ASUS UX490 Zenbook – Review

I was lucky enough to be given the chance to try out the Zenbook UX490 for a couple of weeks last month, and I promised you an in depth (and honest) review. I would like to start off by saying that I thought the transition from Macbook Pro to **any** Windows laptop would be traumatic and difficult, but the ASUS made it ridiculously smooth. This brings me to one of my favourite elements on the ASUS: the super responsive trackpad including fingerprint sensor. You can customize the trackpad so that all of the gestures you’ve become accustomed to on the Macbook are available on the ASUS too! It might sound like a non-issue to you, but it was one of the small details that made such a big difference to me. In the past when I’ve borrowed my dad’s laptop, it’s been an all round uncomfortable and frustrating experience when it comes to the low functioning trackpad that so many of those (lower end) Windows laptops have. The fingerprint sensor also just makes life a lot easier, signing in and out was a breeze.

Before I dive any further into the inner workings of the ASUS, I do need to highlight how beautiful this machine is. The colour combo I got was royal blue with gold trim and accents, I was also told that there is a rose gold edition which is stunning. It’s so slim, slimmer than anything I’ve ever held or used. It’s not as chunky as my Macbook Pro, and a few times when I had it in my work backpack I was convinced I’d left it at home. It’s so light that I wasn’t even aware of its presence in any bag. You might be worried that it’s maybe too small? Well, I never ever looked at the screen and thought that it needed more space. Considering the fact that I was switching over from my hulking 15inch Macbook, it’s impressive that it never felt too “little” for me. The lightness and portability were game changers though. I travel a lot in addition to the fact that every single night I have to pack a backpack full of stuff for work. The ASUS cut down so much weight and bulk, it was hard going back.

 

It isn’t just its size that is impressive, but also what they were able to cram in to such a small device! You get 512G storage, which is exceptional in a laptop of its size. The display is crystal clear, and I could work inside without scorching my retinas, and work outside without having to squint – the screen brightness worked perfectly in all environments I tested it out in. Charging was also a highlight! It might be a weird thing to mention, but I’m one of those people whose laptop/cellphone are always moments away from battery death. I forget to charge my devices all the time! The UX490 was charging to about 60% of its battery in under an hour. If I had it charged up to a full battery, I was getting anywhere between 6-7hrs of use. The screen brightness actually seemed to be the biggest deciding factor for me when it came to how long the battery lasted. I used the most intensely at night (when your screen is usually dimmer), so I got great lasting power out of it.

This high end laptop also came with its own laptop sleeve, as well as adaptors, which was a nice bonus touch. It charges via USB type c, which is supposed to be the industry standard going forward. It does also mean that it’s incredible easy to charge the ASUS from a portable charger! Another surprise I got: the quality built-in speakers from harman/kardon. The sound has got to be the best I have ever heard from a laptop that small.

In short, the Zenbook UX490 delivers on performance, functionality and looks… something you’d expect from ASUS who have a reputation for making devices that provide a good balance. There’s no doubt that this laptop is thinner and lighter (and more attractive) than almost anything else I’ve seen, and I do feel like it dealt with every task I threw at it – from work to play.

- This is a sponsored post, but all words and opinions are 100% my own.

New Amazon Series Shows Us An Alternative Reality Where The Nazis Won

A brilliant new series is coming to a tv near us soon, hopefully (it’s been commissioned and released by Amazon, so i’m not sure how we could watch it here in South Africa). The entire series is based on a novel written by Philip K. Dick, and is set in a dystopian alternate history where the Nazis beat the Allied forces in World War 2.

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The pilot debuted back in January, but it was only after the pilot aired that it was picked up for a full season, so the release date is November of this year. The very basics of the story are that the United States has been partitioned into three parts: The Japanese puppet state of the Pacific States of America, which comprises the former United States west of the Rocky Mountains; a German puppet state that comprises the eastern half of the former United States; and a neutral zone that acts as a buffer between the two areas, called the Rocky Mountain States.

Deadpool Trailer – NSFW

FINALLY – the full length Deadpool trailer is here. Ryan Reynolds has been doing some “in character” promotion on Twitter and saying some very Deadpool-y things.

