Gaming

ASUS brings the ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) with RTX graphics to the Philippines

The most compact 17-inch gaming laptop

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Shortly after the launch of AMD Ryzen-powered gaming laptops, the ASUS announced the Philippine arrival of the ROG Zephyrus S (GX701). The gaming laptop was first introduced at CES earlier this year and it brings 17-inch display goodness in the body of a typical 15-inch laptop.

The first generation Zephyrus with a 15-inch display is about the same size as this new 17-inch model, making it the most compact 17-inch gaming laptop available. Don’t let its size fool you, because it has the most powerful NVIDIA graphics available for laptops.

The new ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) sports a Full HD panel with 144Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-Sync support. It’s even Pantone Validated for color accuracy.

Inside is an Intel Core i7-8750H processor paired with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series graphics. Since it’s a gaming laptop, it’s not lacking in ports. It has two USB-C (one with Power Delivery and DisplayPort), three full-size USB 3.1, HDMI 2.0, and a headphone jack.

It has all the features we know and love about Zephyrus S laptops including individual RGB backlighting and the unique Active Aerodynamic System which now has anti-dust tunnels to keep the cooling system clean.

In the Philippines, the Zephyrus S (GX701) will come in three configurations. The cheapest one will have 16GB DDR4 memory, 512GB PCIe SSD, and RTX 2060 for PhP 139,995. The mid-tier RTX 2070-equipped variant is selling for PhP 169,995. If you really wish to have the top-dog variant with RTX 2080 Max-Q plus 24GB DDR4 memory and 1TB PCIe SSD, you’ll have to shell out PhP 209,995.

Considering that the similarly specced ROG Strix Scar II sells for less cash, the ROG Zephyrus S (GX701) is indeed quite pricey. Basically, you’re paying a premium for the slim design and a couple of extra features.

Pre-orders start March 1 until March 10 in ROG concept stores nationwide and Octagon in Glorietta. The laptop will be sold in select stores after the pre-order period.

SEE ALSO: ASUS launches new AMD Ryzen gaming laptops on a budget

Gaming

Black Shark 2 launches with a pressure-sensitive screen

It sports 12GB of RAM!

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Gaming smartphones occupy a strange position in the market. When the category started, it consisted mostly of devices with high-end hardware. The gaming aspect was just a nice addition supplemented by a few gaming-centric features. Sadly, the first gaming smartphones funneled into a premium niche.

Years after, the gaming smartphone evolved into a more versatile device. The category now sports several premium features. For example, Xiaomi has recently launched the Black Shark 2, a gaming smartphone that puts the premium on gaming.

The Black Shark 2 touts a Samsung-sourced 6.39-inch AMOLED screen, pumping out images at 2340 x 1080 resolution. Additionally, the display’s brightness goes up to 430 nits. Latency has also been reduced to 43.5ms. It has motion interpolation, optimizing the display for gaming purposes.

The screen also comes with new pressure-sensitive features. Users can map separate button functionalities for both left and right flanks, like how a game controller works. Both buttons trigger with additional pressure. It will also come with an under-screen fingerprint sensor.

Under the hood, the Black Shark 2 boasts a Snapdragon 855 chipset, Adreno 640 GPU, up to 12GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of internal storage. Liquid Cooling 3.0 will keep the phone in workable temperatures even during heavy gameplay sessions.

For photography, the smartphone carries a dual 48-megapixel + 12-megapixel AI rear camera combination and a 20-megapixel f/2.0 front-facing shooter. Speaking of front-facing, it also has two front-facing speakers, preventing any blockages during gameplay.

Complementing this heavy machinery, the Black Shark 2 will use a huge 4000mAh battery, with 27W fast charging capabilities.

The Black Shark 2 is already available in China. A lighter 6GB+128GB variant retails for CNY 3,200 (US$ 475). Meanwhile, the stronger 12GB+256GB variant retails for CNY 4,200 (US$ 625). It comes in either Shadow Black or Frozen Silver.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Black Shark 2 shows up in quick hands-on video

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Gaming

Ten university students arrested for playing PUBG in India

Because it’s too violent and distracting

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Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

That’s something ten university students didn’t adhere to when playing PUBG on their mobile phones, which led to their arrests. The incident happened last Wednesday in the state of Gujarat in India, where this specific game is banned.

