Gadgets en Wed Nov 16 13:21:52 IST 2022 redmi-smart-fire-tv-32--good-performance-and-a-decent-set-of-dis <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Xiaomi’s first Fire TV in India is here with the launch of the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32. As the name suggests, it’s a 32-inch smart TV that runs on Amazon’s Fire TV OS. Available at an introductory price of Rs. 11,999 (Rs. 13,999 otherwise), making it a very competitive segment of 32-inch TVs priced under Rs. 18,000. Let’s try and see what it brings to the table:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Design: The TV sports a very familiar Redmi TV series build quality and design with a plastic body along with a thin bezel around the display. On the front, you get the Redmi branding, while the LED indicator and physical button for power on and off sit centrally placed at the bottom. The back has side mounted ports – 2 USB A ports, 2 HDMI 2.0 ports (one ARC and no eARC), an ethernet port and A/V ports along with 3.5mm audio jack and antenna. The TV is light, weighing nearly 4kg and comes in a more eco-friendly box that can be later set up to make different shapes such as a barstool, table, etc., so you don’t have to dump the box somewhere. This isn’t a very high quality or precision body, but pretty much in line with what we see on most budget smart TVs today. The remote control has Alexa voice assistant button, apps shortcut buttons along with the usual power volume and Home and back buttons. The remote seems decent enough in build quality and its buttons don’t require excessive pressure, being fairly responsive in use.</p> <p><b>Audio and video</b>: Coming to the crux of it, the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 features a 32-inch HD-ready (1366x768) LCD display and 20watt speakers (10wattx2). It’s powered by a quad-core Cortex A35 CPU, Mali G31 MP2 GPU and 1GB of RAM, plus 8GB of storage (of which around 5GB is usable). The TV runs on Fire TV OS You can cast videos from YouTube on your smartphone to the TV and it works without any glitches. There’s also AirPlay support with HomeKit, so you can watch videos or images from your iOS device to the TV and can also use voice commands to control any HomeKitenabled devices at your place, which you can also do for Alexa-enabled devices since this is a Fire TV product. The TV does display an ad right in the middle of the default Homescreen, it is what it is. The TV’s picture quality is what you can expect from a sub-15k TV. You get HDR support in YouTube and Netflix (Amazon Prime doesn’t provide content in HDR under 2160p), though it isn’t going to make your experience significantly better considering the resolution here and the panel brightness.</p> <p>The TV does a good job of handling details when watching live sports with no jarring effects and no refresh issues. It handled 720p live streams at 30 and 50 frames per second without any noticeable stuttering. For general performance, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s very snappy but it’s still responsive enough and doesn’t show any lags in daily use to provide a decent experience. The OS is smooth enough for you to jump between your streaming apps without having to worry of any response issues. I especially liked that you can select different display settings for each input source.</p> <p>The dual 10watt speakers are sufficiently loud and quite clear for a small room, which seems to be the apt setting for this TV. Anything larger or with a few viewers around and you might want to get an external set of speakers to connect. Dolby Atmos support is present but it’s not lossless since there’s no eARC present here, but that’s expected at this price range.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 offers some good value for the price tag. It performs relatively well on the performance front with no major lags or stuttering during day-to-day usage, has a decent display for its size and sufficiently loud speakers in place. Xiaomi’s first Fire TV in India is a 32-inch TV isn’t that big a surprise considering this size segment still makes up for a majority in the TV market, and the Redmi Smart Fire TV 32 seems to be a worthy contender in that TV market segment now.</p> Tue Mar 21 10:54:40 IST 2023 sennheiser-ie-200--emphasis-on-clear-and-well-tuned-sound-that-i <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sennheiser, being a known audio brand, has its line-ups in various sub-categories such as headphones, true wireless earbuds and in-ear monitors or IEMs, which is where the IE 200 pair gets counted under. Priced at Rs. 14,990, the IE 200 is a mid-range offering from the company for people looking for balanced and high-fidelity sound. Let’s try and see if these do any justice to the price tag.