Gadgets en Sat Mar 06 12:43:51 IST 2021 best-smartphones-you-can-gift-to-your-loved-ones <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>Under Rs. 20,000</b>: Let’s be honest, this is still the budget segment most people would like to purchase a smartphone – especially if it’s their first. Here’s my suggestions:</p> <p><b>Moto g62 5G</b>: This is a packed 5G handset (software update expected later this month) from the house of Moto. A big 6.5-inch (2400x1080) 120Hz LED display along with a 5,000 mAh battery unit and you get a 20watt charger in the box. The phone runs Android 12 with almost no bloatware added and some Moto goodies such as Moto personalization. There’s also a a 3.5mm headphone jack and stereo speakers for a more rounded multimedia experience. The triple camera setup on the back isn’t too bad either with added features such live filters, dual capture and RAW format support.</p> <p><b>Realme 9 Speed Edition 5G</b>: With the Android 12 update rolled out for it, the Realme 9 Pro SE is a value offering in the sub-20k space. The phone packs a Snapdragon 778G along with 6GB of RAM (suggested configuration). You get a 6.6-inch LCD display with a 144Hz refresh rate support that’s quite unique for a smartphone at this price range. The phone sports a 5,000 mAh battery and comes with a 30watt charger in the box, too. You get a triple camera system with a 48MP main camera and several bells and whistles in the software department – from theming engine, sketchpad on the lockscreen to parallel apps to run your phone apps on your PC, too.</p> <p><b><br> <br> Under Rs. 50,000</b>: This comes with a lot more heavyweights with software updates, design and camera performance taking higher priorities.</p> <p><b>Poco F4 5G</b>: This is still one of the most value-for-money devices available in the market. The F4 offers a nice 6.67-inch AMOLED display, decent triple camera system. MIUI 13 with refinements over the previous version and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 chipset for a lot of headroom. Other than that, there’s a lot of 5G bands supported for it to be usable on different network carriers across different regions whenever the service is available.</p> <p><b>Google Pixel 6a</b>: There have been deals going on for the Pixel 6a, and this is already one of the more reliable and sorted devices in this price range. It may not be the shiniest of them all, but if you can get a deal for it under Rs. 35,000 and value software updates on your phone, that camera and software experience can really hold its ground well for it to be a worthy option.</p> <p><b>Nothing Phone (1)</b>: Its back is transparent, and it lights up, it has something called Glyph UI and it is a relatively new kid on the block. The Nothing Phone (1) sort of stands out in the phone space with its look, something you can perhaps flaunt as a gift. The device has received a lot of updates to fix its software, which is now quite smooth and reliable than before. The phone feels nice in the hand, and its camera performance is decent too for the price range.</p> <p><b>OnePlus 10T</b>: This is an option worth considering for people looking for a big device with a decent battery life (comes with a massive charger for a phone, I must add) and high-end specifications on most fronts. The performance of the device is generally smooth for day-to-day tasks and it’s able to keep up with your gaming requirements without getting too warm too frequently.</p> <p><b>Wearable:</b></p> <p><b>Mi Smart Band 6</b>: If you want a personal tracker without splurging on much, the Mi Smart Band 6 does a decent job tracking your workouts, steps, heart rate and SpO2. It comes with a 1.56-inch AMOLED display that’s not usually on smart bands. Price: Rs. 3,499</p> Mon Oct 17 12:44:27 IST 2022 samsung-galaxy-buds2-pro--another-well-rounded-tws-pair <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung has been making inroads into the audio space for past few years, especially more since its acquisition of Harman. The Korean giant has been among the established names true-wireless earbuds (TWS) for a while now, and the Galaxy Buds2 Pro come as its new flagship audio offering at a price of Rs. 14,999. Let’s check if these are worth consideration list or not.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Galaxy Buds2 Pro come in a sleek and premium clamshell charging case that has a nice rubberized and gloss-free feel to it. The package is slim and not at all heavy, so you can carry it in your purse or even cargo pocket just fine. The case has the Samsung branding on the top (and AKG branding inside), charging indicator on the front, and a USB type C port at the back. The earbuds are bean-shaped designed and fit and latch on in the charging case as soon as you put them. The buds are matte and, again, gloss-free outside with smooth-textured plastic casing inside. The buds are a little smaller than the previous generation model. I found the buds to fit in-ear well and barely had to adjust when using them for long listening sessions. Weighing under 6grams each, the buds also appeared nice to wear and sort of stand out from many other TWS today, given the Bora Purple colour that I tried.</p> <p><b>Audio quality and experience</b>: The earbuds support Bluetooth 5.3 and come with SBC, AAC and Samsung Seamless Codec audio codecs, the last codec being exclusive to Samsung devices with support for 24-bit higher resolution audio but that didn’t seem to be of much use. The buds deliver full-ish bass and sharp treble, as expected from a Samsung wireless earbuds. You get somewhat deep sub-bass response as well as good mids, though upper mids can be a little too sharp at times. It handles vocals pretty well and has covered you for a a loud output on higher volume levels, if needed. The sound quality on the Buds2 Pro, to sum it up, is fairly well tuned, though perhaps not a clear winner. Active noise cancellation on the pair seems improved from its predecessor, with low to mid pitched sounds getting countered by the mics and microprocessors present though it clearly struggles with higher pitched noise coming from outside, which is expected from any TWS pair. If you have an Android phone, you can use a number of settings and the Galaxy Wearable app to check various EQ presets, but this isn’t available on iOS. The touch controls on the buds is usually responsive, it does catch your tap when you’re trying to adjust the buds but it doesn’t seem as hypersensitive as the previous Buds. Only occasionally did the buds stop playing when one bud was removed from ear, you have to take out both for it to stop, hopefully Samsung fixes this.</p> <p><b>Battery and other stuff:</b> Each bud has a 58mAh battery unit and the case has 500 mAh. The buds lasted around 5.5-6 hours plus 17-18 hours or so with the case, which isn’t the best we have seen from a pair of TWS but it isn’t too bad. One full charge takes nearly 2 hours in one go. Samsung also has a feature called Voice Support (same as Sony’s Speak to Chat feaure) where the buds go mute when you start speaking. Call quality on the Buds2 Pro is fin,e you’re able to hear the other person well, though your own voice can sound a little lower in volume to the other person than you might expect.</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> Samsung’s latest Galaxy Buds have a lot of strengths, minor refinements over its predecessor and a few downsides, too. They offer okay-ishbattery life, have a fairly well-tuned audio quality, and show no connectivity issues with Android, Windows and iOS. At their price point, they have a lot of competition from the likes of Sennheiser, Sony and Oppo, but the Buds2 Pro can hold its ground, too, so if you are looking to have a pair of wireless buds to go with your Samsung device, the Buds2 Pro seem like a contender, with better multidevice connectivity and codec support that it would have with other devices.</p> Tue Oct 11 15:03:32 IST 2022 sens-hendriks-1-review--new-brand--promising-start <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sens is a recent entrant into the Indian market, launching a range of wireless buds, smartwatch and fitness bands to announce their arrival. Let’s take a look at their Hendriks 1, a pair of TWS, priced at an introductory price of Rs. 1699.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: Firth impressions of these TWS are on the positive side, with a gunmetal grey charging case made out of zinc alloy metal. The case has some heft to it but aren’t too large by any means. It has the Sens branding and a charging indicator on the front and a USB type C port at the bottom. The buds have a long semi-cylindrical stem design and weigh less than 4 grams each. The stem has touch sensitive area for controls. The pair is surprisingly comfortable to wear considering its price tag, certainly better fitting than the Mivi DuoPods A350 that I tried a while back. You can tap the left earbud one to decrease the volume, tap the right earbud once to increase it, double tap either of them to play or pause your music, and triple touch to start your compatible voice assistant. The touch controls usually respond though you might trigger a control while wearing or adjusting the buds in your ear. The buds are IPX5 water-resistant, too.</p> <p><b>Audio quality and experience</b>: The Hendriks 1 comes with SBC and AAC audio codes along with Bluetooth 5.1. They feature 10mm drivers and what Sens likes to call “Wider Soundstage”. The sound output of these buds is more than satisfactory, given the price range, to put it briefly. The bass is a bit on the heavy side though it doesn’t get muddled that budget wireless buds can often do. The pair handles treble well along with vocals though it can get a little mushy with mids. Its output isn’t too aggressive when handling lows and highs but a bit more fairly balanced. There’s no app for the Hendriks 1, so you would have to use your own device’s EQ settings, if you want to adjust anything around it. As I said, you are not going to be disappointed with the audio quality, whether it is for watching movies or listening to music for most genres. The buds connect to your paired device without any issue. I found them to pair almost instantly when the case is opened and the other device has Bluetooth enabled. The buds, though, can disconnect well before you cross the 12 meters range mark, which is what the company claims. This is perhaps the only thing that doesn’t quite work as you might expect it to. The mics on the buds are good enough for calls, but when stepped outside, they do catch on to too much noise too frequently and even more so in windy conditions. The sound feedback the buds give (to say pairing mode or connected) could be a little jarring to hear, would have preferred for it be softer. Another thing to note, though expected at this price point, is that the buds don’t automatically stop playing when you remove them from your ear.</p> <p><b>Other nitty gritties:</b> The buds last around 4-4.5 hours on a single charge and with the case you get around 30 hours or so; the case has a 450mAh battery unit while each bud has 30mAh of its own. Charging these from nil to full takes up close to 2 hours in one go. You get extra pairs of silicon eartips in the box, so you might want to check those to see which size is a better fit for you.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Hendriks 1 at Rs. 1,699 offer a lot of value for your buck. The pair gives a satisfactory sound quality, decently long battery life, showed no major connectivity problems and also come in a nice charging case to top it all. If you are looking for an entry-level pair of true wireless buds, at this price point, the Hendriks 1 make a lot of sense, but if they start selling it at its printed price of Rs. 3,999, there are a lot more options that come into the picture, including a few from some established names in the audio space.</p> Thu Oct 06 12:38:43 IST 2022 apple-iphone-14-review-proven-formula-better-overall-performance <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Apple’s new iPhone 14 series is a bit different from previous versions when it comes to naming and sizes covered. We have the iPhone 14, and 14 Plus along with the 14 Pro and Pro Max; there’s a Plus model and no mini now. I tried the iPhone 14, and checked what has really changed and improved from the iPhone 13 and what hasn’t.</p> <p><b>Design: </b>By the looks of it, I would not really blame you for mistaking iPhone 14 for iPhone 13. There are a couple of new colours on offer. The iPhone 14 is slightly thicker and lighter (more pronounced camera setup), but that’s about it. It has the same aluminium design with glass on the back that attracts a lot of dust, smudges and fingerprints—something I noticed as soon as I started using the device. There is a ceramic shield on the front for protecting the display. The left features separate volume buttons and an alert slider near the top, while the SIM card slot sits near the bottom; the right side only has the power/lock button. The bottom houses the loudspeaker (along with the speaker in the ear-speaker grill), primary mic and the lightning port. The back has the familiar Apple logo and dual camera setup with the dual LED flash. The phone isn’t very slippery but, as mentioned, catches a lot of smudges on the back. It feels nice and premium and, as you would expect, no loose ends or anything such. The back glass is now removable for repair work. Oh, and it is still IP68-certified for dust and water resistance.</p> <p><b>Display: </b>The iPhone 14 sports a 6.1-inch XDR (2532x1170) OLED display with 60Hz refresh rate (yup, no upgrade there). The display is top-notch when it comes to sharpness and video output for high-resolution videos. It is a bit warmer in colour temperature by default—slightly brighter than before—though the difference isn’t huge but useful for HDR playback, usable under direct sunlight. Some folks would have liked Apple adding a higher refresh rate to its iPhone 14 series instead of just the Pro series this time, but if you haven’t used one, you may not really mind it.</p> <p><b>Camera: </b>The rear has a dual camera setup – 12MP (f/1.5) main camera and 12MP (f/2.4) ultra-wide camera – upgraded camera (same MP count) for a better output when it comes to low light performance, and it is pretty much where the main difference is. The photos are detailed and sharp in daylight most of the time. In low light, it seems to capture the subject a little better, though at times, it can boost the artificial brightness a little too much, so you might want to take two-three reshots, if you can. I found the portrait shots to handle the subject better in most conditions, though there are still some improvements to be made in terms of handling the background. The camera app in the iPhone is snappy, quite straightforward to use. Smart HDR seems to take nice shots, but at times found the result to be a little too exposed to highlights—taking the HDR effect too high, something Apple generally doesn’t with its camera processing. The front 12MP TrueDepth camera now supports autofocus and seems to capture details of your main subject better, even indoors when using lights. For video, the rear camera does a really nice job of 1080p videos including capturing the sound; you can shoot 4k videos at up to 60FPS and the output has sharpness and detailed shots if you aren’t moving much—making it perhaps the best among smartphone cameras for videos today.</p> <p><b>Battery: </b>The iPhone 14 has a 3,279 mAh battery unit (marginally bigger than the 13’s) and supports charging up to 20watts officially (15watt for wireless induction charging). The phone lasted just under a day, with brightness set at 30 per cent, two email accounts in sync, some videos and web surfing, with occasional calls. The phone does not heat up during day-to-day charging either, but it takes about 90 minutes to charge (no charger in the box, remember) the phone from one per cent to full, which isn’t quick by any smartphone standards today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Software and performance: </b>The device runs iOS 16.0.2 and comes equipped with the familiar A15 Bionic chipset (6-core CPU and %-core GPU) along with 6GB of RAM and neural engine. The chipset has better thermals and GPU performance, as per the company, though it is the same as last year (except for the extra GPU core). The phone is really snappy and smooth to operate, with apps closing and opening without any glitches. The phone is able to handle gaming just fine without any alarming heating issues. Regular performance is something you don’t need to worry about here. The new iOs version comes with several visual changes – starting with the tweaked lock screen, where you can change the clock style, add widgets to your lock screen and also choose from different fonts. You can now customise both the home screen and lock screen at once, in sort of a pair to be applied at once.</p> <p>You can now also tie one lock screen to a Focus mode for getting rid of unnecessary notifications at a particular time. A big update is, iMessage allows for a message to be edited as well as unsend it. Another change is, you can now have large album art on the lock screen when playing some music.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>FaceID now works in landscape mode, too, and battery status is visible without having to swipe down, though the aesthetics of the battery percentage left could have been done better. Clearly, there are quite a few additions and changes done to iOS this time, but this didn’t hinder the overall experience and performance on the device, which can sometimes be the case when a company brings more visual changes by sacrificing the underlying tweaks and performance improvements. The lightning port, though, is still USB2.0 and not 3—something that is outdated for a high-end smartphone.</p> <p><b>Network connection: </b>The call quality and network reception on the iPhone 14 are top-notch. I found WiFi speeds to be slightly better than some older models, and the phone also latched on to the network a little quicker than earlier models, which is nice to see. There’s now support for multiple eSIMs and the process to switch to one on your device is also smoother than earlier. On the other side of the table, network operators have made the experience more seamless, since you are no longer required to visit their physical store in order to have an eSIM on any compatible smartphone today.</p> <p><b>Conclusion: </b>The iPhone 14, as you would have noticed by now, has several things a little better or just about the same as its predecessor. A little better being the keywords here. It is an evolutionary update with the same chipset as before, a slightly better camera setup, a similar quality display (but still no 60Hz refresh rate) and a similar experience when it comes to its battery. If you have an iPhone 13 or even an iPhone 12, this may not be the moment for you to buy Apple’s latest iPhone 14 with its base price tag of Rs 79,900, but for those with an earlier iOS device, looking to upgrade this time, the iPhone 14 is a solid offering as an overall performer on most fronts.</p> Mon Oct 03 16:21:55 IST 2022 sony-wh-1000xm5-review--top-notch-anc-at-a-premium-price <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sony’s WH-1000XM series is well known in the premium active noise cancellation segment, and the XM5, as the name suggests, is its fifth iteration. The previous two models XM3 and XM4 were well received and are still selling across. Let’s try and see what the XM5 improves on and whether it’s worth the Rs. 26,990 price tag (introductory price).</p> <p><b>Design and wear</b>: The Sony WH-1000XM5 follows a different design from its predecessors to a little extent. The headphones are all plastic made with foam in the middle-adjoining stem, though they seem fairly decent with no noticeable build quality issues. I tried the black model, which does catch on smudges quite quickly on the outer circles. The earcups are larger in diameter on the inside with a lot of padding around. The pair is slightly lighter than the XM4, but at the same time, they are a bit bigger to carry around since the earcups aren’t foldable this time. The carry case (again, bigger than before) is collapsible and feels to be made out of nice, premium material to carry around. I found the headphones comfortable to wear and not too bothered about when worn for prolonger listening periods. The pads on the inside can get a little warmer when the headphones used continuously for a while, though. The left earcup houses the power button, ANC/transparency button and 3.5mm audio jack, while the right one only has a USB type C port for charging.</p> <p><b>Audio quality and experience</b>: The XM5 support AAC, SBC and LDAC audio codes along with Bluetooth 5.2. You also get an aux cable in the box for wired usage. The pair offers an aggressive yet cleaner bass and an improved treble coverage than its predecessor. I found the headphones to handle pretty much all genres fairly well. It can handle mids in a more balanced way, in my opinion, not sacrificing on vocals here. Another thing worth noticing was how it handled directional voice and not flopping on left, right and or central directions. Talking about its headline feature – active noise cancellation, I think these Sony headphones offer some of the best ANC out there today. It really does a nice job of muting out the outside noise while not pushing the “humming” buzz for noise cancellation too aggressively. There are 8 mics (you can’t spot them) for the ANC function. You can change from ANC to transparency mode with the physical button, and it seems the transparency mode does a fine job of providing you the outside sounds while not sacrificing on the audio output too much. There are two processors now, including the same QN1 from the previous model plus V1 for ANC. The earcups have 4 beamforming mics, and they do a good job of handling voice for keeping call quality decent. The pair also supports 360 Reality Audio, but only Nugs officially supports it for the India region, it’s nice if you are into live virtual concerts and recorded shows. You get 3 months of free subscription, too.</p> <p><b>Other nitty gritties</b>: The headphones can be paired with two devices at once and they pair up Android, iOS and Windows just fine, supporting Fast Pair and Swift Pair. The headphones lasted around 28-29 hours of playback with several pauses and breaks in between. They get charged for 3 hours of playback in 3 minutes, as per Sony, and it seemed to be thereabout. A full charge, though, took about 3.5 hours using the USB Type C port (which still can only be used for charging and not wired audio as well). You can use Sony’s Headphones app to select your preferred EQ settings, check battery status (which you can also get from tapping the power button once), select Spotify on a tap and change settings such as Speak to Chat.</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> Sony’s WH-1000XM5 is overall a solid pair of headphones that offers a really nice ANC performance, which is one of the biggest reasons most people consider this series.