Buyer's Guide

ASUS Holiday: Laptop Buyer’s Guide

There’s an ASUS laptop for everyone!

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With the holidays around the corner and gift giving on everyone’s minds, I figured it’s time for another Buyer’s Guide video, for those of you looking to splurge on a Windows laptop for yourselves or your loved ones.

If you follow me on social media, you have probably noticed that I miss Taiwan. Usually my trips there have been to visit ASUS.

Since I can’t be there in person this year, I’ve partnered with them to feature some of their best laptops from the 2020-2021 release cycle.

ExpertBook

For the business savvy user, ASUS has its ExpertBook line, which comes with enterprise security features that are required by most big companies for office-issued devices.

The new ExpertBook B9450 is the world’s lightest business laptop weighing in at just 880 grams, or 1.9 pounds.

This is largely because it’s built with magnesium-lithium alloy instead of aluminum. If you’re a business traveler this alone is reason enough to consider it.

Despite its weighing next to nothing it’s packed with plenty of performance power and battery life, including the latest Intel 11th generation processors, up to 32GB of memory, and up to 2 terabytes of storage space. Its 66 watt hour Battery is also rated to last up to 24 hours of use, which is insane.

It’s got the same Ergo Lift Hinge and Number Pad found on the ZenBook.

Charging is quick too. With the bundled charger you can get from 0 to 60% in just 45 minutes. Worth mentioning is a cool design feature where the charging indicator is located in front of the device.

It’s got a generous amount of ports as well: two Thunderbolt 4  USB-C ports, one USB Type 8 port, a full-sized HDMI port, a mini ethernet port via micro HDMI, a Kensington lock slot, and a headphone jack.

Enterprise users will also appreciate its host of security features: biometric unlock using either your fingers or an IR camera. There’s also a WebCam Shield for even added privacy and an optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip for storing passwords and encryption keys.

The ExpertBook B9450 is built for this new world where everyone is teleconferencing. It’s got four 360 degree far-field microphones, and a feature called ClearVoice mic that uses Artificial Intelligence that can filter out unwanted noise  so you sound great during Zoom calls.

Finally, what’s incredible about this machine is that despite how light it is, it also boasts of military grade toughness.

ASUS says it’s been tested to the extremes: heat, cold, vibrations, and dust; the lid can endure up to 30kg of force; its keyboard is spill-proof; and it’s rugged enough to withstand drops.

For the enterprise user on the go, I recommend the ExpertBook B9450. Models start at US$ 1,299 and goes all the way up to US$ 1,999.

Check out the ExpertBook B9 series here.

VivoBook

For those who don’t want to spend a lot of money, ASUS’s VivoBook line is a good place to start. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, I recommend the US$ 699 VivoBook Flip.

Powered by a Ryzen 7 system on a chip and packed with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid state drive, it’s got more than enough performance power.

Whether you need a machine for school work or an affordable option for starting a small business, that AMD Ryzen chip is a 7 nanometer CPU, which means it’s also incredibly power efficient.

Like all of the laptops featured in this video this one is slim and light, thanks to the aluminum alloy that’s used on both its chassis and lid. The top cover has a matte finish that contrasts nicely against its glossy hinges.

The design feature I like the most about ASUS laptops is something called an ErgoLift Hinge. This gives these laptops a more ergonomic lift when opened — hence its name.

This means you’re typing at an angle. It also creates an air pocket for better cooling.

True to its name the VivoBook Flip can open up all the way and flip around. This 360 degree hinge mechanism means you can prop it up in tent mode for watching movies or like a tablet for taking notes.

ASUS ships the VivoBook Flip with a stylus; it’s got a touch screen too.

Let’s talk about ports because there are a lot of them: a full sized HDMI port, two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and a microSD card reader.

The VivoBook Flip comes with a full sized keyboard that’s spill-resistant. This is perfect for folks like me who always has a drink when working.

It’s got a dedicated Function Lock Key so you can easily switch between Function and Hot Keys. Notice too, the enter key has a yellow outline around it. ASUS calls this design element the Gen Z key, which reflects this generation’s questioning of old systems and striving for positive change.

ASUS promises almost 12 hours of battery life on a single charge and it comes with a fast charger that can get you from 0 to 60% in 50 minutes.

This is the ASUS VivoBook, my value for money pick that starts at US$ 699. Look out for some online deals as I’ve seen it retailing for just around 500 bucks.

Check out the VivoBook 14 M413 here.  

Check out the VivoBook Flip 14 TM420 here.

ZenBook

If you’re looking to get real fancy, this next laptop has got all the coolest features one can find on a laptop today.