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Sennheiser IE 200 sport a 1.2-metre braided cord that has gold-plated MMCX connectors for the earbuds and has a decent weight to it at 4grams.The earbuds loop has an almost L shape to it and is detachable so you can connect another compatible cable to it. You might take a few minutes to fit the IEMs well enough with the loop – however way you prefer, and once done, the pair doesn’t feel overweight and it is comfortable to wear. There’s a front vent (hole) on both earbuds for bass experience, which you can choose to cover, if needed. There’s no built-in mic, as seen on several other Sennheiser products previously. It may not feel as premium to wear or carry around but there isn’t much wrong with their build quality and design in general compared to Sennheiser’s higher-end offerings. Also, along with extra sets of silicon and foam adapters, you get a nice pouch in the box to carry this pair around.</p> <p><b>Sound quality</b>: The IEMs are powered by a 7mm transducer driver, which is on somewhat similar lines to what Sennheiser used on its higher end IEMs such the IE 900 and IE 600 (though not exactly same). The pair sounds really clean and somewhat spacious-sounding tuning. The bass is clean but not too pronounced and the treble is handled well enough to give you slightly elevated treble than I had expected though mids seem balanced. For just about every music genre you would try, the sound seems to be detailed and without extreme bass and low soundstage, though you can get beefier bass with silicon eartips with buds pushed slightly more into your ear. I didn’t use any special DAC to try these IEMs but regular USB C to 3.5mm audio jack adapters from Vivo. But if you want to get more out of these and don’t mind investing a but more into your sound experience, you might try a DAC to go with this, especially if you care about lossless music (whether streamed over something like Apple Music, or offline). For its pricing, the sound quality overall isn’t bad at all. For people who want their audio to be bass-heavy and less smooth, though, may not like it very much.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The IE 200 offers a lot of stuff at a price that’s unheard of for high-fidelity audio. With a clean and customizable bass experience (that’s not too heavy or preferred by everybody) and highly smooth music delivery, the pair would be a decent option to consider for those looking to spend a little on their wired audio experience on the go, or looking to upgrade from an entry-level pair of earphones.</p> Sat Mar 18 15:57:54 IST 2023 oneplus-11r--reliable-performance-with-great-battery-and-camera <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus launched a set of devices last month with the 11R being one of the more interesting announcements during the announcement. Priced at Rs. 39,999 and Rs. 44,999 (two models). The latter (16GB + 256GB) is the one I have been using for a bit, and here are my thoughts on it.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The OnePlus 11R features a 6.74-inch curved display that carries the front-facing camera near the top-centre and an optical under-screen fingerprint reader near the bottom. The back sports a circular cut-out carrying the triple camera system with an LED flash that’s quite familiar from other OnePlus devices. There’s also the OnePlus branding on the back; the back itself Gorilla Glass that has a matte finish and slightly shimmery look to it. The sides are all made of glossy plastic, but it didn’t really feel low quality during my usage. On the right side, you have the Power/lock key near the middle, while the ring slider (it’s back here) is located next to the camera setup. The left side houses the volume keys. The keys are tactile enough and the alert slider also feels nice to slide up or down. On the top, you have the secondary mic, secondary outlet for top speaker and the infrared port; while the bottom carries the loudspeakers, USB type C port, primary mic and the dual SIM card slot. The phone is quite heavy, weighing above 200grams, but it’s not very slippery in the hand, though it can slide when not placed on an absolutely flat surface. No official IP rating here for dust or water resistance, though with a few minor splashes water, I didn’t notice anything concerning in the slightest.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The device sports a 6.74-inch curved AMOLED (2772x1240) display with Dragontail glass on top. The display supports refresh rates from 40Hz to 120Hz and does a good enough job providing high refresh rates wherever required, albeit some drops here and there once in a while that we did see with the OnePlus 10T earlier on, too. The display is pretty sharp and vibrant in terms of colour reproduction though it can be abit oversaturated for viewing images. It does a decent job when watching full HD videos though HDR output remains a little less than great even if you enable Bright HDR video mode from Settings. When used under direct sunlight, it is readable provided you have cranked up the brightness to at least 60%-70%.