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

The Galaxy Book3 features the best hardware for a notebook

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Everyone has their eyes on the Galaxy S23 series. Given what Samsung launched, it’s no surprise. However, the brand also has another trick up its sleeve. During the same Galaxy Unpacked, Samsung introduced the new Galaxy Book3.

Raw power

Much like the Galaxy S23 series, the Galaxy Book3 showcases the best of today’s hardware. Inside, the notebook boasts up to the latest 13th-generation Intel Core i9 processor and up to a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 GPU. It can also carry up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 1TB SSD (with a slot for an expansion drive).

For its display, the Galaxy Book3 comes with up to a 16-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display — the same technology used in the brand’s smartphone lineup. It can put out images in 3K resolution and with 120Hz refresh rate. Plus, with VESA ClearMR and DisplayHDR TRUE BLACK 500 certification, the notebook can reproduce images to detailed accuracy.

Pure flexibility

Besides the notebook’s amazing hardware, the Galaxy Book3 uses software to make working seamless between devices. With Microsoft Phone Link, it’s easy to take your work wherever you go. Additionally, Samsung Multi Control allows users to conjunctively use all of their Samsung devices into one seamless ecosystem.

For example, Second Screen converts a Galaxy Tab into a second screen for the Galaxy Book3. Expert RAW automatically transfers high-res images from your smartphone to your notebook.

Price and availability

The Galaxy Book3 series comes in three flavors: Galaxy Book3 Ultra, Galaxy Book3 Pro, and Galaxy Book3 Pro 360.

The top-of-the-line Galaxy Book3 Ultra features all the premium specs. It comes in Graphite.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy Book3 Pro, featuring a thinner frame, will come in Graphite and Beige.

Finally, the Galaxy Book3 Pro 360, with a convertible form factor and S Pen compatibility, will come in Graphite and Beige.

All models will start being available on February 17.

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Deals

ASUS 2.2 OLED Festival sale: Win a Vivobook 13 Slate

Enjoy 10% off on Vivobooks, Zenbooks

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ASUS is celebrating 2.2 early, offering customers the chance to win a Vivobook 13 Slate OLED through the OLED Festival Sale on Lazada and Shopee.

From January 28 to February 5, selected Vivobook and Zenbook devices get up to 10% off. During the promotional period, a purchase of any ASUS OLED laptop entitles customers to a raffle entry.

One (1) lucky winner will be announced on February 10 through ASUS Philippines’ official Facebook page.

Award-winning laptops get more affordable

Participating laptops in ASUS’ OLED Festival Sale include the following:

  • Zenbook 14 Flip
  • Zenbook 13
  • Zenbook 14
  • Vivobook S14X
  • Vivobook S 14 Flip
  • Vivobook 13 Slate 
  • Vivobook Pro 15 
  • Vivobook 15X

The powerful 12th Gen Intel Core and Intel Iris Xe-boosted Zenbook 14 Flip gets a reduced price of just PhP 83,695 from PhP 87,995.

This foldable features ASUS’ 360-degree ErgoLift Hinge technology, a 2.8K OLED HDR 90Hz NanoEdge touch screen display, 16GB of DDR5 memory, and 512GB of PCIe Gen 4 SSD storage.

Meanwhile, both the Vivobook S 14X and Vivobook S 14 Flip retail for PhP 71,295 and PhP 71,245, respectively.

Both laptops are powered by up to 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processors and have 2.8K OLED displays, long battery life, fast-charging technology, and impressive performance.

They come with Microsoft Office for Home & Student pre-installed, as well as a 1-month free Adobe Creative Cloud upon purchase.

Be sure on the lookout for these deals from ASUS, as well as free shipping vouchers of up to PhP 100.

