Laptops

Dell XPS 13 (2019) Review: It’s always about the little things

Power-packed, premium-looking

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Dell’s XPS 13 remains as one of the top premium laptops in the market. While this is my first time using an XPS 13, I was constantly in awe with how people revere it as one of the crown-holders for the best laptops you can buy.

Of course, I’m not in any way an expert to say anything about this laptop, but as an everyday user whose career relies heavily in the hands of a laptop, I have a lot of things to say. Without any further ado, here’s my review of the Dell XPS 13 (2019).


Fine details that scream premium

When I first saw the XPS 13, I was awestruck. Gorgeous is an understatement to describe how I was stunned with its sleek and premium look. It’s even more captivating when your fingers run across the silver outer shell. Touching it felt like touching a Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio. You literally get lost in a daydream.

The unit I have is the black/silver variant and I hope Dell kept a pure silver finish. Seeing a black interior takes away the astonishment I found upon first seeing this laptop. It’s like meeting someone hot and totally gorgeous on Tinder based on their profile photos, only to be disappointed seeing them in person since it’s not what you expected. Lesson learned: Temper Expecations.

But using it for a long time, I learned to accept it just the way it is. On some occasions, I still feel the black carbon fiber makes the XPS 13 look like an ordinary laptop, and I kinda wish I opted for the Frost or Rose Gold with Arctic White woven glass fiber.

Thankfully, the keyboard is a joy to use. It’s firm but also soft that my finger is happy typing on it. I actually enjoyed writing my stories and getting things done.

In addition, the touchpad works smoothly despite being small. Unlike every Windows laptop, its touchpad doesn’t lag, and it can match the speed of your fingers to ensure you get your tasks finished on time.

To further prove that this touchpad is a joy to use, here’s my testament: I’m not accustomed to touchpads and I use a mouse. (Thanks to my younger years in gaming, I forgot how to let go of it.)

However, using it made me forget the existence of the mouse, at least for the time when I’m just browsing and writing. Using it for creative projects made me still want to wish there’s a mouse I can use.

There are things I still can’t let go of yet

Here’s my thing against the latest laptops coming out: Why do you have to scrap USB 3.0 ports? Sure, turning everything into USB-C makes it future-proof, however not all peripherals have adapted to this technology, and I’m pretty sure not everyone is privileged to have the latest accessories possible.

I still use a gaming mouse worth PhP 400 (US$ 7) that I bought in 2013. I was in my college years and yes, it’s still working. Unlike other people, I don’t buy stuff to replace my stuff just because it’s outdated. Fortunately, the laptop came in with a dongle. To be exact, it’s a USB-A to USB-C adapter. At the very least, I was able to use my trusty mouse.

On another note, the Dell XPS 13 (2019) has two Thunderbolt ports, one USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot.

It’s always the little things that make a big difference

Whoever thought of embedding the fingerprint reader on the power button is a genius. Using it was pretty convenient since I don’t need to exert any effort in pressing the button. When you think about it: Opening your laptop seems like a common task, but finding a way to make it even more convenient for you makes this laptop the premium that it claims to be.

The laptop’s bottom is horrendous to look at, but it definitely serves a purpose: For ventilation and maintenance. There are also two parallel rubber feet to keep your laptop still when you place it on a surface.

Lastly, everyone was enraged about last year’s camera placement. This year, Dell got it right by making the camera smaller, tiny enough to fit in a little space between those ultra-thin bezels. I’m ready to take video calls now!

Entertainment just got even more entertaining

The XPS 13 has an edge-to-edge design on the top, left, and right which is a sight to behold. The thick bezel on the bottom (which only contains the logo) should have been removed and Dell could’ve placed their logo elsewhere.

A 13.3-inch screen might be small for some, but it compensates with a gorgeous 4K Ultra HD display with Dolby Vision support, providing rich contrast and colors for a cinematic experience.

It’s also equipped with an anti-reflective screen so you don’t have to worry about bright light when watching or working on something. Furthermore, its IPS panel offers a wider viewing angle so you can use this laptop to enjoy movies with your friends during pajama nights.

It has a responsive touchscreen, too, which is only available for the 4K display variant. Touchscreens may not be a staple for laptop users, but it’s helpful for someone who has used touchscreen laptops for a long time. It’s not easy to take away some habits you’ve grown accustomed to.

Overall, the 4K display was a total treat, especially if you love streaming 4K content on YouTube and Netflix. Normally, people can live without 4K, however, adding this option makes it feel like 4K is a must for those going after premium laptops.

