Features

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet hands-on

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Lenovo can’t seem to get enough of hybrid and modular designs. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet has a little bit of both, but despite sounding like a full-on tablet, the convertible we have here behaves more like a laptop. Let us explain.

Convertibles aren’t a new concept; in fact, all the hybrid notebooks released in the past couple of years feel like they’re playing catch-up to Microsoft’s pioneering Surface lineup. To stand out, every execution is a bit different. Take the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, for example: It disguises itself as an Android tablet, but it’s a full-fledged Windows computer through and through. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet takes a different path, choosing to be a business-oriented Windows convertible with modular components more than anything else. It’s this kind of flexibility that makes this fledgling category so exciting.

Since hybrid laptops are so distinct from one another and function differently for every type of user, we’ll apply the same idea to the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet. After all, certain features will serve an office worker really well, but a multimedia buff not so much. We’ll simplify things by narrowing down the usage cases to four.

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Writers will love the keyboard

Despite lots of convertibles successfully acting like actual laptops, few manage to provide a pleasant typing experience. We have to applaud Lenovo for upholding the ThinkPad lineup’s image and bringing its keyboard expertise to the X1 Tablet. It has to be the most laptop-like implementation we’ve seen on a convertible this year.

Key travel is splendid for a keyboard this thin, and there’s a distinct amount of space between each key. Wrists rest comfortably on the end of the board, and since the attachment doesn’t have its own power supply, there’s no heat to make your palms sweat. There’s also backlighting in case you’re working at night and are too lazy to reach for a light switch.

With the keyboard attached, there are a total of three ways to navigate: You can use the tablet’s touchscreen, the keyboard’s trackpad, or the signature red TrackPoint. We’ve always chosen the trackpad, because the touch experience on Windows 10 still feels five years behind iOS and Android devices, and the TrackPoint felt mostly unnecessary when there’s a touchscreen available. This isn’t to say the trackpad wins by default; the three clicky buttons above the trackpad and its compatible Windows gestures are fast enough to speed through open tabs on Chrome and Microsoft Office.

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Artists shouldn’t give up their graphics tablets for this

The stylus pen is both a blessing and a bother. It’s great that you don’t have to plug it into a power source to charge, but you also have to go through the hassle of finding an uncommon AAAA battery to slide in once the bundled one is dead.

Using it to draw on the touchscreen is a slippery affair. Without any replaceable tips or added texture, the stylus glides across the display like ice. This is bad news for anyone who wants precise control over inputs, and if you want to backtrack on any mistake, there’s no eraser on the other end to save you. The good news is that it behaves like an actual pen, thanks to a thick body and 2,048 levels of sensitivity. On top of that, the stylus has built-in left- and right-click buttons that you can program to other functions on Windows.

Fortunately, the build we received is equipped with an Intel Core m5 processor and 8GB of RAM, making it more than qualified to handle Photoshop and some light video editing. We managed to make the X1 Tablet open a hundred high-resolution photos at once on Photoshop without trouble, and the tablet didn’t flinch when we began editing each one. There are variants with a weaker Core m3 or faster Core m7 installed, but the one we have here seems suffice for everyday tasks. The 256GB SSD that came with our unit is also recommendable, since Windows 10 takes up a lot of space and you can easily eat up more once all your videos and apps are imported.

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Multimedia consumption is a mixed bag

We can summarize this section in two parts: The available ports make connectivity on the X1 Tablet seamless, but the 12-inch display and stereo speakers don’t do their ends of the job.

With so many manufacturers relying on a sole USB Type-C port for charging and plugging in peripherals, it’s such a breath of fresh air to see the X1 Tablet offer a full-sized USB port, USB Type-C port, an audio jack, and Mini DisplayPort. The USB port accepts all those flash drives stored in your desk drawer, while the Type-C port is used for charging, as well as future-proofing in case every single company begins focusing on USB-C as the only standard.

It’s those things that push the X1 Tablet into laptop territory, but it’s a shame it doesn’t leap in terms of visuals or sound. The stereo speakers, in particular, are a lot weaker than what you’d find on much smaller smartphones. And in spite of its 2160 x 1440-pixel resolution, sharpness and strong color reproduction seem lost on the display. Plugging in external speakers and pumping up the brightness to maximum are prerequisites to movie watching.

