Laptops

MacBooks move on from traditional keyboard and USB ports

Time to embrace the newer MacBooks

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It’s time to let go of the past, I suppose.

With the release of new MacBook Pro models, the MacBook Pro of 2015 has effectively been discontinued by Apple.

Why is this such a big deal? If you’ve been following Apple’s yearly refresh of its laptop line, you’d know that they’ve gradually let go of full-size USB ports and longer-travel keyboards in favor of slimmer designs.

This means the MacBook Pro that was released in 2015 is the last model to feature these legacy features.

In effect, if you’re going to buy a new MacBook Pro, you’ll have to embrace the dongle life, because your usual flash drives, external hard disks, and SD cards won’t fit into the USB-C-only ports of the newer models.

Of course, there are numerous accessories that simplify the need for dongles, but they’re still not as convenient as the slots that came built into MacBooks of old, including SD card readers, ports for USB-A, HDMI, and Thunderbolt, as well as the much-loved MagSafe power connector.

9to5Mac points out that Apple is still selling some 15-inch 2015 MacBooks in clearance sales for those who can’t let go just yet. Models from 2016 onward already have the updated design.

On the bright side, this year’s MacBooks are worth looking into. Not only do they come with the latest Intel Core processors and generous helpings of memory and storage, there are also improvements in the butterfly keyboard and signature Touch Bar.

Laptops

ASUS unveils prices of new ZenBook and VivoBook laptops

From the cheapest one to the most premium

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After showing off the new notebooks during Computex 2018 in Taipei and IFA 2018 in Berlin, ASUS has now brought all of them to the Philippines. Check out the prices of the new ZenBook and VivoBook laptops.

VivoBook S330 — starts at PhP 45,995
VivoBook S430 — starts at PhP 47,995
VivoBook S530 — starts at PhP 56,995

ZenBook S (Core i7/8GB/256GB) — PhP 74,995
ZenBook S (Core i7/4K/16GB/512GB) — PhP 99,995

ZenBook Pro 14 — starts at PhP 99,995
ZenBook Pro 15 (Core i7/16GB/1TB/GTX 1050Ti) — PhP 119,995

ZenBook 13 (UX333) — starts at PhP 54,995
ZenBook 14 (UX433) — starts at PhP 62,995
ZenBook 15 (UX533) — starts at PhP 74,995

All the new VivoBook and ZenBook notebooks will be available nationwide starting October.

Check out our hands-on videos here:

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Laptops

Dell Vostro 5370 review: An everyday business notebook

Compact yet powerful

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Here I am again, reviewing another laptop. Like smartphones, most laptops have little differences from each other. While the premium line of notebooks battle to have the best build and beastly specs, the mid-tier laptops try to offer the best value for your hard-earned money.

What I have here is the Dell Vostro 5370. It’s a 13-inch laptop designed for business — small businesses to be specific.

If the Latitude line of business notebooks from Dell is top-notch and great for enterprise use, the Vostro sits below it. If you’re familiar with Dell’s portfolio, the Vostro series is on par with the Inspiron family. Now, onto the review.

The Vostro 5370 is a formal-looking notebook with a two-toned chassis. At first glance, one might think it has a single-piece aluminum build, but only the inner casing gives the cold touch of metal while the outer chassis has a matte finish.

Nevertheless, it’s lightweight and pretty thin for its class. The sleek Silver with Nocturnal Blue interior combination gives off a professional vibe.

As already mentioned, the laptop has a 13-inch display with a Full HD IPS panel. I never had any issues with its viewing angles and color reproduction, but the brightness levels could be better. Good thing the anti-glare coating keeps the display viewable even on a sunny day or when you’re in a cafe surrounded by windows.

The keyboard here is not as great as the one I used on the Latitude 7390 2-in-1. The key travel is decent while the spacing and overall layout are easy to get used to.

As for the touchpad, it’s got a pretty rough surface as opposed to the smooth glass touchpad of premium notebooks. It’s fairly accurate and, most importantly, it recognizes Windows 10’s touchpad gestures. The left and right buttons are integrated to the touchpad as well, and they’re a bit shallow.

Sitting quietly on the upper-right corner is the power button which also doubles as the fingerprint reader. This makes logging in very easy with Windows Hello, just like on the more premium XPS 13.

What’s great about mid-tier notebooks is that they don’t sacrifice ports just to have a slimmer profile. The Vostro 5370 has all the ports you’ll need to get through everyday work life.

On its right are the charging port, a USB-C Gen 1 which also doubles as the DisplayPort, a full-size HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

To the right are the Noble lock slot, two full-size USB 3.1 (one with PowerShare), and the microSD card reader. It could have been great to have a full-size SD card slot so I can actually use it to quickly transfer images from cameras.

The speakers of this notebook are nothing to write home about. They’re tinny and don’t get loud enough even for indoor use. If you’re alone in a quiet room, you’ll hear what you’re playing on this laptop. But, as soon as you open the windows or when there are people talking around you, you’re better off with a pair of headphones.

As for the notebook’s specs, I was able to use the 8th-gen Intel Core i5 variant with 8GB of RAM. With this kind of power, you can do any everyday task without any hiccups. It even has more than enough power to handle Photoshop and maybe even some casual video editing. The M.2 SSD that can have up to 512GB of storage is able to read and write files very quickly.

With no discrete video card, this notebook is not a gaming machine. While it can do some light gaming like Dota 2 or League of Legends, it’ll not be enough for AAA titles even in low settings. It’ll be hard to appreciate graphics-intensive games with low frame rates and minimal quality.

There’s nothing to worry about the laptop’s fan noise. It never got loud even if I already have more than twenty tabs open in Chrome with Photoshop working in the background. Perhaps the only time I can remember hearing the fan is late at night when my surroundings were really quiet.

Since it’s a business-oriented device, the laptop’s webcam will be used a number of times. The Vostro 5370 doesn’t have thin bezels, so the webcam remains on the top where it should be. The quality is okay when under bright light and it’s perfectly usable for Skype.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for a decent mid-tier notebook, the Dell Vostro 5370 will be able to provide great everyday performance and ample oomph to get all your multimedia work done. It’s not designed for gaming, but it can handle some titles when you want to have fun.

It’s not the ideal business machine for enterprise users because it lacks certain specs, but it’ll do for small businesses that need a quality laptop. It never felt cheap or lacking for what it’s designed to do.

The Dell Vostro 5370 is priced at PhP 50,800 in the Philippines.

SEE ALSO: Dell XPS 13 (2018) Review: Still the best in its class

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Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro (2018) Review: Not for everyone

A solid upgrade for existing MacBook users

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“Why would you review the 2018 MacBook Pro when it’s exactly the same as older MacBooks? It just has updated specs,” asks a commenter in one of our videos.

Perhaps a review is even more important in these cases so that anyone considering an upgrade gets enough info to make that decision themselves.

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