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Halo 3: ODST PC Review: A remarkable campaign that oozes atmosphere
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
When Halo: The Master Chief Collection was first announced for PC, I do not believe I saw many fans in discussion threads excitedly talking about or specifically wanting to get their hands on Halo 3: ODST. Obviously, much of the hype was surrounding Halo 3, with the rest of the hype-pie being shared by the fan clubs of Reach and the Anniversary-enhanced original duo. You would think Halo 3: ODST was unpopular at launch or something, but as par for the course for the Bungie entries, it sold exceedingly well on the Xbox 360 in 2009. I feel like this strangely unknown nature of the product was also felt during its testing phases on PC. 343 Industries said the flighting sessions for Halo 3: ODST suffered from "lower than average participation" compared to previous releases.
My Halo journey had only included Combat Evolved and Halo 2 before the Master Chief Collection party finally rode to PC town last year, and the general lack of excitement surrounding ODST made me go into this adventure not expecting much, and boy am I glad I did that. The main course of Halo 3: ODST is its campaign, as a dedicated multiplayer portion was never attached to the project, and that would have been the only item on the menu if it weren't for 343 Industries bringing the missing cooperative Firefight horde mode back from the Xbox 360 version's depths.
My thoughts in full regarding this enhanced re-release of Halo 3: ODST and the current state of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection follows from here.
Gone are the colorful vistas of Halo 3, with imposing skyscrapers of a dead city and gloomy skies littering the landscape, all held together with an astounding soundtrack that radiates atmosphere. Even though this game has Halo 3 attached to its name, the campaign takes place during the events of Halo 2. Specifically, in the city of New Mombasa right after a Covenant ship hightails it out of the system through a Slipspace portal, taking out much of the nearby concrete scenery in the process. The post-evacuation alien-infested landscape is our home for the entirety of the story. This is a departure from all the previous games in the Collection so far, where the escapades took us to exotic locations, and frankly, this is a contained storyline focused on a group of very regular humans that doesn't need the grand road trips or shocking revelations of ancient ruins.
Right off the bat, it is clear Bungie wanted to go in a different direction with the campaign. The story is presented in a unique multi-perspective structure, jumping between the various members of our colorful ODST squad - I should mention here that I did not expect to see Nathan Fillion - who became separated during their entry into the city. Mjolnir armor-wearing superheroes that can survive being punched by a planet are nowhere to be seen here. The game's name comes from the special military force that we take control of in the game, the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, which are human soldiers with only their training and minimal armor to help them stay alive. As their name implies, these soldiers - or Helljumpers as they are affectionately called - simply drop out of the sky from orbiting frigates, riding tiny capsules straight into alien-infested grievous situations, quite literally out of the frying pan and into the fire. To sidetrack a little, this mechanic is just asking to be used as a battle royale entry method if Halo ever goes that route. But back to the matter at hand.
A significant portion of the story does not rely on the series' usual linear mission structure, where set-pieces guide you from arena to arena. While those 'go from A to B while killing everything' missions still exist, and offer wildly enjoyable over-the-top ordeals, Halo 3: ODST actually presents multiple scenarios where it opens up the city so you can utilize it in your own way as you journey towards objectives. Starting off, you take the role of Rookie, the newest member of your ODST squad, and since you drew the lucky straw to wake up hours later than everyone else, it's your job to go around the city to try and piece together the events of the day surrounding your missing squadmates. Whenever you come across a clue, a flashback pulls you into the shoes of that squadmate and their journey.
This is not an open-world game by any means, but there are usually at least a couple of main roads you can use to reach missions when roaming around the city. There are even building interiors just waiting to be employed as shortcuts through blocks. The game also rewards exploration in the form of audio logs you can find that tell the riveting tale of a civilian during the evacuation of the city. Interestingly enough, if it weren't for the special visor we are equipped with that enhances darkened areas and enemies, I could easily see Halo 3: ODST turning into more of a horror title. Some of the alleyways and building interiors can get creepy when sneaking through. Yes, surprisingly enough, stealth is an actual option. You can utilize the map and roaming patterns of Covenant forces to simply avoid fights during these open levels. This becomes neater when you realize that even Grunts can pose a threat to ODSTs depending on the difficulty level. The late-night trips are absolutely brilliant and atmospheric, carrying you across New Mombasa-like sightseeing tours that connect every squad member's unfortunate entrance into the city.
