Laptops

Xiaomi has made a low-priced MacBook Air, sort of

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Well, that took us by surprise. Xiaomi, after announcing a Redmi phone with dual cameras, did its own version of Apple’s “one more thing” — it launched a 13.3-inch laptop that looks like a MacBook Air. No, seriously.

Named the Mi Notebook Air, it adopts the clean lines, aluminum body, and backlit, full-sized keyboard of its Apple counterpart. However, it is 13 percent thinner at 14.8mm and 11 percent smaller. And while the MacBook Air costs as high as $1,199, Xiaomi’s first laptop retails at only 4,999 yuan or about $750.

The Mi Notebook Air already comes with an Nvidia GeForce 940MX dedicated graphics card for faster graphics processing and ultimately, overall computer performance, something which the MacBook Air and most other ultraportables can’t claim.

Underneath the hood is an Intel Core i5 processor with an 8GB DDR4 RAM, a 256 PCIe SSD, and an expandable SSD slot for when you want more storage.

Specs of the Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air's 13.3-inch version

Key specs of the Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air’s 13.3-inch version

It runs Windows 10 and ships with Mi Cloud Sync pre-installed, so you can easily sync your phone contacts, photos, and other files. When paired with the company’s Mi Band 2 wearable device, it will automatically unlock when you are near. Cool, yes?

This is classic Xiaomi — throw in high specs and many features into the plate and make the price palatably low. In this case, the SRP can go as low as 3,599 yuan or around $540 if you don’t mind getting the 12.5-inch version with an Intel Core M3 processor with integrated graphics, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SATA SSD.

The upside to that is the smaller model’s 11.5 hours of battery life. The higher-end version can only run 9.5 hours in between charges.

Specs of the Mi Notebook Air's 12.5-inch variant

Key specs of the Mi Notebook Air’s 12.5-inch variant

It remains to be seen whether Xiaomi’s foray into the notebook market pays off, especially since the outlook for the global PC market — including the one in China, where the Mi Notebook Air will be available starting August 2 — is not exactly rosy.

Features

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15: Is the ScreenPad worth it?

Two screens for double the fun

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At first glance, the new ZenBook Pro 15 (UX580GE) may look like an ordinary laptop. There’s nothing out of the ordinary on its solid chassis, and both the keyboard layout and screen are as plain as can be.

On the inside, my unit has some of the best specs around: an Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD storage, and a mouthwatering 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen — but those still aren’t this notebook’s coolest feature.

It’s only when you turn on the device and press a button on the keyboard’s top row when the magic happens.

You can go from this…

… to this!

Yup, the touchpad is a touchscreen called ScreenPad

Besides being able to choose whatever wallpaper you want for it…

You may also play music on it

Check your calendar for upcoming events

Turn it into a handy virtual numpad

Use it as a full-fledged calculator at any time

And add any other function you might need 

It even comes with its very own settings menu

Not impressed yet? Let’s try Extension Display mode

Now you can treat it as a secondary screen!

Perfect for watching videos while “working” 😉

Or simply trying to be more productive

Here I am viewing photos while editing on Photoshop

And choosing the next clip to edit on Premiere Pro

It can even handle Photoshop and Premiere Pro at the same time!

Here’s my favorite trick: watching a YouTube walkthrough while playing games

There are a lot more things you can do with the ScreenPad, but these were the most useful ones in my own workflow. ASUS is opening up the magical touchpad to other apps, so the possibilities here are endless and it’ll only get better through time.

So, is the ScreenPad actually worth it? To be honest, I usually left it on wallpaper mode with my favorite pictures to add style to my workspace; I even turned it off completely while the laptop was unplugged to save on battery power.

It’s one of those things you never knew you needed until you got it. The ScreenPad is an evolution for laptops which have been becoming stale in the past couple of years, but not something you can’t live without.

Do I want a ScreenPad on all future laptops? Yes, definitely! Who wouldn’t want two screens at once?

If you want to learn more about the ZenBook Pro 15 and watch it in action, check out our hands-on video:

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is the slimmest gaming laptop available today

But doesn’t compromise performance

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Alongside the 17-inch ROG Scar II, ASUS has announced a new ROG device that they claim to be world’s slimmest gaming laptop. The ROG Zephyrus from last year was already thin by gaming laptop standards, but the new ROG Zephyrus S is 12 percent thinner with updated specs.

The ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) still has the look and feel of the original Zephyrus but it’s now only 14.95 to 15.75mm thick. Those numbers might not sound as sexy as other super-slim notebooks, but the Zephyrus S has desktop-grade gaming performance with either an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q or GTX 1060 GPU inside its chassis.

Powering the Zephyrus S is a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory and storage option of up to a 512GB NVMe SSD.

The laptop’s display is a 15.6-inch 1080p panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and 100 percent sRGB coverage. It’s definitely not the sharpest laptop display, but it’s one of the fastest for smooth gameplay. The display has a thin-bezel design as well, so the footprint of the laptop is just a bit bigger than your typical 14-inch notebook.

ASUS uses their Active Aerodynamic System (same as with other Zephyrus laptops) which opens a vent at the bottom of the laptop when the lid is lifted, and the vent stretches across the entire back of the body. This improves airflow by 22 percent over a conventional design as per ASUS.

Another distinct trait of the Zephyrus S is the keyboard. It’s still on the front of the device, which helps with cooling, but it might not be everybody’s cup of tea. The keys have 1.2mm of travel, N-key rollover, and RGB lighting via Aura Sync over four zones.

As for I/O, it has two USB-C ports (Gen1 and Gen2), two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI 2.0 at the back, and a headphone jack.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) will become available starting September in the US and in October for the UK and Asia. Pricing starts at US$ 2,099 for the GTX 1060 model, while the higher-end GTX 1070 is priced at US$ 2,199.

SEE ALSO: ASUS’ new ROG Strix Scar II is world’s most compact 17-inch gaming laptop

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Gaming

ASUS’ new ROG Strix Scar II is world’s most compact 17-inch gaming laptop

Thanks to its super-slim bezels!

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After going hands on with the ROG Strix Scar II and reviewing the Hero II in full, we wondered what else could be done to improve this second-generation lineup. Well, it looks like ASUS just gave us the answer.

Discreetly launched today, the new 17.3-inch ROG Strix Scar II (model name GL704) is the most compact gaming laptop of its kind, according to ASUS. It’s basically a supersized variant of the already-available 15.6-inch version but with an even badder screen.

It may be worth the wait, because the color-accurate 17.3-inch 1080p display is able to fit into a chassis designed for 15.7-inch panels, effectively providing it a width of less than 400mm thanks to the slim bezels.

The wide keyboard and Aura Sync RGB lighting make a return, along with the fast 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time of the display.

In terms of specs, it can go up to an Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of memory and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. A 256GB SSD plus 1TB SSHD combo maintains the speed and fluidity of the system.

It’ll be available by the end of September in official ROG stores. Pricing begins at US$ 1,699.

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