How casual is too casual? That’s what I tried figuring out while using Dell’s latest Inspiron 15 gaming laptop.
During a media presentation, Dell repeatedly emphasized how this large notebook isn’t for hardcore gamers. Strange, because that isn’t the impression you get when you first hold the bulky Inspiron 15.
Fortunately, I got to review one for a couple of weeks, and was able to answer a load of questions along the way.
What exactly is this?
The Dell Inspiron 15 we have here is a 15-inch gaming notebook for casual gamers. To be specific, this has a model number of 7566, and is the most affordable of Dell’s mobile gaming line at PhP 49,990 or about $1,000.
What’s it meant for?
Our unit has an Intel Core i5-6300HQ processor, 4GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960m. If these specs make sense to you, you already know what you’re in for. If not, rest assured this is good enough to play all the lightweight games you have, as well as handle light video editing.
But, how about more taxing games like The Witcher 3?
Trust me, I’ve thrown that and more at this laptop, but every single graphical setting must be turned down significantly to get acceptable gameplay. Playing at the screen’s native Full HD resolution is tough enough for the components; expecting mid- to high-level graphics is another issue altogether.
As an example, I managed to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with an average frame rate of 40 frames per second, and that came after fine-tuning most gameplay settings to Medium. Turning on stuff like hair and shadow details is out of the question. On the other hand, less heavy games like Life is Strange and The Witness weren’t as difficult to run, even on higher graphics settings.
Will it last long enough to finish a movie?
Surely, but don’t expect endurance as long as, say, a featherweight convertible or tablet. Those compact computers have much more energy-efficient Core M processors, and don’t rely on a separate graphics card to power the visuals (and sap the battery).
In my experience, I could get as many as seven hours of use on a single charge when I simply surfed the web and wrote this review. It also helps that the storage for the base model is 1TB, providing you with enough space to save large games and movies.
So, you can use this for something other than games?
Yes, it has more than enough horsepower for any non-gaming tasks, but there’s a downside: Weighing in at 2.6kg — which is quite heavy for a low-powered gaming laptop — you won’t enjoy keeping this on your lap for long periods. It’s also 38.4cm in length, 27.4cm in width, and has a thickness of 25mm, so good luck finding a bag that can accommodate this.
Do I at least get a headphone jack?
Yes, definitely, along with several other connectivity options: HDMI 2.0, Ethernet, SD card reader, three full-sized USB 3.0 ports, and a DVD drive. Dell also made its bottom easy to open up, so adding memory or storage takes a few simple steps.
Is there anything else I should know?
As expected of a non-IPS display, the viewing angles of the TN panel are pretty bad. You’ll enjoy looking at the screen straight on, but anyone in the vicinity will have to adjust to get a better view. And although Dell was generous enough to add a subwoofer underneath to complement the front-firing stereo speakers, it had difficulty handling explosions from intense movie scenes. This made it hard to set the perfect volume; it either sounded broken or far too quiet.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
It’s difficult to categorize this gaming notebook. It’s easily more powerful than those slim $500 to $900 laptops you find in shops, but you can barely call it a computer good enough for actual gaming.
I’d normally go straight to recommending the higher-end model — which has a faster Core i7 chipset, Ultra HD resolution, and a much more efficient 256GB SSD for the operating system — but it again settles for a GTX 960m graphics card. That’s still not enough to future-proof yourself for newer games, and it costs a lot more at PhP 69,990 or around $1,400.
This brings me back to an article I wrote highlighting the weaknesses of gaming notebooks. All those points apply here, but the opening line matters the most.
If you must have a Windows 10 gaming device during your travels and every cent counts, the Inspiron 15 is for you — just don’t expect much out of it when game requirements become hungrier a year later.
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A beginner’s guide to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Niantic, Inc. has just rolled out its brand new game to over 150 countries worldwide over the weekend. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is also a location-based game that uses augmented reality and builds on the current platform of the company’s games Pokémon Go and Ingress.
Quick disclosure: I’m far from being a Potterhead so I might not get the right terms related to the franchise in this article. Although, I’m a long-time and current player of Pokémon Go hence I checked out Wizards Unite.
Onto the game itself. If you’re like some players I know who would rather just get to the game right away and skip the numerous pages of introduction and dialogues, the main plot of the story is pretty simple. A mysterious event called Calamity has struck resulting in certain magical items and beings to scatter in the real world.
It is your job as part of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force to bring these items, people, and creatures back to the Wizarding World and complete your registry. This registry acts like your Pokédex and tells you what you have and things to look out for.
Throughout the game, you will come across different terms, items, and structures. Let’s take a quick look at the basic elements of the game:
Professions – Just like in the books and movies, you can choose from three types of professions once you reach level six. These are Auror, Magizoologist, and Professor.
Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and complements the other two during battles. It’s important to note that you can later on switch professions if you wish to but the upgrades already bought could no longer be reattributed.
Confoundables vs Foundables – In Wizards Unite, foundables are those you hunt down to bring back to their proper time and location. Meanwhile, you banish the confoundables that are responsible for getting the foundables stuck in our world.
