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The Asus VivoBook Max X541SA is a low-cost 15.6in laptop. It’s here for people who want to spend as little as possible while still getting something that looks and feels like a proper laptop.

HP 250.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 


You can buy the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA for  £ 299 from Currys. It’s among the cheapest new laptops you’ll find outside of a Chromebook. However, there are even cheaper options if you’re happy to buy from Chinese websites, such as Chuwi’s 14.1in LapBook which costs way less than £300 even factoring in import duty.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 


No prizes for guessing this, but the X541SA is actually all plastic. Like most cheap laptops, the underside is black too, rather than matching the finish of the rest. Similarly, the lid flexes under finger pressure. You have to accept a few build compromises like this if you budget only stretches to £300.

A perhaps more important area is the keyboard. If a keyboard surround flexes too much, it can affect typing feel, and is a constant reminder your laptop isn’t that well-built. There is some slight flexing to the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA keyboard, but not under the pressure of normal typing.

The construction is fine, just not fancy.  

One crucial aspect to take on-board is the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA is a laptop for home or work use, not one perfect for taking cross-country on your travels. It weighs 2kg and is 27mm thick, which we’d consider too chunky to carry around day-long. Any 15.6-inch laptop outside of something like a Dell XPS 15 (which has an unusually small footprint) is going to be a rucksack-hogger too.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 


Unlike skinny laptops, though, the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA has an optical drive on its right side. It’s a DVD multi-writer.

There’s a good spread of connections as well. On the left are USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and a USB 3.1 ‘C’ sockets plus VGA and HDMI video outputs and an Ethernet port. There’s a bit of everything. A full-size SD memory card slot also sits on the front’s underside.

Almost no premium laptops feature VGA ports these days, but one may be essential if you have a fairly old monitor you need to hook up.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 

Keyboard and trackpad

As a larger 15.6-inch laptop, the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA can fit in a NUM pad alongside the normal keyboard keys. There’s plenty of space to go around, and no keys have been made utterly tiny as a result.

The feel is a little more unusual, particularly now we’re accustomed to fairly slim chiclet keyboards. There’s a lot of travel to the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA’s keys, but they are also very springy. Perhaps a bit too springy. Your fingers bounce across the keyboard, and it takes a while to bed into.

In a more expensive laptop this would be a major issue, but like the all-plastic build, a slightly patchy keyboard is to be expected at the price. There’s also no keyboard backlight to help when working in a darker room. At this price we’d have been bowled over is Asus had managed to fit this in, though.

The Asus VivoBook Max X541SA trackpad is solid, but again has some elements that seem rather basic. Positives include that it’s very smooth for a plastic trackpad, is a good size and doesn’t suffer from any annoying driver issues that make it appear to wilfully misbehave with Windows 10.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 


Like almost every laptop this affordable, the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA uses a TN screen rather than the IPS kind more popular these days. TN panels tend to have fast response times, but almost universally look worse than the IPS type because of their relatively narrow viewing angles.

This doesn’t just affect looking at the screen from an extreme angle, as the character of the display alters from just a few degrees of tilt. Looking at the laptop dead on, the contrast will actually appear different at the bottom of the screen than the top.

This is only instantly obvious when you’re looking at a pure black/colour screen, but is why, to image quality purists at least, most TN displays never look that good. TN monitors tend to fare better than laptop screens, and this particular one isn’t great.

Cementing its position as a home laptop rather than one to use outdoors, max brightness is unremarkable at 210cd/m2 and a glossy screen finish makes reflections an issue if you’re not careful about how the laptop is angled.

Colour performance is limited too, although that’s no surprise given the use of a twisted nematic panel. The Asus VivoBook Max X541SA covers 59 percent of the sRGB colour standard, 41 percent of Adobe RGB and 42.2 percent of DCI P3. While not a bad result for this type of panel, it’s not great for editing photos.

In person, though, colour is one of the screen’s stronger suits. It’s perfectly good for general use, even if the punch of its tones is reduced by the fairly poor 344:1 contrast.

The X541SA has a typical low-cost laptop screen. It’s flawed in many respects, but is the norm at the price.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 


One other big sub-£300 laptop sacrifice is performance. The X541SA uses an Intel Pentium N3710 CPU rather than the Core i-series processors we’d recommend to anyone using Windows 10 every day.

For a little more context, all Core i series can be considered ‘premium’ chipsets, even the Core i3. Intel’s Pentium, Celeron and Atom models are used in lower-cost machines.

