Categories
Tech

June 2020 gadget update

Every 6 months I do an update on the state of my gadgets and what I use.

Computers

Google Pixelbook (2017) – replaces 2017 iPad Pro 10.5, 2017 Porsche Design Book One

I needed a light, portable machine for watching movies and doing media consumption to replace my aging iPad Pro, and yeah surprisingly went for a device made in the same year (2017). Why? because ChromeOS does do more than iPadOS still in terms of behaving as a desktop OS – even though iPads now added trackpad support – and the three main reasons why I bought it was 1) cheap ($500) 2) lightweight (2.4lbs) and 3) 3:2 aspect ratio display. There are many great options for 2 in 1s these days – Dell XPS 2 in 1 (heavier, more expensive), HP Spectre X360 (no 3:2 display, more expensive, heavier), Samsung Galaxy Chromebook (more expensive, no 3:2 display, terrible battery life), Samsung Galaxy Book Flex (more expensive, no 3:2 display), Microsoft SurfaceBook 3 (WAY more expensive, heavier), HP Dragonfly Elite (more expensive, no 3:2 display) and none of them actually matched the Pixelbook surprisingly – and if I found a 2in1 convertible which matched the Pixelbook’s 3:2 display and had similar weight but more expensive, that would be fine too, but everything is more expensive + lacking either the 3:2 display or it’s heavier.

Alienware m15 R2 (2020) – replaces 2018 Alienware m15, 2016 Alienware 15 R3

I got this for a pretty decent price off of the Dell outlet store, so I thought yeah why not, my brother needed a decent gaming laptop so I sold him my Alienware m5 R1 and the R2 while not as expandable as the R1 and missing the extra numpad, does look substantially cooler with the white design, I must admit. Plus, yeah the usual specs: RTX 2060, Core i7 hexa core CPU, 1.25TB SSD, 16GB RAM. A decent secondary gaming computer and main portable gaming computer.

CyberpowerPC Syber C Xtreme (2019) – replaces 2015 Asus ROG G751, 2016 ThinkPad P70

The CyberPowerPC Syber C Xtreme is my main desktop gaming computer and the most powerful computer I have. It is essentially a built computer, with an AsRock motherboard, Intel Core i5 9600k CPU, 32gB Corsair RAM, 1TB Intel SSD, 3TB Seagate HDD, Corsair power supply, Zalmann cooler and Nvidia RTX 2070 GPU. This computer connects with my Asus ROG PG27UQ gaming monitor and Logitech G610 mechanical keyboard / Logitech G502 mouse for the ultimate home gaming experience.

Tablets/Phones

Apple iPhone 11 Pro (2019) – replaces 2017 Google Pixel 2, Sony a6000 DSLR, DJI Osmo+

Back to an iPhone again you say? Well the main reason I went back to it is because of the camera system. I wanted something to replace my bulky Sony A6000 camera + lens + DJI Osmo and this is one of the two best camera phones on the market along with the Google Pixel 4. But unlike the Pixel 4, this has an ultra wide lens in addition to the standard wide lens and the telephoto lens so the iPhone 11 Pro is the best camera phone on the market with 3 lenses (I’m aware there’s the Huawei P30 Pro as well but its quite a big bigger). So this has become my main phone to replace my aging Pixel 2 as well as my main camera as well.

Motorola Razr Fold (2020) – replaces 2017 Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, 2018 Astell&Kern A&Norma SR15

The Google Pixel 2 is actually my main secondary phone due to the Project Fi compatibility mostly, but the Motorola Razr has become my main music player device – I know, it’s an extremely expensive music player since it cost me even more than the iPhone 11 Pro – but its a really cool device, being the first vertically folding phone. I know many people will prefer the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip instead as its much more capable and spec wise much better, but Motorola has the better design for me, it’s a retro-futuristic implementation of an iconic device, and has a much bigger front touch screen than the Z Flip, which is important when using as a music player device. Since I mostly use my bluetooth Sony WF-1000XM3s now, not having a headphone jack is fine – and also makes my AK A&norma SR15 not that great of a device to use just for the bluetooth. I was using my Sony Xperia XZ1 compact as my main music player phone (which it was very capable at doing) until I got the Razr Fold.

