Reviews

LG Velvet review: Flagship reimagined

A refreshing take from LG, a much needed option in 2020

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I’ve reviewed many different phones this year and consistently the theme has been this: Phone prices are rising; and there are no exceptions. A faster display, multiple cameras, 5G — it all adds up. If you don’t need all of these extras on a flagship smartphone, what options are there for you?

Instead of launching a revolutionary new phone meant to blow your socks off, LG sought to fill that void with a new breed of flagship smartphone with just the essential features: the LG Velvet.

An introduction

I’ve closely followed the evolution of LG smartphones for more than six years now. In the second half of 2020, the Korean company is shifting gears — from a new design ID to a new name.

The first phone out of the gate is simply called Velvet, which is a drastic change from their last phone called the LG V60 ThinQ 5G Dual Screen.

LG says that starting with Velvet they are moving away from the G and V Series and adopting more expressive names that better fit each smartphone. Instead of offering similarly designed smartphones with marginally better specs, which is basically what everyone else in the industry is doing, they want to create differentiated products with a clear character.

The Velvet isn’t meant to be the successor to last year’s G8; neither is it a midrange version of the V60.

Who then is the Velvet for? What consumer need does it address? And is it your GadgetMatch?

READ: LG V60 ThinQ 5G Dual Screen review: 2020’s most underrated phone

Evolved design language

If I were to describe LG phones released over the last few years, several words come to mind: uninspired, unexciting, boring, bland. They looked okay but let’s just say they would never have won a smartphone beauty pageant, so most folks did not pay attention.

With the Velvet, LG set out to focus on its design. Versus last year’s G8 and the V60, immediately you can tell that LG made an effort. From curves on both its front and back, to what they’re calling a raindrop rear camera — with modules that get smaller as they reach downward. I especially appreciate the clear intent to avoid a huge camera bump.

Did they hit the mark? I’m not sure; I’m finding it hard to make an emotional connection with my review device.

After all the rich vibrant phones that have become my daily drivers this year, my LG Velvet is a bland shade of grey. Although, it is available in a host of other colors: Illusion Sunset, Aurora White, Aurora Green, Aurora Silver and something they’re calling New Black.

I am also not sure the curved displays were the best choice and overall it doesn’t necessarily look original.

There is, however, a lot to like about the Velvet. There is a certain subdued sophistication about the phone. I appreciate that it’s not too wide so you can hold it securely with one hand and that it’s light enough so that when you use it with the Dual Screen Case, it doesn’t get significantly heavy.

I also like that the Dual Screen case for the Velvet also comes in matte white. It’s refreshing, and it doesn’t pick up smudges like the mirror finish of the V60’s Dual Screen case.

I love that there are well-designed third party cases available for the Velvet at launch. LG partnered with Korean accessory manufacturer Design Skin. I would go as far as saying that these are some of the best designed cases we’ve seen for any phone.

This case has two card slots, comes in an olive shade and a croc skin finish.

This emerald green one is my favorite. It has an elastic leather strap just like a designer clutch — a stylish way to keep your phone secure when you’re out and about. Hidden underneath is a slot for a card or two.

There are plenty of other case options for the LG Velvet on Amazon ahead of its European and North American debut as well.

A flagship that doesn’t blow your socks off

There are many ways to tackle this next section. It can be about addressing why this phone has a 700-series processor, usually reserved for midrange smartphones, which I feel is the elephant in the room. In the US, the T-Mobile variant is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000C chip. I want to take this opportunity to challenge the status quo and encourage a new way of thinking.

Silicon technology has improved so much over the last few years that it’s gotten to a point where most people don’t necessarily need a phone with a top of the line processor.

This next statement might come off as controversial, but the everyday user does not need a phone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865.

Snapdragon 765, which powers the LG Velvet, is a very capable processor that can handle the needs of the average consumer. If doing so allows a phone company to pass on savings to you the consumer, I’m all for it.

In essence, I believe that is what the LG Velvet is all about: giving users what they need instead of making them pay for high tech extras that prosumers and tech nerds have come to expect.

It’s a well-rounded smartphone and it comes with support for 5G networks. This is despite the lack of a fast display and out of this world telescopic camera.

In the time that I spent with the LG Velvet, I didn’t experience any hiccups in terms of performance. The phone has enough RAM to handle all the apps that I juggle on a daily basis, and the Snapdragon 765 processor handled everything I threw at it.