I don’t care if it’s small as long as it performs

Despite being small, the Dell XPS 13 (2019) packs so much power. It carries the 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, equipped with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD for internal storage. It’s a capable laptop for an everyday user — and for people working on creative projects to an extent. Everything loads quickly, and my impatient self is quite happy with its performance.

It doesn’t have a powerful graphics card, which makes it an unfit choice for heavy video editing. Given that I don’t edit videos on a regular basis, it didn’t bother me that much since I mainly use Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator. The built-in Intel UHD Graphics 620 is enough to handle my basic editing needs.

The XPS 13 has etched its name on the forefront of top-performing laptops. It offers style, portability, and reliability. It might even be the MacBook of Windows!

We all need something that lasts (and won’t give up on us)

A lot of laptops I’ve used had issues with loose and overheating batteries. Aside from that, those laptops usually don’t last long throughout the day. What’s even the point of calling it a laptop if it needs to get charged all the time?

Thank heavens, the XPS 13 lasts long on a single charge. Despite being a heavy user, the laptop proves its batteries have enough juice to last for the day. It’s even better when I only browse, surf, and write throughout the day like a normal user.

On a mixed heavy and normal usage, I lasted for six to seven hours. Even if the battery drains, the XPS 13 uses a USB-C adapter for its battery and only needs roughly two hours to fully charge with its bundled 45W charger. I can attest: The XPS 13 won’t give up on you even if you have given up on your deadlines.

Go for something (or someone) who knows how to care

If you care about the environment, you’d be happy to hear this: 90 percent of the laptop’s parts can be recycled, and Dell is taking a step in minimizing our ecological footprint to save the environment.

Technology might help us in our daily lives, but our convenience shouldn’t come at the cost of our planet’s well-being.

Is the Dell XPS 13 (2019) your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for the best Windows laptop out there, the Dell XPS 13 (2019) won’t disappoint. It’s so sleek you’ll take pride in bringing it wherever you go. Think: Bringing your very own Lamborghini or Mercedes-Benz, but in the form of a laptop.

And by wherever you go, I mean wherever you really want to go. It’s so portable that it can fit in my Pacsafe anti-theft sling crossbody bag. It can even rival the MacBook Air in terms of size!

Having a small frame doesn’t hinder the XPS 13 from bringing so much power and performance, too. The only dealbreaker is the lack of full-size ports but dongles are here to save the day, especially in a time when laptops are being sported with USB-C and Thunderbolt  3 adapters.

The Dell XPS 13 (2019) costs PhP 100,990 (US$ 1986) in the Philippines. It might be a lot of cash to shell out, but it’s a fair price to pay for one of the best premium laptops in the market. I told you, it’s like touching a Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio. If you can’t afford it, then you can just daydream about it!

Gaming

Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming Laptop Review: Flaming hot productivity and gaming

Blue, truly is the warmest color

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Gaming laptops are a joy to have, when you own one. You have a device that basically delivers everything you need: productivity and leisure in one package. The only real drawback to even buying one is the price tag, as crazier specs demand crazy prices.

It’s only fairly recently that manufacturers decided that gaming on the go doesn’t have to be expensive. Lenovo has one device that fits the bill in terms of affordability, and also incorporates top-line specs for heavy duty performance. This is what the Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming Laptop is all about.


But is it truly a worthy investment? Let’s find out.

It has a 15-inch FHD IPS display, with thin bezels at the side

It comes with a backlit keyboard in the shade of blue

It can literally flex all the way, 180 degrees style

It comes with a powerful NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics card

An excellent laptop for productive workload

I will just put it out there: the Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming laptop is one productive machine. Powered by a 9th generation Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, I could do anything ever so quickly. Multitasking felt like a breeze when using this device, and not a single drop in overall performance all throughout.

Because of the processor and RAM configuration, you won’t be limited to just the usual tasks. On this device, I did manage to do photo and video editing, and the device did not lag at any point. Mix that with document typing, audio and video streaming, and no signs of lag detected.

What bothered me for just a bit was the fact that the device came with a 1TB HDD. If there was an SSD inside, boot times would have been faster. When I first opened the device, it took about five to seven minutes before the device fully booted up. If you’re in a rush to get that paper or report submitted, this could be a problem for you. 

Game like an absolute beast with the GTX 1650

I was thoroughly impressed with the onboard NVIDIA GTX 1650 for this device. It comes with 4GB of VRAM, which allows greater graphics processing at a high rate. I played most popular PC titles at their maximum settings and observed no loss in performance all throughout.

