Laptops

ASUS brings new affordable VivoBook laptops to the Philippines

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ASUS has just brought new notebooks to the Philippines. Under their VivoBook series, the Taiwanese maker offers a good selection of laptops specially designed for students and those on a tight budget.

VivoBook E12

Do you guys still remember the ASUS EEE PC? The VivoBook E12 kinda gives the once famous netbook an incarnation, and it’s also affordable. With its compact body and 11.6-inch HD display, this laptop is for those who prefer portability. It even has a 180-degree hinge, so you can lay the notebook flat on a table, and a promised battery life of up to 10 hours.

ASUS VivoBook E12

The notebook will go on sale for just PhP 13,995 with a configuration including an Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 2GB of memory, and 500GB of storage. It also has Windows 10 Home pre-loaded. What’s interesting about this laptop is that it comes with a plethora of ports including the latest USB-C 3.1 despite its low price tag.

VivoBook E402

If you want something bigger, the VivoBook E402 has a 14-inch display. Its design is pretty basic but doesn’t give off a cheap vibe thanks to its color options — red, blue, or white. ASUS’ IceCool technology is present, which keeps the surface of the palm rest within comfortable operating temperatures.

ASUS VivoBook E402

The configuration that’ll be available locally will have an Intel Celeron N3450 processor paired with 4GB of memory. For just PhP 14,995, it also comes with a licensed copy of Windows 10 Home. ASUS didn’t specify the hard disk drive capacity, but they said it is upgradable up to 1TB.

VivoBook Flip

The VivoBook series is not just about affordability, because it also offers a premium design. With the VivoBook Flip, ASUS offers the popular 360-degree display hinge without sacrificing performance. The notebook has a metal finish and the latest USB-C port. It also has a Full HD touch display, which you can position at any angle you prefer.

ASUS VivoBook Flip (15″)

The VivoBook Flip will come in two sizes: 14-inch and 15-inch. The 14-inch variant will have an Intel Core i5-7Y54, 4GB of memory, 128GB SSD, and Windows 10 for PhP 39,995. On the other hand, the bigger 15-inch model gets the latest 8th-generation Intel Core i5 with 8GB of memory and a combo drive of 1TB HDD plus 128GB SSD. It has Windows 10 pre-loaded and a price tag of PhP 59,995.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG GR8 II Review

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Laptops

Lenovo Yoga C930 Review: It could have been the best

It’s just missing one thing…

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It was during IFA 2018 when Lenovo introduced their latest premium convertible for consumers — the Yoga C930. It doesn’t have a good name, but it does offer everything a Yoga should, especially in media consumption.

Notebooks with flipping displays, like the Yoga lineup, are not just designed for typing. Most manufacturers market their convertibles to be perfect for entertainment, yet they largely fail in one aspect where they should shine — audio.

When Lenovo introduced the Yoga C930 with the rotating soundbar and Dolby Atmos, I hoped that it was not just a marketing ploy. But, is it? Let me share my thoughts about Lenovo’s newest convertible.

No fuss design

The Yoga C930 has a metal shell with a familiar aesthetic from Lenovo. My unit has a dark finish that’s aptly named Iron Gray. If you want a lighter shade, Lenovo is also offering the notebook in Mica, which is close to white. Everything about the body of the Yoga C930 screams premium; nothing here looks cheap or ugly.

To make it more special, the sides and the hinge of the Yoga C930 have a brushed finish. It’s a minor touch, but it’s highly noticeable whenever you’re checking where you should plug your peripherals. I also think that it helps hide unsightly scratches and gives the notebook a bit of shine.

While we’re at it, the available ports on the Yoga C930 are generally okay. It’s got two Thunderbolt 3 ports that fully support PowerDelivery, DisplayPort, and USB 3.1 functions. Both Thunderbolt 3 ports employ 4x lanes for PCIe, so you can connect the Yoga C930 to an external GPU, which is good because this laptop doesn’t have a dedicated graphics unit.

