Laptops

ASUS ZenBook 15 review: Everything you need in a laptop?

With great power, comes all the caveats in between

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Very few laptops have everything a person would ever need out of it. Whether it’s just for typing Word documents or playing all the latest games, only a handful of laptops fit the bill. ASUS has one laptop to offer, which was announced back in IFA 2018.

The ASUS ZenBook 15 has almost every piece of hardware for everyone. But is a device powered by a powerful Intel processor and a gaming-ready graphics card really worth it? Let’s find out.

Same premium design through the years

ASUS dubs their ZenBook lineup as its top-of-the-line Ultrabook. Through the years, ZenBooks have retained their premium design and feel. So when I got the chance to try the new ZenBook 15 (UX533) out, I expected nothing less — and I was impressed. The build quality of the device is great, with a sturdy metal-plastic chassis that shows little to no flex. It even feels light to bring around, at only 1.59kg.

My unit has the Icicle Silver finish that shows off the elegance of the laptop. There is an option to get it in the bolder Royal Blue color, but it will definitely feel like you own a premium device the moment you set your eyes on it.

The only real change the company implemented was the addition of the ErgoLift. Essentially, it frees up space for the laptop to release hot air instead of blasting them on the table or your lap. It’s also supposed to make the bottom-facing speakers sound better, although this really wasn’t the case when I used it.

It almost has everything for everyone

The ZenBook 15 is one powerful machine, from the inside out. My unit comes with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor and 16GB of RAM. This configuration alone guarantees superb performance, and the ZenBook 15 did not disappoint. Typing Word documents, surfing the web, even photo and video editing felt like a breeze with this machine. You can play games here too, but let’s save that discussion for later.

On the outside, you have a 15-inch Full HD anti-glare NanoEdge display — perfect for outdoor use at full brightness. It comes in a resolution of 1920 by 1080, a full 16:9 display with tiny bezels on the side.

It’s also equipped with a full-size backlit keyboard, with the number pad separated from the trackpad — unlike its 13-inch and 14-inch variants.

The ZenBook 15 does come with three USB Type-A ports and one USB Type-C port that supports external displays; however, it would have been better to make it as Thunderbolt port to fully maximize the potential. The laptop also comes with a dual-band Wi-Fi card, although an additional Ethernet port would have been nice, as well.

It’s got game, but it really destroys your battery life

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the ZenBook 15 is the fact that it comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q. With this graphics chip, gaming on this laptop actually feels pretty damn good. It managed to get competitive frame rates for fast-paced games like Fortnite, PUBG, and Rocket League, all with high settings. But, don’t expect the same from AAA titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Also, there is a significant increase in the laptop’s overall temperature with longer than 30 minutes of play time. The left side of the laptop felt so hot, it’s almost like you could fry an egg on it. Of course, playing for long hours on this device drains the 73Wh battery significantly faster. I got about nine to ten hours on regular use, and only two to three hours on full game mode.

The camera is honestly only good for Windows Hello

The ZenBook 15 comes with an 3D infrared HD camera that supports Windows Hello. The infrared sensors were great at facial recognition, and Windows Hello felt really easy to set up and use. But, the camera was lackluster when taking photos and videos. It only seems passable to use for video calls, but the overall image quality just doesn’t equate to HD.

The bottom-facing speakers could be better

The two Harman/Kardon speakers on the ZenBook 15 are placed on the bottom side, facing the table or your lap. Sound quality is impressive until you turn it to maximum. Apart from that, I was expecting that they would sound better because of what ErgoLift supposedly does for them.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 89,995 (US$ 1,720), the ASUS ZenBook 15 jams almost everything you need in a premium device. And for that price you get the highest, most powerful configuration possible. Anyone can do pretty much anything with the hardware that comes with it. Apart from that, its elegant design and lightweight body make it a perfect on-the-go device. 

If you’re low on cash, you can also get the 14-inch ZenBook 14 for PhP 77,995. It only has 8GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card that offers similar, but less powerful overall performance. But, you do get the illuminated number pad on the touchpad.

Of course, that is if you don’t mind the otherwise average camera and fryer-like temperatures with heavy gaming. However, if you’re looking for a laptop that can handle anything, the ZenBook 15 is for you!