Casting Spells – In order to banish confoundables, you need to cast spells by accurately tracing the pattern shown on your smartphones. There are about ten spells available as of the time of writing but the company says they will eventually be adding more. In addition to accuracy of tracing, speed also plays a big part to achieve a “Masterful” trace (there’s Fair, Good, Great, and Masterful).
Spell Energy – You’ll need to have spell energy to cast spells. Initially, you’re allotted up to 75 energy points and you use them whenever you try to cast spells on the confoundables. When it reaches zero, it’s basically the equivalent of running out of Pokéballs and you could no longer “catch” foundables.
Structures – Structures like Inns and Greenhouses are your way of getting more spell energy and ingredients to make useful potions. Inns will give out energy by dining in them, while Greenhouses churn out ingredients to make different potions. So playing in areas densely populated with Inns and Greenhouses will ensure you have the resources for a more efficient grinding session.
There’s a third kind of structure and it’s the Fortress. A fortress is a place where up to four friends can join forces and battle together different sets of magical creatures to further upgrade their abilities and come across rarer entries for the registry. Every tier gets tougher and tougher so it encourages players to team up with new players and overcome stronger foes.
Potions – As mentioned earlier, you can concoct your own potions by getting ingredients from Greenhouses. As per usual, these potions vary with different effects and can be used in battles either to heal yourself, make the spell more effective, or prevent the foundable from departing away and missing the chance to add it to your registry.
Portkeys – To get you moving while playing the game, you’ll be able to collect Portkeys that only open after walking certain distances in the real world. Right now there are 2KM/5KM/10KM variations of Portkeys and once it’s opened, it has the power to bring you to different locations so you can collect items and even XP.
Now that most of the basics have been covered, here are some tips to keep in mind while playing based on me and my wife’s experiences.
- Download all assets as soon as you can. This will make loading times faster while performance will be more stable.
- Turn on Trace Auto-Align to make encounters with AR slightly faster
- An Inn with a green color serves up to 10 energy points, purple and blue give up to seven, brown up to six, and a pink one only dishes out a maximum of three energy points.
- Master Notes are secret patterns that reduce brewing time of potions. Figure it out by checking the available patterns at the Potions Info page.
- As the stages you battle in Fortresses level up, magical creatures grow stronger. Having a friend to fight alongside you will be needed even more so in the higher tiers of Fortress matches.
- If you see a floating icon with a beam of light above it, it means it’s a high risk foundable with high rewards. Be sure to get it!
- Use Dark Detectors for rarer foundables to appear, Exstimulo potions against higher risk foundables, and Baruffio’s Brain Elixir before claiming rewards like Portkeys to get double XP.
- Flags and smoke from Greenhouses and Inns, respectively, signify they’re still on cooldown.
- Be sure to have enough energy before battling at Fortresses. Quitting during an unfinished session will render the Runestone useless.
- Turning off AR during encounters is easier for the phone and will save precious battery life.
- Just keep on playing. Niantic’s games reward players who just keep on exploring new things (or simply staying) in the game.
If there’s anything we missed or if you want to add to these tips, be sure to leave a comment!
Dr. Mario World is coming to Android and iOS in a few weeks
A classic coming back to life!
After a week from E3 2019, Nintendo has announced the release of its latest mobile game. The Japanese game company has been reviving its classic titles lately and the newest one coming to our phones is Dr. Mario World.
A new trailer for Dr. Mario World gives us our first look at the game. From the looks of it, it’s going to be pretty different yet familiar. Instead of a Tetris-style gameplay where the capsules fall down the screen, Dr. Mario World will require players to drag the capsules on the playing field. Since the game will be played on phones with touchscreens, this approach makes better sense than left-right buttons.
Like most free-to-play titles, the game will have in-app purchases that’ll help players progress in the game. The game also has countdown timers and character customizations.
The original Dr. Mario game came out in 1990 and it instantly became one of the best Nintendo titles. It was originally developed for the NES. It was ported and remade for multiple platforms after.
Taiwan Excellence is holding its first esports cup in the Philippines
With a prize pool of P360,000
Esports continue to grow in the Philippines thanks to the help from both organizations and major brands. The latest to make its mark in the local competitive scene is Taiwan Excellence, which will be holding an esports cup in Manila beginning in July.
With the help of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT), there’ll be a PhP 360,000 prize pool for the expected 2,000 participants from across the country. The featured games are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends (LOL).
Registration for the tournament begins on June 15. The first phase of the competition will start on July 6 for CS:GO and August 3 for LOL. The grand finals will happen from October 4 to 5 at SM North EDSA The Block, Quezon City. Taiwan Excellence’s esports cup was previously held in Malaysia and Thailand.
“Taiwan is known for its breakthrough electronics industry, with renowned innovations and quality products being developed for global distribution. Now with esports, we take pride in sharing that industry-leading brands are from Taiwan, with Filipino gamers,” said C.T. Wu, director of the Strategic Marketing Dept. at TAITRA.
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