Of course Pokemon Go and Raid Shadow Legends might not qualify as graphics intensive games, but my buddies Joshua Vergara and Booredatwork also played a lot of Call of Duty and PUBG, respectively, and they didn’t have complaints either.

Its P-OLED display is bright and vibrant and was a pleasure to consume content on. Like the V60, it has a tear drop notch on the top center of the screen.

Dual Screen, dual fun

Cementing the company’s commitment to this form factor, the Velvet is compatible with its own Dual Screen case. Depending on where you live, it either comes bundled or is a separate purchase.

In our exhaustive review of the LG V60, we explored all the things you can do with this form factor and why it makes sense as an accessory. If you want an in-depth guide on how you can maximize the dual screen experience, read that review here, or watch it here. My thoughts there apply to the Velvet’s Dual Screen experience as well.

I love being able to use it as a controller to level up my game play, tickling my retro bones using Drastic DS to emulate my favorite Nintendo games from my childhood, and using it as an e-book reader using Librera, which is closer to the experience of reading an actual printed book than.

Of course there’s multitasking: having two documents open at the same time, or a web browser in one and Google Docs in the other. Having that second display for a chat app, a video, or my twitter feed is great and makes a lot of sense for someone like me. You can also save shortcuts for apps that you frequently open together: Spotify and Google Maps when you’re driving for example.

One of my favorite use cases, pun unintended, is flipping the case all the way around and using it as a monitor when photographing others. I also love that I can easily prop the phone up when watching videos or even when I’m on a video call.

Stylus support

Just like the V60, there’s support for any Wacom AES pen on the Velvet. If you’re the type who likes being able to jot down notes the old school way, you can purchase a stylus like Wacom’s Bamboo Ink and use it to take notes, sign documents, or draw on your Velvet.

Some will argue that the Galaxy Note comes with a bundled pen and that you can store it in the phone, but old-school note-taking isn’t for everyone. The experience also isn’t as close to pen and paper as the Apple Pencil and the iPad.

What I like about the Velvet, just like the Dual Screen case, is that the extra cost is your choice to make depending on your needs.

Exceptional audio lineage

When it comes to audio the LG V60 is the best phone I’ve reviewed this year. Given its lineage I was curious to see how well the Velvet performed in this department.

The phone comes with stereo speakers, LG’s 3D sound engine, and a headphone jack. The only thing it doesn’t have is Quad DAC support which both the G and V series had been known for. Even in this more affordable segment, LG is still the gold standard when it comes to phone audio.

When reviewing the Velvet, I did my usual blind test by listening to songs I know by heart. Its speakers aren’t as loud as the V60 but they are tuned very well. They sound leaps and bounds better than last year’s G8X. It’s also much louder and richer compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20+.

For even better sound you can toggle ON LG’s 3D Sound Engine via the quick settings panel.

Acceptable camera performance

The LG Velvet has three cameras: a standard 48MP wide angle lens, an 8MP ultra-wide angle with a 120 degree field of view, and a 5MP camera dedicated for measuring depth.

This is an important category so I spent a lot of time putting the Velvet’s camera through its paces. Take a look at these sample shots I took around Brooklyn.

With the sun shining overhead, against the light, or even when the sun started to set, the Velvet’s main camera does the job of capturing good photos.

Night Mode also does a decent job when it got dark.

Its ultra-wide angle camera doesn’t perform as well. It was alright during the day, but poor as the sun started to set. Details become fuzzy when there’s not enough light.

The third camera dedicated to creating background blur does a good job cutting subjects out. Phones usually struggle to separate Chay’s hair from the background but the Velvet managed to do it pretty well.

Camera comparison

It’s important to manage our expectations based on how much the Velvet costs. I compared it to the similarly priced OnePlus 8, and the pricier Samsung Galaxy S20+.

During the day when the sun is out, the sky blue, and the model straight off the Paris Fashion Week runway, you’d be hard pressed to pick one photo over the other. All phones did great, captured details well, and produced similar colors.

I’d say the same about this ultra wide angle shot. The only difference is that the S20+ has a wider field of view.

It’s a similar case with these photos taken with 2x zoom. Both the OnePlus and Velvet use digital zoom as they do not have dedicated telephoto cameras.

