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

Accessories

Razer introduces two new Ornata V3 keyboards

Slim, clicky, and ergonomic

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Ornata V3

Razer is releasing two new entry-level gaming keyboards in the Ornata V3 and Ornata V3 X, which will both have Razer’s Mecha-membrane switches.

The new keyboards come with all the basics expected of an affordable gaming accessory. That’s everything from their keycaps design, RGB backlight, and more.

The two low-profile gaming keyboards come with smaller footprint and slimline keycap designs. The ABS keycaps are UV-coated for scratch resistance, while the Ornata V3 X’s keycaps are spill-resistant.

The keyboards also feature Razer Chroma RGB with 10 lighting zones. The V3 X has four lighting effects: Breathing, Spectrum Cycling, Static, and Wave.

Aside from these, they have backlit dedicated media keys for more convenient controls such as playing and pausing, skipping, or adjusting brightness or volume.

Adding value to the Ornata V3 and V3 X is their magnetic soft-touch wrists rest. These are not often included for keyboards in their price range.

Pricing, availability

The Razer Ornata V3 and Ornata V3 X keyboards are now available on Razer’s official website, Shopee, Lazada, and through their authorized sellers.

The Ornata V3 will retail for PhP 2,590 while the Ornata V3 X is priced at PhP 4,199.

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Accessories

SteelSeries unveils Arctis Nova Pro series

The almighty future of audio

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Arctis Nova Pro

SteelSeries has released the Arctis Nova Pro series. It’s latest and most advanced gaming and esports headsets yet from the company.

The series has two variants — the Arctis Nova Pro and Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The new series is enhanced by SteelSeries’ Sonar Audio Software Suite. It helps deliver the ultimate sound quality and clarity.

The software is the first in-gaming Pro-grade Parametric EQ which gives gamers even more control over sound across games, team chat, and the microphone and allows them to adjust individual frequencies on the fly seamlessly.

Both variants come with immersive 360° Spatial Audio which is fully compatible with Tempest 3D audio for PS5 or Microsoft Spatial Sound.

They also feature Multi-System Connect which allows users to switch between platforms easily. Complementing the next-level sound experience is an AI-powered noise cancelling and broadcast-quality bidirectional microphone.

Price and availability

The Arctis Nova Pro will retail for US$ 279.99 for both the PC/PlayStation and Xbox options, while the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is priced at US$ 379.99.

In Singapore, pricing are as follows:

  • Arctis Nova Pro – SG$ 439
  • Arctis Nova Pro (Xbox) – SG$ 449 (available in Sep 2022)
  • Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – SG$ 599 (available in Sep 2022)
  • Arctis Nova Pro Wireless (Xbox) – SG $620

There are also booster packs for users to be able to customize the headsets with headbands and metallic color speaker plates of their choice.

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Gaming

Final Fantasy XVI producer reveals game details in interview

Things just got more exciting

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Final Fantasy XVI

Ever since the announcement of Final Fantasy XVI a few years back, enthusiasts have been on the edge of their seats in anticipation how exactly the latest installment in the popular video game franchise would look like.

Now, no less than producer Naoki Yoshida is teasing us all with even more details for what is there to expect before FFXVI releases officially in the summer of 2023 exclusively on PS5.

Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights of his latest interview regarding FFXVI.

FFXVI won’t be traditional open world

Unlike previous iterations of Final Fantasy, the upcoming video game is going in a different direction as it will not be open world, surprisingly.

Instead, it will be an “independent area-based game design”. Still, Yoshida did give away that it will take a lot of inspiration from “triple-A open world RPGs” to allow players to experience the game on a “global scale”.

Clive’s got company — making battles more interesting

Prior to Yoshida’s interviews, players have been expecting FFXVI’s protagonist, Clive, to be a solo fighter which meant that the game would have been a single-player type for the first time.

But apparently, Clive’s got company — other characters who will fight alongside him but will be AI-controlled, according to Yoshida.

Something that will also resonate uniquely with players will be the Eikon-versus-Eikon battles. Players will be able to control an Eikon in real-time and engage with another Eikon.

Yoshida recalled the original Final Fantasy in making XVI

Citing the importance of making each of Final Fantasy’s releases true to its essence, Yoshida mentioned that he went to as far as thinking about the original Final Fantasy and remembering how it felt like while playing the lead role.

He said that he “wanted to recapture that feeling in XVI”, plus the advancements in technology and modern game design.

This is something Yoshida hopes could turn into reality for people to look forward to.

The game is almost ready as of the moment

Yoshida also mentioned that in terms of progress, the game is “fully playable from start to finish” already. 

As it stands, it looks like voice-overs in different languages are currently the focus as of the moment, as well as finetuning to make sure there are no bugs or glitches.

Since FFXVI is full of action, it is only natural for the developers to have it undergo several tests to ensure smooth gameplay.

A third trailer will drop later in 2022

Lastly, a third trailer that will succeed the “Dominance” trailer released a month ago will drop this fall.

That will surely excite players even more as they get closer and closer to Final Fantasy XVI’s launch next year.

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