Reviews

Huawei MatePad Pro review: Almost like an iPad Pro

Stop calling it an iPad Pro killer

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When the Huawei MatePad Pro came out, I was most ecstatic. It’s the closest thing I can get to an iPad Pro alternative.

Frankly, iPads are investments — a risk I can’t take yet. It’s expensive, and it’s best used when you’ve fallen in love with Apple’s ecosystem. (And I haven’t since I only use a MacBook Pro.)

Truth be told, I only wanted that magical tablet so I can keep on drawing and painting. Spending five years in the workforce, I haven’t been able to stay in touch with my creative side despite doing creative work.

Busily juggling work and life, I forgot how it felt to create personal art.

Knock, knock! Who’s there? It’s me, an iPad Knock-off!

I got the MatePad Pro packed on a gracious white box with rose gold labels. It would’ve been appeasing if the labels came in a cohesive style.

Open the box and you’re welcomed by a beautiful Android tablet… that looks like an iPad Pro. Personally, I hate knock-offs. I believe everyone should strive to produce something original because we’re all born artists.

When I took the tablet out of the box, I was surprised how lightweight it was. It’s like carrying a notebook! This, despite having a glass front panel and aluminum frame and body.

The MatePad Pro comes with a 10.8-inch IPS LCD screen. Even though it doesn’t use an AMOLED display, it still has an impressive screen resolution of 2560×1600 pixels, brightening up as high as 540 nits.

I may not love an IPS LCD screen, but I used the MatePad Pro’s screen in different lighting conditions with gusto. You can set the brightness to really bright. So bright that it looks brighter than my future.

Moving to its sides, the MatePad Pro is fairly thin. On its top-right side, you can find the power button. On its left, there’s a sim card slot while on the right, you can find the volume rockers.

Color me ‘premium’

So far, the MatePad Pro looks exceptional for a ‘premium’ Android tablet. Although, there are points of improvement for this big slab of metal. Anything you call ‘premium’ should make you want to glide your fingertips and feel something — which I didn’t experience using the MatePad Pro.

This particular unit I have comes in Midnight Grey, made of aluminum and fiberglass back panel same as the Pearl White variant. This combination gave it a matte-like finish, resulting in the tablet’s resilience to smudges and scratches.

On the other hand, the Forest Green and Orange colorways received a Vegan Leather treatment. Although it’s not entirely Vegan (please don’t get me started on this topic because it deserves another story), I firmly believe that Huawei should’ve used Vegan Leather for all variants.

The purpose of ‘premium’ products is to offer something different so consumers would be inclined to pay extra. A fiberglass chassis is something any consumer can get on most smartphones in the midrange segment nowadays. That’s not very ‘premium’.

iPad-like peripherals

Placing the tablet aside, the MatePad Pro comes with essential accessories in the box. There’s a SuperCharge adapter along with a USB-C cable, a USB-C to headphone jack adapter, and a Sim Ejector Pin.

What made me gleeful is the peripherals that came with it: the Huawei M-Pencil and a Smart Magnetic Keyboard.

The M-Pencil is pretty much like the Apple Pencil. It’s a wireless stylus priding itself with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, tip-tilting functionality, and 10 hours of battery life.

It attaches to the right side of the tablet magnetically, fully charging itself for at least an hour when docked. Yes, the stylus charges quickly and lasts longer than your conversation with your crush.

There’s also a Smart Magnetic Keyboard, acting like Apple’s folio keyboard covers. It comes with an ultra-thin keyboard in a protective leather case and supports quick Bluetooth pairing. It also wakes the tablet up or puts it to sleep when covered, and offers a folding stand design for your convenience.

Almost perfect Folio cover

Personally, I like this keyboard cover since it comes in a gorgeous leather that made me feel secure (and want to touch it every now and then). It was a brilliant comeback after a heedless attempt to look premium sans the cover.

However, there are some nuisances. When using the keyboard cover, your viewing angle is limited to up to 60 degrees. Also, the magnet isn’t firm since I find the tablet slipping out repeatedly.