Apart from a couple of versatile USB-C interfaces, there’s also a classic full-size USB that we all know and love. Thankfully, Lenovo knows that this is still a widely used port and bringing a dongle just to read a thumb drive is a hassle. The 3.5mm audio port is also available when you need to plug in a pair of wired headphones.

All of the ports on the Yoga C930 are on its left side, leaving the right with just the power button. There are no volume buttons, either.

While I appreciate that Lenovo provided both USB-A and USB-C ports, I was still hoping for more; another USB-C with PowerDelivery on the right and a full-size SD card reader would do. The Yoga C930 is slim, but it’s not ultra-slim like the fan-less MacBook which got away with having one port (or maybe two if you count the headphone jack).

The Yoga C930 has a fairly large 14-inch display (13.9 inches according to Lenovo), but with minimum side bezels. Since this is made for watching videos, the aspect ratio is still stuck at 16:9.

There are two resolutions available for the Lenovo C930: Full HD or Ultra HD. The one I have here is just the Full HD variant, but it still has the key feature: Dolby Vision. The best way to fully appreciate the display is to play an HDR or Dolby Vision-enabled title. You can find some on Netflix if you’re using the highest-tier plan.

The display gets bright enough to be used outdoors and really dim when you need it to. It’s vibrant and has deep blacks even if it’s only an LCD panel.

When watching a video, I prefer to use the Yoga C930 in Tent mode. It can also be used in Stand mode with the keyboard facing down, but for some reason, Lenovo didn’t put little rubber feet to protect the keyboard when placed on a surface. You have to be cautious where you place the notebook or you risk scratching it.

The integrated soundbar of the Yoga C930 is designed to always face the user. That’s another advantage of watching videos in Tent mode; the speaker is facing upwards. I get to hear the sound directly without any muffle. I must say, the Yoga C930 has one of the clearest speakers I’ve tried on a notebook. It gets really loud, too.

It even has Dolby Atmos to enhance it further, but it’s not as immersive as advertised. To be fair though, I get to hear the stereo effect better than on other notebooks.

The device is least useful (for me) when it’s in Tablet mode. The Yoga C930 is too heavy to be a tablet, plus the 16:9 aspect ratio makes it feel like I’m reading from a really tall magazine. But, this is where the built-in pen comes in handy. The integrated stylus makes it easy for doodlers to annotate on screen.

Fast but not incredible

Let’s talk about power. The Yoga C930 I have is powered by the latest 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor paired with 12GB DDR4 memory and a 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD. Configurations may vary in some regions, so the Yoga C930 in your stores might be more powerful or inferior.

There’s one thing that’s missing though, and it’s not an option anyone can get either: discrete graphics.

As mentioned, the Yoga C930 is not an ultraportable. It has nowhere near the portability of Dell’s XPS 13 or even Lenovo’s own Yoga Book. It’s big enough to house at least a modest NVIDIA GeForce MX150 — just like the latest ZenBook from ASUS.

My usage includes multiple tabs on Chrome, some slight editing on Photoshop, and hours of binge-watching on Netflix. I primarily used the notebook for typing and browsing, which are not heavy tasks.

So far, I had no major performance issues during my time with the Yoga C930. I didn’t bother to install games because it lacks discrete graphics.

Of course, the notebook runs Windows 10. I got the October 2018 update just last week, and it made the dark mode better. It matches the gray motif of the device.

It’s ideal for my own use

Putting all the technical specifications aside, the Yoga C930 has been a great companion.

Aside from the soundbar, I also fully appreciate the notebook’s keyboard. It’s not as great as the one on ThinkPads, but it’s good enough for me. It’s well-spaced and has a good amount of key travel.

The touchpad uses Microsoft Precision drivers and it fully supports all the gestures of Windows 10. It has a glass surface and picks up all the inputs. A responsive touchpad and a good keyboard is the combo I need for work.

There’s also something about the craftsmanship of the Yoga C930 that gives assurance that it’s a well-built device. Perhaps it’s the balance between weight and dimensions.

Lastly, the webcam has a physically cover — just like a ThinkPad’s. It’s nice to see nifty features of Lenovo’s business laptops on a consumer device. I don’t have to cover the webcam anymore with a piece of tape.