&nbsp; Audio quality is bass-heavy with improved treble over the XM4. Its design and build quality could have been done a little better considering how it was on the previous models, but it doesn’t appear a deal breaker. Though Sony took quite a bit to bring the WH-1000XM5 to India and it isn’t exactly meant to be a budget offering, the pair does have enough to take on the likes of the Bose 700 and perhaps the new Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, plus there’s some improvements over Sony’s own XM4, in a segment that’s shaping up with a lot of good options now.</p> Wed Sep 21 17:33:20 IST 2022 samsung-galaxy-z-fold4--best-foldable-among-narrow-competition-f <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Foldables aren’t very new in the smartphones market today. We have seen the likes of Samsung, Motorola, Oppo and Xiaomi showcase their foldable display phones for a few years now, but it’s only Samsung that has received somewhat mainstream attention, it seems. With its fourth iteration, let’s see if the Galaxy Z Fold4 has fixed enough issues to justify that Rs 1,54,999 price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Design: Make no mistake about it, design remains the main talking point here. The Galaxy Z Fold4 comes with an inward-folding 7.6-inch main display with a 6.2-inch cover display on the outside when folded. The main screen comes with a factory-fitted screen protector, and if removed, can be reapplied by visiting a Samsung store. The crease in the middle of the main display is still very much noticeable and you can feel whenever you touch or scroll on the screen through the middle. The phone weighs a little under 270 grams (top heavy), and is nearly 16mm thick when folded and 6.3mm when unfolded. The phone has aluminium frame and comes with Corning Gorilla Victus+ over the displays. The bezels around both displays are slimmer than before and the under-display camera on the main screen is also less noticeable now. When folded, your hands might run over the Samsung logo ingrained on the outside hinge every now and then. I tried the Beige colour and found the overall look and feel to be premium, it can be a little but not too slippery that we haven’t seen on smartphones before. The fingerprint scanner and volume button sit on the right side, and the scanner is really responsive and dependable for daily use. The device folds and unfolds not in an instance and understandably so. The device is IPX8 water resistant, which isn’t common in the foldable space.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Displays: The 6.2-inch cover display, with an aspect ratio of 23.1:9 (2316x904) HD+ AMOLED display, supports adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. This display is a little narrower than many smartphones’ display these days and it might mean having to adjust a little when typing messages. The display, though, is really bright with punchy colours. It’s usable under direct sunlight, too and handles high resolution videos well. The main display is a 7.6-inch QXGA+ (2176 x1812) AMOLED that has an aspect ratio of 21.6:18 and up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. The display is slightly brighter than before and the upgraded aspect ratio means less letterboxing when watching videos but you do still get big black bard on top and bottom when playing a video. The display is sharp, vibrant and smooth when it comes to refreshing frames when scrolling inside apps.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cameras: The rear camera setup includes a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera. Both the displays have a camera, too – the cover display has a 10MP (f/2.2) punch-hole camera, and the main display has an under-display 4MP (f/1.8) camera. You can use the main rear cameras for taking selfies when the phone has been unfolded while checking the shots and live view on the cover display (Samsung calls this Flex mode), nice use for the displays. The rear cameras protrude quite a bit, and their actual shots seem vibrant and detailed. The low-light shots appear better stitched than the previous model. Even the telephoto performance, which is often an afterthought in most smartphones, can take decent shots in daylight. The shots could look to have a Samsung style to it, if you have used a Samsung smartphone before, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Overall, the camera delivers most of the time and can be used in various lighting conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Performance, software and experience: The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 runs on OneUi 4.1.1 based on Android 12 with the July security patch installed. The phone is equipped with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset along with 12 GB LPDDR5 RAM of storage and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The phone handles daily tasks without breaking a sweat. Apps open and close smoothly, no noticeable stuttering in playing videos. It handles games like Apex Legend well, too, though that aspect ratio may not be well handled by every single game. The phone doesn’t heat up frequently, only a few times did I notice the camera area heat up a little when shooting videos or watching videos for a while. Coming to the foldable experience, whatever you have on the cover display continues on the main display once you unfold the phone. When you go back to the cover display from the main display (after folding the device), the phone treats it as locking the device, so you have to resume the task after unlocking the screen. The main display has a taskbar at the bottom now, which can be used to open more than one app at once on your screen. OneUI seems to gel in well with edge cases for foldables and I didn’t notice any corners cut when it comes to apps performance. There’s plenty of customisation options – from colour palette to match your wallpaper and themes to changing icons and changing always-on screen style from the theme store. The fingerpring scanner can also double up as a notification checker by swiping down to bring up the notification pane. Other things include double touch to turn off the screen, setting vibration pattern to the ringtone selected, and Windows connectivity and the DeX mode, there’s a lot of things in place. The best use cases for unfolding the device -- when viewing a document from your Email, could be a Word Document, PDF of an Excel spreadsheet, the main display comes in really handy. Typing experience on it isn’t very comfortable, though, despite the keyboard divided into two parts for two-hand typing. I used the cover display for like 80 per cent of the times and only rest the main display (mainly for the rear camera, watching videos and viewing images and documents).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Battery: The Galaxy Z Fold4 is powered by a 4,400 mAh battery unit with support for 25watt charging speeds. Do note, you don’t get a charging adapter in the box, yup, despite that price tag. The phone lasted around 23-24 hours most of the time on adaptive refresh rate and always-on display enabled, and takes about 90 minutes to charge from 1 per cent to full. The phone heats up just a bit when charging to full in one go, but nothing alarming. It supports wireless induction charging as well as Wireless PowerShare by which you can charge another device that supports wireless charging by placing it on the Fold4’s back.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other features: The phone supports WiFI6 and Bluetooth 5.2 with LDAC support. There’s VoWiFI support as well, which works reliably and so is the call quality whether outdoors or indoors, nothing to complain there. The stereo speakers on the device are quite loud but I expected them to deliver a punchier and fuller sound, especially considering the size of the device.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Verdict: The Galaxy Fold4 shows Samsung’s attempt at polishing edges and fixing bugs with its fourth iteration of foldables. It’s a well-rounded foldable Android device that performs most things well and its foldable design provides a number of use cases without hampering regular tasks expected to be taken care by a smartphone. The fact that Samsung advices you to keep a screen protector tells you that we might still be a little away from more foldables going mainstream. If you have the budget and aren’t going to be using your smartphone out in a field every day, you can consider this Fold, it’s right up there among the best foldable phones today (albeit not much competition for now), but if you don’t fit the bill on either of those counts, you might want to wait a bit more for your first foldable smartphone.</p> Tue Sep 13 17:52:14 IST 2022 sony-linkbuds-review-these-headphones-are-a-mixed-bag <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sony is one of the most well-known names associated with audio products and it’s not just for speakers and headphones but also for true wireless headsets for a while. The company’s LinkBuds aren’t part of its noise-cancelling headphones but make for their own line-up. Let’s try and see what this pair really delivers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><p><b>Design:</b>&nbsp;Sony LinkBuds follow a unique bagel-like design with a hole on the middle part that goes in your ear. There’s an external ear-tip ring that goes around in the upper part of the bud and can be replaced with ear-tips of a different size that come in the box, whichever is suitable for your ear size. The LinkBuds are really light and compact – weighing under 4.5gm each – and the same can be said for the charging case, which is also smaller and lighter than most TWS cases you would have seen – weighing under 35gm. It might require a bit of getting used to, but once done, the pair is comfortable to wear, even for long hours. You should see which ear-tip rings work the best for you. The LinkBuds don’t fall of or require any frequent adjustments even of you move around. The buds and the case are made out of recycled plastic but the battery on these isn’t replaceable. The inner shelf of the LinkBuds carry a sensor, charging magnets and speaker grille. The LinkBuds are IPX4 splash-resistant, and the variant I tried (grey colour) didn’t catch fingerprints.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p><b>Audio performance:</b>&nbsp;Sony LinkBuds supports Bluetooth 5.2 with Fast pair (for Android) and Sift Pair (for Windows) support. There’s SBC and AAC audio codec support (no LDAC for some reason). The LinkBuds pair pretty quickly even the first time, and work reliably with your main device. The Sony LinkBuds offer more of a “balanced” output – with decent but not great handling of bass and even highs, though it handles vocals well most of the times. The audio seems to be more suitable for pop and alt genres of music. Since these are open-ear buds, bass isn’t exactly supposed to be heavy. The buds don’t feature active noise cancellation, but they have ambient sound, allowing you to hear voices around you, which is done by design, if you like it. The mic quality, on the other hand, is good quality whether it is for calls on the go or for video calls.</p> </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><p><b>Other features:</b> You can control playback and make calls by tapping around the bud (and not on it), like on your ear and it actually registers this far-tap well. There’s a Speak-to-Chat feature where the LinkBuds pause whatever you’re playing after you start to speak, and this works reliably but you might want to switch it off if you’re used to signing your songs along as the buds would register it as you’re speaking and pause your music. The buds pair with only one device at a time. You can use Sony’s Headphone app to reconfigure controls for different controls as well as for trying different EQ settings or try EQ settings to your own taste. The charging case features a USB Type C (there’s a short USB type C cable that comes in the box) a push button for opening the case and an LED for charging indication. It has fast charging but no wireless induction charging support.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p><b>Battery life:</b> The Sony LinkBuds stay afloat for around 4.5-5 hours on a single charge while the charging case additionally provided about 11.5 hours, which isn’t too long but it still isn’t too bad. About 10 minutes of charge in the case can deliver about 80-90 minutes of playback. Features like Speak-to-Chat and Digital Sound Enhancement Engine can take a bit of a toll on the battery life, as mentioned inside the app, too.</p> </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Sony LinkBuds’ open ear design provides comfort for wearing; the pair seems a better fit for those looking to make calls and listen to their music (more for vocals and pop music) on the go than serious music listening sessions indoors. Its audio quality isn’t quite up to the mark of, say, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. And, it doesn’t have active noise cancellation but its ambient sound and speak-to-chat feature work reliably, and with that small size (including that of the case), it only makes its case for people on the go stronger. The Sony LinkBuds are a bit of a niche and interesting product (currently, retail for around Rs 15,000) that aren’t for everybody, and it shows from the word go.</p> Tue Sep 06 20:06:44 IST 2022 hp-pavilion-plus-14-review-slim-lightweight-laptop-that-doesnt-cut-too-many-corners <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>HP’s Pavilion line-up of laptops is associated with all-around consumer offerings for both productivity and looks. It’s not often the most affordable mode on paper but it’s a lot of times preferred for its performance and previous experiences. The Plus 14 is the company’s slimmest Pavilion model (16.5mm) and we tried the silver model, priced just under Rs 80,000. Let’s see where it scores and where it lacks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What clicks:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b> The notebook features a 14-inch (2880x1800) LED IPS display (16:10 aspect ratio) that is really nice to work with. The videos come out vivid, text looks sharp, and colours are punchy enough, perhaps better than many of the previous Pavilion series laptops. With its aspect ratio, a lot of content creators might also prefer it for their work. The display has anti-glare coating, and it goes about 300 nits in brightness and is decent enough to be used under direct sunlight.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b> The Pavilion Plus 14 is made out of recycled aluminium for its lid, keys and bottom part, as per the company. It weighs under 1.5kg and is slim, making it quite suitable for carrying it around for work. The laptop has almost no flex or give-ins in the body – whether the palm rest or the external lid. The matte finish and silver look go well with the overall look and feel of the laptop, not flashy, but a sober-looking thin notebook.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Keyboard:</b> It has nice white LEDs that are just bright enough to go with the all-silver look. The keys are well spaced out and have decent travel and feedback for long and continuous writing. The trackpad is fairly large and tracks clicks and gestures quite well, rarely missing a beat during the usage. Though it’s made from plastic, it didn’t feel any cheap or was a let-down in terms of finish.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Overall performance:</b> The notebook is powered by Intel’s 12 Gen 15 (12500H) chip with 16GB of DDR4 RAM (non-upgradable) and Intel Xe graphics to go with 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD. The laptop is snappy and smooth in daily operations like watching videos while typing out a document with a browser opened in the background. It’s also quick to wake up from the sleep mode, something I have seen being an issue on previous Windows 11 laptops in this price range. Gaming wise, it can handle something like GTA V at around 55 FPS at full HD though don’t expect to play it at the highest settings, but the laptop handles it just fine for the given settings. The fingerprint scanner, given on the right hand side of the trackpad (near the sideline), is quite quick and responsive, it’s not as responsive as the one on the ASUS recent laptops, but still not a miss that you wouldn’t want to use it frequently.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What’s just okay:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> The laptop comes equipped with a 51W battery and a 90W charger in the box that charges over USB type C with support for fast charging. The laptop charges from 1 per cent to full in about 70 minutes and supports power delivery on both its USB type C ports. The laptop lasted around 4.5 hours on a single full charge, with brightness at 70 per cent, WiFi and keyboard LED always on, two web browsers opened, a lot of videos played, some document editing and a bit of local music listening. The battery life is just about okay, it’s not the worst but it’s certainly not the best, but maybe that’s the price you pay for a slim and lightweight profile in the Pavilion Plus 14’s case, but it does charge quite quickly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound:</b> There’s dual downward-facing Bang &amp; Olufsen speakers in place. The speakers aren’t the loudest for watching movies or videos in general but they are not too bad either. They have decent bass output as well as clear mids. You can expect to get a decent output when watching alone, but with a 2-3 people and some chatter alongside, or for relying on them for listening to music, you might want to connect an external set of speakers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What doesn’t click:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Ports:</b> There are 2 USB A 3 ports (one on each side), one microSD card reader, 2 USB type C ports (both on the right side) and a 3.5mm audio jack plus an HDMI 2.0 port but none of the USB type C ports supports thunderbolt and of course there’s no ethernet port given here, either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The HP Pavilion Plus 14 does several things really well and something that it’s pretty much designed for – lightweight slim Windows 11 (Home) notebook that has a really nice and sharp display, a good keyboard and trackpad combination and solid design. It could have made for an ideal work-on-the-go laptop for under Rs 80,000, had it delivered a bit more on the battery front, but even then, this is a device worth checking if you want something that is not at all heavy, comfortable to type on, or watch high resolution videos on.</p> Fri Sep 02 22:21:34 IST 2022 oneplus-10t--some-changes-and-some-omissions <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus has been releasing more phones in the last 15 months or so than its usual frequency, and the OnePlus 10T is another example of that. The 10T, contrary to what the name might suggest, isn’t exactly a successor to the OnePlus 10 series. Its base price as Rs. 49,999 an has a lot of competitors to face through. Let’s see what it gets right and what it doesn’t.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What clicks:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• OnePlus’ 10T sports a 6.7-inch (2412x1080) 20.1:19 aspect ratio AMOLED display (not curved) that supports 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ for videos. The display here is really nice and sharp to look at. The company has been coming out with really vivid and highly responsive displays on their phones of late and the 10T shows that. Though it isn’t the sharpest display by resolution from the OnePlus line-up by any means, it does a fine job with its output of full HD videos including in HDR whenever you play one. Using it under direct sunlight with brightness cranked up is fine, though the 10 series handled outdoors use a little better.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• The device is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset (octa-core and up to 3Ghz clockspeed, Adreno 730 GPU and X65 5G modem). This high-end chipset is coupled with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM (comes in 8GB and 16GB variants) and 256GB UFS3.1 storage. The phone handles regular tasks and gaming without too many hiccups. Apps open and close quickly, so does the camera app, games can be played at their highest settings most of the time and there’ doesn’t seem to be too much throttling going on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• It runs on OxygenOS12.1 based on Android 12 with the July security patch. There aren’t many differences here from previous OnePlus devices in the past 12 months. During my usage, the device got 3 updates within the first few days, with mostly software and fingerprint related issues getting fixed. Previously, we saw some scrolling issues within OxygenOS randomly every once in a while, but this time it seems to have been somewhat fixed, it isn’t all gone the frequency of it happening is much lower now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• The 10T sports a triple rear camera system – 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, an 8MP (f//2.2) ultrawide camera and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera. The phone’s main camera can really take sharp and detailed shots, even in low light the performance is actually not that bad. With its OIS support, the phone ca handle taking shots on the go better than OnePlus’ budget offerings for sure but it’s hard to say if it really outshines the competition. The phone can take 4K60FPS videos and that’s where the phone can heat up a bit when used outdoors, especially. The camera app, on the other hand, is responsive and quite straight forward to use, though it has a lot of options for you choose from, Night Scape and</p> <p>Tilt Shift are worth trying among other modes. The front-facing 16MP camera can take good selfie shots but its HDR mode can produce shots that appear too artificial at times</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• As is the case with a lot of OnePlus devices, the battery experience is top notch. The 10T comes with a 160watt charger in the box, yup, it is quite heavy for a phone, but with the phone’s 150watt SuperVOOC charging support, it charges the phone from 1% to full in under an hour. Mind you it’s a 4,800 mAh battery (smaller than the 10 Pro) unit, which isn’t too big by today’s standards, but it still can’t be called small. The phone lasts about a day more often than not – brightness set at 35%, two Email Accounts in sync, a lot of videos and Web browsing. Even during charging, it only heated up a bit but to no alarming levels</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s okay:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per the company, the phone sports something called a CMF design. The rear has curved edges that make holding the device comfortable and yet the devise isn’t too slippery. The bezels around the screen are slim and almost symmetrical, the bottom border is slightly broader than the top one. The phone weighs just slightly above 200 grams and measures around 6.5 inches in height, so it isn’t really a compact phone but you already knew what you’re getting into considering that display size. There’s Gorilla Glass on the front and the back but the back tends to get a lot of smudges, which aren’t too noticeable at first but once you look a little closely you would realise it catches fingerprints and</p> <p>smudges frequently (Jade Green model). The punchole for the front-facing camera is in the top middle part with a not-so-big footprint</p> <p>• Under-screen fingerprint scanner works okay, but still doesn’t quite beat a physical scanner. It is quite fast and relatively reliable compared to its counterparts seen on the Google</p> <p>Pixel 6a</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What doesn’t click:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• The phone is missing several things from the package that you might expect from a OnePlus Android device with a Rs. 50,000 price tag: there’s no wireless induction charging, no alert slider this time and no official Ip rating for dust or water resistance, though during my usage, the phone can withstand minor drops and splashes of water just fine. Alert slider, especially, something quite known about OnePlus among Android OEMs. As per the company, internal space usage to accommodate 15 individual antennas is the reason for its omission this time. OnePlus also didn’t go with the Hasselblad partnership and branding, something I liked onthe OnePlus 10 Pro was taking shots using the Hasselblad camera preset. Another angle for cost-cutting seems to be the USB type C port, which is USB 2.0 (slower than 3.0) Wrapping it up, the OnePlus 10T is brings a few changes and a few deletions from the 10 series. It performs really well on the performance, display and battery fronts, but a lot of people may not prefer its bulky design and omission of a feature like alert slider (for existing OnePlus users) or wireless induction charging. On its own, the phone comes out as a good performer at Rs. 50,000 but perhaps not a clear winner considering the competition it takes on – iQoo 9T, realme GT 2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 25 12:11:33 IST 2022 asus-vivobook-15-review-bit-of-a-mixed-package <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Another month and another new laptop to check from ASUS – Vivobook 15 (X1502). This time, though, it is on the budget and more mainstream - no gaming and no premium design or OLEDs in place. This laptop starts at Rs 45,000, and comes in two colours – Quiet Blue (which I tried) and Icelight Silver. Let’s take a look at what works and what doesn’t for this budget Windows 11 notebook.