For a laptop like the VivoBook Max, the Pentium range is the best of the three. It uses more energy than an Atom, but tends to offer more power than either an Atom or Celeron chipset.

The Pentium N3710 is a quad-core CPU with a clock speed of 1.6GHz, and a 2.56GHz burst mode. It offers acceptable performance with Windows 10, but we wouldn’t say much more than that.

Apps take a little while to load, and the system feels less responsive than a laptop with a Core i3. It’s an important distinction as models like the HP 250 G5 offer Core i3 power for £350. That’s more money, of course, but if you use your laptop several hours a day, we’d argue the performance boost is worth paying for. Core i processors run Windows 10 as Microsoft intended, where Pentiums feel compromised.

Doing much more than browsing, writing docs and so on makes the X541SA feel distinctly slow. And even the basics of Windows run slower than they would in a slightly more expensive machine.

It’s time to consider how patient you really are. However, it doesn’t make Windows 10 feel like a flat-out chore, unlike some Atom-based laptops.

Aside from the CPU, the X541SA has 4GB DDR3 RAM and a 1TB hard drive. There’s plenty of storage, but this is a slow 5400rpm drive, which will contribute to the slightly slow Windows 10 feel.

If you want to play some ultra-casual titles, the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA should handle them just fine, but for more console-like games you’ll need to look for ones at least a decade old.

This is also a fairly loud PC, with fans that seem to turn on regularly even when you’re doing something non-demanding like watching a video. They are not high-pitch but do have a distinct, almost husky tone that is quite noticeable in a quiet room/office. It’s a wheezer, the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 

Sound Quality

The Asus VivoBook Max X541SA’s speakers are a pleasant surprise after all that. For a cheap laptop, they’re rather good. They live behind the circular grilles above the keyboard and have a much fuller tone, and louder output, than we expected given the sacrifices elsewhere.

At max volume you will hear some flat-out clipping distortion with certain content, but there’s real mid-range bulk here and an approximation of bass. We’d happily watch a film with this laptop in a pinch as a result.

Asus VivoBook Max X541SA review: 

Battery Life

We wouldn’t rely on the Asus VivoBook Max X541SA for use on a work trip, though, as the battery life is not good enough. Lasting just three hours 57 minutes playing a 720p video on loop at standard 120cd/m brightness (the sort of level you might use indoors), stamina is remedial.

It’s final, conclusive proof that Asus hasn’t made this laptop for people who need a portable computer. However, four hours is actually the classic ‘standard’ stamina for work machines like this. Now that (semi) portable machines have become the default buy for almost anyone with £500 or more to spend, we just don’t see laptops this tied to the charger that often anymore.

Such pedestrian battery life is disappointing when the Pentium N3710 is still a fairly low-power CPU with an up-to-date 14nm architecture, though.

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Asus Rog Zephyrus S Review

Our Verdict

The battle for the best gaming laptop rages on and Asus has a serious contender in the new ROG Zephyrus S. It’s a beast of a laptop and that normally means size in the gaming world but this is thinner and lighter than some Ultrabooks we’ve tested only capable of running basic games. If you have £2k to spend then you’re likely to be taken with the Zephyrus S. Although you can save a few hundred quid by going for the cheapest Razer Blade 15, the model with equivalent specs is only £20 cheaper. We’ll have a full review once we get a sample.

Competition in the gaming world is as fierce as ever and although the Razer Blade 15 was the world’s thinnest 15in gaming laptop, Asus has taken the title away with its new stunner. We’ve been hands-on with the Asus ROG Zephyrus S.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S: Price and Availability

High-end gaming laptops that don’t weigh as much as a tractor aren’t cheap. Having the world’s thinnest is something you’re going to need to splash out on.

As such, the Zephyrus S (GX531) starts at £1,999 which is a little higher than Razer’s new Blade 15 starting at £1,699 – with lower specs, though.

The Zephyrus S will be available from mid-October in the UK from Box, Scan, Amazon and Buyitdirect.

It’s actually a lot cheaper than the Zephyrus GX501 we recently reviewed, which costs £2,799. It’s got the same Intel processor but boasts an Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card.

We’re focusing on the ROG here but we will compare the two at times. Check out our chart of the best gaming laptops.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S: Design and Build

Making an already thin and light product even thinner and lighter is no mean feat. It was all the rage in the phone market not too long ago, but quickly hit a ceiling.

Back in the laptop world, the challenge continues and requires more minute and tricky engineering changes to make it achievable. Asus has worked on various areas of the Zephyrus to make it more compact.

