Infected with 6 of the world’s most dangerous malware, this laptop is on sale for $1.2 million.

It is a weapon of mass destruction, but its creator considers it a piece of art. This is a second hand laptop Samsung NC10 that went on sale in 2008 and comes with Windows XP inside. Windows XP is not the only thing running on this laptop, it also makes it six of the most dangerous malware in the history of the Internet and which together have caused more than 95,000 dollars damage to the technology industry.

Artist Guo O Dong is responsible for this “piece of art”. It is a laptop infected with some of the most important viruses known to date. According to the artist, it is so dangerous that he has decided to “isolate” it to prevent the malware inside it from spreading. It can be seen in direct streaming via Twitch:

Six different malware to cause chaos

The Persistence of Chaos’ is the name given to this laptop and the work as a whole. Chaos is what it can cause if it is connected to any external network or device. Some malware with which it is infected are capable of expanding to other devices automatically as soon as the laptop connects to an external or internal network. It is in a way the representation of a biological weapon in the digital world.

The six viruses contained in the laptop are as follows:

  • ILOVEYOU: One of the first computer worms, in May 2000 it affected more than 50 million computers causing damage of more than 5.5 billion dollars.
  • WannaCry: A ransowmware that touched us in its entirety affecting Telefónica and spread to more than 150 countries, its consequences were enromes even some time later. It has not been completely finished.
  • MyDoom: The fastest computer worm to spread by email. This malware alone caused an estimated $35 billion in damage.
  • SoBig: It affected millions of Windows computers in August 2003.
  • DarkTequila: It was used especially in Latin America for the purpose of obtaining financial information.
  • BlackEnergy: In December 2015 this malware caused a blackout in Ukraine infecting different electricity companies in the country. The malware was first detected in 2008.

More than 1.2 million dollars for it and assuming the legal consequences

The computer was infected/created by cybersecurity company Deep Instinct and is currently being auctioned for sale to the highest bidder. It is currently worth over $1.2 million. However, we must bear in mind that this is a computer with malware and the sale of malware as such is illegal in the United States, which is where it is auctioned. As a condition, the buyer must sign a document admitting that he is buying “a piece of art” and not malware. There are a good handfuls of other rules to comply with for the purchase of the laptop.

Microsoft provides more information about Project xCloud and confirms it has more than 1,900 games in development for Xbox One

Looking to the future, it looks like one of the projects that Microsoft is paying the most attention to is Project xCloud, the system it is working on and thanks to which we will be able to enjoy the videogames in its catalogue from any device via streaming.

With Stadia showing up more and more, Redmond wanted to show that they are not willing to stand idly by. This has led Kareem Choudhry, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s cloud game, to talk about the benefits of this technology in which the company is working very hard.

Recently the team has set to work on an alpha version in order to improve the service as much as possible and not only be the best for users, but also so that developers have the greatest facilities for publishing their video games, regardless of whether they are already for sale or will be released later.

Currently Project xCloud offers the possibility of transmitting more than 3,500 video games from the first Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. But the best part is that none of them will be affected by modifications required by developers to be compatible on other devices. So they’ll be able to scale their titles across devices without having to make code base changes or work on future upgrades. Thus, if a game is upgraded in Xbox One, it will also affect versions that are compatible with Project xCloud.

If these numbers and data are already impressive, Choudhry wanted to get the most out of it is in the fact that today there are more than 1,900 video games that are under development for Xbox One and at the same time would be compatible with Project xCloud. While the companies work on them, Microsoft will ensure that users can play them from anywhere with the device they prefer.

All of this will happen without interruption thanks to Azure’s information centers that are spread all over the world. Microsoft has indicated that it has deployed its own Project xCloud Blade servers in the various key information centers in the 13 Azure regions located in North America, Europe and Asia. Developers will be able to test and play their titles from the cloud without having to use other methods that act as intermediaries.

On the other hand, one of the novelties being worked on is the API “IsStreaming”, whose function is to detect if a game is being transmitted from the cloud to make some changes that provide a better experience, such as adjusting the font size depending on the device or hosting multiplayer games on the same server to avoid slowing down.

We remember that not long ago Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said that Microsoft would be very serious about streaming video games in the conference that will take place in E3 2019, so it would not be surprising that this service is the one that ends up taking the lead in a few weeks. We’ll see what surprises us, but the expectation it’s generating is at the top.

Motorola is profitable for the first time since Lenovo bought it: Motorola One and Moto GX are to blame

After passing the CES in Las Vegas, the most important news that assaulted the mobile world in 2014 was the sale of Motorola. The mobile division, which had passed into Google’s hands years earlier, ended up embedded in Lenovo’s ecosystem. A Lenovo that initially seemed to want to turn Motorola into another range of its line but eventually gave it a place as its brand internationally.

The path of this new Motorola within Lenovo has been like a sort of desert crossing, trying to get rid of previous policies when it was run by Google and becoming something else. Just look at the increase in the number of terminals since it operates under Lenovo’s umbrella. Now, in 2019, Lenovo presents its annual figures and, in the end, Motorola is once again a profitable line in the market. The first time for its owner.