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What works:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><p>The Vivobook 15 comes equipped with a 42WHr battery unit (3-cell) and a 65 W charger in the box. The battery lasted around 6 hours on a continuous stretch – with brightness set at about 50 per cent, WiFi always on, mail sync on and two browsers running. The laptop almost never heated up with these apps opened.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p>It sports a 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) full HD LED display that is quite bright and not very reflective, too. It manages 1080p videos output just fine; don’t expect punchy colours like a high-end OLED display, but with the given price tag, the display holds its ground.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p>The trackpad is of average size and works decent in tracking gestures and clicks, but it carries a physical fingerprint scanner on its top right – the fingerprint scanner is undoubtedly one of the better parts about this device. It is quick enough to unlock and rarely failed to recognise the correct finger/thumb as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p>The device boasts of 12th Gen i3 (Alder Lake) chip Intel UHD Graphics with 8 GB RAM. For day-to-day tasks, the laptop does not show a lot of struggles. With Microsoft Excel, Firefox, Edge and Air Explorer open, there was no slowdown and hardly any stuttering when switching between apps while playing a video in the background. Don’t expect to play a game like Fortnite at high settings, but for basic tasks like mentioned here, you won’t be disappointed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p>There’s a 720p HD webcam on the top of the display, which does a strictly okay job for video calls, but interestingly there’s a physical switch to turn the camera on or off (in addition to the F10 key to control the webcam) for enhanced privacy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p>Though an ethernet port and a microSD card slot would have made the package a bit better connectivity-wise, the notebook has a USB 2.0 port (on the left side), 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 A ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type C port, an HDMI 1.4 port and a 3.5mm audio jack (on the right side). Not the latest specifications, but most of the required ports are still there.</p> </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What does not quite click:</p> <ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <li><p>The laptop has aluminium chassis that feels okay at first but flexes at several points such as the laptop’s lid and the palm rest area. I wasn’t expecting its build quality to be from the absolute top drawer, but you would expect an experienced campaigner like ASUS to not have such low-quality build.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </li> <li><p>The chicklet keyboard feels okay to type on but the keys, again, don’t give great feedback or look to have very nice build quality, similar to the previous point. They aren’t so bad to type with, once you get the hang of it, but you would continue to notice how the keys make clanky sounds.</p> </li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ASUS Vivobook 15 is a bit of a mixed package, it covers battery and basic performance well, but comes up short on the build quality and typing experience. This price segment is especially quite competitive and crowded with options from the likes of HP, Dell, and Lenovo. The laptop could</p> <p>find it hard to stand out and perform better on any front, compared to a lot of other laptops available from these brands.</p> Sat Aug 20 18:44:56 IST 2022 google-pixel-6a-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Google’s approach with its Pixel lineup of devices hasn’t always been very clear. Sometimes it’s meant to show Google’s own approach to what an Android phone should and could look like other times it is what a not-so-flagship-device can offer. The Pixel 6a falls in the second category. With a price tag of Rs. 43,999, let’s look if this Pixel is worth your attention or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Pixel 6a sports a 6.1-inch full HD 20:9 aspect ratio-display on the front that also carries in-screen fingerprint scanner towards the bottom and a front facing camera near the top. The borders on the front aren’t wrapping around the display don’t measure equal in size (chin being a little broader than the forehead that houses the earspeaker grille), and they aren’t the slimmest on a device by any means, but they aren’t too big either. The back has an interesting two-tone coloured plastic design that doesn’t feel cheap at all. The plastic feels decent and build quality seems okay, too. Alongside, there’s a very noticeable visor (strip) on the top of the back that carries the camera setup. And the sides have aluminium around. The front doesn’t attract too many smudges and fingerprints, but the back can, though the colour and material make it less noticeable. Both the power and volume buttons sit on the right, with the power button neared the top, I would have probably preferred it the other way around since a lot of times I accidentally tapped the volume buttons when I had to use the power/lock key without looking at the device. The SIM card tray sits on the left side; loudspeaker, primary mic and USB type C port at the bottom; and the secondary mic at the top. There are plastic stripes on the sides four each on the left and right side, two at the top and one at the bottom, for better network reception. As mentioned, the phone feels somewhat premium and nice to carry (weighs just under 180 grams) and doesn’t show any creeks or loose ends. Oh, and it’s IP67 water and dust resistant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device has a 6.1 (2400x1080) OLED display (Gorilla Glass 3 on top) that sports a standard 60Hz refresh rate. That’s correct, there’s no 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates here, which has lately become quite common in smartphones. You might really miss if you’re used to a higher refresh rate display, though it must be said given the price tag, a 90Hz display wouldn’t have been big ask. The display itself is quite sharp punchy. It’s certainly not the brightest display we have seen recently. The default display mode (adaptive) tends to be more on the punchier side, you might want to try natural mode (or boosted, if you want). It handles high resolution videos quite well, nothing we haven’t seen at such a price point. Coming to the camera – there’s a 12MP (f/1.7) main camera and a 12 MP (f/2.2) ultrawide camera. The primary camera is same as what we have been seeing on Pixel phones for years now, while the ultrawide is kept from the Pixel 6. The photos taken from rear cameras looks well-tuned and balanced. The phone doesn’t have a long shutter lag and the camera doesn’t show any hiccups either. HDR and portrait shots appear a little better than the Pixel 4a, but there’s not much changed here. Top shot, when enabled, gives you the automatic best shot from a small video clip taken when you press the shutter button, especially useful if you’re taking photos of babies. Magic brush allows you to, well, as the name suggests erase some parts in a photo while retaining the background as if the photo was taken this way. It works quite well when the background doesn’t have a lot of colours, say a checkered shirt, so removing a can from a plain background or a straw from your coffee cup works okay. On the front, you have an 8Mp (f/2.0) camera that takes nice, detailed shots, and can hold okay even in not-so-great lighting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Pixel 6a is equipped with Google’s Tensor chipset (internally codenamed GS101) that has an octacore processor and a Mali G78 MP20 GPU, coupled with 6GB LPDDR5 of RAM and 128GB UFS3.1 storage. You also get Titan M2 for enhanced security. The phone runs on Android 12 (Android 13 should be out soon) with the June security patch. Software experience is really where this phone shines. The whole look and feel of the OS is Google’s vision of what an Android user should get. Among major features of Android 12 is Material You, which basically allows you to customize the overall theming on</p> <p>the UI as per your own colour preference. You can choose to change icons as per your chosen wallpaper and change UI colour pattern within Settings and notification shade. The multitasking view allows you to copy-paste a link from an app like YouTube without having to tap into that app and then do so, and you can also copy an image from the same view, some neat little features. Another feature worth mentioning is the live transcription feature in the recorder app, which works consistently well. Day to day performance is nothing to complain about. The phone can handle switching between apps, having multiple Web browsers open, watching videos or viewing images all without showing any glitches. For gaming, playing a game like Fortnite on default settings should be just fine, but there’s no highest settings in the game available for this device so far.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone sports a 4,410 mAh battery unit that supports up to 18watt charging officially. The phone only comes with a USB type C to type C cable and no charger in the box (along with a USB A to C dongle). You would require a power delivery (PD) supporting charger if you would like to have the device charge at its highest speed (which isn’t very high anyway). The phone lasted me around 18-20 hours most of the time, it did struggle to last one whole day often. The phone charges in about 110-120 minutes from 1% to full, which can be annoyingly slow if you’re used to any smartphone from the likes of OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi in past two years or so. So, the battery experience is just about okay, and nothing much to give credit for.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The biggest disappointment in terms of using the device is its in-screen fingerprint scanner. Such fingerprint scanners are still known to pale in comparison to physical (external) fingerprint scanners on a phone, but this one was particularly below par. A lot of times, it failed to recognize the correct thumb or took too long to recognize it to unlock. The phone got a couple of updates, which did make the fingerprint scanner perform a little more reliably but it’s still far from giving a satisfactory performance. Some earlier batches of the Pixel 6a showed some WiFi and network reception issues, but no such issues were seen on my unit. The WiFi and network data performance is top notch. Throughout my usage, not even once did I see WiFi drop in performance or show anything unusual. The loudspeakers are quite loud and clear, doing the job well for your YouTube and occasional music playback.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, the Pixel 6a’s position is quite clear – it isn’t competing with the likes of iQoo, OnePlus and Xiaomi with its hardware specifications on paper, it would come up short there. It has a below par fingerprint scanner, a strictly okay battery experience, but a solid design, and it excels in delving a cohesive and consistent software plus camera experience. So, if those two things matter the most to you, this should be on your consideration list.</p> Tue Aug 16 12:23:34 IST 2022 laptop-review--asus-rog-zephyrus-g15-is-a-mighty-performer-in-a- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>ROG Zephyrus G15, the new gaming laptop from ASUS, tries to cater to gaming as well as creative users.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device sports a magnesium + aluminium design with a catchy Moonlight White colour. It isn’t flashy but stands out without trying too much. The indicator lights for power, battery and processing sit between the keyboard and the display as well as on the backend of the lid, which is useful when your lid is closed. Plus, the dot matrix lid complements the design well.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are vents for heat dissipation on sides, bottom and near the hinge, and they do a good job. The laptop rarely get heated thanks to six heat pipes. The does not make much noise but does the job.&nbsp;</p> <p>The notebook is powered by AMD’s Ryzen 9 6900 octa-core chip clocked up to 3.3Ghz with Radeon Grapics alongside GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU. The 1TB M.2 SSD model with 16 GB of DDR5 RAM.&nbsp;</p> <p>handled games quite well, not slowing any signs of slowdown while playing Far Cry 6, though you might see graphics performance take a hit in a game like The Witcher 3, even when the laptop is plugged in. The laptop scored 879 in Geekbench’s single core CPU test and 7203 in the multi-core. Regarding the complete Geekbench test, the score was 95176. The one performance issue I faced was, the notebook often took its time to wake up from sleep. At times, it had to be rebooted entirely, defeating the purpose for setting it to sleep. It happened quite a few times.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The laptop has an interesting hinge mechanism. When it’s opened, the hinge and the base of the laptop are lifted a little. This not only gives a little better space for heat but can also make typing on the keyboard with slightly better feedback when used on a flat surface. The keys are spaced out and quite large but perhaps not the best when it comes to keypress and travel, where it can feel a little too soft, though not by much. The trackpad is also quite large but again not the largest we have seen on a gaming laptop. Given the compact chassis size with the display, it’s a decent combination but certainly not the best.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There’s a Quad HD (2560 x 1440) 15.6-inch display (16:9 aspect ratio) that supports HDR and Dolby Vision. The display has a matte finish and doesn’t get a lot of smudges and fingerprints. It also supports 240Hz refresh rate and adaptive sync (both useful for games, mostly). The display is quite bright and has punchy colours with nice HDR output (Dolby Vision never worked for me). For gaming, the higher refresh rate shines through and colours come out well. The six-speaker setup (two alongside the keyboard and four at the bottom) are quite loud and clear, they may not be bass-heavy but do a good enough job if you aren’t using headphones while playing your games. The backlit chicklet keyboard does a decent job of handling LED changes with the games, though the lighting could be a bit brighter considering the all-white keyboard.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The notebook is equipped with a 90Wh battery that supports fast charging. You get a big 16amp three-pin power adapter in the box. It’s not a very common plug in houses these days, so you might have to see for that. The laptop also supports power delivery via the USB type C ports. It charges from 1% to full in about 90 minutes. For ports, there’s a 3.5mm jack, an HDMI 2.0b port, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (one on each side), 1x RJ45 LAN port, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C wit DisplayPort and power delivery on the left and a microSD card reader on the right.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Wrapping it up, the ROG Zephyrus G15 does provide a pretty package with a lot of performance. It has a nice display, a good battery life, not the best graphics performance but still at par, better thermals than before plus a good combination of I/O connectivity. If you’re in the market for gaming on the go and not necessarily for content creation, this model can be considered, especially if you want the notebook to not be flashy but still sort of stand out.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 11 14:47:18 IST 2022 review--xiaomi-smart-speaker-ir-control- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Xiaomi isn’t necessarily known for its audio products. TVs? Yup. Smartphones? Absolutely. But the company has been in the audio products category for quite a while – neckband earphones, wired earphones and Bluetooth speakers. With their new Smart Speaker, we have a new product from Xiaomi that is not only a Google Assistant smart speaker but also an infrared controller for your other devices. Let’s see if this proves worth the Rs. 5,000 price tag.</p> <p>The Xiaomi Smart Speaker (IR Control) measures around 5.6 inches in height and weighs under 650 grams. It’s compact enough to be put up anywhere in your room – center table, corner table, under your TV etc. The speaker has two mics (with far field voice support) and four touch buttons (for music and volume controls) on the top along with a big One-Dot LED in the middle. The speakers’ vents are on all four sides in the bottom half. On the front, you have the Xiaomi branding, while the back has the power DC input. The bottom has four little rubber feat that lift the speaker just slightly. The front houses white LEDs for the digital clock (and for greeting Hello when you power the device on). The LEDs have adaptive brightness making them dim when the speaker has not been given any new command in a while or when you’re away from the speaker. The plastic material on the device does catch a lot of dust and you might have to wipe it clean every now and then. In the box, other than the speaker, you get the hardwired 12v power adapter and user manuals.</p> <p>Or setting the speaker up, you need to use the Google Home app or both Android and iOS. The initial setup is straight-forward. For more granular controls, you can install the Xiaomi Home app and pair it with your device. and for pairing with it, you would need to reset the speaker. The speaker catches the “Okay, Google” command quite frequently but of course, with some music on at a relatively high volume, you will have to say the it a little louder.</p> <p>The speaker can be connected with another device over Chromecast and Bluetooth. Be it your smartphone, tablet or a smart TV. Plenty of music apps, too, support casting for music playback. or just regular playback over Bluetooth. The speaker also supports Bluetooth 5.0, which isn’t the very latest protocol, but it isn’t exactly too old or lacking in any many major ways. Coming to the audio, the Xiaomi Smart Speaker sports a 1.5-inch mono speaker. For stereo output, you would have to connect another unit. The audio output from the speaker is not bad at all, especially considering its size and price. Bass boost is fairly decent, while balance with highs and mids are okay, too. At times, highs can get a little mushy with mids. Overall, the sound quality is decent, not too great, but not bad either for the price tag.</p> <p>The speaker itself has four infrared sensors on it for controlling your home appliances and devices. With the Mi Home app, you can configure to control some appliances using the smart speaker. Think of it as a voice-enabled infrared remote control for your appliances. The app, though a bit buggy when initially setting it up, has many brands listed under different appliances. Once added, you can use the speaker via the app (with the remote-control configuration), to control your appliance such as TV or air conditioner that are usually controlled over infrared.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, the Xiaomi Smart Speaker does a good job of doing what it’s supposed to – be a smart speaker that pairs with your other connected devices and can control your old appliances, too. The</p> <p>sound quality, which doesn’t seem to be its biggest strength, is not bad though not too great either. But for the price tag and overall performance it delivers, you’re getting a good smart package for your room.</p> Wed Aug 03 15:21:59 IST 2022 chromecast-with-google-tv--is-it-really-worth-buying- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Google has been in the space for TV streaming and entertainment devices for quite a while. Whether it’s their Chromecast dongles or their Chromecast for audio, the company has been making efforts in the smart TV space. The Google Chromecast with Google TV brings dedicated TV UI to Chromecast for your big screen. Priced at Rs. 6,399, let’s see if this is worth your home entertainment purchase or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chromecast with Google TV gives you an ovular-shaped dongle that attaches to your TV’s HDMI port (HDMI 2.1 supported) and there’s a remote control that’s pretty lightweight and smaller than most TV remote controls today. You also get a charger, USB type C cord and two AAA alkaline batteries in the box. The device sports a USB Type C port and can be powered by your TV’s USB port but it’s&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>recommended to power it using the charger plugged in to a power outlet since the USB port’s output may not be sufficient enough at all times. It also has a small LED to notify power status. The remote control has dedicated keys for YouTube and Netflix. The YouTube key can be reconfigured for YouTube Music or YouTube Kids. Other keys are the volume buttons (on the top right side), back button, Home button, mute button, Google Assistant, input switch and power key. There’s also a mic on it for voice commands and of course the Infrared port on the top. You should ideally insert&nbsp; the Chromecast in your TV’s HDMI eARC port for audio passthrough and volume controls. The initial setup is not so complicated using the Google Home app (on both Android and iOS).