The ZenBook is ASUS’s most premium laptop and that’s pretty clear from the way it looks. Machined out of aluminum, its jade black finish is accented by red copper accents and diamond cut chamfers.

Etched on its lid is a circular pattern that’s become a design signature on ASUS’s products for years now.

The ZenBook Flip S is only 14mm at its thickest point and weighs in at 1.3kg.

Like the VivoBook, the entire ZenBook line also has the ErgoLift hinge designed for better ergonomics when typing, as well as increasing space ventilation and heat dissipation.

Because this is the Flip variant, that means the screen opens up all the way so you can use it like you would a tablet. Our unit came bundled with the Asus Pen 2.0 stylus that comes with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. It’s perfect for both note taking or engaging the creative side of your brain.

Despite its compact form factor it’s got a full sized backlit keyboard that’s almost flushed against the edges of the device. There’s an extra column of keys  for Home, Page up, and Page Down that you don’t usually find on laptops.

If you’re missing dedicated number keys, just press and hold on the top right corner of the trackpad. It will light up revealing the Number Pad. You can also swipe on the top left corner to bring up the calculator. This dedicated Number Pad is such a great feature for those who on programs like Excel or Google Sheets.

The headline feature of the ZenBook Flip has got to be its 4K OLED display. It’s not something you see on everyday laptops, and the same kind of tech that’s on the most desired TVs today.

This display makes it the best kind of laptop for watching movies on, with excellent contrast and rich vibrant colors.

It’s an excellent display for content creators, too, whether you’re editing videos or photos. The color accuracy on this machine is top notch.

This maxed out ZenBook Flip S comes with all the good stuff: an Intel  i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 1TB of storage. Its 67 watt hour battery is rated to last up to 15 hours on a single charge.

If you’re looking to splurge on a premium laptop that looks and plays the part, I recommend the ASUS ZenBook Flip S. This 4K OLED model retails for over US$ 1,600, but you can also get the non-OLED FullHD model for almost half the price: US$ 899.

For even more savings get a Ryzen-based ZenBook for as low as US$ 839.

Check out the ZenBook Flip S here.

Which ASUS laptop is your GadgetMatch?

If you need a durable, thin, light, and secure laptop, get the US$ 1,299 ExpertBook.

The best Asus laptop for school or those on a budget is the US$ 699 VivoBook.

If you’re looking to splurge on the more premium and fully-specced out laptop ASUS has on offer, get the 4K OLED ZenBook for US$ 1,600.

Watch the full video here.

Accessories

BUYER’S Guide: 5 DIZO products for you

Which ones should you take home?

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First, the basics. What is DIZO? In case you missed it, DIZO is realme’s sub-brand that aims to make smart devices accessible to more people. They’re doing this by offering quality products at a more affordable price.

This list, in particular, features five devices that won’t break the bank, but will help give users a taste of that smart tech life. 

DIZO GoPods D 

In terms of wireless earbuds, this is about as entry level as it gets. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing though. The Dizo GoPods D has a 10mm driver with a Bass Boost+ algorithm. Most people like to measure if an earbud or headphone is good based on the bass levels it can produce. That’s certainly the schtick here as well. 

Buyer’s Guide: Buy this if you’re still using a phone with a mini-USB cable. That way, you don’t have to carry a different cable or your phone and your wireless earbud. 

DIZO GoPods Neo

 

Think of this as the USB-C version of the GoPods D. It has a similar 10mm driver with Bass Boost+. In addition though, this also has active noise cancellation for when you want to shut the world out. Inversely, it also has a transparency mode that lets you hear your surroundings even with the earbuds on. 

The case has a clamshell design just like the DIZO GoPods D. It’s compact and easy to carry since you can just slide it in your pocket. They also instantly pair with any Android smartphone that has its bluetooth on. So, maybe don’t set it up around other people.

Buyer’s Guide: This one’s for those already rocking USB-C smartphones. It’s also made for people who want a taste of active noise cancellation but aren’t ready to fork out north of PhP 5,000 (around US$ 100) to experience the feature. 

DIZO Buds Z 

The DIZO GoPods Z deviates from the more compact design of the DIZO GoPods D and DIZO GoPods Neo. In terms of looks, it’s more in line with the AirPods Pro and Freebuds Pro that feature a tiny stem. In our experience, these are normally used as mics which make them pretty good for making calls. Even the case is reminiscent of the Freebuds Pro’s which is a circular thing with holes that house the stem. 

The stem also has this special material that reflects light to create a myriad of bedazzling colors. Great if you want to make people look.