If you want to get fancy, Lenovo is selling a presenter module for $279 that can shoot a 60-inch projection from about two meters away. We weren’t able to try it out ourselves, but we can say with certainty that it’s a hefty investment, so consider your lifestyle and living space before spending the extra cash.

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Built for travelers

Something all users are going to appreciate is the adjustable kickstand at the back of the tablet. You can adjust it freely without set positions or help from the keyboard attachment. The stand is also wide enough to sit on your lap as long as you keep your legs together. And even with the keyboard attached, the whole thing is feather-light for a laptop replacement at 1.1kg.

Behind it, you can find slots for a microSD card and SIM card. Anyone who transfers photos from a camera during a trip and needs a data connection to instantly upload online knows how vital these two slots are. If for some unfortunate reason your camera is unusable, there’s a decent 8-megapixel camera with LED flash at the back of the tablet to help out – just don’t expect any miracles.

And now, we must ask: How’s the battery life? To be frank, it’s average compared to all the other tablets and laptops we tested. With mixed usage, which involves streaming TV shows, surfing on Chrome, and editing on Photoshop every now and then, the X1 Tablet can last a little less than five hours on a full charge. What’s impressive it how fast the tablet charges, able to achieve an ample amount of juice in only 30 minutes of charging.

Like the presenter module mentioned earlier, the productivity module costing $149 comes to the rescue. Lenovo claims it can add an additional five hours to the battery life, which means it would double the endurance if it works as advertised. We highly recommend purchasing one if you plan to work far from a wall socket; plus, it provides additional USB 3.0 and full-sized HDMI ports.

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Fun in a block

You really can’t tell by the industrial design and blocky exterior, but the X1 Tablet is more fun to use than it looks. And by fun, we mean it doesn’t give you a headache when you make it work. In typical ThinkPad fashion, the tablet simply takes all the tasks you throw at it and performs. You don’t have to put much thought into using it, such as charging the keyboard or stylus. Snapping the keyboard on and adjusting the angles are straightforward, and once you begin typing, you forget for a moment that it isn’t an actual notebook.

Again, you can’t rely on it for pure multimedia consumption. The battery life and audio-visual outputs just don’t hold up. Lenovo probably noticed these weakness during the production stages, and hence, we have the productivity and presenter modules to fill in the cracks. The pair of attachments actually bolster the functionality and make the tablet a true entertainment device, but you’ll have to pay the hefty price.

(Notes: The ThinkPad X1 Tablet package Lenovo sent us came with the tablet itself, attachable keyboard, and stylus pen. According to Lenovo, if you purchase the variant costing P83,990 in the Philippines, it’ll come with everything we mentioned, plus the productivity module. Elsewhere, the X1 Tablet’s price begins at $1,029 for the entry-level Intel Core m3 variant, and it costs around $1,299 for a Core m5 build similar to what we have.)

[irp posts=”9152″ name=”Lenovo gets serious about AR with New Glass C200″]

Hands-On

How to maximize your Redmi 9

Smart tips for your budget smartphone

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Having a smartphone these days is akin to a necessity. However, times are especially hard and you may not have the means to splurge on the best ones. Here are tips on maximizing budget smartphones — specifically, the Xiaomi Redmi 9.

First of, let’s find out what we’re working with. Here’s a quick rundown of the device’s specs:

Redmi 9

Display 6.53” FHD+ Dot Drop Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Processor MediaTek Helio G80 Processor
RAM + ROM 3GB+32GB and 4GB+64GB
Battery Capacity 5020mAh, support for 18W charging
Front Camera 8MP
Rear Cameras 13MP main wide-angle camera

8MP ultra-wide angle camera

5MP macro camera

2MP depth sensor

There’s not a lot you’re working with here. But that’s to be expected from a phone that starts at PhP 6,990 (US$ 141) for the 3GB+32GB variant which is what we have with us currently.

Quick note: That specific variant is currently on sale today on Xiaomi’s official flagship store on Lazada. On July 7, 2020 only, it’s up for grabs for PhP 500 less or at exactly PhP 6,490 (US$ 131).

If you want to snap this up, here’s what you’re getting.

It doesn’t look like a budget phone

Some budget smartphones tend to look very bland. That’s not the case with the Redmi 9.

The Ocean Green variant has this subtle radial pattern on its back. It’s very nice to hold and marginally adds to the grip. That’s a thoughtful choice considering how most budget smartphones come in plain backs in a slippery plastic build.

