Laptops

ASUS ZenBook 3 review

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I’ve used lots of laptops in the past year — from the pleasant $150 Starmobile Engage Aura to the monstrous $9,000 Acer Predator 21 X — but none have impressed me as much as the ASUS ZenBook 3. Let me explain why.

It’s unbelievably thin and light!

Weighs only 910g and has a thickness of just 11.9mm — more portable than the new MacBook!

And it comes with a sleek travel case

Made of soft, cushy leather

The keyboard is really shallow, but fun to type with

Comes with backlighting, too!

Its trackpad is one of the most accurate in its class

No more accidental clicks and annoying gesture control here

There’s also a lightning-fast fingerprint scanner for instant logins

Supports Windows Hello for logging in to other apps, as well

Charging and data transfers share one USB Type-C port, but…

On the bright side, charging from zero to full completes within two hours

… ASUS adds a bundled dongle to ease the pain

Provides another USB Type-C port, plus full-sized HDMI and USB ports

Don’t worry, the 3.5mm audio jack is still present

No need for wireless headphones just yet

Speaking of audio, the four-channel speakers are surprisingly loud!

The punchy sounds are courtesy of Harman Kardon. Thank you, Mr. Harman and Mr. Kardon!

Hold on, does it actually perform well?

When you see a laptop this portable, you’d normally expect a slow processor and laggy performance; that’s absolutely not the case here.

The ZenBook 3 feels like it’s on steroids thanks to its seventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor, which you’d normally find on laptops much bigger than this, as well as 16GB of memory and 512GB of fast SSD storage. There’s no separate graphics card for gaming, but all these components put together make for smooth multitasking and quick boot-ups.

My only gripe is how hot it gets while under full load. It gets so warm, I have to take it off my lap and find a table to place it on — so much for the “lap” in laptop.

People might also complain about the run-of-the-mill Full HD 1080p resolution on the 12.5-inch display. It’s not as pretty to look at as the ASUS Transformer 3 Pro’s high-resolution screen, for example, and there’s also no touchscreen to speak of. It’s otherwise good enough for watching movies and getting work done.

Can it last a whole afternoon of work and play?

Another worry I had when first using the ZenBook 3 was the possibly poor battery life. My concerns were justified by the results, but I was still satisfied by what I got.

Because of the efficiency of the processor and not-so-dense pixel resolution of the display, I managed a little over four straight hours of mixed usage, involving image editing on Photoshop, writing articles on Google Docs, and playing YouTube videos in the background.

Even though that amount of battery life is nothing to brag about, it’s just right for one long work session, and it’s far better than the measly endurance of the Transformer 3 Pro convertible. I also shouldn’t complain much; I can get so much work done in that span of time on the ZenBook 3’s speed.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The look and feel of the ZenBook 3 are enough to justify a purchase. Our unit’s royal blue color together with the spun-metal finish make this such an eye-catching notebook. Add the consistent overall performance, and you have the best Windows alternative to the new MacBook yet.

Its only serious drawbacks are potential overheating and the port limitation. Oh, and let’s not forget the price. With a starting price of $1,000 for the weaker Intel Core i5 version, and PhP 79,995 ($1,600) for the Core i7-equipped variant we have here, this isn’t an affordable notebook.

For that price, you can get yourself the fancier Transformer 3 Pro convertible we mentioned earlier, which has a higher-resolution display, detachable keyboard, and bundled stylus pen. You can also afford one of ASUS’ midrange gaming laptops at this point and do more, but that would mean sacrificing more bag and desk space.

In addition, ASUS will be rolling out a more high-end ZenBook 3 Deluxe soon. It’ll have a larger 14-inch screen, more USB Type-C ports, and a webcam supporting Windows Hello. Of course, it’s going to cost more, but you should definitely consider it before committing to the regular ZenBook 3 right away.

SEE ALSO: ASUS Transformer 3 Pro review

[irp posts=”9031″ name=”ASUS Transformer 3 Pro review”]

Laptops

Apple’s 2020 MacBook Air is faster, has better keyboard

Time to switch to Mac?

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Apple made performance changes to the 2020 MacBook Air and we have a feeling you’re all going to like it.

First major change is the keyboard. Gone are the butterfly-mechanism keys that Mac die-hards tried hard to talk (or typed?) themselves into. In its place is the scissor-switch keyboard that Apple also put in 16-inch MacBook Pro.