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand.

Ultimate Deezer Playlists

As long as i can remember, when music went digital, so did the piracy. Digital music pirating got its first big start with Napster, and this was almost purely because the music industry just couldn’t keep up with the changes, and were stuck in the past specifically with regards to distributing the music.

However, in 2015 we have the option of cheap alternatives to illegal download services… and for the first time in the history f the music industry online music streaming has actually become a viable option! In all honesty, the way streaming works these days it’s actually so much easier to just stream rather than try and find a reliable torrent (and run the risk of being caught).

The only streaming service that has taken an active interest in the South African market is: Deezer. They have acknowledged (along with the help of Vodacom) that we have different needs down here ;) Deezer worldwide has 16 million monthly active users! Deezer also has a whopping 35 million tracks in its library which are available in more than 182 countries. Those are some seriously impressive numbers.

Even if you’re still a little unsure of the app, just download it and give it a try, you have nothing to lose… and about 35million songs to gain!

I recently got together with a few other music-crazy people to try and come up with some “ultimate” playlists. So if you’re looking for some playlists to get you going, this is a good place to start! Check the sneak peaks of the playlists below, click on the title and it’ll open the full playlist in a new tab for you.

ROADTRIP:

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ONE HIT WONDERS:

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ULTIMATE HIP HOP:

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SA ARTISTS TO WATCH:

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Verified Tinder Profiles

Verified Tinder Profiles – YAY! Another way to get ignored and rejected by celebrities! Sounds great.

The dating app, Tinder, has started doling out verified profiles, which means now you’ll know if “celebrity” profiles on the app are legit or not. Tinder announced the move on their blog: “Now when notable public figures, celebrities and athletes appear in your recommendations, you’ll know it’s for real.”

I’m not sure if this is a PR move to try and boost downloads of the app, because no doubt some poor soul out there probably believes that they have a shot with Katy Perry or Hilary Duff (who both have Tinder profiles, and use them). I would go as far as to say that Tinder might even be paying real life celebrities and athletes to create profiles and just be “seen” on the app. I’m sure they’ll start verifying lesser “celebs” on the app as well, and it’s only a matter of time that the tiny blue tick will result in some serious pulling power for whoever has one.

According to Tinder though, the verification isn’t just to clamp down on fake profiles of celebs, it’s also so that proper famous people can interact with each other without having to wade through all of the non-verified peasants. So, in other words, for them to basically only interact with one another like they do in real life anyway.

This honestly just feels like another way a celeb can ignore your existence, except it’s way worse because if you swipe “yes” on their pic, and you never get a match with them… well then, they basically don’t like your face. I’d rather not even get involved, thanks.

If Tinder is your thing, celebrities and all, then you might be happy to know that they’ve introduced Instagram support, as well as an expanded interests section – just in case you need to let your potential matches know about your love of travel, music festivals, and banting.

Deezer Music Streaming

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As long as i can remember, when music went digital, so did the piracy. Digital music pirating got its first big start with Napster, and this was almost purely because the music industry just couldn’t keep up with the changes, and were stuck in the past specifically with regards to distributing the music.

However, in 2015 we have the option of cheap alternatives to illegal download services… and for the first time in the history f the music industry online music streaming has actually become a viable option! In all honesty, the way streaming works these days it’s actually so much easier to just stream rather than try and find a reliable torrent (and run the risk of being caught).

The only streaming service that has taken an active interest in the South African market is: Deezer. They have acknowledged (along with the help of Vodacom) that we have different needs down here ;) Deezer worldwide has 16 million monthly active users! Deezer also has a whopping 35 million tracks in its library which are available in more than 182 countries. Those are some seriously impressive numbers.

If you ever felt overwhelmed by the idea of music streaming, or maybe you were concerned about the cost… don’t worry. I’m here to clear that up for you a bit, and to show you what Deezer is actually all about.

Essentially Deezer is a subscription service that allows you to listen to tracks across loads of different devices. You can also listen to music in online mode (streaming) or in offline mode (where you download and sync to your device). Here is the coolest part: there is NO limit to the number of tracks you can listen to or sync to your phone/ipad/whatever!

