Oppo A91 review – Aiming for Awesome

OPPO’s latest sub-RM1,000 workhorse is an interesting blend of proven tech and a few new features that usually don’t make it to their entry level A series line-up. In Malaysia, the OPPO A91 retails for RM999 and comes in two colours – Lightning Black and a recently issued Unicorn White.

The biggest draw here for the A91 is that it attempts to throw in a quad camera, an AMOLED screen and a large battery with their vaunted VOOC 3.0 Flash Charge tech along with some other goodies at this price point to make it a competitive proposition.

OPPO A91 review

OPPO A91 Specifications and Design

Out of the box, the OPPO A91 has a fair selection of kit. You have the phone itself, a soft TPU casing to protect it, a pair of hard ear buds with a traditional 3.5mm jack, a USB Type C cable and a VOOC Flash Charge 3.0 compatible charger which is a bit of a rarity at this price range. On paper, OPPO’s VOOC Flash Charge is rated to fast charge the phone’s battery much faster than traditional chargers to the tune of 50%  in just 30 minutes.

 Another bonus is that they’ve added a free screen protector that’s already been slapped onto the display. You effectively have everything you need to protect your new investment and deploy it straight out of the box without having to spend additional cash or time hunting for other accessories which is a pleasant bonus indeed.

In terms of hardware, the OPPO A91 has the following specifications:

OPPO A91 Specifications|
Display 6.4-inch AMOLED, 1080 x 2400 pixels, 408ppi

Processor MediaTek Helio P70 MT6771V
Memory 8GB RAM/128GB + microSD card
Camera 48-MP F/1.8 + 8-MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle + 2-MP mono + 2-MP depth [rear] / 16-MP F/2.0 [front]
Battery 4,025mAh w/ VOOC Flash Charge 3.0
Size/Weight 160 x 73.3 x 79mm/ 172g

The biggest draw here is the addition of a shiny and vibrant AMOLED display which has been a rarity in OPPO’s A-series line-up prior to the A91. In keeping with newer phones, the A91 tries to offer as much screen real estate as possible with a tiny tear drop notch up top for the 16-MP selfie camera and an in-display fingerprint reader at the lower quadrant of the display.

OPPO A91 camera front

Oddly enough, the A91 uses the somewhat dated MediaTek Helio P70 processor that saw service in the OPPO F11 last year. It was considered serviceable if pitted against last year’s models though it’s a bit long in the tooth compared to current generation hardware. Fortunately, they’ve tempered that with the addition of 8GB RAM and 128GB of expandable storage which is almost double what the F11 had. 

The rear sports a quad camera setup with a primary 48-MP F/1.8 camera that uses pixel binning to offer up 12-MP snaps, a secondary 8-MP wide angle camera as well as a 2-MP mono sensor and a 2-MP depth sensor. Only the primary and wide angle camera are actively used by the phone and there’s no optical image stabilisation on offer, which is typical of phones in this price range though it does have PDAF on the primary camera. Keeping it powered is a 4,025mAh battery that has 20W fast charging via the bundled OPPO VOOC charger.

OPPO A91 rear cam

The overall chassis is still made from polycarbonate laminated with high gloss mirrored finish that mimics the look of glass though the weight and tactility are obvious when held in your hands. Our test unit’s Lightning Black finish had an iridescent reflection in the light; like prior examples it is also a fingerprint magnet. 

Button placement and design is fairly standard with a volume rocker on the left, a power button on the right and a USB Type C charging dock at the base of the phone along with a 3.5mm audio jack.

The hardware it offers puts it squarely as a mid range phone albeit one with a dearer price tag than usual, presumably on account of the addition of an AMOLED panel. Build quality is good and the provision of a pair of headphones, casing, screen protector and a VOOC fast charger go some way to salving its lofty price tag for an entry level phone.

OPPO A91 Performance and benchmarks

The phone runs Android 10.1 overlaid with OPPO’s own Color OS6.1.2 with all of its perks and underlying quirks akin to the last couple of versions before it, which is to say that it has a ton of customisable themes to change the look of your phone but is still chock full of bloatware that you’ll need to clear out. OPPO’s other gesture related shortcuts including its novel screen-off gestures remain present and do come in handy. 

For the uninitiated, the screen-off gestures let you access shortcuts to control music playback, turn the camera on and activate the flashlight by drawing symbols on the display even when it’s off.

When subjected to synthetic benchmarks, the OPPO A91 performed in a reasonably competent fashion. As Antutu is temporarily taken off the Google Play store due to some incongruities, we’re swapping it with GFXBench for now. Here’s how it scored:

GeekBench 5.1 Single Core Score 275, Multi Core Score 1,412
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Open GLES 3.1 1,273
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan 1,254
PCMark Work 2.0 7,834
GFX Bench 288.9 frames

The provided AMOLED display proved to be a delight with punchy colours and crisp detail that belie its price point, more so for the fact that its competitors with similar AMOLED displays cost a fair bit more. The mono speaker is serviceable if unexceptional with acceptable volume and clarity though the 3.5mm audio jack means that you can opt to use your own headphones. 

In terms of performance, there isn’t much to shout about here as the phone runs slightly better than the older F11 on account of offering double the RAM and storage which does bump its performance up slightly for app multitasking and an overall smoother user experience.

Day to day usage is decent and most casual users won’t likely have much cause to gripe over the performance of the Helio P70 processor. Apps loaded in a suitably swift fashion, web browsing is generally smooth while games like PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile were tackled at a notch below the highest possible settings without the phone keeling over or cooking. 

OPPO A91 side

The 4,025mAh battery in the OPPO A91 seems large at first blush but exhibits middling endurance with just enough battery life to get you through a working day but you’ll be needing a top-up come sundown, more so if you’re doing something intensive that drains the battery life gaming or using the camera.

Charging it is fortunately a swift affair and the bundled VOOC 3.0 cable and charger is able to charge it to 50% or so from dead zero in about half an hour. This feature only works with the A91 so you need to bring both the charger and cable with you on the go if you need a fast top-up in the field.

OPPO A91 cameras

The ongoing MCO means that capturing snaps beyond the confines of the immediate neighbourhood is a bit of a challenge but we subjected it to the usual photographic scenarios of brightly lit, indoors and low light subjects as well as macro shots. 

OPPO A91 rear cameras
The user interface is akin to other OPPO phones and many other mainline branded phones with a vertical slider on the right allowing you to go through all the usual modes including the obligatory filters and an Expert mode. There’s also an auto HDR mode and a Dazzle mode that seems to add more vibrancy to colours in captured images. Surprisingly enough, the A91 has quite a full featured Expert/Pro mode with the ability to tweak Exposure, White Balance, Autofocus and Exposure values off the bat.

OPPO A91 auto

The main quirk here is that unlike other competing phones that automatically switch cameras based on your zoom, the A91 instead relies primarily on the main camera for almost everything with the mono and depth sensor simply providing additional data. For wide angle shots, you need to manually select that specific camera via a little icon for it to work. It’s hardly the most intuitive option but it does offer more fine-tuned control rather than relying on the phone to do the decision making for you.

OPPO A91 pro mode

Both usable cameras also have some rather weird quirks. The primary 48-MP camera allows for up to 5x digital zoom but the wide angle only maxes out at 2x. The only way you’d notice which camera you’re on is that aforementioned tiny icon in the corner is lit up which isn’t the most intuitive way to go about things. 

OPPO A91

In most tasks, the primary 48-MP camera and its relatively bright F/1.8 aperture do a good job of retaining detail and colour rendition with an increase in noise and loss detail beyond 2x digital zoom. Anything beyond that has discernible noise and aggressive sharpening on account of the AI algorithms.

oppo a91
Capture with the wide angle camera of the OPPO A91
OPPO A91 primary
Primary camera of the OPPO A91

Low light shots without zooming are fair but unremarkable with a modest amount of grain, compensated somewhat by the large sensor and aperture but are purely for social media use. The application of Oppo’s Dazzle mode tends to oversaturate colours a bit more vibrantly than what you see with your Mk. 1 eyeball so it’s a matter of personal taste.

OPPO A91 primary
Taken with the primary camera with Dazzle mode off and auto HDR
OPPO A91 2x zoom
2x digital zoom on the OPPO A91
OPPO A91 5x zoom
5x zoom on the OPPO A91.
A91 Macro mode
A91 macro mode of this Grey Knight Adeptus Astartes painted by the eminently skilled Kenny

The wide angle camera does a decent job under daylight and brightly lit conditions but does not handle night settings all too well with significant noise, relegating it to use only under very specific circumstances. There’s also a bit of aspheric distortion around the edges that creates a slight fish eye effect. The front selfie camera is again serviceable with a number of beautification filters but isn’t anything groundbreaking. 

A91 wide angle

Both the front and rear cameras are capable of capturing video at up to 1080P@30fps though the lack of stabilisation means you’ll need a gimbal or work from a static position to get decent results.

OPPO A91
Low light shots can be decent with some patience on the OPPO A91

OPPO A91 Price and Verdict

On its own virtues, the OPPO A91 brings to the table similar benefits as its predecessors in the range with some current day refinements that include a vibrant AMOLED display paired with their VOOC 3.0 fast charging tech. 

OPPO A91 angled

As an entry level phone, it’s a bit on the pricey end of things but it’s still cheaper than other competing phones in the market with an AMOLED display and it has the benefit of coming with a relatively complete set of accessories out of the box. The OPPO A91 is well worth a look for casual users seeking a sub-RM1,000 phone an emphasis on fast charging and a vibrant AMOLED display for general use with .

What we liked Great AMOLED display, still has a 3.5mm audio jack, packs VOOC flash charger in the box
What we didn’t Dated processor, middling battery life, Color OS still full of bloatware,
We say One of the more affordable phones in OPPO’s line-up with an AMOLED panel and swift VOOC Flash Charge tech though it doesn’t quite stand out in other areas. Worth a look if you see it on special.


Review unit courtesy of OPPO Malaysia. Available to purchase on their official page here.

OPPO Find X2 Pro Review – Going Pro

OPPO Find X2 Pro

OPPO is angling for the big time in the premium segment with an increasingly sophisticated array of flagship phones in recent years though the new Find X2 Pro represents their most best looking and most technically advanced effort to date.

Prior to this they debuted the original Find X phone which had a motorised pop-up camera mechanism that was gorgeous to behold but which was also overly elaborate in execution. The Find X2 fortunately backtracks from complicated and flashy setups and instead defaults for a time-tested form factor embellished with an understated yet very classy design and impressive hardware under the hood.

OPPO Find X2 Pro Design, Specifications and What’s In the Box

Externally, the phone has looks that can match any of the premium flagships in the market. Our test unit came with a vegan leather backplate in a shade of burnt orange complemented by metallic copper trim on the sides and bezels.

You can also get it with a more conventional ceramic finish. The tactility of the backplate is exquisite indeed and feels somewhat akin to the Mate30 Pro 5G that we field tested awhile back with an equally premium feel. It’s also amazingly smudge resistant which is a bonus. The best part? It’s also rated for IP68 water resistance which is a fantastic bonus.

Here’s the specifications at a glance –

Specifications

Price RM4,599
Display 6.7-inch AMOLED, 1,440 x 3,168 pixels 513ppi/ 120Hz refresh rate
Processor Snapdragon 865
Memory 12GB LPDDR5 RAM, 512GB UFS 3.0
Camera 48-MP F/2.7 w/ OIS, 13-MP F/3.0 telephoto camera w/5x zoom & OIS, 48-MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle camera (rear) / 32-MP F/2.4 (front)
Battery 4,260mAh w/ 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 fast charging
Size/Weight 165.2×74.4×8.8mm / 200g

 

Our test unit is a local Malaysian version with a UK-style three-pin Super VOOC 2.0 65W Flash Charger, the obligatory USB charging cable, a soft TPU casing to protect the phone and a USB-Type C pair of wired earbuds. The provision of a Super VOOC flash charger that allows it to fast charge the built-in 4,260mAh battery at its fullest potential out of the box and a pair of wired earbuds is a pleasant bonus that salves its somewhat high asking price.

One thing to note though is that the Super VOOC flash charger and the USB cable that comes with it is proprietary OPPO tech so it’ll only work at maximum capacity when used in tandem with the Find X2 Pro. It’ll charge other phones of course but it’s capped at 10W.

OPPO Find X2 Pro box

Button placement is fairly standard with a power button on the right, a volume rocker on the left, a dual SIM card tray and a USB Type-C port at the base of the phone.

The biggest calling card on the Find X2 Pro is its massive 6.7-inch 3K QHD+ AMOLED Ultra VIsion display that also has a swift 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sample rate, something that very few phones can match in the market. Of note is that it is capable of 100% reproduction of the DCI-P3 colour gamut and has an impressive 800 nits peak brightness. In keeping with many other flagships, the phone also has an under-display fingerprint reader.