Laptops

Jojo Rabbit director threw some nasty shade at Apple

Keyboards are terrible, he said

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Image source: Kyusung Gong / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Yesterday, Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi enjoyed a wide successful night at the Oscars, bagging the award for best adapted screenplay. As is custom, every Oscar winner was interviewed right after their win. Waititi was no different. However, besides talking about his historic win, he went off on a strange tangent.

In the round of interviews, entertainment outlet IndieWire asked about Waititi’s stance on the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and what writers should demand for. Waititi didn’t waste a breath thinking about his answer.

“Apple needs to fix those keyboards,” Waititi waved his hand, cutting the interviewer’s question short.

“They are impossible to write on. They’ve gotten worse. Makes me want to go back to PCs,” he continued. Then, he asks the room if anyone is still using a PC, eliciting a few nods from the crowd.

“On PC, the bounce-back for your fingers is way better.” His fingers mimicked typing on a keyboard. He explains that he has “some shoulder problems,” making Apple’s keyboards even worse. “What happens is, you open the laptop, and you’re like this,” he squeezed his elbows uncomfortably closer to his torso.

“We’ve just got to fix those keyboards,” he finished. “WGA needs to stop in and do something.”

This isn’t the first time that Apple’s keyboards were the butt of a joke. In 2016, Apple ushered in a new era for Mac keyboards — the infamous butterfly switch. Even if you use a PC, you know the butterfly problem by now. Though intended as a feature for comfort, the butterfly keyboard ultimately caused more inconvenience than preventing it, allowing crumbs to get in and destroying keys. Eventually, Apple tried a different material to reduce issues, but kept the butterfly system all the same.

Waititi’s concerns echo the sentiments of Apple’s main market: an army of creatives who write every single day. If the thousands of complaints don’t do it, maybe a critically acclaimed director’s will.

SEE ALSO: This is how Apple envisions the next iMac

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Laptops

Lenovo IdeaPad S540 review: A professional’s daily driver

An essential for every career-driven millennial

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As a 20-something millennial, I always feel like time is running out. I have this inane need to accomplish so much at a young age. Friends and mentors alike remind me that life’s not a race, but I can’t help it — I’m too passionate.

I’ve always been determined to have a high-flying career before I reach 30. Years fly by so quickly, which is why there’s an urge to achieve so many in a short span of time. Not to mention, global warming is real, wars could happen any minute, and we all could be dead soon. I don’t want to die without reaching my dreams.

To achieve my goals, I ensure I’m equipped with the right gear in building my career. For starters, we all need a laptop that does its job so we can focus on our work.

Make an impression through your gear

Enter Lenovo’s IdeaPad S540. This premium ultrabook is a tad better than the IdeaPad S340. However, both laptops look similar due to Lenovo’s design language — which should be revamped if you think about it. I would’ve appreciated it better if the logo’s more subtle (and if it’s probably embossed).

The IdeaPad S540 comes in three beautiful colors — black, grey, and copper. Of course, mine would come in the beautiful copper. After all, millennials have a flair for style — we wouldn’t settle for anything that’s boring.

It comes in a sleek-looking, matte-finished, aluminum body that’s so smooth, you’d want to caress it with your fingers for an entire day. When you present with this laptop, people will know you mean business — serious, but not boring.

Finding comfort in its shortcomings

Its screen is humongous, coming in with a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display. There’s so much you can do with a screen this big, even though it has thick bezels on its top and bottom. Glare could be a problem, especially when you love working somewhere bright and open.

Typing is sweet with this beaut, especially for someone who types a lot. Its keys are evenly placed and big enough for my tiny fingers to press on.

On the other hand, its trackpad remains as Lenovo’s weak point. Just like the IdeaPad S340, the S540’s trackpad isn’t smooth enough for navigation. Gliding your fingers create a squeaky sound that would make your eardrums cringe.

Security-wise, you can finally calm the F down since Lenovo cares about it, too. We all hate spying cameras, thus, Lenovo allows you to cover your laptop’s camera with a shutter whenever you’re not using it. For even tighter security, the IdeaPad S540 has a fingerprint reader located on the keyboard’s bottom right.

Stay connected, wherever

On the left side, you can find the power input, an HDMI port for your presentation needs, and our well-loved USB 3.1 port, along with an audio jack located at the mid-bottom.

