Laptops

ASUS VivoBook S15 Review: Mixing style and function

Also a lesson about love and relationships

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Finding the right laptop is tricky if you want it to tailor to your preference and personality. If you want a laptop you can show-off that can also perform, the ASUS VivoBook S15 S531FL might be the one you’re looking for.

A bit of history: the new VivoBook S15 was launched earlier at Computex 2019. ASUS paraded a colorful lineup that would certainly grab anyone’s attention: Moss Green, Punk Pink, Cobalt Blue, Transparent Silver, and Gun Metal. Luckily, I was able to try this new laptop in Cobalt Blue. Not a lot of people would be enthralled with such bold and striking colors, but I beg to differ.

Made for the bold type

Growing up, I love being at the center of attention. Whether it was because of a new toy or the latest gadget, I love it when people gather around with amazement in their eyes, just because I brought something to the table. Their awe was enough of a reward for me; as if I did something extraordinary. The high from being validated was enough to keep the people around me excited and mesmerized.

That same feeling was what I felt when I used the VivoBook S15. While I was fixated on my screen, I felt everyone’s gaze as my laptop grabbed their attention. It’s a definite head-turner.

I mean, who wouldn’t be captivated by its looks? It stands out with its sleek, metal frame in vivid Cobalt Blue. It’s also adorned by Neon Red accents (which looks orange to me) giving it a sophisticated vibe even at a glance. Moreover, a blue and red combination — in its most striking hue — is alluring to people fascinated with futuristic style.

Touch that lingers

The VivoBook S15 doesn’t just look good, but it feels upscale, too. Both the lid and body are made of fine aluminum, with the former having a textured finish. The embossed name also gives a subtle touch of class.

The body, on the other hand, was painted with a transparent silver color which glosses when there’s a substantial light shining over.

Back then, I kept on caressing the laptop as if my fingertips were running through a Burberry trench coat (or even Marc Jacobs underwear). I felt awestruck, especially with its trackpad which is fairly on point on its touch sensitivity. It’s decent compared to the previous laptop I used.

The keyboard was comfortable to type on. Most of its keys are large and evenly spaced, except for the arrow keys which are a lot smaller. Additionally, it’s light, soft and has a backlit design to let you work even in the dark.

Unfortunately, its bottom was made of plastic. To compensate, the laptop exhibits similar cuts on the base and perforations to look and feel better, especially when you hold it in your hands. The mix of aluminum and plastic offer the right amount of weight, making this combination common in most laptops nowadays. Honestly, it’s the perfect choice for frail people looking for a portable yet sturdy laptop.

Not just for show

In case you’re wondering, this laptop isn’t just for show. Even though it’s flamboyant and stylish, function is still at the core of its design language. Evident is ASUS’ ErgoLift hinge, which tilts the laptop to have an inclined position. This makes working on this laptop more comfortable on the wrists.

Productivity is one of its focus, considering all the ports available on each side. On the right, you can find the power input, a standard HDMI port, two USB 3.1 ports; one Type-A and one Type-C, an audio jack, and a microSD card reader.

On the left side, you can find two USB 2.0 ports which most people might find to be outdated since it’s already 2019. Most laptops nowadays come with USB-C ports instead. Nonetheless, I hate the dongle life and laptops carrying multiple ports are still better until every other device supports USB-C. This would pass, but I do hope that the next version would come with USB 4 ports, or at least USB 3.1.

The problem with just “looking good”

With its enormous size, it’s hard not to be drawn to the VivoBook S15. Its screen boasts a 15.6″ FHD panel bordered by thin bezels on every side, thanks to its NanoEdge design giving an almost-frameless look. Found on top is an IR HD camera, which isn’t as visible unless you put it under proper light.

I hate to rain on ASUS’ parade, but I honestly believe the display could’ve been better. The company is a braggart when it comes to their display, but let’s be real here: we don’t need something beautiful if it doesn’t provide what we need.

Consumers are looking for the very essence of a product’s feature, hence, the display should not be lackluster. It’s not bright and vibrant enough, and it has poor color reproduction. Moreover, it has a limited viewing angle and I experienced a lot of glare contrary to its claims.

It’s just like when you buy a fleece coat and a cashmere scarf, only to be duped when you find out it was mostly acrylic or polyester and it failed to provide the primary reason for buying it: to protect you from the cold during winter. The VivoBook S15 failed to give us the bright side of its display, but it’s one thing you can compromise if you already fell in love with its look.

