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.

[irp posts=”8339" name=”Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime review”]

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).

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Laptops

Apple releases public betas of iOS 13, iPadOS, and macOS Catalina

Dark mode, new UI, period tracking, and better security

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Apple iPhone XR | GadgetMatch

Earlier this month during the company’s annual developer conference, Apple introduced a number of updates for its mobile, tablet, and laptop operating systems. While developers and risk takers already have access to these yet-to-be-finalized updates, the general public is yet to try them out.

Today, those who would like to experience the new iOS 13, iPadOS, and macOS Catalina can now download the public beta. Like always, nothing is final; but, these public betas are close to what Apple will formally launch in the coming months.


For users to be able to download these updates ahead of anyone else, they have to sign up for Apple’s Beta Software Program. After installing the first public betas of the said software versions, users will keep receiving follow-up beta builds until the final release, which should come in Q4 2019.

iOS 13 in dark mode | Image credit: Apple

With the release of the public betas, Apple aims to catch more bugs and make sure the software works great before it’s rolled out to a broad audience. Beware of the small errors the public betas might have, but they should be just minimal.

For iOS 13, Apple is making a pretty big leap. The updated version of its mobile operating system features a much-awaited dark mode, Sign In with Apple, swipeable keyboard, and cooler Memoji avatars. It also has an updated Maps app and photo tools in the gallery. Siri is promised to be better as well.

iPadOS | Image credit: Apple

The new iPadOS is probably the best update we saw for the iPads. It’s still based on iOS, but it finally lets Apple’s tablets to fully utilize the home screen with visible widgets and delivers desktop-like experience.

The MacBook’s macOS Catalina will bring new apps that’ll replace iTunes and it’ll let Mac users download and run iPad apps from the Mac App Store. Also, the iPad can now be used as a second screen.

SEE ALSO: Huawei and Apple make the strongest phones, research says

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Laptops

Apple announces global recall for older 15-inch MacBook Pro

Batteries are at fault

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Two months after Apple announced a recall on certain faulty adapters, they now want your older MacBook Pro back.

The company just announced a global recall program, specifically among 15-inch Pro models sold between September 2015 to February 2017. The main cause of the recall is faulty batteries that may pose a threat to users worldwide.


To check if your device is qualified for a battery replacement, just head over here. It will then ask you to put your Mac’s serial number in the entry box.

Not sure where to find the serial number? Just head on to the Apple menu by clicking Apple’s logo found in the upper-left side of your screen, then go straight to ‘About This Mac’. You will then see your Mac’s serial number. Once added, Apple will directly tell you if your device is affected by their recall program.

Not all devices are affected, though; I use a 15-inch Mid-2015 MacBook Pro and it has shown that it’s not eligible under Apple’s recall. However, if your Mac is affected, Apple wants you to stop using it immediately. They have promised the replacement is free of charge, but do take not this does not extend your laptop’s warranty or protection plan, neither covers any other damages found in your laptop as it will be of an excessive fee.

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Computers

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

Sustainability is at the core of everything Dell does

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As consumers our top considerations when buying a new device are specs, performance, value for money, and design. We rarely think about the impact we and the technology we use have on the environment. The only time we probably ever do is when we need to dispose an irreparable phone or a dinosaur laptop. When that moment comes, we also don’t know exactly what to do or where to bring our old devices.

Fortunately there are companies like Dell that think ahead and consider the entire lifecycle of their products — from sourcing materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and recycling — and beyond. This approach is called a circular economy.


In a traditional, linear product cycle, recycling or refurbishing is thought of at the end of the product’s life, if at all. In Dell’s circular economy, the concept of waste is designed out of the system. This means sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. Here are some ways Dell is minimizing their footprint as a company while helping us consumers reduce ours as well:

Trade-in and recycling programs, not just for Dell products

Through Dell Reconnect, you can take that old computer sitting in your attic to a Goodwill store for recycling or refurbishing. The program also provides green jobs, and ensures that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to landfills. The same program allows you to recycle or send back used ink cartridges responsibly as well.

If you’re due for an upgrade, the company can also recycle your old laptop for you, no matter the brand. You may also trade in any eligible piece of electronics, including smartphones and consoles, to earn a gift card that you can use to buy yourself a shiny new Dell laptop.

Packaging made of bamboo, mushrooms, straws

Photo from Dell

To solve mountains of packaging problems we face after unboxing a new device — large fancy boxes, plastic, and foam — Dell has come up with the 3Cs packaging strategy, which stands for cube (size and shape), content (material choice), and curb (recyclability).

For Dell, wasted space inside any packaging is just that — wasted — so the company is continuously finding ways to minimize the amount of material needed to create packaging, as well as reduce box sizes so as to fit more products in storage and during shipping.

More importantly, Dell uses the best possible material to protect the product, and consider that which makes most sense for each region by using what’s locally available. In 2009, Dell was the first to use packaging made from bamboo. Not only is it a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived foams, the bamboo they use also grows near their manufacturing facilities.

In 2011, Dell started developing cushion packaging made of mushroom, which has a smaller footprint compared to the usual protective foam, and is compostable. Recently, the company also started taking ocean-bound plastics like straws back to the economy where they can be reused to make the trays found inside Dell boxes.

The company reuses boxes up to 7 times before they are recycled. So when you buy a new laptop and the box is not in its most perfect form, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain markets, Dell also rewards customers for returning packaging that can be refurbished and reused.

Ink made of smog

Photo from Chakr Innovations

Here’s an unexpected way Dell is putting waste back into the economy and using locally available materials at the same time. Traditionally seen as a pollutant, the company is using ink made from smog in India to print some of its packaging.

A startup called Chakr Innovations developed the device called Chakr Shield which captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators. The captured soot is then turned into carbon black, which is used to make ink. Dell is the first to use the ink on a larger scale and it works just as well as regular ink.

Backpack made of recycled windshields

Photo from Dell

Dell doesn’t just make computers and printers, they also make a whole array of accessories, and some of them are made with sustainability in mind. The Dell Pro Backpack 15 is made with a more environment-friendly solution-dyeing process. It’s also water-resistant, which is made possible by a layer of coating that’s made from reclaimed windshields.

Jewelry made of used computers

Photo from Dell

In its effort to reduce waste dumped in landfills, Dell also reclaims gold from motherboards through its recycling programs, reuses them to make not only new motherboards, but jewelry as well. So that old laptop you’re going to trade in for a new one? Parts of it will end up on someone’s finger or ears at some point, not in a developing country that becomes a dumpsite for other companies and countries.

Photo from Dell

Vivian Tai, Head of Global Environmental Affairs for the APJ region says the company is integrating sustainability efforts not for Dell’s benefit, but to provide better value for customers. She says sourcing and bringing what many consider “waste” back to life is challenging but is important to the company. Just this year, Dell already reached two of its 2020 goals: recover two billion pounds of used electronics and use 100 million pounds of recycled-content, plastic and other sustainable materials, one full year ahead of schedule.

Next time you need to buy a new laptop, take sustainability into consideration, too. Technology plays a big role in making our lives easier, and the good that it can do should not end at that but also extend beyond its usual lifecycle. It’s not just big companies who benefit from minimizing our ecological footprint — it’s also us, consumers, and the generations that come after us.

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