Typing might be difficult too, since it’s cramped but with too much space between keys, and travel is a bit shallow. You need to adjust fully before you get comfortable typing on the MatePad Pro.

On the bright side, this peripheral can help people do their work on the go. I’ve used the keyboard multiple times when drafting my stories. It’s really far from your usual laptop experience, but it offers convenience to do your work wherever you want.

Your own mini home theater

I always bring the MatePad Pro with me whenever I go to eat. The screen may not be my favorite, but I can’t pass on the opportunity to entertain myself with a screen this large.

Besides, it has two speaker grilles each on both the top and bottom sides. Thanks to its quad-channel speaker setup tuned by Harman Kardon, you get an audio-visual treat whenever you watch on this tablet.

I’ve watched A World of Married Couple on Viu and finished six seasons of Community on Netflix during my stint with the MatePad Pro. My experience felt like bringing a mini home theater with me. It was spectacular that I found myself watching TV shows more than working.

If you’re not into watching K-dramas and other TV series, you can play your favorite games. After all, it sports Kirin 990, the same powerful processor as the Huawei P40 Pro.

The tablet also runs 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage, and a Mali-G76 Mp16 graphics card. It’s easy to play graphics-intensive and memory-consuming games like Asphalt 9.

Surprisingly capable cameras

I don’t expect tablets to come with extraordinary cameras. Having said that, the MatePad Pro mounted entry-level cameras for both its front and rear. It has a single 13-megapixel lens on its rear, taking slightly saturated photos that lack detail.

Using natural light

 

Using artificial light

On the other hand, its 8-megapixel front camera is perfect for your occasional selfies and recording your TikTok challenges.

With proper lighting

Against the light

Content creators can utilize this tablet’s video features such as 4K/30p and 1080p video recording. Anyhow, cameras aren’t really a tablet’s strong suit, but it’s amazing to see that even a big slab of metal can take photos and videos decently.

Taking productivity to new heights

If you own a Huawei phone just like I do, you can take full advantage of the MatePad Pro’s features. It’s all set to help you relish Huawei’s ecosystem.

For instance, I use the multi-screen collaborate feature when working out, allowing me to use Nike Training Club on a bigger screen. You can switch it to landscape format and enter a full-screen mode.

This makes it easier to follow forms and exercises easily without squinting my eyes while I’m sweating.

Since my Huawei Mate 20 Pro has Google Mobile Services, I used to do my work remotely although I find it difficult to be productive on a tiny screen.

Connecting my phone to a tablet allowed me to work at the comforts of my couch, in the kitchen, or even when I step outside to my porch to get some sun. You don’t have to be tied at your desk anymore!

Moreover, the MatePad Pro runs EMUI 10.0 based on Android 10. Navigating the tablet is easy when you’re familiar with the interface, and you get Huawei staples such as Huawei Share.

While I don’t have Google Drive to organize and transfer my files saved in the tablet, I was able to use Huawei Share to transfer everything I need to my phone. Alternatively, you can use the Email app and connect your Gmail account to send your files.

The experience is similar to using Gmail’s app, the only difference is it’s named Email and it doesn’t have Gmail’s interface design.

Finding a way to connect with everyone

Huawei’s latest new video-calling feature, MeeTime, is also available on the MatePad Pro. Together with the P40 series, this feature allows you to have high-resolution video calls (up to 1080p) despite having poor network quality — something most users experience in some parts of the world. (Ahem, Philippines!)

However, MeeTime would’ve been a lot better if it’s made available to older Huawei devices. This would make it easier for people to appreciate the growing Huawei ecosystem, allowing users of older models to connect with new ones.

Another alternative would be using messaging and social apps available in the AppGallery. There’s Viber, Snapchat, and of course, Zoom — which I used to attend a virtual baby shower!

Playing it safe

For a premium tablet, it sucks how it doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner. The tablet relied on the usual password-protection and facial recognition for its device’s security. Nonetheless, the facial recognition works fast enough to easily access the tablet.