Music

Sony WF-1000XM3 (2019) – Replaces 2018 Astell&Kern Michelle

Believe it or not I have begun to embrace Bluetooth finally – and these wireless noise cancelling earbuds have replaced my A&K Michelles. Now do they sound as good? Of course not. But they are more convenient than having to unravel a messy amount of tangled wires every time to listen to something. And they are noise cancelling to boot. But it still has issues. Instead of having skipping sound issues with wires, now I have skipping sound issues with BT connection. Meh.. there’s nothing perfect out there I guess.

Sony WH-1000XM3 (2018) – Replaces 2017 Sony MDR-1000X
These are my main closed back wireless/noise cancelling headphones which replaces my Denon MM400 (which were stolen at work) and my Bose Quietcomfort 25s (which broke) and Sony MDR-1000X (my previous NC cans). Compared to the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless and Bose Quietcomfort 35s, The sound quality is comparable to the Sennheisers but the noise cancellation is better. The noise cancellation is on par with the Bose and the sound quality is better, and its a lot more comfortable than the 1st gen MDR-1000X. It’s simply put one of the best wireless NC cans on the market right now.

Bose Soundlink Revolve (2017) – Replaces 2015 Creative Soundblaster Roar 2
This is my portable bluetooth speaker, replacing my Creative Soundblaster Roar 2. It is smaller than the Roar 2, although it lacks alot of the Soundblaster features it makes up for it by looking and being very simple, playing 360 degree audio and being quite loud for its size.

Creative SoundBlasterX Katana (2017) – Replaces 2015 Creative T4W

Now used as my main computer speakers replacing my Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 and Creative T4W speakers. It’s the first soundbar designed specifically for computer use. RGB lighting, bluetooth, 7.1 virtual surround and a bunch of other options, has a lot of inputs etc – what’s not to love? And it gets REALLY loud.

Klipsch the Three (2017)

These stereo speakers are really cool and retro looking especially with the Ebony wood finish. Not only does it support DTS Play-Fi, Bluetooth, phono and AUX inputs but I usually hook it up to my turntable as it has a built in phono preamp! I’ve compared the Klipsches with the Polk Audio, KEF, AudioEngine, Fluance, Focal and other speakers but the Klipsches are definitely the best value for the performance and looks

LG SL10YG + SPK8 (2020) – replaces 2018 Sony HT-ST5000 Soundbar

Focal Elear (2016) – replaces 2015 Audeze EL8

These are simply put, better than the Audeze EL8s in every way, so.. yeah, it’s replacing them.

Google Home Hub (2018) – replaces 2017 Yamaha Clock Radio

The Google Home Hub replaces my Yamaha Clock Radio as a smart alarm clock + digital photo frame.

Cameras

Sony Action Camera AS300 (2016) – replaces 2014 GoPro Hero3+
Replaces my Sony Music Video recorder and GoPro Hero 3 as both my action camera and my wide angle camera that I can use for blogging, travel videos, action videos, etc and has optical image stabilization which no other action camera has! Also waterproof/dustproof as well and quite small, making it great for situations where my Osmo+ would be too heavy.