Great battery life

I am generally impressed with the longevity of the Yoga C930. Lenovo promises all-day battery life, but we all know that is somehow a stretch. Based on my usage, I get around eight to nine hours. I also experience about the same when watching Netflix non-stop.

It’ll not beat records, but I am always assured that even if I leave my charger at home, I know I can rely on the Yoga C930 to get me through a full day.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

You probably already think that this is my GadgetMatch, which I’ll not deny. I had a good time with the Yoga C930, despite its shortcomings. It’s a premium convertible that managed to meet my expectations. I’m hoping Lenovo will soon have an option with discrete graphics. For now, you can maximize the device by plugging in an external GPU.

The Yoga C930 has a starting price of US$ 1,399. It’s a bit pricier than I expected from its specs, but it’s a premium convertible that offers more versatility than regular laptops.

SEE ALSO: Lenovo IdeaPad 530S, 330S, 330: Which is right for you?

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Laptops

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx is first-ever 7nm chip in a PC

Continuing the always-on, always-connected legacy

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While the newly launched Snapdragon 855 is designed for high-end smartphones, another fresh Qualcomm release, the Snapdragon 8cx, will be found in Windows 10 devices beginning in the third quarter of 2019.

Like the Snapdragon 850 before it, the Snapdragon 8cx is powerful enough to run a full-fledged Windows PC while staying constantly connected through Wi-Fi or mobile data. What makes this system on a chip special, however, is its 7nm architecture.

Yes, it’s the first of its kind. Till now, PC manufacturers had to rely on an older fabrication process for the chipsets they installed. The 7nm platform means computers installed with the Snapdragon 8cx will be more efficient than anything else in the market.

“With performance and battery life as our design tenets, we’re bringing 7nm innovations to the PC space, allowing for smartphone-like capabilities to transform the computing experience,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of mobile for Qualcomm Technologies.

In addition, it comes with the Adreno 680, Qualcomm’s most high-powered GPU to date. Coupled with the octa-core Kryo 495 CPU, any Snapdragon 8cx-powered device should be able to handle multitasking and demanding apps with ease.

Rounding up the features are Quick Charge 4+ for faster charging, support for up to two connected 4K HDR monitors, and best of all, the Snapdragon X24 modem to enable Gigabit LTE data speeds.

We’re bound to learn more about its capabilities and who’ll partner with Qualcomm to roll out this new breed of mobile PCs, so stay tuned.

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Laptops

HP Envy x360 with AMD Ryzen is a slim powerhouse convertible

The first 13-inch convertible powered by Ryzen

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HP has launched its latest compact convertible for the Philippine market. This time around though, the well-known PC manufacturer brought in an AMD-powered laptop that has a lot of processing and graphics power even if it’s the smallest of its kind.

The new HP Envy x360 is the first 13-inch convertible to sport an AMD Ryzen processor and Radeon Vega Graphics. Since it’s a convertible, it doubles as a tablet for those who like to sketch digitally. This device has a 13.3-inch Full HD touch-enabled micro-edge display that’s protected by Corning Gorilla Glass NBT. It’s paired with Quad HP Speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen to complete the audio and visual package.

The notebook comes with 8GB DDR4 memory and a 256GB SSD. Ports-wise, it’s equipped with a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, two USB 3.1 Gen 1, an audio jack, and a microSD card reader.

The convertible also boasts an IR camera for instant logins via Windows Hello and a built-in battery which is rated to last for 11 hours. When it’s time to fill up, the Envy x360 supports HP’s Fast Charge technology that charges from zero to 50 percent in just 45 minutes.

The Envy x360 is available at HP Concept Stores and authorized HP resellers nationwide. Price starts at PhP 56,990 for the Ryzen 5 model, while the higher-end Ryzen 7 with Radeon RX Vega 10 Graphics variant retails for PhP 63,990. HP offers a two-year limited warranty and a bundled HP Pen with every purchase.

SEE ALSO: HP and Lenovo lead the world market of personal computers

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