On the other hand, online security is something we care about for devices launched in this decade. In my exclusive interview with Huawei from a data and security conference last year, the company explicitly said they’re not allowed to touch data, as it’s a policy from top-down.

In that same conference, both Huawei and Samsung shared the same sentiments of being cautious of what you download. Even with Google Play Store, some apps are intentionally hiding malware, and some harvest your data without your permission.

If you use AppGallery or APK sites online to download your favorite apps, always read the fine print. The terms and conditions might be boring to read, but it’s important and necessary. At least, the part where it discusses how your data will be used.

Talking about online security might be scary, and if you’re scared of downloading apps using other means, download the apps officially from their respective sites. For instance, Facebook, WhatsApp, and even PornHub offer their apps and official APKs so you can enjoy their platforms.

A piece of technology for every creative

Moving on to its performance (creatively), the MatePad Pro is a great iPad Pro alternative for beginners and those who aren’t ready to make the switch from Android to iPadOS.

I used to borrow Michael Josh‘s iPad Pro whenever he’s around and the experience always felt like euphoria — absolute bliss.

My stint with the MatePad Pro gave a similar high, albeit far from replicating the exact, same vibes. First, the Huawei M-Pencil has first-rate pressure sensitivity, pen latency, and accuracy that I found it easy to translate my ideas visually.

Working on my illustrations was such a smooth experience, I didn’t notice I’ve been making art for three hours straight — both sketching, trashing my drafts, and coming out with an output that I like.

A rough painting of a coffee with marshmallow using MediBang Paint

Most of my favorite drawing apps are available through APKs, such as ArtFlow, Infinite Painter, AutoDesk SketchBook, MediBang Paint, and IBIS Paint X. AppGallery has Concepts and other drawing apps, too, but I found those apps limiting.

If you’re a beginner, intermediate, or professional artist, you can benefit from apps with intensive features and brushes, allowing you to focus on creating freely.

So why do people call it an iPad Pro killer?

The MatePad Pro is a powerful Android tablet, no doubt. When you activate its Desktop Mode and pair it with the Smart Magnetic Keyboard, you can enjoy a PC-like experience albeit at a much slower pace.

You can easily connect it to present your decks and proposals, or work on it as if it’s a smaller laptop. Netbook if you say so, in case some of you still use that decade-old terminology.

The MatePad Pro really shaped itself up as a productivity tool. You can transform the way you work, and it can certainly handle whatever you throw at it.

It’s primarily the reason why people dubbed it as an iPad Pro killer. It’s premium and it can do whatever the iPad Pro can, at a much affordable price. But claiming it as an iPad Pro killer is a bit of a stretch.

Why is it far from being an iPad Pro killer?

The MatePad Pro might look like a knock-off iPad Pro, or an affordable tablet alternative for those who can’t afford the iPad Pro yet, but they’re very different.

Comparing the MatePad Pro and the iPad Pro is like comparing pears and apples (pun not intended). Sure, they have the same structure, exuding similar design and performance. Yet the taste, experience, and what you can do with it do not yield the same results.

The real reason why people buy the iPad Pro isn’t because of the brand. It’s because of the ecosystem and the apps found exclusively on Apple. If that’s not the reason why people buy it, that’s for another story.

But ask any artist — particularly digital painters and illustrators — and you’ll realize they all love the same app: Procreate. Moreover, some apps are inherently superior to their Android alternatives (like the apps I mentioned).

For instance, Affinity Designer and Affinity Paint are noteworthy creative apps that designers enjoy. I could go on and on, but most apps on Apple are developed with creatives and professionals in mind.

A Mother’s Day illustration I made using AutoDesk SketchBook

We can always say that it’s always the artists and not the tools. It’s evident in my works that I can create my illustrations, whether on the MatePad Pro or the iPad Pro. You just need to be resourceful, right?

Even so, these tablets are investments. We’re paying an exorbitant price to get the best experience. Not having Google may have been troubling, but developers are now expanding outside Apple and Google.