Moto One and Moto GX pull on Lenovo’s mobile division

The figures presented by Lenovo are for 2018 fiscal, not natural, something that many manufacturers have become accustomed to. In these figures, the division of smart devices, including IoT devices and computers, has grown 10.3% year-over-year, while standalone PCs have increased 9%. One more push for a Lenovo that is already a leader in the personal computer market, now with more strength.

But the division we’re most interested in is what Lenovo calls Mobile Business Group, its mobile phone division. For the second consecutive quarter in black numbers talking about profits, and dragging the entire fiscal year into the same situation. $146 million in pre-tax profits for this mobile division of Lenovo that, in its external image, is entirely Motorola.

Everything in Lenovo grows, from personal computers to data centers, but the mobile division is profitable in the end.

Lenovo says these revenues are the first time that internal growth has been recovered, accounting for 15.1% in sales. And all this supported by its Moto GX line and its One models, which were born last year finally embracing Android One within Lenovo and Motorola, and which already have in circulation, the Motorola One Vision, respecting the same philosophy.

In addition to this growth in personal computers, connected devices and mobile phones, the division on which the data centers depend, the Data Center Group, has also made a positive year despite the “complicated market situation” of which the manufacturer speaks. Supported in part by the NetApp joint venture in China.

So Motorola returns to profit and drags with it Lenovo’s entire mobile division, which we already know operates under its original brand within its own country. Figures that guarantee the continuity of a historic brand in the mobile world and from which we expect many more models in the future, and even more competitive than the current ones.

How technology is trying (without much success) to end traffic jams

Little, very little, has to do with the traffic in Madrid in the 1960s, when Alejandro Cintas left his eyelashes to compose Mi carro -the laconic rumba immortalized by Manolo Escobar-, with which he supports the capital today. Not even that of a quarter of a century ago. In 1995 the DGT counted 1.41 million cars in Madrid. Today, after an almost sustained escalation that only “pricked” during the crisis, are now 1.49. During those scarce 25 years the population of the metropolis has also skyrocketed. At the end of 2018 it was home to 3.2 million residents, 12.4% more than in the mid-1990s. The equation is very simple: more cars, more neighbours, more drivers… And more, many more journeys on the roads.

For years the City Council of Madrid – like those of other cities in Spain, Europe or the rest of the world – has resorted to ICT to help it assumes a “boom” of traffic that often leads to serious problems of collapse and pollution. City councils use algorithms like a syrup to help with heavy digestion.

The million-dollar question is, does it work? Does it do it in other cities?

The example of Madrid: traffic jams and pollution

At the end of 2010 Madrid announced a juicy investment of 1.9 million euros to implement an intelligent mobility system. The consistory commissioned Kapsch TrafficCom, a company specialising in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), to carry out a project aimed at finding out the state of traffic in real time. The contract contemplated the installation of a network of 120 gauging stations equipped with intelligent sensors and another 40 for pedestrians and cyclists. The objective: to have up-to-the-minute information on traffic intensities, routes, speeds, frequencies… In order to avoid – or at least alleviate – possible traffic jams and accidents.

Over the years, the Eco TrafiX system, developed by Kapsch TrafficCom, has been implemented in other Spanish cities with a Smart City vocation, such as Malaga, Bilbao, Vitoria, Castellón, Donostia, A Coruña, Palencia or Huelva. A little over a year ago León joined the list after signing a 3.4 million contract with the same company.

A year later, Avilés also awarded it its traffic regulation service in order to benefit from the advantages of ITS applied to urban mobility. The enthusiasm of the city councils is more than understandable. In 2017, Kapsch explained that his goal was to predict traffic jams “up to an hour ahead”. “With this period of time, it is possible to take preventive measures that help improve fluidity,” Javier Aguirre, Kapsch TrafficCom Transportation’s vice-president for Spain and Portugal, told El Mundo.

Long before, Ana Botella’s government already boasted of a Smart profile that was being felt in different areas of Madrid’s public management, such as urban planning, bureaucracy, the environment… and mobility. In 2014 the capital signed an ambitious contract with IBM with a budget of 15 million euros until 2018. The programme, “MiNT, Madrid Inteligente”, once again put one of its focuses on the same point: road infrastructures. In a similar line, Piloto Madrid is framed, in which Madrid Calle30 and Emesa participate and which plans to deploy sensors along 32 km of the M30.

Piloto Madrid is in any case a small piece in a much more ambitious project, the C Roads, driven by the European Union and using ITS tools, v2v (vehicle to vehicle) and v2i (vehicle to infrastructure) in search of safer traffic. In addition to the deployment of the M30, it has another half dozen actions in the country: SISCOGA Extended, in Galicia; Cantabrian Pilot, on 78 kilometres of roads in Asturias, Galicia and the Basque Country; and Mediterranean Pilot, the widest, covering from Catalonia to Andalusia.

