Features

Star Wars gadgets and accessories gift guide

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The Star Wars hype is in full swing with the much-anticipated release of the latest addition to the its saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

If you or someone you know is a hardcore Star Wars junkie, there’s no shortage of toys, gadgets, and accessories inspired by this pop culture darling. There’s something for everyone, whether for you or for someone you hold dear.

Get ready to geek out!

Sphero Droids: BB-8, R2-D2, BB-9E

This is the adorable droid that rolled into our hearts back in 2015. It was launched right before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens which is the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy.

And little BB-8 isn’t alone anymore; accompanying it is Luke Skywalker’s partner droid R2-D2, and the dark side droid that’s set to make its big screen debut in the latest Star Wars film, BB-9E.

Buy Sphero R2-D2 

Buy Sphero BB-8

Buy Sphero BB-9E

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges

I chose Star Wars: Jedi Challenges as My GadgetMatch for 2017 because playing it is an absolute blast! There are a few kinks here and there that can be improved on, but nothing beats the adrenaline rush of dueling with lightsabers against Darth Maul and other pawns from the dark side in augmented reality (AR).

You’ll need to catch your breath after a few lightsaber duels. Good thing there’s a strategy game and Holo Chess that can help you cool down.

Buy Star Wars: Jedi Challenges

OnePlus 5T Star Wars Limited Edition

Not to be outdone, OnePlus also announces a limited Star Wars edition of its latest flagship, the OnePlus 5T.

The design looks like it’s patterned after a First Order Stormtrooper. Fingers crossed they clone this phone like crazy so there’s enough to go around.

Samsung Star Wars POWERbots robotic vacuums

If you’ve always wanted to order Darth Vader around, this might be the closest you can get.

Samsung turned its smart vacuum into arguably everyone’s favorite Sith Lord and his minions. Through an app, you can command these dark side enforcers to literally do the dirty work for you.

Buy Darth Vader vacuum

Buy Stormtrooper vacuum

UBTECH Robotics’ Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper

Speaking of ordering stormtroopers around, this voice command-enabled robot will do exactly what you tell it to.

It also has other nifty features like first- and third-person AR modes, facial recognition so it knows you’re the boss, and sentry patrolling where it guards an area you specify. Although I’m not sure how effective that last feature will be, given how stormtroopers are notorious for missing their target.

Buy Star Wars First Order Storm Trooper Robot

Accessories from a galaxy far, far away

The fun doesn’t end with those Star Wars gadget goodies. There are plenty of accessories you can surround yourself with so you can start feeling like the Force is strong within you.

We know R2-D2 is useful, but did you know it can do all these?

Star Wars R2-D2 AC / USB Power Station

Let this droid provide you power.

Buy R2-D2 power station

Star Wars R2-D2 USB Car Charger

Even when you’re on the go.

Buy R2-D2 car charger

Star Wars R2-D2 Coffee Press

Need to make coffee? No problem!

Buy R2-D2 coffee press

Star Wars R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set

It can even help you in the kitchen.

R2-D2 — such a versatile droid. Now onto other Star Wars goodies!

Buy R2-D2 measuring cup

Star Wars LIGHT UP Chop Sabers

Sushi, sashimi, and maki don’t stand a chance when you wield these weapons.

Buy Lightsaber chopsticks

Star Wars BB-8 Lamps

Available as a desktop lamp or life-size, let BB-8 be your light in the middle of darkness.

Buy BB-8 desk lamp

Buy BB-8 floor lamp

Bonus: Lenovo Yoga 920 Star Wars Special Edition

Feel like spending a lot? Get this one for someone truly special or for yourself. You’re special, after all.

Launched alongside Jedi Challenges is the special Star Wars edition of Lenovo’s Yoga 920. It’s still the same lean mean bending machine, but highlighted by symbols die-hard Star Wars fans will recognize.

Buy Galactic Empire Yoga 910

Buy Rebel Alliance Yoga 910

Whether you’re with the Jedi or fancy the Sith, there are plenty of these gadgets and accessories to choose from. Which one will you cop and what other Star Wars-themed things would you like to see? Sound off in the comments section below!

SEE ALSO: GadgetMatch Awards: Lifestyle Favorites of 2017

[irp posts=”25172″ name=”GadgetMatch Awards: Lifestyle Favorites of 2017″]

Computers

This 34” LG UltraWide monitor disrupted my workflow

In the best way possible

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I’ve been working on a laptop almost exclusively for the better part of the last decade. It’s been so long that I had forgotten the benefits of working with a bigger screen — a benefit that was shoved into my face when I used the LG UltraWide 34” Curved monitor. 