OPPO Find X2 Pro front

The display itself sports curved edges on the side and slim bezels top and bottom bezels with the top hiding one of a matching pair of stereo speakers in a tiny slit with the other speaker at the base of the phone. Interestingly enough, OPPO has opted for the punch hole for the 32-MP 5P lens selfie camera to be integrated in the upper left corner of the display rather than the traditional centre-mounted location which makes for a far less obstructed view.

In terms of hardware, the OPPO Find X2 is among the current best in the market with a powerful Snapdragon 865 octacore processor. Of particular note is the Snapdragon 865 SoC integrates the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System that ensures 5G connectivity on mmWave, sub-6 GHz as well as 5G standalone (SA)  and non-standalone (NSA) modes so you’re effectively futureproof when 5G rolls around.OPPO Find X2 rear

This beefy processor is paired with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and a generous 512GB UFS 3.0 storage. The biggest quibble though is the lack of expandable storage as the phone only has a dual SIM card tray. At any rate, it’ll take quite a while to fill up what you already have on hand.

The rear triple camera array is built around a primary 48-MP camera that uses a Sony IMX586 sensor with an F/1.7 aperture as well as optical image stabilisation. This is paired with a 12-MP ultra wide angle camera and a 13-MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom via a periscope-style lens  and up to 20x digital zoom that is also optically stabilised like the primary camera.

This rear camera is of sufficient quality that even DxOMark have awarded it an impressive score of 124 points which makes it one of the best camera phones currently available though to be fair, not all of the latest flagship phones are represented on the list at the time of publication.

Right out of the starting gate, the OPPO Find X2 Pro has a lot going for it and on paper, it looks very promising indeed with 5G support, a luscious AMOLED display, one of the most powerful processors in the market and a triple camera lauded by DxOMark. They haven’t skimped on the bonuses either and they’ve thrown in a full powered VOOC flash charger, Type-C earbuds and a case to go with the phone too.

OPPO Find X2 Pro Performance and Benchmarks

The OPPO Find X2 Pro runs Android 10.0 overlaid with OPPO’s own Color OS 7.1 user interface on top on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 octacore processor. The processor comes with a single 2.84GHz Kryo 585 chip, a trio of GHz Kryo 585 chips clocked at 2.42GHz and a quartet Kryo 585 chips clocked at 1.8GHz along with an Adreno 640GPU.

These specifications mean that it can go toe to toe with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G, all of which have 5G capabilities.

When subjected to synthetic benchmarks, the Find X2 Pro did not disappoint. Here’s the scores:

Geekbench 5.1 single-core score 910 / Multi-core score 3,148

PCMark 2.0 Performance score 10,208

3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – OpenGL ES 3.1 7,096 

Antutu 3D 557,932

These benchmarks are exceptional and are among the best in any smartphone currently in service. Under more practical field conditions, the Find X2 Pro proved to be incredibly swift on the draw on account of its swift 512GB UFS 3.0 storage and liberal amounts of 12GB LPDDR5 RAM. Even under heavy workloads including extensive sessions of Call of Duty Mobile on its highest settings and extended 4K video capture, the phone managed to barely register little more than the a slightly warm sensation which denotes superb heat management.

On closer inspection, the Find X2 Pro’s AMOLED display manages to beat all comers as it’s able to offer a full 120Hz refresh rate at its full 1,440 x 3,168 pixel resolution unlike recent competing examples that either force you to select one option or the other.

By default it’s set to auto but you’re able to force it to maximum and it’s something you ought to do straight out of the box. Animations are silky smooth at 120Hz with superb clarity under daylight conditions. Colour rendition is rated for 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space with the phone offering best results when set to Cinematic mode with the default Vivid mode a bit on the vibrant side of things.

OPPO Find X2 Pro Gaming

The display also offers HDR10 and, surprisingly, HDR10+ support which is a Samsung-supported standard that is capable of reading per-scene metadata for better HDR. There’s still a dearth of HDR10+ content but it works perfectly fine for HDR10 movies of which there are plenty.

The fact that they’ve plonked the usual punch hole into the corner of the screen also makes it far less distracting when watching movies; something that we’re enjoying viscerally in light of the ongoing Movement Control Order.

Of particular note is what OPPO calls the Ultra Vision Engine chip that can upscale whatever footage you’re viewing up to 60Hz or 120Hz though your mileage will vary depending on the quality of your source footage.

Quality sound is often a neglected feature that gets dropped by the wayside but the Find X2 Pro’s stereo speakers did not disappoint with good clarity and sound staging.

The biggest quibble here though is that Color OS is still replete with a ton of bloatware of dubious functionality. On a fresh install, you’re getting unwanted add-ons like the SoLoop video editor, a bizarre Music Party sync function to play the same song on multiple phones, the Lazada app preinstalled and more.

Oddly enough, they’ve also added their own App Market solution, which sideloads APKs onto your phone as an alternative of sorts to the existing Google Play Store.

Presumably, this would be the option in regions lacking Google Play like China. They’ve also crammed in their own browser too alongside Chrome. All of this takes up quite a bit of space but the phone fortunately has plenty to spare.

OPPO Find X2 Pro Camera Performance

The OPPO Find X2 packs a triple camera system that eschews cramming in more specialised cameras in favour of making each of its existing ones count. The primary 48-MP camera uses a powerful Sony IMX689 sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a bright F/1.7 aperture to tackle most of the grunt work to capture pixel-binned 12-MP stills.

OPPO Find X2 Pro

This is matched by a similarly sized 48-MP ultra wide angle camera using a Sony IMX586 sensor that has a 120-degree angle field of view. The third camera uses a 13-MP sensor with a periscope-style zoom lens capable of 5X optical zoom, up to 10x hybrid zoom and 60x digital zoom, also with OIS like the primary camera.

The front sports a 32-MP selfie camera with shots pixel-binned down to 8-MP. This setup also enables you to capture 4K@60 fps video from the rear camera array and up to 1080P@30 fps from the front.

OPPO Find X2 camera menu

Getting about OPPO’s camera user interface is fairly easy as it has a relatively straightforward layout though more advanced functions seem to be obtusely nested deep in the menus. Most of the main modes are reachable via a slider on the right while zoom can be set to 0.5X, 1X, 2X , 5X,10X and 60X increments or you can finetune your zoom via a dial. The obligatory Expert mode is available nested deeper inside the menus. 

OPPO Find X2 Pro modes

General performance overall is excellent with good detail and great dynamic range across both daylight and low light scenarios. Daylight shots are a bit on the muted side for the wide angle camera though they are more accurate to what the human eyeball sees though the primary one looks more saturated in keeping with contemporary tastes.

Find X2 Pro ultrawide angle
Captured with the ultrawide angle camera, slightly more muted but more realistic hues
Find X2 primary
Captured with the primary camera which offers more saturated colours that look more pleasing to the eye
Find X2 Pro 60x
Flexing the OPPO Find X2 Pro’s 60x zoom

Zoomed in shots are excellent at up to 5x lossless optical zoom. Beyond that, you get a bit of noise here and there but it’s not a major deal breaker. Shots beyond that at maximum 60x zoom are more of a novelty as they’re very grainy but still viewable. 

Find X2 Pro macro

Under low light, the cameras did very well though they aren’t the pinnacle of their class, capturing detail and hues that would otherwise have been unviewable on lesser cameras though swaths of uniform colour tend to lose a bit of texture if you pixel peep.

Find X2 Pro low light
A wall of Pokémon at a carnival under neon light.
Find X2 Pro zoomed in
60x zoom under neon light and you can still observe a fair amount of textile textures

Of note is that the phone has exceptionally fast autofocus, locking onto subjects in mere seconds without error. Videos on the Find X2 Pro’s rear cameras are otherwise pretty excellent with footage under dim conditions at dusk looking surprisingly good.

OPPO FInd X2 Pro low light

OPPO Find X2 Pro low light

The front facing selfie camera also proved to be competent though details seem a bit soft, presumably on account of the default aggressive beautification modes that are the norm for most phones these days.

OPPO Find X2 Pro

OPPO Find X2 Pro Battery Life, Price and Verdict

Rather than one large battery, the OPPO Find X2 Pro splits the load into two separate cells with a combined total of 4,260mAh that is rated for over a full day of use. Your mileage will vary of course depending on your usage patterns, screen brightness and what resolution and refresh rate you set it to.

 

We went all the way in and set the screen to auto with a 120Hz refresh rate and the highest possible resolution possible at this refresh rate of 1,440p with an average workload that included social media, WiFi and 4G LTE data, an hour worth of calls and both gaming as well as some YouTube throughout the day. This was more than sufficient for a day’s worth of usage with just under 9 hours of active screen time.

When charging, the Find X2 Pro with its bundled VOOC 65W 2.0 Flash Charger managed to go from dry to a nearly 90% charge in just 30 minutes which is quite a feat. Just don’t lose the proprietary charger and cable as you need both to charge at this speed.

The OPPO Find X2 Pro is a gem of a phone. Rather than opting for bizarre gimmicks, the Find X2 Pro is a well-reasoned blend of contemporary design and enhancements in areas that matter – a world-class 120Hz display, an excellent rear camera and blazing fast VOOC charging tech though all this comes at a substantial premium. The main quibbles – a lack of expandable storage, no wireless charging and no audio jack fortunately aren’t deal breakers. This is a stunner of a flagship phone and arguably OPPO’s best phone ever made.

What we liked Excellent cameras, IP68 water resistance, excellent performance, superb 120Hz 1440P display, 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 fast charging
What we didn’t Not cheap, chunky rear camera array, no wireless charging, no expandable storage
We say OPPO’s finest phone yet, the Find X2 Pro is a flagship smartphone in every sense of the word with cutting edge hardware, a brilliant 120Hz display, 5G connectivity and an excellent rear camera.

Review unit courtesy of OPPO Malaysia. Check out the OPPO Find X2 Pro here.

For more visually oriented chaps, check out Adam Lobo’s unboxing and review of the Find X2 Pro here:

 

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ review – Power meets Long Lasting Battery Life

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are the successor to last year’s Samsung Galaxy Buds and bring several welcome improvements over its predecessor, among them extended battery life as well as enhanced audio and call quality.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Externally, the Galaxy Buds+ are a spitting image of the original Galaxy Buds with a similar size and shape for its earbuds and charging case though it has significantly enhanced performance in every way. It’s also a bit pricier than the original at launch with an RM599 price tag versus the RM499 price point of the earlier Galaxy Buds though this has just enjoyed a reprice down to RM349. That extra investment does go towards quite a few upgrades under the hood.

 

Galaxy Buds+ improvements over the original Galaxy Buds

Both the Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Buds have a similar lozenge-shaped charging case and earbud design though the case and part of the earbuds of the newer Galaxy Buds+ have a shiny pearlescent white finish versus the matte white in the older version. Both the new and older versions also come in black. The newer Galaxy Buds+ does have more colour variants like a shade of pink and blue along with a deep Jennie red that is a South Korean exclusive for now. Here’s how the specifications work out:

 

Specifications
Price RM599
Speaker 2-way driver (woofer + tweeter)
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0, ACC, SBC codec
Battery 85mAh (earbuds)/ 270mAh (charging case)
Size/Weight 17.5 x 22.5 x 19.2mm / 6.3g (earbuds) / 38.8 x 70 x 26.5mm / 39.6g (charging case)


The biggest upgrade is in terms of battery life. The Galaxy Buds+ are rated for 11 hours of playback time on a single charge with an additional full charge in the charging case. This works out to 22 hours of use time in total. 

The older Galaxy Buds offers 6 hours of playback time on the earbuds and has an additional charge in the case to offer about 12 hours of playback time in total. In effect, the Galaxy Buds+ have almost double the endurance of its predecessor. Charging it is even faster too with a 3 minute charge getting you 60 minutes of music playback on the Galaxy Buds+ while the older Buds got you 30 minutes or so with a 3 minute charge.

Unlike the 1-way driver in the older Galaxy Buds, the new Galaxy Buds+ have two – a woofer and a tweeter tuned by AKG in each earbud. It also has three mics – 2 inner and 1 outer mic which is one additional inner mic more than the older version to offer better overall call quality. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ angled

Another feature that the Galaxy Buds+ possesses is integration with Spotify, allowing you to manipulate playback straight off the buds. They also possess compatibility with Apple’s iOS so iPhone owners can interact with the higher functions of the Galaxy Buds+ via a downloadable Galaxy Buds+app.