Despite this technological deployment, its firm commitment to ITS and the Smart philosophy, the reality is that Madrid has not managed – at least for the time being – to solve the mobility problems of a large metropolis. The best proof is that in order to tackle pollution and traffic jams, the City Council has decided to limit the transit of cars in the city centre.

Despite efforts to speed up traffic and reduce pollution through the use of ICTs, major city councils, such as Madrid, have been forced to restrict the circulation of vehicles.

Since November 2018, for example, Madrid Central – an area of 472 hectares in the heart of the city – applies restrictions to combat pollution. In addition to that measure, the city council applies a system of labels based on the emissions of each vehicle that also determines, among other questions, where and how long it can park.

According to the Inrix Global Traffic Scorecar, Madrid is ranked 22nd in the world’s most congested cities – in Spain it is the first – a position far above that which would correspond to it in terms of population. If only the number of residents is taken into account, the Spanish capital is 66th with the most inhabitants in the world. Conclusion: the quality of Madrid’s traffic is worse than that of other more populous cities and a priori with similar or even higher economic activity, such as New York (40th in the ranking of Inrix), Chicago (23), San Francisco (65), Dallas (122) or Houston (77).

Inrix’s analysis concludes that on average in 2018 each driver from Madrid lost 129 hours in traffic jams, just over five whole days. There are not many more than those calculated for Washington (155), despite the fact that the U.S. capital has two million more inhabitants. In the ranking is not so far from Paris, number 16, only half a dozen ahead of Madrid.

Another indicator is pollution, largely generated by city traffic and which is beginning to be a major problem in large European conurbations – in 2017 the European Environment Agency (EEA) warned that 31,000 people die each year in Spain from pollution-related illnesses. In February ABC revealed that in just 36 days -which was the year- Madrid had exceeded the hourly limit of pollution by Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) set by the EU for the whole of 2019. Shortly before, Manuela Carmena’s team had been forced to activate scenario 1 due to the high pollution.

The City Council is curbing the levels of emissions, but at the cost of traffic restrictions. A recent analysis by Ecologistas en Acción shows that in the area with restricted traffic through Madrid Central the NO2 value is 48% lower than a year ago.

Barcelona, another case to study

Madrid is not the only city that has used ICTs with a result that is at least uncertain, at least for the moment. Something similar happens in the other great Spanish metropolis: Barcelona. Proof of its bet is Autonomous Ready, a system promoted by the Ajuntament condal and the DGT and that -through a network of devices incorporated in vehicles- seeks to reduce the accident rate, especially that affecting pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The streets of Barcelona already have 170 vehicles in fleets and 79 buses that incorporate sensors and -according to the data released at the beginning of the year- the weight of ICT is far from being reduced: during 2019 it is expected to install 530 more systems in fleet cars and 105 in urban buses. The objective is to add 5,000 vehicles on the city’s roads.

Autonomous Ready is only part of Barcelona’s strategy to apply the advantages of ITS in its urban mobility. For years the city has had Bluetooth sensors to measure routes and routes and, if necessary, take measures to correct traffic. More than five years ago, there were almost 40 in the rounds alone. As in Madrid, however, Ada Colau’s government has had no choice but to resort to vehicle restrictions.

At the beginning of 2020, Barcelona plans to activate the ordinance that will regulate the Low Emissions Zone (ZBE), which aims to reduce atmospheric pollution by 15% in the 95 km2 most travelled. How? Vetoing the passage of the 50,000 particularly polluting cars.

The measure is urgent. Since 2010, Barcelona has exceeded the maximum NO2 values established by the EU. In fact, -according to data published by El País only a few months- 98% of Barcelona’s residents are exposed to levels of fine particles that exceed the WHO’s recommendations. It is estimated that every year in the Catalan capital some 3,500 people die prematurely from causes related to pollution. Another challenge is to stop the collapses. According to INRIX, in 2018 drivers lost 147 hours in traffic jams.

The trade war with China in the mirror of the cold war between the USSR and the United States

When Fukuyama’s idea of the “end of history” has been discussed, it has often fallen into a simplification of the political scientist’s thesis, and when it has recently been refuted, Islamism or the resurgence of populisms have been pointed out as counterexamples to the theory. However, it is probable that the current Chinese model presents a more solid alternative to the idea that after the fall of the Berlin Wall there is nothing but the triumph of liberal democracy.

With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the expectation that the world would move to societies with liberal/representative democracies and market economies was a most persuasive hypothesis. Facing the West fell the great model that in the twentieth century had articulated a contrary conception, taking decades of communist dictatorships and leaving a western left that from then on would abound in social democracy and cultural wars as a battlefield, avoiding placing the questioning of the bases of the economic system as its flag. But that is another story.

There are those who have been waiting for 20 years for a rebellion in China that does not take place. The hope was that the son of the factory worker who arrives at university and manages to lead a middle-class life would end up asking for freedom of speech and of the press, would end up wanting a democracy capable of electing and changing governments. It has not happened, not only because of the enormous repression and control exercised by the executive of the single party – the communist – in China, while the GDP has continued to grow and the quality of life has multiplied, the silence demanding changes in the Chinese political system has been thunderous. A society in which hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty and people have seen their quality of life improved by ten in a generation not unlike revolutionaries.

