Gaming

HP Envy x360 Review: Gaming power in a small package

It gets pretty hot and loud, though

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Gaming laptops are known to be heavy and bulky. It’s also a struggle to bring one outside because of the relatively short battery life. So, are there any alternatives? Well, this new notebook from HP will not replace gaming notebook, but it’s a portable device that’s more powerful that its competitors.

The Envy x360 is a 13-inch convertible powered by AMD’s latest Ryzen processors. Is it any good? Does it live up to the promise? Let’s find out.

This notebook has a 13.3-inch Full HD display

With slim side bezels, it’s more compact than most 13-inch laptops

It’s got a well-designed 360-degree hinge…

There’s a striking pattern to complement it

… that lets it convert into a tablet

It supports both pen and touch input

The webcam is paired with an IR scanner

For facial recognition using Windows Hello

On its left are a full-size USB 3.1 and combo audio jack

The power key, microSD card reader, and vents are also on this side

Another USB 3.1 plus a versatile USB-C are on the right

There’s also the charging port and volume rocker

The speakers occupy the top area of the keyboard

There are two more speakers at the bottom

The keyboard is surprisingly good despite its size

Well-spaced with good amount of travel

The touchpad is pretty good, too!

Gestures are difficult at times, though

Premium at all angles

For those who are unfamiliar, the Envy series of HP notebooks sits between the high-end Spectre series and the mainstream Pavilion line. This year’s Envy x360 inherited the design cues and characteristics of the Spectre line of PCs without the high price tag. That being said, this notebook looks and feels premium like a true expensive device. The whole body is made of aluminum with a matte finish.

The only available color option is this Dark Ash Silver, so there’s really no other choice for those who prefer a lighter finish. Don’t mistake it for being dull and boring though, because the subtle pattern near the hinge is quite a head turner. Also, the new minimalist HP logo is a conversation starter.

Aside from being a gorgeous-looking device, the Envy x360 is an ultra-portable notebook. Its 13-inch profile is significantly smaller than other similarly sized notebooks in the market due to its micro-edge bezels. Let’s not forget it’s using Gorilla Glass, too.

With its smaller body is a compact keyboard that is surprisingly great. Prior to the Envy x360, I was using the Lenovo C930, which is not exactly a small laptop. I loved the spacious keyboard on the Lenovo (as always), although HP is able to cram a well-spaced layout and it didn’t take long before I adjusted to it.

I can’t say the same for touchpad, though. It’s responsive, but it uses a third-party Synaptics driver as opposed to the native Windows Precision. Multi-touch gestures are present, but aren’t as precise.

Very capable considering its size

Usually, laptops with dedicated graphics have to be thicker and heavier, but not this one. The interesting feature of the latest version of the 13-inch Envy x360 is its processor: HP shifted from Intel to AMD.

My unit is powered by a Ryzen 7 2700U processor with Radeon RX Vega 10 graphics. Compared to other Intel-powered notebooks that only have integrated graphics, the Envy x360 is more adept in gaming and editing.

With an ample 8GB of memory and a speedy 256GB SSD for storage, I’d say the configuration is balanced — especially for its size. Unfortunately though, the memory is not upgradable, but the storage is.

As a consumer notebook, the Envy x360 is pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home. It’s bloated with a few HP apps and trial software that are just wasting storage space. It’s a good thing everything runs smoothly out of the box. When I installed the latest October 2018 update of Windows 10 though, it experienced some hiccups. AMD is not known to push the latest drivers on time, so a future update should patch the minor performance issues.

When it comes to gaming, the Ryzen 7 chipset shines. Usually, laptops this size can only run PC games on low settings but thanks to the prowess of the Radeon RX Vega 10 unit, I was able to play CS:GO well on high settings. Fortnite is nicely playable when you turn down the resolution, as well. My favorite, Cities Skylines, is also enjoyable on medium settings despite the occasional frame drops.

Battery life could be better

HP claims 11 hours of battery life based on its tests, which sounds impressive but real-life usage is nowhere near that number.

My usage of the Envy x360 varies, but the average battery life I get is around five hours. This includes consistent Wi-Fi connectivity, web browsing (using both Chrome and Edge), and a couple of Modern Family episodes on Netflix. When I put my gamer’s hat on, I only get two and a half hours on a single charge.

When it comes to charging, the included 45W power brick fills up the notebook to full in two hours. What’s great about the Envy x360 is it can also be charged through the USB-C port. Any 40W and above Power Delivery charger should work fine.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you want a powerful notebook without the high price of the more popular Intel processors, the Envy x360 with AMD’s Ryzen 7 is a viable option.

For PhP 63,990 or roughly US$ 1,215, you can have a premium machine that has more than enough computing power for everyday chores. It’s also a portable laptop than can run games on good quality settings, render videos and/or photos faster, and entertain on the go.

There’s an even cheaper variant running Ryzen 5 for PhP 56,990 or US$ 1,080. It’s slightly less powerful when it comes to gaming, but it pretty much offers similar overall performance.

AMD processors do have their issues, but those can be fixed by a patch. Hopefully, AMD and HP push regular updates to keep the machine compatible with the latest games and applications.

SEE ALSO: Lenovo Yoga C930 Review: It could have been the best

Computers

LG UltraGear 25” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

Comes with key features for your first gaming PC build

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I’ve seen a ton of people purchase full gaming PC setups since the pandemic took center stage in our lives. I’m pretty sure a lot of these people spent the past few months saving every peso they could for it. Of course, I also did it with all the money I saved up and planned every purchase very carefully.

In getting your gaming PC build, one of the more important peripherals to consider is your monitor. Most people will tell you that any monitor is okay, but experts will say that you shouldn’t just get any monitor. Apart from color accurate and bright displays, your monitor should have a high enough refresh rate to keep up.

