Laptops

ASUS VivoBook X412F Review: A great midrange option for work and school

For those who need a fresh start

Published

on

Not everyone can afford a premium device. Even if the specifications entice you to buy that nice laptop, the ultimate decision point is in its price and value to you. Parents and young professionals starting a new job would know.

ASUS regularly comes up with great midrange selections for students and young professionals. That seems to be what the ASUS VivoBook X412F is: an all-around midrange device for productivity and day-to-day tasks. But if you’re currently a student or working full-time, should you consider this device?

Here’s a rundown of the device’s specifications:

It has a 14” HD anti-glare display

It’s powered by an Intel Core i3 processor and an NVIDIA MX230 graphics card

It comes with both a USB Type-A and Type-C port

Has a fingerprint reader on the touchpad

It gets the job done for its intended purpose

The model I used came with an Intel Core i3 processor, which won’t deliver great performance on paper. But after using it for a while, I can say that it really isn’t the case. It kept up with the numerous tasks I threw at it, whether it was writing documents or watching videos. Do take note that this device only comes with 4GB of RAM, so obviously you won’t be able to do a lot more.

It also helped that it comes with a 256GB solid state drive installed. Using SSDs provide a significant boost in loading times, which allowed me to get more tasks done. I would still prefer to have the more powerful Intel Core i5 option installed to maximize performance.

You can play games on it, just don’t push it

The VivoBook X412F comes with an entry level NVIDIA MX230 graphics card. Upon reading this, my initial thought was that gaming was possible — and it was. The catch is, well any game that doesn’t require so much graphical power will run smoothly. Games like CS:GO, Minecraft, and Rocket League do reach a hard 50 to 55 frame per second cap.

But like any other non-gaming laptop, using this strictly for gaming is highly discouraged. This device was not exactly designed to be a gaming machine, even if you get the units with more powerful processors on it. Plus, you will definitely feel the heat on your keyboard when you play for too long. So, I’m not saying that you can’t use it to play games; don’t use it just to play games.

It lasts relatively long, as long as you’re using it properly

Upon initial testing, I did get around five to six hours on one full charge. It’s long enough for you to just browse the internet, watch a few videos or movies, and type down reports. Doing some form of photo or video editing decreases that number by just a bit. It took two to three hours to fully charge the device from zero.

Battery life when playing games on it is just what you expect it to be. I got close to two hours and 30 minutes before having to plug the charger. Again, you can play games on this device but it’s not meant for strictly just gameplay. 

The webcam is surprisingly decent

One of the key critiques I’ve had over most laptops centers around their webcams. Most built-in HD webcams, when used for the first time, are not as “high-definition” as promoted. Images and videos either look blurry or grainy, which won’t help during conference calls.

With the VivoBook X412F, the webcam is decent at best — which is all you could really hope for. Under good lighting conditions, image quality on this 720p webcam feels more “high-definition” than most. I observed relatively less grain than most other laptops I’ve tried, which is great for video calls at least.

Other features worth considering before you buy

The VivoBook X412F comes with a fingerprint reader on the touchpad. Setting up Windows Hello was pretty fast, but I found the sensor to be pretty sensitive after. Even if I had already cleaned my fingers and wiped out the sweat, the sensor sometimes won’t read it.

It also comes with a chiclet keyboard without the number pad on the right side. Key travel, for me was decent and took just a short while to get used to. Sadly, it wasn’t backlit which I would have liked — especially for working late at night. 

Finally, you get what you can with its display. It’s only a 14-inch HD display, which doesn’t leave you much room for proper viewing angles and color accuracy. The one good quality it has, in my opinion, is that it’s an anti-glare screen. I used the device outdoors several times, and even at 70 percent brightness I could still see the contents of my screen.

Is the ASUS VivoBook X412F your GadgetMatch?

The ASUS VivoBook X412F is one device that truly caters to those who want an affordable yet premium experience. It comes in a package that promises great productivity and portability, and lasts a long time. It’s a total fit for students and young professionals looking for their first school or work laptop. Of course, that’s only the case as long as it is used for its intended purpose.

With a device like this, you can only do so much. While tasks such as photo, video editing, and gaming are possible, it proves to do more harm than good. If you really want to get the most value out of this laptop, I suggest you use it mostly for its intended purpose.At PhP 32,995 (US$ 629) for the 256GB + 4GB RAM unit, the ASUS VivoBook X412F is a great productivity device for work and school. That is, if you will use it for work or school-related activities.