Found on the right side are two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and indicator lights.

Side note: Its hinge and design were built to handle being laid flat on a table, for presentation purposes. Do note it doesn’t do yoga. If you want a convertible, better check Lenovo’s Yoga lineup.

Get all your job done

The IdeaPad S540 is more than enough for most professionals. This particular model is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565u at 1.80GHz processor, which can go up to 4.60GHz with Turbo Boost. Additionally, it carries 12GB of DDR4 memory, along with 512GB SSD storage and an Nvidia MX250 GPU.

This laptop can handle your habit of opening multiple tabs at the same time, with heavyweight apps like Spotify, Netflix, or even Adobe’s Creative Suite running in the background. I mostly deal with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom, with a bit of video editing on the side — and I was able to do all my creative work albeit only at a bare minimum.

Its display wasn’t made for creative professionals, and it heats up when using memory-consuming software for a prolonged time. But for most users dealing with large files, a bunch of emails, browsing, surfing, spreadsheets, and occasional entertainment like binge-watching on Netflix, the IdeaPad S540 is more than enough.

Being a humongous laptop, the IdeaPad S540 doubles as your business companion and entertainment hub. It has a Dolby Audio speaker system, producing decent sound for all your leisure needs. For those obsessed with audio, you might want to look elsewhere because this isn’t the laptop for you. Better buy a different speaker system and connect it to this laptop.

We might need more juice

If you’re looking at a laptop this big, it’s expected to have a lot of juice. Thankfully, the IdeaPad S540 delivers what’s expected from it. Lenovo boasts up to 12 hours of battery life, but most people nowadays are classified as power-hungry users, rendering the 12-hour promise to be useless since it’s going to be shorter.

For instance, I spent one afternoon in Malongo Atelier Barista enjoying a refreshing Iced Coffee while doing my work. I sat around 4 o’clock in the afternoon with a full battery, diving into a pile of articles to write.

Additionally, I’ve been jamming to my favorite playlist from The Bold Type so I can be more productive. Settings include 100% brightness and max volume, while connected to Wi-Fi. In between sipping my coffee, listening to interviews that I recorded, and social media breaks, the IdeaPad S540 drops 10 to 15 percent of its battery per hour.

Before 8 o’clock in the evening, my battery dropped below 20 percent already, prompting me to charge my machine. Almost four hours for a power-hungry is kinda meh but given my usage, I’d say it did its best. At least, I didn’t encounter any hiccups while navigating my work. It was seamless and smooth!

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re in need of a daily driver, the IdeaPad S540 is an ideal laptop to suit your professional needs. It’s perfect for those looking for a laptop powerful enough to handle multitasking for business and entertainment use.

For PhP 65,995 (US$ 1295), the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 (S540-15IWL, version 81NE0049PH) is a good investment to propel your career. When you’re on your way up on your career ladder, you can buy and use better, higher-end, and possibly flagship laptops that definitely cost a fortune.

For now, this will do. The key to creating milestones in your career is to take baby steps, and buying a laptop to suit your professional needs is one such step you need to take.

Update as of 02/11/2020: Lenovo drops the price for the IdeaPad S540 from PhP 65,995 to PhP 59,995. Additionally, those who will purchase will be entitled to 24-months international and local onsite warranty with Premium Care. Get perks such as On-site service, 24/7 service hotline with senior technicians, priority allocation for replacement parts, annual PC health check, and more. For more information about the warranty, visit their promo page.

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Reasons why the Huawei Matebook D 15 is an easy buy

It’s almost a no brainer

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There’s a sea of laptops available in the market right now. Deciding which one to buy can be truly overwhelming. It also doesn’t help that some of the names are confusing.

Enter the Huawei Matebook D 15. There’s something about this laptop that just feels sleek and clean. And it’s not just the exterior. Everything about it just works.

To give you a better idea, allow us to run down the reasons why this is a seamless, no fuss, everyday workhorse of a laptop.

A premium, modern look

Whether we admit it or not, we care about how our things look. And the Huawei Matebook D 15, well, it looks good. There’s something about its unibody design that just screams premium.