Main Computer collection
12.3″ 2400×1600 – Google Pixelbook (2017) – 7th gen Core i5, 8GB, 256GB SSD, 2.4lbs – light tablet/convertible
15.6″ 1920×1080 – Alienware m15 R2 (2020) – 9th gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1.25TB SSD,  4.7lbs – main gaming laptop
CyberpowerPC Syber C (2019) – 9th gen Core i5, 32GB RAM, 4TB SSD+HDD, 20lbs – living room gaming pc

Main Phone collection
5.8″ 1125×2436 OLED – iPhone 11 Pro (2019) – A13 Bionic, 4GB RAM, 64GB Flash, iOS 13, triple 12MP F/1.8-2.4 13mm-52mm cameras, Lightning – main phone/camera
5.0″ 1080×1920 OLED – Google Pixel 2 (2017) – Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM, 64GB Flash, Android 10, 8MP F/2.4, USBC – secondary phone
6.2″ 876×2142 OLED – Motorola Razr Fold (2020) – Snapdragon 710, 6GB RAM, 128GB Flash, Android 9, 16MP F/1.7, USBC – music player

Other devices

Backup phones: LG G8X (dual screen / rugged / media), iPhone SE (small compact), Blackberry Key2 (physical keyboard)

Video game systems: PS3, PS4 Pro, PSTV, Nvidia Shield Pro, Cybiko Xtreme, Nokia Ngage, PS Vita, New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, GPD Win 2, Nvidia Shield Portable, PSP Go, Atari VCS, Razer Phone 2

UMPCs: Onemix Yoga 3, GPD Micro, Toshiba Libretto W100, Vulcan Flipstart, Sony Vaio UX280, Sharp Netwalker, OpenPandora, Fujitsu UH900, Sony Vaio P, Fujitsu U820, OQO Model 2, Samsung Q1, King Jim Portabook

Backup Laptops:  iPad Pro 10.5 (tablet), Porsche Design Book One (convertible), MacBook Pro 13 (macOS), ThinkPad TP25 (business laptop), Onkyo DX (dual screen netbook), ThinkPad X240 (Win 7), Thinkpad X61 (Win XP), Dell Latitude D600 (Win 98)

Watches: Seiko Kinetic, Bulova Joseph Bulova, Seiko Cocktail Time Honeycomb, Orient Sun&Moon LE, Junghans Meister Calendar, Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase, Oris GMT, Pebble Time Steel, Fossil Abacus, Casio DBC32 DataBank, Motorola Moto 360 3rd gen, Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Misc Tablets: Sony Tablet P, iPad Air, Lenovo Flex 20

PMPs: Philips PMC, iPod Nano, MS Zune, Creative Zen vision m, Astell&Kern A&Norma SR15, Archos 7, FiiO M5, Cowon V5W

Flip Phones: Samsung Galaxy Folder 2, Samsung Alias 2

Vertical Sliders: Sony Ericsson W995, Nokia N95, Samsung Exclaim, Samsung U900, Blackberry Torch 2

Horizontal Sliders: HTC Dream (Tmobile G1), HTC Touch Pro2, Nokia N900, Sony Xperia Play, Samsung Exclaim, Motorola Sidekick, Samsung Sidekick, Sharp Sidekick

Unique form factor: HTC Universal, Motorola Flipout, Nokia E70, HTC Advantage X7500, Nokia E90, LG EnvTouch, Jelly Phone, Palm phone, Nokia XpressMusic 3250, Nokia E72, Motorola V70, Sony Ericsson P990, Toshiba G910, Nokia N93i, Yotaphone 3, Neptune Pine

PDAs: Palm TX, Sharp Zaurus, Sony UX50, Zipit Z2, Casio BE300, Sharp YO180P, HP iPAQ 210, Psion 5MX, HP Jornada 720, MS Kin 2, Sony Mylo 2

Unique OS: Amazon Fire Phone, ZTE Open C, Samsung Z1, HP Pre 3, Blackberry Porsche 9981, Blackberry Passport, Nokia N810, Nokia Lumia 1020, Nokia E7, HP Elite X3, Palm Treo 700p, Sony Xperia XA2 (Sailfish), LG Nexus 5 (Ubuntu Touch), Essential Phone (Lineage)

Displays: LG C9 OLED TV (main TV), Asus ROG PG258Q (gaming monitor), LG 29WK600 (ultrawide work monitor), MMT FHD Monitor2Go (portable monitor), Royole Moon (HMD), Oculus Rift (VR)