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Google TV UI is mainly based on your streaming apps and content discovery. It’s divided into Search, apps and content for you, Movies, Shows and all your apps library. A dedicated tab for all apps here might have been better than going into the Apps tab and then scrolling to the All Apps tab. The For You tab shows you content that you might be interested in based on your previous watched history from your signed-in apps. This doesn’t show which app has what but is more focused on the content grouped with respect to genres. Library tab shows you your purchased shows and movies from Google TV. The Search tab on the extreme left is for universal search for apps and content. You need to use the keyboard (or your phone’s Google TV remote) or press the Google Assistant for voice search or open an app with a voice command, which you can do at any part of the OS using this button. As usual, you can double press the volume button to mute (or simply press the mute button itself once).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Chromecast is powered by the Amlogic S905X2 chip along with 2GB of RAM and it comes with Google TV based on Android TV 10 version with the May security patch installed. Performance on the Chromecast with Google TV is generally responsive and smooth enough. It’s definitely smoother to surf through than a lot of budget Android TVs launched in the past year or so. Very rarely, it struggled to handle switching between two apps. Loading of apps, too, doesn’t take unusually long.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device supports 4K HDR10+ and Dolby Vision for videos and Dolby Atmos for audio provided your TV supports these formats and so does the service you’re using. The output for 4K HDR seemed really nice and didn’t show much graining or jarring effects. At times, the output from Chromecast with Google TV seemed a little brighter with punchier colours than the TV’s own default output with Android TV baked in. For sound, I couldn’t make DTS to work but Dolby Atmos and sound output in general seemed to be on par. You can connect Chromecast supported audio devices using the Google Home app. Power on/off also works fine, meaning you wouldn’t have to use the TV’s remote control, including for switching the TV input to Chromecast from the default input mode of the TV once you switch the TV on. The Chromecast feature, from your phone or tablet, itself works just as you would expect. But, if given an option, I would definitely suggest use your apps or streaming directly from the device instead of casting from another device for better audio-video result, especially with how straight-forward the bundled remote control is. For search, where you voice command isn’t working, you can use a remote app like Google TV Remote (or from a dozen other apps available in the Play Store) to input relevant search words on the Chromecast with Google TV.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Chromecast doesn’t have an ether not port nor a standard USB type A port. For attaching and accessing an external drive, if not over your wireless network, you would have to go through some rounds – get a USB type C hub, connect it to the Chromecast with Google TV, supply power to both the Chromecast and the USB hub and then connect an external drive or microSD card to that hub.</p> <p>The Chromecast comes with only 4.4GB free storage space (8GB model), so if you are installing a lot of apps, you might require an external storage drive, but for, say, 10-12 apps installed, it might well be sufficient. Google Tv does support adding more than one Google Account to Chromecast but as of now it has not been rolled out here, or at least not for the unit I tried. But you do have kids profile (linked to your Google Account), where you can add and make a kids profile for restricting certain apps, total time spent on apps, or content being viewed under that kids profile.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device’s biggest competition seems to be Amazon’s Fire Stick 4K, which is already a known name in the and is priced similarly is Amazon’s Fire Stick 4K Max. The Fire Stick 4K Max very similar video and audio format support and has almost all apps from streaming services (it’s still built on Android TV, after all). It has a longer and a somewhat less intuitive remote control, though, but performance in general is pretty much neck to neck with the Chromecast. If you prefer Alexa integration and don’t have a lot of content purchased on Google TV/Movies, the Fire Stick 4K Max is a nice option, but you are used to Google’s take on Android TV with Google voice search built-in, or have an old non-smart TV or even a budget smart TV that isn’t very smooth to scroll around with and have a lot of&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Android devices at your place, with which Chromecast anyway pairs up well, considering the Chromecast with Google TV makes a lot of sense for the biggest screen in your house.</p> Tue Jul 26 14:21:52 IST 2022 wireless-earphone-review--mivi-duopods-a350- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mivi DuoPods A350 are a pair of true wireless earbuds that are priced at Rs. 1,499. You, that’s how much they are priced at and it’s pretty much the USP of these. Let’s try and see what and how it performs in real.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mivi’s DuoPods A350 come in a circular shaped plastic charging case that doesn’t feel cheap. The buds fit really nicely into the case (magnetically) and require a decent push up to be taken out from there.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The buds follow a long stem design with no in-ear tips. The pair has dual mics, signal LED each to confirm charging and weigh under 50 grams. In the box, you also get a short USB type C cable and that’s about it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The A350 carry 13mm drivers and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity with support for AAC and SBC codecs. They sport touch buttons near the top – you can tap once to call play or pause, long-press to reject a call, press twice on the right bud to move to the next track and on the left bud to move to the previous track, press thrice on either bud to switch on voice assistant (depending on your connected device).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The buds have no in-ear silicon design and are all plastic. When it comes to comfort, the buds fit in well, they don’t fall off or start to slide when moving, but they aren’t the most comfortable by any means. If you put them on for, say, an hour, there’s a good chance you might find them harder to wear any longer and would like to put them off. Of course, this depends on your ear, but that’s what I found – they fit in well but aren’t very comfortable when used for a long time. The touch buttons work fine, though whenever you’re placing them in your ears, the volume function gets triggered (long pressing the left earbud to decrease and the right earbud to increase volume). The buds don’t audo pause or play when removed from the ear or placed back, and you can’t customize touch buttons functionality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the audio quality, you get what you’re paying for. The bass isn’t that high (contrary to what the box says), and background often gets mushed when playing genres like rock or metal. It does a decent job of handling voice notes and Bollywood stuff. The overall volume gets quite loud, so there’s that covered. For receiving calls and mic quality, the earbuds do a decent job and don’t show much worth complaining. Don’t expect great audio from the earbuds, but they do just about what’s expected from TWS at this price range for now. The best thing about these is their battery life. In one go, the pair lasted around 7 hours, plus about 40 hours or so with the charging case. And it all gets charged in about an hour or so, credit to Mivi for a solid battery life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In conclusion, Mivi’s DuoPods A350 perform a lot like how its audio quality goes – pretty much what you’re paying for. The pair has a great battery life (including the charging case), touch buttons that (usually) work, okay-ish audio quality and a decent build quality for the price tag. If you are really looking a wireless pair of earbuds under Rs. 1,500 to mostly make and receive calls on the go without having to worry about its battery life, the A350 might well be for you, but if your use case includes a lot of music playback and while wearing the buds for longer hours, you might want to spend a little more and look at some other options</p> Thu Jul 21 14:58:11 IST 2022 oneplus-nord-2t--looks-good-overall <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus’ Nord 2T is an upgrade to Nord 2, which had its fair share of unfortunate cases of catching fire due to battery and thermal in place, though it got way more eyeballs and sensation online compared to how many times it happened. Let’s see if the Nord 2T does a good job of erasing that episode.</p> <p>The Nord 2T goes up on the Nord 2 in two departments -- chipset and battery. First things first, the phone doesn’t heat too much, even with charging the phone for a while, using hotspot it barely heated up. Only when used for recording 1080p videos outdoors did it heat up a bit after 30-40 minutes of continues usage.</p> <p>The phone weighs under 200 grams and has a smooth glass on the back. It feels nice and premium to hold, but isn’t too slippery at the same time. The Power/lock button sit on the right side alongside the alert slider; while the volume buttons are on the left side. The buttons don’t feel cheap at all and require a hard press to register a tap on them. The bottom houses the primary mic, USB type C port, loudspeakers and SIM card tray. The top only has the secondary mic. The back houses the triple camera system on a slightly elevated rectangular piece, with the OnePlus branding in the middle on the back. The front of the phone can catch smudges unlike the back that remains relatively cleaner on the Gray Shadow model that I used.</p> <p>The phone sports a 6.4-inch 2400x1080 AMOLED display with a Gorilla Glass 5 on top. The AMOLED comes with a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. The display is sharp and bright for outdoor use.</p> <p>It isn’t set to extra saturated colours as we sometimes see from the likes of Samsung and Vivo but it’s still punchy enough out of the box. It handles high resolution videos and images more than well enough, though HDR10+ output could be a little better on terms of high contrast but it isn’t bad initself.</p> <p>Coming to the cameras, the phone sports a 50 MP (f/1.8) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide camera and a 2MP (f/2.2) mono. The IMX766 main camera on the device takes really nice and detailed shots. It can handle night shots somewhat okay too. OnePlus has some AI photography modes, which are worth trying every once in a while, depending on your subject and light condition.</p> <p>At times, the AI mode does make the output too artificial and sort of unusable. The phone can take 4k videos at 30FPS and 1080p at 30 and 60FPS, and this is where OnePlus seems to have improved.</p> <p>Full HD videos come out sharper, richer in colour and just overall look better than the previous Nord series devices.</p> <p>The device is powered by MediaTek’s 1300 Dimensity chipset along with 12GB of LPDDR4 RAM. It runs on OxygenOS 12.1 based on Android 12 with the June security patch. The phone’s performance in terms of daily tasks, switching between apps, watching high resolution videos and going back and forth to recording a video is top notch. The only place where I found the phone to show some glitch is every now and then, scrolling up and down within an app (even in Settings) showed a little bit of jarring effect, looking closely and with 90Hz refresh rate it becomes apparent that the phone is trying to catch up in scrolling inside that app. Though this was a minor issue and it didn’t happen often. Otherwise, OxygenOS performs well and keeps up with your tasks. In terms of additions and changes, the OS doesn’t have any big differences that its predecessor. A lot of customization options theming, font, etc. are still very much in place. I did notice apps in the background having to resume and processes getting killed for battery saving by default, which OnePlus had addressed earlier. So, for some apps that you use most, you might want to manually switch off battery optimization from Settings, since it OxygenOS at times can be a little aggressive to save battery. Also, there’s no auto refresh mode for the display, meaning you have to choose between 60Hz and 90Hz.</p> <p>The Nord 2T boasts a 4,500 mAh battery unit and comes with a 80watt SuperVooc charger (instead of 65watt Warp charger with the Nord 2) in the box. The device lasted almost a day more often than not. Using it with 30% brightness, on WiFi, it lasts about 24 hours, but with heavy use, hotpot and 4G LTE always on, you would have to charge it in 15-16 hours for sure. It charges from 1% to full in about 30 minutes or so, which is pretty fast.</p> <p>The loudspeakers on the bottom and front are not the loudest but they are still decent. We have seen better sounding speakers for movies and games from OnePlus but these ones aren’t that great.</p> <p>They aren’t so bad but you might be missing on a bit of a punchy output that you’re looking for. In terms of network reception, GPS performance and call quality, the Nord 2T doesn’t disappoint ot show any glitches. The phone supports sveral 5G bands but, again, there’s no way to try or test any of it.</p> <p>All in all, with a base price tag of Rs. 28,999 and going up to Rs. 33,999, the OnePlus Nord 2T 5G proves it’s one up over the Nord 2 with better thermals in place and no major heating issues in most of the use cases. The phone has a solid camera, great display, decent battery life, performance is not the best but still par. Looking at the competition, the Poco F4, realme GT NEO 2 and even the iQOO</p> <p>Neo 6 are compelling offerings around Rs. 30,000 among Android phones today, so if you want a clean user interface, dependable camera and fast charging, the Nord 2T is worth checking, but otherwise, these devices mentioned could be higher in your consideration list.</p> Sat Jul 16 14:45:56 IST 2022 asus-vivobook-pro-14-oled-a-good-all-round-performer-except-for-disappointing-battery-life <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>We reviewed the <a title="Notebook review: ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition (UX5401ZAS)" href="">ASUS 14X OLED Space Edition,</a> a rather higher-end, somewhat fancy laptop, and now it is time to take a look the company’s more budget friendly and mainstream Vivobook Pro 14 OLED (M3400QA) model, which starts at a base price of Rs. 59,999.</p> <p>The ASUS Vivobook 14 OLED continues the company’s journey towards an all-OLED offering for its laptops. The laptop weighs a little under 1.5kg and measures around 19mm—it isn’t the thinnest notebook but it is not really thick either. The ports include power, USB 3.2 Gen 2 type A port on the right side, along with an HDMI 1.4 port and a 3.5mm headset jack; while 2 USB 2.0 ports and microSD card reader sit on the left side.</p> <p>The trackpad on the front takes a significantly larger area. The keyboard spacing, though, doesn’t get hampered at all. The keys are backlit, but the individual lighting on the keys isn’t quite bright enough. The vents are all situated on the bottom of the laptop, they aren’t super loud and go about their job quite well, but a lot of folks might still prefer them on the sides for better circulation, or at least some of them on the sides and not entirely all on the bottom side of the laptop. On top of the lid, there is the ASUS Vivobook branding in a protruding rectangle on a side.</p> <p>The device seems sturdy enough and not cheap from any side or corner at all, considering the price segment.</p> <p>The notebook sports a 14-inch (2880x1800) OLED display with 16:10 aspect ratio, which a lot of content creators might prefer. The display is sharp, has great contrast and is bright enough for outside usage and supports HDR, too. It isn’t a touch display, but it doesn’t attract smudges and fingerprint when contacted accidentally like some previous ASUS models have shown. It supports a 90Hz refresh rate and it definitely shines through in general scrolling and video viewing.</p> <p>At the top of the display, there is a 720p webcam with a physical switch that you can turn on or off. You can also turn it off with the F10 key. The webcam is decent enough for video calls, but you may avoid using it for taking photos. The fingerprint scanner given on the power button has 'Windows Hello' support, and is quite fast and reliable, not missing to unlock with the correct finger/thumb too many times.</p> <p>It is powered by AMD Ryzen 5 5600H chip with Radeon Graphics, coupled with 16GB DDR4 RAM.</p> <p>The model I tried has a 512Gb NVMe SSD and comes with Windows 11 Home 21H2 version. The overall performance of the device is satisfactory; I wouldn’t put it in the ballpark of ASUS’ 14X OLED Edition, but it holds its ground well considering the price tag and competition. Fresh boot time takes around 15 seconds, the laptop wakes up quickly enough from sleep and from the hibernate mode, too. Apps and read-write speed are maintained and sustained well that you wouldn’t be left scratching head, which is nice to see for a mid-range laptop. The pre-loaded apps include MyASUS app (which has a couple of goodies such as Dropbox and Timeline backup) and McAfee. Windows 11, with its dark mode (on be default) seems to gel in well with the OLED’s decent black level.</p> <p>There’s a 50wh battery unit in place with support for fast charging with a 90watt charger. It lasted about 5 hours with moderate usage, display brightness at around 35 per cent and having WiFi and Bluetooth switches always turned on. It is a bit disappointing but still somewhat okay in this price segment. The speakers on the laptop (Harman Kardon) are loud and quite punchy for watching videos and playing a game when indoors. Though they don’t give a huge bass but still do a good job of handling audio for shows and music when you aren’t around many people.</p> <p>All in all, the ASUS Vivobook Pro 14 OLED is a good performer when it comes to display quality, features like fast charging, fingerprint scanner and its build, but lacks a bit when it comes to battery life, though its general performance is on par. The overall package is still pretty decent for the price tag, if you want a 16:10 90Hz display for content.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 14 19:22:41 IST 2022 poco-f4-5g-review--a-value-for-money-phone <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Poco has been steadily making strides in the budget segment of smartphones. While it wouldn’t be correct to say they are separate from their parent Xiaomi, they have kind of made their own brand in the Indian market. The Poco F4, at a base price of Rs, 27,999 and going up to Rs. 29,999, is one of its costliest devices so far. Let’s try and see if it’s worth its price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Poco’s F4 comes in night black black and nebula green colour options, and latter is the one I tried. The device has a 6.67-inch Super AMOLED display with thin bezels and Gorilla Glass 5 on top. The back hosts a triple camera setup with some camera description embed on it (would have preferred less of that), Poco branding towards the bottom and a somewhat matte finish that goes well with the sober colour, a little different from the bright and colours we have seen from Android smartphones in the past 18 months or so. The phone weighs under 200 grams and is quite but not hugely broad and still quite comfortable to carry around. The right side houses the volume buttons, Power/lock key and that’s where the fingerprint scanner is also located. The stereo speakers are at the top and bottom, while the top also has infrared port as well as the secondary mic, and the bottom has the USB type C port, primary mic alongside the SIM card slot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The display on the device is a Super AMOLED (2400x1800) full HD+ with a 120Hz refresh rate. It supports HDR10+ as well as Dolby Vision for playback. The punchole camera on the front seems to take quite a smaller area as compared to most other phones, so credit to Poco for that. The display is sharp, punchy and bright to be used under direct sunlight. It’s more than good enough for playing your high-resolution videos or viewing images. HDR playback is also decent and Dolby Vision output is also not bad either, some nice additions to have, but I wouldn’t say the output really make a huge difference on this display compared to a higher-end device. The front-facing 20MP (f/2.45) camera takes nice detailed shots though its low-light shots could do with some tweaking; otherwise, would suggest you take shots without AI and HDR enabled since Poco tends to “beautify” your photos (which we have seen a lot of times before).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the back, the device sports a triple camera system – 64MP (f/1.79) with OIS, 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide camera and a 2MP (f/2.45) macro camera. The device can take quite sharp and well lit photos. In broad daylight, the phone handles contrast and colours well and can capture moving subjects somewhat okay. In low light, with the Night option selected, the photos came out quite okay, not too artificially bright, but then a little out of details at times. The camera app is smooth and responsive to use. The phone can take 4K 120FPSbut 4K 60FPS and 1080p 60FPS videos are more usable for sure, especially the full HD video outcome wasn’t bad and the video had a decent dynamic range provided the phone is kept still when recording.