</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: With a triple camera setup – a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera (with OIS), 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera and a 2MP macro camera. I liked the main camera’s many times that gives a more natural colour look and doesn’t go overboard with sharpness. It can take balanced detailed shots in daylight, and can hold its own in night shots if held still and your subject isn’t moving too quickly either. The ultra-wide camera is just about okay in favourable day light situations while the macro lens is just there for not much use considering its performance. On the front, you get a 16MP (f/2.4) camera (with EIS) that can take decently stitched shots that can sometimes overdo skin tones but dynamic range is generally quite good. You can shoot up to 4K videos at 30 or 60FPS from the main camera and 1080p 30FPS from the ultra-wide camera (same as the selfie camera).</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The device runs on OxygenOS 13.0 based on Android 13, having the January security patch installed. It boasts the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset (up to 3.2Ghz octa core processor, Adreno 730 GPU and x65 5G modem) along with 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB of UFS3.1 storage. The device has pretty much top of the price range hardware in place for most things and the performance in general shows that. The phone handles day to day tasks without any major troubles. You can rely on it to play games such as Asphalt 8 in at high settings with no concerning heat issues to report. Apps open and close without stuttering and so is scrolling in general. As mentioned above, display refresh rates can drop a bit every once in a while, which isn’t new for OnePlus now. Hopefully that can be further addressed by the company since it’s quite a bit better from some previous devices if you compare. I found the phone to rarely heat up whether after video calling or using its WiFi hotspot for 2-3 hours on the stretch, which is nice to see. The OS itself is similar to what we have been seeing from OnePlus for a while now. It has plenty of customization options, from themes to options such as displaying your connected WiFi version on the status bar, to changing icon packs from the stock launcher. I would have liked to see have the fingerprint scanner somewhere nearer the bottom of the display, but it’s not a deal breaker. One thing weirdly changed from stock Android is the now playing screen that gets a small tile in the dropdown pane in place of a bigger horizontal tile in the notification shade with a more aesthetically pleasing seek bar.</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: I expected the battery experience on the OnePlus 11R to be the best part about it, and it’s the case after using it for a couple of weeks or so. Fitted with a 5,000mAh battery unit, most of the times, the phone lasted over a day, with brightness set at 35%-40%, two Email Accounts on, a lot of Web browsing, media downloading, and messaging apps in place along wit a bit of Twitter and YouTube. You get a 100watt SuperVooc charger in the box (with a USB type C to A cable) and it can charge the phone from 1% to full in about 30-35 minutes, with the phone’s body not getting anything close to alarmingly hot.</p> <p><b>Other stuff</b>: I found call quality on the device to be top notch, including sound on the other side. 5G connectivity, on the other hand was lacklustre. Rarely did the phone catch up to 5G network even when outdoors where other 5G devices have been getting stable 5G connections very recently.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The OnePlus 11R might well be the phone from OnePlus to get more interest and potential buyers over the more expensive and rounded off OnePlus 11 in the Indian market. The phone has an excellent battery life, good display (not the best we have seen from OnePlus), a capable main camera but not the best set of cameras, generally reliable and smooth performance and a promise of 3 major Android OS updates and 4 years of security updates on the software side of things. SO, if you’re looking for an Android device in the range of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 45,000, there are not man reasons why the OnePlus 11R shouldn’t be in your checklist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 13 17:41:33 IST 2023 xiaomi-tv-stick-4k-review-a-compact--feature-loaded-streaming-st <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Xiaomi is one of the more popular brands when it comes to smartphones and smart TVs, but the company also makes smart speakers, Bluetooth accessories and smart TV stick/box. They have recently launched the new Xiaomi TV Stick 4K, which I have been using for a few days. And here’s what I think about it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Xiaomi TV Stick 4K seems like a successor to the Mi Box 4K and Mi TV Stick that was launched a couple of years back. The TV Stick 4K is much more compact and has added features over the Mi Box 4K, too. Along with the