Gaming

Nintendo launches Mario-themed Switch version

Available now for US$ 300

Published

on

Nintendo Switch
Image source: Nintendo

Limited edition Switches are a guilty pleasure. Though most people can likely afford only one Switch at a time, owning consoles with quirkier designs is a dream. So far, Nintendo has launched Switch variants featuring Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Pokémon. Both of which are ones we’d love to have. Today, Nintendo is launching one more special variant. To cap off the 35th anniversary of Mario, the company is releasing a Mario-themed Switch.

Already available now, the Nintendo Switch Mario Red & Blue Edition will include the console and accessories designed with the eponymous colors. The console and the dock stand out in red. However, the Joy-Cons and their grip will combine blue and red. The Joy-Con’s straps are more multi-colored. Finally, the bundle will come with a blue and red case with Mario-themed motifs.

All-in-all, the bundle will retail for US$ 300. It is available in the United States from Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, and Target.

Unfortunately, the bundle will not come with any games out of the box. It’s slightly disappointing, especially since Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is coming out around the same time. However, Nintendo has often stopped bundling games with its special edition Switches. The last notable special edition that came out with the corresponding game was the Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee variant.

SEE ALSO: Super Mario All-Stars series brings classic Mario games to Switch

Gaming

Are the new Secretlab Gaming Chairs worth replacing your old ones?

Lovin’ that loud, pink look

Published

on

When it comes to gaming chairs, Secretlab is (usually) the first brand that comes to mind. They’re sort of like the Ferrari of gaming chairs — only the gamer-iest gamer will have them (gaming chair diff, anyone?). I’m sure some will disagree. Ergonomic chairs are getting more and more popular in the market but that’s a discussion for another day.

I’m not really the best gamer around but I love collecting anything and everything that screams gamer. Back in 2020 when the pandemic started, like everyone else, I found myself sitting in my gaming room a lot more than usual.

I worked there and played video games there and was basically on my butt a lot so it made sense for me to upgrade from the old dinky office chair to a gaming chair and what better way than to get myself a Secretlab Omega 2020 Series Dva Edition

My two-year-old Secretlab x Overwatch chair still holds up great!

It’s been two years since and while I’m quite a hyper gamer (I will literally bounce in my chair as I game), the chair has held up pretty well. 

This year, a brand new version of the Secretlab chair has been released and it comes with some great quality of life upgrades which we didn’t see in the previous versions of the chair. What’s even better is that even the older chairs got a makeover with the upgrades. 

So now, for those who already own a Secretlab chair, is it worth the upgrade? Let’s compare.

Setting up

You don’t have to worry about living with grayed out arm rests now as it is easier than ever to replace

I remember the moment back in 2020 when my first ever gaming chair arrived. It felt like a coming-of-age (in gaming) moment. Now, note that I’m a 5’2″ girl with absolutely no muscle, living a sedentary lifestyle. My fingers are the only part of my body that gets a workout day in and out. 

Setting up the chair back then felt pretty awful without help. It was heavy, the screws had to be manually put in as I held the chair up. I remembered crying because my fingers hurt (haha). 

Now what about the SoftWeave Plus? This is where it gets interesting. The chair is still as heavy as it was before but it felt a lot easier to put together (did I get stronger?). Parts of the chair are now magnetic which removes the need to hold up the chair and screw on parts at the same time. 

Sliding the base of the chair with the back is also a lot more convenient thanks to the brackets. 

So yeah, you don’t need a plus one (or a crying session) to set up your chair. Overall, it only took me about 30 minutes to put the whole thing together compared to my previous chair which took me about two hours (yes, I will factor in the time I spent crying).

What’s different

While I absolutely loved the loud and pink look and feel of the Secretlab x Overwatch chair, this time around, I opted for the Secretlab SoftWeave Plush Pink chair (which fits in more with my pink and white setup if I do say so myself). Regardless, the latest versions of the Secretlab x Overwatch chairs also got an overhaul with the new designs.

The differences aren’t super stark but are definitely noticeable. The base of the chair is now flat instead of having raised sides which I absolutely love because there’s no more gap between the raised sides of the chair and the cushion. It was an absolute nightmare getting crumbs out of there to clean it. 

Magnetic memory foam pillow makes the chair look more sleek

On top of that, I noticed that over time, the main cushion and the raised sides of the chair started to widen, leaving a noticeable gap in the back and under the chair (likely from me sitting cross legged on my chair and bouncing around). Also, because of the wider seats, sitting cross legged on the chair is now comfier than ever!

Better neck rest pillow

The removable neck rest pillow is now magnetic instead of secured by a stretchy band which I also love. The previous band around the neck pillow of my previous chair was starting to stretch out and loosen.