Don’t have high hopes

While this laptop failed me in the display department, I wouldn’t let a single moment pass by to watch my favorite sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Despite all the disappointments I encountered, I still had high hopes for its audio performance since it was tuned by Harman Kardon.

However, don’t be fooled by its branding. Even though it has the Harman Kardon signature, the VivoBook S15 provides below average audio quality befitting a non-flagship laptop like this. The speakers are also stuck in the bottom, along with the fan perforations which can result in subdued sound quality especially when it’s placed on a flat surface.

I know, both the display and audio department have failed miserably yet I still found the whole experience with the laptop enjoyable. After all, comedies have taken a bulk on my watch list which guarantees I’ll be happy whatever I watch, wherever it may be. Yet as a person who sees a glass half-full, I honestly believe the VivoBook S15 is more than enough to most users.

My nitpicking is based on my impeccable — and irrationally — high standards, born out of using premium and flagship laptops first-hand. If I didn’t have any point of comparison, I would have opted for this one already.

But since I know we all deserve better, I still encourage you to look for the best you can find; unless this is the one that fits your preference, personality, and of course, budget. If that’s the case, then by all means, go ahead and continue reading.

Sometimes, it’s more than enough

The whole affair with the VivoBook S15 is like a dating adventure. I was hooked at first glance, and I admired its look and style, and I dived right in to feel it. One by one, I see red flags, and I still hold on to the tiny things that I might discover, hoping to make the affair with this “perfect” match going on.

In an attempt to hold on longer, I clung to one of the reasons why I chose this laptop. I looked back and remembered why I enjoyed every moment I was using it. The truth is this laptop provides more than what I need.

The VivoBook S15 is powered by an 8th-Gen Intel i7-8565U processor, running an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card. It also has an 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and 1TB HDD storage.

Yes, I’m a designer and I occasionally delve into multimedia work. If we’re going to talk about how I’m going to use this laptop in my everyday life, I’d say it’s more than enough. A confidante once affirmed that with the right person, you are enough.

Truly, the VivoBook S15 packs power more than what we need. It can let us browse the internet, open multiple tabs and multitask, and run Spotify, Netflix, Google Chrome, and Adobe Photoshop all at once in the background. Do note that these apps are some of the most power-consuming apps but the VivoBook S15 can handle everything without hiccups.

I also didn’t have qualms working on my post-processing sessions on Adobe Photoshop. On some occasions, I was able to handle illustrations through Adobe Illustrator and edit photos batch-by-batch in Adobe Lightroom. For those who do video editing, this laptop can handle a bit of editing, but I would look elsewhere.

Then again, I wouldn’t push a laptop beyond its limits, especially with a task it’s not meant to handle. Such examples are heavy multimedia works, or worse, playing graphics-intensive games. Sure it can do it albeit only to a certain extent.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I may have said a mix of praise and brutally honest complaints about this laptop, and it might have confused some of you. Frankly, the ASUS VivoBook S15 has a lot of shortcomings, especially for a laptop in 2019. Yet despite its imperfection, it still proved to be more than capable, especially for everyday users.

This laptop will surely do you wonders, increase your productivity, and let your creativity thrive. For PhP 60,995 (US$ 1206), the ASUS VivoBook S15 S531FL can be rivaled by other laptops out there, but they probably look tacky. None of them can compete with how ASUS packaged this beaut into something stylish yet functional to complement one’s lifestyle. This laptop is something worth bringing and showing-off while you do your work.

Even though I noticed a lot of flaws, I still chose to see the good in it. I have learned that if you want to make a thing last, you have to choose it. Just like in love, you have to choose it every single day. Sure, there’ll be drawbacks and a lot of disappointments along the way, but some can be glossed over, understood and accepted. We’ll always have unreasonable demands, but we only need to take a step back and see the reason why we choose this thing (or someone) in the first place. Sometimes, they are enough.

With this affirmation, I’m going to reward myself and buy this laptop as a gift for myself this holiday season. I believe this is my GadgetMatch.

CES 2020

The ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 screams premium

Simple, clean, and light

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Despite Apple’s dig at Chromebooks, it appears to be going strong with yet another addition to the portfolio — the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436.

Simple, clean, and light

ASUS is calling this the thinnest and lightest 14-inch Chromebook. It’s only 13.7mm thick and weighs just 1.1kg.

Complementing the slim form factor are two unique finishes: An iridescent Aerogel White which changes color depending on your viewing angle, and a more subtle Transparent Silver.