stick and remote, you get a power adapter, a micro USB cable and an HDMI extension cable in case the HDMI port of your TV is wall-facing and you’re unable to place the stick in it due to insufficient space. You can try powering the stick from a USB port of your TV if the power output is sufficient, saving you from running another wire behind your TV to the power point. The TV remote is pretty much identical to Mi and Redmi TVs launched from a while back. It’s all plastic, which is okay, but it doesn’t feel very sturdy in terms of its buttons. You get pre-defined shortcut buttons for apps such as Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime. It also has a mic for voice commands for Google Assistant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The TV Stick 4K supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 for videos, and Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD for audio.. It’s powered by a quad core A35 CPU and a Mali G31 MP2 GPU along with 2 GB of RAM and comes with 8GB of disk (about 5GB usable).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on Android TV 11 with PatchWall integration, you get Xiaomi TV+, which is basically an app to stream some free channels including news and sports but none of the popular ones. The stick handles UI navigation and app closing or opening smoothly, something a lot of budget smart TVs can struggle with once you install a few third party apps. I would have preferred them to change to a USB type C port, but then it’s not something you’re going to have to deal with regularly, just plug it in once and start your using the device. There’s also built-in Chromecast support as with any Android TV device plus Miracast with which you can cast iOS devices, though there’s no AirPlay support, but then that might be a little too much to ask at this price point. In terms of UI look and feel, there’s not much different than any other Android TV other than PatchWall 4.1. With PatchWall, you get IMDb support where you can check rating and brief summary for movies and TV series. There’s also a universal search to search for a term across apps and services on the device. But you also get recommendations on your Homescreen from the apps you have installed, which feel a bit more like ads – giving new releases regardless of your watch history. The stick can handle 4K HDR and Dolby Vision content without much trouble from supported apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, only once in a while when playing an external streaming link (direct file) that I found it to be missing 4K playback when I could do it on another similar device, but that wasn’t frequent. In apps like SonyLiv and JioCinema, I found it handles 50FPS full HD and 4K live streams (where available) without any frames dropped, too, something low-end streaming devices can struggle with due to insufficient resources. Wish it had a bit more storage space and installed apps a little quicker (disk read and write). I found it handling most of the common video and audio codecs without any trouble, whether within a streaming app or a locally played video, including with DTS-HD audio.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Verdict: If you’re looking for a new streaming stick for your old TV or a low-end smart that struggles to handle apps and streaming tasks, then Xiaomi’s TV Stick 4K is a good option in terms of audio and video capabilities, better than realme’s 4K stick for video handling, and in line with Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Google’s Chromecast with Google TV on many things except for its read-write speeds and remote control’s build quality.</p> Thu Mar 09 17:19:20 IST 2023 lenovo-thinkpad-x1-yoga-gen-7-great-display-and-build-quality <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lenovo’s ThinkPad series is often touted as among the most well-built and reliable Windows laptops over years. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 7) is the company’s 2-in-1 offering that’s aimed at both business and creative users. I have been using the notebook for about a couple of months now, and here’s what I think works for it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The device features a 14-inch full HD (1920x1200) IPS FlexView display that’s plenty bright and sharp for nice experience of reading text even not indoors or for watching high resolution videos. It’s a touchscreen display so some people might like it for editing high resolution images, and the touch response isn’t iffy either, including with the Lenovo Integrated Pen. Other than being antismudge and anti-glaring (definitely helpful at times), it is EyeSafe certified, though I didn’t notice something particularly different from another high-quality laptop display not having this certification, but Lenovo claims it’s less straining on your eyes for longer term usage. Plus, the display has a 16:10 aspect ratio to the liking of a lot of content creators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Build