Like the DIZO GoPods, this has both active noise cancellation and transparency modes. It also claims to last for two weeks on a single charge. 

Buyer’s Guide: It’s for anyone who wants something that’s lowkey flashy and also has wireless earbuds staples like bass boost and noise cancellation. Plus the stem design should really help with call clarity. 

DIZO Wireless 

The DIZO Wireless is the most easily distinguishable from all the audio products here. It sports a neck band design which, one could say, is the precursor to the wireless earbuds that saturate the market today. It has all the Bass Boost and noise cancellation bells and whistles one might look for on a modern smart earpiece, but this one’s designed for sporty types who like to workout.

 

Buyer’s Guide: If you constantly workout and want something you can wear during your sweat-it-out sessions, this is the one to buy. You won’t worry about it falling off your ears and you can just as easily not mind it as you keep fit.

DIZO Watch 2

While we’re on the topic of keeping fit, why not pair the DIZO Wireless with the DIZO Watch 2. It has an undeniable resemblance to the Apple Watch which can either be a good thing or bad thing depending on who you ask. 

It has a 1.69-inch full touchscreen display that could be a little more responsive. That said, it is a PhP 1,999 smartwatch so you get what you pay for. It does the usual smartwatch things like monitor your heart rate, track your steps, measure your workouts. You know, the works. 

Buyer’s guide: Another decent starting point if you want to try a smartwatch but don’t have the capacity to spend big. It’s also one of the better looking Apple Watch look-alikes out there. 

DIZO Products are available on the DIZO official Lazada Store.

 

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Buyer's Guide

BUYER’s GUIDE: Galaxy S22 vs S22+

Which one is your GadgetMatch?

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So there’s a new Galaxy S22 Series and three models to choose from.

The top-of-the-line Galaxy S22 Ultra is branching out into a different class of device — basically the reincarnation of the Galaxy Note. We’re left to choose between the S series regulars, the Galaxy S22 and the S22+.

If you’re torn, let me help you out. 

The easy answer would be to pick the size that’s right for you, but with a US$ 200 dollar premium, it’s important to go over the key differences between the S22 and S22+ to justify the additional spend or not.

Peak Brightness

What you should know about peak brightness is that by default, your phone doesn’t even come close to hitting it, even if you move your slider all the way up. You’ll actually need to go into your display settings and turn on Adaptive Brightness. 

Peak brightness comes in handy most when you’re outdoors, under the sun. When you need the display to crank up as much as it can so everything is legible.

It will also kick in whenever viewing HDR content, some Netflix shows for example are available in HDR.  

Unless you use your phones outdoors under the sun a lot, peak brightness won’t matter as much. Also a caveat, it also drains your battery faster.

Battery Size and Charging

Apart from display and phone size, the other big determining factor and reason to go for the S22+ is its larger battery. On paper, that extra 800mAh is a lot of extra juice and could spell the difference between lasting the whole day or not. 

Do keep in mind though that the bigger display on the S22+ also consumes more power. 

Expect an extra 2.5 hours on average with the S22+. But at the end of the day it will all boil down to real world use. 

Faster charging is another pro of the S22+ the phone supports 45W charging. But there’s a caveat. A Samsung 45W charger is an optional US$ 50 purchase. If you have no plans to buy one, then the rest of this is moot.

But even if you do, don’t expect the improvements to be massive. In the first 30 minutes of charging, expect about an 8% difference. Quick top ups are great when you’re in a pinch, but if you’re the type of person who charges overnight, then a slower charger is kinder on the overall health of your battery .

Ultra Wide Band

UWB stands for Ultra Wide Band and it has something to do with spatial awareness. Anything with a UWB chip theoretically should be able to tell, more or less, where another UWB device is. 

iPhones, for example, know when you are pointing at a Home Pod mini speaker and will ask if you want to transfer the music you’re listing to over to it. They also work with AirTags — trackers that you can attach to things like keys. When used alongside your phone’s camera — your phone will display virtual arrows that lead you to your missing items. 

In the Samsung ecosystem, UWB only currently works with one device. Their AirTags competitor called the Galaxy SmartTag + (not to be confused with the non plus SmartTag that retails for US$10 less). That said, I imagine a day where UWB might be built into other Samsung appliances and there might be a way for these devices to work together

Will you hold on to your phone for five years – maybe invest in future tech. Otherwise it’s not a feature that would affect my buying decisions today.

WiFi 6E 

Every few years or so, a new WiFi standard is introduced. The latest is WiFi 6E. Long story short, it has its own spectrum so theoretically you don’t have to compete with congested networks. 