Another thoughtful design decision is the alignment of the power button and volume keys. For a phone with this big a display, having them all on the right side is an underrated design decision.

Unfortunately, that design decision is countered by the placement of the fingerprint sensor. It’s curiously connected to the camera module. During your first few days of use, you’ll be prone to smudging the lens that sits right above it.

That said, that camera module also doesn’t look like it’s a budget smartphone. The vertical camera array is situated on the top middle part and is separated by a circle that looks like the source of the radial pattern.

Learn basic mobile photography skills

While we’re talking about the cameras, the versatility of the ones equipped on the Redmi 9 is pretty impressive.

On most occasions, you should be able to take a good enough photo for your social media feeds. But you can even take it a step further by learning some basic mobile photography skills.

Here are some tips and how tos from our archives that you might find useful:

  1. How to take slice of life photos
  2. Capturing festivities
  3. Using foreground element

Use the built-in photo editor

You don’t have plenty of space for apps, so it’s prudent to learn the in and outs of the built-in photo editor. Just go into the gallery and edit one of your photos, and you’ll be treated to plenty of options.

Take for instance this wide angle photo. It looks fine, but a little unbalanced.

On the photo editor, you can fix that by aligning the horizon to the grid and making the colors pop more.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are also plenty of filters you can play with. Here’s a sample of how that same photo was turned into this very stylized one that looks almost like a scene from Attack on Titan. 

Google is your best friend 

One of my favorite Google Apps is Google Photos. It gives you unlimited storage of your photos at zero cost.

It’s most likely already installed on the Redmi 9 out of the box. Just make sure you turn syncing on so every time you take a photo, it’s automatically uploaded and backed up.

Google also has lite versions for most of their apps so that should help ease up the load on your limited RAM and storage.

Use lite versions of apps

Lite apps aren’t limited to Google though. More commonly used apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, and even Spotify have lite versions.

These versions eat up less space and less memory when used. Of course, you’ll be missing some features, but that’s the trade-off.

What you can do is identify which app you use the most and need all of the features available, so you can get the full version of that app, while keeping everything else lite.

Be resourceful about it

One of the hallmarks of Xiaomi and Redmi is offering good value for less. That means making the most of what you have.

For the Redmi 9, this means knowing for sure what it can do, and allocating its existing resources based on your smartphone needs.

Remember, your smartphone is only as good as how you use it.

A quick reminder that the Redmi 9 (3GB+32GB) is currently on sale today on Xiaomi’s official flagship store on Lazada. On July 7, 2020 only, it’s up for grabs for PhP 500 less or at exactly PhP 6,490 (US$ 131).

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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 rumor roundup: Snapdragon 865+, 120Hz, new S Pen

Can’t wait for August!

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In around a month, Samsung is launching the hugely anticipated Galaxy Note 20 series. As always, the premium smartphone series will round out Samsung’s traditional slate of flagships for the year.

By itself, this fact isn’t a big surprise. Unless plans change drastically, the company always releases the next Galaxy Note series in August. However, as the launch date draws near, what can we expect from the series this year?

Fortunately, several leaks and rumors have already revealed almost everything about the upcoming series. From its hardware inside to what it looks like, we have a good idea of what the Galaxy Note 20 will launch with. Let’s take a look at what we know about the series so far.

Three devices or two?

Earlier this year, Samsung launched three variants of the Galaxy S20 series: the usual one-two punch and an ultra-premium Galaxy S20 Ultra. Naturally, everyone asked whether the next launch will also have three variants.

In one of the first leaks regarding the Galaxy Note 20 series, Ross Young revealed only two variants: the Note 20 and the Note 20+. The series will not have a third Ultra variant. Further, Ice Universe approved the leaks, adding some legitimacy to the claim.

However, despite the affirmation, Ice Universe continues to refer to the second device as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, especially in subsequent leaks. Are there actually three phones coming? If there are just two, what will they call the second phone — the Note 20+ or the Note 20 Ultra?

The return of 120Hz

As we mentioned, Young’s leaks are the first ones we know about the series. Besides revealing the number of variants, he also mentions the continuation of the 120Hz LTPO screen and a slight bump in size for both variants. The Note 20 will have a 6.42-inch 2345 x 1084 resolution, 404ppi screen. The Note 20+ will have a 6.87-inch, 3096 x 1444 resolution, 497ppi screen

The leaked detail holds a lot of promise for the two devices’ picture quality and energy optimization. With lower power needed, the series can look brilliant even in an always-on mode.