With these components the Chinese model is that of an authoritarian system with a capitalist economy. This combination results in actors competing and enriching themselves, subject to the market, but at the same time a state that intervenes, controls, subdues and intervenes when it understands that it is opportune. We could point out that the United States is interventionist when it wants to, and that forcing Google to abandon its partner Huawei is proof of this… but in China this is elevated to the umpteenth power, it is the rule and not the exception.

There is a reading that points to the resurgence of right-wing populism as a Western approach to the Chinese authoritarian model on the side of control, security and nationalism; left-wing populism is similar in its aspiration for economic centralization, financial governance and shadow management of the country’s businesses. In any case, China (together perhaps with Singapore) is a rara avis, it has not managed to form a bloc as the USSR did and its agreements are weaker, based on commercial pacts and not on sharing military and strategic alliances.

This last difference is perhaps where we should look when weighing the next steps of the trade war. The Soviet bloc did not compete in world exports with Western powers and that is the Chinese advantage: as we have seen in the case of the 5G for allies of the United States, it costs much more to sanction companies like Huawei than those that apply against Iran or North Korea.

In the podcast we consider what may happen from now on. It is always difficult to guess the future, but a clear victim of this war is multilateralism and the priority of global objectives. China is an essential actor in the fight against climate change, as is the United States. Both involved in a trade war and a protectionist and localist vision leave the rest of the world exposed to the great threat of the century. It is evident the hyperbole of appealing to the missile crisis to make the analogy with the present, at the same time it is also true that when historians look at our time they will surely point to the myopia of our ruling class and our societies.

It is evident the hyperbole of appealing to the missile crisis to make the analogy with the present, at the same time it is also true that when historians look at our time they surely point to the myopia of our ruling class and our societies.

The Cuban missile crisis did not end with the dreaded nuclear escalation. The Kennedy administration succeeded in selling internally in the United States that the president was victorious thanks to the firmness of the negotiations, had forced the Russians to withdraw. Out of focus he had given in to withdrawing the American missiles from Turkey, placed before the Cuban crisis and the Soviet reclamation. Some of the president’s collaborators went so far as to describe the events as “the greatest defeat in our history. Khrushchev was weakened, he had reached a good agreement, but he had risked too much for so little benefit in the eyes of the central committee. In two years Kennedy would be dead and the president of the USSR replaced by Brezhnev. The Cold War did not end, far from it, after Cuba.

The new cold war between China and the United States already has its missile crisis: Huawei, the mobile sector and 5G.

In one of the key episodes of the 20th century, President Kennedy appeared on American television giving an ultimatum to the Russians. He demanded the removal of missiles from Cuba and threatened a new invasion of the island – the previous one failed in the Bay of Pigs – of ninety thousand U.S. soldiers. At the most delicate moment of the Cold War, it was Khrushchev’s turn to move, as he already had nuclear submarines in the area and seemed to be facing the dilemma of war or a humiliating surrender for the USSR.

Negotiating experts often say that when the parties make their positions public, the agreement is much less likely. Any cession, change or proposal is read as a gesture of weakness and what is to be expected is nothing but more extreme positions and tougher messages. In recent weeks tweet to tweet, Trump has brought the trade war with China to a situation of this kind, the responses of the government of Xi Jinping have only added fuel to the fire.

There are still the hot bodies of the last battle. On attacks, reactions and number of wounded we have written a lot in Xataka: the case of Google and USA vs Huawei and China, is undoubtedly one of the big news of the year for a medium of technology. It coincides that in addition that it is also for one of politics, international information and economic. And it is at this point that questions arise beyond whether my Huawei mobile will continue to work.

The 5G could be one of the keys to the motivation of this war. If it ends up being true that it is going to be a key technology for the next great generation of digital products and services, whoever gets there sooner and better has a lot to gain economically.
In the previous battle, the Trump administration had chosen the 5G deployment as a target. A local veto in the United States and a passive-aggressive petition bordering on the demand that their allies not accept Huawei as a supplier. This episode is of special importance for two reasons: one is that a large part of the Western bloc -especially European countries- have refused to obey Trump’s proposal; the other is that 5G could be one of the keys to motivating this war. If it ends up being true that it is going to be a key technology for the next great generation of digital products and services, whoever arrives sooner and better has a lot to gain economically.

The fact is that Huawei is not only a reference in network equipment for 5G telecoms, it is that it is a year or two ahead of its competitors. The first attack by the United States did not seem to be achieving its objectives (the Chinese have long been clear that they are not going to be the ones who mount the networks of the telecos USA, with the rest of the planet is already doing well) but also the block of Western allies was divided and Europe could gain an advantage in the 5G.