 I love it because i don’t have to worry about storage space on my phone anymore! I have an unlimited library of music available to me inside of Deezer! You can also make your own playlists for every occasion – a chill playlist, roadtrip, party, work out, sleep, etc. The quality is also extremely good, so you don’t have to be concerned that it won’t sound great.

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A really awesome aspect of Deezer is that it actually learns your music taste! So the more you use the app, the better suggestions it will make and you will be discovering brand new artists to fall in love with (which happens to me daily!)

In the spirit sharing, discovering and enjoying music, i thought i’d put my own little playlist together!

These are my May 2015 Songs On Repeat:

Lower Than Atlantis – Words Don’t Come So Easy

Oh Honey – I Love You Will Still Sound The Same

Twenty One Pilots – Tear In My Heart

Awolnation – I Am

Jack Ü ft Justin Bieber – Where Are Ü Now

Robin Schulz ft Ilsey – Headlights

PVRIS – My House

Purity Ring – Push Pull

Zedd ft Selena Gomez – I Want You To Know

BONUS:

Taylor Swift – Tim McGraw (for this track i went into the archives and dug up her first single. This was from her very first album, and the first album i imported to South Africa because it wasn’t stocked locally. It’s super “country” which would explain why it probably wasn’t available here.)

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Even if you’re still a little unsure of the app, just download it and give it a try, you have nothing to lose… and about 35million songs to gain! You’ll get 2 months free subscription if you follow this link – http://goo.gl/Vos8sD

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Create With Canon – Stellenbosch

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Canon have been super rad and given me a Canon PowerShot SX600 HS to use over the next few months; snapping some *hopefully* cool pics to give you a look into the things i do, the things i see, and the things i create.

I have never professed to be a masterful photographer – in fact it’s something i do feel like i struggle with. Photography obviously interests me, like it does a lot of people, but i’ve never quite been able to figure out what to do with an actual camera… not just the camera on my phone. The nice thing about the Canon is that it has built in wifi which means that you don’t have to lose the ability to easily and quickly share photos to social media or wherever.

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I feel like now is the perfect time to start trying to understand it all… shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. I could never be a photographer as a profession, but there’s no reason i shouldn’t be taking amazing photos of all of my adventures! When i’m old and grey, at least i’ll have some relatively decent pics to look back on without it looking like i took them with a potato.

I thought i’d give the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS a go in Stellenbosch when i was down, it’s a naturally pretty town, very photogenic… so i tried my best. For some reason i feel like i can’t get my pics to look “good” though… something just seems off. I know it’s probably to do with my framing or some other technological adjustment i should be making on the camera.

But seriously though… i’m going to be leaving on a pretty epic European holiday in about 2 weeks, so if you have any pointers for me on how i could improve – i’m all ears! The pictures are not edited at all, i wouldn’t even know how or where to start, maybe that’s why i can’t get them looking the way i want them to?

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Like Canon South Africa on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to keep in touch, share, learn, and create.

#CreateWithCanon

Clarkson, Hammond & May LIVE – Win with KIA On Tour!

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If you follow me on social media, or even know me in real life, you should already know that i have a serious problem when it comes to Top Gear [Clarkson, May & Hammond]. I think i’ve watched every single episode they’ve ever done together more than 7 times each… which might not sound like a lot, but when you consider how many seasons/episodes have been made, that’s a lot of any one thing to watch. I’m not alone in this though, my parents are also equally enamored by these guys. My mom has quite a few DVD box sets and puts Top Gear on whenever there isn’t anything on tv, which is a lot of the time. My dad used to race, so he’s been a proper petrol head for more than 40yrs already, and he loves the combination of banter and car talk.

I don’t want to talk too much about Clarkson’s exit from Top Gear, and Hammond & May following him, because honestly it makes me unbelievably sad and upset.

The good news is that the guys will be in Johannesburg from 12 – 14 June, and if you’ve never seen them live – you are definitely missing out. The good people over at Kia have got a pretty awesome competition going where you could win a set of tickets to the show just by pre-registering for a test-drive! The test drives are happening at the actual event too… so it is super convenient.