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 chipset along with a 12 GB LPDDR5 RAM and a 256GB UFS3.1 storage. The phone runs on Android 12-based MIUI 13.0.3 with the June security patch. The phone performed really well in day-to-day tasks and didn’t show any hiccups when opening or closing apps, switching between apps, using two apps at once or while scrolling inside an app with another app streaming music in the background. MIUI13 looks a lot similar to its previous iterations, though somewhat cleaner, but not a whole lot. It seems a little better optimised in terms of handling animation and apps running in the background. One thing I noticed is that, with Home screen layout locked, one can’t app icon shortcuts. Another thing missing, still, is no copy-paste option the share menu, so you have to install an app, though Android 12 (like previous versions) has its own clipboard, but that seems to be missing again. There’s a new font and it seems to gel in well with the overall OS look and feel. A few new widgets have also been added. Notifications can be viewed from a single swipe down from top left, and from the top right you get the connectivity shortcuts, by default.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone carries a 4,500 mAh battery unit and comes with a 67watt Sonic charger in the box. It charges from 1% to full in about 60-70 minutes, and lasted a little under a day most of the time. More often than not, with heavy usage, the phone requited to be charged again the same day, and even with moderate usage, it didn’t have much left in the tank. Battery backup isn’t too bad but it isn’t too great either, let’s just say.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The connectivity options on the phone – WiFi 4G/LTE (has 5G too, but sill untestable), NFC and Bluetooth 5.2 all work without any glitches. Call audio and mic quality are top notch and GPS performance isn’t something to worry about either. Stereo speakers on the top and bottom are quite punchy and loud enough for video playback and calls. The fingerpring scanner mounted on the side is accurate and responsive, for as long as used, it rarely ever failed to unlock the device with the correct finger/thumb in one go. You can choose whether you want the phone to be unlocked with a full press or a touch on the fingerprint scanner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In conclusion, the F4 is another value for money offering from Poco that gives a lot of juice for its price. It has a sharp and bright display, a capable set of cameras, okay-ish battery life, a really nice and sober design – making itself worthy of your consideration list for if you have a budget of around Rs. 30,000.</p> Thu Jul 07 16:33:49 IST 2022 vivo-x80-review-with-pros-and-cons--should-you-buy-it- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Vivo’s X series is the company camera-centric flagship series that showcases what’s the latest and greatest Vivo has to offer. The X80 comes at an interesting price point of Rs. 54,999 for the base model and Rs. 59,999 for the beefier variant that we tried, where it looks to take on the flagships while being priced much higher than the usual premium-mid range segment. Does it do any justice to it? Let’s try and find out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Vivo X80 weighs a little over 200 grams and is a tall and wide smartphone than most you might have tried. It features a curved 6.78-inch full HD+ AMOLED display (that also houses the fingerprint scanner and front-facing camera in the centre-placed punchhole), a 4,500 mAh battery (combined together, hence the bulkiness), along with a triple camera setup on the back, occupying about one-third of the entire rear, which is glass but in a nice matte finish that doesn’t attract smudges and feels nice in the hand, too. The Power and volume keys on the right side have a good feel to them and don’t require too much force to press. The bottom houses the USB Type C, SIM card tray, primary mic, and loudspeakers. The top has “Professional Photography” embed on it along with the secondary mic and an Infrared emitter. Both the top and bottom parts are somewhat flat that go well with the curved edges on the front.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The display on the phone is a 6.78-inch 2400×1080 AMOLED. You can change the colour temperature and profile from Settings. The default mode is quite punchy and in-line with what Vivo often offers. The AMOLED display is sharp, has nice right black levels and does a really nice job of displaying high resolution videos and images. It supports 120Hz refresh rate, which definitely shined through in gaming and scrolling in supported apps. The curved edges, though, can be a little awkward to deal with at times, with accidental touches and also being reflective, though the display is otherwise usable under direct sunlight. Oh, and the display can get a lot of smudges on it pretty quickly, but IP53 rating means you can clean it with a quick splash under running water.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone sports a triple camera system – 50MP (f/1.75) main camera (with OIS), 12MP (f/1.98) telephoto camera and 12MP (f/2.0) ultrawide camera. There’s also a dual LED flash and laser focus. The phone also carries Vivo’s V1 imaging chip along with Zeiss T coating The camera is done in partnership with Zeiss – not just for the hardware but software as well. There’s a ZEISS mode in the camera app that tones down colour punchiness and takes photos in how the Zeiss team would prefer it. The device can shoot in 1080p and 4K at 60FPS. The photography experience on the X80 is top notch. The camera app has so many options other than the usual filters and styles, whether it’s different stabilization or double exposure, but at the same time, if you don’t wanna fiddle much, the app is not daunting to use and doesn’t show any responsiveness issue either. Photos from the camera are really sharpl, well coloured and do a decent job of handling harsh conditions, too. The 2x optical zoom actually works well even in low light, but if you zoom in just a little more, you miss out on details significantly. The cameras focus quite quickly and can produce good shots with the subject moving, though you might want to try different modes under stabilization. The front-facing 32 MP camera does a nice job of taking selfie shots even in low light scenes. You can choose from different modes, such as AI Group Portrait to see which one suits your surroundings. The photos look sharp, have decent contrast but they can have a bit of artificial skin tones, which is quite common these days in phone cameras.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 chipset (octa-core) along with 12GB of RAM, and comes with 256GB of UFS3.1 storage. It runs on Android 12-based FunTouch OS 12. The device handles day to day tasks and even gaming really well. It can handle multiple apps opened at once in floating windows just fine. The software is highly customizable. You can change themes, charging animations, fingerprint scanner animations, and so on. You can choose to have an app launcher or to have all your apps on Homescreens. The app drawer also has widgets located with a swipe, neatly done. You can also change the UI colour palette and wallpaper shades. But the software does have its share of bugs, such as notifications at times aren’t accessible. When swiped down, the notification pane doesn’t show anything despite some pending notifications, though this happened rarely. Also, the fingerprint scanner isn’t the most reliable and the quickest we have seen. At this price point, something this vital to the experience is expected to perform considerably better. Even the face unlock is generally fine but it has its hits and misses in the same environments, even Vivo’s own X60 had it a little better. Heating wasn’t a huge issue, but the phone tends to heat up a bit, though not alarmingly hot, after a quick charge or gaming session.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The X80 boasts a 4,500 mAh battery unit and comes with an 80watt charger in the box. The phone lasted almost a day more often than not. The phone charges from 1% to full in about 50 minutes, and to 75% in about 25 minutes, with the SuperVooc charging technology in place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone’s call quality, WiFi performance and network reception are top notch. Latching on to 4G LTE+ and VoWiFi worked as well as expected. The stereo speakers on the bottom and ear-grille are quite loud but not as punchy to be useful for every kind of YouTube video or video playback. The pair is not too bad, but not excellent either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, the Vivo X80 does have its pros and cons, especially considering the price tag. The device has an excellent set of cameras, decent looks, highly customizable software that has a couple of bugs appearing rarely, a sharp and big display and a reliable battery life. With its offerings, the phone can make its space in mid-high budget segment, though the likes of OnePlus and Samsung do have their compelling offerings that you might want to check, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jun 29 16:37:15 IST 2022 sennheiser-momentum-true-wireless-3-worth-the-price <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Sennheiser is a pretty popular name associated with audio products, including with the audiophile community. While it’s quite well established in the wireless space, the company hasn’t quite set its footing in the wireless space that well. The Momentum True Wireless series is Sennheiser’s take on the true wireless audio. Let’s take a look at these wireless buds, and are they worth Rs 21,990 or not.<br> <br> <br> The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 come in a fabric-coated grey charging case, a very nice feel and look to it. The case is slightly smaller than the Momentum True Wireless 2. It features a USB Type-C port and LED on the front, and supports wireless charging too. The box contains a short USB Type-C cable and silicon ear tips (three sizes). There are also 'ear adapters' in three sizes, which are put in the middle part of the buds for a better fit in your ear, not something that is very common, a thoughtful addition from Sennheiser.<br> <br> The buds support touch controls, which can be customized for each bud using Sennheiser’s 'Smart control' app. You can also pair for the first time using the app, though it can be done via regular Bluetooth settings too. The app also gives you EQ settings, transparency mode and presets to choose from. The touch controls work fairly well, the sound feedback to confirm the tap is nearly instant, which is helpful.<br> <br> There’s something called 'Sound zones' with which you can choose and select different EQ settings and transparency modes for different locations you might frequently visit. They don’t work for precise locations, say within a floor, but for different locations like your home, office or gym, 'Sound zones' should work.<br> <br> You might take a second or two to adjust and wear the buds just to get it right, but once done, the buds are comfortable and fit in just as expected. You can also hit and trial ear adapters and ear tips for a better fit, but the default ones worked well for me. Even for longer durations, the buds didn’t feel jarring or uncomfortable to wear.<br> <br> Coming to the audio quality, the True Wireless 3 sport 7mm drivers, it supports Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX/aptX adaptive codec. The sound quality on these buds is a little better than their predecessor. The vocals are cleaner (though could still be a little better), bass can go heavy but bloomy-ish (worth checking EQ settings), and mid vocals are handled quite comfortably. But perhaps too distinct at times. As far as noise cancellation is concerned (Sennheiser calls it Hybrid Adaptive noise cancellation), the wireless buds actually does a good job, talking in relative terms. Most true wireless buds so far can’t quite do active noise cancellation well enough, but, the Momentum True Wireless 3 do a decent enough job of isolating the noise around you without too much artificial background noise noticed during your music playback.<br> <br> Connectivity-wise, the pair doesn’t show any glitches. Oh, it can only connect to one device at a time. These also didn’t cause any trouble when doing calls, whether outdoors or indoors. Talking about its battery backup, it lasted around 25 hours including the charging case backup, with about 5 hours in one stretch.<br> <br> So, at a price tag of Rs. 21,990, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are among the most expensive true wireless buds out there today. They are splash-resistant (IPX4 rating), have solid battery life, a charging case that’s up to the mark in both the functionality and looks departments, effective noise cancellation, and sound quality that is improved and good enough on its own, but is the sound quality as good for the pricing? That depends a lot on your use case and audio preferences. If you don’t mind heavy but somewhat bloomy bass, with distinct, clean vocals, then you can consider splurging on these.<br> Fri Jun 24 11:49:56 IST 2022 oneplus-nord-buds-a-budget-pair-of-wireless-buds <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Slowly but steadily, OnePlus has been making its mark in the audio space. The Nord Buds starts the company’s Nord sub-brand’s journey into the budget audio products. With a price tag of Rs 2,799, let’s try and see whether this OnePlus offering delivers or not.<br> <br> The OnePlus Nord Buds come in Black and White colour options. The charging case, a matte-finish plastic case, is slightly bigger than the usual charging cases we see for wireless buds, but still pocketable. The case has a USB type- C port as well as a pairing button on the back. There is OnePlus branding on the top of the lid, an LED on the front, and that’s about it. With Fast Pair support, compatible devices from the likes of OnePlus and Realme pair even quicker. Opening the lid, the buds are neatly placed and marked left and right, too. The Buds fit well and did not shift or creek or anything as such when placed and carried inside the case.<br> <br> The Buds themselves follow a stem design, a bit flat-ish. Tap them once for pause or resume, twice for going to the next track, and thrice for going back to the previous track. You can also set these taps to something like starting a voice assistant. The tapping can be a little unreliable as it can be a little hard to know whether the tap got registered or not. Plus, the tap mechanism doesn’t exactly make it wearing the buds comfortable. Just pressing it once, though, is fine. The Buds aren’t the most comfortable to wear always, you should try the silicone ear tips from the box that suits your ear (three sizes included), changing the ear tips certainly helped a little, especially when worn for long durations.<br> <br> As soon as you open the lid, the Nord Buds can be paired with a new device by pressing the pairing button (shows white light). After pairing up, the settings under bluetooth show you codec and EQ options, at least on several android devices, otherwise you would have to use the 'Hey Melody' app, which isn’t available on iOS for this pair.<br> <br> The Buds have 12.4mm drivers, come with Bluetooth 5.2, and support audio codecs AAC and SBC. There’s Dolby Atomos support too, but it’s restricted to be used with only certain OnePlus smartphones. The audio quality on the pair is really nice and satisfactory considering the price range. OnePlus doesn’t shy away from making it heavier on the bass side, which we have already seen from their Wireless Bullets series. Bass isn’t exactly very clean, though. It does a good job handling dialogues and vocals when watching series or movies, but treble in audio tracks can be a little compromised. Otherwise, they do a pretty good job of handling several genres while being bass-heavy, including for multimedia usage where it doesn’t seem to be there is too much of a lag.<br> <br> There are pre-defined EQ presets that you might want to check and select based on your taste and consumption. For calls, the Nord Buds don’t have anything to complain about. The background isn’t often too high, mostly thanks to the 4-mic setup. Your voice is handled well enough for calls taken outdoors or indoors. There’s no active noise cancellation, but, ambient noise gets cut a little passively; it’s nothing much to write about.<br> <br> The Nord Buds lasted about 6.6-5 hours on a single charge and around 26-27 hours more when the charging case is included, which is not bad at all, and not very far from what the company claims.<br> <br> All in all, the OnePlus Nord Buds do a more-than-satisfactory job given their price tag. They sound good, are dust and water-resistant (IP55 rating), it showed no connectivity glitches, though not the most comfortable pair OnePlus has ever created. If you’re looking for a budget pair of wireless buds with a use-case of a lot of multimedia and calls on the go, then the OnePlus Nord Buds can be one of your choices, just make sure you try different ear tips and EQs for your comfort and preferences.<br> Mon Jun 20 16:16:20 IST 2022 laptop-review--aus-zenbook-14x-oled-space-edition--ux5401zas- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Ultrabooks and design + performance often go hand in hand. But a lot of times, the design part can take a back seat or at times, performance can take a hit to offer the design part. With the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition (UX5401ZAS), ASUS tries to bridge the gap and provide a capable notebook that can be taken outside without compromising on the performance part.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In several bullet points, let’s try and check, what’s hit and what’s miss for this ultrabook:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• First things, the overall unboxing and early impressions of the device get thumbs up. Not only you get a nice separate box for the laptop, there’s also a nifty box for carrying around the power adapter, which doubles up as a laptop stand. Even the manual guide is packed in a shiny Velcro carry pouch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• Design: One of the notebook’s little USPs is its 3.5-inch monochromatic LED on the lid. This little screen is only for showing you the time, battery left, and maybe some text or animation that you can customise from the MyASUS app. No notification or any other utility there. The overall design on the 14X Space Edition is just what you would expect from a special edition device, and it’s not just the titanium colour and morse code on the lid. There’s abstract space design on both the lids and near the palm-rest space. You get a slightly lower typing position for the keyboard and higher for the chassis thanks to the Ergolift hinge design from ASUS that you would notice as soon as you open the lid.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• There are two USB type C ports for charging, HDMI 2.0 (b) port on the left side; while the right side has the USB type A, 3.5mm audio jack, microSD card reader and the charging LED on the right side.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• Display: The notebook has a 14-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2880 x 1800 that supports HDR content. It supports 90Hz refresh rate and has a lower blue light emission, for which it’s TUV certified. The display is really sharp and has good rich black levels expected from an OLED, along with contrast and decent-ish brightness. The only disappointing thing about the display is its usage under direct sunlight and glossy finish since it’s a touchscreen. ASUS could have made it a little less prone to fingerprints and smudges. For high resolution videos and images, the display does a really good job handling multimedia stuff with its default calibration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• Battery, keyboard and trackpad: The device packs a 63Wh battery and ships with a 100W charger (USB type C) with support for fast charging. The biggest downside of this laptop seems to be the battery backup, where it barely lasted 4-5 hours in one stretch. The laptop takes about 2 hours to charge from 5% to full. With brightness at around 30% and performance setting set to balance, often, the laptop had to be plugged in again in under 5 hours. The keyboard here is backlit with difference settings fro backlit though there’s no sensor for automatic backlit setting. Typing on the keyboard is fine, the give-in is quite decent, keys are responsive, don’t feel cheap at all and fit in well with the overall design and feel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>• Performance and OS: The notebook packs a 12th gen Intel i9 Core chip clocked at 2.5GHz with Intel Iris XE graphics card, 32GB LPDDR5 RAM and 1 TB SSD. There’s also a 16GB + 512GB model and lower u5 and i7 chip models, too. It runs on Windows 11 Home (21H2 version) out of the box. with a three pre-installed apps. Overall performance of the laptop is top notch. Playing games, on different modes watching high resolution videos, while having your Web browser opened and maybe some documents, the laptop was still not very noisy while handling these tasks well. Graphic-intensive games can also be played on this for which the GPU performance also seems up to the mark.</p> Tue Jun 14 18:51:33 IST 2022 apple-wwdc-2022-keynote-highlights <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Apple’s WWDC is the company’s equivalent to the developer and software frenzy. The event is synonym with Apple announcing new iterations of its most popular software – macOS and iOS, along with some new hardware to go along. Let’s see some of their major relevant announcements.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>iOS 16</b>: The new version of iOS brings updated lockscreen. You can now change the clock widget on your lockscreen, shades, time font and background. The updated iMessage gets editable messages and the ability to undo sending a message, plus mark a thread as unread. SharePlay is also now enabled in iMessage, so you can watch some content with your friends keeping in sync over iMessage. Another useful addition is Live Text, where you can just point your iPhone’s camera at some text and it is going to give you language and currency translation options. With iOS 16, Apple is also adding a dedicated fitness app for your iPhone that doesn’t require for you to have an Apple Watch to go along with it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>iPadOS 16</b>: As rumoured and shown earlier, too, iPadOS gets an upgraded desktop-like window management system named Stage Manager, which supposedly gives better multitasking capabilities and tools to use multiple apps at once. The upgrade also brings in redesigned app icons as well as notifications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>macOS Ventura</b>: With this new OS upgrade, Safari is getting passkey support instead of onlly passwords; Spotlight has a new scrollable view, and the same Stage Manager we saw added to iPadOs is coming to macOS, too, for using multiple apps a bit more smoothly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WatchOS 9</b>: The biggest addition to WatchOS is improved sleep tracking along with medication reminders along with the expected new watch faces. There are different stages of sleep -- REM, core and deep sleep stages -- that WatchOS can now show you. It can now show you how long you have been in the state of atrial fibrillation, but the rollout for this could depend on region-specific regulatory approval. Another new feature is Watch Mirroring, which allows you to control your Apple Watch remotely, added under accessibility features.