The steps of the Trump government against China and its justification are well known, surely by the readers of Xataka in which the subject has appeared again and again. There is a part of the discourse that points to espionage and theft of intellectual property, but this argument has two problems to convince. One is the failure to present evidence that could persuade public opinion or US partners (and Germany is very easy to convince when evidence of espionage is presented to its population and its industry) and the other is the displacement of the battlefield: moving from networks to mobile phones without it seeming clear that this is an element of this alleged espionage.

In the episode of Despeja la X in which Alejandro Nieto and a server have entered into these questions, a key topic has appeared to debate one of these big questions: if in the United States they have reasons that justify the veto of Huawei and the attack on Chinese commercial interests and if they are the same ones that he argues before the media and citizens. Without going into the full detail of the podcast episode, two factors deserve consideration. One is that there is asymmetry between China’s demands for foreign companies that want to operate there (also discussed in this issue of Magnet) and at the same time there is a program and a competition reading by Trump.

This view is based on the fact that the trade balance between the two powers is very favourable to the Chinese and that Trump reflects the preferences of an electorate to which the measures that seem to promote industry and work in the country, certain tactical protectionism and messages of hard negotiator against rivals resonate well. And it is this turning point in the American vision of China that has changed the most in the Bush-Obama-Trump evolution: for decades Chinese growth (with all its commercial traps) has also meant a lot of business and profit for American companies, but America remained calm while in Asia there was the toy factory or the one designed in California.

In the turn to artificial intelligence and networks of last generation the alarm has jumped. Accompanying indicators and projections the Chinese dream of presenting themselves to the world as inventors and not as replicators or factory workers has been paused. In the symbolic field, but also in the practical field of business and economic growth (Economist has a special fantastic on the very recent subject), China is postulated as a power capable of positioning itself on a par with the United States and propose an alternative model to the hegemonic one after the end of the cold war.

First indications of the name of Huawei’s future operating system: ARK OS

After the blockade of the United States and the consequent break with Google, Huawei will not be able to use the “Google Android” in their future smartphones. That’s why the company recognized long ago to be prepared and have a plan B, a plan B consisting of an alternative operating system of which little is known, beyond a couple of data.

Huawei’s CEO told Caijing that his new OS will be compatible with Android and multi-device applications, so it can be used in a mobile, a car or a tablet. It will be ready in the autumn of this year or, at the latest, in the spring of next year, according to Richard Yu, and although initially it was said that its name would be Hongmeng OS, patents registered in Europe show signs that its name could be “ARK OS”.

ARK OS shows up in EUIPO

According to Android Headlines, Huawei registered on May 24th the trademarks “HUAWEI ARK OS”, “HUAWEI ARK”, “ARK” and “ARK OS” in the EUIPO, the intellectual property office of the European Union. The existence of such a patent does not mean that it will be the final name of the operating system, but that Huawei is free to use it if it sees fit.

The fact that Huawei has registered the mark does not mean that he will necessarily use it in his new operating system.
This operating system, as we remembered before, would be compatible with Android applications, although these could be recompiled to increase their performance by 60%. That can be translated into two possibilities: either ARK OS is based on AOSP or it has a sort of built-in Android emulator to be compatible with the .APK format.

That doesn’t mean that ARK OS (or whatever it’s finally called) can be compatible with Google services. In fact, one of the features of this OS is that it will not have the Google Play Store, so there is a possibility that Huawei will bet on its own app store: App Gallery.

Beyond the operating system, Huawei also has to face the cessation of collaboration with U.S. component manufacturers, including ARM. This is an important point to bear in mind, as it could significantly affect the development of Kirin processors based on ARM architecture. Qualcomm, Intel and AMD would also have disassociated themselves from the company, leaving Huawei with no operating system and no processors.

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo, first impressions: the incredible potential of having two 4K touchscreens on the same laptop

The screen invades everything. On laptops, just like mobile phones or TVs, the bigger the better. But logically, manufacturers are limited by the size of the device itself. What to do in this case? Reinvent yourself. This is what ASUS has done with its new ZenBook Pro Duo, an innovative laptop with dual 4K, touch screen and OLED technology that we have been able to test these days during the Computex 2019 being held in Taiwan.

We have two versions of the ASUS dual-screen laptop, on the one hand the most premium version with i9 processor, NVIDIA RTX GPU and up to 1TB of SSD and on the other a ZenBook Duo that loses the surname Pro and also reduces in size and features.

Here we leave you with our first impressions of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo, a laptop that in addition to offering very good finishes incorporates a very effective solution to add more screen in the same body. A step beyond what we saw with the Touch Bar and an impulse to radically change the preconceived image we have of laptops.

Wi-Fi 6, Intel Core i9 and high-end features to compete in the premium sector

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo aspires to become a premium notebook, ready to fight against the best products of the rest of manufacturers. And that’s why it incorporates high-level specifications, with the latest components from Intel and NVIDIA.