Unfortunately, the Galaxy Buds+ still lack active noise cancelling and primarily rely on passive noise insulation with the silicone earbud forming a tight seal in your ear canal. The earbuds themselves are also only rated IPX2 for splash-resistance so it’s not a good idea to bring them out in the middle of a downpour or to use them next to the pool.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ – What’s in the Box


Out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ come with two additional pairs of differently sized silicone ear buds, two pairs of smaller and larger ear wings as well as a smooth pair of rubber rings. Users can interchange the ear buds, opt to put in the larger ear wing, and for some, omit them entirely by using the rubber rings in place of the ear wings. It also comes bundled with the obligatory USB Type-C charging cable.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ box

Each earpiece has a touch control surface up top and a groove that holds the swappable rubber ear wings that perch in your ear lobe. The inner ear tip hosts a soft silicone earbud that sticks in your ear canal to offer a modicum of passive noise insulation.

The charging case itself has an indicator light up front to show that it’s charging along with a USB Type C port at the rear. The case itself is like a pebble that’s smooth to the touch, light and very easy to pocket. It also supports Qi wireless charging and can be charged in the field straight off a Galaxy S20 or S10 series phone by plonking it on the back of the phone via Wireless PowerShare mode.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ ear tips and ear wings

The first time you’re donning it, it’s well worth the trouble to test out the different ear wings and earbuds that they have bundled in the box to find which fits your ears best as a secure fit offers better audio performance. That and ensuring it doesn’t fly off when you’re sprinting for the train or some other mishap.

Wearing them was a very comfortable affair, helped in part with the snug fit and the fact that each earbud is exceptionally light at 6.3g.

Getting it up and running requires you to download the Samsung Wearable app which is free for both the Google Play store and the Apple App store. That means it will work with most Android phones and iPhones of recent vintage. We tested it with a Galaxy Note10 and pairing was almost instantaneous via Bluetooth 5.0.

 

Controlling and fine tuning the Samsung Galaxy Buds+


The Galaxy Wearable app lets you see how much power the earbuds and the case itself has at a glance, lets you customise the audio output to your specifications and also lets you tweak how much external ambient sound is piped in via the external mics when you don the earbuds. The app also lets you tweak the controls somewhat though most are already hardwired

A single tap pauses or plays a track, a double tap lets you answer or cancel a call as well as advance to the next track while a triple tap plays a previous track. These commands are all hardwired into the Galaxy Buds+. The only assignable option you can customise is what happens if you touch and hold the control panel from a limited set of commands.

By default, holding down the control panel on the left earbud reduces volume while the right increases it. You can also assign it to turn ambient sound on or off. Alternatively, you can assign it to turn Spotify on or off. Unfortunately, you’ll have to sacrifice one control option on either earbud if you want Spotify interaction though you can simply perform any of these controls manually via your smartphone.

The Ambient Sound feature helps to pipe ambient sounds into the earbuds so you can be aware of pressing concerns like oncoming traffic or your barista yelling your name in the usual mangled fashion at Starbucks. There’s a substantial difference in turning it on and is advisable to do so if you’re wearing it outdoors. It also contributes towards better call quality as well though it in no way acts as active noise cancelling as it doesn’t act to negate outside sounds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Performance

When subjected to our usual array of test tracks, the Galaxy Buds+ deliver significantly improved performance over the original Galaxy Buds, helped in no small degree with the addition of a dedicated woofer in each ear. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ close up

Seeing its intended purpose as a general purpose pair of earbuds, Samsung has tuned it with a relatively balanced sound signature with a slight emphasis on mids and a bit thumpier bass than usual which holds it in good stead for the usual plethora of K-pop, rock and other mainstream genres. If this doesn’t quite appeal, you can customise the sound to other settings that include a Bass Boost, Clear and Treble depending on your tastes. There’s no active noise cancellation so loud noises will still seep through which means you’ll have to ensure that the ear buds form a tight seal in your ear canal.

 Vocals were well rendered with Norah Jones vocals in ‘Nightingale’ sounding crisp and detailed with good distinction from her guitar strumming solo. Bass response is delightful and lively with Bear McCreary’s signature ‘Prelude to War’ and its taiko drum solo sounding wonderfully ominous. BlackPink’s ‘Kill This Love’ with its impressive trumpet sounded richer and louder while each of the quartet’s voices were  pleasantly distinct from each other. It also acquitted itself well for gaming duties and for watching movies with the wailing zombies in Kingdom 2 on Netflix sounding suitably chilling indeed.

External ambient noise amplification worked as advertised, helping to amplify important critical external sounds like announcements and traffic while call quality off the earbuds was excellent with good clarity on both sides of the divide. 

 

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Verdict

As far as endurance is concerned, the Galaxy Buds+ did not disappoint and ran just a few minutes short of the rated 12 hours of listening time before requiring a top-up from the charging case. With 22 hours of rated battery life, it has more than enough endurance to serenade you all the way to Las Vegas with plenty of extra juice to spare.

Galaxy Buds+ close-up ear buds

While better performing and much pricier contenders exist like Apple’s AirPods Pro and the Huawei Freebuds 3, the Galaxy Buds+ manages to strike a pleasing balance between performance and price though the lack of active noise cancellation and IPX2 splash proofing is a bit of a sore point. Well worth a look for those who already own a Samsung phone though others seeking good audio and long battery life will enjoy what it has to offer.

You can also check out Adam Lobo TV’s video review where he sums up the Galaxy Buds+ sublime virtues in the link below:

 

What we liked Impressive 11-hour battery life, works wonderfully with Spotify, wireless charging support, decent audio performance, supports iOS
What we didn’t Looks quite similar to the original Galaxy Buds, more robust water resistance would be welcome, no aptX codec
We say The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, bringing almost double the battery life, enhanced call as well as sound quality, Spotify integration and iOS compatibility. It’s a solid general purpose pair of earbuds capable of keeping pace with you with its impressive battery life.

Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. Available for purchase on their official page here.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review – Suavely Shooting for the Moon

Galaxy S20 Ultra front

As the pinnacle of Samsung’s technological prowess for 2020, the Galaxy S20 Ultra packs the very best hardware that the brand has to offer with the phone being a veritable technophile’s wish list crammed into a posh looking glass-shod chassis that is 8.8mm thin.

Galaxy S20 Ultra front
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Specifications

For the lofty price of RM4,999, the Galaxy S20 Ultra packs a humongous 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O touchscreen with a crisp 1,440 x 3,200 pixel resolution, a 20:9 aspect ratio and 511ppi along with the obligatory under-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader at the bottom section of the display. What elevates it from middling to marvellous is that the display has a 120Hz refresh rate, ensuring silky smooth animations onscreen at the tradeoff of increased battery drain.

Here’s a recap of its specifications:

Specifications
Price RM4,999
Display 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O, 1,440 x 3,200 pixels, 511ppi
Processor Exynos 990 octacore
OS Android 10.0 w One UI 2
Memory 12GB RAM/128GB+microSD card
Camera 108-MP F/1.8 w/ PDAF + OIS 48-MP w/ 4x optical zoom + 100x Space Zoom, 12-MP F/2.2 ultrawide, 0.3-MP TOF camera [rear] / 40-MP [front]
Battery 5,000mAh w/ 45W fast charging
Size/Weight 166.9 x 76 x 8.8 mm / 220g


Your substantial investment also gets you the latest Exynos 990 octacore processor paired with a massive 12GB RAM and 128GB UFS3.0 storage that can be further augmented via a microSD card slot.

You’re also getting 5G connectivity in the 3.5GHz and 3.7GHz band though it lacks support for the lower, and slightly slower 700MHz band. Power users will also appreciate that it has Full DeX support, allowing your phone to be used as an ad hoc PC by hooking it up via a HDMI cable to a monitor.

The main centerpiece of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, on top of its impressive screen and hardware, is its rear quad camera array that is several orders of magnitude more powerful than its siblings the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+.

Galaxy S20 Ultra rear camera

Housed in the chunky rectangular camera bump on the rear is a humongous 108-MP F/1.8 OIS-stabilised camera, a secondary 48-MP telephoto camera with 4x optical zoom and 10x hybrid zoom, a 12-MP F/2.2 ultrawide angle camera and a fourth TOF camera for Live Focus stills and video.

This setup enables the S20 Ultra to be one of, if not the first smartphone in Malaysia to capture 8K resolution video on top of packing an incredible 100x Space Zoom hybrid zoom feature to peep at paparazzi-pleasing distances.

Keeping it powered is an impressive 5,000mAh battery complemented by 45W fast charging as well as the option for wireless charging and reverse wireless charging for other kit like the Galaxy Buds+ wireless earbuds.

Unfortunately, Samsung doesn’t bundle the associated fast charger with the phone and you’re relegated to a stock 25W charger out of the box though they do bundle a USB Type-C AKG pair of earbuds, a casing and a Type-C charging cable to go with the whole affair.

Galaxy S20 Ultra rear

In keeping with Samsung’s traditional attention to their flagships, the Galaxy 20 Ultra exudes quality in every aspect of its design and has a premium finish from stem to stern. It’s on the heavy side on account of its large battery but it has an even heft and is still very wieldable one handed on account of the almost non existent side, top and bottom bezels. The left side is unadorned though the right has a power button and volume rocker while the top itself hosts a hybrid SIM card tray. 

The rear camera bump is the largest and chunkiest we’ve seen in ages and you’ll need a casing – which they provide straight of the box – to mitigate any potential nicks and scratches.

The Gorilla Glass 6 glass-shod backplate looks classy in keeping with an S-series phone but it’s also a fingerprint magnet. The available colour choices – a dark gray or black – are safe but are hardly exciting to look at while the cheaper Galaxy S20 has more eye-catching colours to choose from including a shade pastel blue or pink.

On the bright side, the unique design of the camera bump makes the Galaxy S20 Ultra a very distinctive phone indeed if you’re one to flaunt your taste in mobile devices and seeing what the Galaxy S20 Ultra has to offer, it’s something well worth showing off.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Performance and Benchmarks

In synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy S20 Ultra performed in an impressive fashion with scores that are among the best in its class. In PCMark’s Work 2.0 performance test, it scored a whopping 11,925 points. In Antutu benchmark, it got a score of 511,713 points. In 3DMark’s SlingShot Extreme Open GL ES 3.1 test, it scored 6,663 points, one of the highest scores currently on test while in Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan it got 6,363 points. In Geekbench 5.0, it got a single core score of 916 and a multi-core score of 2,581 points. 

Under live field tests, the Galaxy S20 Ultra performed like a champ, adroitly tackling everything thrown at it from gaming to hefty 4K video editing. It handled Call of Duty Mobile on the highest settings, tackled 4K video editing on the built-in video editor with videos rendered in mere minutes and managed to undertake a host of more mundane tasks in a swift fashion from word processing, emails to web browsing. As the very embodiment of cutting edge smartphone tech at this moment in time, there’s nothing it can’t handle.

The Super AMOLED display of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is impressive indeed with sufficient clarity to make it easy to see even under broad daylight in either 120Hz FHD+ or at its native 60Hz WQHD+ resolution, serving up exquisite colours and pin-sharp detail. 

Galaxy S20 Ultra angled

Why not both WQHD+ and 120Hz, you ask? Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a catch with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. If you’re enabling the 120Hz refresh rate, you’re relegated to FHD+ resolution only. If you want to take advantage of the phone’s native WQHD+ resolution you have to reduce it to 60Hz.

Both features would have been nice in tandem though this would presumably represent a significant drain on the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s battery. 

Galaxy S20 Ultra refresh rate

Even at FHD+ resolution, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is capable of displaying lusciously vibrant and crisp footage; no surprise there as it’s HDR and HDR10+ ready. With the 120Hz refresh rate turned up, menus and web browsing feel incredibly smooth though not all apps and not all games are optimised for this high refresh rate. The 240Hz touch sampling rate also means that it ought to give you a slight edge in competitive games like Call of Duty Mobile; Once you’re accustomed to the silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate, you’ll be dismayed to downgrade back to a conventional 60Hz panel. 

Movies and games are a real treat to watch on the S20 Ultra’s display, more so for the fact that it’s pair of stereo speakers are competent performers, with excellent sound staging and clarity for their size.

There’s still a few quibbles though. For the price of entry, the onboard 128GB of storage is a bit on the low side though that can still be addressed with a microSD card. The other pickle is that it lacks an audio jack though seeing the wide availability of quality wireless earbuds these days, it’s becoming less of a deal breaker.

Galaxy S20 Ultra angled

We weren’t able to test 5G connectivity with the phone seeing as it’s not deployed in any widespread fashion in Malaysia but field tests with 4G LTE proved to be very satisfactory around town and in a few rural areas outside of town around Kuala Lumpur and Melaka with minimal signal dropout with test accounts from several major telcos. On the bright side, owning the S20 Ultra means that you’re all set when 5G does roll out in Malaysia.

Galaxy S20 Ultra Camera Performance

The Galaxy S20 Ultra packs an impressive camera array centered around a 108-MP F/1.8 camera with a 12-MP ultra-wide angle camera as well as a 48-MP camera with a periscope style-telephoto lens riding shotgun.