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>New MacBook Air with the new M2 Chip</b>: The company announed a new MacBook each in both line ups – Air and Pro. Both these new models get Apple’s new M2 chip, which is said to be faster than the M1 chip by around 18% fpr the CPU performance and 35% for GPU. The new Air features a 13.6- inch Liquid Retina Display, a 1080p webcam located in the screen’s notch are, and brings back Apple’s MagSafe charging support. The notebook has a flatter and a more wedged design than before, perhaps a bit inspired by the iPad and iPhone line. It will come in Silver, Grey, Dark Blue and Starlight (Gold) colour options.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jun 07 15:11:05 IST 2022 review--realme-narzo-50-pro-5g-is-a-fine-performer-on-most-count <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Realme has been among the fastest growing brands in the country and not just in the consumer electronic space. The company -- with is value for money devices, availability of phones across several price segment, and also venturing into smart TV sticks and audio products – has seen a big growth rate since it launched its first smartphone in India four years back. With the narzo series, realme is generally seen to be targeting 10,000 to 25,000 proce segment. Let’s try and see if the Narzo 50 Pro 5G does justice to its price tag, which is Rs. 23,999 for the 8GB + 128GB variant (21,999 for 6GB + 128GB).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Narzo 50 Pro sports a 6.4-inch AMOLED diplay on the front with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top, the display also has a punch-hole for the 16 MP front camera on the top left as well as the in-screen fingerprint scanner towards the bottom. The phone, weighing around 180grams, has curved edges and slightly curved sides towards the back and is comfortable to carry around. The back sports a protruding glossy triple camera setup, the narzo branding near the bottom and has textured plastic back, which doesn’t feel cheap at all and isn’t a fingerprint magnet either. The buttons on the sides, though, they could have been done a little better as tapping them does give an impression that some cost-cutting was done (howsoever small it might be). The bottom houses 3.5mm audio jack, primary mic, speakers (other part is with the in-ear speaker), USB Type C port; while the top only has the additional mic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device’s 6.4-inch full HD+ (2400x1800) Super AMOLED display sports 90Hz refresh rate and is plenty bright even when used outdoors. It handles high resolution videos and images relatively well and does a fine job of rendering text as well. The in-screen fingerprint scanner is not that bad, it works fine when compared to other smartphones even at a somewhat higher price range. It isn’t the fastest I have tried but it’s really not bad for the price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the back, there’s a triple camera setup – 48MP main (f/1.8) camera, 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide camera and a 2MP macro mode. The camera can produce relatively well lit and colour accurate photos in outdoors when un daylight. Moving subjects can be a little harder to capture at times, though shutter lag isn’t too high. In low-light, the camera, both 48MP and 8MP ultrawide do struggle to not give grainy shots. There are skin retouch options, too, which can really alter the output especially for bokeh modes. For video, you can shoot 4k videos at 30FPS and 1080p at 60FPS, and 1080p 60FPS is done quite well, giving detailed video if the phone is held still and in decent light, otherwise it can kind of struggle to give out a sharp video with no grains. On the other side, the front-facing 16MP camera is quite capable of taking detailed and vibrant shots. It also includes filters and quick settings while taking your shots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the battery side of things, the device boasts a 5,000mAh battery unit and comes a 33watt Dart charger in the box. The device lasted about a day more often than not during the usage. This was with brightness set at around 35% most of the time, around 45-50 minutes of calling, an hour of videos, two Email Accounts always on sync. Charging it from 1% to 100% took around 70-80 minutes, which isn’t painstakingly long.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 920 chipset (2.5GHz dual core + 2GHz six-core and Mali G68 GPU) along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS2.2 storage. It runs on Realme UI 3.0 based on Android 12 with the April security patch. The phone handles day-day-tasks without any trouble. Scrolling is mostly fine, switching between Home screen, using dual apps with floating windows or playing music alongside, the phone didn’t show any lags or stuttering. The 90Hz refresh rate also helps the cause. Realme also seems to have improved its RAM management where apps can now be resumed from where you left using them from a while back instead of having to start from somewhere else. For gaming, the phone tends to get a little hot but not too much that you would have to worry. On the software front, you can choose different icons and themes from the theme store, choose different colour schemes and icon shapes for things like notification pane from Settings. You can choose to have app icons show notification dots or number when placed on Home screen, too.Intead og on-screen navigation keys, gestures can also be enabled. The overall look and feel of the OS is quite different from stock Android (which is expected) and familiar if you have used a Realme device before. For the lock screen, you can select if you want Google Assistant or Glance shortcut, and Glance is where things get a little annoying. Even if you have not selected the Glance shortcut, nor have you switched on Glance for appearing on lock screen, every now and then, you would still get Glance content on your lock screen and being asked to check its content. Glance is basically a platform ad-content push and is seeing a lot of traction on smartphones and soon to be launched on smart TVs, too. Otherwise, most of the pre-loaded apps can be uninstalled and there’s not much wrong with how the OS behaves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dual stereo speakers (one at the bottom and one located with the in-ear speakers) do a really good job of handling multimedia content. They are loud, deep and usually don’t distort. Call quality and network reception (4G LTE and VoWiFI) on the phone are top notch. You can use both SIM card over 5G (many bands are supported, but there wasn’t any way to try 5G, still. I tried using the phone for audio with a pair of wireless earbuds and didn’t find any glitch or pairing trouble over Bluetooth. All in all, the Realme Narzo 50 Pro 5G is a fine performer on most counts – display, battery and build quality. Meanwhile, it doesn’t exactly standout when it comes to its camera performance or preloaded apps behaviour, and considering the competition from the likes of Moto, Vivo and Xiaomi, it can be a stiff contest. But if you need a 3.5mm audio jack, 90Hz display and dependable battery life on a smartphone under Rs. 25,000, the Narzo 50 Pro 5G can make it your checklist.</p> Mon May 30 12:30:03 IST 2022 headphone-review--jbl-tune-130-nc-tws-wireless-earbuds- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The budget segment in the true wireless earbuds (TWS) market has seen a lot of names and new launches in the past 2 years or so. From smartphone companies like Lava, Oppo, OnePlus and Realme, to audio-related names such as Jabra, SoundCore and now JBL. The JBL 130 NC starts at Rs. 4,999 and comes with some interesting features. Let’s try and see if the pair is worth the price tag. JBL’s Tune 130 NC comes in a plastic black charging case, a short USB type C to type A charging cable, three extra ear tips of different sizes, and of course the buds themselves. The charging + carrying case is quite familiar from many other earbuds cases that we have seen so far. There’s JBL branding on the front, right next to the White LED that indicates charging and how much battery if left; while the rear sports the USB type C port. This port could have been located at the bottom for a somewhat neater placement, but it’s not a big deal. The buds place and fit really nicely in the case, and have no sound or creek when carried in it. The buds also have JBL branding across them; the paid follow a bean-like design with touch controls on them.'</p> <p>As soon as you take out the earbuds from the case, they pair up with your Android device (with its Bluetooth switched on, of course), thanks to the support for Google Fast Pair. As soon as you pair, the notification pane shows battery status for both buds as well as for the case. For iOS, you would have to manually connect from Settings, but it works fine. The earbuds fit quite nicely and don’t often require having to adjust them in the ear or check whether each side is properly fitted or not. They may not be ideal for running, but otherwise they didn’t cause any issue as far fitting in the ear is concerned. The earbuds, both of them, have touch controls on the exterior side – the left earbud allows you to switch on or off noise cancellation and ambient mode, tap twice for talk-through mode, and a double tap for answering and ending calls. The right earbud can change tracks with a triple tap. Holding touch switches on voice assistant. You can choose which voice assistant you would like by installing its app on your device attached the earbuds. On an Android device, it would by default take Google Assistant and pair with your Google Account at the first try. Talk-through mode lowers your volume so you can talk with others around you; while ambient mode allows noise around you to get through to you.</p> <p>Regarding its audio performance, the JBL Tune 130 NC have a 10mm drivers with support for AAC and SBC codecs (but no aptX), and compatible with Bluetooth 5.2. The sound quality on these is quite bass heavy and more on the neutral side otherwise. They handle lows fine, but can be a little distorting for high pitch when used at the highest volume. The paid handles several genres including rock, rap and acoustic just fine, perhaps better than many of its peer do at this price range. It has depth, clarity as well as sharpness on the treble (not everybody’s liking), though it could might have performed a little better when it comes to overall definition. As far as active noise cancelation (ANC) goes, the pair pretty much repeats what we have seen from wireless buds at this price range – not quite up to the mark. There’s a decent bit of difference between ANC on and off for background noise, but the noise cancellation isn’t that impressive, even less so when out in public or commuting.</p> <p>If that’s your only reason for looking at this pair, you might want to keep your search on, but if sound quality from wireless buds at this price segment is your goal, it’s hits the target more often than not. Battery life on the Tune 130 NC is probably the best part about it. With ANC switched off, it gave nearly 9 hours from the earbuds, add charging case and around 26-27 hours of playback, which is impressive. With ANC switched on, subtract about 3-4 hours each from your playback, still not bad. The case supports fast charging with a 33watt charger, charging in about an hour or so.&nbsp;</p> Fri May 20 12:23:35 IST 2022 google-i-o-2022--highlights-and-announcements <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Every year, Google, in its I/O conference, announces a bunch of software updates, announces upcoming hardware, and gives some updates for its core services and apps, too. This time, it wasn’t different. In fact, this time we got a lot more of hardware than expected. So, let’s get into what all the company announced and when is it expected to ship.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Android 13: Google I/O and Android OS updates go hand in hand. As expected, Google announced a new Android 13 OS beta update for its mobile operating system. The new beta can be downloaded and installed on a select group of devices for now – Pixel 4 series, Pixel 5 series, Pixel 6 series, ASUS ZenFone 8, Oppo Find X5 Pro and Find N, Realme GT 2 Pro, Vivo X80 Pro, OnePlus 10 Pro, Tecno Camon 19 Pro, and Xiaomi 12 and 12 Pro along with the Mi Pad 5. These are early beta testing builds, so if you’re in the mood to try it out, make sure you’ve backed up your data and don’t rely only on this device since there’s a chance it might have some major bugs as of now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new OS iteration brings security updates, better interoperability between Android devices for media sharing as well as content mirroring. It is also targeted at a more refined experience for smart home connected devices – especially controlling them through your Android phone. Google is also gearing the new version for better messaging across devices, something the company has been working on for a while.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pixel 6a: The event saw a few Pixel-related announcements, including the Pixel 6a. The Pixel 6a features a 6.1-inch OLED display (though still 60Hz refresh rate), Google’s own Tensor chipset, as well as 12 MP camera. It follows a two-tone design and carries an aluminium frame. Worth noting, the device is very much coming to India, too. When and for how much is yet to be seen. The base price in the US starts at $449, and goes on sale in July.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pixel Watch: After so many leaks and rumours for years now, Google officially announced that, indeed, the Pixel Watch is coming. Not a whole lot of details are known as of now. It will go on sale in fall this year. It will be compatible with only Android 8.0+ devices (no iOS compatibility), has a round face and features; made up of recycled steel material. Google mentioned that the Watch should have Fitbit integration, swappable bands, a tweaked UI alongside more of Google’s own apps. Pixel 7: Along with the Pixel Watch, this fall, Google is also going to launch the next series of Pixel smartphones. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro will be powered by the next generation of Google’s Tensor chipset. Like other devices announced, these will also sport aluminium finish as well as the latest Android 13 OS at that time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pixel Tablet: In a rather unexpected announcement, Google aso announced that it will be launching a brand new tablet next year. The company had years back said that it’s no longer going to make and sell tablets itself, but things seem to have changed in that regard with Rick Osterloh in charge. The tablet will supposedly have better compatibility with all your Pixel devices than before. That’s all known about it for now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pixel Buds Pro: The new series of wireless buds were also unveiled by Google. The Pixel Buds Pro are IPX4 rated for water resistance. They feature noise cancellation and transparency mode to let some surround sound in. The buds are powered by a new custom audio chip for enhanced performance. They are priced at $199 in the US and will be available in late July.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other bits: Google also said that Google Translate will be adding as many as 24 more languages to its kitty. On the search front, the company says it’s working to train its AI in order recognize 10 different shades of skin for a more inclusive facial detection, something we saw in previous Pixel devices, too. Regarding its voice assistant, Google is adding a feature named Look and Talk that gives a more nuance experience when interacting with Google Voice, less like a robot and a little more like a human being than before, is the goal. There’s also a new mode coming to Google Maps that allows you to explore cities and places in 3D space simulation (based on Google’s algorithm and user submitted photos), expected to roll out to select cities later this year.</p> Mon May 16 14:38:56 IST 2022 oneplus-10-pro-5g-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The OnePlus-Hasselblad partnership has been going on for a while for OnePlus’ flagship cameras, and the OnePlus 10 Pro 5G is another example. But the camera isn’t the only story here worth noticing. This OnePlus flagship device offers a lot more and then some, let’s try and see if it justifies that base price tag of Rs. 66,999 (we tried the souped-up variant that’s priced at Rs. 71,999). OnePlus 10 Pro’s biggest change over its predecessor is perhaps is design. One look at it – the back houses the triple-camera setup with the Hasselblad branding (not hard to miss) on a rectangular ceramic sheet; then there’s the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and OnePlus branding on the back. While on the front, there’s the 6.7-inch AMOLED, which also houses the front-facing camera (punchole) on the top left, with the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on top. The phone is slimmer but a little heavier than the OnePlus 9 Pro. It’s a little slippery but certainly not anywhere close to how slippery the Oppo Find X5 Pro was. The phone feels really nice and premium to hold, the satin finish on the back and the aluminium side (we tried the Volcanic Black colour) do add to the premium factor and don’t attract too many fingerprints and smudges or dust too quickly, either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device features a 6.7-inch quadHD+ (3216x1440) curved AMOLED display with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The display is really sharp, has great colours, plenty bright. The upgraded LTPO display means it can go from 1Hz to 120Hz and doesn’t have to stick with 60 or 120Hz refresh rate only, which means a little saving on the battery life. For viewing videos and photos, the display does a topnotch job for high resolution content including for HDR. And it’s usable under direct sunlight without much difficulty, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the camera performance, the OnePlus 10 Pro sports a 48MP (f/1.8) main camera, 50MP ultrawide camera, and an 8MP telephoto camera, alongside dual LED flash. From the 9 Pro, the only change here is the ultrawide camera – the sensor used and the 150-degree field of view from that sensor. The overall look and feel of photos from the device appear sharp and somewhat more vibrant than the 9RT. The daylight performance is quite consistent and has no shutter lag. This is where Hasselblad ‘s post-processing and colour mapping shine. You can try from various modes and choose which one goes well with your scene, but in general photos are done well and colours don’tcome out too loud. The higher resolution option seemed to have no real improvement from the predecessors, though it works well enough when used in well-lit scenes. In dark conditions, the phone can take decently sharp and not-so-noisy photos provided you aren’t moving at all. The camera app has a lot of options to play around but it doesn’t bombard you or confuse you at the same time, either. For videos, you have 8k videos at 24FPS and 4k videos at as high as 120FPS now. Give it a try in broad daylight if you want, but when outdoors, the phone might heat up a lot when shooting in 4k. The front has a new 32MP camera that takes really detailed and well-coloured photos, make sure you aren’t moving too much when fulfilling your selfie needs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset (octa-core processor, Adreno 730 GPU, and X65 5G modem) along with 12GB (or 8GB) LPDDR5 RAM. It’s your top of the line chipset, with a big and latest generation RAM available for smartphones today. Plus, UFS 3.1 256GB (or 128GB) make this a top-of-the-line smartphone that can compete against any other smartphone today. The phone is smooth to use in day-to-day tasks and didn’t show any major hiccups during our usage. Whether it’s switching between apps, or whether it’s using two apps in floating windows – the phone doesn’t struggle at all. It can also handle playing graphically-intensive games just fine but there’s one little downside – what we noticed when shooting 4k videos on it – the phone heats up, and heats up a lot. Even when personal hotspot has been switched on, the phone quickly heats up. This isn’t just for the 10 Pro and has been a thing for several Snapdragon 8 gen 1 devices, and the same time, we saw the heating issue in OnePlus’ 9RT, too, which has a different chipset. Other than this, the phone’s performance has nothing to worry about.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are dual stereo speakers at the bottom of the device that are loud and pretty clear, would have preferred to have them in the front, but then there’s not much space left there owing to the display and design. The speakers can handle YouTube videos even when outside well enough. The inear speaker for calls is loud (though not the loudest among OnePlus phones) and clear for phones calls even in crowded places. Network performance, WiFi reception and Bluetooth 5.2 didn’t show any bumps or speed-breakers and worked just as you would expect them to. Oh, and the ring switcher on the right side works the same way – slide down for ring or up for silent mode. The fingerprint scanner, this time slightly higher than the 9RT, is only slightly more reliable than the 9Rt’s. It works okay, but sometimes gets into t a back-and-forth tangle when used with face unlock where you would have to turn off and on the screen suing the Power/lock button.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It packs a 5,000 mAh battery unit, and comes with a beefier 80watt SuperVooc charger in the box. The phone lasted a full day almost every single day. With brightness at around 30-40 percent, resolution at the highest setting, and 120Hz refresh rate enabled, the phone had 2 Email Accounts in sync, a lot of YouTube time, some Twitter and general Web surfing. It charged from 1 percent to full in about 40 minutes, but again it does heat up quite a bit when it’s put on charge, though it does cool down again fairly quickly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone runs on OxygenOS 12.1 Android 12 with the March security patch. A few of the biggest changes are slightly newer Shelf with bigger looking widgets and you access it from anywhere by swiping down from the top but on the right half of the screen, which I switched off but some other users coming from iOS might like it; the material U theming (not OnePlus’ own branding) works effortlessly, where, with one change of colour palette, you can change the colour of drop-down setting icons, or within Settings. The overall look and feel of the OS are mostly clean and based consistently white or dark (greyish) depending if you have dark mode on or not. The company promises three years of major OS upgrades and four years of security updates from the launch of the phone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In conclusion, the OnePlus 10 Pro offers many things – most are hits but some are misses too It excels in the display and battery department; it sports top-of the-line internal hardware, has a really capable camera setup, but its misses include that heating issue that crops up 2-3 different situations and isn’t hard to replicate especially if you use it outdoors or are into gaming. The phone competes well on most fronts against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22, Apple iPhone 13 and Vivo X70 Pro Plus on its strengths but for some, those little weaknesses might be a deal breaker.