The report by Channel News Asia says that they were released on bail with a warning shortly after. According to the account of one officer, the students were so “engrossed in playing” that they didn’t notice the police walking toward them.

PUBG was banned from being played a week ago after several authorities, as well as parents and educators, felt the game is too violent and distracting for the youth. A local minister went as far as calling it a “demon in every house.”

As of now, Gujarat is the only state that has outright banned the game in fear of it harming the development of children. Although similar titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends have been cited as being equally detrimental, only PUBG is part of the current ban.

However, to PUBG‘s credit (or rather discredit in this instance), it’s been around longer as a battle royale-style game and has been free to download on mobile devices since its launch.

There’s no word yet if other Indian states will follow suit. Outside of India, PUBG is still experiencing worldwide attention as part of several esports tournaments such as the Predator League.

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Gaming

New avenues open for aspiring esports athletes

Brands are going all in!

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Competitive gaming has been around for quite a while now and in the Philippines, aspiring to be a professional gamer might not be too far fetched of a dream anymore.

The Nationals

Inspired by the PBA or Philippine Basketball Association, brands have come to together to form The Nationals — the first franchise-based esports league in Southeast Asia. The inaugural season will feature five teams and three games.

Here are the five teams:

  1. Bren Epro
  2. HF Emperors
  3. Cignal Ultra Warriors
  4. PLDT-Smart Omega
  5. Suha-XCTN Punisher

These five teams will compete in three games on three major platforms: Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on mobile, Dota 2 on PC, and Tekken 7 on PS4. A sixth team — STI — will join the league on June 2018 after the Dota 2 competitions.

Sizzle reel of fans hyped for The Nationals

Each game will have two conferences. The two conferences will comprise a double round-robin group stage and single-elimination playoffs. Winners of the two conference will then face off later on for the season finale.

The Nationals will be run like any other professional sports league. Commissioner Ren Vitug is hopeful the league will provide a platform where talent can be nurtured.

A tested league model in the Philippines

The franchise-based approach might be alien to international observers whose participants comprise of either clubs or city-based teams. However, it’s a tried and tested formula in the Philippines.

The PBA, which was founded in 1975 and is the longest-running professional basketball league in Asia, is also franchise-based and has been the model for other sports leagues in the country.

While that league is experiencing some issues in gate attendance, it is still running thanks in large part to the financial backing of its member franchises. It stands to reason that this league model might prove to be successful in the Philippines.

The Esports Center

Elsewhere, major Philippine telecommunications company Globe has launched The Esports Center or ESC. It’s a pop-up that will run from March 9 to 24 at Play Nation in UP Town Center, Quezon City. Globe says the ESC hopes to provide a venue where the entire esports community can come together.

The ESC also welcomes those who are into gaming and want to break into the esports industry but are not exactly sure where to start. Globe SVP and Head for Content Business Nikko Acosta says the ESC hopes to serve as the “venue to upgrade [the gamers’] knowledge and gauge their skill levels with others through peer learning.”

Present during the launch was Team Liyab — Globe’s own esports team which was built in partnership with professional gaming organization Mineski.

Team Liyab poses with shoutcaster Rikucasts

Other than mobile and PC arenas, the ESC will also have a place called The Studio. Here, those who are more interested in becoming streamers instead of esports athletes will have a place and the tools to learn more about the craft.

Brand support key in esports growth

Esports has seen a major rise in recent years and brands in the Philippines are going all in. The proclamation of overall support which include not only the athletes’ training and finances but also their emotional, mental, and physical well-being all sound very promising.

All of these are still in the infancy stages, but the prospect for growth and the continued support by brands and fans alike could push the industry to heights once reserved only for traditional athletes. If this continues, it might not be long before we’re having debates about who the G.O.A.T. esports athlete is.

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