Cameras: Sony HDR-AS300 Action Cam

Headphones: Master and Dynamic ME03 (earphone), Monster Gratitude (earphone), A&K/JH Audio Michelle (IEM), Fender FXA5 (IEM), Sony WF-1000XM3 (wireless earbuds), Sony WH-1000XM3 (wireless/NC/closed), Focal Elear (studio/home/open)

Speakers: LG/Meridian SL10YG + LG SPK8 (home theater soundbar), Yamaha TSXB72 (alarm), Google Home Hub (picture frame/assistant), Creative SoundBlasterX Katana (Alienware), Klipsch the Three (turntable), PreSonus Eris (monitors), Bose Soundlink Revolve (portable), Sony LFS50G smart speaker (Kitchen), Sony Smart Bluetooth Speaker SP60 (alarm), Google Home Mini

Misc Audio Electronics: Creative X3 (PC amp/dac), Behringer Xenyx Q502 (Mixer), Fluance RT85 w/Ortofon Blue cartridge (turntable), Cambridge Audio Solo (phono preamp), Schiit Vali 2 (headphone amp)

Microphones: Shure MV51 (PC), Shure SM58 (dynamic), MXL50 (condenser), Shure MV88 (iPhone)

Storage: 1x Synology DS412+, 2x Synology DS416j, 1x Synology DS418j, 2x Synology DS416slim, 1x Synology DS419slim, 3x Patriot Memory USB sticks, 1x Porsche Design LaCIE external HDD

Keyboards: Corsair K63 wireless (Syber C), Syber Keyboard (extra), Logitech G610 (Alienware), Lenovo Wireless Keyboard (Lenovo Flex), Mini Keyboard (Nvidia Shield)

Mice: Corsair Dark Core (Syber C), Syber Mouse (extra), Logitech G502 (Alienware), Logitech MX Anywhere 2S (travel), Microsoft Surface Mouse (Porsche Design/Macbook), Lenovo Wireless Mouse (Lenovo Flex)

Guitar Amps: Milkman 1W+ (main), Boss Katana Mini (mini), Vox Mini5 (travel/busking)

Guitars: Fender Stratocaster w/Rumpelstiltskin pickups (secondary electric), Martin OMJM (main acoustic), Gretsch G502 (travel acoustic), Duesenberg Alliance Joe Walsh (main electric), Bohemian TNT w/Lollar Gold Foil pickups (travel electric), Yamaha P121 (digital piano)

Pedals: Boss TU3W (tuner), Boss DM2W (delay), BBE Wah (Wah), Dunlop EP101 (Booster/Preamp), Maxon TOD9 (TS type OD), Wampler Euphoria (D type OD), Xotic Compressor (Compressor), Keeley Omni Reverb (Reverb), Wampler Tumnus (K type OD), Boss RC3 (Looper)

Categories
Tech

My search for a gaming laptop has finally ended + UMPC collection

Ever since I moved to Korea, I’ve been missing my PS3/PS4 and all the gaming sessions I used to have with my friends back in SF. Here, everyone is busy and no one has time to just come over and play a few games. So I’ve been left to my PC games. Unfortunately my main laptop (a Thinkpad X240) comes with a woefully inadequate integrated Intel graphics card for gaming. Thus this whole year I’ve been searching for the right gaming laptop. Something that would play dota, I recently started getting into the dota championships and found out you can go to rivalry.gg/matches/dota-2-betting and bet on your favorite dota teams.