There are various titles flying around and they tend to get quite specific. The Razer Blade 15 is the ‘world’s thinnest 15in gaming laptop, while the Asus ROG Zephyrus M was the ‘world’s thinnest gaming laptop with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 and Intel 8th-gen’. It’s a bit of a mouthful.

Those laptops are 16.8mm and 17.5mm which is impressive but the new Zephyrus S is just 14.95mm at its thinnest point. That’s a seriously impressive figure, knocking off over 2mm on an already thin chassis – 12 percent is notable when it’s already thin.

This also results in a lighter laptop: it’s 2.05kg, down from 2.25kg. This narrowly beats the Razer which is 2.07kg. Without going into too much detail, Asus has done this with things like a thinner lid – which milled rather than pressed like normal – and thinner heat pipes.

For cooling the AeroAccelerator fans now have 83 blades each, 17 percent more than the original. There are more vents and air is actually sucked in through the keyboard. So everything should keep cooler aiding performance. You can choose from Silent, Balanced and Overboost settings depending on what you’re doing.

All of this keeping up with the Joneses behaviour might seem fickle and you’re unlikely to notice a huge difference in size or weight when it comes down to it. However, the technology trickles down lower range devices making them better and thinner and lighter in turn.

Like other Zephyrus models, the new S model is stunning with its all metal design. Like the other models in the range, it has a hatch that opens up when you lift the lid which exposes vents – it looks pretty cool and also gives the keyboard a few degrees of tilt.

The keyboard, as you can see, is at the front of the chassis. This is due to the placement and cooling of internal components like the GPU. It’s still unusual and feels weird for a while (based on various laptops we’ve used with this arrangement.

It also means the trackpad is sat oddly to the side with a tall rather than wide shape. It’s got physical buttons. This matters less for when you’re gaming as you’ll want to plug in a mouse anyway. It has a nifty features where it lights up, becoming a NUM pad and calculator.

Asus ROG Zephyrus S: Specs and Performance

Often with high-end laptops there are various SKUs or models to choose from, each with a different set of specs. For example, the Razer Blade 15 has five different options with varying screen tech, graphics cards and storage capacities.

Well things are nice and simple here because in the UK at least, there’s only one configuration available.

The Zephyrus S has the same Full HD 15.6in panel as found in the GX501. It’s a brilliant screen with a 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time – a combination you won’t find elsewhere. It’s IPS level and offers 100 percent of sRBG colour gamut, according to Asus.

Although it’s the same display, the bezels are much smaller giving it a much more modern look and a more compact frame. This follows the general trend recently in the gaming laptop market.

At that price, narrowly ducking under the £2k mark, you’ll get an Nvidia GTX 1060 with 6GB of memory whether you go with Asus or Razer. If you want a GTX 1070 then you’ll need to go with the Blade 15 as the Zephyrus S with the higher spec GPU is only available in the US.

We’re yet to run benchmarks but we’ve tested other laptops with this set of specs so you’re likely to get excellent frame rates. The real test is whether the Zephyrus S can cool all those components while you’re gaming.

Rounding off the specs is 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, full-size HDMI 2.0 and two USB-C and one with the former conveniently positioned at the rear. There are also three USB Type-A ports – one of which is 3.1 Gen 2 – and a headphone jack.

Battery life is unlikely to be anything special as there’s little space for a large cell. The Zephyrus S has a 52Wh battery compared to the Blade 15’s 80Wh. We’ll run our usual video loop test when we get a review sample to see how long it can last.

Asus Eee Top Et1602 Touchscreen Nettop Review

ASUS Eee Top ET1602 Touchscreen Nettop Review

At first glance, ASUS’ Eee Top ET1602 is the epitome of a niche product.  Packing nettop-spec hardware in an all-in-one form factor, with a touchscreen and general design that seem to have stopped by HP’s TouchSmart and the Apple iMac along the way, it’s certainly tough to pin down.  Innovative new segment or just another Eee oddity: SlashGear set to finding out.

In the box, ASUS include a wired keyboard and mouse, stylus and a printed manual, together with recovery DVDs and a microfiber screen cleaning cloth.  Two color versions of the Eee Top are available, white and black, with otherwise identical hardware specs.

First impressions are positive.  Despite the relatively budget price for the Eee Top, ASUS have managed to eke out more than a little style from its plastic casing.  Held upright by a strong, spring-loaded metal leg, the body of the Eee Top is white gloss-finish plastic sitting in a transparent tray.  Stand (and carry handle) aside, the nettop is just 4cm thick; along the back run gigabit ethernet, four USB 2.0, power, microphone, line-in and headphone ports, plus a Kensington lock hole.  On the left-hand side there are a further two USB 2.0 ports, plus a multiformat memory card reader.

