Laptops

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus: Gimmicky but gets the job done

A plus for the right person

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Lenovo’s never been shy to try new things on their notebooks and laptops. Their whole Yoga line is a testament to this. But they’re also applying that line of thought to their other notebooks. Specifically, the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus.

They don’t say it outright but that Plus, I’d wager, refers to the e-ink screen on the laptop’s hood. Dual screen laptops are slowly on the come up — most of which targeted towards the multimedia-heavy users. The ThinkBook Plus is more deliberate.

The ThinkBook Plus has a 10.8-inch e-ink screen. It’s meant for taking notes, reading e-documents and seeing notifications while the laptop is closed.

Yes, the ThinkBook Plus comes with a stylus out of the box.

ThinkBook Plus

It magnetically attaches to the sides of the notebook.

The e-ink screen is fun, except for someone like me who has terrible handwriting

ThinkBook Plus

What happens when you’re not using the e-ink screen? You get this default screen. 

ThinkBook Plus

Or you can customize it with any image saved on the laptop. 

ThinkBook Plus

Now isn’t that so much better?

That image acts as a wallpaper when you’re using the ThinkBook plus, making it truly personalized.

I even tried a quick 10-minute sketch on the thing. 

But after a while, the novelty of the e-ink screen really wears out. It doesn’t help that I’ve mostly been working at home so there aren’t any opportunities to be in physical meetings and really take down notes.

Using the e-ink screen is also a hit or miss. It’s not readily responsive when you want to use it. But it the stylus to screen experience drastically improves once you’ve launched the notepad app. It also has great palm rejection so you don’t have to worry about placing your palm on the display as your write.

I can imagine how this can be useful in certain situations for certain people. However, unless you’re the type who actually likes to take notes, the e-ink screen will feel like a pricey gimmick.

The ThinkBook is a performer 

While the e-ink screen may be what gets you to turn your attention to the ThinkBook Plus, it’s not the only thing it has going for it.

It’s powered by an Intel Core i7 10th gen processor accompanied by Integrated Intel UHD Graphics, 16 GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM, and 512 GB PCIe SSD onboard storage.

That is to say, any productivity task you can think of, this thing can handle without breaking a sweat.

It’s been particularly useful in my daily tasks which include a lot of writing and copy-editing.

As well as basic image editing.

ThinkBook Plus

And of course, it’s useful when it’s time to put those words and images together on the website.

ThinkBook Plus

Quick side note: The more I go through my daily tasks, the more I realize how Core i7 laptops are completely overpowered for what I usually do. Especially since I still prefer to do my video editing on Final Cut Pro which only runs on Mac.

That said, working on the ThinkBook Plus has been as smooth an experience as can be. There was just a lot to love about it as a steady work machine.

The backlit keyboard was super easy to transition to.

The trackpad was also pretty darn good. 

ThinkBook Plus

But as is the case with most trackpads on Windows machines, they still can’t hold a candle to MacBook trackpads. That’s just a crying shame but it is what it is.

After soldiering for a day to use only the trackpad, I gave in and turned to the comforts of a mouse.

The webcam is located on the top-bezel.

This actually feels like a throwback as it doesn’t have the shutter or a built-in way to cover the camera. One time, I had to put an electrical tape over it during a zoom call as I wanted to show only the virtual background, without me in the shot.

There’s also no shortage of ports. This isn’t the thinnest of laptops so you get a decent amount of physical connectivity.

On the left are the HDMI Port, a USB-C port, and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

ThinkBook Plus

Over to the other side you have two USB-A ports and the power button.

ThinkBook Plus

Also a leisure companion

In between work or while I have lunch I like to watch a few videos. The 13-inch FHD display is more than enough for these quick breaks.

I’m either watching a few K-Pop fancams…

ThinkBook Plus

Risky risky wiggy wiggy this is an emergency

Or indulging in a quick anime episode on Netflix. 

ThinkBook Plus

Anime title: Ahiru no Sora

My room is pretty dark most of the time so the 300 nits of brightness is more than enough. You might encounter some glare and visibility issues, though, if you whip this out under broad daylight.

The audio by Harman sounds okay and works as expected during zoom calls. However, it does feel like it’s lacking in the overall volume department. It just doesn’t get loud enough in certain situations or for certain videos that already had a low volume to begin with. But it’s passable and the quality is generally okay.

It also comes with a carrying case inside the box.

ThinkBook Plus

This is a low-key really good inclusion. It adds an extra layer of protection and makes you feel safe about carrying the ThinkBook Plus even if you’re only using a tote bag.

ThinkBook Plus

The carrying case itself feels pretty premium and matches the overall price tag of the product.

Is the ThinkBook Plus your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 104,950/ US$ 1,529, it might feel pricey. You’re paying extra for that 10.8-inch dual screen so unless you see yourself really taking advantage of that feature, it’s best to steer clear.

However, as I mentioned earlier, for anyone who does make it a habit to jot down notes, the e-ink screen on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus can be a valuable tool. And it’s not like you’re only paying for that additional screen.

The ThinkBook Plus can be relied upon to handle your daily tasks without any sort of hiccup. It feels sturdy and can certainly be your work companion for years. It’s hard to recommend to everyone, but for the right person, this notebook is indeed a plus.

Apps

Microsoft could bring Android support to Windows in 2021

Feeling the heat from Apple’s move to ARM

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system is widely used globally and has remained the laptop and PC segment’s undisputed leader. However, Linux, as well as macOS, have gained considerable traction in the last few years. To maintain its edge, Microsoft could bring Android support to Windows soon.