</p> Tue Apr 26 15:02:02 IST 2022 creative-dustor-bot-x-pro-for-hassle-free-hoovering <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Creative Dustor BOT X Pro is a robotic vacuum cleaner, a category that’s becoming a little more popular as more and more people work from their own place, and are looking to get their places cleaned without having to indulge themselves or give their own input to save both their time and effort.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The BOT X Pro is all circular with around 10cm in thickness. On the top, you have the Dustor branding, Home button, WiFi button, and the LiDAR scanner (very much noticeable), while the main Power switch sits on the sides along with power port. and on the bottom, you have the anti-cliff sensors, charging pole, wheels, dust box and two main brushes, water tank (370ml) and dust tank (600ml). The body is mainly made out of plastic with a glossy thick layer on top.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The BOT X Pro vacuum cleaner robot comes in the box with a cleaning brush, extra tank, charging station, power adapter, two pairs of brushes, remote control and a cleaning cloth. There are two filters – regular filter and heap filter. The regular filter can be washed, while the heap filter can only be cleaned with a cloth and not to be washed. The vacuum cleaner can do sweeping and moping.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You have to change the tank if you would like to use the mopping function. You can control and run it from the buttons on the body, or just use the remote control, or via a third-party app called WeBack, which for some reason asks you to sign up with your Email address and doesn’t work without it. The main use of the app if you want to use the cleaner sitting somewhere else while it is connected to your WiFi network. Otherwise, the remote control is sufficient to get the job done and is quite straight forward to use thanks to the indicative icons on each button. Oh, and the cleaner doesn’t support 5GHz WiFi (only 2.4GHz).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The cleaner has a normal mode and a turbo mode for high suction power. The turbo mode sets it to quite noisy levels but it’s understandable. The robotic cleaner is heavy but not that heavy and big that you can’t carry it around your house in two hands. As soon as you start it first, the Dustor BOT X Pro takes a look around the place and scans the entire room using the LiDAR scanner. It goes to</p> <p>clean the surfaces in rounds or you can choose to use the zigzag mode, too. Whenever there’s an obstruction, the cleaner immediately goes back a little on coming contact with it, and resumes cleaning to the surrounding areas. During our testing, it didn’t really leave areas without cleaning, expect for when there are tricky situations, such as a table with chairs around not set in any particular manner. The vacuum cleaner moved from flat floor on to a thick carpet just fine and seemed assess that it has moved to a different surface quite quickly, too. The cleaning itself, for floors and carpets seems to be satisfactory. The user can also set the vacuum cleaner to start at a particular time by scheduling it to resume cleaning after a set number of hours. During the cleaning procedure, the cleaner didn’t take too long to cover the whole surface. The dry cleaning is certainly more up to the mark than wet mopping, which does leave a few sticky spots behind. There’s also a spot mode, which is for some stringent spots and stains left, but it didn’t make much of a difference.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other than ceramic, it works on tiles as well as wooden floors. Using the remote control, you can also manually control the movement of the cleaner, if the automatic and zigzag modes don’t fetch the desired result for you though it does require a lot more time and effort from your part as the navigation requires too many turns and touches. Changing of tanks and cleaning of tanks, on theother hand, is straight forward and both can be conveniently cleaned and installed back, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When its battery is low, if used with the charging station, the cleaner automatically goes to the charging station, though this didn’t work for use, and the cleaner had to be set on the charging station ourselves. It takes around 6 hours to charge the cleaner’s 2,600mAh battery fully, and lasts around 90-100 minutes or so of cleaning (not in one go).&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The BOT X Pro comes for around Rs. 31,990 does appear a bit steep for sure, plus it has a lot of known names to compete with — Mi Robot Vacuum — Mop P and EUREKA FORBES ROBO LVac, but its high suction capacity (can go till 2880pa), straight forward remote control, LiDAR and anti-cliff sensors, scheduled cleaning and a neat design make it a good option worth considering if you are looking for a robot vacuum to have your floors and carpets, which require cleaning and some light mopping regularly due to heavy dirt.</p> Tue Apr 19 16:01:58 IST 2022 problem-of-plenty <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Buying an iPhone used to be easy (if you could afford it, of course). You had one latest model and a few older ones; you could choose one according to how much you want to spend or how technologically inclined you are. It is a lot more complicated now. In India, Apple now officially sells the iPhone XR (2018), the iPhone 11(2019), the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Mini, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max (all 2020), in addition to the many older models available at steep discounts on Amazon and Flipkart.</p> <p>The question is, which one should you buy? Usually, the latest iPhone is the best iPhone. This time, however, there are four latest ones at different price points. One thing you have to bear in mind is that only the 12 series iPhones—the 12, the 12 Mini, the 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max—have 5G capability. Of course, 5G is not yet available in India. But the iPhones’ build quality and the software support Apple provides for years allow you to use them for a long time, making a strong case for investing in the 12 series. Of course, you can wait for a service provider to start 5G services and buy one of these at that time, probably at a lower price.</p> <p>All iPhones in the 12 series come with Apple’s latest A14 Bionic chip. What you get additionally in the Pro are a telephoto lens in the camera setup, HDR video recording at 60 fps (instead of 30 fps), LiDAR scanner (helps in faster autofocus and AR experiences), 126GB base storage (instead of 64GB) and Apple ProRAW (an upcoming photo format that allows raw editing). They, however, come at a significant price. While the iPhone 12 costs 079,900 for the base model, the iPhone 12 Pro costs 01,19,900. The Pro, made in stainless steel and available in some exclusive colours, looks better than the aluminium iPhone 12.</p> <p>The 12 Pro Max has a bigger screen (6.7 inches instead of 6.1), bigger battery and a better optical zoom than the Pro, and costs 01,29,900 for the base model. The Mini comes with a smaller screen (5.4 inches) and a smaller battery, and costs 069,900.</p> <p>Again, which one should you buy? The iPhone 12 strikes a sweet balance between price and features, and would be the most suitable phone for most people. The Pro and the Pro Max are for power users, and those with deep pockets. The Mini is a powerful device in a nice little package; but the smaller battery might not last the day for many people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Nov 13 11:33:27 IST 2020 the-beautified-game <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The world is a scary place, complete with inept political leaders and lethal viruses. But, there are a few things you can still count on. Like Electronic Arts releasing a new version of FIFA every year. The franchise, in its 28th year, is the best-selling sports video game series. The latest iteration, FIFA 21, released on October 9.</p> <p>It comes with subtle changes which make a significant difference to the game play. The basic skills (like passing, shooting) reflect the real-world abilities of the players more closely. So, a cross by Trent Alexander-Arnold will be discernibly better than one from your average right-back. Free kicks are more realistic, but hard to master.</p> <p>Even the not-so-skilled gamer may stumble upon a few cool moves. I got Neymar to juggle and shimmy his way past three defenders and have no idea how I did it. So, the “serious gamers” can rip others to shreds, more so, because the keeper and defence will be shambolic unless the gamer pays real attention to defensive play.</p> <p>The game modes have all been updated, but none more so than the manager mode—where you can take control of a football club. The FIFA 21 manager mode offers a truly immersive experience; you are involved in everything from transfers to player development, handling the media and, of course, the matches.</p> <p>There does not seem to be many glitches, but it is too early to say. Hopefully, EA can sort out any problems through constant updates. Also, do not forget to check out the likes of Pele and Maradona, rated 98 and 97 (out of 100), respectively, in the Soccer Aid team made up of legends. If you cannot win with this team, stop playing! </p> Thu Oct 15 18:32:04 IST 2020 mi-box-4k-review-the-best-way-to-upgrade-your-tv <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It makes sense to upgrade to a smart TV these days as OTT platforms have emerged as a popular way to consume content. One catch, though, is that manufacturers seldom update the software of these televisions, and after a point, newer versions of apps would stop working on an old operating system or miss out on new features.</p> <p>That is why it makes better sense to make your dumb television smart with a set-top box—or a streaming device—rather than going for an expensive upgrade to a smart TV.<br> </p> <p>The Amazon Fire Stick has long been the go-to streaming device in India. A 4K version of the Fire Stick is also available. The Mi Box 4K from Xiaomi, which was released in India a week ago, does everything that the Fire Stick 4K does and a little more.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mi Box 4K is a sleek rectangular box with curved corners. Setting up the device is a breeze. Connect it to the HDMI port of the TV and to the home Wi-Fi (or your mobile’s hot spot), and it is up and running. You can sign in to your Google account to import your preferences.<br> </p> <p>The Mi Box 4K comes with the latest Android TV 9.0—you might be asked to update it for some bug fixes and new features. The operating system looks good and works well, and it supports thousands of Android apps. The built-in Chromecast Ultra lets you stream 4K content from a smartphone, tablet or even computer. Then there is Google Assistant, which can help you not only find shows and movies but also control the connected devices. The remote has a button to activate Google Assistant voice search and two hotkeys that launch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. You can play your local files on an external hard drive or USB stick as well.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>At Rs 3,499 (including the introductory discount on the actual price of Rs 4,999), the Mi Box 4K offers plenty of features and a lot more value than the Fire TV Stick 4K, which costs Rs 5,999.&nbsp;<br> </p> Mon May 25 17:15:46 IST 2020 hitting-the-right-note <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Laptop computers have not changed much in form since the Toshiba T1100, the world's first mass market laptop, which was released in 1985. Of course, there have been many attempts—a touch screen there or a 360-degree hinge here—but they largely remained a clamshell with a screen on the one half and a keypad on the other, and a battery which would last a few hours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Laptops started becoming interesting again when manufacturers started tinkering with the conventional form a while ago. HP came up with a dual screen gaming laptop last year. The the 6-inch secondary display sits just above the keypad, and works like a regular dual screen setup. Then Asus unveiled the ZenBook Pro Duo with two 4K screens. In both cases software tweaks help make full use of the secondary screen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The most striking dual screen laptop, however, has been Intel's Honeycomb Glacier concept. Unlike the HP and Asus models, it lifts both screens through a double hinge mechanism. They stay propped up in any angle you want and go down at the tap of a switch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Things got even more interesting at CES 2020, where many companies offered a peek into the future of portable computers. Lenovo showed off world's first foldable PC, the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which will start selling this year itself. Its OLED screen folds up like a book. Dell unveiled the foldable Concept Ori and the dual screen Concept Duet. Intel's prototype, Horseshoe Bend, has a 17.3 inch foldable display.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, why are manufacturers investing time and effort in a product category which is said to be losing popularity? Well, laptop sales have actually bounced back. Sales have shown an upward swing since 2017 and pundits say the momentum will continue.</p> Sat Feb 22 15:14:27 IST 2020 irobot-roomba-i7-review-good-first-impression <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>What if you had a vacuum cleaner that not only cleans up your mess, but also disposes the waste into the bin and even charges itself, all on its own? What would have been a dream is now reality thanks to the creators at iRobot. The Roomba i7+ is the product of perfect amalgamation between conventional cleaning and artificial intelligence. It is a luxury vacuum cleaner equipped with an automatic waste disposal system called Clean Base. The added luxury though comes with a price (Rs. 89,900 on when the article was being written).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the tech savvy homeowners out there, the iRobot Roomba i7+ is certainly worth the buy. The Roomba i7+ is controlled via the iRobot app on both iOS and Android. Setting up the connection is quite easy. The app detects and connects the Roomba i7+ quite seamlessly. Once the setup is done, you can choose to have the cleaner map out your house by doing a 'Training run'. The Roomba i7+ does require 2-3 runs before it can get a clear picture of your floor plan. You can see that area mapped out by the cleaner on your phone. Once it has mapped out your entire floor, you can give each room a name and have the Roomba i7+ clean specific rooms when required. The 'Training run' only makes the cleaner map out your floor area. Not only doesn it clean, but it can also clean and map simultaneously if you choose to do so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Roomba i7+'s vSLAM navigation technology captures over 2,30,400 data points per second, making it easy to remember where it has been. This comes in handy especially when the cleaner is about to run out of juice or has to transfer the collected dust and other waste onto the Clean Base. The cleaner pauses and goes back to its charging dock, and once it is done charging or transferring the waste, it is able to go back to the spot where it left off and resume cleaning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Roomba i7+ uses a back and forth motion along a virtual straight line when it cleans. It goes the length of its cleaning path until interrupted by a wall and then shifts its position slightly to clean a new grid. If the cleaner hits a table or chair leg, it carefully winds itself around the leg to continue cleaning. Its AI powered system lets it understand whether the object in its path is a wall or any object that it can clean by going around. This is quite handy and advanced as compared to other robot vacuum cleaners. The three-spoke cleaning brush that protrudes outside off the Roomba i7+'s path helps in sweeping in dust and other particles that gets sucked in by the powerful suction brush.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The iRobot Roomba i7+ is ahead of its peers in terms of providing comfort and convenience. But at the same time certain things can heckle you. The process of transferring dust into the Clean Base is quite noisy, much like a jet take-off. Also, factor in the amount of time the Roomba i7+ takes to clean the room, you might wonder if it was just easier to clean it manually by using a hand-held vacuum cleaner instead. If you have a relatively small room with enough objects cramming the space, the Roomba i7+ will be rendered quite ineffective.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Having said all this, the factors mentioned above aren't serious concerns for those who would look at buying an intelligent vacuum cleaner. The iRobot Roomba i7+ is everything that the company has claimed it is―an intelligent vacuum cleaner that will clean and dispose off the dirt on its own without you having to spare a thought!</p> Mon Feb 24 16:24:02 IST 2020 mobvoi-ticwatch-c2-review-style-meets-utility <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 looks like a traditional watch on the outside, but style and smart features come together here to give you a top-quality device in the smartwatch segment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Whether you want to check your mails, messages and notifications on your phone or to monitor your fitness and physical activities on a day-to-day basis, TicWatch C2 ticks the boxes of a smartwatch that has the functionality of a classic wristwatch and is packed with smart features for both iPhone and Android users. GPS tracking is built-in in the device, as is Google Assistant, which makes it easier for users to do a quick search or set a reminder. It also supports Google Pay. So, next time you want to do some quick online purchases, just tap your watch and get going.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The TicWatch C2 has genuine leather straps with a stainless steel watch case, giving it a hint of elegance. The device comes in three styles or colours―Onyx, Platinum and Rose Gold. The Onyx has a black stainless steel body and black leather strap; Rose Gold, as you guessed, comes in a rose gold stainless steel body and an off-white strap; and the Platinum has a metallic or silver body with grey strap.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bottom side of the watch, however, is plastic, where the heart rate sensor is located. But not to worry, it's nearly unnoticeable while the device is in use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It comes with two buttons on the side of the watch―a top button that lets you open apps, takes you back to the main screen and move around in general, and a bottom one that opens the device's fitness settings, helping you navigate through the interface.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The TicWatch C2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset and not the recently rolled out 3100 upgrade. Considering other smartwatches in the market haven't put in the upgrade, the TicWatch C2 isn't missing out. It comes with a 1.3” AMOLED 360 x 360 px display which can be adjusted in the setting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, two apps―Wear OS and Mobvoi―need to be downloaded on your mobile device so as to make the most of the TicWatch C2. The Wear OS app helps you check your Google Fit data, and also change your settings as per your preference. The Mobvoi app collects the data from TicWatch's apps such as TicExercise and TicPulse Live, helping you keep track of health and fitness data.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, the TicWatch C2 is a bit on the heavy side. Users with lean wrists may find the device to be a bit uncomfortable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The device has a 400mAh battery which should last two days with light usage and one day with heavy usage, as per the specs. You can charge the device by plugging it into a USB port, and it takes about 1-1.5 hours to go from empty to fully charged.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The watch is dust and waterproof, which means you can go for a run in the rain while wearing it if you want, but it is advised that you don't go swimming wearing the TicWatch C2 and avoid submerging it in water for long.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The TicWatch C2 is comparatively easy on the pocket too, at Rs 17,999! It may not be a high-end smartwatch like the Apple Watch or Samsung's Galaxy smartwatch, but those looking for smart wearables on a budget can loosen those purse strings just a tad to get their hands on this classic wristwatch with a good design, a bunch of cool features, and performs well enough.</p> Fri Dec 27 20:47:13 IST 2019 lenovo-legion-y530-review-good-for-college-students-gaming <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The best way to upgrade the life of the Indian gamer is to upgrade the hardware of their laptop. The Indian PC gamer is not known to upgrade their hardware every year, or every few years for that matter. Computers are held onto and pushed to their limits for many, many years. This is all the more reason why it is important to buy wisely when it is the first time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>College students, in particular those who are getting into media or animation, are a key demographic for the budget gaming laptop. They need power but they also need it on a budget. They need something that can take the edge off after a long day at college—AKA something that can run PUBG or Fortnite or DotA 2 long into the night.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since September, 2018, the Lenovo Legion Y530 has been the go-to budget laptop of choice. A starting-price model at Rs 85,585 will give you an i5-8300H, a GTX 1050 Ti (4GB DDDR5) and a 1TB HDD paired with a 128GB SSD. The specs can be upgraded to an i7-8750 and a GTX 1060 and a 2TB HDD paired with a 512 GB SSD.