Laptops

ASUSPRO B9440UA Review: Business-minded laptop

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Don’t let its confusing — and we mean confusing — name turn you off. The ASUSPRO B9440UA means serious business.

As part of ASUS’ more professional segment, this rugged-looking laptop comes with Military-grade durability and a magnesium alloy construction which the company claims is the lightest in its class.

Coupled with stylishly slim bezels around the 14-inch display and a well thought-out hinge design, we’re looking at a recipe for success. So, the question is: Could this be your GadgetMatch?

Let’s start with a full view of the laptop

Total weight is only 1.05kg

Look at how thin the bezels are!

The top and side borders measure only 5.4mm

Its hinge lifts the laptop up when the lid is opened

This gives the keyboard a more comfortable angle to type on

Sadly, there are only two USB-C ports

You can charge the laptop using the left port

This is how far the lid can open up

Useful for writing in all sorts of sitting positions

The keyboard has a nice, tough feel to it with good spacing in between

Comes with spill resistance and backlighting

Heat stays away from your lap with these well-placed vents

Fans can get a little loud under heavy load, though

Both stereo speakers can be found underneath

They provide a surprisingly loud kick!

Placement for the fingerprint sensor is great; not so much for the power button

Expect accidental shutdowns when aiming for the delete button

Trackpad lacks precision and often caused missed clicks

There were times it wouldn’t even respond to my fingers or gestures

Does it perform well?

Behind the rugged exterior is a smoother user experience than you’d expect. With an Intel Core i7-7600U processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of SSD storage, you shouldn’t hope for anything less.

Minus the lag I experienced while using the inaccurate trackpad, I was never bothered by poor performance or slowdowns when running Chrome and Photoshop at the same time. Adding more applications like Spotify and file transferring didn’t affect the fluidity, either.

Considering its integrated graphics chip, I didn’t bother playing games, but it can surely handle light games and mainstream titles at lowered settings on its native Full HD 1080p resolution.

I also appreciate how cool the unit runs and the way it shoots hot air upwards, away from my face or lap. Combined with the ergonomic keyboard, I barely felt tired after long sessions with this laptop.

Can it last a whole day?

This comes down to each person’s unique usage patterns, but my experience wasn’t so great.

Even with brightness set to 50 percent and charging the notebook to full before leaving the house, I couldn’t get the battery to last more than five hours of continuous usage.

Blame it on the power-hungry Core i7 processor or the slimmed down battery capacity, but the fact remains you can still get a lot of work done during the time this machine is on.

There’s something missing…

If you’ve noticed something lacking, you have sharp eyes. If not, know this: There’s no front-facing camera on this thing.

At first, I figured this was a compromise that needed to be made to cater to business-minded individuals, but then I realized that these people need webcams for conference video calls, as well. Now that’s a strange omission!

And while it isn’t a total exclusion, having only two USB-C ports hurts the productivity of this notebook. ASUS bundles a dongle that provides an extra full-sized USB port and HDMI, but that still doesn’t give you a card reader or DisplayPort.

But don’t worry, there’s a 3.5mm audio port on the left for your headphones.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

On one hand, the B9440UA excels at its specialties, which are the solid build quality and buttery smooth performance; on the other hand, excluding the webcam and limiting the number of ports are potential turnoffs.

For the starting price of US$ 1,000, I would’ve liked to see a touchscreen built in, as well. With the laptop laid down flat on the table, presenting with touch gestures would be a lot more seamless — and give you an alternative to the finicky trackpad.

When it comes down to it, the B9440UA is all business. Pay the premium, and you get a machine built to last. Our particular high-end variant retails for PhP 89,995 in the Philippines.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG Zephyrus Review: So thin, so powerful

Features

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15: Is the ScreenPad worth it?

Two screens for double the fun

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At first glance, the new ZenBook Pro 15 (UX580GE) may look like an ordinary laptop. There’s nothing out of the ordinary on its solid chassis, and both the keyboard layout and screen are as plain as can be.

On the inside, my unit has some of the best specs around: an Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD storage, and a mouthwatering 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen — but those still aren’t this notebook’s coolest feature.

It’s only when you turn on the device and press a button on the keyboard’s top row when the magic happens.

You can go from this…

… to this!

