Welcome to the NotebookReview Forum Spotlight, a biweekly series where we highlight the hottest and most important topics in our forum. The NotebookReview forum is the largest Internet forum dedicated to the discussion of notebook computers, including Macs and tablets. You can sign up for free by clicking here.
What Phone or Tablet Should I Buy?
In addition to asking advice about what notebook you should buy, we now have a fillable form for asking what phone or tablet you should buy.
One of the first people to create a thread is @rlk, asking for a phone that meets the following requirements:
- Android-based operating system
- 3-5-year lifespan
- 5.5-inch or larger screen
- Prefer a headphone jack
- Needs to fit in a sturdy armored case
- $500 or less
The phones suggested by our forum members included the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+, LG Q stylo +, and an Apple iPhone, the latter mainly for longevity.
New iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max Announced
They’ve been out for a little while now, but what do people think of them? After 14 pages of in-depth discussion, it’s not all positive feedback. For one, it looks like you’ll need to pony up for accessories to get the advertised fast charging feature. It also looks like the new models saw a significant price increase over the last generation. The latter isn’t surprising; I recently read an article that people are likely to stick with the same phone manufacturer for their next phone. Given that just about everyone has a smartphone now, it only make sense that companies would try to maximize the revenue from their existing customer base.
Here’s a quick summary of the new iPhone models. All are water and dust resistant and include a 7 megapixel front-facing camera, Face ID, an A12 Bionic processor, and wireless charging.
- iPhone XS ($999 starting): 5.8-inch Super Retina HD display with HDR and True Tone; dual 12 megapixel rear-facing cameras.
- iPhone XS Max ($1,099 starting): similar to the Xs, but has a larger 6.5-inch display.
- iPhone XR ($749 starting): 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone; single 12 megapixel rear-facing camera.
The XR is the “budget” option with the lesser-quality screen. Note that these are just the new iPhones; Apple still sells the existing models, including the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8.
Personally, as an iPhone 8 user, the new models don’t do a whole lot for me given the lack of groundbreaking new features. I’ll wait to get one for a discount, or just hang on for the next generation.
Do I Really Need a Gaming Laptop?
@enderGC is looking to replace an aging laptop and gaming desktop at the same time. The question becomes: Should I buy a gaming laptop and replace both, or a work-related laptop and then save for a gaming desktop? It’s a classic question.
There’s no doubt a gaming desktop will be faster than a gaming laptop for the same amount of money, but you lose the mobility. I’ve been reviewing gaming laptops and desktops for almost 15 years. It’s only within the last three years or so where I’ve started to view gaming laptops as true alternatives to gaming desktops. The technology has finally caught up. The performance of mobile graphics cards is startlingly close to desktop graphics cards. The processor performance differences between notebooks and desktops tend to be more severe, but the graphics card is the most important component for gaming. Thus, you can get a similar experience on both platforms. If personally faced with this question, I’d be seriously tempted to pick up a nice big gaming notebook like the MSI GT75VR Titan Pro.
Asus ROG Zephyrus S (GX531) Gaming Notebook
Just announced, this looks to be one of the sleekest gaming notebooks that should be on the market soon. Its top features include a design just 0.62 inches thin, an Intel Core i7 hexa-core processor, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics. An IPS-level 144Hz display with 3ms gray-to-gray response time ought to make for a smooth gaming experience. You can pre-order it on Amazon for $1,899.
(If you get one, be sure to tell us about it!)
Tech Talk: Interpreting Subpixel Array Images
This is an interesting read if you’re planning to buy a notebook with a high-end screen, such as a 4K display. Not all displays are created equally, even if they’re the same display resolution. The backlighting unit is arguably the most component that contributes to image quality. Think about what makes one photograph look better than another; it’s almost always the lighting.
Colors in a notebook screen are made by combining red, blue, and green. Ideally, the backlighting unit in a display will have all three colors, allowing each pixel on the screen to show accurate color. Some notebook displays, however, will cheat the system by having just two colors per pixel. They’ll combine or diffuse with a neighboring pixel to get full color, but it doesn’t look as good as a proper backlight with three colors per pixel. Forum member @jeremyshaw does a better job explaining it than I do.