Underneath the touchscreen there are buttons for brightness and volume on the left, while the power and screen toggle are on the right.  LEDs indicate WiFi and hard-drive activity, and in the bottom bezel there are stereo speakers.  A webcam and microphone are at the top above the screen.  The Eee Top has vents running across the top and in the center on the back.

Using the included peripherals and a WiFi internet connection, you can reduce cabling to just two wires: power and one USB for the keyboard.  The mouse, not entirely necessary if you’re devoted to the touchscreen, can plug into a USB port on the keyboard; on the opposite side there’s a pop-out stylus in a spring-loaded bay.  ASUS’ keyboard is surprisingly weighty and pleasant to type on.  It follows the same isolated keys as first seen on some Sony laptops, and although lacking a separate numeric keypad the rest of the keys are full-sized.  Several have Fn-triggered secondary features, including volume and music control, backlighting, sleep and WiFi, launching the webcam app, toggling through performance modes (more on that later) and changing the Eee Top’s blue underlighting.

The mouse is less impressive, a lightweight blue LED model with scroll-wheel.  It’s usable, and the design echoes the white & transparent plastic of the Eee Top’s build, but nothing special.  As for the stylus, it’s a basic 14cm stick of plastic with a tapered nib; the only thing worth noting is the strength of the bay spring, which is enough to launch the pen across the desk.

Despite looking a whole lot more grown up than any netbook (and taking up more of your workspace), the guts of the Eee Top are in fact on a par with any of the company’s more recent budget ultraportables.  That means a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard-drive.  WiFi is b/g/n, but the graphics still use Intel’s GMA 950 onboard chipset and there’s no optical drive.  Of course the primary difference is the 15.6-inch touchscreen display, running at 1366 x 768 resolution.

The display uses a resistive touchscreen, rather than either a capacitive panel such as on recent Tablet PCs from HP and Dell, or an active digitizer as on most other Tablet PCs.  That means the screen responds to any touch, rather than requiring a finger or a special stylus, but only one point of contact rather than multitouch.  Responsiveness in the Eee Top’s case is good, with only a light touch required, and it soon becomes second nature to stab at the screen rather than reach for the mouse.

Of course, the usefulness of finger-input depends largely on software, and here the Eee Top is a mixed bag.  ASUS preinstall Windows XP, the  Home version rather than the Tablet PC edition, which is not known for its touchscreen-friendliness.  To solve that, you get Easy Mode, a large-icon launcher which runs automatically when you start the PC.  Four tabs – Communication, Fun, Work and Tools – give access to the preloaded apps, including StarSuite for office tasks, Skype for VoIP, and both Internet Explorer and Opera.  There are also a number of ASUS-specific apps, including games, and software for on-screen keyboards, handwriting recognition and other touchscreen-control.  Unfortunately there’s no apparent way to add new apps to Easy Mode, nor to change which tab each shortcut is in.

Easy Mode certainly makes loading software straightforward; however the apps themselves vary in their usefulness with the touchscreen.  As is usually the case, the ASUS-specific titles are most user friendly, with large buttons and straightforward drag & drop usability.  Others, such as the calculator, drop you into XP’s standard GUI: controls sized for mouse use.  There’s a sense of ASUS stopping development when Easy Mode was just usable enough: the Eee Memo app, for instance, which lets you drag down virtual Post-It notes and write reminders and messages on them, would make far more sense if the notes were visible all the time.  As it is, leaving a message for someone relies on them starting up the Eee Memo app.

In use, the 1.6GHz Atom processor means the Eee Top is not going to threaten machines with similar form-factors, such as HP’s TouchSmart or Apple’s iMac.  Nonetheless, it’s perfectly capable of sustaining a couple of web browser windows, each with multiple open tabs, without unduly slowing.  The absence of an optical drive means the ASUS is unlikely to be asked to do any serious media lifting; however it happily played back a 720p high-definition video from the hard-drive (anything higher resolution caused stuttering).  Screen quality is fair, although the panel tends to look washed out when viewed from the top.  One point of concern was a pixel-width blue line that appeared down the left-hand side of the display after the Eee Top had been switched on for a while, and which only a reboot would dismiss.  It’s unclear whether this is a graphics problem due to heat build up.