Galaxy S20 ultra rear

Both the primary 108-MP and 48-MP camera have optical image stabilisation. Perched in the corner is a DepthVision camera for LiveFocus videos and stills. This combination of hardware allows the phone to capture up to 8K@24fps video and the ability to use a combination of optical and digital zoom to achieve 100x hybrid zoom.

Galaxy S20 Ultra front

At up to 4x zoom, the phone relies on a periscope-style optical zoom lens. Beyond 4x zoom and below 10x, the phone relies on what Samsung calls ‘lossless hybrid optic’ zoom,  a combination of sensor cropping as well as both optical and digital zoom with no discernible losses in image quality.

Galaxy S20 Ultra zoom

Beyond that all the way to 100x, the phone uses purely digital zoom though it’s a challenge as even the slightest hand movements will create significant shake in the camera at that zoom distance.

Galaxy S20 Ultra camera UI
The camera user interface is a familiar affair for any Samsung phone user with a fully-featured Pro mode that lets you tweak white balance, ISO, shutter speed and more. This time around, the camera offers a new Single Take mode.

Galay S20 Ultra single take mode

Essentially an AI-infused burst mode on steroids, a single press of a button takes a slew of shots and video clips up to 10-seconds in length combined with a variety of filters to yield a selection of shots that you can pick and choose from. If there’s one killer feature with the S20 Ultra’s camera user interface, One Take mode is it and I hope that this feature gets trickled to other Samsung phones later on down the line.

When capturing snaps, the primary 108-MP sensor does most of the grunt work with snaps pixel-binned to 12-MP resolution embellished with image stabilisation and a bunch of other tricks to yield sharp, judder-free shots. You can optionally shoot at full 108-MP resolution and yield up shots that you can crop later at your leisure.

galaxy S20 ultra wide angle
Primary 108MP rear camera for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. Note the clocktower just above the train station in the distance.
galaxy S20 ultra 100x zoom
100x Space Zoom with the Galaxy S20 Ultra with a tripod – we can actually read the time on the clock!

Image quality was superb with beautiful hues and excellent detail. At up to 30x zoom, shots are good enough that you can pick out fine details like car plate numbers and the like. Past sundown, you’re able to yield equally good shots with the provision of Samsung’s Night mode though you need a 4-second delay to snap an image.

galaxy S20 ultra ultrawide mode
Ultrawide rear camera at night for the Galaxy S20 Ultra
galaxy S20 ultra
Primary 108MP camera for the Galaxy S20 Ultra
Galaxy S20 Ultra
100x Space Zoom under low light conditions with the rear camera
10z lossless zoom on the Galaxy S20 Ultra rear camera at dusk. Excellent colour rendition on the mural and levels of detail.

In theory, the 100x Space Zoom sounds amazing but in practice it’s more of a novelty at this point in time. Up to 10x zoom, the rear camera offered zoomed in shots with excellent detail even when shot in an impromptu fashion.

Galaxy S20 Ultra at dusk

Beyond that up to 30x, you can make do with a steady hand and leaning on a railing to get shots to get usable snaps. Beyond that level, you’ll need a tripod. This shot of a clock tower several hundred metres away is perfect evidence of that though the resulting images are very grainy, making it more a novelty at best. It also isn’t particularly good under dim light conditions beyond 30x with even more pronounced grain and noise.

For now, the 100x Space Zoom is purely for bragging rights and attempting shots which you’d likely never be able to take like sitting way back in the mosh pit at a concert and getting up close shots of your favourite performer on stage though – again – you’ll need a tripod to yield remotely usable results. We also attempted a 100x moon shot when the moon was full and oddly enough, our preview shot exhibited more detail than the results we captured.

Galaxy S20 Ultra
100x shot of the full moon
Galaxy S20 Ultra front
Actual results with the 100x shot of the moon

The phone’s signature ability to record 8K video is limited to 24fps and looks absolutely brilliant to behold with footage so sharp that you can screencap crisp 33-MP stills off captured footage. At this resolution, there’s no image stabilisation so you’ll need a tripod or a very steady hand.

S20 Ultra
The ultrawide angle camera exhibits excellent colour rendition and performance akin to the primary camera under daylight conditions like the shot below.

All this footage also takes up a ton of space with a minute of 8K video gobbling up 600MB worth of storage. Watching it is another kettle of fish entirely and you’ll need Samsung’s new 8K QLED TVs to make the most of the footage beyond your Galaxy S20 Ultra’s display. You’ll likely be doing most of your videos in either image stabilised 1080P or in 4K and both yield excellent footage.

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G Battery Life


The Galaxy S20 Ultra packs a massive 5,000mAh battery which is one of the largest that you can shove into a phone which goes some way towards feeding the ravenous hunger of a 120Hz display and an 8K video capturing device. 

Most users will likely default to the 120Hz FHD+ setting rather than the 60Hz WQHD+ setting to experience the phone’s main calling card. For the former, with modest usage settings, a combination of WiFi and LTE data on all day, a couple of hours worth of watching video, several hours of web browsing and an hour worth of gaming, heavy use of social media and just using the camera and 4K video capture, the phone managed to last a whole day with just enough left for the commute home with about 9 plus hours of active screen time.

The more pragmatic use of the 60Hz WQHD+ option ekes out significantly better endurance. With the aforementioned usage settings, the phone easily lasted the better part of a day and a half with about a dozen hours of active screen time. 

Galaxy S20 Ultra rear

These estimates however go rapidly south if you’re liberally capturing 8K video and using 5G connectivity but we were only able to test the former and not the latter seeing as there’s still a dearth of 5G connectivity in Malaysia. If you’re capturing significant 8K video on the phone, you’ll likely halve these battery life estimates.

Charging the phone is fortunately relatively fast with the provided 25W fast charger. From dead zero, it managed to get fully charged in about an hour which is quite an achievement. We didn’t have a 45W charger to test it with but it should enjoy even faster charging speeds. There’s also reverse wireless charging and it works with the Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds+.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra?


The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the pinnacle of Samsung’s technological prowess, with a brilliant 120Hz display, a powerful ensemble of hardware paired with a large battery along with an impressive rear camera capable of capturing 8K video along with 5G support when it rolls out later down the line.

If you happen to have five grand burning in your pocket and want to have bragging rights with the most powerful phone that Samsung currently has, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is right up your alley.

You can check Adam Lobo TV’s online review of the Galaxy S20 Ultra if you’re more of a visual sort of chap. You can check him out in the link below:

 

What we loved Breathtakingly beautiful 120Hz display, excellent rear camera, beefy performance, 8K video capture, 5G ready

What we didn’t All the high end bells and whistles drain battery life fast, 100x space zoom is a novelty, not cheap, camera bump is huge, no 3.5mm audio jack, 

We say The Galaxy S20 Ultra is the sum result of Samsung’s technological prowess crammed into a relatively compact shell. The next generation hardware on offer here is best-in-class  with a 120Hz display and a camera capable of capturing 8K video though this is also one of their most expensive phones to date. If you’re after the best that Samsung has to offer, this is it, hands down.

Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia

ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF Review – Sturdy Office Cornerstone

The ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF isn’t exactly a normal desktop PC as it is intended for commercial users from small businesses all the way to large corporations, meant for mass deployment in large quantities and has significantly higher levels of service support to ensure minimum disruption for businesses.

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF angled

More astute readers will notice that the device exhibited in our shots is labelled as an ExpertPC. As we were going to print, ASUS was in the midst of a rebranding exercise, altering the existing brandname into ExpertCenter. Bar the name difference, we were assured that everything else including specifications in the review unit is identical to a stock production unit.

Consumer PCs intended for retail use usually veer towards more garish colour schemes with a ton of RGB lighting shoehorned in for good measure, the ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF has aesthetics on the conservative side with a minimalist matte black finish and a more utilitarian outlook that prioritises ease of maintenance and easy access to ports for the user. 

In that regard, the PC itself is relatively compact, with dimensions larger and chunkier than a conventional pre-20th century phonebook along with the option to either lay it vertically or horizontally for use. What is particularly reassuring is that the chassis itself is rated MIL-STD-810G, which means it can survive a drop to the floor at 150G/2.5ms and withstand up to 500Hz vibrations for up to an hour in all directions on top of general resistance to humidity and extremes of temperature.

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF front ports

While it’s relatively compact, the PC is extensively kitted out with a ton of ports on both the front and the rear to handle current gen and even legacy hardware too. Mounted on the front as standard is an 8X speed CD-RW drive; somewhat of a rarity these days. Next to it is a headphone and microphone port, a USB Type-C port, 4 USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports for a grand total of 7 front-facing USB ports. The front also has a smart card and SD card reader too.

The rear of the chassis hosts a rather quaint PS/2 mouse and keyboard port for legacy hardware, a HDMI port, a VGA port, a display port, a LAN port and a pair of USB 2.0 ports along with a line-in, a line-out and a microphone port.

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF rear

The interior of the ExpertCenter D6414SFF is equally well planned and thought out with easy tool-less access and a hinged steel case that opens to reveal a 3.5-inch hard disk slot that can be removed with just your fingers, an M.2 SSD slot, a quartet of DIMM slots and a PCI slot, 2 PCI-e X 1 slots and one PCI-e x 16 slot for GPUs and other additional kit.

In general, the layout is very well thought out and will benefit modders looking to upgrade their gear though it’s really intended for purchase and use by businesses. It’s not immediately deployable out of the box though. While it comes with a free keyboard and mouse, it doesn’t have a monitor to go with it though it’s something you can likely get it on your own as an individual purchase.


ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF Performance


The ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF comes in a variety of configurations that vary depending on how deep your pockets (or rather your company budget) go with prices for the base model starting from just RM1,249. 

At this price point, you’re getting something sufficient for basic paperwork with a Celeron G4930 CPU, 4GB DDR4 RAM, a 1 terabyte 7,200RPM hard disk and a DVD-RW 8X burner. If you need something with a bit more punch, you can opt for a version with an i3-9100U CPU for RM1,799 or a Pentium G5400 CPU for RM1,399. Optionally, you can also get a custom quote from ASUS for even beefier specifications as the chassis itself has plenty of space with the option to cram in a GPU and SSDs as needed.

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF opened
The ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF offers tool-less access via two thumb screws and a slide-out panel that hinged open to offer access to the interior

In Malaysia, the top of the line variant, which was the configuration sported by our test unit, retails for RM2,299 has similar specifications as the entry level model but upgrades the CPU to an 10th Gen Intel Core i5-9400U processor paired with Intel UHD Graphics 630 integrated graphics.

However, our version differs slightly from what is listed online as it has an additional 4GB DDR4 RAM for a total of 8GB RAM crammed into the chassis. With this kind of configuration, the ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF is primarily designed for paperwork crunching and photo editing at most though our test unit is certainly more capable than its cheaper siblings by a significant margin.

Where the ExpertCentershines is on the management side of things as it has a ton of features, including several optional ones for an additional sum, that make it easier to manage entire fleets of them in a company. While one PC going down in one office location isn’t much of a booha, things rapidly go downhill if you have multiple work-stopping faults spread across different office locations. 

That’s where the the brand’s centralised IT management software, dubbed the ASUS Control Center comes into the picture to manage all ASUS servers, workstations and the like remotely via one easy interface along with the ASUS Business Manager utility app that simplifies maintenance and optimisation tasks for individual desktops. More security conscious companies can elect to install chassis intrusion alert alarms, an optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to prevent tampering of the hardware. 

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF timespy

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF nighraidAsus ExpertCenter D6414SFF pcmark
In terms of performance, the ExpertCenter proved to be serviceable for general duties short of heavy duty video editing and graphics work. In 3DMark’s Time Spy test, it got a modest 424 points while in Night Raid, which is intended for hardware with integrated graphics, it scored a better 5,274 points.


In Cinebench R20, it got a modest score of 2,179 points while in the SuperPosition Benchmark test, it got 742 points and 4.61fps on average in the 1080P medium benchmark test and 528 points with an average of 3.4fps on the 1080P high benchmark test.

Our test unit’s 1TB Toshiba 7,200rpm D101ACA100 SATA hard disk offered equally modest 181.63MB/s and 186.41MB/s read/write speeds. For better performance, it’s best to get an SSD but that’s also a matter to wrangle with your company’s procurement division.

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF crystal disk mark

 

Booting it up took a minute or two, but it proved to be a functional workhorse. It handled about two dozen or so open tabs in Chrome, managed to crunch through a day’s worth of emails and documents on Google Doc with a slew of Netflix and YouTube shows on 1080P.


The ExpertCenter’s bundled keyboard and mouse are serviceable at best and do the job. The keyboard is plasticky with a USB port to hook up to the PC and still managed a fair 100WPM with a seasoned typist. 

ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF Price and Conclusion

As it stands, the ASUS ExpertCenter is a sturdily made, highly configurable desktop with a plethora of customisation options depending on how deep your pockets go.

The chassis is easy to access, has a host of extra bays to juice it up and has enough performance in its stock configurations for all but the most demanding paperwork crunchers.