According to a Windows Central report, internal discussions are ongoing over the possibility of bringing Android runtime to Windows 10. Currently, you can install a third-party emulation software like Bluestacks to run Android apps on a Windows device. But the experience is far from perfect and still requires a bit of a learning curve.

Apple has a significant lead in this regard because its move to an ARM-based M1 processor allows it to run iOS apps on macOS seamlessly. This ideally helps in bridging the software gap between two very different devices.

Microsoft has tried to achieve a similar goal with the Universal Windows Platform. But the results are still limited because there are barely any devices with a smaller form factor leveraging the operating system.

More importantly, Microsoft wants to bring Android apps to its Microsoft Store. While there’s no information on how it intends to achieve this, the report does say the release is expected by Fall 2021.

Microsoft no stranger to cross-platform apps

Microsoft has whole-heartedly adopted cross-platform compatibility and has a host of apps on iOS as well as Android. If it’s able to bring Android apps to Windows, it’ll challenge the status quo of Chromebooks, which has long been a pain for the Redmond giant in the affordable segment.

This isn’t the first time a company is trying to incorporate Android within its proprietary operating system. BlackBerry 10 supported Android runtime, and the brand leaned on it to make apps easily available. While the move was too late for BlackBerry, it isn’t the same for Microsoft.

It’s worth noting that the idea is in a very nascent stage right now. We don’t know how Microsoft intends to distribute Android apps or whether it’ll start supporting Google Play Services. Although one thing’s for clear — Microsoft is feeling the heat from Apple.

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Computers

Exclusive freebies up for grabs with ASUS laptops this holiday season

It’s the best time to buy at ASUS!

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This year has proven the importance of reliable laptops as companies switch to a remote working setup for their employees. For those looking to upgrade their current laptops, now may be the right time to do so. ASUS has launched its Share 2020 Christmas promo where customers can snag exclusive freebies on a vast number of laptop models from the brand.

From November 25 until December 31, 2020, buyers can snag up to PhP 27,490 worth of bundled items when they purchase any ASUS laptops from concept stores and resellers nationwide. Laptops from different price ranges will receive the following items for free:

  • TUF H3 Headset worth PHP 2,100 for laptops worth PhP 30,000 to PhP 59,000
  • ZenScreen Portable Monitor worth PHP 13,390 for laptops worth PhP 60,000 to PHP 99,000
  • ZenBeam S2 Projector worth PHP 27,490 for laptops worth PhP 100,000 and up

To redeem the bundled items, register on this website.

Exclusive bundles for gamers at heart

Bundles are also up for grabs for ROG and TUF Gaming laptops this November 25 to January 26, 2021. More than PhP 53,000 worth of bundled items can be had when one purchases the ROG Zephyrus 15 Duo with the latest 10th-gen Intel Core i9 processor and ScreenPad Plus secondary display. Included in these bundled items is the ROG Chariot Core gaming chair which is worth PhP 18,000.

Steam credit vouchers, ROG gaming monitors, and more will also be given away for purchases of select ROG and TUF Gaming laptops.

Just visit this website for more information on the promo. Meanwhile, the mechanics for item redemption can be found here.

Professional gear for business laptops

With the opening of the ASUS for Business laptop store on Shopee, the brand is giving away up to PhP 196,000 worth of prizes on purchases done from January 1 to December 31, 2020.

Nope, that’s not a mistake — those who purchased their laptops from the start of the year are still eligible to win a brand-new ASUS all-in-one PC, ExpertBook laptops, and ZenWifi routers. Furthermore, the first 30 customers who will purchase from the store will also get the chance to receive an ASUS Wi-Fi Router worth PHP 4,250.

Customers can register from November 25 to December 31 on this website to redeem their prizes.

More exciting freebies and exclusive perks await laptop buyers this Christmas. Visit ASUS Philippines’ website for more information on their Share 2020 holiday promo. Follow ASUS Philippines, ROG, or ASUS for Business Facebook page for more updates and developments.

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Laptops

Apple could launch redesigned MacBooks with new silicon in 2021

Will it be even more powerful?

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macos macbook

Apple’s transition to custom ARM silicon began this month with the launch of the new MacBook Air. The new iteration sports Apple’s proprietary M1 chipset, but the exterior remains the same. New leaks suggest that its successor will be way more powerful and not too far.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s research note, the Cupertino giant is planning to launch redesigned MacBook models with its in-house silicon in the second half of 2021. First obtained by MacRumours, the note says Apple will populate its laptop lineup with new models powered by the ARM-based M1 chipset, but those models will look different.

Due to the ARM architecture, Apple is also able to make flexible apps. Hence, apps designed for iOS can seamlessly run on macOS. The current Apple M1 chip is seen on the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro 13-inch.

The design changes that Kuo mentioned might include changes in display sizes and other minor design changes. Kuo has previously suggested that redesigning is in plans for the 13- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

It’s also worth noting that Kuo’s second half of 2021 means it’ll be announced practically one year after M1’s debut. It’s a fair assumption that Apple has followed the yearly cycle for its A-series processors and would follow a similar timeline for MacBooks as well.

According to LeaksApplePro, the M1’s successor could be called the M1X and would debut on the next 16-inch MacBook Pro iteration. Originally introduced in 2019, it is yet to get a successor and is due for a refresh.

Apple has proven it can make bleeding-edge chips that can deliver maximum performance along with thermal management. A-series processors currently power the iPhone and iPad, and they’ve delivered exceptional numbers. Building on its existing expertise, Apple intends to shift its MacBook lineup to in-house silicon completely.

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