Laptops

Xiaomi’s ‘MacBook killer’ now has a 4G variant

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Xiaomi, contrary to what you’ve been hearing lately, isn’t just a smartphone company. (Company executives are keen to point out that they’re a software or internet company.)

It’s built all sorts of stuff, from accessories to TVs to rice cookers and bags. Recently, it debuted a cool electric scooter that eagerly folds with the touch of a button.

Today, Xiaomi went the boring route and unveiled a MacBook Pro killer with LTE connectivity similar to a smartphone. Dubbed the Mi Notebook Air 4G, the Windows 10 laptop boasts great specs, and is capable of speeds of up to 150Mbps over a mobile data network. This is Xiaomi’s second foray into the PC industry, following the unveiling of the Mi Notebook Air, which launched in July this year.

To sweeten the deal, Xiaomi said users would receive 4GB of free data per month for 12 months from China Mobile, which has been tapped as its carrier partner. The state-owned operator boasts the most users in the world with about 835 million subscribers as of May 2016.

The Mi Notebook Air 4G retains the same full-metal design of the previous model (again, in silver or gold). Like the original, it also comes in two sizes: there’s a 12.5-inch variant powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM, the same processing package you’d find on many entry-level ultrabooks; the bigger 13.3-incher gets bumped up to a sixth-generation Core i7 CPU, alongside an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics chip and 8GB of RAM for improved gaming performance.

Storage options go as high as 256GB for the 13.3-inch model, while the resolution maxes out at 1080p on all screens. Connectivity options include up to two USB 3.0 ports, a Type-C port, an HDMI port, and a standard headphone jack. Battery life is rated between 9.5 and 11.5 hours, depending on the screen size. Both laptops run Windows 10 (presumably of the Single Language variety).

Besides the free monthly data, there’s really no upside to upgrading to either notebook if you already own the previous Notebook Air. Worse still, the inclusion of the data plan appears to have bloated the price considerably. Earlier this year, the smaller Mi Notebook Air sold for 3,499 yuan, or around $500, at launch. By contrast, the new Mi Notebook Air 4G starts at 4,699 yuan (about $680), whereas the bigger version is priced at 6,999 yuan ($1,000).

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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