quality</b>: Since this is a ThinkPad model, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the build quality is one of the better parts about the notebook. Made out of carbon fibre, the X1 Yoga, with its near 360-degree screen, doesn’t have a wobbly hinge and is a sturdy laptop for your work on the go. There’s no creek and no bends at unusual places to worry about. It’s ever so slightly heavier and thicker than the predecessor but it’s still quite compact and not very heavy to carry around. The keyboard is spill resistant and has nice white LED backlight that has just enough brightness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Connectivity</b>: The device sports 2 Thunderbolt 4 supporting USB type C port, an HDMi 2.0b port and USB A 3.2 gen 1 port on the left, another USB 3.2 gen 1 port, a SIM card tray slot and 3.5mm audio (plus mic) jack on the right side along with the pen slot. And don’t worry, you get a USB type C to LAN converter in the box to get ethernet connectivity, which isn’t very common to see companies doing these days; credit to Lenovo for bundling the dongle. You get support for Bluetooth 5.2, NFC as well as WiFi 6E (802.11AX) for good and stable network speeds. The only thing I couldn’t try was the SIM card connectivity, which doesn’t work even after playing around under settings without the WWAn card. There’s a privacy shutter slider next to the 1080p webcam along with an infrared sensor for unlocking purpose that, along with the fingerprint scanner on the Power button, make it a feature-rich business package.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s okay</b>:</p> <p><b>Design</b>: Though the sturdy gray colour and overall look and feel of the notebook is really nice, there are a couple of things that could have been done better. One is the trackpad size, which is a little larger than its predecessor but still isn’t exactly spacious compared to most other laptops aimed at content creators these days. Another would be the rear vents for heat. The vents are exactly downward facing and can at times make the laptop’s body heated up due to less-than-ideal air ventilation. On the plus side, you get the good old red TrackPoint around G, H and B keys on the keyboard, but may not be something that everybody’s very used to these days, though some ThinkPad users from many years back might use it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: The performance experience on the X1 Yoga has been decent but not really great, to put it briefly. You get a 12th Gen. Intel i7 -1255U chip along with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics and 1 TB (can be lower too) of Samsung SSD for storage. It comes with Windows 11 Pro out of the box and Office 365 subscription, too. It can handle day-to-day tasks quite well and doesn’t stutter frequently, but when you have several apps opened and keep the device idle, the fans can go really fast and unable to cool the body down meaning high noise and less performance. This was reproducible with a 50 Web browser tabs open, a Word document and a song playing in the background. So, if you’re gaming, one would have to make sure it’s on a flat surface so the laptop gets sufficient space underneath for vents at all times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The laptop is powered by a 57Whr battery unit that supports fast charging using the 65watt bundled USB type C charger. I found the laptop to last around 5-6 hours with brightness set at 30%, having WiFi connected almost always and very little gaming to try it out. It’s not really bad but it’s not exactly stellar from the notebook that’s not bulky and is meant to be carried around for your work.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: With a base price of Rs. 1,74,9794, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 has a lot of competition to take on from the likes of HP, ASUS and Dell when it comes to business styled laptops that are also aimed for content creators. Though it has a great display and build quality, it’s somewhat held back in the performance department by its thermals. So if you’re into gaming at all, this 2-in-1 isn’t for you, but if you are somebody who prefers a nice sturdy keyboard with a good set connectivity options without having to carry a bulky notebook, the X1 Yoga might be worth taking a look at.</p> Mon Mar 06 16:37:06 IST 2023 samsung-galaxy-s23-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is the smallest and the most affordable device in the S23 series, but it isn’t necessarily short of power. Starting at a base price of Rs. 74,999, let’s try and see what works for iT and what doesn’t.