At the core of the performance improvement is a10th-gen Intel processor — up to a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7. By comparison, last year’s model was equipped with an 8th-gen chip. The machine starts at 8GB of memory and 256GB of internal storage that you can bump up to 16GB and 2TB, respectively. It will also now come with Intel Iris Plus Graphics.

The 2020 MacBook Air starts at US$ 999 and is discounted at US$ 899 for education customers. Orders can be placed on Apple.com.

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Laptops

HP Spectre x360 13 (2020) review: An elegant convertible

Small but terrible?

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I live in a world where beauty matters above all. I can’t seem to like something if it isn’t pleasant to look at, or if it doesn’t match my aesthetics. When HP sent over the Spectre x360 13 (2020), I was flabbergasted. I’ve never seen a laptop that made me feel… underdressed.

Head-turning elegance

In a glance, the HP Spectre x360 13 (2020) is astounding to look at. It looks premium, it made me want to dress up in suits. This refreshed laptop comes with a cutting-edge design, and it looks even more polished compared to its predecessors.

Admittedly, I fell in love the first time I saw it. The Spectre x360 13 speaks to me on a spiritual level, with its brushed metal and copper finish — which looks like rose gold in certain lighting conditions — it’s a color that my 2017 self would appreciate but I’m more into white and silver now.

Nonetheless, it looks sexy and gorgeous, especially if you bring it in cafes and your meetings. It feels weird to find people in awe while looking at my laptop instead of me. Definitely a head-turner!

Naturally, there’s an impression of a pretty laptop as frail and fragile. This laptop defies the conceived notion since its sturdy yet slender chassis feels robust. It’s small, lightweight, and impressively thin, too! I find it funny that it fits inside my PacSafe sling bag and people were surprised when I take my laptop out of my small bag.

Even though it’s not the thinnest and lightest, the Spectre x360 13 is still easy to carry and bring wherever you go. Using it for almost a month, my back didn’t feel any pain compared to when I’m using a 15-inch Windows laptop or a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Well-thought details

What I love about the Spectre x360 is how HP thoughtfully crafted and refined it is. Just like the Dell XPS 13, I always stress the importance of details. It’s always the little things that make a laptop premium — from convenience, portability, security, to ease of use.

For starters, the Spectre x360 put a blazing-fast fingerprint reader to unlock my laptop — if it accurately scans your fingerprint. In the occasion that it didn’t read your fingerprint, you can still access your laptop through a pin or password unlock.

Its keyboard is excellent for typing, too. Despite being relatively small, HP didn’t cramp its keys, evenly spacing it while keeping it soft to ensure a quiet experience.

About its touchpad, it’s smooth and responsive for a Windows laptop. Surprisingly, I found it easy to glide my fingers at it and when I’m feeling lazy to navigate the touchpad, I can always stick to using its touchscreen display.

When you take a close look at its edges, the Spectre x360 is really beautiful. From its glossy, exemplary hinge and gem-cut design, to its subtle buttons and ports that easily blends into its frame — it’s difficult not to love it.

Found on its left side is its power button, audio jack, and a covered USB 3.1 Type-A port which ate my colleague’s flash drive. To prevent similar incidents, I opted not to use it anymore.

Luckily, HP packed a dongle with two USB Type-A ports, a USB-C port, and an HDMI port. It proved useful since the laptop’s right side comes with a USB Type-C port on the right, and another USB Type-C port for charging on the upper corner.

Both HP’s dongle and charger come in a gorgeous braided cable. Frankly, it’s the best set of cables I’ve had in a while and the fact that HP put a lot of effort even in its accessories proved they take their premium laptops seriously. It also has a microSD card reader which I barely used, and my favorite — the webcam kill switch.

Like a gorgeous secretary

The HP Spectre x360 13 is a premium convertible. Attached to a beautiful hinge that flexes smoothly, this 2-in-1 laptop gives you a beautiful tablet to use like you’re some kind of gorgeous secretary.

Thanks to its lightweight form factor, it’s a breeze to switch from laptop to tablet mode. HP provided a tilt pen — powered by AAA battery — to help you navigate and write notes quickly.

Apps are also simplified when in tablet mode. It’s supposed to be easy for anyone to handle but even with my past experiences with convertibles and my long stint with this laptop weren’t enough for me to fully grasp its tablet mode.