This ultra-wide angle shot is interesting — a test of how all three phones handle backlit subjects. The S20+ and the Velvet handled the harsh lighting conditions very similarly. The OnePlus 8 did the best job at managing highlights. In some cases, it just boils down to camera software, like in this example.

We spent a lot of time comparing the phones after dark. First, this artsy photo of the Manhattan Bridge shot through some fencing.

Next is of the Brooklyn Bridge. I did a poll on Twitter and most of you picked the S20+’s photo, with the Velvet coming in second and the OnePlus 8 third. It’s a tough call and really depends on what people are judging for. Some voted for presumed color accuracy, some for detail, some voted based on which one fits their aesthetic best.

When you switch to the ultra-wide angle camera, this is where the Velvet suffers. Just like in our daytime photos, the Velvet didn’t capture enough detail for it to be usable.

We took more comparisons this time without night mode. For the most part the results were pretty similar across the board.

In this last comparison photo, we didn’t use night mode as well. All three phones handled this back lit shot differently, but I think all of them are post worthy.

Overall it’s no surprise that people chose the S20+’s photo in my Twitter poll. It does after all have the best camera hardware of the trio, but the Velvet’s main camera held its own. It produced accurate colors in low light while being the cheapest phone in this shootout.

Its ultra-wide camera is just a let down, especially considering LG was pioneered this feature on smartphones many years back. Maybe they shouldn’t have included it, that might have brought down the price even further.

All-day battery

The LG Velvet comes with a 4300 mAh battery. It lasts me a full day of average use with a little bit left over for the next day. It’s not as long lasting as the V60 but overall its battery life is great.

Charging speeds are also respectable considering its battery capacity. Using the bundled fast charger, I got to 10% after 10 minutes and 70% after an hour. A full charge took just one hour and 52 minutes.

The Velvet also supports wireless charging, and it works even with the Dual Screen case on.

If you get the Dual Screen case, it comes with a USB-C adapter that magnetically latches into place. I think is a great idea. Once you plug it into the bundled USB-C cable, you’re not going to lose it. In case you do, you can buy a replacement online.

Pricing and availability

The LG Velvet was announced in South Korea earlier this year with a KRW 899,800 (US$ 700) launch price. In Europe, pricing vary per country: In Italy, it was going for EUR 650 (US$ 757), bundled with the Dual Screen case and LG’s Tone Free wireless earbuds.

In the US, it starts at US$588 if you get it from T-Mobile, US$599 from AT&T, and US$699.99. Just note that the T-Mobile model has slightly different specs than the unit we reviewed.

Is the LG Velvet your GadgetMatch? 

Despite not offering the coolest features smartphone nerds rave about, there’s something interesting about the LG Velvet. It’s a much needed class of device for right now. 2020 is the year when brands known for making flagship killers have all but abandoned that calling.

Prosumers who need more computing power, better cameras, and a faster display should definitely look elsewhere.

The LG Velvet is a solid phone. It’s built well, performs great, and most importantly it comes with a price tag that doesn’t break the bank. For that we give it the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval.

Gaming

ROG Flow Z13 review: A tablet powerhouse like no other

There’s more than just powerful gaming

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Throughout my four years of working in GadgetMatch, I haven’t actually tried using any gaming laptop (or even a tablet) of some sort. Let alone a device like the ROG Flow Z13. That’s mainly because I’m not as invested as our in-house gamers like Rodneil, Luigi, or Gab.

But what if you wanna hear thoughts from a casual gamer? And how does it perform from the perspective of a creative professional?

Without further ado, let’s proceed with this much-awaited review of the world’s first Windows 11-powered gaming tablet.

(Un)usual tablet

Up front, it might look like the same glass slab as other tablets. This particular model has a 13.4-inch Full HD+ glossy display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. That’s an unusual ratio for most games that only support either 16:9 or 21:9 gaming.

But it becomes a real game-changer when you flip its back side.

Unlike regular tablets with an ultra-sleek and minimal design, the ROG Flow Z13 stands out from the crowd.

Other than the usual Intel and GeForce stickers, what stands out the most is its see-through glass window that shows the tablet’s internals.

When turned on, the window will illuminate with ROG’s signature RGB lights…

…that can be controlled via ROG’s Aura Sync software.