Easy setup 

Putting it together was relatively easy. I didn’t need any special tools or anything of the sort. Everything just fit into place seamlessly.

Here are all the ports on its back. That’s two (2) HDMI ports, one (1) Display port, two (2) USB downstream ports, one (1) USB upstream port, and one (1) headphone out port.

It also comes with a cable organizer that you kind of clamp to the stand so your setup can look clean.

Once everything is plugged, you only need to use this button at the bottom center of the display to make any changes in the settings or switch between inputs should that be necessary.

My regular workflow

At any given day I can be doing anything from writing an article, a script, coordinating with the team and external partners, copy-editing articles, and video editing among others.

This means I toggle between screens A LOT. Other than that, my posture while working is mostly crouched down since I’m looking at the laptop screen.

However, that all changed when the fire nation attacked. No, I mean, it was definitely shaken up when I started using the LG UltraWide 34” Curved Monitor.

I didn’t really have a proper setup with it owing to the tiny space I live in but in the brief week that I used it, I started craving a better work from home setup.

How the LG UltraWide monitor disrupted my workflow

The first thing I noticed was how I was now looking up instead of looking down. It might not be that big a deal for younger people, but when you reach a certain age, even the smallest improvements to your posture can make a huge difference.

The extra space is invaluable. At one glance I can look at Slack and Tweetdeck. This means I can quickly look up if there’s anything new that needs to be edited while also monitoring any potential news that we should run on the website.

Bonus: I can also have a floating tab with a playlist of my favorite girls TWICE cheering me up as I slog through another work day.

This works in other instances too. I can pull up a press release for reference on one side of the screen and have Google Docs on another. This means I no longer have to quickly press Alt+Tab every time I need to double check details.

Just the overall convenience of seeing more at a glance is already a major upgrade to the workflow I’ve grown accustomed to.

Video editing

I no longer video edit as much as I used to due to changing roles and all. But here, the benefit of having a larger, wider monitor is even more pronounced.

Having a wide workspace means I didn’t have to hide certain tools while editing. They’re just there, easily and immediately accessible when I need them. It was honestly tough going back to the smaller screen especially for this task.

Taking less steps to complete your everyday tasks is a godsend. Every small thing adds up to a faster, smoother, and generally better working experience.

Should you upgrade to the LG Ultrawide 34” Monitor?

There are plenty of things to consider. For people like myself who have mostly worked on laptops, we’re pretty set in our ways. Plus there are a few other peripherals I might need to get so it’s not an easy yes or no decision.

You also need to consider your workspace. As I mentioned, I live in a rather tiny place with very little space to accommodate a fully desktop setup.

But this is me. If you’re still working on a more traditional 16×9 monitor, I guarantee the difference, while jarring at first, can be truly beneficial in the long run.

The LG Ultrawide 34” Curved Monitor retails for PhP 45,999 (around US$ 937). If you’re ready to splurge to up your productivity, this isn’t a bad place to start.

LG has other monitors you can check out. The UltraWide line of monitors start at PhP 12,699 for the 25”, PhP 14,799 for the 29”, PhP 29,499 for the 34”, and PhP 45,999 for the curved 34” version.

LG’s UltraGear gaming monitor line on the other hand starts at PhP 12,599 for the 24”, PhP 22,199 for the 27”, and PhP 23,999 for the 32”.

SEE ALSO: LG UltraGear 24” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

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Entertainment

The cost of the post-pandemic movie

Why you should care about Mulan’s terrible premiere

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The fate of the Hollywood blockbuster rests on a fingertip. A formerly grandiose affair with celebrities dressing up to the nines, the red-carpet premiere is now an impossibility thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. On the other side, streaming services blossomed with new titles and exclusives. It was (and is) a great era for the home theater. But the home theater will not last forever. Hollywood is now facing a crisis for the future of the premiere.

If the past year is any indication, Hollywood will, of course, not go down without a fight. Large networks and production houses have released their own streaming platforms to monopolize their content, putting additional weight on a consumer’s budget. Take Disney’s Disney+ or NBC’s Peacock, for instance. Now, a few of these (like Disney and Netflix) make their own blockbuster content as well. We’ve seen Netflix’s streaming-only premieres already. How about Disney’s (or anyone else’s) Hollywood premieres, which often rely on astounding box office numbers?

This week, we got a taste of such a strange premiere scheme. In an earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek detailed the future of a delayed movie, Mulan. Initially premiering in theaters back in March, Mulan was repeatedly delayed because of the continued shutdown of movie theaters. Now, as the company is itching to finally launch it, Chapek announced a hybrid release for the film. Partly premiering in theater in safe countries, the film will also launch simultaneously on Disney+ for unsafe markets.

Now, here’s the catch: the film will cost US$ 29.99 for Disney+ users. Even if you have a subscription already, you have to fork over approximately PhP 1,474 to watch the new film. Of course, the hair trigger response is, “c’mon, Disney; stop haggling money from your customers.” And the response is right. However, there is so much more to this. Mulan can set the stage for an unprecedented era for Hollywood premieres.

Let’s get down to business

In New York, an average movie ticket costs around US$ 15 (approximately PhP 736). Mulan’s price tag is twice as much as a theater ticket. It’s even weightier in cheaper states and, most especially, in the Philippines (where movie tickets are only around US$ 5). Further, you’ll still need an active Disney+ account to access the film, costing an additional US$ 6.99.

(Naturally, it’s impossible to accurately translate the prices to an Asian market since Disney+ has not launched in all of Southeast Asia yet. We can only assume that Mulan’s streaming price is 200 percent of normal ticket prices, whatever it might be.)

Objectively, Mulan’s price is worse than a regular movie ticket. It’s easy to conclude the argument with this statement and head home. However, there is a way to justify the price.

The whole family plus your cow

Now, a single movie ticket typically admits one person. Buying Mulan pays for the streaming privilege which can typically include an entire family. With a 15-dollar average, two people watching the same Mulan purchase is already a break-even point. In the same vein, a family of four obtains double the value of the 30-dollar film price. Even better, a family can watch the film over and over again. And, as any parent who has a Frozen-loving child can tell you, unlimited playbacks is a blessing for your wallet (albeit a curse on your sanity).

Unfortunately, despite the mathematical mind-bending, Mulan’s price is still far from ideal. The movie-going experience is not the same on a streaming platform as in a cinema.

An assumption of equality

A cinema ticket is price of equality. Besides a few slight differences, everyone is paying for the same product. All other things considered equal, a 20-year old college student is paying and enjoying the same experience as a 50-year old CEO. Same film, same seat cushions, same facilities, same projector.

On the other hand, a streaming subscription cannot assume the same thing. A platform cannot control where and with what device a user will watch the movie from. A 20-year old college student watching the film on a laptop screen in a poorly lit dorm room is not enjoying the same experience as a 50-year old CEO watching the same thing in their high-end home theater with Dolby Atmos.

Likewise, the platform cannot assume how many people will watch the film in one purchase. Now, Mulan is a family film. Disney can easily assume that multi-person families will buy and watch the film. However, how will the audiences take the same price tag for a more polarized movie like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet or the next James Bond film?

All of Hollywood knows you’re here

In the same announcement, Chapek hints that Mulan’s price is just a “one-off.” Basically, other films might not follow the same pricing scheme. In a way, it makes sense. Mulan was made with a pre-coronavirus budget. It was expected to make millions from box office tickets. This might be the only way for Mulan to recoup its many losses. In the future, Disney might make films with lesser budgets and lesser expectations.

However, make no mistake; other filmmakers are intently watching Mulan’s performance on streaming. If Mulan succeeds, they can likely charge the same amount without incurring a lot of losses. That said, streaming premiere prices will likely vary from film to film. Even then, this isn’t the last discussion on the future of the film industry.

If the industry hopes to adapt to the new normal, it needs to rethink its strategy even further. Disney is offering only one solution for the problem of streaming. Unfortunately, the brand’s solution leverages a family-oriented release, one that might not appeal to the average moviegoer today.

A price worth fighting for

My suggestion: Implement a tiered premiere price. Not everyone will want to pay the full 30 dollars for a film they’re not wholly interested in. Most will watch it once and forget about it. Some won’t even care about watching it in HD.

Why not implement a pricing scheme based on those different preferences? For example, charge US$ 5 for a standard-definition, one-time playback premiere; US$ 10 for an HD, one-time playback premiere; US$ 20 for a standard-definition, unlimited playback premiere; and US$ 30 for an HD, unlimited playback premiere. In one swoop, a film can appeal to all streaming markets and needs.

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Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Unboxing, Hands-on & Camera Test!

Elegance and sophistication in an ULTRA-big device

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Just recently, we had a quick video introduction of Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note 20 series. Now, we finally have a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra on our hands!

Be sure to subscribe and hit that notification button to stay notified on our upcoming review video on August 18th.

For now, you can enjoy our unboxing, hands-on, and a quick camera test using the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra by clicking here.

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