It’s exactly what the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor brings to the table, at least on paper. But is this worth checking out, especially for first time PC setup builders? Here’s a rundown of the specs:

It has a 23.6-inch TN FHD panel, with a 144Hz refresh rate

It comes with two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort

The design, on its own, is nothing spectacular

The LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor comes in a package you normally expect from most lightweight gaming monitors. A hardened-plastic enclosure covers the display, and the monitor even comes with a metal stand in gray and red accents. Upon unboxing, I found it relatively easy to set up and position alongside my PC setup.

Immediately, the first and only thing I noticed was the thick bezel surrounding the display. To be honest, it’s a relatively minor issue for me ever since other brands started reducing theirs. Although I would have appreciated a little more screen space, especially while playing games.

A display that meets expectations for the most part

Most gaming monitors come with high refresh rates to keep up during pressure situations. Fortunately, the LG UltraGear Gaming Monitor comes with a 144Hz panel which is more than enough. Also, it even sports a 1ms response rate so you’re able to stay at the top of your game. 

Most games I tried with this monitor performed with relative ease and no visible sign of image tearing. FPS games like CS:GO and Valorant, in my opinion, work best with this setup given that you can run these games on low-end setups.

Also, it’s quite bright and color accurate which is great for content creators. Although, in some cases, I felt that it didn’t handle dark color areas well. I tried to compensate by simply adjusting the brightness, but it didn’t do anything significantly different. At least it’s an anti-glare TN panel, so you don’t have to worry about the sun.

Comes with features that works depending on the other hardware

This monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync technology which further improves gameplay experience. Honestly, I felt this should be a standard for most gaming monitors — including those that support NVIDIA GSync. Also, there are other optimizations like Dynamic Action Sync (DAS) and motion blur reduction.

However, this monitor actually benefits you only if you’re currently rocking an AMD Radeon graphics card. Ideally, it would still work pretty well when you plug it to an NVIDIA card but expect some image tearing. It wasn’t a big issue for me since I could still apply the reduced motion blur and DAS.

Port selection for this monitor is more than enough for a normal PC setup. Two HDMI ports are available at your disposal, which is great if you want to use it for your consoles. The added DisplayPort provides more connectivity, especially since most graphics cards support it. Keep in mind though: if you plan to plug your console, don’t expect the 144Hz refresh rate.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 12,599 (US$ 257), the LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor ticks all the necessary boxes. What you have is a high refresh rate monitor with good color accuracy, and fully optimized for gaming. Combined with a great selection of ports, this monitor is a great option for your first PC build.

However, if you have strict preferences for your monitor, this might not be what you’re looking for. If you’re not a fan of thick bezels or you’re more conservative with your money, I wouldn’t practically recommend this. Also, you wouldn’t be able to fully maximize its potential if you don’t own an AMD graphics card.

All things considered, it’s enough to get you started on your gaming PC setup. Even with cheaper alternatives out there, I still recommend you give this a shot.

SEE ALSO: This 34” LG UltraWide monitor disrupted my workflow

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Gaming

2K Sports shows off NBA 2K21 running on current-gen consoles

The first of many reveals leading up to the game’s launch

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NBA 2K21 is set for release next month, so why not start a hype train towards that? Earlier this week, 2K Sports released a full trailer showing off its latest NBA 2K title running on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. And honestly, it’s a good way to start the hype.

What they showed us was a “lights-out” gameplay trailer, which is somewhat an ode to the current NBA bubble situation. As the trailer goes, lights are out and arenas were quiet but a ton of focus still shines on basketball. The majority of the trailer showed off highlights from some of the brightest NBA stars — most of whom currently reside in the bubble.

There’s even a portion that shows off gameplay with the Black Mamba himself, donning the number 8 from his first few years with the Lakers. From high-flying dunks to the now-famous Logo Lillard buzzer-beater, this trailer has me hyped for what’s to come.

NBA 2K21 will be available on September 4, 2020 for both the Standard and Mamba Forever Edition. It will be playable on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and the Nintendo Switch upon launch. For those who will purchase the current-gen Mamba Edition, you will also receive a copy of the next-gen Standard Edition.

You can view the full trailer below:

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Gaming

Nintendo made five-fold profit thanks to Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Why are we not surprised!

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Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

While most companies are ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic, digital or internet-based companies are posting record-breaking profits. Popular game maker Nintendo is one of them. The Japanese company’s quarterly profit jumped a whopping 428 percent year-over-year.

It reported an operating profit of 144.7 billion yen (US$ 1.4 billion) in the April-June quarter, beating all street estimates and predictions. Much of the credit for this massive jump goes to its new game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game directly contributed to increased Nintendo Switch sales.

The financial announcement noted that out of all the new Switch units that were bought and played on for the first time, more than half played ACNH on the first day. For a game, that’s a lot of demand, and this indirectly encouraged more Switch sales.

The game single-handedly contributed a 167 percent rise in new members who joined the Switch community. In total, the company managed to sell more than 3 million Switch and 2.6 million Switch Lite.

Nintendo also confirmed that it’s having delivery and supply chain issues due to the ongoing pandemic. However, it meant that supply is running slightly behind schedule and the company should be able to meet the full demand soon. Supply was hit in March but the company was able to bridge the gap in the coming weeks.

Due to the global lockdowns and travel restrictions, gaming companies have noticed a huge surge in games as well as console sales. Nintendo too benefited from this with a 230 percent rise in revenue from digital sales, accounting for about 56 percent of total software sales.

Japanese conglomerate Sony, which manages the PlayStation lineup, also reported positive results earlier this week.

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