As on their netbooks, ASUS has given the Eee Top three different power modes: super performance, high performance and power saving.  These can be switched between either through the Easy Home interface or by the Fn+Space shortcut.  In practice, there’s little noticeable difference between the three; nothing can disguise the fact that the Eee Top is no media editing or 3D gaming machine.  As a media extender though, with a high-speed network connection, it comes into its own; another of the ASUS apps is Eee Cinema, a media-center style GUI for accessing audio and video.  It’s here you’ll most miss an optical drive, as Eee Cinema even has an option to watch DVDs.  Still, sound quality from the built-in speakers is reasonable.

Also preloaded is a webcam app, that lets you record video and take photos using the Eee Top’s 1.3-megapixel camera.  Image quality is as mediocre as you might expect from an integrated webcam, but the app has a number of effects and animated overlays to brighten things up.  These range from frames and color-effects, such as sepia, through Batman-style “Pow!” flashes, to being able to draw onto video and images. 

In the end, though, we’re surprisingly impressed by the Eee Top.  The display may be relatively small compared to what many people have on their desktop nowadays, but given you need to be sitting within comfortable prodding distance it’s less of an issue.  It also makes the Eee Top more portable; toting it between rooms is no hardship, and the next-generation model, tipped to have an internal battery, should make that even more straightforward.  Even sucking up your mains power, its frugal 27W demands mean the Eee Top is more economical than a standard desktop PC.

Similarly, as long as you’re not looking for high graphics performance, the Eee Top handles web browsing, office chores and media playback with little complaint.  ASUS, incidentally, are planning a separate ATI Radeon HD 3450 video option in the next-gen machine.  The touchscreen implementation may not be perfect, but it’s certainly usable and the price is far less than HP would ask for a TouchSmart PC.  For the same cost as the Eee Top you could obviously find a higher-spec standard desktop PC, but the ASUS’ design charms, touchscreen and general usability still make it a tempting buy.

The ASUS Eee Top ET1602 is available now, priced at around £400 in the UK; the US price is expected to be around $450.Unboxing Video:

Yeedi Vac Max Robot Vacuum Review

When doing your spring cleaning this year, you may have noticed you had to do more than expected on your floors. If you are resolved to do better moving forward, you can start with a yeedi vac MAX Robot Vacuum. Read this review to see how it compares to other robot vacuums.

This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Yeedi. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.

Setting Up the yeedi vac MAX

Everything was packed inside the box for the yeedi vac MAX Robot Vacuum as expected. One notable difference from other vacuums is the lack of spare brushes and filters. Every other vacuum I’ve reviewed has had extra brushes and filters.

Packed inside the box is:

It also has a regular charger instead of a base station that allows it to self empty. I don’t consider that a negative. While it doesn’t have that as a feature, it also isn’t taking up that extra room.

Carefully turn the robot vacuum over and install the side brush. It easily snaps into place.

Plug the electrical cord into the charging base, then plug the base into the wall, allowing for 1.64″ left and right and 4.9″ at the front. Place the robot vacuum on the base, making sure the contacts line up correctly.

The vacuum will need to fully charge before you can use it for the first time. Open the top lid and find the sliding switch. Turn this to On.

While you’re waiting for it to charge, download the yeedi app. The Quick Start Guide includes a QR code that allows you to easily download the app for iOS or Android. The same QR code is printed under the lid.

After opening the app, you’ll need to select your region and language, agree to the user agreement and privacy policy, and register for an account.

The robot vacuum is ready to be paired when the light on the top slowly flashes. Choose “yeedi vac MAX” from the list on the app.

A pop-up asks you to enable Location Services on your Android or iOS device. If you’re having issues, the question mark on the “Add a Robot” screen opens a setup guide. That is a nice little plus.

You’ll be asked to enter your Wi-Fi credentials and need to be on a 2.4GHz or 2.4/5GHz dual-frequency network.

If you arrived at this point without switching the robot vacuum on, you’ll be asked to and will need to confirm in the app that you have. You will also be prompted to hit the reset switch (to the right of the On/Off switch) and confirm that you heard a ready message.

Your robot vacuum still isn’t set up yet. You’ll need to pair it with a QR code. Tap a button on the app to create the QR code, then hold your phone above the vacuum’s camera for it to read the code and finish pairing it.

It’s more steps than you would normally need to go through to pair a vacuum; however, it works well, and you can move through it quickly.

When it’s fully paired, you’ll get a message that says the yeedi vac MAX has completed the setup. Yet, there are a few quick settings you need to go through.

The first is for the Do Not Disturb mode. Enabling this allows you to create a time frame when the vacuum will not operate, even during a scheduled cleaning, or to complete a cleaning session after it has recharged.

