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.

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Laptops

Lenovo ThinkBook 13S: Designed for today’s young workforce

Work in style

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Business-grade laptops, with its robust security features, tend to look a little too business-y. While it caters to the needs of the business, it almost completely neglects the needs of today’s workforce. That’s what Lenovo hopes to address with the Lenovo ThinkBook 13S.

Lenovo was kind enough to send us a unit in advance but they didn’t exactly make the unboxing easy.


To emphasize security, the box came with a lock. Knowing its key elements was key to unlocking. We’ll share all of it in a few.

The box came with some ThinkBook goodies like a mouse pad, and a laptop stand.

Here’s a better look at what’s inside: The Lenovo ThinkBook 13S, power adapter, laptop stand, and mouse pad.

Now, onto the main event — the ThinkBook 13S. Looks matter, and this laptop does not disappoint in that department.

The mineral gray tone complements its metallic finish

This laptop looks elegant and tough and it’s thank to these: the Aluminum A/C/D covers reduce the weight while also meeting durability standards. Magnesium also helps ensure that it remains light and portable without sacrificing strength.

The Zinc-alloy inside the hinge with powdered metal technology helps endure up to 25,000 open and close cycles. And then the Indium and Stannum-coated hinge enhances corrosion resistance

THAT HINGE THO

Here’s another look because why not.

The five-segment hinge allows it a 180º flat view.

It also has narrow bezels. A 78 percent screen-to-body ratio to be exact.

As mentioned before, security is a major business concern. The ThinkBook 13S didn’t skip on any steps.

The power button is also a fingerprint reader.

It helps provide a stronger authentication to secure online activity. Other security features include Vantage WiFi which performs local risk analysis of WiFi networks, dTPM 2.0 which encrypts and stores user credentials on a separate chip for added security, and for those concerned about web-cam spying issues, there’s the ThinkShutter that slides in to cover the camera.

An optional addition is the Lenovo Security Console. It’s the company’s own security suite that does everything from blocking compromised devices from accessing your data to preventing malware spread, among other things.

Business-grade support

Another reason to lobby for this laptop is its robust business support that include: Think Service and Support, longer warranty, Onsite next business day support, accidental damage protection, premier support option, and international coverage.

Powering today’s workforce

So, it’s secure and stylish, but what else can it really do? With its 8th Generation Intel chip that can be upgraded up to i7 Processor, along with up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and Discrete AMD Radeon™ 540X with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM or Integrated Intel® UHD 620 graphics on Unified Memory Architecture (UMA), as well as the following storage: M.2, PCIe SSD 128GB/256GB/512GB, M.2 SATA SSD 256GB — pretty much anything you need for your daily work.

Pricing and availability

The ThinkBook 13S will is available in two variants with the primary difference being the graphics card onboard. The model that comes with Discrete AMD Radeon™ 540X with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM starts at PhP 54,990 (roughly US$ 1050)while the other that comes with Integrated Intel® UHD 620 graphics on Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) starts at PhP 58,990 (roughly US$ 1126). It will be available in Lenovo Exclusive Stores located at SM North EDSA, SM Mall of Asia, and SM Megamall, as well as Thinking Tools SM City Cebu.

 

 

 

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less

Striking a balance between performance and affordability

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We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.

Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.


It’s done with a polycarbonate body

Instead, goes for a more premium metallic shell

ROG DNA is present

Makes the overall aesthetics look edgier

Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display

Also with slim side and top bezels

Keyboard is backlit

Although this one has RGB color going on

There are distinct WASD keycaps as well

Still emphasizing its gaming origin

Loudspeakers are located at the bottom

Equipped with DTS Studio Sound

Spacious trackpad

Ergonomically placed, too

All the ports remain on the left

Leaves space when using a mouse on the right

A little subtle on the design, but…

The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.

Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.

There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.

Play wherever you go

Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.

It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.

We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.

The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.

With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.

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Laptops

2015 MacBook Pro banned from some flights worldwide

Free battery replacement program still ongoing

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Back in June, Apple announced a global recall for potentially malfunctioning MacBook Pro units shipped from September 2015 to February 2017. The aging device carried a faulty battery that can overheat and catch fire. Since then, the company has offered free battery replacements for affected units.

Haven’t we all heard this story before? In 2016, Samsung experienced a similar controversy with the exploding Galaxy Note 7. The issue caused a massive wave of calamity for the South Korean company. Airports even banned the smartphone from flights. Thankfully, an airport ban hasn’t happened to Apple yet. Until now, that is.


The US Federal Aviation Administration has recently banned the affected MacBook Pro units from American flights. Thanks to Samsung’s 2016 brouhaha, Apple will follow the same safety guidelines. The faulty MacBook Pro units can’t go on flights in both check-in and carry-on baggage.

In contrast, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency issued a more lenient ruling. Instead of a total ban, passengers can bring a faulty MacBook if it remains switched off during the whole flight. Regardless, some European airlines — like Air Italy — have still banned the model from their flights.

Naturally, fixed units are exempt from the ban. Unfortunately, none of the regulating groups have explained the enforcement procedures. Unlike the blatantly obvious Note 7 design, affected MacBook Pro units declare their identities using their serial number. Enforcers must cross-check the serial numbers from Apple’s own database. Enforcing the ban might turn into a nightmare.

Regardless, Apple invites affected users to turn in their units as soon as possible. You can check your unit’s status on this link. If your unit is faulty, sign up for a free battery replacement as soon as you can.

SEE ALSO: Apple discontinues the 12-inch Macbook and 2017 Macbook Air

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