Samsung cat tells all

Naturally, as time went on, the weight of the leaks got even more substantial. Just a few weeks ago, Ice Universe leaked the most comprehensive rundown of the series’ hardware so far.

For one, the leaker confirmed the Note 20 Ultra’s larger screen. However, it’s not just the size. Samsung is also reducing the bezels by a fair bit. All four sides have narrowed down by a fraction of a millimeter. Further, the punch-hole camera’s diameter is reducing by a full millimeter. Given how thin bezels are today, the reduction will be clearly noticeable on the upcoming device.

Concurrently, the account also reveals more about the hardware inside. According to two tweets, the Note 20 Ultra will sport the unreleased Snapdragon 865 Plus processor. Based on a separate rumor, Qualcomm will reportedly launch the upgraded chipset later this month, making it in time for the Note 20’s launch in August. That said, the upcoming chip will also grace the remaining devices in Samsung’s flagship lineup this year.

Additional speculations

Rounding out this list, Ice Universe also hints at a new camera feature and a new S Pen. We don’t know much about the Note 20’s cameras yet. According to a few leaked designs (which we’ll get to later), the rear will likely have three cameras. However, the performance remains a mystery.

If anything, Samsung was working on impressive 150-megapixel and 250-megapixel cameras earlier this year. The source claims that the former is already set for a launch this year, potentially for the Note 20 series. Since the Galaxy S20 series tops out at a 108-megapixel camera, it’s not far-fetched to assume a 150-megapixel shooter on the Note 20 series.

On the other hand, we haven’t heard a lot about the upcoming S Pen functionalities. Ice Universe leaks that the stylus will have a considerably reduced latency at 9 milliseconds, making it extra responsive to a user’s writing. Of course, latency is different from functionality. What can the Note 20’s S Pen do?

Perhaps the most obscure speculation about the stylus comes from a leaked patent early last year. Samsung filed an enigmatic patent for an S Pen built with a camera inside. The rumored spy pen got nowhere fast especially last year. However, patents are finicky. You’ll never know when they’ll pop up. Is this the S Pen’s unknown feature this year? We doubt it, but who knows?

What does it look like?

The leaks surrounding the series’ design are contentious. Some got nowhere, while some were simply wrong.

The first design leak comes from the tandem of OnLeaks and Pigtou (who previously leaked a pop-up camera from Samsung earlier this year). The duo created renders of what they thought the series will look like, based on rumors. Though substantial, the renders were simply just third-party renders. The world still wanted more controversial leaks from supposedly insider sources.

They got what they wanted with Ice Universe’s leak at first. The aforementioned hardware leaks came with a depicted phone which were assumed to be the Note 20 Ultra. Unfortunately, a lot of people were wrong (including us, admittedly). In a follow-up tweet, the leaker revealed that they were actually just photos of the Note 10+ used for representation.

Dispelling all of this confusion, Samsung accidentally leaked the device’s design themselves. In a rare hiccup, the company’s Russian website mistakenly displayed the Note 20 Ultra in the pinkish Mystic Bronze color. In one go, Samsung destroyed all rumors and revealed so much about the upcoming device already, including the triple rear cameras and the sleek S Pen.

When is it coming?

To cap everything off, we turn to the very first time the Note 20 was ever mentioned. In an earnings report released earlier than Ross Young’s leaks, Samsung confirmed that the Note 20 series will still come as scheduled — that is, in August.

Further, a recent report confirms an impending launch window between August and October for three unreleased devices. As expected, August will host the Note 20 series. Meanwhile, September and October will debut the Galaxy Fold 2 and the Galaxy S20 Lite.

It won’t be long now before the Note 20 series launch. Though we know a lot about the series already, Samsung can still surprise us with a few tricks up its sleeve.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ Review

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M31: How long does a 6000mAh battery lasts?

We took the phone out for a spin!

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Having long-lasting device is a must when you need to stay connected.  When Samsung proudly introduced the Galaxy M31 with a  6,000mAh battery, it’s like god heard my woes. No more reliance on power banks and hogging wall sockets!

But how long does a 6000mAh battery last, especially for someone who’s overly attached to his smartphone? To find the answer, we fully charged a Galaxy M31 to see if it will last more than my ex-flings (or a day, in this case).

