Laptops

Starmobile Engage Aura review

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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.

(From top to bottom, left to right) microSD card slot, mini-HDMI, USB 3.0, power-in port, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio port.

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”]

Laptops

Huawei is working on a bezel-less laptop

Coming on August 19

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Removing bezels on a smartphone is now an almost perfect art. Bezel-less phones are so ubiquitous that it’s almost expected today. Though smartphone displays are getting bigger, laptops are falling behind. Compared to their more portable companions, laptops and notebooks still have relatively larger bezels around the screen. Apparently, this might soon change. According to a new report, Huawei is working on a bezel-less laptop.

Reported by a few Weibo sources, the Chinese company is developing a new laptop with minuscule, practically invisible bezels. In fact, Huawei is calling it a “floating full-screen,” echoing the same branding exuded by the television industry like in Samsung’s The Wall. Additionally, the laptop will supposedly put out images in 3K resolution.

Compared to their struggling smartphone business, Huawei is still chugging along in the laptop industry — in terms of component availability, at least. Huawei’s laptops regularly come out in a more assured schedule. According to the leak, the bezel-less laptop will launch on August 19.

Of course, a laptop’s display is only one aspect of the device. Though the device has already leaked its most touted feature, no one knows what else is in store. Further, no one knows how durable the screen is. With a potentially revolutionary form factor, we have to wonder if that makes it more fragile than other laptops in the market.

SEE ALSO: Huawei MateBook D14, 13 arrive in the Philippines

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Features

ASUS ZenBook 13: A portable all-arounder

Light, versatile, and long-lasting

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The problem with ultra slim laptops has always been their lack of ports and generally shaky battery life. Such a problem does not exist with the ASUS ZenBook 13. 

It’s the latest on ASUS’ ZenBook line and it combines the portability of ultra slim notebooks with the port versatility and long-lasting battery life of typically larger laptops.

What’s in the box? 

Immediately after taking things out of the box, you’ll see how the ZenBook 13 is a complete package. It comes with two cables to compensate for the ones that you don’t find built in on the laptop.

There’s a USB to Ethernet port connector, and a USB-C to 3.5mm jack for your audio needs. Rounding up the packaging are the ZenBook 13 itself, your power brick, and a nice and sleek laptop sleeve.

So about those ports

Measuring at just 13.9mm and 1.07kg — this notebook is REALLY thin and light. Normally, laptops like these have one or two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. Well, this one, certainly has more.

On the right hand side is the USB port and microSD card slot

Over to the left you have TWO USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports AND an HDMI port 

The ZenBook 13 can draw power from either USB-C/Thunderbolt port and you can easily connect it to an external monitor through the HDMI port should you need to.

The microSD card slot and USB ports means you can easily transfer files from external sources.

Elsewhere on the laptop is the webcam — a must now that we have to attend virtual meetings.

Oh and it also has ASUS’ signature Ergo-lift hinge that remains satisfying to both look at and feel as you lift the laptop lead. A really nice touch and adds to that overall Zen feeling.

A workhorse of a notebook

Don’t let its slight build fool you. This notebook is tough and packs some serious punch to power you for work.

Inside is a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor with an 8GB LPDDR4x RAM and 512GB of  SSD storage. That’s the perfect combination for a laptop that can stay with you shuffle through Word documents, Excel sheets, Powerpoint presentations, and even Photoshop.

The keyboard is edge-to-edge giving you that full-size experience. It’s also clickety, giving a satisfying travel experience — crucial if you have to type on it for hours.

Speaking of full-keyboard, the trackpad transforms into a digital numpad at the click of a button. It’s a signature ASUS feature and if you’re the type who has to fill in numbers a lot, this should prove to be hugely beneficial.

Display for immersive viewing

What do people say again about all work and no play? It makes you dull. That’s why after work, the ZenBook 13, which promises up to 22 freaking hours of battery life, can also be your entertainment companion as you wind down.

It has a frameless four-sided NanoEdge display. This means no pesky bezels to get in the way of your binge-watching.

Whether that’s watching Karasuno win a match or catching up with Midoriya and Bakugo’s hero-in-the-making adventures.

A portable all-arounder 

Slim and light, versatile, long-lasting, and performs just as good as other larger laptops. All these make the ASUS ZenBook 13 an all-arounder that will meet all your work and winding down needs.

As we continue to deal with the stresses of the new normal, the ZenBook 13 is a handy companion that you can bring with you, wherever you are around the house.

As we hope for things to open up soon, this notebook is also ready to go out with you to give you all the productivity and play support you can ever ask for.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and ASUS Philippines.

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Deals

ASUS laptops are discounted on Shopee 8.8 sale

ProArt StudioBooks and ExpertBooks join the sale

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Perhaps you might be looking to upgrade your laptop as you continue working or learning from home. ASUS is participating in Shopee 8.8 sale. During the sale, you can score commercial laptops with up to PhP 2,000 off their retail price.

ASUS laptops participating in the sale include their ExpertBook lineup. Business-grade desktops will also go on sale. As for the sale, ASUS will offer a pre-hype sale which is happening from July 23 to August 7. The main sale event will happen on August 8 from 12 am until midnight.

Here is the complete lineup of laptops on sale:

Laptops

Model Sale Price Retail Price
ProArt StudioBook 17 H700GV (Intel Core i7-9750H) PhP 137,995 PhP 139,995
ExpertBook B9450FA (Intel Core i5-10210) PhP 117,995 PhP 119,995
ExpertBook B9450FA (Intel Core i7-10510) PhP 147,995 PhP 149,995
Expertbook P1440 (14-inch, Intel Core i3-8130U, 4GB / 1TB HDD ) PhP 38,995 PhP 39,995
Expertbook P3540 (15.6-inch, Intel Core i3-8145U, 4GB / 1TB HDD) PhP 41,995 PhP 42,995
Expertbook P5440FF (Intel Core i5-8265U, 8GB / 512GB HDD ) PhP 71,995 PhP 72,995

Desktops

Model Sale Price Retail Price Freebies
SFF D540SA (Intel Core i3-8100, 4GB / 1TB HDD) PhP 35,995 PhP 36,995 Mouse and keyboard
D340MC(Intel Core i5-8400, 4GB / 1TB HDD) PhP 40,995 PhP 41,995 Mouse and keyboard
D340MC (Intel Core i7-8700, 4GB / 1TB HDD) PhP 52,995 PhP 53,995 Mouse and keyboard
D540SA (Intel Core i7-8700, 4GB / 1TB HDD) PhP 52,995 PhP 53,995 Mouse and keyboard

Availing these laptops is as easy as heading over to ASUS Philippines’ official Shopee store. For more information about ASUS’ latest promos, visit their official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page.

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