As you might have noticed, I mentioned a map. Taking things even further away from a traditional Halo game, there is a 3D city map you can pull up to orient yourself in the city sandbox. This addition lets you find objectives, track enemies - since the series staple motion sensor is missing here -, put waypoints, and locate alternate pathways. I've never needed a map in a Halo game before, since who actually has time to read maps when there are aliens to kill, so it was surprising to me how well it just fit in and elevated the experience. The implementation reminded me quite a lot of what we saw in the recent Halo Infinite gameplay demo, which also seems to be going for a more hub-like approach similar to ODST, but on a much grander scale.
ODSTs aren't wearing power armor like Spartans, so we are much more vulnerable and less powerful in every department. Simply dropping from a small height brings down health, and capabilities like dual-wielding or shrugging off alien hammers have been deemed impossible. Old school fans will be happy to know that the health bar is back from Combat Evolved. This pool goes down very quickly after your stamina (which is what your shield is called here) is depleted, and the only way to get it back is by finding health packs like in the history books. At the start of the game, the semi-transparent overlay emulating the helmet seemed very distracting, covering large portions of the screen at the top and bottom - no wonder the UNSC suffers massive losses against the Covenant, their soldiers are half-blind. But seriously, I failed to notice it bothering me when engaging in combat or drinking in the views, making it a throwaway concern.
As you might have gathered from my thoughts, I really enjoyed this campaign, and at the end of it I was wishing to return to the New Mombasa city streets to uncover more of its secrets. This campaign also falls onto the growing mountain that has formed out of Halo storylines you should not miss out on.
If you were around for the Halo: Reach launch, you should know that Firefight is Halo's take on the horde mode, and Halo 3: ODST delivered the first iteration of this venture back in the day. However, when the Xbox One Master Chief Collection version of the game came strolling through, it lacked the cooperative mode, which is what 343 Industries has finally dragged back from the depths. This is not just a PC-exclusive addition either, as the Xbox One version also received the mode as a free update.
With the implementation, you can now matchmake into surviving against Covenant waves alongside random ODSTs or pull up the friend lists across Xbox Live and Steam to invite up to three friends. Apart from the cookie-cutter matchmaking options, you can also apply custom rules to a Firefight match if you host your own game after selecting one of the available 10 maps. The variants, options, and skulls can give you rounds that range from hard as nails to mindless fun. Obviously, the campaign is the main draw of the package, but don't sleep on Firefight too much if you got some time to kill between multiplayer antics.
Graphics, Music, and Performance
No Halo conversation is complete without mentioning the soundtrack, and nobody will be surprised to hear that the soundtrack here is phenomenal. Electric guitars, tribal drum beats, and piano solos spice up everything they touch; however, it wasn't very Halo-like at various points, and the changeup really added to the game. The wave of saxophone-ridden jazz that mixes in thoroughly with the murky and wet atmosphere of New Mombasa is just perfection.
The graphics are truly the only weak point of this release. While the art, lighting, and the atmosphere I keep harping about keep the highpoints at a high, just like on Halo 3, it's the human models that drag the image down and make you remember this is still an 11 year old game that was designed for a console two generations old.
The performance of these classics on modern hardware hasn't let me down yet, and continuing the streak, 343 Industries and its development partners have delivered another experience that is smooth as butter from start to finish. Support for high-resolution displays, ultra-wide monitors, as well as field-of-view sliders, completely customizable controls on a per-game basis, and more come in to make PC users' lives better.
My cooperative play journey continued through Halo 3: ODST as well. I went through the entire campaign in two-player co-op, though up to four players are supported. Just like in the previous releases, while the implementation works fine without any instances of weirdness, crashes, or glitches, one thing I will say is that having good ping to each other is highly recommended for a lag-free session. At one point, a routing issue bumped up the latency to my co-op partner to around 200, and the peer to peer connection could not handle that very well, adding movement hitches and cutscene audio syncing issues that ruined the moment.
Master Chief Collection
343 Industries continues its expansion of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but that does not mean it's all about adding new chapters of Halo. You could say that all the previously released games are still in active development, as game-specific features, bug fixes, alongside Master Chief Collection-wide changes are still being worked on in the background.