Inside the ZenBook Pro Duo is an Intel Core i9 9980HK chipset along with Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics, up to 32GB of RAM and the ability to upload up to 1TB of SSD storage. They are excellent features although it is true that we miss the bet on an RTX 2070 or an RTX 2080. The answer of why in its more advanced model these graphs are not included we would find it in that we are not before a gaming device of the series ‘Republic of Gamers’ (ROG).

The performance of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is excellent thanks to the use of an Intel Core i9 processor together with the RTX 2060, a combination capable of everything and that makes this laptop a good choice for the most demanding users, but without reaching the most gamer category.

The performance is very good and all applications open immediately. At least in the Pro model. In the smaller 14-inch ZenBook Duo the story is totally different as we move from high-end specifications to rather humble features.

We don’t have an HDD. We are in 2019 and the ASUS bet on the SSD is total. But above all what attracts the most attention is its connectivity. The ZenBook Pro is compatible with WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and promises speeds of up to 2.4Gbps. It’s a point that may now go unnoticed, but when it reaches the market there will be more devices with WiFi 6 and having a laptop ready for these connections will be a growing demand.

ASUS adds 4 microphones for a good experience with Alexa and Cortana, a webcam on the top frame and a dedicated key for ‘Turbo cooling’. In this respect, the body of the ZenBook Pro Duo is slightly elevated and we have not detected that it is excessively hot, although for this point it will be necessary to test it in depth with more demanding applications.

The battery is another point that logically we have not been able to verify either and here it would be necessary to be careful. We have a 15.6 inch screen with 4K resolution plus another secondary screen of the same resolution, no doubt high consumption components. For this we have a 71Wh battery, although a 230W fast charge has been added.

Design: an excellent job in finishes and quality of the keyboards and touchpad, but not so much in compaction.

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is a high-end device and this can be seen in the finishes and materials used. As with the rest of the brand’s laptops, it uses an aluminium alloy that gives a good feel, a sober appearance and a reflective tone that moves away from the flatter silver.

This aluminium is kept on the edges and sides, but not on the inside of the device where we have more classic materials. When opening the body of the device the keyboard is slightly elevated because the screen supports it. But the main change is the ScreenPad Plus introduced. Instead of having a full-size keyboard, we have a thinner and more stylized keyboard, located towards the bottom and with the trackpad in the lower right corner.

Between the screen and the keyboard there is a border with the ASUS ZenBook logo. We understand that it will be for construction reasons, but it is a point to improve in future generations since the edge is quite thick and breaks a bit the aesthetics. It also has an additional consequence and is that we have no bottom edge to support the hands.

What is the solution? ASUS offers us a simple base to support the arms. It is an effective, but a problem that should be taken into account for the future if secondary screens become more common in the laptop sector.

The bet for the double screen has its consequence in the weight of the device, but the finished ones are excellent and they have nothing to envy to the best laptops of the market.
Another consequence of this secondary screen is the weight. ASUS has always been a brand with very thin and compact laptops and yet we have had the feeling that this ZenBook Pro Duo weighs more than its equivalents from previous years.

In total 2.5 kilograms that prevents this laptop is a device to take with one hand and carry it from one side to the other. An aspect that in the 15.6-inch Pro model is perhaps not so relevant, but in the 14-inch yes, since we stay at about 1.8 kilograms that are not negligible either.

At the level of compaction the work of ASUS is good, because for example the OLED screen has a ratio of 89% and the upper frames are very small. But the final sensation is there, it is not a device to carry it up and down.

On the right side we have a USB port type C that also acts as Thunderbolt 3.0, a technology to transmit data up to 40Gbps. Right next door we have a 3.5mm jack port for the audio and above the ventilation slot a 3.1 USB port.

Meanwhile, the left side includes an HDMI port, another USB 3.1 port and the quick charge socket. In the case of the standard ZenBook Duo, we also have a microSD slot. An addition that is not included in the Pro model.

The sound of the ZenBook Pro Duo is certified by Harman Kardon, but what we were able to prove did not attract our attention. Here is another point that will have to wait for the analysis to reach a better conclusion.

Adding a 14-inch secondary display has not prevented ASUS from adding its own numeric trackpad. Specifically this is a ‘NumberPad’, the brand name given to its combination of a traditional trackpad to act as a cursor and a numeric trackpad illuminated with LEDs.

The touch of these numbers is not the same as that of the keyboard, but again we are faced with an ingenious solution to a problem of space. Some users may consider that it takes an extra step to activate the numeric trackpad, but let’s think that we also have the numbers in their usual placement. Just for those who prefer to have it has been added. In the end both the NumberPad and the ScreenPad represent the message that ASUS wants to transmit to us, they want to offer tools for a large number of users, without penalizing excessively the experience and getting a laptop at the end more complete.

The novelty is the ScreenPad Plus, but the best is its main OLED screen.

We come to the real protagonist of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo, the screen. We have two panels, but one of them gets all our attention. We have a 15.6-inch OLED panel with a 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Probably supplied by Samsung, the screen has 100,000:1 contrast and encompasses 100% of the DCI-P3 color space. It is also HDR-compatible and the quality is simply spectacular.

