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

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Computers

Intel 9th-Gen Core processors feature ‘world’s best gaming processor’

Headlined by the Core i9-9900K

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Intel’s latest lineup of desktop processors, dubbed the 9th generation, were unveiled earlier today in an event in New York. They’re headlined by the Core i9-9900K, which Intel calls the “world’s best gaming processor.”

It’s definitely a powerful chip, owning eight cores and 16 threads with a single-core turbo frequency of 5GHz and base speed of 3.6GHz. It offers all sorts of speed boosts compared to the previous generation, but you’ll need a Z390-based motherboard to reach its full potential.

Included in the lineup are the Core i7-9700K and i5-9600K, which are equipped with eight and six cores, respectively — no extra threads here. All three chips, unfortunately, are still based on the 14nm process introduced years ago, with Intel releasing an updated 10nm process only in 2019.

Pricing is as follows: US$ 488 for the Core i9-9900K, US$ 374 for the Core i7-9700K, and US$ 262 for the Core i5-9600K. Pre-orders begin today with a rollout happening later in October.

In addition, Intel announced seven new Intel Core X-series processors, which include the Core i9-9980XE (US$ 1,979), i9-9960X (US$ 1,684), i9-9940X (US$ 1,387), i9-9920X (US$ 1,189), i9-9900X (US$ 989), i9-9820X (US$ 898), and i7-9800X (US$ 589). All will become available by November.

Built on Intel’s Mesh Architecture, the top-of-the-line model holds 18 cores with 36 threads to handle the most demanding tasks needed by professionals. Even wilder is the upcoming Intel Xeon W-3175X and its 28 core and 56 thread count, but it has no price yet —  only a release date of December 2018.

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Computers

Microsoft announces Windows 10 October 2018 Update

What’s new in Windows 10?

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The sixth major update for Microsoft’s popular operating system is here. During their event, Microsoft announced the immediate availability of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.

The latest version of Windows 10 comes with a bunch of new features that Microsoft has been testing for a while, including a new snipping software, a dark theme for File Explorer, a cloud-enabled clipboard, and a new sign-in option.

Microsoft now focuses on Android phones since Windows 10 Mobile is practically dead. The new built-in Your Phone app lets users seamlessly connect and use Android phones with their PC. Additionally, using the Microsoft Launcher, users can also access their Timeline on mobile. On iOS, Your Phone is able to send the web pages being viewed in Edge on the PC.

The Search tool is also getting an upgrade. Users will now automatically get a preview of all results in search, including documents, emails, and files.

SwiftKey, a Microsoft-owned keyboard app, is finally available in the touch keyboard.

There are improvements coming to Edge too, like an offline dictionary and grammar tools. Windows Mixed Reality and Office get updated features as well.

Windows 10 October 2018 is available for direct download today. The automatic rollout will start next week.

To know more about the new update, you may head over to the Windows Blog.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft refreshes product lineup with Surface Pro 6, Surface Laptop 2, Surface Studio 2

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Computers

Microsoft refreshes product lineup with Surface Pro 6, Surface Laptop 2, Surface Studio 2

Incremental updates

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The Microsoft Headphones may have stolen the show during the recent product launch, but the slew of updated Surface devices serve their purpose, as well.

Surface Pro 6

First up is the Surface Pro 6, which continues to be the flagship convertible notebook of Microsoft.

This year’s model is simply a refresh with a bold new color. Now available in matte black, the Surface Pro 6 comes with Intel’s 8th-generation processors for even more power under the hood.

Besides those, it’s mostly the same as the previous model. You still get the signature hinge, 12.3-inch touch display, and colorful selection of detachable keyboards.

It’ll become available by October 16 with a starting price of US$ 899 for the Intel Core i5 variant.

Surface Laptop 2

Next we have the Surface Laptop 2. Like the aforementioned Surface Pro 6, this model is mostly just a refresh.

It’s equipped with Intel’s latest 8th-generation chipset, along with the same matte black finish. Everything else is identical to the original, from the 13.5-inch touchscreen LCD to the Alcantara keyboard and port selection — still no USB-C in sight, however.

Microsoft claims it’s 85 percent faster thanks to the updated specs, and that all-day battery life is still possible.

Like the Surface Pro 6, the Surface Laptop 2 will go for US$ 899 and will begin shipping in mid-October.

Surface Studio 2

Finally, there’s the Surface Studio 2, and it’s the “ultimate creative studio” — for obvious reasons.

This all-in-one PC is equipped with the newest chips from NVIDIA and Intel, making it the fastest Surface device you could possibly buy today.

The 28-inch touchscreen is still around, but it’s brighter and offers more contrast as compared to before, plus it has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity when using the Surface Pen.

All this power and flexibility comes at a price, however. The Surface Studio 2 starts at US$ 3,499 with no exact date of availability.

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