Alongside Halo 3: ODST's release came through another suite of updates and upgrades to the evolving collection. If you felt like the hit registration was off in Halo 3 at launch, this is probably the update you want to check out as the developer has made some big changes to how your bullets reach the noggin of others. I didn't really suffer from the issue previously, though, and thankfully, post-patch shooting feels just as good.
Halo 3 enhancements do not stop there, as the silenced weapons of ODST are now available for use in multiplayer for the first time. Moreover, customization has been turned up a notch to include weapon skins and visor colors. Fans of the classic that don't like seeing bright and colorful weapons on the battlefield can disable these skins entirely through a setting in the options menu, just like it was possible for the Halo: Combat Evolved cosmetics. This is simply an excellent option to have. A new season of cosmetic items to unlock using your hard-earned level up points or as challenge completion rewards has arrived too alongside Halo 2: Anniversary per-piece armor customization.
These are great and all, but it's the planned updates to the Master Chief Collection that excite me the most. The Halo playerbase in the Asian region has not been very healthy for a while, so the upcoming region selection, custom server browser, and cross-play features will be very useful for players like me who don't live near the most active territories.
Compared to all the injections of Halo that have appeared through the Master Chief Collection on PC, Halo 3: ODST certainly looks like a rather small and skippable update from the outside as it does not seem to carry a large presence in the fanbase and lacks its own multiplayer companion. Obviously, this is a miscalculation that even I made as a fresh player. It is also a fine farewell to Bungie as this will be the final Halo title from the original studio to reach PC.
Halo 3: ODST is a campaign that easily stands among the greats. The isolated entry presents its own unique story in a unique way without ever even mentioning the hero of the saga, all the while building up a new cast of characters that you instantly get attached to. This is like a pocket universe of Halo goodness that can easily go under the radar due to other stories having such huge followings attached to them. Sparks of brilliance like Reach, ODST, and even the Halo Wars games, that deliver saga enriching standalone storylines just leaves me wanting for even more spin-offs and side stories.
You can purchase Halo 3: ODST on PC through the Microsoft Store and Steam for $4.99. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection is also available for $39.99 from the Microsoft Store and Steam if you want access to all the games. The Collection is a part of the Xbox Game Pass for PC library as well.
This review was conducted using a Steam copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection provided by Microsoft.
By Rich Woods
Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro review: The best smartwatch for use with Android phones
by Rich Woods
I've reviewed Huawei's last few smartwatches, starting with the Watch 2. I hated it. It was big and bulky, it was over half an inch thick, it had massive bezels, and it didn't even have 4G LTE in the U.S. to try and make up for some of these issues. Then came the Watch GT, which ditched Android Wear (now Wear OS) in favor of Huawei's custom LiteOS, and in exchange for giving up some features, it promised two weeks of battery life. It also had smaller bezels, a thinner chassis, and was more comfortable to wear.
The Watch GT 2, which I reviewed last November, was the one that I really fell in love with. For the most part, it's been my go-to smartwatch on any platform. It kept the two weeks of battery life, but it added local music playback and an always-on display. What really won me over, however, was a more refined design. Gone was the raised bezel, as it was replaced by an all-glass top with angled edges. If you put the Watch 2, Watch GT, and Watch GT 2 next to each other, you can see how the design evolved; if you put the Watch 2 and the Watch GT 2 next to each other, you probably wouldn't even know they were made by the same company.
Left to right: Watch 2, Watch GT, Watch GT 2, Watch GT 2 Pro And now the Watch GT 2 Pro is here, as it was announced earlier this month. It further refines the design to make it a bit sexier, and it adds a few key features. While it seems minor, wireless charging is here, and it adds some workout modes like the driving range.
Body 46.7x46.7x11.4mm, 52g
Display 1.39 inches, AMOLED, 454x454 Storage 4GB RAM 32MB Processor Kirin A1 + STL4R9
Battery life 14 days for typical use Water resistance 5ATM Material Titanium + Sapphire glass Colors Nebula Gray, Night Black Sensors Accelerometer sensor
Optical heart rate sensor
Ambient light sensor
Air pressure sensor
Capacitive sensor Price €349
Design and display
The Watch GT 2 Pro is made out of titanium instead of stainless steel this time around, and it's quite a bit heavier. Instead of 41g, it's 52g, so that's about 25% heavier. It's worth it though. One thing I noticed when I took off the Watch GT 2 and put on the Watch GT 2 Pro is that something about it felt more comfortable. The build feels solid, and the silicone strap feels nice.