Popular titles like Fortnite: Battle Royale and Apex Legends all peaked at 60 FPs, with highs of 65 to 70 FPS on their highest setting. Every time I got a chance to play, frames rendered in quite smoothly — which is essential for intense gameplay. 

Other titles like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League garnered an average of 113 FPS. Of course, granted that these titles are not the most graphically-demanding compared to the others. Still, I experienced buttery-smooth gameplay, and GeForce Experience did its part with optimizations in between.

A laptop that actually respects your privacy

Every time you get a new laptop, you’re always afraid of the deep web getting to you. So you go on ahead and patch your webcams up with a piece of paper or a bandage. I’m not only to believe that to be honest, but this device does — and has found a solution to it.

The Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming laptop comes with its own physical Privacy Shutter. If you’re too worried about your own privacy, you can just slide that thing to the left. I honestly found this a nifty solution instead of having to waste a good piece of paper or bandage.

Of course, if you don’t like that, you can just simply do it on the keyboard. Nonetheless, this is quite possibly the first device I’ve seen in a while that has that sort of technology. Finally, a laptop that actually cares for your privacy above all else, right?

Long lasting performance, when you’re not gaming full time

On paper, Lenovo promised this device could last up to nine hours with moderate use, at 70 percent brightness. Upon continuous use of the device, I did manage to get only up to seven hours when using it according to the same conditions.

Of course, when you’re gaming full time, the amount of time is cut into half with NVIDIA’s Battery Boost turned on. Still, even on a regular workload, you get the longevity of use you could possibly ask for in this device.

Lenovo also introduced its Rapid Charge technology even with their proprietary charger. I managed to get its charge level to 80 percent in a matter of 20 minutes, which is great for on-the-go users. To me, this is a great feature to have but I was hoping that they took advantage of the Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C as the main charging port.

The areas that can do better

Despite every feature I could possibly rave about, there were others that I couldn’t give a total pass. First, the trackpad failed at the one thing it should be doing: gesture tracking. All but one Windows Precision gesture actually worked — and of all things, it’s the right click. I don’t have a problem clicking the bottom right side of the trackpad, but the fact that they missed out on that gesture is disappointing.

Second, as much as I raved about the webcam’s physical shutter, the webcam itself leaves much to be desired. I understand that it is just an HD 720p webcam, but there are other devices with the same webcam and are relatively better than this one. Photos have a ton of grain on them even just by loading the camera alone.

Finally, this device’s backlit keyboard was not astounding. I do prefer full-sized keyboards, plus key travel was easy to get used to. It’s the backlighting of the keyboard that was under par, in my opinion. It has three levels of back-lighting, but its brightest level does not properly stick out. And I’ve seen devices with brighter backlit keyboards even in full light.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 49,995, the Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming laptop is one powerful machine. You get the latest hardware necessary for productivity and powerful gaming, all in one package. It delivers powerful performance for productivity tasks, photo and video editing — perfect for content creators.

Gamers can easily get a kick out of this device thanks to the NVIDIA GTX 1650 inside. Playing popular titles feel like an absolute breeze, especially in high-octane moments just to score the victory. Although if you do want to play a little longer, you will need to bring the charger everywhere you go.

Overall, you can look for nitty-gritty design flaws all you want. You can admire all the other features the device offers. But, when it comes right down to it, this gaming laptop does exactly what you need it to do — and so much more. 

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix Scar III: Falling in love with a gaming laptop

This, coming from a Mac user

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I haven’t used a Windows laptop for an extended period in close to a decade now. And in recent years, I’ve done most of my gaming on a PS4. This is why getting the chance to use the ROG Strix Scar III was a welcome experience.

I’m reluctant to call this an actual review because of my inexperience in using gaming laptops. But I’ll try anyway. Let’s begin by taking a quick look at the design.


Sleeker but still very much ROG

First thing that jumped out at me is how much sleeker the Strix Scar III looked compared to the previous ROG gaming laptops I’ve seen. Instead of screaming GAMING at you, it feels more subdued but definitely still has a lot of that gaming vibe.

Behind it you’ll find these ports: ethernet, HDMI, power adaptor

The rest of the ports are on the right: All USB 2.0

It’s worth noting that this comes with a wired mouse. Very useful 

And it’s hard to see here but the carbon-patterned interior is sexy AF

The trackpad doubles as the numpad but I didn’t really use it much

And there’s this nice subtle branding just right underneath the bottom left of the display

In terms of how it looks, it’s not as loud as previous ROG laptops, but it is still unmistakably ROG. One time, I whipped it out during a meeting and got WOAH reactions.