If Huawei capitalized on this situation and brought the same apps that artists enjoy on the iPad Pro, the MatePad Pro would’ve been an excellent powerhouse and would live up to its billing. Until then, stop trying to call it an iPad Pro killer. Because it’s not.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for premium tablets as your work-life balance companion, the MatePad Pro is an excellent choice — as long as you love tinkering. Still an Android, the MatePad Pro ignited the tinkerer inside me; customizing the way I want my tablet to be.

For beginners getting into digital arts, the MatePad Pro is a prominent alternative belonging to the major leagues. You can start with the basics and get the hang of creating art digitally without investing in something that costs a fortune.

But if you’re looking for a premium tablet smart enough to hand everything to you, there’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 at a much higher price tag.

Maybe, a non-pro iPad, too — in case you really want an iPad. Nonetheless, the MatePad Pro is an affordable alternative with a near iPad Pro experience.

The Huawei MatePad Pro is priced at PhP 32,990. You can get this tablet at Lazada, Shopee, MemoXpress, Abenson, Bluelite, Intogadgets, Silicon Valley, FLW.PH, and Aerophone.

SEE MORE: Stay connected and creative with the Huawei MatePad ProiPad Pro 2020 Unboxing and Review

Reviews

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: For Pro Users!

Is it worth the $400 premium?

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What makes a smartphone ultra? We dissect the extras that make Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra the phone for power users.

Is it worth the $400 premium vs the Galaxy S21? What’s been added, what’s been taken away, and does it make a difference?

WATCH: Samsung Galaxy S21 Review: Samsung’s Best for Less!

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Accessories

HiFiMAN Sundara review: A WFH audiophile’s dream

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HiFiMAN Sundara

Because of today’s work-from-home lifestyle, everyone is rushing to grab the best laptops, PCs, webcams, and microphones to support their new home office. However, one overlooked accessory has yet to receive its time under the spotlight: a good pair of headphones. It’s even worse if you have audiophilic tendencies like I do. Today, I found one of the best price-for-value pair of cans well suited for both the home office and the hi-fi home audio setup: the HiFiMAN Sundara.

A pillow for your ears

Compared to anything I’ve tried in the past, the Sundara is extremely comfortable on my ears. When you’re looking at a headphone’s comfort, you’re considering a minmax combination of various factors: weight, cup size, clamp pressure, and flexibility. The Sundara handles all of those quite handily.

For a sizable pair, they are remarkably light; they don’t put too much pressure on your skull. Further, instead of the whole headband pushing down on your crown, the Sundara uses a suspended headband to cushion the weight. The softer secondary headband rests itself comfortably on my head without exerting too much pressure or trapping heat.

The earcups are also of notable size. They can fit my relatively smaller ears well. Though I do feel a bit of scrunching inside the cups, I never felt any pain or discomfort from wearing the pair for hours. I can wear the Sundara for four to six hours at a time without any pressing need to take them off.

HiFiMAN Sundara

In terms of durability, the Sundara is more than capable of withstanding major usage. Except for the two plastic portions at both ends of the headphones, the Sundara is made almost entirely out of metal. I did drop the headphones once while using it, and I couldn’t find a single scratch or dent. On a related note, the cups’ metal grille makes for an interesting but minimalist design — an epitome of its namesake, the Sanskrit word for “beautiful.”

Finally, since the headphones are open-back, leakage will always be a problem. However, compared to other open-back cans, the Sundara don’t leak as loudly. Likewise, even without noise cancellation, outside noise is only mildly annoying. That said, anyone sitting next to me can definitely hear whatever I’m listening to. And I can definitely hear whatever is happening beside me.

Playable in any genre

Armed with a planar magnetic driver, the HiFiMAN Sundara has one of the most impressive soundstages I’ve heard for a pair of cans in its price point. In practically any genre that I put the headphones through, there’s a remarkable level of depth. It’s almost as if I’m there where the music is happening. Christopher Tin’s orchestral To Shiver the Sky sparkled with every instrument, from wind to string to percussion. It’s the closest thing to attending a concert, especially in today’s times.