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As far as power goes, it is reasonable enough that most games will run at playable frame rates. The 1050Ti is good to run most games at full-HD and medium to high settings, but some settings will have to be set to low or medium in games like Witcher 3 if you want a playable frame rate of at least 30fps. Games like Overwatch and Fortnite ran smoothly as did Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you play fast-paced First Person Shooters (FPS) like Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), the 144Hz will let you see many more frames of animation than a typical 60Hz screen, provided your frame rates are equally high. The back-lit keyboard layout is comfortable to use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, if this is your first real upgrade in many years, the Y530 will allow you to catch up with the major releases of the last few years without missing a beat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Keeping in line with smartphone trends, the Y530 features a thin-bezel, measuring about 4mm. With a 15 inch Full-HD IPS screen supporting 144hz, this makes for a pleasurable viewing experience. The 144Hz mode will help in games where the FPS goes above 60, as it allows for a much smoother experience. While the screen is good to look at, it does not reproduce blacks as well as it could, with <i>Game of Thrones</i>’ infamous ‘The Long Night’ episode looking slightly dull.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The speakers are Harman with Dolby audio, and reproduce music and gaming ambience nicely. You would still want to connect this to a set of speakers or headphones to truly enjoy gaming.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It comes with an array of ports, including 3 USB 3.1 Type-A ports and one USB 3.1 Type-C. A Mini DisplayPort and an HDMI alike will ensure that the laptop can be connected to any projector or display (a crucial feature at college). In addition, it features the Lenovo NOVO Hole which allows for ‘one-key’ recovery if the laptop fails to boot and an ethernet RJ45 port in case you need a direct connection to the internet (or an intranet).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With heavy usage, the battery should last up to four hours, nearing five with a medium load. This is still a laptop and you can use it at cafes or on-the-go, keeping in mind that it weights 2.3kgs and feels hefty.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Y530 remains a solid entry-level gaming option for those looking to play the major game titles, edit video or have a fairly powerful laptop that can handle animation or software like Adobe After Effects. It is perfect for college-goers, though buyers in 2019 can also look forward to the Y540 expected to release later this year.</p> Thu Jul 18 19:32:16 IST 2019 samsung-galaxy-S10-plus-one-month-later-a-real-world-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>There is something different about going about your day packing a flagship mobile in your pocket. For one thing, you start seeing your phone on the billboards. In advertisements between TV shows. And when you walk by the manufacturer’s retail store, you know that you already have the best product they’re selling.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2019, this phone is, as of writing, the Samsung Galaxy S10+. It’s the biggest, baddest Android device that money can buy. With a starting price at Rs 73,900, the phone represents the kind of investment that people used to spend on motorcycles, laptops or even vacations.<br> <br> </p> <p>So, to answer the inevitable question of “Is it worth it?”, we looked at the phone after one month of daily usage. In that time, it travelled multiple cities, took multiple photos across use case scenarios, and served as a make-do WiFi router. Here is the real-world review of the world’s best phone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Day-to-day</b></p> <p>Moving to the S10+ from a Galaxy Note 9, one of the things I appreciated most was the slimmer form factor. Despite being a big phone, the S10+ feels good and easy to hold. The decision to move the fingerprint scanner from the back to the front clears up some real estate on the back, making the phone a better looker overall.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What makes this phone a true flagship is the battery. In an age where most people ration their intensive app-usage so they don’t run out of battery by the end of the day, the S10+ is happy to let you game on it, run a 24x7 hotspot, sync with a Samsung smartwatch and play movies at 2K. If you start using it in the morning today, it will still be beaming back at you by midday tomorrow. That is battery life worth holding on to.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b></p> <p>The three lenses on the back were a useful gimmick. When I had time, I found myself switching lenses and experimenting with the shots I could take, once from the standard wide, once from the telephoto and once from the ultra-wide. The ultra-wide lens is easily my favourite of the lot. When faced with a “real” landscape to capture―like a mountain range―I no longer feel like my device fails to do justice. The telephoto lens proves to be a bit gimmicky as in my comparison tests, the image quality wasn’t as good as that of a cropped photo from the standard lens. The standard shooter is good for most purposes―I found myself shooting at night and in low light far more than I normally would.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The S10+ will make you the unofficial group selfie photographer wherever you go thanks to its impressive live focus and clarity. The portrait mode is great for taking photos of people. However, the front camera's &quot;group&quot; mode is only a mild improvement from the regular one in terms of taking a wider frame. Even so, you will be expected to take great selfies―if you’re alright with this responsibility, the S10+ hole punch camera will have its work cut out for you in every social gathering.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s worth noting that an entire episode of <i>The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon</i> was shot on the Galaxy S10+. Given that the setting was Brooklyn at night, it shows just how well the phone performs in challenging circumstances. However, it needs to be said that a DSLR would have done a better job.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b></p> <p>Let’s face it, most of us are not using our pocket supercomputers to their maximum potential. Whether it comes to sending emails, browsing Instagram or running multiple tabs on Chrome, the S10+ is completely unstressed. You won’t really feel the difference between this and other devices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The sheer power of the CPU and GPU make this a gamer’s dream―the catch is that most mobile games are not very demanding. While it breezes through PUBG at the highest settings, to really see it at its best you will want to try games like Need for Speed: No Limits or any of the 2GB+ games you can find on the app store.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Software</b></p> <p>Ultimately, I did not find myself ever making use of the Bigsby AI assistant. I own a Google Home so the only AI assistant that makes sense for me would be Google’s own. Thankfully, there is a way to reconfigure Bixby’s physical button to activating Google’s assistant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The usual suspects of Samsung bloatware are all present, but they don’t affect your user experience. Seasoned Samsung users will just place the Samsung apps in a folder and keep them out of sight and out of mind.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Final takeaways</b></p> <p>There is something to be said about having a flagship device. For one, they age better than mid-level phones. While yesteryear’s Motorolas or Xiaomis may have been as capable as the S10+ in the real world, these phones are never quite as responsive after a year or two of usage. From owning a previous model flagship, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, I can say that top-tier phones last longer and slow down less over time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Samsung continues to have more bloatware than their competitors, but this doesn’t seem to affect the device’s speediness as much as it used to.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Having a camera of this calibre in your pocket is something worth investing in, though, I still feel the absence of a real telephoto when I need to take a shot of something far away. Considering the S10+ is priced well into the range of mid-level DSLRs, it’s worth considering whether you should buy this device or a DSLR with a telephoto lens, if you are serious about photography. For everyday purposes, the S10+ can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Samsung Galaxy S10+ Specs</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Body:</b> 157.6 x 74.1 x 7l.8mm)</p> <p><b>Display:</b> 6.4” Quad HD+ ; Dynamic AMOLED; InfinityO; 93.1 per cent Screen-to-body ratio.</p> <p><b>Rear camera:</b> 12MP Telephoto (2x, 52mm); 12MP Wide-angle; 16MP Ultra Wide (12mm)<br> <b>Front camera:</b> 10MP Selfie; 8MP RGB Depth Camera; Dual Focus</p> <p><b>OS:</b> Android 9 “Pie”</p> <p><b>Chipset:</b> Exynos 9820</p> <p><b>CPU:</b> Octa-core (2x2.73 GHz Mongoose M4 &amp; 2x2.31 GHz Cortex-A75 &amp; 4x1.95 GHz Cortex A55)</p> <p><b>GPU:</b> Mali-G76 MP12</p> <p><b>Memory:</b> 8GB RAM with 128GB internal storage; 8GB RAM with 512GB internal storage (Ceramic models only); 12GB RAM with 1TBinternal storage (Performance Edition only)</p> <p><b>Battery:</b> 4100mAh</p> <p><b>Colours:</b> Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, Prism Blue, Ceramic White, Ceramic Black</p> Wed Apr 10 17:39:34 IST 2019 bose-soundsport-free-wireless-earphones-of-2018 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When it comes to audio, not many would put it past Bose to deliver the best. Pioneers of audio engineering, Bose has always been on the forefront of innovation and excellence. So, it was without any hesitation that we decided to select the Bose SoundSport Free earbuds as the 'Wireless Bluetooth headset of the Year'. A 'jack of all trades', the SoundSport Free scores well in the design, comfort, connectivity, durability and audio performance departments, and has definitely got the package that trumps its competitors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SoundSport Free looks like a newer and shinier offspring of the Bose SoundSport Wireless. It is the perfect companion if you are an athlete or someone who likes to have an immersive experience in the gym. Although it has a rather bulbous build, it can certainly go either way when it comes to the style quotient. The stayHear+ Sport tips keep the earbuds fit comfortably in your ears and Bose provides two other sizes in case you want another size. The IPX4 rating means you can sweat it out in the gym or go for a jog in the rain without fear of causing water damage to your earphones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sound quality is a given with the SoundSport Free since it comes from the house of Bose. I have been a Bose user for years now and sound quality is one thing that Bose delivers on, no matter what device it is. Although it doesn't have active noise cancelling, the earbuds can still block out most ambient sounds. The bass extends low without bleeding into the mids like many other of its peers and highs are also balanced seamlessly to give a smooth listening experience even over long hours. The Soundsport Free produces excellent balanced sound and is built for the kill. The connectivity also gives it a truly wireless experience. With an excellent packaging that also functions like a wireless charging case, these earbuds are meant for the avid listener on the move. The case allows for two full extra charges which roughly translates to 10 hours of charge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They may be a bit bigger than other players in the market, but that could add to the style quotient. Even if not, they are the best when it comes to sound. If you are an active gym-goer, these are the perfect companions for you and they pack enough juice to last the day without having to worry about finding a charging port.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Wed Jan 16 17:18:29 IST 2019 samsung-galaxy-A9-review-four-times-the-fun <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Smartphone buyers are a finicky lot. Very hard to keep them happy. And it is because of this very reason that Samsung pulled out all its cards with the newly launched Samsung Galaxy A9. Camera quality is the success mantra on which most tech giants are riding. So, it was only a matter of time when one of them decide to up the game. The world's first quad camera smartphone packs quite a bit under the hood. But what is surprising is that they decided to introduce it in the A series than with their flagships. But enough said, lets get down to the details.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Samsung Galaxy A9 at a glance</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Body:</b> Glass back, metal frame; 162.5 x 77 x 7.8mm weighing 183 gms</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b> 6.3 inch Super AMOLED, 2,200x1,080 px; Infinity display (18:5:9 aspect ratio); 392ppi pixel density</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Rear camera:</b> 24MP with f/1.7 aperture, phase detection autofocus; 8MP with f/2/4 aperture, 12mm ultra wide with fixed focus; 10MP with f/2.4 aperture, autofocus, 2x optical zoom telephoto; 5MP with f/2/2 aperture, depth sensing; LED flash, 2160p/30fps video recording</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Front camera:</b> 24MP with f/2.0 aperture; 1080p/30fps video recording</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>OS:</b> Android 8.0 Oreo, Samsung Experience 9.0 custom overlay</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Chipset:</b> Snapdragon 660, octa-core|4x2.2 GHz Kryo 260 &amp; 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260; Adreno 512 GPU</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Memory:</b> 6Gb &amp; 8 GB variants, 128 GB internal storage with microSD slot</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery:</b> 3,800 mAh Li-Po sealed battery with Samsung Adaptive Fast charging</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other:</b> USB 2.0 Type-C port; Bluetooth 5.0; FM Radio; Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; Samsung Pay; Single speaker at the bottom</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Colours:</b> Caviar Black, Lemonade Blue and Bubblegum Pink</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike the A7, Samsung has decided to sport the A9 with a curved glass black rather than a flat one. But with four cameras at the back, that is what makes the phone stand out, making it its tech as well as design USP. Four cameras may seem like a lot along with the flash, but Samsung has aligned them in such a way that it doesn't hit you in the eye. The infinity display isn't the same as what you would see on the Samsung flagships, but it is still quite bezel-free.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Keeping to its predecessors, there is no home button in the bottom. The top bezel houses the earpiece, proximity sensors and selfie camera. A single speaker grill, USB C-port, microphone jack and the primary mic are present in the bottom panel. The top panel has the secondary mic pinhole and the card slot. What is confusing, though, is the positioning of the volume rocker. It has been moved to the right above the power button.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is one area where Samsung doesn't fail to deliver. The 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display works to a 18:5:9 aspect ratio and can go up to 392ppi pixel density. The A9 outdoes its peers with relative ease and works well under sunlight, at par with the Note 9.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Samsung A9 is still unmatched in this department as far as the number of cameras are concerned. The primary camera features a 25MP resolution sensor along with a fast f/1.7 lens. The pictures come out quite well, but night photography could result in some grainy pics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 10MP telephoto lens is coupled with a f/2.4 lens with a field of view of 35mm. This goes a long way in getting you that far shot without necessarily pixelating too much. It enables you to capture far-off images with relative ease and with much better quality than its peers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ultra-wide lens is the one on the top which features an 8MP sensor with a f/2.4 aperture and delivers a wide 120-degree field of view. The ultra-wide lens on the A9 also doesn't which an autofocus, which is understandable considering the focal length.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The fourth cam isn't a standalone sensor like the others. It is used to take depth pictures using the 'Live Focus' feature on the A9. It uses a 5MP sensor with f/2/2 aperture lens. Pictures come out quite well, although you may have to reduce the intensity of the blurs sometimes as it gets a bit too much.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Samsung Galaxy A9 is quite the capable phone. It is undisputed when it comes to the number of cameras on board. The telephoto lens does justice, but the main cam might be a bummer. The A9 delivers superior battery quality and can easily last the day even if your use is quite demanding. The internal storage is also more than what most users would require and the RAM is powerful. Overall, it is a premium mid-end smartphone and it does pave way for the next generation of phones which focus on getting all the necessary cameras under one hood.</p> Sun Jan 13 13:54:52 IST 2019 galaxy-tab-s4-review-a-class-apart <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The tablet market, which was once a booming segment, may have been on a steady decline, but Samsung is one of the few players who are determined to bring out the best. Their formula? Innovation. One of the main reasons why ultrabooks are on the rise is because people want a laptop that is light, but still does what a desktop can do. Samsung's Tab S4 has just about got it right. Equipped with a keyboard and a pen, it is as good as an ultrabook, and yet lighter. It does run on Android 8.1, but Samsung's Dex mode gives it a desktop feel. To put it simply, if you are looking for a powerful tablet that could also work as a laptop and are willing to pay about Rs 57,000, then you have the best tablet that Android has to offer―the Tab S4.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Samsung Tab S4 in a snapshot</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Network:</b> GSM/HSPA/LTE</p> <p><b>Launch:</b> India release October</p> <p><b>Price:</b> Rs 57,900</p> <p><b>Body:</b> Metal frame with glass on the front &amp; back. Weighs 482g. Supports Nano SIM</p> <p><b>Water Protection:</b> No</p> <p><b>Screen:</b> 10.5 inch 1600 x 2560 pixel Super AMOLED capacitive screen with 287 pixel density</p> <p><b>Front Camera:</b> 8MP</p> <p><b>Rear Camera:</b> 13 MP with AF, LED flash, HDR &amp; panorama</p> <p><b>Front Camera Video:</b> 1080p@30fps</p> <p><b>Rear Camera Video:</b> 2160p@30fps</p> <p><b>Chipset:</b> Snapdragon 835</p> <p><b>Memory: </b>4GB RAM, 64 GB storage with microSD slot</p> <p><b>OS:</b> Android 8.1</p> <p><b>Battery:</b> Non-removable Li-Po 7,300mAh with fast charging</p> <p><b>Other:</b> Stereo speakers tuned by AKG, Iris scanner, pogo pins, global positioning</p> <p><b>Add-ons:</b> S Pen, DeX dock and Book Cover keyboard</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Tab S4 is the best that Android has to offer when it comes to tablets. Yes, it does take away quite a bit from your pockets, but in India, it comes with the keyboard book cover which is a plus. Unlike the Apple Pro, you do not have to shell out a few thousand bucks extra to get a keyboard. Time to get into the nitty-gritties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b></p> <p>Samsung has cut down on bezels with the S4 10.5 as compared to its predecessor the Tab S3. At 10.5 inches, the AMOLED screen does justice to pictures and videos. So if you like binge-watching TV shows, this one is a delight to watch on. With sleek edges, it gives a truly premium feel―something which the huge price tag demands. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The top panel consists of two sets of grills for the speakers. The left side panel is completely dedicated to its keyboard dock. A magnetic strip to lock it with the keyboard and two small slots to keep it in place. The right panel consists of the volume rocker, power button and a sim card cum micro sd card slot. The bottom panel has the headphone jack, charging port and two sets of grills for speakers. There is no fingerprint sensor, which has been replaced by the Iris scanner.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b></p> <p>This is were the Tab S4 scores the best. The AMOLED screen is a pure delight and delivers excellently. At 10.5 inches, the QHD+ display offers great depth and the blacks don't look washed out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Hardware</b></p> <p>The Samsung Tab S4 offers dual speakers on the top and bottom panels. Tuned by AKG, these deliver great on sound quality even on high volumes. Samsung has bet big on its book cover keyboard to deliver a desktop-like experience while at the same time giving the portability of an ultrabook. The 2-in-1 concept has put it in direct contention with the Surface Pro and iPads. Samsung's Desktop Experience (DeX) is what gives the Tab a desktop look. On activating DeX, all applications close automatically and the Tab restarts in desktop mode. The whole process barely takes a few seconds, making the transition very smooth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The S-Pen, too, offers a truly enriching experiencing and is precise enough to take notes or even draw. The DeX mode offers more of a 'keyboard and mouse' experience than the conventional 'tablet' experience. This means, there are no shades to pull down. You have to access everything from the bottom panel on the screen, as you would on a laptop or desktop. The Tab S4 delivers on the battery front. The 7,300mAh battery lets you run the Tab for at least day without having to worry about charging. If you are binge-watching on Netflix, you still get around 15 hours of video playback.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b></p> <p>No one really buys a Tab for its camera. But the Tab S4 still gives decent pictures with its 13MP back camera as well as the 8MP front camera. The rear cam lets you shoot 4K videos while the front lets you shoot at 1080p. The selfie cam shoots decent pictures and the portrait mode does justice to the cam.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b></p> <p>The Samsung Tab S4 is the tablet for you if you are looking at having a tablet which also functions like a laptop or a PC. The camera isn't the best, but it will still give you decent pictures. The DeX mode is what this tablet delivers on point. The keyboard and mouse feel is definitely worth it. If you are willing to shell out a little extra, this is definitely worth it.&nbsp;</p> Fri Dec 14 19:47:35 IST 2018