The second is for Continuous Cleaning. This will allow the vacuum to finish cleaning after it recharges unless it’s during a Do Not Disturb time.

Using the yeedi vac Max

With the yeedi vac MAX fully set up, it’s time for your first cleaning session. It includes Visual SlAM navigation to guide it through your home and needs to clean and move through your home for the LiDAR to “learn.”

Tap the Start button on the app, and the vacuum will begin driving around your home, mapping it out as it goes along. It went about my very non-uniform top level of my home row by row.

It took three times for the vacuum to complete the mapping and cleaning. This took just over half an hour. The first time the vacuum went row by row, and the second time it seemed to be reaffirming its lines, as it was driving through the middle of a room and would veer off to check corners and such. The third time around, it was edge cleaning.

There are a few options in the settings. You can clean just an area or a custom plan, select the power, create a schedule, set the language and volume of the audio messages, Continuous Cleaning, Do Not Disturb, auto-boost suction for carpet, auto-empty (though, again, there is no self-empty station on this model), and cleaning sequence, which allows it to follow a preset order in Auto.

I have all laminated and tile flooring in my upstairs so don’t have to adjust the power level. The vacuum did a super job cleaning up everything, even on the lowest setting.

The only problem it had was traversing obstacles. While the vacuum can avoid large obstacles adequately, smaller obstacles were a problem.

I have had difficulties with some other robot vacuums making it over a transition piece between the bathroom and hallway. I was able to help it over once, but then it struggled the next time, rocking quickly back and forth, then giving me a message that there was a problem with the drive wheel. It also struggled going over a floor register, but only the first time.

While the map looked complete after the first cleaning, a pop-up message told me that the robot was still mapping when I tried to create a no-go zone.

The next cleaning appeared to do the same as the first and didn’t really change the map.

I still had the same pop-up message before the third cleaning but forged ahead to define rooms and set up a no-go zone.

While the Visual SlAM navigation did a fine job mapping out my home, it just wasn’t as finite as others I have used.

I wanted to block off my stairs, but the map didn’t make it obvious where I should draw my lines, so I set one that is probably larger than I needed. While it does skip the blocked-out area the first time around, when it does the edges, it ignores the no-go zone.

You can also label areas, but there wasn’t much to label. It only detected one large room, which is fine, as it’s really one large great room with a hallway, kitchen, and living room. Other mapping vacuums have done the same, but I was able to draw and label separate rooms. With this, I had to go with its boundaries and just have one room and the bathroom.

To mop while you vacuum, you need to pull out the water reservoir from the front of the yeedi vac MAX. Once it’s pulled out, it will announce that it has been removed.

Pull open the blue rubber tab and fill the reservoir with water. Attach either a disposable mopping pad or the cloth mopping pad. Attach that to the bottom of the water reservoir, then slide it back into the vacuum. Wet the pad slightly just to give it a head start.

No other action is required on your part. The vacuum will detect that the plate is installed and will mop as you vacuum.

Again, the yeedi vac MAX did a great job with the mopping. As with all vacuum mops I’ve reviewed, it surface mops the floor. It’s great for lightly dirty floors. You wouldn’t want to clean up big muddy messes with this or stubborn dried-on globs, but it works great for light dirt and to maintain cleanliness.

Once you are in the mopping mode, the cleaning module changes to the mop module. The key difference is that it adds an option to choose how much water it will use.

When you opened the lid to find the On/Off switch and Reset button, you should have also seen the dust bin. This is a unique location, as typically, dust bins are on the front.

You will need to lift the dust bin out to empty it after every cleaning session. Press the red switch on the side to open the bin and dump the contents into the garbage.

The yeedi vac MAX Robot Vacuum will also give you a voice prompt to remove the mopping pad. Pull out the water reservoir and remove the pad. If it’s the reusable one, rinse it out. If it’s a disposable one, simply toss it in the trash. You should also empty the water reservoir.

Final Thoughts

The yeedi vac MAX would make a great first robot vacuum. It would definitely satisfy your curiosity about these devices. But if you’re a more experienced robot vacuum user, it may not check all the boxes for you.

This is due to the extras and not the performance. It really did a great job vacuuming and the usual job mopping. Mostly, I believe the navigation just needs a little work.

You can pick up the yeedi vac MAX Robot Vacuum for $257.49 after a 17% discount and clipping the $40 coupon.

Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site’s sponsored review program.