Asus ExpertCenter D6414SFF crystaldisk specs hard diskAsus ExpertCenter D6414SFFA front

Unfortunately, we were not able to test the remote management systems of ASUS’ ExpertCenter range so the context of our review is strictly towards the build quality, design and performance of the ASUS ExpertCenter desktop on its own.

If you’re looking to kit out an office with a slew of affordable, sturdily built desktops, the ExpertCenter D6414SFF  looks like an ideal candidate for the task.

ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF Specifications

Price RM2,299
Processor Intel Core i5-9500 (upgradeable up to Intel Core i7 8700)
OS Windows 10 Pro
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 630 (upgradeable up to NVIDIA GeForce GT1030 2GB GDDR5)
Memory 4GB DDR4 RAM (base configuration upgradeable to 64GB)/ 1TB 7,200RPM hard disk
Size/Weight 95 x 277 x 340mm /5.5kg

Review unit courtesy of ASUS Malaysia. For more details visit: https://www.asus.com/my/Commercial-Desktop/ASUS-ExpertPC-D6414SFF/

 

What we liked Generous array of ports and expansion slots, highly customisable to fit business requirements, MIL-STD 810G rated, easy access no-tool chassis
What we didn’t Bundled keyboard and mouse are plasticky and basic at best, rather plain looking, SSD ought to be the default in stock configuration
We say The ASUS ExpertCenter D6414SFF doesn’t wow crowds with snazzy design or terrifyingly powerful pixel crunching hardware but these aren’t concerns for a business enterprise.

In this realm, the ASUS Expert PC D6414SFF shines as it is fit for purpose, with a minimalist, easy to access chassis with generous expansion slots and MIL-STD-810G ratings for sturdiness and durability, lending it to easy deployment and management; key concerns if you have hundreds of them to manage in a business environment.

Add in sufficient performance for the average spreadsheet and paperwork jockey and you have a sturdy cornerstone that can help turn the tide in the budget and office wars.

Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite Review – The Delightfully Lite Heavy Hitter

Samsung Galaxy Note10 Lite Review

The Galaxy Note10 Lite is one of the few, if not the only, smartphone in its price range with a stylus. While it has hardware that’s a bit long in the tooth, that does not dismiss the fact that it’s still a potent performer with immense battery life, a huge and vibrant display and a solid rear camera array. If you want the Galaxy Note experience, this is currently the most affordable and effective way to experience it now.

Editor's Rating:
4

Launched at the same time as the Galaxy S10 Lite in Malaysia, the Galaxy Note10 Lite is a curious mix of new and old tech which is intended to offer much of the Galaxy Note experience with some tradeoffs at a very affordable price point.

Externally, the Galaxy Note10 Lite eschews the glass and metal chassis of its pricier siblings and instead opts for a facsimile that’s been dubbed as glasstic which is effectively polycarbonate but with a shiny reflective coating that mimics the aesthetics of glass.

Galaxy Note10 Lite front
The backplate itself has a design akin to the new Galaxy S20 series with a squarish, blocky triple rear camera array emplaced in the upper left corner of the phone. The left side of the phone is bare save for a hybrid SIM card tray that lets you pop in a SIM card and a microSD card or two SIM cards at the same time.

The base sports a grille for the sole mono speaker on the phone, a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a well for the bundled S Pen stylus. The right side of the phone sports a power button and volume rocker while the top is otherwise bare.

Galaxy Note10 Lite rearThe front of the phone consists almost entirely of display, with slim side bezels and a tiny punchhole in the 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display up top for the selfie camera. Much like its pricier siblings, it also has an under-glass fingerprint scanner to keep the design neat and clean. The Note10 Lite is also one of the few Galaxy Note series phones in recent service since the early Galaxy Note5 that has a completely flat display rather than curved edges.

Galaxy Note10 Lite camera

Belying its RM2,299 price tag, the Galaxy Note10 Lite proved to offer a premium heft and build quality akin to its pricier siblings though it is technically meant to be lower on the totem pole than the Galaxy Note10 in pricing, performance and capabilityl under practical conditions it’s pretty darned close to what its pricier kin can do and falls short by just a notch or two.

Galaxy Note10 Lite audio jack
It even manages to go one-better over the pricier Galaxy Note10 as it packs a much larger 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging though it lacks wireless charging support. There’s also one thing that it has that the Note10 series lacks – a 3.5mm audio jack which is a pleasant bonus.

Galaxy Note10 Lite Benchmarks

Under the hood, the Galaxy Note10 Lite comes with an Exynos 9810 octacore processor, a two-year old SoC that first saw service on the Galaxy Note9 and Galaxy S9 series phones. Paired with this is the latest Android 10 and Samsung’s own One UI 2 that’s also seen on their latest Galaxy S20 series phones. For Galaxy Note10 Lite units in Malaysia, we’re getting 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage expandable via the hybrid SIM card.

Galaxy Note10 Lite angled
The Exynos 9810 octacore processor was built on a 10nm process whereas the more powerful Galaxy Note10 and Note10+ run on the Exynos 9825 processor. While the Exynos 9810 was cutting edge in its day, it’s pretty long in the tooth and not as energy efficient along with being slightly less powerful than the current day Exynos 990; this will impact on battery life but the provision of the large 4,500mAh battery makes up for it.

In synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy Note10 Lite acquited itself in a respectable fashion. In PCMark’s Work 2.0 test, it got 6,126 points. In Geekbench 5.0, it got a single-core score of 660 and a multi-core score of 1,929. Under Antutu 3D, it got a decent score of 331,660 points. In 3DMark’s Slingshot Extreme Open GL ES 3.1 benchmark, it got a score of 4,031 points while in the Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan test, it got a score of 3,723 points.

Under practical field conditions, the Note10 Lite did not disappoint and proved swift enough to be the match of most competing flagships. Games like the latest Call of Duty Mobile were tackled on the highest settings without any discernible lag. The phone managed heavy duty browsing with over a dozen open Windows in Chrome and a host of other tasks with swift load times throughout the experience.

The provided Super AMOLED display maxes out at Full HD+ resolution much like the Note10 and served up wonderfully vibrant hues onscreen and pin-sharp text. Even compared to the 4K displays on the Note10+, there isn’t much difference unless you pore over every pixel. Its FHD+ resolution also works in its favour here as it also means that there’s less pixels to push and which in turn extends battery life. 

Galaxy Note10 Lite side

The main quibble here is that the Note10 Lite only has a single mono speaker at the base of the phone, perhaps in an effort to cut corners. The speaker itself is loud, manages to stay audible without distortion at high volumes but has poor sound staging; if you’re watching movies or gaming on this, you’d best resort to using headphones.

Samsung’s upgraded One UI 2 interface offers a bit more clarity on what apps are using what resources in the background and has more options for granting and denying permissions on a per app basis. 

The interface has most of the Note10 series tweaks, including their Air Command feature to let take notes with the SPen and Edge shortcuts that let you gain quick access to preselected apps. The biggest thing that this version of One UI 2 lacks though is the omission of DeX mode so you can’t hook it up to a monitor via a HDMI cable to fire a desktop interface nor can you hook it up to a USB port to your PC to mirror what’s display on your phone.

It’s hardly a concern for casual users but it is something important to take note for power users. Fortunately, the phone does retain the use of Samsung Pay so you’ll be able to get your usual payments done with a minimum of fuss.

Galaxy Note10 Lite SPen Stylus performance

The provided S Pen stylus on the Note10 Lite is effectively the same as the one used in the Galaxy Note9 with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support, allowing you to use a combination of button presses on the stylus to remotely control aspects of the phone within several meters distance.

You can use it as a remote shutter release allowing you to prop the phone up somewhere and take wefies or other customised tasks like browsing through your own image gallery. Unfortunately, it lacks the accelerometers seen in the Note10 and Note10+, so it lacks wand-like gesture controls on the S Pen.

Galaxy Note10 Lite S Pen


Omission of gesture controls aside, the SPen in the Note10 Lite allows you to sketch, draw and doodle as well as use the full range of Air Command shortcuts to do screen grabs, edit and annotate notes and the like.
In keeping with its pricier siblings, the S Pen also has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with the full range of function afforded to other Note series styli.

The fact that you’re getting this kind of functionality at its price point at just about 2 grand is quite a surprise.

Galaxy Note10 Lite camera performance

While Samsung’s most affordable Note has a Lite added to the name, it’s no slouch in the camera department. The rear comes with a triple camera array arranged in a squarish housing with an LED flash. All three cameras have a 12-MP sensor but differ in purpose.

Galaxy Note10 Lite cameras

The primary camera sports an F/1.7 aperture with OIS though it lacks the Dual Aperture switching tech of its pricier siblings. The second camera comes with 2x optical zoom and the third one packs a 123-degree ultra-wide angle lens. Both the zoom and primary rear camera have optical image stabilisation. The front packs a 32-MP selfie camera.

The camera user interface is a mix between that of the Note10 and the Note9. There’s a Live Focus mode but only for stills and it lacks the ability to defocus or to desaturate the background. A Pro mode exists with the full monty of expected options including ISO, shutter speed, white balance and the like. There’s also a dedicated Night mode that requires a 4-second delay but which serves up better lit shots after dark.

Note10 Lite Ultrawide mode
Ultrawide angle camera under daylight conditions
Note10 Lite primary
Primary 12-MP camera
Note10 Lite zoom
2x Optical zoom under daylight conditions

Shots taken off the cuff under daylight with the primary, wide angle camera and the optical zoom proved to be excellent under daylight, delivering Samsung’s characteristic aesthetic look with crisp detail and hues veering slightly towards on the vibrant side.

Note10 Lite

Note10 Lite
Ultrawide angle mode

Shots after dusk in low light are equally good as well with the Night mode trading off a 4-second delay for better dynamic range and a bit more detail. Pixel peeping up close reveals some softness and noise but it’s more than adequate for more than enough quality for a Facebook or Instagram post. 

Note10 Lite night
Note10 Lite Night mode off
Note10 Lite night mode on
Note10 Lite Night mode on

Both the front and rear are capable of capturing 4K video. Captured video at 4K is generally good with the provided OIS helping to smooth out most shots but electronic video stabilisation is only available at 1080P resolution, helping to manage hand shakes and gait judder to a much more significant degree.

 

Note10 Lite
Wide angle camera at dusk
Note10 Lite night mode on
Primary camera at dusk

Note10 Lite review low lightYou’re getting top-shelf performance here that can give competing flagships a run for their money and which can acquit itself favourably against its pricier siblings like the Note10 and Note10+.

Galaxy Note10 Lite Battery Life, Price and Conclusion


The massive 4,500mAh battery crammed into the Galaxy Note10 Lite gives it exceptional endurance. In fact, it’s even larger than the batteries crammed into the pricier Galaxy Note10 (3,500mAh) and the Galaxy Note10+ (4,300mAh). This is however tempered by the older, less efficient Exynos processor but the sheer size of the battery in the Galaxy Note10 Lite lets it steamroller over any these limitations with sheer brute force.

Galaxy Note10 Lite camera

With a combination of WiFi and data on and screen brightness set to auto, the Note10 Lite was easily capable of lasting nigh on two days with a couple of hours of voice calls across both days, constant use of social media and a good several hours of movies combined with marathon Call of Duty Mobile gaming sessions. It was only by noon on day 2 that it merited a top-up.

The Galaxy Note10 Lite is an interesting phone indeed. You’re getting a premium experience with expandable storage, a vibrant Super AMOLED display, a decent set of cameras, incredible battery endurance and above all, the S Pen stylus. It even manages to retain a 3.5mm audio jack in the bargain, something its pricier siblings lack.

Unfortunately, it lacks DeX mode functionality, only has a mono speaker rather than the stereo setups of its pricier siblings and lacks IP water resistance. All of these omissions aren’t deal breakers but they’re something worth noting, pun notwithstanding, for power users.

Galaxy Note10 Lite review

As it stands, the Galaxy Note10 Lite is a worthy proposition for those seeking an affordable way to get in on the Galaxy Note series experience. Its older predecessor the Galaxy Note9 is still a worthy contender that can still be found if you are fairly resourceful with similar specifications and a sharper display.

What we liked S Pen stylus works as remote control, huge battery, excellent Super AMOLED display, retains a 3.5mm audio jack, great cameras
What we didn’t Lacks DeX mode, has a mono speaker, no IP rating
We say The Galaxy Note10 Lite is one of the few, if not the only, smartphone in its price range with a stylus. While it has hardware that’s a bit long in the tooth, that does not dismiss the fact that it’s still a potent performer with immense battery life, a huge and vibrant display and a solid rear camera array. If you want the Galaxy Note experience, this is currently the most affordable and effective way to experience it now.