HiFiMAN Sundara

Though the headphones sport an impressive 6Hz to 75KHz frequency range, the Sundara leans marginally closer to the treble side. Instruments are sharper and tinnier, though still not at an uncomfortable level. However, if you listen close enough, sharp sounds can sound extra sharp on the Sundara, given the right track. Even then, the soundtrack for Cowboy Bebop, especially the iconic “Tank!” shines bright with the headphones.

Leaning over to the bass, the headphones can subsist on its own. They deliver a very mellow boom, as opposed to an offensive bombast well-advertised in today’s slew of headphones. That said, the Sundara is not a bass-heavy pair. If you’re looking for a bass monster, look elsewhere. Personally, I’m not a fan of bass-heavy tracks, so the Sundara is just the perfect fit for me. On lighter tracks, especially those from jazz, the bass caresses my ears just enough to tingle. On heavier metal music, like Nightwish’s Human :||: Nature, the lighter bass prevents overpowering and allows other instruments to come through.

For the mids, I’d say that the Sundara is attuned for it as well. I weaved the pair through more poppy tunes, like The Midnight’s Monsters. The vocals rose above other instruments without drowning them out.

Will you need an amp?

If you’re looking for some flaws in the almost-perfect Sundara, you might find it in the headphones’ amplification. The headphones are definitely a pair that can benefit from an external amp.

Just to be clear, the HiFiMAN Sundara can function well enough on its own. Regardless of whether you plug it into a smartphone, laptop, music player, or turntable, the device, sporting 37 ohms of impedance, can deliver audio at a workable clip.

HiFiMAN Sundara

However, according to my own tests, they benefitted greatly from an external amp. And you don’t even need an expensive amp. Even the portable (and affordable) FiiO A3 boosted the headphones to an extraordinary level. If you’re investing your hard-earned cash on the Sundara, you can’t go wrong with forking over a bit of extra cash on a small amp.

Is this your Gadgetmatch?

If you already have a home office setup, then you might like the Sundara. Keep in mind, though; a single-person home office is best for this pair. Because the headphones don’t have a built-in mic or any external functionalities, the pair exists solely as an audio device, not an office tool. It might just irritate any officemates you might have.

That said, the device’s extreme lightness is perfect for moving around the house. After a grueling day of working from home, you can unplug the Sundara from your PC and plug them into your hi-fi/entertainment setup.

With that in mind, though the headphones are light enough to move around the house, they don’t do well for a commuter, especially because of their leakage and lack of noise cancellation.

If you’re interested in the HiFiMAN Sundara, a pair will set you back by US$ 499. It’s definitely pricey. Compared to other more popular offerings, the Sundara belongs in an upper tier. However, for the quality you’re paying for, it’s a good way to start the next level of an audiophile habit.

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Reviews

adidas UltraBoost 21 review: More boost, more fun

Casual and performance hybrid

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It’s a new year which means it’s time for a new UltraBoost and this one’s the best one yet. Today we’re checking out the adidas UltraBoost 21.

The UltraBoost 21 dropped globally this January 28th priced at US$ 180, with a full release of more colorways on February 4th.

Here in Malaysia, the UltraBoost 21 is now available in physical stores as well as our lockdown opens up slightly.

Brief Ultraboost history

Ever since they were announced in 2015, the Ultraboost has always been my go-to everyday sneaker because they’re just so comfortable to wear.

In the last two years adidas has been pumping out two different series of UltraBoost. On one side we have the older, UltraBoost 1.0 to 4.0 retro-ing and releasing in a few newer colorways under the “UltraBoost DNA” branding.

Initially, adidas just kept making small changes to the shoe every year from the UltraBoost 1.0 to the 4.0. They were mostly just changing the knit pattern of the upper which wasn’t really that big of a deal.

However, the DNA models are more for people like me who want the retro style of the OG UltraBoosts and want the comfort of the Boost midsole and Primeknit upper, but just as casual everyday wear sneakers.