SEE ALSO: ASUS VivoBook, X series laptops on sale at Shopee

Laptops

Future MacBook Pro models will have an HDMI port again

One less dongle to carry

Published

on

Just a few weeks ago, rumors started spreading that future MacBook Pro models will likely have an SD card reader. It seems like Apple is not  stopping there, as famed tipster Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that future models will feature an HDMI port once again.

The change will be a significant one for Apple. All MacBook Pro models today only feature the USB-C port, so a dongle is necessary for connecting to other devices and peripherals. The inclusion of an HDMI port will also eliminate the need for dongles and will appease power users who require the port for their workflow. HDMI ports are still present on many devices especially on displays, which in some cases only have one or two of these ports.

Aside from the inclusion of an HDMI port, Kuo also predicts that the new MacBook Pro models will be a major redesign, featuring flat edges like those found in the latest iPhone and iPad models. The divisive Touch Bar is also going away on the new models, as per Kuo’s predictions.

Other rumors point to Apple resurrecting the MagSafe connector which is present on older models. However, it is unclear how the company plans to reintroduce the connector. Others are speculating a novel mechanism for wireless charging on the new models should Apple reintroduce MagSafe.

These new MacBook Pro models will come with either a 14-inch or 16-inch display. Both models will also likely sport a much beefier processor than the M1. Apple is expected to launch the new MacBook Pro in the second half of 2021.

h/t: MacRumors

Continue Reading

Laptops

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review: Power from a new generation

More business-focused than ever before

Published

on

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Young and established professionals go through a lot day in and day out. Even under work-from-home conditions, a lot of people require devices with great, long-lasting power to keep them going. Fortunately, a lot of companies tend to provide such business-centred devices to their employees unless you already have a powerful laptop to use.

For Lenovo, their ThinkPad lineup serves as that dedicated list of business-oriented products that offer long-lasting power. With every generation and iteration of this legacy sub-brand, there are more business-centered features added to enhance the work experience. This is how the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 shapes up to be, in my eyes.

So, does the new generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon stack up? Here’s what you’re getting with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8:

It has a 14-inch FHD, anti-glare display

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

There are sets of USB-A, HDMI, and USB-C ports with the device

A 10th generation Intel Core i7 powers the device

It comes in a classic Black finish with a carbon fiber lid

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Excellent build quality, as expected

I have to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve looked at a ThinkPad device. I’ve seen other people rock the device in most coffee shops and work areas, but never experienced using one. Still, looking at the 8th generation of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, I’ve seen how far this legacy has come while maintaining some key features.

For instance, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 is just a kilo in weight, which is pretty damn light. It was easy to carry around, and it’s sleek in its own right with the carbon fiber lid. Now, when I had oily hands, I did get some of my fingerprints on it — relatively visible to the naked eye. It’s kind of a fingerprint magnet, but it easily blends in every time.

Apart from these, another key feature of the overall build is its retention of the red-dot mouse and mouse buttons. While I wouldn’t necessarily use it more than the precision trackpad, I found it a nice touch to keep around. As someone with an affinity towards the past, something as classic as this small red dot took me back. But, enough nostalgia and let’s focus on the now.

Superb performance for business tasks and activities

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with a quad-core, Intel Core i7-10610U processor inside that powers everything underneath the hood. Despite being a quad-core CPU, it provides great performance for business-related tasks, especially on the go. Of course, it also helps that this device also comes with 16GB of RAM to manage the load, as well.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

I used this machine on occasion for some of my tasks for my day job, and it held up pretty well. From handling tons of data entries in Excel to conference calls on Microsoft Teams, it showed no signs of slowing down. Also, I was working at such an efficient rate (by my standards) with my files loading up quickly thanks to the SSD inside.

I felt that a lot of thought and work was given to a business-centered device like this. In essence, it’s a device designed to reduce bottlenecks from your workflow while also giving you more features to enhance the experience. Even if you’re using this device casually, I think it holds up well. But, more on those features later on.

One long-lasting battery fit for the long work hours

This device comes with a built-in 51Wh battery inside, and such battery made this device last long without charging. While I was working on all my data reports, presentations, and even some articles, it still had about 50 to 55 percent left. To exhaust one full charge, I took around 14 hours without reaching for the charger.