The color of the model that Huawei sent me is called Night Black, and it also comes in Nebula Gray. Honestly, if I didn't check the color labeled on the box, I would have guessed that this one was Nebula Gray, mainly because very little about this product is actually black. It comes in a silver titanium casing that makes it look a bit more sophisticated than the traditional black case.
In fact, this is one of the few smartwatches that people (non-techies) have commented on. In fact, the last product that that happened with was the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, so it's worth pointing out that Huawei's designs catch eyes.
Obviously, the bezel around the round screen is black. Like the Watch GT 2, it does have an all-glass top cover without any raised glass, but the angled edges are less pronounced. The tapered edges of the glass are a bit more subtle, and it comes off nicely.
The bottom of the device is made out of ceramic instead of plastic, and while you'll still find the heart rate sensor down there, there's one thing that you won't find: charging pins. Yes indeed, the Watch GT 2 Pro finally has wireless charging. The thing that I hate so much about pin charging is that after wearing the device for a certain amount of time, those pins can get dirty, making charging a pain. With wireless charging, that's not an issue, and I'm glad to see the feature make its way to the Watch GT lineup.
The screen is AMOLED, and it's hard to see where it ends and the bezels begin. That's part of what makes the watch faces look so sleek. As I mentioned, Huawei did introduce an always-on display with the Watch GT 2 (it was back-ported to the Watch GT as well), but unfortunately, it still has limitations. If you try to turn it on, it warns you that your battery life will be cut in half, which is fine, but it also says that raise to wake will be disabled. In other words, you have to choose between raise to wake and an always-on display, which isn't cool.
LiteOS and battery life
Let's talk a bit about LiteOS, which is Huawei's smartwatch operating system that gives us those weeks of battery life. Actually, speaking of the battery life, 14 days hasn't been entirely accurate in my experience, with any Watch GT model. My experience is more like 10 days, which is obviously still way more than you'll get with anything else. Naturally, I use it for workouts and such, so GPS kicks on.
I also never have to let it get close to running out of battery. If I throw it on the charger while I hop in the shower for 20 minutes, that gets me two or three days of usage. Battery life is just so not a concern with this thing, and when you get to a point like that, you start to think lately. For example, I was able to go on vacation and not bring a smartwatch charger with me. I didn't even have to consider it.
LiteOS does what it does out of the box. There's no app store, like you'd find on a Wear OS watch or one of Samsung's Tizen-based watches. But a smartwatch is a personal thing, and you have to decide what you want from it. It's not like a smartphone where I can just point you in the direction of the device that does all of the things best. Obviously, Wear OS and Tizen have better app ecosystems.
But LiteOS is better at other things, mainly battery life and fitness. It also supports local music playback, as I mentioned above. I don't use it though, as it doesn't work well when you use a subscription music service.
Huawei also got a lot better at displaying notifications. In previous generations, I noticed a lot of strange text-wrapping issues, where words would be cut off and part of them would be on the next line. That seems to be fixed. I also absolutely love the way that the Huawei Health app handles notifications.
By default, they're all turned off. This is good, because notifications are a bad product. I can't stand it when I set up some new Wear OS watch and I start getting notifications on my wrist that I'd normally ignore on my phone. For example, I might start getting notifications that a photo is syncing to OneDrive, something that I can easily ignore on my phone, but feels annoying and intrusive on my wrist.
In Huawei Health, you just go through the list of apps and check off the ones you want to receive notifications from. This is contrary to how most other things work, where you have to uncheck apps that you don't want to receive notifications from.
Like I said, the two areas where I think LiteOS beats its competition are battery life and fitness. Honestly, I think Wear OS is awful for fitness, as I'm not a fan of Google Fit. I've always been a fan of Huawei Health.
One other thing that I absolutely love about LiteOS is that unlike with most smartwatch platforms, Huawei's watches let you switch between phones without having to do a factory reset. With the Watch GT 2 Pro, you can disconnect from a phone and reconnect to another without losing your fitness data.