Anyone who sees you carrying this around will think it probably cost you an arm and a leg. Which isn’t the case but unless they ask, I’m sure it’s fine to let them keep thinking that.

In case you’re wondering, yes that’s a metallic body but not the type that’s heavy. Despite being a 15-inch notebook, it weighs only 1.53kg and is pretty slim at only 16.9mm thick.

Speaking of 15-inches, it’s actually a 15.6-inch FullView display. The 87 percent screen-to-body ratio is another testament to the premium look and feel of this notebook.

It really feels like you see more and the whole display real estate is maximized. That display, by the way, has been certified to reduce the light effect that puts strains on our eyes. That means you can go straight from working to Netflix and chillin’ without worrying too much about harming the windows to your soul.

Seamless access to your phone

There’s this one feature that has kept Apple users in their ecosystem — it’s called AirDrop. It’s basically a seamless way to transfer files from your phone to your laptop and vice versa. It’s one of the most convenient things to ever exist.

The feature hasn’t been rivaled. At least, not until Huawei Share came along. Huawei Share gets the concept of the AirDrop and takes it a step further.

Turn on NFC and Bluetooth on your Huawei or Honor phone, and simply place it on top of the Huawei Share sticker on the right hand area of the Matebook D 15. This will instantly sync your phone to the laptop.

You’ll have a floating screen that will let you access everything on your phone through the notebook. This means you can quickly get to all your messaging and chat apps in just one window and not worry about downloading PC versions of those apps.

Yes, you also have access to the phone’s cameras in this mode. Can you imagine the possibilities?

Fast and secure fingerprint power button

This feature seemed like an obvious decision with phones bearing fingerprint sensors, it made sense to bring it over to laptops.

The fingerprint power button on the Huawei Matebook D 15 does exactly what its name suggests. It powers the notebook while simultaneously authenticating its users’ identity. This whole process takes just a few seconds, it doesn’t even feel like it’s doing two things at once.

Speaking of security, you will be happy to know that this notebook’s webcam won’t be able to “accidentally” capture you. With security concerns about webcams being accessed remotely, Huawei employed a recessed camera system.

The camera is hidden under a key that sits in between the function keys. Press down on it to reveal the camera when you actually need to use it. It’s a simple solution but one that lets you rest easy.

2-in-1 in three ways

The first two ways we’ve actually talked about already. First is with Huawei Share. The new function gives you a Mobile phone PC experience — that’s something that feels new and truly groundbreaking.

Next is the fingerprint power button. You not only power the device, it also makes sure that the person turning it on is supposed to be able to access it. Two things happening at the same time.

Lastly there’s the charger. The Huawei Matebook D 15 uses a type-c interface charger. Thanks to the usb-c’s power negotiating tech, you can charge not only the notebook but also your phone using the same light and compact power brick. Again, 2-in-1 and absolutely efficient and convenient.

Ready to deliver where it matters

At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Yes, those are all great features but can it actually get work done?”

The short answer is yes. It’s a laptop equipped with the AMD Ryzen 3500U processor. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a processor that’s often been compared to the Intel Core i5 8250u. What that means is that this laptop is more than capable of handling everything you do on a browser along with the usual Microsoft office suite.

It’s also good enough to handle some Photoshop work. If you feel like pushing it, this machine can also handle some light video editing thanks to its 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD storage that’s paired with 1TB HDD storage.

Premium portable performance

As far as the basic to intermediate stuff that you have to do on a laptop, the Huawei Matebook D 15 can more than handle it.

The fact that it comes in a light and thin form-factor means it won’t break your back even if you carry it around all day — a boon for the young workforce today who thrive in working remotely.

The sleek look means you wouldn’t be ashamed to whip this out during a meeting or a presentation. There probably aren’t too many notebooks at this price point that look nearly as elegant.

So if you’re looking to purchase your first laptop, it’s almost a no brainer — the Huawei Matebook D 15 is an easy buy.

Pricing and availability

The Huawei Matebook D 15 comes in Space Grey. It retails for PhP 37,990. Pre-order period is from February 8 to 14, 2020. Those who pre-order will also get a hold of PhP 9,990 worth of freebies including a Huawei T3 8″ tablet, a Huawei Bluetooth mouse, and a Huawei backpack. The freebies are on a first come, first serve basis.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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