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I’ve been driving the Kia Soul for the past couple of weeks, and i must say that any sort of pre-conceived ideas i had about Kia were completely pushed aside as soon as i got into the car. This isn’t just lip-service, i genuinely love the car… everything about it suits my lifestyle. I’ve also had a chance to drive the KIa Koup which is just insane, incredibly fast!

HOW TO WIN

Click on this link: Clarkson, Hammond & May LIVE Test Drive and you could win yourself 2 tickets to see them live! AND if you want, test drive one of Kia’s awesome cars that will be on show… what better place to do it than at an entire event dedicated to the awesomeness of cars? :)

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Anfield Virgin

I have been a Liverpool fan for pretty much as long as i can remember, i’m not going to go into any detail about my origin story, or how i came to be a Liverpool supporter… the “how” i became a fan is actually pretty irrelevant now, what is important is that i’ve been part of a pretty special family for more than 10 years now.

Being a Liverpool fan has meant that i’ve made friends with some pretty amazing people, and that no matter how i feel, i know i have a support system. We celebrate each other’s successes, and commiserate each other’s losses, all because we’re part of the same Liverpool family. I’ve found that over the years “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is more than just a motto, it has been proven to me time and time again.

I had always wanted to see my team play live, a dream i think all Barclays Premier League football fans share. When I knew i would be in the country during football season, i pretty much planned my entire holiday around getting to Anfield to see Liverpool play. New Years Eve in Edinburgh? The sights and sounds of London? Exploring the Yorkshire Dales? WHO CARES! All i wanted was a seat at Anfield and a scarf to hold up while singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the top of my lungs.

Thanks to a particularly loving boyfriend, who worked tirelessly at getting us great tickets, i was able to check something pretty important off of my bucket list! Not only did i get to see Liverpool play, but i got to see them WIN! It was a pretty epic game that saw Liverpool beat Sunderland 3 – 0, with a brace scored by Suarez who beautifully set up Raheem Sterling for the final goal. The boys celebrated just a few meters in front of me, and i could even hear ol’ Stevie G shouting out and congratulating Sterling.

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Sterling, Suarez and Stevie G celebrate!

It’s 90min that i won’t ever forget, as long as i live. There are literally no words to describe the emotions when the entire stadium bursts into “You’ll Never Walk Alone”… i would be lying if i said that i didn’t cry a little. Tears of happiness, obviously!

/// COMPETITION TIME \\\

I have got 1 x guys and 1 x girls Liverpool Winter PJ set to give away. It’s super easy to win, all you have to do is tweet the following:

@Absa and @StephanieBe – keep me warm this Winter with a set of Liverpool PJs! #MyFirstGame

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If, like me, you love your football and would like to go and watch a Barclays Premier League match LIVE… then watch this VIDEO to see how to make it happen:

He might be an Everton fan (ergh) but football is football at the end of the day, and i would want any football fan to get the chance to see their team play live at least once in their lifetime!

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 Go to Twitter and share YOUR story, like I have, and make sure to tag @Absa and use the hashtag: #MyFirstGame

Click the button below to join in the conversation:


UberRELAX

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Uber has partnered with Massage on the Move  to bring you massages straight to your very own office doorstep in Jozi and Pretoria today, Friday 17th April.

Each booking includes 6 massages for ONLY R200 (all inclusive)! A fleet of therapists will arrive and perform Indian Head and Shoulder Tension Release massages.

How it works:

Open the Uber app today, Friday 17 April 2015, between 10h00 and 16h00 and you will see a lotus icon > Toggle over to the lotus icon > Set your pickup location and tap the “UberRELAX” button to request your therapist! Simple.

Please note:
When a rider requests a massage on-demand, they are booking for six (6) massages at a cost of ONLY R200 (all inclusive) which will last about 45 minutes to an hour in total (15 minutes per massage). You may have less than 6 people but the set cost per booking will be R200. It’d probably also be a good idea to have a meeting room set aside, or an area where the therapists can do the treatments to enjoy your massages in peace and quiet!