Huawei Health and fitness features
As I mentioned, everybody uses smartwatches differently, as they're extremely personal devices. While I've always thought that Huawei Health was one of the better fitness services, I've never looked at fitness tracking as a top feature in a smartwatch for me. For me, it's about reliable notifications, battery life, and style.
But times have changed. Many of us are stuck working from home, and we're not as active as we once were. Our local gyms are closed, and we're gaining weight. Suddenly, fitness tracking is a feature that I care about greatly, because it just became a lot more important. If a smartwatch can be more proactive toward a user's overall health, helping them to stay healthy while being stuck at home and not needing special equipment, I'm all for it.
Huawei Health is really good at fitness tracking. As you can see from the image above, you can track your exercises, and the watch has GPS so you can see where you went. It also provides pretty detailed analytics.
There's one thing that I absolutely can't stand, and I haven't figured out a way to fix it - if there is a way. The Watch GT 2 Pro has these annoying voice prompts when you're using it for exercise. When you turn on exercise mode, it yells out, "Workout started". It gets worse though. After you go a mile, it tells you that you went a mile, what your pace is, what your heart rate is, and more.
Not only is this annoying, but it's flat-out embarrassing. If you're working out with people around, it's just awful. It gets worse. The watch has a 'Running Courses' workout option, and this thing doesn't shut up. Sure, you might be working out with headphones on like everyone else does, but guess what; that just means that the watch is yelling at everyone around you. Of course, if you're listening to music locally stored on the watch with headphones paired to the device, it will still yell at you. Personally, I use a streaming service, so my headphones are paired with the phone.
There might be a setting that I'm missing, because, for a simple device, settings are actually pretty complicated. There's the regular Settings app on the device, and then there are workout settings that you can get to by tapping the gear icon next to the workout. But that's not all, because both of those things exist in the Huawei Health app, and may have different options. One of our senior editors, João Carrasqueira, who reviewed the Honor Watch GS Pro (a similar product), suggested turning off the one-mile reminders in the workout settings, but this didn't work for me either.
At this time, I'm also reviewing the Huawei Watch Fit. It seems like this device has the solution, because there's actually no speaker.
One new feature on the Watch GT 2 Pro is support for the driving range. It measures your backswing, your downswing, and your swing speed. One thing I found interesting is that it seems smart enough to know if I've hit the ball or not.
As usual, it does sleep tracking. Huawei does sleep tracking better than most though. For one thing, it's automatic, so you don't have to set sleep times like with an Apple Watch, or even worse, turn it on manually. Moreover, Huawei actually provides insights into your sleep, and how you can improve various aspects of it.
The Watch GT 2 Pro also tracks stress, which I guess is nice. It's never told me that I have high stress, not that I feel like it should.
The fitness tracking aspects of the watch are awesome. Given that I recently found myself caring about fitness tracking, I find myself caring more and more about Huawei's wearables. I just wish I could find a way to turn off that damn voice.
When I wrote the title for this review, I said it's the best smartwatch that you can use with an Android phone. Personally, this is my smartwatch of choice with an iPhone as well, but to be fair, there's stiff competition from the Apple Watch. No one is disputing that.
I've got two main gripes with the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro. One is that you have to choose between the always-on display and raise to wake. I want both, like I can get with any other smartwatch. The other thing is the voice prompts when working out, which is incredibly annoying, frustrating, and embarassing.
But this is just a great smartwatch; it's my favorite smartwatch. The Watch GT 2 Pro gets weeks of battery life. You don't even have to consider if there's enough juice left to do a software update. Battery life just isn't something that you have to think about. Like I said, I just throw it on the charge for 20 minutes while I'm in the shower.
The other thing that's nice is the Huawei ecosystem. This was paired with a P30 Pro, and I was using FreeBuds 3 for headphones. Everything just works seamlessly together.
It also does exactly what I want a smartwatch to do. It handles notifications on an opt-in basis instead of an opt-out basis, and it tracks fitness really well. Like I've said, fitness tracking is something that I find myself caring more and more about. I'm looking for platforms that can be more proactive in helping with wellness.
The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro, combined with Huawei Health, does just that. You can check it out on Amazon here.
As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.
By Garg Ankit
LG expands 2020 K series smartphone line-up with three new devices
by Garg Ankit
LG K42 LG has expanded its 2020 K series line-up by announcing three new smartphones today, which includes the LG K42, K52 and K62.