Hour 00: Making you mine

It was 2:20 PM when I took the fully charged Galaxy M31 to finish setting it up, and personalize it as my new daily driver for god knows how long. If you’re familiar with Samsung’s One UI 2.0, navigating the phone is a breeze.

I installed my essential apps — particularly Spotify — and spent at least an hour and a half to finish personalizing the phone. It was almost four in the afternoon when I decided to take a nap, with the battery currently sitting at 96 percent.

Hour 02: Vibing with your quirks

Thirty minutes later, I woke up from incessant sweating caused by a vexatious, humid atmosphere. When I checked the phone, I wasn’t surprised to see it drop to 95 percent. After all, Spotify was still playing on the background. I started prepping up to take a bath while dancing to “Mamma Mia” (I do hope youngins still know this classic).

Most of my Sundays are usually spent doing different hobbies, but having to test a phone’s battery life derailed my perfectly laid up weekend plan.

In lieu of doing things that feed my soul, I watched The Half Of It on Netflix and played Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in between supper, hourly snacks, skincare, and prepping myself to sleep.

Hour 08: Quarter good

Even with an annoying notch, watching and playing on a Super AMOLED screen is still a treat. I’m accustomed to using flagship smartphones, but the Galaxy M31 packed a punch for a midrange phone.

It’s powered by an Exynos 9611 chipset (which caused some heating), and a 6B RAM, and 128GB internal storage. A hiccup-free experience is guaranteed!

It was 10:10 PM when I turned the Wi-Fi off so I can sleep peacefully. The battery currently sits at 76 percent.

Hour 15: Staying strong

My nights are constantly haunted by my crushing regrets. In between interrupted periods of sleep, the phone’s battery sat at 75 percent. I decided to get out of the bed around 5 in the morning, planning a full day ahead.

I started catching up with news while hydrating myself with lemon water. Afterward, I opened my favorite app — Nike Training Club — to perform morning stretches. It offers quick, guided workouts for different purposes: strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility.

Before I start my workout, I brought along my Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Fit E. If you’re deep into Samsung’s ecosystem, you’ll be disappointed with the unavailability of Galaxy Buds’ plugin, so no wireless listening for you. Although, you can rely on the Galaxy M31’s loudspeakers. Thankfully, the phone still connects seamlessly with my Galaxy Fit E.

At 6:25 AM, the battery dropped to 70 percent after conducting my morning routine. Do note that Spotify is constantly playing, even when I’m not actively using my phone. (Life without music sucks.)

Hour 17: Picture-perfect memories

It was almost seven in the morning when I started shooting a friend’s baked goods. As I sung to Taylor Swift’s “Death by a Thousand Cuts”, I let myself have fun using the Galaxy M31’s quad-camera setup.

I wrapped up around 7:19 AM with a 67 percent battery life. I took a bath and drove to Starbucks to get my favorite cold brew. Along the way, I took some selfies and snaps and uploaded them to Instagram Stories.

Hour 20 to 28: The last hurrah

I was back at my desk around 10 AM and started my daily grind. The phone sat at 43 percent after heavy and constant usage. I pulled my laptop and started working. Even with a bigger screen, I still used my phone to respond to messages, moderate social media pages, and watch on Netflix while eating.

The phone’s battery dipped to 15 percent at 6:48 PM, when my shift was about to end. To my astonishment, the Galaxy M31 lasted more than 28 hours on a single charge.

I charged the device at 7:08 PM and left it while I had dinner, took a bath, and did some house chores. It took at least three hours to fully charge the device from 15 to 95 percent, using its 15W fast charging adapter via USB-C.

On a side note, the Galaxy M31’s battery is such a rocker when left on standby mode. On a Tuesday afternoon, I left a fully charged Galaxy M31 in a safe. I checked back Saturday afternoon, and I was surprised to see its battery dipped from 100 percent to 33 percent.

Is it your GadgetMatch?

Summing it up, the Galaxy M31 is a capable and dependable midrange smartphone. It offers reliable performance with a battery that can keep up with you for more than a day. If you’re a power user looking for an affordable handset with no bells and whistles, this one is for you.

The Galaxy M31 is currently available in Black and Blue and retails for PhP 13,990 (US$ 283). It’s online-exclusive and will be available for purchase at Samsung’s Online store.

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