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Asus Rog Strix Scar 2 Review: Good Value Gaming

Our Verdict

The Asus ROG Strix Scar 2 might not be a huge upgrade from last year so owners might struggle to justify getting one. However, in the wider market it’s great to see Asus adopting a modern design with narrow bezels and responsive display tech. It’s not the thinnest or lightest gaming laptop around and has poor battery life but offers excellent performance considering what price you can get one for.

As well as a raft of other new products including a gaming smartphone, Asus’ Republic of Gamers arm has updated its popular Strix gaming laptop range. Here’s our Asus ROG Strix Scar 2 review.

There were two new models announced at Computex 2023 in Teipei – the Strix Hero II aimed at MOBA gamers and the Strix Scar II which is tailored to those playing FPS games. We’re using ‘2’ instead of ‘II’ for ease. 

You can also check out our Asus ROG Phone review, a new Razer Phone rival, and Asus ZenBook Pro 15 review with its innovative ScreenPad second display. 

Price & Availability

As we expected, the ROG Strix Scar 2 (GL504) comes in at £2,299 for the model we’ve reviewed – that’s the one with a GTX 1070 (GL504GS). However, you can get it for just £1,699 from Amazon.

In the US, the laptop is oddly lower at $1,999 but Amazon has it for $1,839.

You can get a cheaper model if you like which comes with a 1060 instead (GL504GM). It retails for a more accessible £1,699/$1,699. It’s on at just £1,499 at Currys. It’s $1,322 at Amazon US.

This makes choosing a lot easier than the Razer Blade 15 which comes in a lot more skus. And the 1070 Scar 2 matches the price of the 1060 Blade 15 making it a pretty good deal.

Other rivals include the  Gigabyte Aero 15X v8 and Alienware m15. Check out our chart of the best gaming laptops.

Design & Build: Light ’em up

The Strix Scar 2 is deceptive in that it appears to be very thin and light, however, it is 26.1mm and 2.4kg. So it’s thicker and heavier than the Gigabyte Areo mentioned above but lighter than its predecessor.

This illusion is primarily achieved by chopping off the corners at the front where no components are in the way. Still, those figures are better than a number of rivals like the Alienware 15 R3 so this is a portable high-end system.

The Strix Scar 2 looks great. The overall style is appealing and it looks like it means business.

You get a two-tone finish on the lid with the ROG logo – RGB lit, of course – sitting within the lighter brushed metal area. Asus says it’s inspired by ‘a bullet homing in on its target’. Shrug.

You also get super narrow bezels that are 2.33cm smaller than its predecessor so this is one key change. The screen is surrounded by a rubber frame in order to protect it, but also make the bezels look even smaller – we’re not sure about the latter.

It’s nice to see a design refresh rather than just hardware so the Strix Scar 2 looks sleek and modern. Asus just didn’t get there first with this XPS-style, er, styling. We particularly like the smudge-proof Kevlar weave around the keyboard and trackpad.

Speaking of the keyboard, this is another area of improvement albeit not a major one. Since the Scar is aimed at FPS players, the WASD keys are highlighted with transparent caps and semi-transparent sides (the Hero is QWER). 

Naturally the keyboard has Aura RGB lighting but has improved travel of 1.8mm despite using the same membrane switches as previously. There’s also ‘Overstroke’ technology, which means you don’t need to press as hard to register input and strokes are registered early. It’s nice and responsive and setup nicely for gaming, of course.

There’s a pretty standard trackpad with dedicated rather than integrate mouse buttons. More interesting, though, is the new lighting bar on the front. If you’re not that fussed about the drama of RBG additions then you can just switch it off.

Last but not least is an upgraded cooling system, which consists partly of new 12V fans. The pair has smaller 0.1mm blades so there are more of them and they also spin faster. Asus says the airflow is up to 42.5 percent better.

The HyperCool Pro thermal system also has an extended cooling plate to better spread heat and keep the CPU and GPU below 90 degrees. There’s also a trapezoid cut at the back to avoid the lid blocking airflow.

Should you need it, you can quickly activate Fan Overboost mode for extreme cooling with an Fn+F5 shortcut. Even in this mode Asus claims a maximum of 50dB noise. We found the Scar 2 quiet in use.

Specs & Features: Silky smooth

There aren’t just upgrades to the design of the Scar II and the screen will likely be the main lure for a lot of gamers. 

Narrow bezels aside, the 15.6in IPS display has a 144Hz refresh rate combined with a 3ms response time. It’s the only one means silky smooth performance. 

The Full HD screen is also 20 percent brighter than before and has a non-glare coating, which is always our preference. We clocked it at a decent but not amazing 300cd/m2.