But, on the other side we have the UltraBoost year models which are more performance oriented as running sneakers. This started in 2019 when adidas redesigned the Ultraboost to create the Ultraboost 19 which was a huge change in the line and created a lot of controversy with Ultraboost fans at that time.

A brand new change

This is because, initially, the Ultraboost was more of a casual lifestyle pair first, casual running sneaker second. But this changed with the UB19 when adidas decided to focus on making a more performance oriented running sneaker. It created a bit of drama amongt Ultraboost fans because the silhouette of the shoe really changed compared to previous UltraBoosts.

UltraBoost 20

So we saw the Ultraboost 19 in 2019, the UltraBoost 20 last year, and this year, 2021, it’s the UltraBoost 21.

And boy, has adidas really evolved the silhouette here, with even more Boost than ever before and a LOT of major tech improvements as well, including a new Torsion system, also making use of more sustainably sourced materials in the upper.

With all of that, you have to admit, the UltraBoost21 looks like an aggressive running sneaker through and through.

We got the launch colorway to check out which is Cloud White / Core Black / Solar Yellow. It’s a sweet colorway with these hits of neon yellow on the upper and pink on the sole.

PrimeBlue

Coming to the shoe itself and starting with the upper, adidas is using a brand new knit material called PrimeBlue —  a new version of adidas Primeknit which uses recycled materials like Parley Ocean Plastics in the yarn.

According to adidas, over 50 percent of the upper is made from textiles and over 75 percent of that textile is made up of the PrimeBlue yarn. adidas has also said that they didn’t use any new polyester materials on this shoe so this might just be the most sustainably made UltraBoost so far.

I love that adidas is focusing on using recycled materials more, we saw them work with Parley for years now but it was mostly for special limited edition sneakers or apparel. This is the first time we’re seeing adidas work with Parley on general release sneakers, so to see them stick to this sustainability philosophy for one of their most high-profile shoes, that’s awesome.

So every one of the UltraBoost 21s you buy will be using recycled plastics from the ocean. I love that adidas is doing this.

But of course, the next logical question would be — if the knit here is made out of plastics, how does it feel?

Honestly, it feels the same as standard primeknit. It’s just as soft and stretchy, and just as breathable. It  is a little bit thicker but I think that’s by design. It’s your usual sock-like fit UltraBoost upper.

Some design updates

Coming to the toe-box area, you’ll see the new knit pattern that is similar to previous UltraBoosts except that the knit pattern and the ventilation holes marked by the neon yellow here kind of extends along the upper towards the mid-foot of the shoe.

You’ll also see these heat-pressed details that outline the ventilation holes. I assume these are just aesthetic but they might also add some structure to the upper.

Coming to the midfoot area, you’ll see the semi-translucent TPU midfoot cage that looks similar to the one on the OG Ultraboost. It now has a more aggressive, updated design with these three individual opaque black stripes to make the adidas three stripes symbol.

Instead of being sown into the midsole, this time around the midfoot cage has been shown into the lower part of the upper instead. I’m not too sure why adidas decided to do this, but I do think it looks really cool, and hopefully we won’t see it affect the structure of the upper after a year or two of wearing these.

On-feet, it doesn’t really feel any different on the sides vs older UltraBoosts.

Lacing

Moving upwards, weaving through the midfoot cage are these flat white laces. What I thought was interesting is that out of the box, the laces come laced up through all but the top row of eyelets. I’m not sure why adidas did that, it does feel more comfortable laced that way, but my OCD made me lace them up all the way when I wore them.

I think the top row is for people who want a more snug fit. If you want a more comfortable fit, stick with the way it’s laced out of the box.

Underneath the laces, there’s the PrimeBlue upper. It’s a one-piece booty construction so there’s no separate tongue here. And at the top of the tongue area, is this white patch with the adidas Performance branding debossed in black.

Cups your feet nicely

Coming to the inside of the shoe, you’ll see the exposed knit edge of the collar of the shoe which is surprisingly comfortable and doesn’t rub against the back of your ankle, even with low no-show socks.