Yup, the touchpad is a touchscreen called ScreenPad

Besides being able to choose whatever wallpaper you want for it…

You may also play music on it

Check your calendar for upcoming events

Turn it into a handy virtual numpad

Use it as a full-fledged calculator at any time

And add any other function you might need 

It even comes with its very own settings menu

Not impressed yet? Let’s try Extension Display mode

Now you can treat it as a secondary screen!

Perfect for watching videos while “working” 😉

Or simply trying to be more productive

Here I am viewing photos while editing on Photoshop

And choosing the next clip to edit on Premiere Pro

It can even handle Photoshop and Premiere Pro at the same time!

Here’s my favorite trick: watching a YouTube walkthrough while playing games

There are a lot more things you can do with the ScreenPad, but these were the most useful ones in my own workflow. ASUS is opening up the magical touchpad to other apps, so the possibilities here are endless and it’ll only get better through time.

So, is the ScreenPad actually worth it? To be honest, I usually left it on wallpaper mode with my favorite pictures to add style to my workspace; I even turned it off completely while the laptop was unplugged to save on battery power.

It’s one of those things you never knew you needed until you got it. The ScreenPad is an evolution for laptops which have been becoming stale in the past couple of years, but not something you can’t live without.

Do I want a ScreenPad on all future laptops? Yes, definitely! Who wouldn’t want two screens at once?

If you want to learn more about the ZenBook Pro 15 and watch it in action, check out our hands-on video:

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is the slimmest gaming laptop available today

But doesn’t compromise performance

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Alongside the 17-inch ROG Scar II, ASUS has announced a new ROG device that they claim to be world’s slimmest gaming laptop. The ROG Zephyrus from last year was already thin by gaming laptop standards, but the new ROG Zephyrus S is 12 percent thinner with updated specs.

The ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) still has the look and feel of the original Zephyrus but it’s now only 14.95 to 15.75mm thick. Those numbers might not sound as sexy as other super-slim notebooks, but the Zephyrus S has desktop-grade gaming performance with either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q or GTX 1060 GPU inside its chassis.

Powering the Zephyrus S is a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and storage option of up to a 512GB NVMe SSD.

The laptop’s display is a 15.6-inch 1080p panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and 100 percent sRGB coverage. It’s definitely not the sharpest laptop display, but it’s one of the fastest for smooth gameplay. The display has a thin-bezel design as well, so the footprint of the laptop is just a bit bigger than your typical 14-inch notebook.

ASUS uses their Active Aerodynamic System (same as with other Zephyrus laptops) which opens a vent at the bottom of the laptop when the lid is lifted, and the vent stretches across the entire back of the body. This improves airflow by 22 percent over a conventional design as per ASUS.

Another distinct trait of the Zephyrus S is the keyboard. It’s still on the front of the device, which helps with cooling, but it might not be everybody’s cup of tea. The keys have 1.2mm of travel, N-key rollover, and RGB lighting via Aura Sync over four zones.

As for I/O, it has two USB-C ports (Gen1 and Gen2), two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI 2.0 at the back, and a headphone jack.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) will become available starting September in the US and in October for the UK and Asia. Pricing starts at US$ 2,099 for the GTX 1060 model, while the higher-end GTX 1070 is priced at US$ 2,199.

SEE ALSO: ASUS’ new ROG Strix Scar II is world’s most compact 17-inch gaming laptop

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Gaming

ASUS’ new ROG Strix Scar II is world’s most compact 17-inch gaming laptop

Thanks to its super-slim bezels!

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After going hands on with the ROG Strix Scar II and reviewing the Hero II in full, we wondered what else could be done to improve this second-generation lineup. Well, it looks like ASUS just gave us the answer.

Discreetly launched today, the new 17.3-inch ROG Strix Scar II (model name GL704) is the most compact gaming laptop of its kind, according to ASUS. It’s basically a supersized variant of the already-available 15.6-inch version but with an even badder screen.

It may be worth the wait, because the color-accurate 17.3-inch 1080p display is able to fit into a chassis designed for 15.7-inch panels, effectively providing it a width of less than 400mm thanks to the slim bezels.

The wide keyboard and Aura Sync RGB lighting make a return, along with the fast 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time of the display.

In terms of specs, it can go up to an Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of memory and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. A 256GB SSD plus 1TB SSHD combo maintains the speed and fluidity of the system.

It’ll be available by the end of September in official ROG stores. Pricing begins at US$ 1,699.

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