Galaxy Note10 Lite Specifications

Price RM2,299
Display 6.7-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display, 2,400 x 1080 pixels
Processor Exynos 9810
Memory 8GB RAM/128GB storage
Camera 12-MP F/1.7 + 12-MP F/2.4 w/ 2x zoom + 12-MP F/2.2 ultrawide (rear) / 32-MP F/2.2 (front)
Battery 4,500mAh
Size/Weight 163.7 x 76.1 x 8.7mm / 199g
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. Check out their official page at https://www.samsung.com/my/smartphones/galaxy-note10-lite/SM-N770FZSUXME/

Samsung Galaxy A50s Review – Refined and Redefined

Samsung’s refresh cycles for their midrange phones are getting faster and the Galaxy A50 which was launched earlier this year now has an upgraded successor dubbed the Galaxy A50s. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the Galaxy A50s offers modest upgrades to the hardware, in particular the front and rear cameras.

Galaxy A50s angled

Externally, the Samsung Galaxy A50s has similar dimensions to the A50 in terms of size and weight though it’s about 3g heavier at 169g though the chassis remains polycarbonate, presumably for cost and durability reasons though it looks rather like metal and glass until you hold it when its nature becomes apparent.

Galaxy A50s cameras

The design and placement of the front and rear cameras is also quite similar with the rear triple camera array plonked in the upper left corner and the front selfie camera placed in a small drop-shaped centreline punchhole at the top of the display.

Galaxy A50s ports

Directly compared to the A50, the A50s notably upgrades the processor from an Exynos 9610 to an Exynos 9611, beefs up the primary camera on the rear triple camera array from 25-MP to 48-MP and the front selfie camera from 25-MP to 32-MP. The rest of the upgrades are in terms of additional functionality culled from the higher end Galaxy S series phones in particular their Screen Edge function as well as a Super Steady mode to film judder free 1080P footage.

Hardware and firmware upgrades aside, the most immediately visible aesthetic change is the mirrored rear finish which Samsung has called Prism Crush which features a reflective paint job with alternating coloured triangles which lends it a slightly more premium look than its sibling the A50. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite resolve the fact that the reflective finish is still a fingerprint magnet. Finish notwithstanding, the rear triple camera array consists of a primary 48-MP F/2.0 camera, a secondary 8-MP F/2.2 camera with an ultra wide angle lens and a tertiary 5-MP depth sensor.

Galaxy A50s prism crush

The base of the phone sports a mono speaker, a 3.5mm audio jack and a USB Type C port while the right has a volume rocker and a power button. The left hosts a triple card slot which lets you plonk in two nano SIM cards and another microSD card up to 1TB in capacity at the same time. The top of the Galaxy A50s is otherwise bare.

Up front, the Galaxy A50s sports a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a tiny notch up top for the selfie camera. Samsung’s mastery of Super AMOLED panels comes to the fore here as it one-ups mainline LCD panels on account of its ability to offer brighter, lusher colours onscreen. The panel itself offers FHD+ resolution, which translates to about 2,340 x 1080 pixels and it also offers an under-display fingerprint reader. The FHD+ resolution is in line with most midrange workhorses and is sufficiently crisp enough for the vast majority of users.

In terms of build quality and design, the Galaxy A50s doesn’t quite break new ground but looks and feels sufficiently premium on account of its polished backplate and slim bezels as well as the decent heft on account of its large battery.

Samsung Galaxy A50s performance

The Galaxy A50s runs Android 9.0 Pie overlaid with Samsung’s One UI 1.5 user interface on top of a new midrange Exynos 9611 processor. The Exynos 9611 is a modest upgrade over the Galaxy A50’s Exynos 9610 and is also built on a 10nm FinFet process. It consists of a similar octacore configuration with a quartet of 2.3GHz Cortex A73 cores and a quartet of A53 1.7GHz cores paired with a Mali G72 MP3 GPU. Clock speeds and performance are similar though the 9611 adds in support for more powerful rear cameras.

At the launch, Samsung Malaysia was keen to emphasise that the Galaxy A50s offers several enhancements that were once the exclusive province of high-end Galaxy S and Note series phones. The biggest update is the inclusion of their Edge Screen feature.


For the uninitiated, the Edge Screen feature allows users to swipe a tab in from the edge of the screen to reveal a list of shortcuts for easy access. Users are also able to App Pair, which means launching two apps simultaneously with both taking up a split screen on the display. This comes in handy for a number of tasks like Google Docs and a Chrome browser to surf the web and take notes or YouTube and Chrome to surf and watch clips simultaneously. 

Another addition is their Digital Wellbeing feature that helpfully tells you where you’re spending the majority of your time on the phone, how many times you’ve unlocked it and other minutiae while also offering a Wind down feature that reduces the number of notifications and turns the screen to a grayish tint to help you get ready for bed.

Like other Samsung phones running One UI, the phone also has Bixby Home to curate your notifications and content for you so you can see them at a glance. The rest of the user interface is akin to other Samsung phones which leads to a flat learning curve for prior Samsung phone users. Of more immediate practical use is that the A50s supports Samsung Pay, which makes it a rather well rounded phone indeed as you can use this to swipe for transactions in lieu of carrying actual plastic around. Of value to Malaysian users is that the local versions are remarkably bloatware free.

Save for a reasonably useful shortcut to Lazada and to Netflix, the One UI interface really doesn’t try to shove ads or erroneous claptrap in your face which is something well worth paying a premium for these days of freemium driven apps and firmware.

In terms of synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy A50s and its Exynos 9611 scored reasonable scores, bearing in mind its designation as a midrange phone. In PCMark, it got a score of 5,853 points while in 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme Open GL ES 3.1 test it got 1,405 points whereas in Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan it got 1,483 points. In Antutu 3D, it got a score of 151,141 points. Over in Geekbench, it got a single core score of 353 points and a multi core score of 1,128 points.

Under practical field conditions, there’s little to quibble about with the Galaxy A50s and performance is equivalent to its predecessor with the ability to open up a good dozen or so browser windows, smoothly run most apps and generally get your day to day social media fix sorted. It’s fairly decent when it comes to gaming with the ability to handle Call of Duty Mobile on high settings though there’s a fair bit of loading time before a match starts. Other staples like Asphalt 9 and PUBG ran on medium settings without issue.

Galaxy A50 rear straight angled

The Super AMOLED panel on the Galaxy A50s did not disappoint, serving up vibrant hues and sufficiently sharp detail with good clarity under sunlight which makes Netflix and gaming a pleasant affair. Like other Super AMOLED panels, its a touch on the saturated side but you’re able to finetune the colour levels and also change it to a cooler or warmer tone as needed in the settings.

Like many other midrange smartphones, the sole mono speaker at the base of the Galaxy A50s is otherwise easily blocked when used in landscape mode by your fingers and serves up fair, if unremarkable audio quality sufficient for casual listening of the odd Facebook or YouTube video.

Galaxy A50s camera performance

The biggest upgrade and defining feature of the Galaxy A50s, on top of its relatively modest price as midrange Samsung phones go is its front selfie snapper and rear triple camera array, both of which have been upgraded with a higher megapixel count from its predecessor the A50.

Galaxy A50s rear camera array

The primary rear triple camera array is centered around a 48-MP F/2.0 camera with PDAF, a secondary 8-MP F/2.2 camera with an ultrawide angle camera and a third auxiliary 5-MP depth sensor for Live Focus bokeh shots. There’s no OIS on any of the Galaxy A50s cameras though it’s extremely rare for anything in this price range to have it in any case.
Galaxy A50s camera UI

Much like many other Galaxy A series phones, the Pro mode on the Galaxy A50s has been drastically simplified over that seen on the higher end Galaxy S and Note series phones though the rest of its more mainstream features are present and correct including a Food mode, a Night mode, their intelligent Scene Optimiser mode that tweaks settings for best results depending on what you’re shooting at and a Super Slow Mo mode that snaps slowed down 720@960fps snippets on demand. 

Galaxy A50s primary camera
Taken with the primary 48-MP camera on the Galaxy A50s
Galaxy A50s wide angle camera
Taken with the 8-MP wide angle camera of the Galaxy A50s

Another feature of note is the inclusion of their Super Steady mode that takes advantage of the large camera sensor to deliver very steady video footage at 1080P with an effect somewhat akin to mounting the phone on a gimbal. The rear camera is also capable of 4x digital zoom and 4K video capture.

Galaxy A50s primary low light
Taken with the main 48-MP camera of the Galaxy A50s at dusk
Galaxy A50s wide angle
Taken with the 8-MP wide angle camera on the Galaxy A50s at dusk

With the Scene Optimiser on and on auto mode, the primary 48-MP camera on the Galaxy A50s does a great job for what you pay for. It works as an excellent point-and-shoot with very little intervention needed to yield decent shots in both daylight and dimmer lit conditions for most subjects from macro shots, food to scenery.

Galaxy A50S wide angle daylight
The wide angle camera of the Galaxy A50s delivers good results under well lit conditions
Galaxy A50S primary camera daylight test
The Galaxy A50s primary camera serves up excellent shots under all but the most challenging light conditions

The secondary 8-MP camera works best under brightly lit outdoors conditions. While it does let you get more of the scenery into one shot, it doesn’t fare all too well with detail, especially after dark or with poor light sources indoors with shots tending to be grainy affairs with poor dynamic range and contrast, making its usage highly situational. For the most part, you’ll be sticking to the primary camera for most of your shots. The front-facing selfie camera offers otherwise decent selfies with good skin tones and does a decent job blurring the background on account of the AI but it’s unremarkable compared to the huge array of contenders in the market.

Galaxy A50s
Live Focus mode in action on the Galaxy A50s rear camera

Galaxy A50s macro shot

Galaxy A50s primary

On the video front the Galaxy A50s is capable of 4K@30fps on both the primary 48-MP rear and 32-MP front camera. The aforementioned Super Steady mode caps out at 1080p resolution and takes advantage of the larger 48-MP camera sensor to serve up some pretty good judder-free video, smoothing out the usual shake from a brisk walk though anything faster than that still requires an external gimbal. Unfortunately, 4K video lacks Super Steady mode so you’ll need fairly steady hands or a tripod for best results.

Galaxy A50s battery life, price and performance


The Galaxy A50s has a similar 4,000mAh battery akin to the Galaxy A50 with 15W fast charging. In terms of usage, the phone also has a similar performance envelope with sufficient juice for all day usage on an average work profile of an hour worth of video and gaming, constant use of a combination of WiFi and data all day and several hours of social media use and web browsing, with a combination of about eight or so hours of active screen time. While we didn’t get an official charger with our test unit, we had a 15W charger lying around and it worked just fine, juicing the phone up from zero to full in about two hours or so.

Galaxy a50s
As it stands, the Galaxy A50s is an incremental upgrade of the original A50 with improved front and rear cameras and modest firmware updates that offer more flagship type features. It’s a solid all-rounder, with a good Super AMOLED display, decent overall performance and an otherwise good set of cameras for day-to-day use though at this competitive price category it’s a bit on the pricey side. That extra premium however goes towards the polish and deep integration of the Galaxy A50’s myriad user interface and design including Samsung Pay that other brands have yet to match.

What we liked Good build quality, vibrant Super AMOLED display, good battery life, good primary rear camera for price, has Samsung edge screen
What we didn’t Finish is a fingerprint magnet, rear wide angle camera works best in daylight, average mono speaker
We say The Samsung Galaxy A50s is a modest update to the earlier A50 that brings to the table more powerful front and rear cameras along with several features culled from their higher end phones including their slick Super Steady video stabilisation tech. Worth a look if you haven’t invested in its predecessor the Galaxy A50.

Specifications
Price RM1,299
Display 6.4-inch Super AMOLED, 1080 , 2,340 pixels
Processor Exynos 9611
OS Android 9.0
Memory 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage + microsd card
Camera 48-MP F/2.0 + 8-MP F/2.2 (ultra wide angle lens) + 5-MP F/2.2 (depth sensor) / 32-MP F/2.0 (front)
Battery 4,000mAh w/ 15W quick charge
Size/Weight 158.5 x 74.5 x 7.7 mm / 169g
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. Available for purchase on their official page here.

STM Myth 28L Backpack Review – The Urban Traveller’s Delight

STM Myth 28L backpack

As a journalist, we’re often carrying the tools of our trade with us wherever we go along with a ton of other additional kit. Quite often, a backpack that we’ve tested often has form prioritised over function and in other cases proved to have comfort somewhere on the low list of priorities. We jumped at the chance to field test STM’s Myth 28L backpack and took it for a whirl for a month. Here’s how it fares under practical conditions.

STM Myth 28L backpack front

STM Myth 28L backpack side Seeing as I rely on a good chunk of public transport to get about, I needed an excellent backpack that offered the ability to protect my gear, has some measure of water resistance against Malaysia’s temperamental weather and, above all, some measure of comfort while carrying modestly light loads.