This is mostly thanks to that padded neoprene portion at the back of the shoe. This extra padding around the heel feels great against your foot but also makes your foot feel more secure in the sneaker as it pushes it forward.

Apart from that your foot is up against the raw primeknit of the upper in a sock-like fit, which is in this neon yellow color here. Using a thicker primeknit material here means the shoe contains your foot a lot better. You won’t have any moments where your foot slips over the midsole.

At the bottom is a neon yellow insole, which says PrimeBlue in a hot pink color.

Ankle-friendly

Moving along, coming to the back of the shoe, the upper extends upwards to act as a pull-tab, just like we’ve seen on UltraBoosts previously. And just like previous versions, this is really comfortable and doesn’t rub against or irritate your achilles which is super appreciated.

Coming to the heel counter, this has also changed dramatically vs the UltraBoost 19 and 20. Instead of being just an outline, it’s a solid TPU element like on OG UltraBoosts, but it is much smaller and doesn’t spill over onto the Boost midsole.

On the lateral side you’ll see the new UltraBoost branding embossed in all-caps. Except for the “r” which is lowercase technically, which is definitely triggering my OCD.

On the medial side there’s no branding but you’ll see this “Primeknit” branding debossed into the upper material. I dont think I’ve ever seen adidas actually put their primeknit branding anywhere so that’s interesting.

More. Boost.

The UltraBoost 21 features a full-length Boost midsole, with this kind of speed-line running along the side of it. But, what’s new here is that there is 6 percent more Boost used than the UltraBoost 20. That already had 20 percent more Boost than the Retro UltraBoosts, so that’s a lot more Boost.

But if it’s just 6 percent more than the UltraBoost 20 from last year, why does it look so much more?

This is kind of a bit of visual trickery by adidas. With the UltraBoost 21, you’ll see that the back of the midsole curves up a lot more dramatically, which makes these easier to run in.

But when you slide your feet into this shoe, it actually sits deeper in the midsole, so that the heel of your foot is kind of surrounded by the Boost all around it. The Boost is not just under your foot but more like cupping your foot.

This is for just the heel area, while the midfoot and fore-foot of will still have Boost primarily underneath it.

So what does this mean? While there is more Boost used here than any UltraBoost before, don’t expect it to be dramatically more comfortable.

It’s definitely the most comfortable UltraBoost ever, especially because of the improvements to the upper and the shape of the midsole. The extra Boost does make a difference, but all I’m saying is don’t expect something a HUGE difference with these.

Just saying that because I know a lot of people are going to see this chunky midsole and the way the Boost is sculpted here, and they’re going to expect a LOT. UltraBoost is already one of the most comfortable sneakers out there and this takes it forward a bit, but don’t expect something crazy.

Boost is a must try

In case you haven’t tried out a sneaker with Boost yet, I encourage you to go on over to an adidas store and try one out as soon as possible.

The big deal here is the cushioning and energy return. You can feel it absorb the impact as you run, and then spring back to return some of that energy to help you take off.

It’s this reason why Boost, and the Ultraboost series in particular is so popular amongst runners and gym goers. It’s not only one of the most comfortable shoes around but it also really helps with casual running or just every day walking around.

Moving downwards, you still have a continental rubber outsole but it’s an entirely new design. The rubber panels are in the usual black, along with this translucent white, and pink panels made up of continental rubber,  which add a bit of pop to the outsole.

Instead of the usual Torsion Bar, adidas is using a new Torsion System called adidas LEP. This new redesigned ‘Linear Energy Push’ torsion system has a stiffer, reinforced material in the midsole to provide runners with less flex in the forefoot and increased responsiveness. You’ll see it here in this wishbone shaped neon yellow element.

This basically means that this shoe should give you more of a spring to your step than before and propel you forward on your runs.

Apart from that, you can see the exposed Boost, with the Boost branding towards the heel area.

I gotta admit, adidas did something pretty drastic with changing up the outsole and I love what they did with it.

