Accessories

ASUS ZenPower PD: A power bank that will charge your laptop on the go

Work anywhere!

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Wouldn’t it be great if a power bank could power your laptop?

I’ve worked in a lot of weird and wondrous places: tech show floors, European coffee shops, rural Chinese airports, plane rides, road trips, the list goes on. I love the idea of being able to work anywhere anytime and not being confined to an office, typing away on my computer. My main problem, however, has always been finding a power source when my laptop battery runs out. Most of the time, this is when my productivity is forced to stop.

In my quest to find a solution, I came across the ASUS ZenPower PD. Coincidentally sent over by the folks from ASUS just when I was considering getting myself a power bank, the tiny thing is supposed to be able to charge notebooks fast.

How fast? The ZenPower PD is equipped with Power Delivery 3.0, which is tech-speak for: It’s the fastest charging standard available for batteries.

It’s pretty compact considering it’s something that can not only charge your phone, it can also power up laptops, or even a Nintendo Switch. This external battery pack can fit comfortably in my tiny everyday purse with space for all my other stuff.

Despite its small size, this thing is packed with 13600mAh which should be two to four charge cycles depending on what phone you’re using.

It’s equipped with two ports, a USB-A and a USB-C, which means you can charge two gadgets at the same time. According to ASUS, it also intelligently detects whatever device is plugged in and adjusts to whatever charging mode your gadget has. This means it shouldn’t shorten your device’s lifespan.

There’s even a flashlight on the ZenPower PD that lasts for five days — not that I’ve ever really used a flashlight on a power bank, but you never know!

This thing has been a great travel companion. I get more work done on long-haul flights because I can always just plug in my MacBook when I need more juice. However, be warned that it only really works with the really, really short USB-C to USB-C cord it came with; for some reason, my original Apple power cord refuses to work. Also know that it will charge (it got my MacBook to 30 percent in around 30 minutes), but won’t really charge enough while you’re using the laptop.

Nevertheless, it’s been pretty helpful. I’ve finished more than a few articles with this powering me. It’s also supposedly safe because ASUS’ PowerSafe tech controls voltage and even temperature so you shouldn’t have any trouble at all.

All in all, the ZenPower PD is a great backup that hardly takes up any space. Definitely something you should pack on your next trip.

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HiFiMAN Sundara review: A WFH audiophile’s dream

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HiFiMAN Sundara

Because of today’s work-from-home lifestyle, everyone is rushing to grab the best laptops, PCs, webcams, and microphones to support their new home office. However, one overlooked accessory has yet to receive its time under the spotlight: a good pair of headphones. It’s even worse if you have audiophilic tendencies like I do. Today, I found one of the best price-for-value pair of cans well suited for both the home office and the hi-fi home audio setup: the HiFiMAN Sundara.

A pillow for your ears

Compared to anything I’ve tried in the past, the Sundara is extremely comfortable on my ears. When you’re looking at a headphone’s comfort, you’re considering a minmax combination of various factors: weight, cup size, clamp pressure, and flexibility. The Sundara handles all of those quite handily.

For a sizable pair, they are remarkably light; they don’t put too much pressure on your skull. Further, instead of the whole headband pushing down on your crown, the Sundara uses a suspended headband to cushion the weight. The softer secondary headband rests itself comfortably on my head without exerting too much pressure or trapping heat.

The earcups are also of notable size. They can fit my relatively smaller ears well. Though I do feel a bit of scrunching inside the cups, I never felt any pain or discomfort from wearing the pair for hours. I can wear the Sundara for four to six hours at a time without any pressing need to take them off.

HiFiMAN Sundara

In terms of durability, the Sundara is more than capable of withstanding major usage. Except for the two plastic portions at both ends of the headphones, the Sundara is made almost entirely out of metal. I did drop the headphones once while using it, and I couldn’t find a single scratch or dent. On a related note, the cups’ metal grille makes for an interesting but minimalist design — an epitome of its namesake, the Sanskrit word for “beautiful.”

Finally, since the headphones are open-back, leakage will always be a problem. However, compared to other open-back cans, the Sundara don’t leak as loudly. Likewise, even without noise cancellation, outside noise is only mildly annoying. That said, anyone sitting next to me can definitely hear whatever I’m listening to. And I can definitely hear whatever is happening beside me.

Playable in any genre

Armed with a planar magnetic driver, the HiFiMAN Sundara has one of the most impressive soundstages I’ve heard for a pair of cans in its price point. In practically any genre that I put the headphones through, there’s a remarkable level of depth. It’s almost as if I’m there where the music is happening. Christopher Tin’s orchestral To Shiver the Sky sparkled with every instrument, from wind to string to percussion. It’s the closest thing to attending a concert, especially in today’s times.

HiFiMAN Sundara

Though the headphones sport an impressive 6Hz to 75KHz frequency range, the Sundara leans marginally closer to the treble side. Instruments are sharper and tinnier, though still not at an uncomfortable level. However, if you listen close enough, sharp sounds can sound extra sharp on the Sundara, given the right track. Even then, the soundtrack for Cowboy Bebop, especially the iconic “Tank!” shines bright with the headphones.

Leaning over to the bass, the headphones can subsist on its own. They deliver a very mellow boom, as opposed to an offensive bombast well-advertised in today’s slew of headphones. That said, the Sundara is not a bass-heavy pair. If you’re looking for a bass monster, look elsewhere. Personally, I’m not a fan of bass-heavy tracks, so the Sundara is just the perfect fit for me. On lighter tracks, especially those from jazz, the bass caresses my ears just enough to tingle. On heavier metal music, like Nightwish’s Human :||: Nature, the lighter bass prevents overpowering and allows other instruments to come through.