With some ROG-branded texts, etchings, and rubber plugs..

…this is a sophisticated-looking, retro-futuristic tablet truly meant for gamers in mind and heart.

And as some bonus, here it is side-by-side with last year’s ROG Flow X13. Surprisingly, the X13 is thinner despite the Z13 looking more of the “portable” device.

For specifics, the X13 is 15.8mm thick and 1.34kg in weight. Meanwhile the Z13, although thinner at 12mm and lighter at 1.1kg, attaching its detachable keyboard actually makes it thicker and heavier at 17.6mm and 1.53kg.

Plentiful ports

If you care about ports, the ROG Flow Z13 has plenty to provide.

Other than its proprietary XG Mobile port (which also has a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port in it), there’s also another one at top, making it a total of two USB-C ports on the left side.

One (or both) port/s support DisplayPort and G-Sync for external 4K displays and monitors…

…as well as Power Delivery (PD) for faster charging speeds.

Looking at the right side shows the power button that also doubles as a fingerprint scanner.

Moreover, there are the volume buttons, a single USB-A port for other peripherals, and a 3.5mm audio jack for hi-fidelity audio experience when gaming or working. There’s even a microSD card slot hidden behind the tablet’s leg stand when opened.

Both sides mean it also has stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support as well as a 3-microphone array for voice calls.

For connections with less latency, it has a Wi-Fi 6E modem for faster online gaming and streaming. It also supports Bluetooth 5.2 for better connectivity when connecting to earbuds, headphones, controllers, and more.

Lastly, there’s a 720P webcam at the top of the display for usual video calls via Zoom, Duo, or Meet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support the Windows Hello Face Unlocking as it doesn’t have IR sensors built-in for a more secure authentication.

It’s also equipped with an 8-megapixel camera at the back with an okay quality.

Two things that don’t go well together: Vegetable lasagna and Nala the doggo

Bundles and extras

Whenever you purchase the ROG Flow Z13, you’ll have this handy sleeve pouch to protect the tablet from unwanted scratches and bumps inside your bag.

There’s also this clip-on keyboard a la Microsoft Surface that connects through ROG Flow Z13’s smart connectors at its bottom. This is better instead of going through the hassle of connecting via Bluetooth.

Attaching the detachable keyboard folio with a felt-like texture also protects the Z13’s precious glossy display from scratches and smudges.

Moreover, there’s also the ROG Impact gaming mouse that you can carry around. It’s well-suited for shooter games that require faster clicks instead of relying to the Z13’s touchpad. The bundled mouse depends on where you’ll buy your ROG Flow Z13 though.

Lastly, there’s also the ASUS Pen for those who want to use it for note-taking, scribbling, sketching, or even illustrating.

Two downsides with this specific pen? First is the use of a rare AAAA battery instead of relying on magnetic charging. Second, you can only attach it magnetically at the bottom part of the tablet (where the smart pins for the keyboard are also connected). This basically means you can’t place the pen once the keyboard is attached in its place.

For additional purchases, the ROG XG Mobile eGPU is a great extension to an already amazing gaming tablet. It provides more gaming power just in case you needed that maximum oomph when you play hardcore games.

And while we’re already under this specific section, gaming would be more fun with the Xbox Wireless Controller in mind — especially when the game supports it (mostly games from Xbox PC Pass).

Game mode

I’m not a professional nor a hardcore gamer, but this doesn’t mean I don’t play enough games to entertain myself when bored.

While I don’t have the maxed-out Core i9 model (that’s not in the Philippines but available elsewhere), it still has one of best specs for a tablet (or any gaming device for that matter): a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-12700H, a total of 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, and 512GB of SSD. To make it suitable for more graphics-intensive games, it runs NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3050 with 4GB of GDRR6 memory.

We don’t provide boring and lengthy game benchmarks, but I can attest that the Z13 can run most games in max settings — regardless if you change gaming profiles in the Armoury Crate app.

Whether that’s the ever-popular Grand Theft Auto V...

Forza Horizon 5 through Xbox PC Pass…

realistic truck and bus driving with Euro Truck Simulator 2…

5v5 FPS game such as Valorant…

and even the ultra-demanding open-world action RPG Genshin Impact, the Z13 is no slouch at all.