The back panel of the LG K42 comes with a wave pattern that gives the impression of it changing colors, while an ultraviolet coating protects the device against scratches. The rear camera is a quad lens setup which includes a 13MP primary lens with LED flash, a 5MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro camera lens. The selfie camera is an 8MP shooter. The device is powered by a 2GHz octa-core processor. The LG K42 comes with 3GB RAM and the onboard storage capacity of either 32GB or 64GB is expandable up to 2TB via a microSD card.
LG K52The LG K52 comes with a fingerprint-resistant matte finish at the back. The rear camera is a quad lens setup which includes a 48MP primary lens with LED flash, a 5MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro camera lens. The selfie camera is a 13MP shooter. The device is powered by a 2.3GHz octa-core processor. The LG K52 comes with 4GB RAM and the onboard storage capacity of either 64GB is expandable up to 2TB via a microSD card.
LG K62 The LG K62 comes with a fingerprint-resistant matte finish at the back. The rear camera is a quad lens setup which includes a 48MP primary lens with LED flash, a 5MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro camera lens. The selfie camera is a 28MP shooter. The device is powered by a 2.3GHz octa-core processor. The LG K62 comes with 4GB RAM and the onboard storage capacity of 128GB is expandable up to 2TB via a microSD card.
Common features across the three devices include a 6.6-inch HD+ FullVision display with a 20:9 aspect ratio, presence of LG 3D Sound Engine, a 4,000mAh battery, and they run on Q OS based on Android 10. The cameras come with Flash Jump Cut feature that takes four pictures at preset intervals to create a stop-motion effect, AI CAM that recommends optimal settings based on the subject, and YouTube Live that lets the users share live feed instantly.
All three models come in a variety of colors, and will be available in Europe starting next month. Key markets of Asia, Latin America, and Middle East will get them later. LG is yet to announce the prices of the devices.
By Garg Ankit
LG Wing price revealed in Korea, comes in at under $1,000
by Garg Ankit
After confirming the name of the first smartphone under the Explorer Project, Seoul based manufacturer formally unveiled LG Wing earlier this month. The device features a unique combination of two screens which rotate to form a T-shape. The LG Wing is launching next month in South Korea, with North American and European markets following sometimes afterward. Today, the brand has announced the pricing of the device for the South Korean market.
The device is priced at KRW1,098,900 ($942, approximately), which is in line with what was reported before the phone was announced. This is a relatively low price for a dual-screen device when compared to the competition. The Microsoft Surface Duo which has two individual displays bisected by a 360-degree hinge starts at $1,399, while the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 which features a foldable screen costs $1,999.
In the Basic Mode, the handset has a 6.8-inch P-OLED screen in the 20.5:9 aspect ratio. When the primary display is rotated around by 90 degrees, a smaller 3.9-inch G-OLED screen with a 1.15:1 aspect ratio is revealed underneath. The two displays can be used together for the same app, or for multitasking with different apps per screen. In swivel mode, the horizontal display has a new home screen with a carousel for installed apps.
The device is powered by Snapdragon 765G 5G chipset. It has 8GB RAM and up to 256GB internal storage. The battery capacity is 4,000mAh.
The smartphone comes with a triple-camera setup which includes a 64MP primary camera with OIS, a 13MP ultra-wide camera for use in the Basic Mode, and a 12MP ultra-wide lens for use in the Swivel Mode. It also uses a gimbal camera system that allows the user to aim the setup and different areas of the frame, and also reduce camera shake. The selfie camera is a motorized pop-up 32MP lens.
By Rich Woods
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 review: A showcase for what AMD Ryzen 4000 can do
by Rich Woods
If you follow my work, then you know that I work with Lenovo a lot on product reviews. For the IdeaPad Slim 7 though, it's a bit different, because this product didn't come from Lenovo. AMD actually wanted to send me this one to show off its Ryzen 4000 processors, and it became very apparent that this machine does just that, even though I've already reviewed a number of Ryzen 4000 PCs.
It's also an overall excellent PC, with a solid keyboard, a stylish design, and more. I can't find a price for this specific configuration, but it starts at $899.99 on Lenovo's website.