The sexy look extends to the display which has an 85 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Unexpected power

One would think something this slim form-factor will hold it back from going all out in performance. Fortunately for us, that’s not the case.

Here’s a specs and ports dump: Up to 10th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD storage, Wi-Fi 6. Two USB-C ports, microSD card slot up to 2TB.

Whether you’re typing in laptop mode or writing on it in tablet mode, this will help you get your work done. Yes, write on tablet mode. This Chromebook supports any USI-compatible stylus.

The ASUS Chromebook Flip’s 42W all-day battery promises to delivery up to 12 hours of battery life.

Not just for work

When you’re done with the day’s work, you can flip it to tent mode for a Netflix session. The display along with the Harman Kardon-certified speaker setup should produce audio perfect as you unwind for the day.

The ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 starts US$ 999 will be available at around the first and/or second quarter of 2020.

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CES 2020

The Lenovo Ducati 5 is a racing inspired laptop

It even gets an exhaust note on startup!

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Lenovo has been partnering with Ducati on the racetrack for a couple of years now, and today, the company announced the Lenovo Ducati 5, a new Windows 10 laptop that was designed in collaboration between the two companies.

The racing stripe and additional design features come together well, and the fresh 10th-gen processor from Intel should keep it running quickly. The BIOS chime is meant to match the sound of Moto GP riders, and it comes in a Ducati gift box that has matching colors. It also comes with a sleeve that has a Ducati shield.

Apart from the Ducati branding, Ducati 5 is a standard mid-range laptop. It comes equipped with a 10th gen Intel Ice Lake Core i5-1035G1, Intel integrated graphics, 8 GB of RAM, a 14-inch display, and up to a 1 TB PCIe SSD.

Unsurprisingly given the size, there’s no discrete graphics on board, just the integrated graphics of the chip. This is not meant for serious video work or gaming.

Port selection is fairly good, offering users two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port, HDMI, an SD card reader, and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

The Lenovo Ducati 5 starts at EUR 900 and will be available in April 2020. Lenovo does not list a U.S. pricing. With a production run of just 12,000 units, the Ducati 5 is clearly a niche product.

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CES 2020

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold: Not just a computer

Best foldable so far?

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Last year in the midst of a foldable smartphone war, Lenovo showed us that a computer with a foldable display was also possible.

At that time it didn’t come with a name. Or specs. Or a launch date or a price. But all of that changes here at CES 2020.

What makes the Thinkpad X1 Fold so special? If you saw our preview video you would know, but if you didn’t don’t worry, we got you covered.

It’s not just a computer, its many things.

It’s a huge 13.3 tablet with an OLED display that folds close just like this. When shut, it looks just like a notebook complete with its built in leather folio cover.

You can also hold it like a book and and enjoy an e-book the way you would regular books. Use it with a pen, and it’s a notebook!

You can fold it horizontally too and the bottom half turns into a virtual keyboard. Or, and we weren’t allowed to tell you before, use a real keyboard.

When the X1 Fold is closed it fits snuggly in the middle of the display, so you can easily take it anywhere with you. Flick open the kickstand to use the tablet as a monitor and control everything with the physical keyboard.

You could also fold it horizontally and prop the keyboard on one half of the display and use it like you would any laptop. Key travel feels good and satisfying. It connects wirelessly and automatically. And it charges while tucked in the middle of the display.

The keyboard and pen are bundled and come free.

But Lenovo will also sell a stand for propping it up when you want to connect it to an external monitor. Yes you can do that do.

Another thing we weren’t allowed to show you before is its hinge mechanism. The secret sauce that allows it to fold and unfold like this.

It’s worth pointing out. While the durability of flexible displays is still questioned, Lenovo is willing to risk the name ThinkPad — a brand that’s synonymous with durability and performance.

Now that the design is final. We can also now share button and port placements: Two USB-C ports. One on the bottom, the other is on the right along with SIM card slot, volume button, and the power button.

At launch Lenovo will first be offering a model with a full version of Windows 10 Pro. A version with the upcoming Windows 10X is eventually coming.

Because many of you will ask. Here is the spec sheet: You get the latest Intel processors, up to 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

While the future of computing is still being debated. A versatile device like the ThinkPad X1 Fold is exciting and makes sense. It’s an idea we can get behind. And it’s one of GadgetMatch’s Best of CES 2020 Awardees!

The question now is people will go out and buy it. Would you?

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