And I think I’ve finally found it. I was looking for a 17inch gaming laptop, preferably with Nvidia Gsync, so I did a few hours of research to dig into all these laptops, and found all the issues:

Razer Blade Pro: Thin and great design, but has heating issues, like other thin gaming laptops, plus too expensive.
Aorus X7 Pro: Very powerful for its size including SLI graphics, but again, seems to have heating issues, and too expensive.
Alienware 17: this was one of the strongest contenders because it had a good display, good design, price is reasonable, sound is good, except it was missing Nvidia Gsync… and that may seem like a small picky issue, but it matters when all these laptops are so close in competition. Oh, and the RAM maxes out at 16GB. Hmm.. not that futureproof.
MSI Dominator GT72: Also a very strong contender, good keyboard and speakers and Gsync, but has some minor heating issues and display is not that great.
Lenovo Y70: Cheap, but the GPU is a generation behind, plus no Gsync, so nay.
Acer V Nitro: Cheap, thin, good design, but just not powerful enough, and no Gsync either.
HP Omen: I appreciate HP for making a thin, light gaming laptop, but no 17 inch screen size and lack of expandable RAM is a no no.
Sager NP9773: Sager/Clevo/Gigabyte laptops have incredible specs including a full desktop processor, but the build quality of the chassis is just mediocre.
Boutique makers (OriginPC,Maingear,Puget,FalconNW,AVADirect,Digital Storm,Cyberpower,Ironside,etc) are nice and you can customize literally everything, but the prices are outrageous and they use modified Clevo/Gigabyte chassis, so similar mediocre build quality.

So… notice that I’m leaving one major PC manufacturer from this list. In the end, I decided on:

Asus ROG G751
Asus ROG G751

Yes, the Asus ROG G751. Why? Because all the reviews I read of this laptop seemed to indicate little to no weaknesses at all. Great cooling, no heat issues, great display (w/Gsync), great keyboard, great design. Everything is good, except for mediocre speakers and the bulk (8.6lbs), but thats to be expected of gaming laptops anyway. I do also have a Creative E5 USB DAC/Amp and Sound Blaster Roar 2 speakers, so sound shouldn’t be an issue.

All in all, the Asus seems to be a perfect gaming laptop.
On a side note, my UMPC collection is almost complete.

So far I have:
-Sony Vaio UX280 – Win XP
-Sony Vaio P – Win 10
-Fujitsu U820 – Win 7
-Fujitsu UH900 – Win 10
-Open Pandora – Linux
-OQO Model 2 – Win XP
-Toshiba Libretto W100 – Win 7
-HTC Shift X9500 – Win XP
-Samsung Q1UP – Win XP
-Viliv S5 – Win XP
-Vulcan Flipstart – Win XP

Non-UMPC:
Dell E4200 – Win Vista
Fujitsu P1630 – Win 7
HP Envy 14 Beats – Win 10
Lenovo Flex 20 – Win 8
Razer Edge Pro – Win 8
Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14 – Win 10
Lenovo Thinkpad X240 – Win 7
Asus ROG G751 – Win 10
Mac Mini – OS X Yosemite

Total: 6 Win XP, 1 Vista, 4 Win 7, 2 Win 8, 5 Win 10, 1 OS X, 1 Linux

All of these I reviewed on my youtube, and all of them run some version of Windows XP or Vista or 7. I am closing in on getting a Vulcan Flipstart (after months of scouring eBay). Then I’ll only be missing a few, the Asus R50A (hard to find), and a few other Korean/Japanese ones, Gigabyte M705, Wibrain, Raon Digital Everun, Hanbit Pepperpad, Kojinsha, Sharp D4, etc.
But I can say now I have the vast majority of UMPCs in my collection 🙂

edit: I now have the Vulcan Flipstart in my collection which runs Windows XP and is the only UMPC with less than 1GB that I have which means it will stay on Windows XP :). Review will come up eventually.

Fun fact: All of the UMPCs I listed above all come with 1GB of RAM or more, so they can all potentially run Windows 10 (provided I can find working drivers of course). I’m probably going to upgrade all the Atom UMPCs which run Vista to Win 7, and keep the rest (A110/Via/Core Solo) on Win XP. I might upgrade some of them to Windows 10 if the drivers for Win 7 work for them.

Videos: