop for three hours. But it wouldn’t hurt for the device to cool down a little faster than that. It’s things like this, along with the fans being loud that leaves you scratching your head a little bit.

Is this your GagdetMatch?

Starting at Php 113,990, the Dell G7 just proves to be one hefty machine. Great performance is already expected from this device, and it surely did not disappoint. This gaming machine comes in a package that just screams power, and I would surely recommend this device to most on-the-go gamers out there.

Of course, it’s simply not perfect. This device does not simply last long enough for you to game full time. Apart from that, it gets pretty damn hot when you play for too long. Even with a quick-charging port and an two-fan cooling system, these simply are not enough.

But you get past that, and the Dell G7 truly serves up one game-ready device. While it is one hefty price tag, the investment looks very promising.

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Laptops

Lenovo ThinkBook 13S review: Balance is everything

Be stylish at work

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“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

You may have heard this famous proverb from the 1980 horror movie The Shining, but it really makes a fair point — if you don’t balance your work-life activities, you’ll get bored. Or worse, you yourself get boring.

In comes Lenovo’s ThinkBook 13S. A business laptop when it comes to its durable form factor and security but is equipped and poised to deliver an enhanced entertainment experience with its features.

We’ve previously given you a rundown of its headlining features during our unboxing and hands-on. For this article, we go straight to how it fares as a daily driver.

Being clad in an all-aluminum chassis, the ThinkBook 13S really feels robust when you hold it. There’s no surface that bends when you apply pressure and its metallic finish reinforces the sturdy look that it gives off.

The display spans 13.3 inches across which is just the right size for finishing up reports and working remotely. Plus, its entire form factor doesn’t take up much space inside a bag so that’s always a point for portability.

With its Full HD display with Dolby Vision, a noticeable improvement in dynamic range is seen while colors are pleasantly vibrant. A minor gripe is that glares are still an ongoing nuisance when you attempt to watch videos outside on a sunny day.

Its narrow 5.5mm bezels do make the display pop out a little bit, but it still has a slightly thicker forehead and a chin that, for me, visually cancels out the efforts of having slim side bezels.

Another interesting thing to note is that the laptop is protected from external factors that may damage it. The 13S has anti-spill protection for up to 60cc of water in case you accidentally tip over your drink beside the laptop while working.

Coming from Lenovo and its famous Yoga line, the ThinkBook 13S also received the capability to be able to open its lid all the way back thanks to a special hinge made with zinc-alloy. As such, it’s able to endure 25,000 open-and-close cycles so wear-and-tear isn’t something you’d have to think of.

Due to its capability to flip all the way, sharing content while giving a presentation to a colleague, for example, just got a lot easier.

We mentioned that this particular laptop values security and if so do you, you’d be glad to know that it comes with a fingerprint sensor embedded in its power button. It works as advertised and setting it up only takes a few minutes.

The built-in dual Harman speakers with Dolby Audio also performed well for a small laptop. It’s enough to fill a small room when you play music, but a set of external speakers would work best if you plan on binge-watching movies using this.

After you’ve taken your break from writing and are ready to go back to work, its Modern Standby feature kicks in to let you resume where you left off in less than 0.5 seconds — no more waiting for long periods just for the software to load your files and whatnot.

For a quick rundown on specs, it has an 8th generation Intel chip that can be bumped up to an i7 processor, up to 16GB RAM, and a choice between discrete AMD Radeon 540X or integrated Intel UHD graphics. It also runs on Windows 10 Pro.

The keys have good travel that allows for comfortable typing and are spaced apart just right so it doesn’t feel cramped up. Its touchpad, although not as wide as we’d want it to be, gives good response and doesn’t demand an additional mouse to be able to accomplish tasks efficiently.

According to Lenovo, the battery on the ThinkBook 13S can last up to 11 hours under optimal circumstances. As for us, we used it to work at cafes as well as during meetings and it was able to last the entire day with a little less than 20% left when we get home. It’s safe to say that it can go for a day’s work even if you left your charger back home by accident.

Overall, the ThinkBook 13S offers the needed characteristics to be able to get work done efficiently outside the house. It has a subtle, yet sleek physique, has a robust form factor to withstand the beatings of traveling with it, and an ergonomic layout of buttons, ports, and other physical elements.

It’s also secure for those sensitive or confidential files at work. It comes with a fingerprint sensor built-in as well as software features that prevent unwanted access to your device.

Of course, when you need to take a break from work, the laptop’s HDR display together with its Harman speakers will make your binge-watching and sound trip more enjoyable.

Based on our experience, the Lenovo ThinkBook 13S doesn’t make Jack a dull boy. Rather, it makes him sharper than ever before.

Pricing starts in the Philippines at PhP 54,990 (roughly US$ 1050) for the discrete AMD graphics while the model with integrated Intel UHD 620 starts at PhP 58,990 (around US$ 1126).

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