We are also in front of a touch panel, so we can touch elements and move them at will. The touch panel works properly, although it is true that we do not have the highest sensitivity. All our compliments go to image quality, with vivid colors, excellent contrast and a good level of brightness.

For the secondary screen we have an IPS panel with the same 4K resolution. However, there are some differences. We have a 14 inch secondary panel in 32:9 format and a resolution of 3840 x 1100 pixels. It is also tactile and at the level of sharpness we are in the same category, however the image quality and the brightness emitted between one and the other is not the same. Above all it is something that is noticeable in blacks, since where in the main we have dark tones, in the secondary the greys are clearly appreciated. Especially by comparison.

Being of the same resolution, having the two screens side by side does not cause us to reject them. However, it is true that the quality of the OLED is impressive, while the small screen clearly looks like an auxiliary panel.
This secondary screen is noticeable that it is not at the level, however the difference is not something that affects the experience of use. That is to say, everything is seen with less quality in the secondary, but the idea is that our eyes are normally on the main one and the secondary one is simply a help. An extra to control some menus, change a song or have some text support. In cases where the image quality is relevant, the 15.6 inch OLED screen will be the place where we will have to retransmit the content. And fortunately this one is outstanding.

The operation of the secondary screen is simple, although transferring content from one place to another is not as intuitive as it should be. To help us with this task we have a dedicated application for the ScreenPad Plus, the name given to this second screen, which is an evolution of the ScreenPad that we saw last year in its series of laptops and that this year have renewed and extended to more devices.

ASUS’ commitment to this ScreenPad is not the result of one day and little by little they are moving the majority of their catalog towards this support.

The touch of the secondary screen is good, but to improve it we also have support for stylus. We haven’t added a place to hook it magnetically and don’t think it’s really necessary, beyond the convenience of using a stylus.

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo. Multitasking takes on a new level.

The power of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo comes directly from our use of the ScreenPad Plus. We had the opportunity to try it for a few hours and although our first feeling was that it was an unnecessary addition, the truth is that little by little we began to send more applications and feel comfortable with it.

Having tried the Apple TouchBar, in this case the solution goes several steps further. Not only is it a direct access or additional menus, it is the possibility to have entire applications. Perhaps not to watch videos or read, but to have a text support, a calculator, an excel or any help. To give you an idea, the use we can give the ScreenPad Plus would be equivalent to a small external monitor connected.

The main tool to control this secondary screen is the dedicated ASUS application. From it, to which we will accede sliding from the left, we have a series of direct accesses, access to the multitask of Windows, additional adjustments and a screen to save concrete configurations and to be able to show them in the secondary screen of fast form.

The initial configuration is not exactly the most intuitive and comfortable, although after using it for a while you do begin to understand how it works and we are learning the various tricks and mechanisms.

The addition of the ScreenPad Plus has not seemed to us to harm the experience of the laptop and yet we have used it more than we could think. One of those additions that you get used to could end up becoming a real help.

The ScreenPad Plus fits up to 3 applications and can be adapted in size. Also note that it is compatible with all Windows applications. In the end what we have is a window resize, as we would normally do.

From the ScreenPad settings we can modify the brightness of the screen, change the wallpaper and activate the menu that allows us to pass applications from one to another. Although really being the two touch screens, it is easy to drag an application from one screen to another. The tactile sensitivity can be improved, but the gesture is simple.

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo incorporates specialized applications for chatting and office automation. They are inside the dedicated application and will help us to have the list of friends when we talk or for example the text editing tools when we are in Office.

ASUS has also announced that developers will be able to adapt their applications to ScreenPad. As always this is the real battleground, but we would not be surprised if other brands sign up to this trend and then we do see more applications take advantage of the double screen in all its splendor.
In addition to this dual-screen combination in which the second can act as a mirror or additional screen, ASUS has also planned to expand the possibilities by working with developers. This is really where we can have a real improvement in multitasking, although it depends on your alliance with third parties to achieve it.

At the moment they have announced that Corel Draw will be compatible with ScreenPad Plus. What do you mean? Basically, instead of splitting the screen, Corel Draw will be able to display the main image on the OLED screen while the controls stay on the secondary. We haven’t had a chance to try it out in the first person, but it was announced during the presentation.

During the test we were able to use the ScreenPad to play the piano, to have an open PDF as we wrote, to be able to control Spotify while reading a web page or to have the calendar open while looking for how to organize an agenda. It’s not difficult to imagine situations where this secondary screen is useful to us and when it comes to controlling it we are given a solid enough experience so that its presence is not problematic.

We would have liked the quality of the secondary screen to be slightly higher and the touch sensitivity to switch from one to the other to be higher, but in general this ScreenPad is an interesting addition that can differentiate this ZenBook Pro Duo from other high-end laptops. With the only exception to that weight gain that might be enough to push back some users.