With the games mentioned earlier, I was able to bump up graphics settings in either high, max, or ultra utmost with most (or all) of the boxes ticked. Even with hours of gaming, it never slowed down.

Unfortunately, running Cyberpunk 2077 even in medium settings through Z13’s RTX 3050 doesn’t do much help. The only way to play it in its highest settings possible is to bring out the ROG XG Mobile.

With its more powerful GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, it should run a lot better without worrying about gaming lag and stutter.

Plugging in the XG Mobile eGPU is also another way you can attach any 4K TV or monitor through HDMI and DisplayPort (aside from USB-C

Playing Forza Horizon 5 on my ultra-wide monitor made my gameplay more immersive. Sadly, I wasn’t able to do the same driving experience with ETS2 as it has issues continuing the game when the eGPU is connected.

SEE ALSO: LG 29WP500 UltraWide Monitor review: Bang for your buck

Laptop Mode

As of this writing, I’m using the ROG Flow Z13 as my primary device when typing this review article.

While the keyboard isn’t close to how I type on my MacBook (or any other mechanical keyboard), the key travel is enough to make typing satisfying.

If I’ll explain the exact feeling, it’s in the middle of being clicky and mushy — not that it’s a bad thing. The precision trackpad feels nice as well. Gone are the days when Windows devices have clunky plastic trackpads for navigation.

Opening apps like Microsoft Edge (yes, not Chrome), Netflix, Twitter, Slack, Telegram, and among others in the list should be a breeze.

I’m just halfway 30 yet I can already feel Yeom Mi-Jeong’s life sentiments in My Liberation Notes

When it comes to the creative apps I use such as Adobe’s Creative Suite, the gaming tablet doesn’t falter either.

Opening Adobe Photoshop was fast and snappy. Being able to scroll through several layers without any hiccups is a breeze.

Adobe Lightroom should perform the same. While the best Z13 model has an 85% DCI-P3 wide color gamut coverage, the 100% sRGB color accuracy is enough for color grading and post-processing that other gaming laptops can’t even achieve.

Meanwhile, running Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects vary depending on how heavy or light your workload is.

Let’s say you’re editing a 4K video or a 15-second 4K MoGraph (Motion Graphic), it will obviously render slower than your projects with the usual Full HD resolution. But for the most part, it renders faster than ever.

However, you might want to invest on an external SSD or replace its NVMe M.2 SSD with a larger 1TB capacity for storing these large project files and footage without sacrificing read and write speeds.

SEE ALSO: Seagate Ultra Touch SSD: 5 reasons why you need this external SSD

And while I haven’t opened Autodesk Maya for years, I still tried running this 3D-modeling software and was still able to render the heavy 3D project file of a 2016 MacBook Pro I did way back in college.

Tablet Mode

I’M FEARLESS even when LE SSERAFIM’s Sakura decides to step on my whole existence (P.S: I miss IZ*ONE so much what if umiyak na ako)

Other than gaming or using it for professional work, the ROG Flow Z13 can also serve as your entertainment device — just like any other tablet being offered in the market today.

Please Tell Me Now that LOONA will win Queendom 2

Watching flicks on Netflix or vibrant K-Pop music videos and live performances on YouTube all looked great on this device regardless if this Z13 doesn’t have the top-of-the-class panel.

That being said, its display still supports HDR, Dolby Vision, and is Pantone-Validated as well — making it enough for most users to enjoy its crisp and ViViD visuals (just like LOONA’s Heejin and her debut song 😘).

Not all gays suck at gaming. Charlie is a proof of that one can be a hardcore gaymer 😇

While it doesn’t have the max 4K resolution of the other model, I prefer this one as it should preserve the tablet’s overall power consumption.

Also, having the Full HD+ panel means you can switch between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on your preference for that ultra-smooth navigation and stutter-free gameplay. The 4K variant is only stuck at 60Hz.

Having a faster refresh rate also means the pen input delay (or latency) should be more realistic. Using the bundled ASUS Pen felt enough for note-taking or some lousy sketching.

Although this isn’t the most ideal tablet for any digital artist, it can still hold up as a decent graphic tablet. For better use of its graphic tablet functionality, you can turn its stand all the way to its tilting limit.

With Windows 11 in mind, there are apps you can use such as Adobe Lightroom, Paint Tools SAI or Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro just in case you want to experiment with your hidden artistic talent.