Sizing

Coming to sizing and fit, the UltraBoost 21 feels like it runs true to size. If you have regular narrow feet you can go true to size, but if you have wide feet like I do, you might want to go up half a size.

That being said, I’m a size UK 11 and adidas sent me a size UK11 and it fits great provided I dont lace up the top eyelets.

It’s always best to try the shoe on in a store first to make sure you get the best fit possible.

Performance 

Coming to performance, I still think the UltraBoost is a great neutral running shoe. And the UltraBoost 21 is by far the most comfortable and responsive one yet.

Now, this is not really meant for elite runners, but if you’re looking for a comfortable pair of shoes to run in, or do any sort of workout that requires the cushioning and the responsiveness of the Boost midsole, this is a great shoe

The thing is, visually, it’s a huge difference in terms of design and materials but when you compare it to last year’s UltraBoost 20 in terms of performance, it’s just a marginal improvement in terms of cushioning and responsiveness.

That’s understandable because the UltraBoost 20 itself was also already a super comfortable, great neutral running shoe. And I’m not really sure what else adidas could have done to improve among it apart from the visual updates that the Ultraboost 21 brings.

There’s only so much Boost they can add before things get too bouncy and it feels like you’re talking on a trampoline, so I think adidas kept the balance well here with the 6 percent increase.

Is this your SneakerMatch?

At the end of the day, the UltraBoost 21 is an iterative but meaningful improvement to the Ultraboost performance line in comparison to the UB19 and 20 before it.

Visually, it’s a huge dramatic change while still looking like an UltraBoost, but also looking way more aggressive at the same time.

It is even more performance oriented, and even more comfortable at the same time. Honestly just go into an adidas store and try them on — I’m pretty sure you’ll walk away impressed. Maybe you’ll walk away wearing these.

If you have an UltraBoost 20, or a pair of UltraBoost 19 you might not see a huge difference when you try these on. But, if you have a much older pair of UltraBoosts or never tried on a pair of Boost shoes before, you will definitely appreciate how comfortable a shoe this is.

When it comes to casual running, or general exercise where you need to move a lot, I still think UltraBoost is a must-have shoe.

But even if you just want a comfortable pair of casual wear lifestyle shoes, these are just so darn comfortable that they’re perfect as all-day shoes as well.

And that has always been the beauty of the UltraBoost. It’s a shoe that adidas pitches as performance shoes for casual running and they work great for that. But, it’s also a shoe that’s just so comfortable that it just became a shoe people wore casually as well.

And the UltraBoost 21, checks all those boxes. Definitely recommended.

adidas Malaysia Tips from their adidas Running KL Captain

In case you pick up a pair or just need advice on getting started, here’s a few running tips by Awan, Captain of adidas Runners Kuala Lumpur.

For new runners

  1. Educate yourself on proper warm up & cool down steps through certified individuals. Warm ups are important to prepare your body and gradually increase the heart rate to propel yourself into the rhythm. Often mislooked by most runners, cool downs are equally important as it relaxes your muscles and lowers heart rate to return to your normal breathing rhythm.
  2. Start small by doing easy runs to build endurance over time and slowly increase your weekly mileage.
  3. Strengthen muscles and joints to improve race time and reduce risk for injuries by conducting simple body weights.

For avid runners

  1. Set a milestone for your training sessions, i.e setting a half year or full year objective and tracking your progress by monitoring running pace via device tracking systems.
  2. Understand one’s own running ability to improve performance by diligently doing running drills and weight lifting.
  3. Last but not least, follow a structured training plan to ensure a wholesome workout targeting each aspect of your body i.e nutrition, strength, recovery.

In case you’re a bit nervous about heading outside now, you can tune into the adidas Runner’s  ARKL FB Page, where the adidas Runners Kuala Lumpur Core Team will be conducting Virtual Live Workouts to help improve your running journey.

Each month they have different workouts to cater to the demand of the ARKL members, so do keep an eye out on the announcement posting!

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