I still get confused with the tools, buttons, and software available — but that’s just me. Here’s to hoping that the next generation of Spectre laptops come with less pre-installed software. As of now, the Spectre x360 13 runs on Windows 10, packed with software like HP Command Center, Microsoft Office 365, ExpressVPN, and McAfee LiveSafe.

Don’t let its size fool you

The Spectre x360 13 is a powerhouse for a relatively small laptop. This is where the adage “don’t let its size fool you” comes in. This laptop is powered by a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7, with Intel Iris Plus Graphics, and 16GB LPDDDR4 RAM, and 1TB SSD storage.

During my stint, I was able to handle multiple tabs in Google Chrome — a power-hungry browser. Additionally, I can run multiple apps and software alongside Chrome such as Spotify, Netflix, and Adobe Creative Suite. Yes, you can edit with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom. To an extent, it can handle Premiere Pro but expect for it to heat up.

The biggest struggle I had to deal with is how the Spectre x360 13 heats up. It tends to get scorching hot, which proves impossible for you to put it on your lap or on your arms when in tablet mode — unless you want to fry and toast your arms or your parts from down under.

It’s also noisy when its fans start working to dissipate the heat, even when situated in a desk or a cooling stand. At best, the laptop is perfect for presentations, meetings, browsing, and entertainment.

Despite having a 13.3-inch screen, it comes with 4K resolution and AMOLED panel — guaranteed to deliver better visuals. It’s also strengthened by a Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, enhancing the screen’s scratch resistance.

The HP Spectre x360 13 carries two audio speakers from Bang & Olufsen. It’s not the best speakers you can get but it’s more than enough for your entertainment usage.

Lastly, expect this small laptop to have a lot of juice throughout your day. When I was working remotely, I had the HP Spectre x360 13 last for 12 hours, allowing me to be productive and finish my tasks.

It comes with a small 65W Type-C power adapter, so you can expect it to recharge itself faster than you do when you try to recover from your week-long fatigue.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

With a whopping starting price of PhP 79,990 (US$ 1586), it’s difficult to recommend an expensive laptop since there are cheaper yet more powerful Windows laptops out there. If you have the money to spend, I would even suggest getting flagship Windows laptops like the Lenovo Yoga S940 or Dell XPS 13 or a MacBook Pro for more focus on power and productivity.

But if you’re keen on getting the HP Spectre x360 13 2020 because you fell in love with its looks, then you can maybe talk yourself into buying this laptop. After all, it looks elegant, premium, polished, and delivers decent performance, packed with plenty of features to like.

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Laptops

Lenovo unveils new ThinkPad L-T-X series laptops

Power and portability for the business-savvy

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From L-R: Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga, ThinkPad T15, ThinkPad X13 Yoga, ThinkPad L13

Lenovo likes to keep the businessman at the heart of its ThinkPad lineup of laptops. This time around, the company continues to bring the latest technology to further improve productivity in the workplace. Not only do these new laptops provide the power, but also provide the portability for the on-the-go professional.

First up on the list are the new Lenovo ThinkPad T series laptops, headlined by the Lenovo ThinkPad T15. The Lenovo ThinkPad T series provides a more premium take on the business laptop. These laptops sport either the latest Intel vPro processors or the new AMD Ryzen PRO 4000 Mobile processors. Apart from these, the T series also offers up to a 4K UHD display and an option for an NVIDIA MX330 discrete graphics card inside. The Lenovo ThinkPad T15 comes with up to 48GB of RAM and 2TB or SSD storage, built for high performance

Up next is the Lenovo ThinkPad X series, which almost mirrors that of the T series. The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga serves as the frontrunner for the lineup, thanks to its portability and multifunctionality. The Lenovo ThinkPad X series laptops come with up to a FHD display (touchscreen for the ThinkPad X13) and up to 32GB of RAM. It also comes with a wide array of ports for connectivity and data transfer.

Finally, there’s the Lenovo ThinkPad L series spearheaded by the Lenovo ThinkPad L13 and L13 Yoga. The ThinkPad L series puts a premium in great value, while having access to high-end specs for an efficient work flow. These laptops come with a wide array of ports  at your disposal, up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage.

The Lenovo ThinkPad L series, T series, and X series laptops will available in Q2 2020. The L series laptops will start at US$ 649, while both the T series and X series will start at US$849.

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