Ultra-portability has its compromises

Despite being equipped with the latest and greatest tech, the ROG Flow Z13 admittedly can’t quite stand on its own. And by that, with drawbacks while using the tablet alone.

1. Underwhelming battery

Remember when I said a while ago that having a less denser display means being able to save battery life? Well, that’s not the case in this tablet.

Not that it’s surprising since ROG tried to cram up all components inside this chassis with a screen in it. Still, I expected at least a modest 3-5 hours of battery life when doing light tasks.

Whether I switch between Performance or Power Saving Mode, it doesn’t do much in saving the tablet’s 56WHr battery.

When playing games, you have to seat near a wall socket. Regardless of how low or high the settings are, you can only play with the tablet for under an hour before it dies. That’s not a lot of juice for gamers.

For less-demanding tasks, my specific test showed exactly 2 hours and 27 minutes on Balanced Mode while 2 hours and 46 minutes when Battery Saver Mode is on. Exactly as I type this part of the article, the Z13 went under 5% that I had to immediately plug-in its charger. That’s more than two hours of typing this review.

That said, ROG is true to its words. With its bundled 100W USB-C to AC Adapter, it can fast charge the Z13 from 0% to 50% in just 30 minutes. Filling it up to 100% just takes an hour to finish.

2. Useless as a standalone tablet 

A tablet is made meant for a handed use, but that’s not the case with the ROG Flow Z13.

Turning Red is the only “red” I want to support 🤩

I’m not saying that the ROG Flow Z13 is useless. During my test with the tablet, playing touchscreen games without the keyboard/touchpad and mouse is what made it “useless”.

Case in point: I have the option to play Asphalt 9 using tablet mode. But with the ROG Flow Z13 not having the necessary sensors (such as an accelerometer and gyroscope), it can’t play using tilting and just relies on either the automatic acceleration feature called “TouchDrive” or via the bundled keyboard. This makes my gameplay less exciting and thrilling.

There are also times when selecting options in-game needs some stretch. Touchscreen games feel weird due to the large screen size and hefty body, making it uncomfortable to hold when playing.

Not a big dealbreaker but it’s also quite disappointing how I can’t run FPS games without the keyboard and mouse. But I guess it’s more on the software side since PC games aren’t meant to be played with touch inputs unlike iOS and Android FPS games.

Still, even running Android games such as Call of Duty: Mobile (CoDM) through the Gameloop emulator doesn’t make it possible to run FPS, RPG, or MOBA games via touchscreen. A keyboard and mouse are still needed.

3. Ugh… Display issues

Not that it always happens, but one big issue whenever I hook up my 4K TV through XG Mobile via HDMI is that, it randomly displays glitches and flickers when movies are being played.

There are also numerous times when the tablet went into the horrifying BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) just right after hooking up the HDMI cable and properly switching to XG Mobile.

I’m quite unsure if the crucial component updates have fixed this critical issue. While I haven’t checked since I’m afraid I might ruin this review device, I hope ROG comes up with a patch real soon.

4. Undesirable overheating

The problem with heavily-powered portable devices like this is the lack of a better cooling implementation and heat dissipation — even with the existence of an advanced vapor-cooling chamber and “efficient” CPU and GPU units.

Any air-conditioned room (or purely just a snowy-cool climate) might suppress the heating issues temporarily, but its power-heavy yet crammed chassis is one reason why the ROG Flow Z13 doesn’t cool properly.

It’s either you have to flip its back stand, or you just have to deal with its unacceptable overheating. I also think overheating has something to do with the display issues I mentioned a while ago.

Did I also mention how loud the fans and hot the heatsinks are when playing games or rendering and exporting output files?

Is the ROG Flow Z13 your GadgetMatch?

In the Philippines, this higher-end ROG Flow Z13 is priced at PhP 99,995. The less-powerful Core i5 and Iris Xe-powered variant retails for a measly PhP 84,995. The ROG XG Mobile (which is sold separately) costs as much as PhP 69,995 for the RTX 3080 model while the Radeon-powered RX 6850M is almost 10,000 less than the Z13 itself at a whopping PhP 89,999. This just means one thing:

This gaming device isn’t for everyone.