In addition, the pillow’s shape is a lot more comfy as well. My only wish is that I’m able to put the pillow lower as it’s placed a little too high up for someone of my height (similar issue with the previous chair which I ended up removing the pillow altogether).

The gap in my previous Secretlab chair’s raised sides got noticeable as time went by.

Instead of a memory foam pillow for your back, the Secretlab SoftWeave now comes with lumbar support. You can’t really see it on the chair itself but you’ll find a knob on the right side of the chair to control it. It isn’t necessarily the widest in terms of the lumbar size range but it’s acceptable. You’ll definitely feel the back of the chair curve into your back as you twist the knob. I wish that it can curve a lot more forward to provide support to a wider range of users. However, I do prefer this a lot better than the memory foam pillow. That kept slipping down and needed to be adjusted multiple times a day. 

Easier to replace parts

The knobs that control lumbar support.

Remember I mentioned how some parts are now magnetic? This includes the armrests. I noticed that after around a year, my Secretlab Dva chair’s arm rests turned a cloudy gray which can’t be cleaned off. With the upgrade to magnetic armrests, this allows for the replacement of parts to be easier. 

The wheels also have been adjusted for better stability and weight balance. Personally, I didn’t notice too much of a difference in regards to that (likely due to my small frame and weight) but I did notice that the wheel glide feels smoother compared to before (I mean, it was already pretty smooth, how are they doing this?). 

SoftWeave Plus fabric

A closer look at the material.

Now, let’s talk about one of the most interesting selling points of the chair: the brand new SoftWeave Plus fabric. According to the website, the fabric is inspired by “performance footwear”. It definitely isn’t something I’d think about having on a chair but it is interesting regardless. 

The site mentions that the chair is “as soft as your favorite t-shirt and with a rich texture that feels incredible under your skin”. While I disagree about it being as soft as your favourite t-shirt, the texture  is definitely very, very comfortable. It’s reminiscent of my Nike Flyknit’s texture — a lot more comfortable than the previous version of the chair. 

My previous Secretlab chair’s neck pillow that’s stretched over time.

The breathable fabric does exactly as what it says on the tin. With the heatwave hitting Malaysia, my back usually feels very sticky after a while when I sit in my chair, even in an airconditioned room. Now, I don’t have that issue anymore. 

This time around, the Secretlab SoftWeave Plus gaming chairs also come in a variety of colours from the basic black and white to gray, pink, mint and blue which will definitely fit any gaming or productive setup’s aesthetic 

The verdict

If you’re running on the 2020 version of Secretlab gaming chairs and thinking of upgrading, I say get it. You get so many quality of life upgrade. And these are in the same price range as before with better longevity for your chair as well. 

It’s comfier with better support and a sleeker look. I really can’t think of any other gaming chair that both looks and feels great. 

Understandably, the pricing for a Secretlab chair can be pretty steep which is why this purchase is definitely an investment. Regardless, the 6.6 sale is coming very soon for Secretlab. So, go ahead out there and grab one while they’re on discount! You can check out Secretlab’s brand new designs on their official website.


Secretlab 6.6 sale:

  1. Up to 25% OFF select Secretlab chairs
  2. FREE Upholstery Wipes worth ₱1,190 with every chair purchase
  3. FREE Shipping with every chair purchase
  4. From as low as ₱3,315/month for up to 12 months
Continue Reading

Gaming

ROG Flow Z13 review: A tablet powerhouse like no other

There’s more than just powerful gaming

Published

on

By

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.

Continue Reading

Gaming

PSVR2 is launching with over 20 major games

Horizon VR game still headlines

Published

on

Samsung had a lot to say during its latest investors meeting. Besides unveiling its general plans for the future, the company also teased the devices that are coming in the near future. For a while now, that future lineup includes the PSVR2. If you were thinking of buying the virtual reality wearable for yourself, Sony has good news for you. The PSVR2 will have over 20 major titles on launch.

Naturally, if you buy a pricey piece of hardware, you usually want it to come with a good set of ways to use it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with new gaming devices. For example, the PlayStation 5, despite being out for almost two years, still doesn’t have the most expansive lineup of games that every gamer must play.

Thankfully, the PSVR2 won’t follow in the same, sparse footsteps of the gaming console. According to the meeting (via Video Games Chronicle), the wearable will launch with over 20 first- and third-party games. The headliner is still Call of the Mountain set in the Horizon universe, of course. Unfortunately, the presentation didn’t reveal any other games in the lineup.

If anything, virtual reality gaming has been growing for a while now. In recent history, the market has seen notable titles like Half-Life: Alyx and Beat Saber.

After facing a potential delay, the PSVR2 is expected to launch sometime next year.

SEE ALSO: PSVR2 might be delayed to next year, report says

Continue Reading

Trending