At the bare minimum, we’re looking at an inventory list of the following:

1 15.6-inch laptop with associated 1m long charging cable
2 power banks with USB Type C cables
1 umbrella
1 700ml water bottle
1 first aid kit
1 pair of Klipsch True Wireless earbuds


The laptop itself weighs a good 2 kilos while the power banks and other kit have a collective payload of about another kilo or so. The dry payload of the STM Myth 28L is 1.2kg. This base weight of backpack and cargo is usually supplemented by additional gear like additional phones, cameras, gimbals and whatever else is needed for a particular day offsite which may also involve items like paper folders from press releases, groceries and whatnot.

It looks light but things start to add up when you’re chasing after buses, trains, Grab cabs and MTR coaches in short order which demands a comfortable backpack that has everything securely stowed so that it doesn’t slosh about in a distracting fashion. Fortunately, STM’s Myth 28L aims to resolve these complications and more.

STM Myth 28L backpack logo

For the uninitiated, STM stands for Smarter Than Most, a technical outfitter company from Australia that makes a variety of other gear including docks, cables and power banks too.

Externally, the Myth 28L has, as you’d guess from the name, approximately 28 litres of carrying space which is about enough for an overnight trip out of town while carrying all your gear. It comes in three colour combinations – Granite Black, Slate Blue and Windsor Wine which is a combination of light gray and dark red. Our test unit came in Granite Black.

STM Myth 28L backpack
The zippers come with long pull tabs for easy access on the STM Myth 28L backpack

This translates to a sort of stone gray dappled finish that blends in with the usual urban concrete sprawl. So far so good but it’s the little touches that technical goods purveyor STM has put into the bag that make it such a joy to use.

 

Features of the STM Myth 28L backpack


Many backpacks sold in the market tend to have a base and underside made from the same material as the rest of the backpack. This also means that if you accidentally put your pack on a wet surface much like the monsoon that we’ve been experiencing for the past month, you’re going to get the underside and eventually the contents at the base of the backpack all soaked in crud.

STM Myth 28L backpack
The Myth uses plastic for its buckles and chest strap, presumably to save on weight

In the case of the Myth 28L, they’ve lined the base with a water resistant faux leather so that even if you leave it on rain-slicked pavement, your worldly goods don’t get wet as well. Score one for STM.

STM Myth 28L backpack compartments
The STM Myth 28L backpack features four compartments, three of which are zippered with the fourth opened for easy access for non-essential kit like a magazine or newspaper

This attention to detail also extends to the adjustable slings which were both well padded and had a chest strap to secure the weight better. These straps were made of plastic; if they were made of aluminium it would have been most welcome but in this case it’s a pretty high grade plastic that will last for several years at least so it’s still a solid choice of material. The Myth 28L also has some extensive padding on the back at key stress points along with a luggage pass through, both of which come in handy for frequent travellers.

STM Myth 28L backpack laptop compartment
The rearmost compartment of the STM Myth 28L backpack lets you cram in up to a 15.6-inch laptop securely protected by their SlingTech system from drops, dings and dents to the backpack.

The rest of the backpack material is made from 100% polyester that has been coated with a coating of C6DWR, a water resistant compound and has four primary compartments with extended zipper pull tabs that make it easy to open and close them. The front-most compartment has no zippers at all but is extremely roomy, allowing you to toss non-critical gear in like a magazine or tissues when you’re on the move. The remaining three compartments all feature reverse coil zippers with long pull tabs for easy deployment.

STM Myth 28L backpack
A series of compartments and their Cable Ready system allow for fast and easy access to kit

The rearmost compartment uses what STM calls their SlingTech technology which involves a series of protective mechanisms that hold a suspended laptop sleeve capable of supporting up to a 15.6-inch notebook from drops, dings and dents. The internal sleeve is also lined with smooth fleece to ensure your laptop isn’t scratched which is a nice touch. There’s also a bit of space for a folder or two of documents.

STM Myth 28L backpack side
The two middle compartments have a series of handy compartments that allow you to keep smaller items for easier access like business cards, gum and whatnot along with what STM calls their CableReady system which allows you to keep your cables for your headphones and power bank neatly out of sight.


STM Myth 28L Field Test

After carrying it around for work for a full month, the STM Myth 28L backpack performed with flying colours, It was comfortable to tote around and was able to carry our standard work payload without undue trouble or discomfort.

STM Myth 28L backpack
Very well padded back support for the STM Myth 28L backpack

The additional water resistance was a boon too and allowed our laptop plus several sensitive paper documents to survive a mild rain storm or two. The generous padding and well designed straps also made carrying it a pleasant affair in hot weather and even with buckets of sweat streaming down and a blazing sun overhead, there was still sufficient ventilation on the back portion and the straps to ensure that the back of our work shirt  didn’t end up a sodden mess.

STM Myth 28L backpack

We also took it out for an overnight trip out of town and there was enough space in the middle compartment to pack a change of work clothing and a toiletry kit too. While the bag is roomy and has relatively large compartments, it doesn’t stretch all too well so there is a hard limit to how much you can cram into it if you’re in a bind though that is hardly a concern seeing as it’s not intended for backpackers.

That minor quibble aside, the STM 28L Myth is an excellent proposition as a daily EDC around town and for short overnight trips out of town. In Malaysia, the Myth 28L backpack retails for RM499 and is available online at Lazada at http://bit.ly/STMstore

What we liked Exceptionally comfortable straps, well designed compartments, highly protective laptop sleeve, water resistant exterior lining
What we didn’t Metal buckles would be nice
We say The STM Myth Backpack 28L is a  well designed offering with superior comfort that features a number of well thought out features ideal for urban commuters. This is well worth what you’re paying for as the excellent materials and stitching mean it will stand up to hard work, heavy loads and constant day to day use for years to come.

Samsung Galaxy Note10 review – Svelte Power-Packed Phablet Delight

Galaxy Note10 hero

Where does the Galaxy Note10 fit in with the Galaxy Note10+?

Launched alongside the larger  Galaxy Note10+, the Galaxy Note10 is a smaller, lighter and slimmer variant which also costs a good chunk less while offering much of the user experience of its larger sibling.

The Galaxy Note10 is the first time that Samsung has expanded their design strategy to include multiple differently sized variants for the Galaxy Note series. Previously, this was a mainstay for their mainline Galaxy S series phones which came in different sizes in an almost Goldilocks fashion with the compact Galaxy S10e, the Galaxy S10 and the larger Galaxy S10+ that had similar processors but varied slightly in terms of storage, cameras and, of course, the size of their displays.

Galaxy Note10 front

Out of the box, the Galaxy Note10 for Malaysia has a UK-style 3 pin 25W fast charger, the associated USB Type C charging cable, a pair of AKG Type C earbuds and a plastic casing to protect the phone.

Galaxy Note10 angled

In this regard, the Galaxy Note10 differs from the larger Galaxy Note10+ in a number of subtle but important ways.  Boiled down, the Galaxy Note10 has a similar processor as the Galaxy Note10+ but slightly less RAM and lacks expandable storage. Both also lack a 3.5mm audio jack, the first time a Note series phone has done so.

The rear camera array of the Note10 also quite similar to the Note10+ save for the lack of a 3D ToF VGA camera. It is also lighter and slimmer though at the expense of a smaller battery. You can refresh your memory with our prior feature here on how both phones differ.

Galaxy Note10 base

Externally, the Galaxy Note10 has a similar form factor and design to the Galaxy Note10+ albeit sized in a smaller and slimmer form factor that is just 7.9mm thin while weighing 168g. For the record, that’s a good deal slimmer than its predecessor the Note9.

The Galaxy Note10 hosts a volume rocker and power button that also doubles as a button to summon Bixby on its left side. There is also a dual SIM card slot on the top side of the phone. As mentioned earlier, the Note10 lacks expandable storage as it only has a dual SIM card slot so you will have to make the most of the available 256GB of storage. The right side of the phone is otherwise bare. The base hosts the stylus well for the Galaxy S Pen, a USB Type-C port and a speaker grille. 

Up front, the Galaxy Note10 has a 6.3-inch FHD+ dynamic AMOLED display with a 10-MP selfie camera mounted in the middle of the top section of the phone along with a barely imperceptible speaker that works in tandem with the other speaker at the base of the phone to offer stereo sound. Rather than a conventional fingerprint reader, the Note10 hosts an under-glass fingerprint reader near the bottom quadrant  of the display. 

The backplate hosts a mirrored finish sheathed in glass with the triple camera array emplaced in the upper left corner of the phone. This setup looks and feels wonderfully premium feel though it also attracts fingerprints aplenty.

Galaxy Note10 rear

Befitting a phone of Samsung manufacture, the Galaxy Note10 boasts of excellent build quality with a wonderful heft that you can only get with a phone made of glass and metal. The slimness and rounded edges of the Note10 also enables users with small hands to easily wield it one-handed.

Galaxy Note10 performance and specifications

The Galaxy Note10 uses the same processor as the Galaxy Note10+ in the form of an Exynos 9825 octacore processor paired with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage. The Exynos 9825 processor integrates a pair of 2.73GHz M4 Mongoose cores, a pair of 2.4GHz Cortex A75 cores and a quartet of 1.9GHz A55 Cortex cores for otherwise general duties. Paired with the Exynos 9825 is a Mali-G76 MP12 GPU. 

The phone runs Android 9.0 overlaid with their One UI which integrates their new upgraded DeX desktop interface that now works as an instanced operating system when you directly hook the phone up to a PC via a USB cable that lets you drag and drop content back and forth on top of direct access to the phone’s apps.

Galay Note10 SPen

Like the higher end Galaxy Note10+, the Note10 ditches the oft maligned dedicated Bixby button from the Galaxy Note9 and instead folds its functions into the power button. By default a long press summons Bixby while a double press fires up the camera. Holding volume down and the power button turns the phone off. If you’re not one for Bixby, you can reassign the long press function to another app.

Galaxy Note10 stylus

In terms of the user interface and the functionality of its upgraded gesture-enabled S Pen stylus, the Galaxy Note10 is otherwise identical to the Galaxy Note10+. 

Firing up apps proved swift and the phone was able to handle everything thrown at it, including some simple video editing in 4K, rapidly swapping between a dozen Chrome browser windows in seconds and intensive gaming on PUBG and Asphalt 9. It does get somewhat warm under heavy loads, especially in the upper left corner of the phone but the provided casing does mitigate that liability somewhat to manageable levels.

The S Pen is otherwise identical with the same foibles as the Galaxy Note10+. On top of its more obvious applications in jotting down notes, you can hold the S Pen down and perform a series of gestures to manipulate the camera settings and a few other select apps. For more details on how the One UI interface and the S Pen works, check out our prior Galaxy Note10 review.


In terms of synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy Note10 got close to what the Note10+ scored, albeit slightly behind in some tests presumably on account of having slightly less RAM. In Antutu 3D it got a score of 347,208 points. In 3DMark’s Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 test it got a score of 5,023 points while in the Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan test it got 4,868 points. In PCMark, it got a score of 8863 points. Oddly enough, in Geekbench 5, it got a somewhat oddly low 826 points in single-core performance and 2,236 points in the multi-core test but this seems more of a statistical anomaly with the app as the Note10 has performance that exceeds these test results.

Galaxy Note10 side

While the display isn’t as crisp as what the Galaxy Note10+ is capable of achieving seeing as the former only maxes out at FHD+ resolution and the latter at WQHD+ resolution, it’s still plenty sharp. Unless you’re really peering at every pixel, the Galaxy Note10+ offers more than sufficient detail with beautifully rounded and clear fonts and equally sharp looking footage.  

Seeing as the display is also HDR10+ compliant, it’s capable of serving up scene-specific metadata for superior contrast and dynamic range though there’s still a dearth of such content anywhere. In lieu of that with normal content on YouTube or Netflix, the display still serves up excellent colours and dynamic range with beautifully deep blacks onscreen and brilliant whites. Clarity under sunlight was good as well.

The paired stereo speakers proved up to the task, delivering excellent audio performance and volume for a smartphone. While the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack is unfortunate, their provision of a pair of USB Type-C AKG earbuds goes some way towards salving the sting.

Out of the plethora of stock earbuds we’ve tested, these AKG earbuds that are issued with Galaxy S and Note series Samsung phones remains some of the best we’ve experienced. The Galaxy Note10 is every bit as capable as its larger sibling the Galaxy Note10+ and the difference in RAM is not a major issue under all but the most demanding tasks.

Galaxy Note10 camera performance

The Galaxy Note10 rear camera array is essentially identical to that of the Galaxy Note10+ save for the omission of the 3D VGA ToF sensor which adds depth data to Live Focus shots.

Galaxy Note10 rear cameras

The camera array is vertically aligned on the rear of the camera with a primary 12-MP Dual Pixel camera that has OIS and the ability to change apertures from F/1.5 to F/2.4 depending on ambient light conditions, a secondary 12-MP F/2.1 camera with 2x optical zoom that is also optically stabilised and a third 16-MP F/2.2 camera with a wide angle lens. The front has a 10-MP F/2.2 Dual Pixel camera for selfies.

