I get asked a lot about laptop recommendations, and while it’s easy to give an answer for notebooks above $400, anything below is tricky. So when Starmobile asked me to review its $150 Engage Aura, I happily obliged in order to deepen my knowledge of the budget-friendly segment.
Yes, it’s that cheap. And this isn’t even some entry-level Chromebook or tiny 10-inch tablet convertible; it’s a legit Windows 10 laptop resembling an Apple product. There are obviously going to be some tradeoffs for the low, low price, which I’ll get into beginning… now!
What should I know?
The Starmobile Engage Aura is a 14-inch Windows 10 laptop without a touchscreen display or flexible hinge for multiple modes. It’s as plain as a notebook can get, but that’s exactly what you should expect from a device this affordable.
Inside you’ll find a low-powered Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor (something you’d normally find in much smaller tablets), a measly 2GB of RAM (most smartphones these days have more), and a decent 1366 x 768-pixel resolution for its screen.
Is this good enough for _____?
Surfing the web: Yes. Watching stuff on Netflix: Yes. Editing photos and videos: Not really. Gaming: Don’t bet on it.
I mean it when I stress this is an underpowered gadget. The most I was able to do on the Engage Aura was write on Google Docs while Photoshop was running in the background with a few images open. Adding anything on top of that will cause the system to overload its memory and stutter until you close something.
Still, if you manage your multitasking properly — as well as your expectations — its performance is satisfactory for getting work done. But don’t even bother playing games on it, unless you turn off absolutely everything in the background. You won’t enjoy the visuals that much anyway because of the muted colors and low resolution of the display.
Can I at least store all my files in here?
Haha, no. The Engage Aura’s biggest weakness is its internal storage; you get 32GB of space, half of which is already taken up by the operating system, leaving you with around 15GB when starting fresh.
That’s inadequate for anything beyond a set of personal photos and a few HD videos. Heck, your smartphone likely has more available storage. The Engage Aura is meant for people who rely on cloud-based storage or those with an external hard disk on hand at all times.
What I found more convenient, however, was to just stick a microSD card in its built-in slot; that gave me an additional 64GB from my memory card, which is already twice as much as what the laptop comes with.
How’s the build quality?
Again, as you’d expect from a laptop this low-priced, it’s flimsy and can’t take too many hits. I had to make sure I kept it in a well-padded bag whenever I traveled. And even then, I discovered a few scratches mysteriously appear on the plastic cover.
I also found the keyboard and trackpad leaning towards the hard-to-use end, but I could say that about most Windows notebooks. It’s a matter of getting used to it, but what I could never get behind is the poorly located power button, which sits right next to the Delete button, blending in with the rest of the keyboard. Good luck consciously avoiding it all the time.
What’s the battery life like?
The great thing about having a processor meant for tablets in a laptop this big is its efficiency. Coupled with a large battery and low-resolution display, you’re looking at more than six hours of usage without having to plug into an electrical outlet.
That’s under mixed usage, by the way. I liked how the Engage Aura let me play several episodes of a television show even when the battery gauge was already below 30 percent. The laptop clearly works best when it isn’t overburdened by simultaneous requests.
Is there anything I else should worry about?
One irritating problem I had during my time with the Engage Aura was connecting to certain routers and hotspots. It’s picky at times, and can’t reach faraway signals. It seems like Starmobile equipped it with a weak Wi-Fi card to further drop the price.
The built-in speakers also left me disappointed while binge-watching. External speakers and/or subtitles are a must if you want to enjoy a movie or series. Bass is practically non-existent, and a lot of sound gets lost since the speakers shoot downwards.
Lastly, Starmobile made the pricing a little confusing. The company claims it’s being sold on Lazada for PhP 7,990, but it’s actually listed at PhP 7,388. And even though the original price is PhP 10,990, the supposedly limited price of PhP 9,990 — which is meant for the gold edition we have here — has been on the site for a while now. They’re all affordable, nonetheless.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
With so few options available at this price range, I can’t help but wholly recommend the Starmobile Engage Aura despite all its shortcomings.
I’d often think to myself, I wish I had more storage or I wish this thing could handle a few more browser tabs, but then I’d always go back to the price. Do I have any right to complain when it costs less than half the price of laptops that are already considered cheap?
Even if you forget about the price for a second, the Engage Aura simply works. It never glitched out on me, every movie and app I opened played the way it should, and I never felt embarrassed using it in a cafe — in fact, its subtle look is quite sleek.
Buy this if you’re on a tight budget but must type for a living (like me); buy this for your mom or dad who just needs something usable; or buy it as a backup for whatever you’re using right now. You won’t regret purchasing something this affordable in the first place
[irp posts=”7853" name=”Starmobile Play Five is a really affordable Marshmallow phone”]
Lenovo offers the most affordable GTX 1050-equipped laptop
Good for gaming and editing
If you’re looking for a new laptop that can handle demanding tasks, you might want to take advantage of Lenovo‘s offer for the IdeaPad 330. For just under forty thousand pesos, you could have your own 15-inch laptop with discrete graphics and fast processor.
Lenovo is marketing the decently specced IdeaPad 330 for casual gamers or individuals looking for a powerful laptop that can do video and photo editing with ease. The laptop mainly features an Intel Core i5-8300H processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics. Basically, Lenovo’s notebook has more than enough power than a conventional notebook in its price range.
Completing the specs sheet are the 15.6-inch Full HD display, 4GB DDR4 memory, and 1TB of storage. The laptop is also equipped with a plethora of ports including HDMI, full-size USB, and SD card reader.
You may get the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 for PhP 39,995 exclusively at the Legion Concept Store in SM North EDSA. Keep in mind that this is a limited offer until March 31, 2019. The laptop retails for PhP 47,495 in other stores, so you’re getting a pretty good discount during the promo period.
To make the deal even better, Lenovo is throwing in PhP 9,000 worth of freebies. This includes a JBL Clip 2, a Lenovo backpack, and Lenovo Accidental Daming Protection (ADP) on top of the 2-year warranty.
We already got our hands on one late last year. You may read our thoughts on the IdeaPad 330 here.
ASUS ZenBook 15 review: Everything you need in a laptop?
With great power, comes all the caveats in between
Very few laptops have everything a person would ever need out of it. Whether it’s just for typing Word documents or playing all the latest games, only a handful of laptops fit the bill. ASUS has one laptop to offer, which was announced back in IFA 2018.
The ASUS ZenBook 15 has almost every piece of hardware for everyone. But is a device powered by a powerful Intel processor and a gaming-ready graphics card really worth it? Let’s find out.
Same premium design through the years
ASUS dubs their ZenBook lineup as its top-of-the-line Ultrabook. Through the years, ZenBooks have retained their premium design and feel. So when I got the chance to try the new ZenBook 15 (UX533) out, I expected nothing less — and I was impressed. The build quality of the device is great, with a sturdy metal-plastic chassis that shows little to no flex. It even feels light to bring around, at only 1.59kg.
My unit has the Icicle Silver finish that shows off the elegance of the laptop. There is an option to get it in the bolder Royal Blue color, but it will definitely feel like you own a premium device the moment you set your eyes on it.
The only real change the company implemented was the addition of the ErgoLift. Essentially, it frees up space for the laptop to release hot air instead of blasting them on the table or your lap. It’s also supposed to make the bottom-facing speakers sound better, although this really wasn’t the case when I used it.
It almost has everything for everyone
The ZenBook 15 is one powerful machine, from the inside out. My unit comes with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor and 16GB of RAM. This configuration alone guarantees superb performance, and the ZenBook 15 did not disappoint. Typing Word documents, surfing the web, even photo and video editing felt like a breeze with this machine. You can play games here too, but let’s save that discussion for later.
On the outside, you have a 15-inch Full HD anti-glare NanoEdge display — perfect for outdoor use at full brightness. It comes in a resolution of 1920 by 1080, a full 16:9 display with tiny bezels on the side.
It’s also equipped with a full-size backlit keyboard, with the number pad separated from the trackpad — unlike its 13-inch and 14-inch variants.
The ZenBook 15 does come with three USB Type-A ports and one USB Type-C port that supports external displays; however, it would have been better to make it as Thunderbolt port to fully maximize the potential. The laptop also comes with a dual-band Wi-Fi card, although an additional Ethernet port would have been nice, as well.
It’s got game, but it really destroys your battery life
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the ZenBook 15 is the fact that it comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Max-Q. With this graphics chip, gaming on this laptop actually feels pretty damn good. It managed to get competitive frame rates for fast-paced games like Fortnite, PUBG, and Rocket League, all with high settings. But, don’t expect the same from AAA titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Also, there is a significant increase in the laptop’s overall temperature with longer than 30 minutes of play time. The left side of the laptop felt so hot, it’s almost like you could fry an egg on it. Of course, playing for long hours on this device drains the 73Wh battery significantly faster. I got about nine to ten hours on regular use, and only two to three hours on full game mode.
The camera is honestly only good for Windows Hello
The ZenBook 15 comes with an 3D infrared HD camera that supports Windows Hello. The infrared sensors were great at facial recognition, and Windows Hello felt really easy to set up and use. But, the camera was lackluster when taking photos and videos. It only seems passable to use for video calls, but the overall image quality just doesn’t equate to HD.
The bottom-facing speakers could be better
The two Harman/Kardon speakers on the ZenBook 15 are placed on the bottom side, facing the table or your lap. Sound quality is impressive until you turn it to maximum. Apart from that, I was expecting that they would sound better because of what ErgoLift supposedly does for them.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
For PhP 89,995 (US$ 1,720), the ASUS ZenBook 15 jams almost everything you need in a premium device. And for that price you get the highest, most powerful configuration possible. Anyone can do pretty much anything with the hardware that comes with it. Apart from that, its elegant design and lightweight body make it a perfect on-the-go device.
If you’re low on cash, you can also get the 14-inch ZenBook 14 for PhP 77,995. It only has 8GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card that offers similar, but less powerful overall performance. But, you do get the illuminated number pad on the touchpad.
Of course, that is if you don’t mind the otherwise average camera and fryer-like temperatures with heavy gaming. However, if you’re looking for a laptop that can handle anything, the ZenBook 15 is for you!
Razer announced a whole line of peripherals in Quartz
Pretty in pink but still pretty bada$$
Razer’s always been known for their flashy things and pretty chroma, but nothing prepared me for their most recent announcement: A whole line of peripherals in the new shade they call Razer Quartz.
And yes, that means the gaming company just released a whole lot of very pretty pink stuff. Let’s see that again:
— Team RΛZΞR (@TeamRazer) January 29, 2019
The highlight of the new line is the Razer Blade Stealth 13, released just last December. It has the same great specs –NVIDIA graphics with an Intel Core i7 processor — only now in the new rosy hue.
For a better view of the new pink peripherals, watch this unboxing from iJustine:
Also included in the new release: The Razer Basilisk and Lancehead gaming mice, Huntsman mechanical keyboard, BlackWidow tournament gaming keyboard, Kraken and Kraken Pro V2 gaming earphones, plus lots more accessories. There’s even a Quartz Razer Phone 2 case!
The new Quartz line is available in the US, China, and Canada starting today.
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