With the presence of more affordable gaming laptops, buying the ROG Flow Z13 doesn’t apply from a practical, “worth-it” standpoint. Instead, this is for those with the extra purchasing power who want the versatility and portability of a tablet that can also run demanding games and creative apps in the long run.

And as a creative professional, this tablet isn’t meant for creatives neither. There are a lot of options out there that can do both work and play without sacrificing your savings.

Much like foldable smartphones, the ROG Flow Z13 focuses more on a specific type of market that want the bleeding edge tech regardless of how pricey it is. But if you want the best of both worlds in gaming and creative work, this might just do all the trick.

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Gaming

ROG Zephyrus G15: Lean, mean, gaming machine

And it’s a looker too

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Zephyrus G15

One of my favorite things about getting to try many new gadgets is that I learn more about myself and my preferences. The ROG Zephyrus G15 (2022) GA503 – which henceforth will just be referred to as just Zephyrus G15 – did just that for me and what I want in gaming laptops. 

For context, I have been sparingly using my ROG Flow X13 for most of my general Windows and PC gaming needs. It’s a great device, don’t get me wrong. But having to prop up the laptop itself along with the XG Mobile to reach its full potential can be quite cumbersome.

It’s a huge contrast to the Zephyrus G15 where I simply fire it up and it just works in a jiffy. And all the ports I normally use are right there, ready to use. I’m a big fan of convenience so I absolutely love it when gadgets just work without much friction. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Based on this introduction, I’m sure you already have some idea on what I generally think about the Zephyrus G15. But allow me to discuss it further. 

Tale of the tape

Zephyrus G15

Specs and benchmarks never tell the whole story. But specs are a good place to start. Here’s what our review unit is packing: 

  • AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS
  • 15″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) 16:9 240hz Pantone Validated 100% DCI-P
  • RTX 3070 TI 8GB GDDR6
  • 16GB DDR5 on board  + 16GB DDR5-4800 SO-DIMM
  • 1TB M.2 NVM PCIe 4.0 SSD
  • Moonlight White

Some standout stuff from the information provided above are the new processor, the Pantone Validated display as well as the RAM available. This isn’t even its highest configuration. There’s a variant that runs RTX 3080. You can upgrade your RAM up to 48GB and there’s another SSD slot so you can expand your storage. 

Zephyrus G15

That means there’s plenty of room to up the ante down the line should you choose to do so. That’s not something that you can say for every gaming laptop. 

Immaculate look and design

I love that ROG sent over the Moonlight White version for us to try. Black is great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s refreshing to see gaming laptops brimming with power come in other colorways that could appeal to people that are kind of just over with black. 

The magnesium-aluminum lid and chassis also maintain the Zephyrus look giving it a sleek and tough exterior, while keeping the ROG Zephyrus identity. And you don’t have to worry too much about it picking up dust and dirt. In the few weeks I spent with it, it stayed pristine looking despite little to no wiping maintenance. That’s thanks largely to the wear-resistant coating which works exactly as advertised. 

Zephyrus G15

Adding to the overall functional design is the ErgoLift Hinge. This is one of my favorite things about ASUS laptops. The ergolift hinge not only allows a 180° for more flexibility, it’s also just ultra satisfying to move and look at. 

It looks fresh, feels tough, and is relatively compact making it easy to carry around. It’s a looker with some bells and whistles in the right places.

Ports, keyboard, and trackpad

Zephyrus G15

Speaking of those bells and whistles, the Zephyrus G15 is packed with possibly all the ports you’ll need. Whether that’s for a remote setup or one that’s neatly tucked into a home office desk. 

Zephyrus G15

Here’s everything it has to offer: 

  • USB3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (2x)
  • USB3.2 Gen 2 Type-C(supports DP 1.4 & 100W PD Charger), (2x)
  • LAN RJ-45 jack (1x)
  • HDMI 2.0b (1x)
  • Micro SD Card Reader (UHS-II), (1x)
  • 3.5mm Audio combo jack (1x)
  • Kensington Lock (1x)

 

Zephyrus G15

The Stealth Type keyboard was a curious choice but one that I welcome. I was of the impression that the gaming demographic skews more towards the clickity clack of mechanical keyboards. But the one equipped on the Zephyrus G15 is about as quiet as they come. No complaints here though, as it didn’t distract my at-the-moment entanglement in slumber as I toiled away over late night labor. 