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 4800U (25W, 1.8GHz, up to 4.2GHz boost) Graphics AMD Radeon Graphics Body 320.6x208x14.9mm (12.62x8.18x0.58"), 1.4kg (3.08lbs) Display 14” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, glossy, 300 nits Ports (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) USB-C (USB 3.2 + DP + Power Delivery
(1) USB-C (Power Delivery) for DC In
SD card reader
Headphone / mic combo
Memory 2 x8GB (Dual Channel)-Down Storage 512GB SAMSUNG MZVLB256HBHQ-000L2 NVMe SSD Audio 2 x 2W front-facing Dolby Atmos Speaker System Camera IR & 720p HD Battery Up to 17.5 hours (FHD), Rapid Charge Connectivity 802.11AX (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.0
Material Aluminum Color Slate Grey OS Windows 10 Home Price Starts at $899.99
The color of the model that AMD sent me is called Slate Grey, and I'm probably visibly disappointed in the video above when I saw that that's what the company sent me. That's because it also comes in this beautiful maroon color, which is what's shown off in the reviewer's guide. Keep in mind that IdeaPad is strictly a U.S. brand, as this is called the Yoga Slim 7 outside of the U.S., so it might only come in Slate Grey here.
The only actual difference between this and the Yoga Slim 7 is that there's no Yoga branding stamped in the lid. The other reason I didn't care for the Slate Grey color is because I've seen it in tons of Lenovo laptops, and I've never found it to be particularly inspiring. I'd love it if the company added some metallic accents in some places just to sexy it up a bit.
The only really defining branding is the '7 SERIES' stamped in the lip. It's likely that elsewhere, that actually says 'Yoga 7 SERIES'.
With an aluminum chassis, it weighs in at just over three pounds, which is pretty comfortable considering that this is actually a pretty powerful PC, more powerful than most ultrabooks, but we'll get into that in the performance section.
On the right side, you'll find two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports for 5Gbps data transfer speeds, which is fine. That's also where you'll find the power button and a microSD slot.
The ports, however, are probably my biggest complaints about this device. Unsurprisingly, there's no Thunderbolt 3. I've still never actually seen an AMD-powered PC with Thunderbolt, although it is possible. But my big complaint is that only one of the USB Type-C ports have display out.
Personally, I usually work with a Thunderbolt 3 dock, so I can just plug it into a laptop and my two 4K monitors are good to go. When I come across a laptop that doesn't have Thunderbolt, that's OK too because one of the monitors is connected via USB Type-C, so I can just connect the dock with one monitor attached, and the other monitor to the two USB Type-C ports. Of course, I can't do that here because only one USB Type-C port supports display out.
Luckily, it does have HDMI 2.0. If I was really going to make this my forever PC, I'd connect one monitor via USB Type-C and connect the other via HDMI.
Display and audio
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 packs a 14-inch FHD display at 300 nits. It's not a convertible, as the company's 'Slim' branding implies. It also doesn't support touch. As far as 14-inch FHD displays go, this one is pretty good, although it doesn't really stand out to me.
For one thing, it is very glossy, although that's kind of expected in a premium PC like this. I do wish that it was bright enough to compensate.
The color accuracy is great though, and so is the viewing angle. You can look at this screen from a solid 178 degrees and not see any noticeable distortion. But that's what it adds up to. It's a solid screen that won't blow your socks off.
The screen actually has narrow bezels on all sides, and the top one has Lenovo's reverse notch design. Not only is this for brand recognition, but it also just makes it easier to open the laptop. And of course, it makes extra space for a webcam and an IR camera.
What just might blow your socks off are the two 2W speakers that sit on either side of the keyboard. They sound great, with clear and rich sound, and they can get pretty powerful. Personally, I use them for listening to music while I work, but they'll be great for anything, from video calls to streaming movies.
Keyboard and trackpad
The IdeaPad Slim 7 actually has an excellent keyboard, and it's among my favorite around. I almost always find that Lenovo makes great keyboards, with the odd man out here and there. I'm starting to like their consumer laptop keyboards more and more too. It's so comfortable, and it feels like it has just the right amount of resistance to feel solid, but not hurt your fingers. It gives enough so that you don't have to press hard, but it doesn't feel loose. It's just right.