Within that 14-hour span, I managed to get some work done plus watch a few videos on YouTube and Netflix. For the most part, I didn’t have to put the battery in Power Saving Mode to supposedly extend my hours by a few tick marks. I felt that you can seriously go on a full work day, and then some.

If you manage to exhaust this long-lasting battery, the 65W USB-C charging brick charges the device almost instantly. I say almost since it took an average of an hour and 45 minutes to go from zero to 100 percent. When you think about it, this device brings you back into your work without any interruption. That is, if you count reaching for the charger an interruption to your workflow.

None of that excruciating heat in the way

At first, I thought that something this thin and light meant that cooling the device was difficult. As with most business laptops, these devices tend to feel some heat every time you run complicated data queries on Excel. At least, that’s how my work laptop went every single time I open an Excel file with a size greater than 200MB.

With the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, however, I didn’t feel any heat as much as I thought I would. To its credit, it doesn’t have any fancy dedicated GPU on board, so one possible source of heat is gone. Still, even under long and intense workloads, the laptop didn’t heat up as much.

On the times it did heat up, it wasn’t as excruciating as it would be on, let’s say a gaming laptop. Every time I use this on my lap for long workloads, it feels warm around the upper portions where the battery is housed. Still, I didn’t experience as much heat on the keyboard nor on my lap, which makes this device comfortable to use.

How about those business-oriented features?

I mentioned earlier that this laptop came packed with nifty business-oriented features, and there are some I applaud Lenovo for including. For instance, I loved the addition of dedicated function keys for voice and video calls integrated for Teams and/or Zoom. If you want to avoid the hassle of dragging your mouse to answer the call, now it’s possible to do so with a simple key press!

Also, the Dolby Atmos speakers at the bottom and top were a nice touch. Along with an active noise-cancelling microphone during calls, it made for a great sound system every time I had an online team meeting. For everything else like music and movies, it provided deep levels of sound.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

As for the HD camera, it was decent when I was using it for video calls. It’s not particularly great, however, in image quality, especially if you’re just using it to take selfies while on call. At least, you still get the privacy shutter when you’re not using it, so I give it a pass.

Is this your GadgetMatch for WFH?

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Starting at PhP 129,990, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 provides the ease of a business experience. Apart from a well-built device, it comes with the hardware and the features dedicated to business professionals of all kinds. Also, it lasts long enough to get you through the entire work day, and even a little bit past that.

Sure, it’s not as versatile as ultrabooks or gaming laptops in terms of the tasks you can throw at it. It doesn’t have the flashiness of RGB, or capable graphics drivers for gaming and video rendering. For what it’s worth and for what it’s target consumer is asking, this device is more than enough.

At such a high price point, it’s not an easy investment for multiple employees in any given company (especially now while we’re still in pandemic mode). However, its power and longevity certainly make it a device worth considering for a WFH setup.

Continue Reading

Computers

Researchers find malware on nearly 30K macOS devices

Silver Sparrow is being closely watched by researchers

Published

on

Owners of macOS devices — that includes the Macbook Air, Pro, and the iMacs — have one thing to worry about right now: a new type of malware. Researchers from Red Canary found a new type of malware that has affected a large number of macOS devices already, though its inner workings are still unclear.

Dubbed “Silver Sparrow”, the malware is one of the second malware with compatibility for the M1 processor. Likewise, researchers also found that it exhibits a behavior different from the usual macOS adware. Its primary mode of execution is through Javascript, specifically through the macOS Installer Javascript API. As such, this makes it harder to detect or analyze.

It also has a built-in self-destruct mechanism. Researchers, however, are unclear why the self-destruct mechanism is there.

The function of the malware also remains unclear at the moment. Without a final payload, it just hides on infected macOS devices until triggered by an unknown mechanism. Researchers warned that it posed a serious threat given its “forward-looking M1 chip compatibility, global reach, relatively high infection rate, and operational maturity”.

For malware without a clear motive yet, the number of infected devices is staggering for researchers. Malwarebytes put the exact number at 29,139 macOS devices across 153 countries.

To prevent any more potential threats, Apple already blocked the certificates used to sign the malware packages. For now, affected users can’t do anything yet, given that the malware is still under close scrutiny.

Via: Ars Technica

Continue Reading

Trending