SEE ALSO: ASUS Vivobook Slate 13 OLED: Stay on top of your game

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Entertainment

LG just launched a limited edition NewJeans laptop

It’s pretty… expensive

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NewJeans is continuously making waves both in and out of South Korea. From their ultra-catchy songs, dance moves that are trending in TikTok and Instagram Reels, to reaching top charts in UK and US’ Billboard, there’s no surprise that homegrown tech brand LG Electronics partnered with these power rookies.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

LG just released the gram Style NewJeans Limited Edition! While this is an unfortunate news for Hanni (who is actually an iPhone), it’s actually a big step towards knowing NewJeans past the K-Pop hype (and by that you should stream Hype Boy).

Mini and Big Bunnies

This special edition LG Gram Style is available in two styles: Mini Bunny and Big Bunny.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

There’s actually no stark difference between the two except for — you guessed it — the size of bunny decals on its lid. Either of the two, you will never get wrong choosing the bunny for your personal taste.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

Other than that, the highlight of this laptop comes from its weight. From the brand itself, it’s just 999 grams — actually 23 grams lighter than the 2022 model. It also has the US military-graded MIL-STD 810H standard that passed seven (7) durability tests.

Powerful punch

The LG gram Style NewJeans isn’t slouching in performance. Just like a hopping bunny, it’s quite a powerful device for its size and heft.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

Hardware specifications of these two Bunnies aren’t too far off — at least after making a side-by-side comparison of their spec sheets. Both styles come with an Intel Core i5-1340P under EVO Platform for lightweight ultrabooks plus Intel Iris Xe graphics. It’s then paired with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of NVMe 4.0 SSD with an extra PCIe 4.0 slot for expandability.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

Just like NewJeans‘ visuals, you can’t also go wrong with the visuals of this device. It has a 14″ low-reflective OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, WQXGA+ resolution (2880 x 1800), a 16:10 aspect ratio for wider screen real estate, and an improved 400nits brightness over last year’s 350.

Moreover, it supports 100% DCI-P3 wide color gamut for color-accurate goodness as well as VESA Certified DisplayHDR TrueBlack 500 for deeper blacks and better contrast ratio. Its 2-watt stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support make it a full-on entertainment device.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

One more highlight is its “Hidden Touchpad”. Instead of the usual rectangular trackpads, it’s highlighted by two halo lighting on its two sides dubbed as “Aurora White” paired with haptic feedback for that nice feeling when clicking.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

For ports, it has two (2) USB-C plus one (1) USB-A ports, microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones, earphones, amplifiers, and other audio peripherals.

Goodies for Bunnies

If you have actually reached this part, you’d know that you are not here for its powerful hardware, rather for the NewJeans styled-laptop. Aside from having that special laptop, there are more goodies that come with this device.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

Being one of the few Bunnies out there since NewJeans’ Attention, I was actually more excited when I saw the list. There’s a notebook pouch, cable strap, posters, sticker and stationery set.

Graphics by Vincenz Lee | GadgetMatch

There’s even a free NewJeans-style mouse with this cute vinyl-like mousepad. These are truly treats for Bunnies! The laptops even come with preloaded wallpapers and four icons in it.

Pricing and Availability

While the LG gram Style is light, the pricing isn’t. It’s a pretty laptop with a pretty expensive price. It retails for around KR₩ 2,700,000 — which is about US$ 2190 / SG$ 2675 / ₱119,513.

There’s no word on global availability but LG will hold a live event in Korea with NewJeans on February 1, 2023 (Wednesday) around 8PM KST (Korean Standard Time).

If you will participate during the live, a comment could help a participant win a specially-signed autograph from NewJeans or three winners of the Limited Edition Goods.

If you plan on buying the NewJeans’ limited edition laptop, there are more benefits other than having the Limited Edition Goods set such as 12 winners of NewJeans autographs.

But if you’re just opting to buy the regular LG gram Style without the NewJeans skin, it will still give you other perks such as a free LG gram mouse, Wiggle Wiggle goods package consisting of a notebook pouch, mousepad, and a cable strap, as well as a free 512GB microSD card.

More advanced purchase benefits are Intel software package, 2023 gram gift pack, and 5,000g Jammy points coupon.

Other common benefits include MelOn one-month free subscription, 10,000 membership points after writing a photo review after purchase, and 20 winners of two Helinox chairs and table set.

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