Naturally, the keyboard is backlit. One thing you'll notice is that it's fairly shallow, something that's common in consumer laptops. It's just that if you're comparing it to a ThinkPad, this keyboard is much shallower.
One thing missing, surprisingly, is a fingerprint sensor. It just surprises me because I so rarely see a Lenovo PC that doesn't have one. Lenovo pioneered fingerprint sensors on PCs with its ThinkPad lineup, long before Windows Hello was a thing. But of course, this machine does still have an IR camera for facial recognition, and if I had to pick one or the other, I'd pick the IR camera in a heartbeat.
The Precision trackpad is clickable, and it's fine. The nice thing about Precision trackpads is that they're fast and responsive, supporting the gestures that you're used to. Of course, they're so common now, with HP finally making the switch in its premium laptops.
Performance and battery life
OK, here's the good part. The performance on this thing is a phenomenal, and it really showcases the best of AMD Ryzen 4000. Here's the deal. AMD Ryzen 4000 is built on a 7nm process, while Intel offers 10nm and 14nm in Ice Lake and Comet Lake, respectively, both of which are under the 10th-gen umbrella.
In all of my testing so far, Ryzen 4000 smokes the best that Intel has to offer in the 15W class. From what I've seen, a Ryzen 5 4500U is more comparable to a Core i7-1065G7, when it's actually aimed at more of a Core i5. The IdeaPad Slim 7 actually includes a Ryzen 7 4800U, and moreover, the TDP is jacked up to 25W. There's a fair bit of power here.
The Ryzen 7 4800U has eight cores and 16 threads. Note that unlike Intel's U-series processors, not all of AMD's have simultaneous multithreading (SMT). The Ryzen 5 4500U and Ryzen 7 4700U both have the same number of cores and threads, while the Ryzen 5 4600U and Ryzen 7 4800U both have twice as many threads as cores.
With eight cores, 16 threads, and a 25W TDP, this is one of the most powerful three-pound 14-inch PCs that you're going to find. You can actually do a bit of gaming on here, if you want. For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8 and PCMark 10.
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7
AMD Ryzen 7 4800U (25W) Acer Aspire 5 (A515-44)
AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Lenovo ThinkPad T14s
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U Lenovo Flex 5 14
AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Dell XPS 13
Intel Core i7-10710U Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Intel Core i7-1065G7 PCMark 8: Home 4,566 3,702 4,298 4,135 3,501
PCMark 8: Creative 4,861 4,228 4,568 4,214 3,966
PCMark 8: Work 3,926 3,689 3,857 3,693 3,342
PCMark 10 5,252 4,718 4,963 4,708 4,314
As you can see, the Slim 7 actually smokes anything else I compared it to. To be clear, the Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U also has SMT, so the 25W TDP makes a big difference here.
You might be surprised to hear this at this point, but battery life is pretty awesome as well. As usual, the power slider was on the notch above battery saver. I kept the brightness at about 75%, as that's where I needed it with the available brightness. With all of that, I got about eight hours of regular usage, meaning working in the Chrome browser, OneNote, To Do, Slack, and so on.
Eight hours is really good, and it's rare to see in a laptop with this kind of thickness and weight. I want to be clear about how impressed I am with the battery life considering how much power is in here. Eight hours is kind of a magic mark, as it lets you get through a workday without charging it.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 has the best performance that I've seen from a three-pound PC, and that's why I'm so quick to call it a showcase for what AMD Ryzen 4000 has to offer. With a 25W octa-core CPU, there's just nothing out there that compares. AMD Ryzen 4000 is already better than Intel Ice Lake, but this really kicks it up a notch.
As always, there are a few things that I'm willing to complain about. The biggest one is the port selection. If we can't have Thunderbolt 3, then I really want two USB Type-C ports with DisplayPort. My other complaint is that this really isn't a great PC for outdoor use, something that I find increasingly important in the age of working from home. The screen isn't bright enough to compensate for how glossy it is, and there's no cellular option.
However, I'd bet that for the vast majority of use cases, neither of those things matter at all. Plenty of people spend years with a laptop without ever plugging it into a third-party monitor.
This is an awesome laptop. Aside from the excellent Ryzen performance, it also has lovely Dolby Atmos speakers, and more importantly, an excellent keyboard that adds to the pleasure of using the IdeaPad Slim 7. If you want to check it out on Lenovo.com, you can find it here.