For the mids, I’d say that the Sundara is attuned for it as well. I weaved the pair through more poppy tunes, like The Midnight’s Monsters. The vocals rose above other instruments without drowning them out.

Will you need an amp?

If you’re looking for some flaws in the almost-perfect Sundara, you might find it in the headphones’ amplification. The headphones are definitely a pair that can benefit from an external amp.

Just to be clear, the HiFiMAN Sundara can function well enough on its own. Regardless of whether you plug it into a smartphone, laptop, music player, or turntable, the device, sporting 37 ohms of impedance, can deliver audio at a workable clip.

HiFiMAN Sundara

However, according to my own tests, they benefitted greatly from an external amp. And you don’t even need an expensive amp. Even the portable (and affordable) FiiO A3 boosted the headphones to an extraordinary level. If you’re investing your hard-earned cash on the Sundara, you can’t go wrong with forking over a bit of extra cash on a small amp.

Is this your Gadgetmatch?

If you already have a home office setup, then you might like the Sundara. Keep in mind, though; a single-person home office is best for this pair. Because the headphones don’t have a built-in mic or any external functionalities, the pair exists solely as an audio device, not an office tool. It might just irritate any officemates you might have.

That said, the device’s extreme lightness is perfect for moving around the house. After a grueling day of working from home, you can unplug the Sundara from your PC and plug them into your hi-fi/entertainment setup.

With that in mind, though the headphones are light enough to move around the house, they don’t do well for a commuter, especially because of their leakage and lack of noise cancellation.

If you’re interested in the HiFiMAN Sundara, a pair will set you back by US$ 499. It’s definitely pricey. Compared to other more popular offerings, the Sundara belongs in an upper tier. However, for the quality you’re paying for, it’s a good way to start the next level of an audiophile habit.

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realme Smart TV and Watch S Pro is coming to the Philippines

Buy it first during the Shopee 3.3 Mega Shopping Sale

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realme is launching two new products in the Philippines — the realme Smart TV and Watch S Pro. Both products will spearhead the realme Tech Life, which is the brand’s growing portfolio of smart devices.

The exact launch of these products will happen on March 2 via live stream on realme’s Facebook page and YouTube channels. The realme Smart TV and Watch S Pro will then go on sale at Shopee’s 3.3 Mega Shopping Sale. Both will also have a special introductory price during the sale event.

Launched last year, the realme Smart TV comes in two sizes: a 32-inch and 42-inch model. The lower-end model has an HD resolution while the other has full HD, but both have LED panels for their displays. Both models also come with a MediaTek processor, a 24W speaker, and Android TV out of the box. It has a retail price of INR 14,999 for the 32-inch and INR 23,999 for the 42-inch. Converted, these prices translate to approximately PhP 10,000 and PhP 16,000, respectively.

Meanwhile, the realme Watch S Pro has a 1.39 AMOLED round display and a 450mAh battery rated for 14 days. It can track up to 15 different workout modes, and measures steps, heart rate, sleep, and even blood oxygen levels. In India, it retails at INR 9,990 so its price in the Philippines could hover at PhP 7,000.

Discounts for Shopee 3.3 Mega Shopping Sale

It’s not only the realme Smart TV and Watch S Pro that will see a special price during the Shopee 3.3 Mega Shopping Sale. The popular mid-range devices — realme 7 Pro and 7 — snag a special one-time price of PhP 13,990 and PhP 11,990, respectively. Discounts are also up for grabs with the realme 7i: PhP 10,990 for the 8GB/128GB and PhP 6,990 for the 4GB/64GB.

realme Buds Q true wireless earbuds will also be discounted to a price of PhP 855. Finally, the first-generation realme Watch will be available to buy at PhP 2,790.

Buyers can get first dibs on these devices along with the new products starting March 3 exclusively at realme’s official Shopee store page. For more updates, follow realme Philippines’ official Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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Apple is developing a MagSafe wireless powerbank

Prototype stages already

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When Apple’s new MagSafe system launched late last year, the magnetic charging system promised a new wave of Apple accessories. At the time, however, the system focused on wireless charging. Eventually, MagSafe promises to expand into its own empire of different functionalities and form factors. Now, apart from its initial slew of sleeves, Apple is reportedly developing a MagSafe wireless powerbank for the system.

According to a Bloomberg source, the company is already well on its way to developing the MagSafe accessory. Unfortunately, Apple has reportedly ran into some snags on the way to perfecting it. Apparently, the currently reported prototype caused false overheating alerts, among other problems. Despite rumors of its development, Apple will likely shelf the accessory until it can develop a better one.

For anyone following Apple’s developmental process over the years, such a delay is not a surprise. Apple usually takes its time optimizing products before launching them — to the point of falling behind to Android. Given Apple’s tremendous investment in a new MagSafe ecosystem, the company is likely working extra hard on perfected products to boost the system further.

For accessory aficionados, a wireless powerbank isn’t an entirely new concept. Numerous accessory makers have already released several powerbanks using the Qi wireless charging system. In Apple’s defense, a MagSafe powerbank will take advantage of the system’s magnetic attachment system, preventing the powerbank from slipping and sliding everywhere.

SEE ALSO: Your MagSafe Questions Answered

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