Galaxy Note10 front selfie camera

Captured video is capable of going up to 2160P at 60 FPS at HDR10+ and looks excellent though you can’t take much as you’ll easily max out the storage.

The phone also has a similar 1080P Super Steady mode as the Galaxy Note10+ that works as advertised ,ensuring judder free footage for all but the most intensive extreme sports. A leisurely walk or even a fast sprint all look smooth as silk with Super Steady mode activated.

Galaxy Note10 camera

Galaxy Note10 flowers

Galaxy Note10 candy

Galaxy Note10 textiles

Galaxy Note10 mushroom

Note10 camera

In terms of camera performance, it handles in pretty much the same fashion as the Note10+ with excellent performance across the board, serving up well saturated shots brimming with detail in daylight and excellent shots at night with minor tradeoffs in noise with the provided Night mode offering better colours and slightly better dynamic range.

Galaxy Note10 evening ultra wide angle
Evening with the Ultrawide angle lens
Galaxy Note10 primary camera
Evening with the Galaxy Note10 primary camera
Galaxy Note10 2x zoom
Evening shot with 2x optical zoom

The omission of the 3D VGA ToF sensor has minimal impact on Live Focus shots with the option of different bokeh patterns fully available and with very authentic looking results though the usual provisos on extremely fine detail like hair are still occasionally botched. 

Galaxy Note10 low light

 

Galaxy Note10 no night mode
Low light with Night mode off
Galaxy Note10 Night mode on
Low light with Night mode on

Overall, there’s very little compromise here in terms of imaging quality and you’re getting nigh on the full camera performance of what you’d get in the higher end Galaxy Note10+.

Galaxy Note10 battery life, price and conclusion

The Galaxy Note10 comes with a 3,500mAh battery that’s smaller than the 4,300mAh battery in the Galaxy Note10+ and a wee bit larger than what the 3,500mAh battery of the Galaxy S10.

The combination of the FHD+ resolution display and presumably battery optimisation tweaks with the firmware means that the Galaxy Note10 exhibits excellent battery life that can easily last a full day plus of moderately heavy use akin to how we tested the Galaxy Note10+. The bundled 25W fast charger was able to charge the phone from dead zero to 65% in about 30 minutes which is gratifyingly swift by any measure.

Galaxy Note10 camera
On its own merits, the Galaxy Note10 is every bit as capable as its larger sibling the Note10+ though some minor concessions were made to keep the price down and differentiate it somewhat.

The omission of the 3D VGA TOF camera isn’t a major issue as the existing triple camera array is more than capable of delivering excellent shots nor is the smaller size of the battery a hindrance as it still delivers similarly good battery life as the Note10+.

Where it gets murky is its smaller display that’s capped at FHD+ though it’s more than enough for all but the most demanding power users though this actually works in its favour as leads to less battery drain and longer endurance in the field.

The lack of expandable storage is another downside to the Galaxy Note10 that will irk power users but it has more than sufficient onboard storage that would cater to the needs of most users.
Galaxy Note10 topPower users and those with deeper pockets seeking a no-compromise solution should still chunk out more for the Galaxy Note10+.

For mainstream users seeking the Galaxy Note experience – the unique S Pen, great cameras and a crisp AMOLED display, the Galaxy Note10 is an excellent proposition that offers superb imaging quality, performance and battery life. 

What we liked Exceptional camera quality, superb performance, crisp and vibrant display
What we didn’t No expandable storage, screen resolution capped at FHD+, no 3.5mm audio jack
We say Svelte, light and powerful, the Galaxy Note10 comes with the same top-shelf user experience as its larger sibling the Galaxy Note10+with a great set of cameras, a good display and the same unique S Pen stylus. If you can live with the lack of expandable storage, the Galaxy Note10 represents excellent value and performance.

Specifications
Price RM3,699
Display 6.3-inch dynamic AMOLED, 2,280 x 1080 pixels
Processor Exynos 9825
OS Android 9.0 w/ One UI
Memory 8GB RAM/256GB
Camera 12-MP F/1.5 – F/2.4 Dual Pixel camera + 12-MP F/2.1 w/ 2x optical zoom + 16-MP F/2.2 w/ ultrawide angle lens (rear) / 10-MP F/2.2 Dual Pixel camera (front)
Battery 3,500mAh w 25W fast charge
Size/Weight 151 x 71.8 x 7.9 mm / 168g
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA review

Asus is delving into the large-scale corporate market with their  line-up of ExpertBook notebooks that are intended specifically for businesses. The Asus ExpertBook P5440FA is one of their new additions to the line-up with suitably business-like looks, exceptional durability and hardware optimised for a corporate desk jockey.
Asus ExpertBook P5440FA angled

Unlike the rather gaudily hued VivoBooks that are intended for mass retail, the P5440FA lacks distinctive styling and is conservatively designed with a businesslike exterior that primarily consists of a staid looking chassis with a squarish, angular design all around that looks right at home in the boardroom or propped up on a table in some airport lounge in Madrid waiting for a flight to that next power meeting. 

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA top lidThe top lid itself is done up a matte gunmetal gray that is bare save for the Asus logo and has a matte gunmetal gray brushed metal finish that is remarkably fingerprint resistant. Of note is that the notebook itself is built up to US MIL-STD 810G standards which means it’s a good deal tougher than your average notebook with the ability to survive a 100mm drop with the power on. 


Seeing as its intended audience will likely be toting it around for extended periods of time, Asus has gone to the trouble of crafting almost the entirety of the chassis out of an extremely light magnesium alloy for extensive weight savings with the whole affair weighing a mere 1.2kg.  When held, the notebook felt wonderfully light and felt sturdy indeed. 

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA side

In keeping with its aspirations as a business laptop, the notebook has quite a generous selection of ports capable of tackling most work-related scenarios like porting a feed out to a projector or monitor and transferring data from flash drives and hard disks. The right side hosts an SD card reader and a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port. The left side of the notebook comes with the obligatory power jack, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, a HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port with Quick Charge tech and an audio combo jack. 

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA right side

Just to ensure that you have all your ports sorted out, they’ve also bundled in two free dongles – a USB Type-C to VGA dongle and a USB Type-A to RJ-45 dongle too for good measure if you need wired Ethernet.

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA left side

The front of the notebook is otherwise bare save for a tiny indentation to make it easier to open the laptop while the underside hosts a pair of side-firing stereo speakers and a quartet of rubber feet that raise the chassis just high enough when placed on a flat surface to allow for you to flip the display all the way around to an almost-flat 180-degree position.

Unlike the consumer oriented VivoBooks, the conservative aesthetics of the ExpertBook line eschew the ErgoLift hinge seen in the VivoBook and opts for a conventional hinge mechanism though this also allows it to flip around and down to a full 180-degrees in the unlikely scenario that you need to do so. While deployment is smooth and wobble free, the hinge was also rather stiff and requires two hands to deploy. The good part though is that the hinge itself is also built tough and is, on paper, rated for 50,000 movements which is quite a feat of engineering.
Asus ExpertBook P5440FA underside

When flipped open, you get greeted by the sight of a compact white-backlit keyboard and a 14-inch Full HD display with a rather chunky bottom bezel. You also get a fingerprint reader inset next to the touchpad. 

The ExpertBook  P5440FA isn’t going to win any notebook beauty competitions but you get it where it matters with an exceptionally light and sturdily built chassis along with a generous array of ports that can tackle most scenarios.

Asus ExpertBook  P5440FA performance

The ExpertBook  P5440FA comes in a variety of configurations depending on the needs of a prospective organisation though Malaysia has two primary configurations that can be purchased off the shelf that differ only in terms of what processor they use. 

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA angled 2

The highest specced and priciest variant comes with a 14-inch Full HD display, 8GB DDR4 RAM and runs Windows 10 Pro on an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U processor with a 512GB PCie G3 x 2 solid state drive as well as Intel UHD Graphics 620 for RM4,499. 

Our test unit bears an almost identical configuration save for the use of an 8th Intel Core i5-8265U processor along with a slightly cheaper price of RM3,999. Both configurations also have a spare slot, allowing you to add in additional RAM up to a maximum of 16GB.

With a configuration like this, our review unit of the P5440FA is ideal for general work with Microsoft Office – spreadsheets, emails, reports, Outlook and the like. The stock 8GB RAM and SSD gives it enough nippiness that it’s able to handle all but the most intensive Powerpoint decks while the plethora of available ports means that you won’t be caught high and dry in almost any presentation outside of the office. Unfortunately, the lack of a dedicated graphics card and its reliance on Intel UHD Graphics 620 means it’s ill suited for more graphics intensive tasks like rendering videos though it is able to handle photo editing in a pinch.

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA time spy

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA unigine

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA night raid

When subjected to synthetic benchmarks, the ExpertBook  P5440FA had a fair performance envelope for a business oriented notebook. In the Unigine Superposition benchmark, it got a score of 636 points at 1080P medium settings. In 3DMark’s TimeSpy test, it got a score of 365 points owing to the lack of a dedicated GPU while in the Night Raid benchmark, which tests notebooks with Intel HD graphics, it got a respectable score of 3,994 points. In the Cinebench R20 test, it got a modest score of 613 points. Unfortunately, PCMark was not able to run on the P5440FA during our testing period. The provision of the  nippy 512GB PCIE G3x2 SSD offered excellent read/write speeds in CrystalDiskMark with the notebook achieving 1,583MB/s read speeds and 1,033.4MB/s write speeds out of the starting gate.

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA crystal disk mark

Under more practical field tests, the notebook was more than capable of handling the workload of a standard corporate desk jockey. It easily tackled over a dozen opened browser windows in Chrome and Edge, ploughed through a day’s worth of Excel and Powerpoint presentations as well as their open source derivatives without incident or significant slowdown and, in a pinch, managed a few retro games like the original Diablo and recent Roguelike game Crying Suns on the sly.

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA cinebench r20

While the size of the bottom bezel was rather chunky, the ExpertBook P5440FA’s matte display was fortunately up to the task and offered good clarity and visibility even under brightly lit conditions. While the panel isn’t colour calibrated, it’s sufficiently vibrant enough to make a Netflix session a pleasant affair. This was also helped in part on account of the decent stereo speakers. While they’re not tuned by Harman Kardon, they’re sufficiently loud enough to fill up a small room with sound; a good thing if you’re using this for presentations.

 

Seeing as this is a productivity oriented laptop, it is mission-critical to ensure that the keyboard is up to task. Asus has tweaked the keyboard to offer 1.5mm key travel as well as slightly concave-shaped keys in order to ensure that it offers an excellent typing experience and for the most part, they’ve succeeded.

We managed to achieve a handy 100wpm in an online typing test and managed to hammer out this substantial review on its keyboard which is quite a testament to its capabilities indeed. The omission of a numeric keypad is understandable seeing the size of the notebook but it means spreadsheet crunchers will likely be slowed down a notch.Asus ExpertBook P5440FA

Asus ExpertBook P5440FA Battery Life and Price

 

The Asus ExpertBook P5440FA has a quoted battery life of ten hours of paper but it’s, at best, an optimistic estimation. With the display set on moderate brightness and on average power settings with WiFi on and a purely productivity related work profile – emails, word processing, spreadsheets – for most of the day along with an hour or two of YouTube video, the notebook managed about seven hours of run time before we needed to find a plug point. That’s a fair figure by any measure and more than sufficient for a day out of the office. 

As it stands, the Asus ExpertBook P5440FA comes at quite a significant premium and if you’re shopping purely on specifications alone, you might as well score the VivoBook S15 S531F that we reviewed recently that is not only cheaper but has a larger display, an equivalent processor and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU but at the trade-off of a heavier, less durable chassis and a more whimsical looking design.

That being said, the Asus ExpertBook P5440FA does have its charms. If you prioritise portability, durability and reliability, this notebook is well worth a look.

What we liked Light and portable, good build quality, excellent keyboard, great battery life
What we didn’t Not cheap
We say The AsusExpertbook P5440FA has sufficient power to handle mainstream computing tasks in the office while possessing sufficient portability and battery life to make it viable for all-day carry out in the field. Add in exceptional sturdiness and you have the makings of a great a business oriented notebook. 

Specifications
Price RM3,999
Display 14-inch IPS LCD, 1,920 x 1080 pixels
Processor Intel Core i5-8265U
OS Windows 10 Pro
Memory 8GB RAM/512GB PCIE G3x2 SSD
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Battery 50Whr 3-cell Li-Ion Polymer battery (10 hours quoted)
Size/Weight 326 x 229.3 x 10.14/ 1.2kg
Review unit courtesy of Asus Malaysia. Available at https://www.asus.com/my/Laptops/ASUS-ExpertBook-P5440FA/specifications/