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

Hands-On

Huawei MateBook X Pro hands-on

The most unusual camera placement

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Huawei’s newest release isn’t a smartphone and yet, this new device is also making news.

Released in Barcelona at MWC 2018, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is a powerhouse wrapped in one handsome package.

This machine looks sleek and feels premium. It’s very compact and it has a good weight to it — manageable for a laptop, but not too light for it to feel cheap.

It’s about the same size as a MacBook Pro and about the same thickness. Side by side with the Apple laptop, you see the glaring similarity in size.

At its thinnest point, it folds to 14.6mm. It houses two USB-C ports (yay!), a USB-A port (the option not to live a dongle life!), and audio input (double yay!). The premium metal unibody comes in two colors: space gray or mystic silver.

The Huawei MateBook X Pro has a beautiful 13.9-inch screen, bright and vivid at 450 nits. Look at those almost non-existent bezels! This laptop’s screen-to-body ratio is a whopping 91 percent.

And as if that wasn’t enough laptop screen goodness, the MateBook X Pro has 10-point touchscreen capabilities!

Now seeing all that screen, you may be wondering: Where is the webcam?

Because the laptop’s screen bezels are so small, there obviously isn’t any space for the camera. Huawei has a very interesting camera placement solution.

They put the laptop cam on the keyboard! Yes, you heard that right. This button on the keyboard turns into a camera!

Though pretty ingenious, the camera placement still makes for awkward photo angles. (But really, what laptop cameras can take photos that look good, right?) What’s great about this “recessed camera,” however, is the fact that its placement promises ensured privacy when the camera’s not in use — you’re not going to need tape on that webcam anymore!

The device also has a pretty wide trackpad on it — the better to work on!

What really impressed me was how loud this thing’s quad-speaker setup is. At MWC, I accidentally played a video as we were shooting this, and trust me, the whole room heard it. Even better, the whole room heard it in Dolby Atmos, which this device is capable of.

It also has a quad-mic system which means the laptop can hear and record you perfectly from all 360 degrees.

This machine is powered by an Intel Core i7 or i5 processor with memory of either 8GB or 16GB and storage options of 256GB or 512GB. It’s also equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card. That means you should be good for tasks like video editing, or even light to casual gaming. It has a battery capacity of 57.4Wh which totals 12 hours of video playback — that’s a lot of show episodes, people!

Of course, this device is capable of Huawei Share which is an easy transfer solution powered by Bluetooth from any Huawei device to the MateBook X Pro. If you’re on a Huawei phone, this creates a great fuss-free ecosystem between gadgets.

SEE ALSO: 24 hours in San Diego with the Huawei Mate 10

SEE ALSO: Follow our MWC 2018 coverage!

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Laptops

Huawei MateBook X Pro has FullView Display and NVIDIA graphics

As gorgeous as it is powerful

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At Mobile World Congress 2018, the spotlight is on Android smartphones and tablets, but that doesn’t mean Windows laptops — being the mobile devices that they are — can’t share a part of the stage.

Huawei is leading the Windows charge with the MateBook Pro X, which is their first notebook to own a FullView Display. The 13.9-inch 3K (3000 x 2000 pixels) touchscreen is absolutely gorgeous, and is part of a body that’s only 14.6mm thin and 1.33kg light.

To keep the display free of bezels and maintain the 91 percent screen-to-body ratio, the webcam sits discreetly on the keyboard and pops up when a button is pressed. Even more convenient is the fact that the MateBook Pro X charges through USB-C, meaning your smartphone can use the same charger.

Under the hood is all the horsepower you need. The MateBook Pro X comes with an 8th-generation Core i7 or i5 processor, discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics, up to 16GB of memory, and up to 512GB of fast SSD storage. For energy on the go, there’s a 57.4Wh battery that can last up to 14 hours of typical work usage.

The MateBook Pro X is a multimedia powerhouse, too. In addition to the breathtaking display, there’s a Dolby Atmos Sound System on board with custom quad speakers. And if you’d rather use your own headphones or external speakers, you’ll be happy to know a 3.5mm audio port is available on the side.

We have two colors to choose from: space gray and mystic silver.

Pricing and availability per region will follow as soon as the information is available.

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Computers

Samsung’s latest 2.5-inch SSD has record 30TB of storage

Yet another world record by Samsung

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We were already impressed by the 512GB microSD card and 2TB flash drive, so you can imagine our collective jaws dropping when we found out Samsung released a 30TB solid state drive (SSD).

Yes, this an SSD and not the slower mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) that normally reaches this storage level.

Labeled as the PM1643, it’s the most spacious 2.5-inch SSD in the world. The previous record holder happened to be Samsung as well when the company launched a 15.36TB SSD back in 2016.

The exact amount is 30.72TB coming from 32 units of 1TB NAND flash. Its 2,100MB/s sequential read and 1,700MB/s write speeds outdo most consumer SSDs thanks to 40GB of built-in RAM.

As you can obviously tell, this is meant for enterprise users and will cost a sum as crazy as the storage itself — exactly how much is not yet known.

And because it uses the newer Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface, don’t expect this to connect to your desktop PC or notebook.

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