</p> <p><b>What works great:</b></p> <p><b>Display</b>: The Galaxy S23 sports a 6.1-inch full HD+ (2340x1080) AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on top and a front-facing camera in a punch-hole near the top. The flat display is a little brighter than the S22 but isn’t exactly as bright as the S23 Ultra, though it’s still plenty bright and usable under direct sunlight. It supports refresh rates of up to 120Hz (and 48Hz on the lower side) and is responsive for regular UI navigation. If you want to watch high resolution videos or images, the display does a really nice job of showing details and sharpness. I preferred the natural mode under display settings rather than the vivid mode that’s selected by default. It doesn’t overboard on the cool side and keeps reds and greens in balance. It’s definitely one of the better things about this smartphone, and that doesn’t come as a surprise considering it’s a flagship Galaxy device.</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The phone is powered by the slightly customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (up to 3.36GHz octa core processor, Adreno 740 GPU and x70 modem) along with 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage (it’s UFS 4.0 for higher storage options). Though read and write speeds on the S23 Ultra are better compared to the S23 mainly due to the better storage disk, the S23 doesn’t show any stuttering and slow downs in day-to-day tasks and even while playing a game like Asphalt 9, though worth noting that it can heat up a bit more than the S23 ultra with gaming sessions going for over half an hour or so, or while setting up the device and using Smart Switch for syncing heavy files. Apps close and open smoothly and rarely ever did I see any lags inside apps while scrolling or using any underneath options. One UI 5.1 based on Android 13, with the January security patch installed, has a lot of customization and added options that make up for most things required by a user for daily usage, whether it’s for editing photos on the go, or taking backups or using dual apps., there’s not much missing here from Samsung’s kitty.</p> <p><b>What’s okay</b>:</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: the device sports a triple camera setup on the back with no laser autofocus -- 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, and a 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera. The phone can take detailed but sometimes over-sharpened shots. When taking shots with your subject standing still, the phone gives good well-exposed shots but with moving subjects it can take a few more shots to really get the one you might like. I would suggest you install the Camera Assistant addon from the Galaxy Store to deal with the shutter lag to some extent. Also, the pro mode can be quite handy when taking night shots or for avoiding Samsung’s oversaturated post-processing when taking shots in broad daylight. It isn’t a bad camera by any means, but it isn’t quite a home run either that you might have expected.</p> <p><b>Fingerprint scanner</b>: The optical fingerprint scanner under the display gets the job done most of the times but it’s certainly not the quickest or the most reliable among Android devices. It works maybe 7 out of 10 times, and you might be better off using the good old pin code (for better security anyway) or face unlock (though less secured) to unlock the device. On the front you get a 12MP (f/2.2) camera that takes pretty good shots in daylight and seems to have improved on oversaturation done on shots in low-light, too. It’s better from the S22 in terms of colour composition and not overexposing skin tones at times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s not so great:</b></p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: You get a 3,900 mAh battery unit in the device that supports up to 25watt charging and 10 watt wireless induction charging. I found the phone to struggle lasting anything close to a day on a heavy to moderate usage. With brightness at 35% and 120Hz adaptive rate selected under Settings, the phone required to be charged again before end of the day. With WiFi always on, I got somewhere around 5-6 hours of screen time. It takes about 90 minutes or so to charge from 1% to full, which isn’t that great either, but it isn’t too bad if you look at usual Samsung charging times, compared to Google Pixel and Apple iPhone.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The S23 offers a lot of goods when it comes to competing against the likes of the Google Pixel 7 Pro and Apple iPhone 14 – it has a nice (though same as the S22) design, great display and performance, a decent set of cameras and an okay battery experience. It’s especially worth a consideration for those that still prefer a not-so-huge slab for their smartphones today while not compromising on raw performance that much.</p> Tue Feb 28 16:16:09 IST 2023 oneplus-buds-pro-2--high-on-features-but-not-so-much-on-audio-qu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The wireless buds market has seen new options added almost every other week - whether from big names or smaller accessory makers venturing into the segment. By now it’s clear the market has a clear space for these and more and more buyers are also looking to invest in a pair to go with their work and entertainment. OnePlus’ Buds Pro were the company’s first active noise cancelation earbuds, and we now have the Buds Pro 2 that are priced higher than any other audio related product launched by the company so far, at Rs. 11,999 with added features and audio capabilities. Let’s try and find if this price tag is worth it or not, and whether they stand well against the competition and have any improvements.