Zephyrus G15

One of the best trackpad experiences on a Windows Gaming laptop.

The trackpad, too, was such a pleasant surprise. Perhaps it’s also in conjunction with Windows 11 but using a trackpad on Windows now doesn’t feel as laggy as it used to. On days that I only worked using the Zephyrus G15, I never felt the need to connect a mouse. That feels like a breakthrough as I have never been able to say that for any of the Windows laptops I’ve reviewed in the past. 

Plays like a console

Yes, I paired a DualSense controller with the Zephyrus G15

Alright, before any PC gaming enthusiasts come at my throat, what I mean here is mostly the quality of life things. When I got the Zephyrus G15, I didn’t tweak it very much. Heck, I even opened Armoury Crate less than five times during my time with it. Despite this, it had no trouble running the games I attempted to play. Some of which are even very demanding AAA titles. 

Zephyrus G15

I’m a big fan of tech that just works. Especially with my current workload, the less time I have to figure something out, the better. And that’s the case with this gaming laptop. I simply fired up Steam, downloaded the games, and played to my heart’s content. 

Zephyrus G15

Teen Gohan vs Cell is a classic.

Naturally, I checked the settings on some of the first few games I tried like Control, Genshin Impact, and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Everything was consistently on the highest settings right off the bat. Lags and stutters? I don’t know them. Not with the Zephyrus G15 in tow. 

To better understand where I’m coming from, I own an ROG Flow X13. The one that comes with the ROG XG Mobile. It’s a great machine, no doubt. But to get the most out of it, I still have to hook up the XG Mobile to the Flow X13. Whereas with the Zephyrus G15, I simply have to turn the laptop on. That’s an underrated level of convenience that may or may not mean much for some of you. 

You still have Armoury Crate but I didn’t feel the need to touch it as much.

It’s seriously making me consider trading up for the Zephyrus G15. And that’s just with the raw performance of games. I haven’t even talked about how good the display and speakers are. 

Eyes and ears candy 

Zephyrus G15

Its high-level performance is of course complemented by a stellar audio-visual experience. As indicated in the specs section earlier, this laptop sports a 15” WQHD 16:9 display with a 240Hz refresh rate. It’s also Pantone Validated which is great for color accuracy if you’re working on anything that involves visual media.

But all you really need to know is that it’s an absolute treat to the eyes. The 240Hz refresh rate on the panel is great for first-person shooters. Unfortunately, I am not great at first person shooters. I’d like to take this opportunity to whoever I played Valorant with because I totally dragged the team down. 

Zephyrus G15

This is a “Tomboy” fancam but listen to her album “MY” too!

 

It is a visual treat, no doubt. But like (G)-IDLE’s Miyeon, the Zephyrus G15 isn’t just a treat for the eyes. It also sounds hella good. I spent a good chunk of time watching Miyeon’s fancams on this thing and it’s just a fantastic overall experience. 

I also watched a few episodes of Netflix’s Business Proposal at the time of writing. Really, whatever type of content you consume, it’s bound to look and sound great on this thing. 

Zephyrus G15

Kim SeJeong is just adorable

One thing we did learn is that the display struggles a bit under really bright environments. When taking photos of the device, we opted to step out for natural light. But if you’re using this to work or play remotely, I recommend you find some place that isn’t too bright. 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Zephyrus G15

The ROG Zephyrus G15 (2022) GA503 is easily one of my personal favorite devices that I’ve reviewed so far in 2022. It’s about as close as it can get to a plug and play PC gaming experience. And that’s not something you can say for many laptops and/or PCs. 

The Zephyrus G15 (2022) brings with it a distinct look, top-notch gaming performance, and a really solid audio-visual experience. As a gaming laptop, this is about as perfect as it gets and is something I can easily recommend especially if you’re willing to splurge for it.

Official pricing will be announced soon. We’ll update this space when it’s out.

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vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review

vivo’s best smartphone just got even better!

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The vivo X70 Pro+ was launched just several months ago. However, we’re already having a follow-up!

Unlike the X50, X60, and X70 series, the X80 series only consists of two models this time around.

Namely the X80 and X80 Pro — with the latter being vivo’s latest flagship smartphone.

But what makes it different from its predecessor? And what makes the successor a lot more exciting?

Watch our vivo X80 Pro Unboxing and Review now to find out more!

 

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