That’s an oversimplification. But basically it’s better and potentially faster. 

But as always there are caveats. How fast is your home connection to begin with? Do you already have a WiFi 6E router and if not do you intend on buying one? Should you wait for WiFi 7, I heard it’s coming soon too.

At home I currently have one of the best routers out there, an Amlifi Alien. Of course, I got it two years ago and it’s a WiFi 6 router, so unless I plan on getting a new one, WiFi 6E will not benefit me.

So ask yourself these same questions. Just like UWB I don’t think WiFi 6E is a reason to get the S22+ over the S22. It’s not something you will miss.

S22 vs S22+

I’m a believer that the S22 makes more sense for most people. It also offers the best bang for your buck. After all, when it comes to performance power and cameras, these phones are identical.   

While last year’s S21 came with a plastic back, the S22 is made of all the same tough materials as the S22+ and S22 Ultra even. 

Get the S22+ if you like bigger phones and need a bigger battery. But ask yourself if $200 is worth the premium. 

Watch our Galaxy S22 and S22+ Hands-On.


Buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, 128GB Unlocked here.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S22+, 128GB Unlocked here.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S22, 128GB Unlocked here.

Buy the Samsung 45W Charger (White) here.

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Accessories

Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM4?

Here’s a quick guide

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Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony is back again with another top-of-the-line pair of true wireless (TWS) earbuds and it’s one that’s worthy of your consideration. Roughly a couple of years after the launch of the Sony WF-1000XM3, we now have the Sony WF-1000XM4. Should you spend your hard earned cash on it? That’s what we’ll try to answer.

We do have a pretty comprehensive review of the WF-1000XM4. But if that’s a little too long for you, consider this article the TLDR. Let’s dive right in.

It’s within your budget

It should go without saying but in hard times such as now, one shouldn’t mindlessly splurge on the shiniest new tech out there. That said, if you can shell out PhP 13,999 (US$ 280 / SG$ 379 / MYR 1099) then by all means, grab this pair. It’s easily one of the best devices in its category and is definitely worth every penny.

You’re an Android user

Sony WF-1000XM4

STAYC’s “Stereotype” is bop. Give it a listen.

Sony has this tech called LDAC. While it’s not exactly hi-res audio, it’s likely the closest thing to it. Here’s an entire explainer from the SoundGuys if you want a deep dive on it. And sadly, this format isn’t supported by any iPhone as of writing. To experience the absolute best audio quality that the WF-1000XM4 has to offer, you’re better off being on Android.

Now, that’s not to say it’s terrible on iPhones or any other device. In fact, we’ve used this on both an iPhone and a Mac and the audio quality is still a blessing to the ears. You’re not getting the ‘absolute best’ but it’s still better than most others.

You care about the environment

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony moved away from the usual box you expect from devices of this caliber. Instead, they’re using recycled packaging for the WF-1000XM4. It’s plastic free and is made from a special blend of paper.

It’s a move to the more sustainable side of things and it’s one we’re totally down with. Besides, if you’re looking for that premier feeling, there’s no shortage of that on the device itself.

You’re not a fan of the AirPods design

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4 with the Huawei Freebuds Pro. Don’t have AirPods on hand, sorry.

Pretty much every other manufacturer who jumped on the TWS market followed Apple’s cue. That means TWS earbuds that have a stem. While we’ve gotten used to the look over the years, the general perception is still that if it has a stem, it’s an AirPods copycat. This despite other brands giving their own spin on it.

The stem isn’t just for show though. For most of these earbuds, they serve as a mic. During our tests, they’ve generally performed better in call situations over ones that don’t have them.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is still pretty decent for voice and video calls, so if you can live with that and want something that doesn’t stick out of your ear too much, then this is the choice for you.

You want something for multiple uses

Multiple uses in every kind of sense. The WF-1000XM4 promises up to eight hours of music playback with noise cancellation switched on, and the case can supply an additional 16 hours of battery life via charging. That’s pretty consistent with our usage.

Trust us, you’re not gonna have these on for eight hours straight anyway. With its IPX4 rating, it’s water resistant enough to take with you for workouts. After freshening up from exercise, you can use it for a few work meetings here and there. And then you can cap your day by listening to your favorite podcast or music — for us, it’s been a heavy dose of TWICE tracks, STAYC’s “Stereotype” and some Slow Jams to put us to bed.

That’s what regular daily use looks like. And we’ve only had to charge the device after two to three days. Of course, that’ll vary depending on your usage — which, no matter what that may be, the WF-1000XM4 can handle mightily.

SEE ALSO: Sony WF-1000XM4 review: Simply the best

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