Other specs remain largely the same with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8750H with a Core i5-8300H also available in the US. The six-core i7, as we found on the Aero 15X is very capable.

There’s up to 32GB of 2666MHz dual-channel SDRAM and either 128-, 256- or 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD coupled with a 1TB traditional drive. 

In the graphics department is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM or a GTX 1070 that steps things up to 8GB. We’ve reviewed the latter.

As you can see from the results below, it performs very well indeed across the board. Note that the Alienware m15 we tested has 32GB of RAM.

Rounding off the specs includes 11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi with a multi-antenna RangeBoost technology. Asus says the new Strix laptops are the first in the world to do so and means 30 percent more range, higher throughput and fewer dropouts. 

For connectivity there is a USB-C 3.1 port (not required for power), three USB-A 3.1 ports, HDMI 2.0, mini DisplayPort 1.2, RJ-45 Ethernet, a combo audio jack and an SD card slot.

The only real downside is batter life which is historically bad on gaming laptops. Although we have seen some good results over the last couple of years, the Scar 2 isn’t one of them, managing only two hours and 37 minutes in our test. Here we loop a 720p video with the screen set to 120cd/m2, that’s 30 percent brightness in this case.


At full price, we probably wouldn’t be scoring the Scar 2 a nine out of 10, but considering how cheap you can get a GTX 1070 model, it’s a bit of a bargain.

That means, combined with a powerful Core i7, plenty of performance and there are other highlights including the 144Hz screen with a 3ms response time, which is now modern with small bezels.

There’s more to like including the stylish design, array of ports and decent keyboard and trackpad. You’d only be put off the Scar 2 if you want to travel around with it a lot, due to its weight and short battery life.

Redminote 9 Pro Max Review And Comparisons

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the note series in Redmi’s catalog. The Note series of phones have played a huge role in placing Xiaomi on the global market map. Thanks to the popularity of the Redmi Note series, it has dominated the Indian smartphone market. Since Xiaomi redefined the mid-range budget series with their Redmi note 3, the company has managed to push the boundaries further by releasing a better Redmi Note Series.

The company is currently facing competition in the midrange market from Vivo, Realme, among others. In March 2023, Xiaomi released the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max powered by an SM7125 Snapdragon Qualcomm with 720G Octa-core processor. For the GPU, the phone has an Adreno 618 graphic card.

Distinctive Specifications

One distinguishing feature on the smartphone is its lenses. Redmi Note 9 Pro Max has a 64 MP rear camera with 8 MP ultrawide lenses. The camera also has an additional 5 MP macro and 2 MP depth sensor lenses which enable it to attain nice photography experience and images. The front camera comes with a stunning 32 MP sensor that captures nice selfies. In terms of security, the phone is equipped with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. Other sensors embedded in the device include a gyro, compass, accelerometer, proximity.

Comparing the Redmi Note 9 Pro and Redmi Note 9S

The Redmi Note 9S is the global version while Redmi Note 9 Pro and Note 9 Pro Max which were first released for the Indian market.  All three phones have quad rear cameras that are similar in shape, a square module. But the cameras on each phone have different configurations. The Redmi Note 9S boasts of a 48 MP primary sensor from Samsung GM1 with an f/1.79 lens. The secondary shooter has 8 MP with an ultra-wide-angle f/2.2 lens. The front selfie camera in Redmi Note 9S has a 16-megapixel camera.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro, in contrast, has a Samsung ISOCELL GM2 48 MP Primary sensor with an f/1.79 lens. The secondary, tertiary, and quaternary lens is similar to that of the Redmi Note 9S. The only difference that the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max brings is the 64 MP primary camera. This is to add on the 32 MP front camera.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro and Pro Max rank higher in storage capabilities in that they have a microSD card expandable storage of up to 512 GB while the Redmi Note 9 is only expandable up to 128 GB. All three phones have onboard storage of 128 GB. Also, Redmi note 9 Pro is shipped with 4G/8GB RAM while Note 9 Pro Max is shipped with 6/8GB RAM. When it comes to the charging capabilities, the Redmi Note 9S and Redmi Note 9 Pro support 18W, which is slower than the 33W fast charging of the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.

Final Verdict

Whichever model you choose, the Redmi Note 9 series are great high-end flagship devices from Xiaomi. They come loaded with great cameras, superior build quality, decent gaming performance,  and an excellent battery life with fast charging capability. Even for a heavy user, the battery should last the whole day. This is a great deal and a good value for money.

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