However, that’s probably because the people I met with were also into gaming. For its size — 36(W) x 27.5(D) x 2.6 (H) cm | 14.19(W) x 10.83(D) x 1.02(H) inch — it’s probably not the laptop you would want to be carrying around for meetings.

I also think the way it’s built lends itself nicely to cooling. It has what ASUS ROG calls an enhanced air intake from a wide, ventilated 3D Flow Zone. All that matters to me, is that works the way it’s supposed to.

Adjusting to a Windows laptop 

I work a lot. On any given weekday, if I’m not sleeping or daydreaming about TWICE’s Momo, I’m usually in front of a laptop writing, copy editing, or video editing.

In terms of writing and copy editing, I didn’t have much of a problem. In fact, I would dare say I enjoyed the Backlit Chiclet keyboard of the ROG Strix Scar III more than I ever did my near five-year old MacBook Pro.

It’s an absolute joy typing on this thing. And those keys that had plenty of travel translated to whatever task I was doing, even on gaming. We’ll get to more of that later on.

Quick note, I also blasted music on this while writing. My holding-on-to-dear-life MacBook Pro has a busted right speaker so it was such a pleasure having a laptop with speakers that actually work.

The bigger adjustments came when dealing with photos, videos, and just Windows overall.

Working with images and videos

I take a lot of screenshots. On Mac, it feels easy and natural. I can’t say the same for Windows. It feels like I have to go through more steps than necessary just to get a screenshot.

Video editing was another thing, too. I’ve been editing on Final Cut Pro ever since I started video editing professionally. I wanted to try Davinci Resolve but some of the work I had to do required the edits to be done quickly — something I could only do on FCP.

But that speaks more to my comfort level on the software more than anything else. I did try editing something and the laptop had no trouble whatsoever with it. Same thing with the light photo editing I usually do. It’s like child’s play for the ROG Strix Scar III.

Other than that, Windows 10 has been a pleasant surprise. I can’t even remember the last iteration of Windows I used, but this was clean and functional. However, 11 out of 10 times I would still choose macOS. 🤷🏻‍♂️

The gaming part blew my mind

One of my biggest regrets is that I worked on the ROG Strix Scar III more than I gamed on it. I only got to play one game — Devil May Cry 5 — and it was more than enough to convince me that this laptop delivers where it should.

It wasn’t something I was totally expecting since I thought, while working, that the display on my MacBook Pro looked… crispier. But when I fired up Devil May Cry 5, boy oh boy it was such a visual spectacle.

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 was really doing its job. I was hooked at how good it looked I played well into the wee hours of the morning despite knowing I needed to wake up early the following day.

While I’m used to holding a controller while playing, I did play my fair share of Counter-Strike and NBA Live waaaaay back in the day. So the mouse and keyboard setup wasn’t too much of an adjustment.

The keyboard was just truly a dream. I’ll go as far as saying this is probably the best keyboard I’ve ever used on any laptop.

And then you have that display. With an 81.5 percent screen-to-body ratio, it’s hard not to feel like you’re so much closer to the game than you actually are.

Is the ROG Strix Scar III your GadgetMatch? 

From a Mac user, my gaming and working habits are pretty far off from who this gaming laptop might target. Despite that, I had a grand time with the ROG Strix Scar III. If you asked me to completely switch to this I wouldn’t be totally opposed to the idea.

It has more tricks that I wasn’t able to dig deep into. There’s plenty of customization to make your gaming experience more tailored to your preferences. I’m inclined to say that if you’re out on the market for a gaming laptop that has all the oomph you could possibly want, then this is the one for you.

The variant we reviewed (i9, 240hz screen) retails for PhP 169,995 (US$ 3,252). It’s available at ROG Mall of Asia and other ROG concept stores in the Philippines. For more information on other variants visit the ROG Strix Scar III product page.

If that’s well within your budget, you won’t regret getting the ROG Strix Scar III. It’s a perfect blend of sleek and power without being overbearing. It’s a gaming laptop that’s easy to fall in love with.

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IFA 2019

ASUS ProArt StudioBook One Unboxing and Hands-On

For the content creators!

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This is our ASUS ProArt StudioBook One Unboxing and Hands-On.

Packed with an NVIDIA Quadro RTX6000 laptop, Asus’ new creator-centric laptop is a beast but expect it to also break the bank!


SEE ALSO: NVIDIA Quadro RTX 6000 is the world’s most powerful GPU

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