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo, the opinion

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is a risky notebook, but also a serious commitment to look to the future of the sector. We have high quality finishes, an excellent screen and a layout of the keyboard, trackpad and the secondary screen itself that we thought was right. It’s still too early to determine aspects such as sound, battery or performance, but the initial sensations are very good. This is important because it will probably not be an economic device, at least in its Pro version that will be around 3,000 euros.

The bet of ASUS with its ZenBook Pro Duo is not unreasonable. After a few hours we do imagine that this ScreenPad Plus can be a breakthrough when it comes to using the laptop. What accompanied by good finishes and specifications, make the ZenBook Pro Duo one of the devices to consider in the future.

ASUS has announced that it will be available after the summer at prices that will depend on the market and the configuration chosen, but have not yet been announced.

Last year ASUS surprised us with its interaction with the dual display, but this 2019 have clearly gone further. What could be considered as a test, here is transformed into a differential element that will foreseeably mark the development of ASUS in laptops over the next few years. We will see how the market responds to this secondary screen, but after having tested it for a few hours we would not mind the idea being implemented.

It is possible that the implementation could be improved, but ASUS should be rewarded for pointing towards the future, offering a fairly solid experience to be a first generation and above all surrounding it with a device as solid and well-finished as this ZenBook Pro Duo. An interesting laptop for those looking for good screen, great connectivity and a cutting-edge design.

PlayStation card arrives with three months free of PlayStation Plus and returns on purchases

For those of us who save good money by buying digital games – a constantly growing market – a new sheriff has arrived in the city. It’s the PlayStation card, a free card that offers a handful of advantages in the form of discounts and savings even on our direct debit bills.

Online contracting, five clicks and five minutes of time. The formula is simple: instead of recharging our virtual wallet, either from another card or through PayPal on the official website and going to Payment Management-, with this new alternative we receive credits on all purchases, for every euro spent, zero maintenance commissions or opening / cancellation, and the additional security offered by a debit, with anti-fraud coverage.

Triangle, circle, x’s, square

While we are still wondering if the future of gaming is streaming or what, and with the first tracks of a PlayStation 5 backwards compatible on the table – a tradition that was broken after 20 years of more or less compatible consoles – this PlayStation card, with which all digital purchases can be centralized, offers an interesting option.

Starting with the aesthetic section, you can choose between two personalised designs. Of course, decorated with the everlasting PlayStation symbols.

Did you know that the decision to use these four symbols was the brainchild of Tokio designer Teiyu Goto? His idea was to symbolize the point of view with the triangle, recreated with a green direction sign. The square would represent a folio, so we have a box for menus or access to documents. It was painted pink, evoking the salmon pages of the newspapers. Finally, the x and the circle mean yes and no, respectively, the buttons for making decisions reflected in red and blue.

Saving a Little Each Month

And if the central idea is to save by playing, with the purchase of this PlayStation card, once we make a purchase for an amount equal to or greater than €20 we will have immediate access to three months of free subscription to PlayStation Plus. Let’s not forget that PlayStation Plus is essential to play online on PS4.

In exchange, we get two free PS4 games every month and one PS Talents game, exclusive discounts for the “partners” of this service and 100 GB of cloud storage to save games. There are also small advantages such as download codes in games such as ‘Fortnite’ and ‘Apex Legends’, as well as access to promotions and contests in the PS Plus Rewards program. Gift games remain active for the duration of the subscription and can be downloaded during the first week of each month.

Although the most juicy advantage of this PlayStation card is not that: we return 0.5% of all purchases made with this card, plus another 0.5% for the direct debit of all our basic receipts, in the form of credit to PSN.

What receipts are these? Electricity, water, gas and telecommunications (telephone and Internet). The amounts are accumulated in monthly coupons as long as the minimum of 5 € has been reached. The maximum amount of credit for both concepts is limited to 500 €/year per holder.

Online service in an online world

It is clear that, given the launch of Stadia and the current movements of Microsoft where Sony has set aside all sorts of rivalry to build a common gaming community, online gaming seems to be a reality of the present rather than the future. Although the advantages are obvious: while DVDs pile up on rickety shelves, all the games bought with our account are associated and safeguarded to that digital profile, forever, to download them when we want.

As we said, if we like to have the games sorted by styles in the folders of the PS4 menu, with savings of 0.5%, little by little, we will notice an extra to spend on what we want. Let’s not forget that the PlayStation Store has more than 6,000 references. It’s hard to find something we don’t like.

And the final advantage, which we leave to close, is perhaps the most important for many players: security. In a credit card we have a monthly limit that can be emptied if someone kidnaps our card, and we do not come to realize. Have you ever been two hours waiting at the police station to report for data theft, plus the wait between canceling and receiving a new card? All this disappears with a debit card controlled with a simple click.

A debit card only has the credit we recharge. Perfect for online purchases, so we can get the exact amount of the purchase we are going to make.

Also, important is the guarantee of a priceless protected by anti-fraud coverage: if we suspect movements that are not our own, we can either call the service or block it online from the official website, even from the remote banking app. The PlayStation card aspires to become a standard, even willing to expand in the future, obtaining and adding new services to those mentioned.