</p> <p>The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 come in Obsidian Black and Arbor Green colour options -- I tried the latter one. The box contains the buds inside the carry box, a familiar short USB type C cable that we had seen with previous OnePlus Bluetooth products, 3 pairs of different sized ear tips, and that’s about it. The carry box for buds is compact, matte finish at the top and glossy bottom half of the stems with the OnePlus and Dynaudio branding. The case once again appears premium and doesn’t show any signs of cost-cutting while opening and closing. On the inside the box has a similar matt-y finish (different from the glossy finish on the original Buds pro), with the earbuds tucked in nicely with Dynaudio printed on the inside part of the lid again. In order to pair the Buds Pro for the first time, just open the carry box, press the button at the located between of the two earbuds inside the box, followed by switching on Bluetooth and searching on your other device. The process is relatively quick and trouble-free. The same process works with other devices like Android TV, too.</p> <p>For OnePlus devices, you can check for Buds Pro 2 settings under Bluetooth, but for other devices you can simply use the HeyMelody app on both Android and iOS to tweak settings, change squeeze actions as per your requirement or to check for firmware updates. The Buds Pro 2 themselves are made up of sturdy plastic and are based on the popular “hairdryer-like” design with thick stems and a thicker head at the top that I found fits quite comfortably in your ear. You can also do a fit test when trying these and change eartips accordingly. The earbuds don’t fall loose when used during commuting or brisk walking. The pair is IP55 rated for water and dust resistant (the carry box is IPX4 rated for water resistance), so it should be okay under a light rain or under splashes of water. The small light on the front of the box indicates whether the Buds are charging (green light) or are in the pairing mode (white). Each bud carries three mics for noise cancellation.</p> <p>Coming to the audio quality, the pair does a good job of handling vocals and pop sounds well and it goes a little overboard when it comes to bass though not always handling it in a satisfactory way. I found it to give aggressive bass and even mid to high treble on most cases. You can use the HeyMelody app to set your preferred EQ settings. I tried all of them for a bit and preferred the Balanced as well as Hans Zimmer Soundscape Tuning EQ. There’s also a Zen Mode that plays different white noise tracks on loop. The sound quality is clear including for podcasts but might seem a little low on the sheer volume side of things (no swipe to adjust volume on the Buds Pro 2), but it’s decent and can go relatively loud at the highest volume.</p> <p>Even when on the move, the playback is sufficient to carry on with your work or leisure. Talking about active noise cancellation, the Buds Pro 2 now have choose between different noise cancellation settings from low to max and smart. The noise cancellation can be said to be decent in inside rooms and cut out noise to some decent level when outside. But a lot of times there might be a little hissing sound when noise cancellation is switched on, which of course. doesn’t bode well for an audio product. And noise cancellation does take a little hit on the sound quality, missing on mids to highs with the some added hiss, as mentioned above. These earbuds are powered by two 11mm and 6mm drivers and support a codec called LHDC that very few phones support (several OnePlus and Xiaomi ones), so if your device supports it, you might want to try it to play high bitrate audio tracks. This time there’s also support for Bluetooth LE Audio and Spatial Audio that Android 13 phones support, but the headtracking feature currently only works with the OnePlus 11. Spatial Audio works win with supported music streaming apps such as YouTube and Apple Music (selected content in both), though the whole 360-degree could be handled a little better without extra volume snaked in at times. The earbuds, supporting fast charging (USB type C port at the back), charge in about an hour using a OnePlus charging adapter. Charging standalone with the carry box can give you playback time of about five hours, too. Regarding controls, you can press the stem part (either of the two buds) to play pause or to pick a call, twice to change your song (or reject a call), thrice to go to the previous song.</p> <p>Other stuff: The Buds Pro 2 carry Bluetooth 5.3 LE with SBC, AAC, LC3 and LHDC 4.0 codec support. With ANC on, the battery backup is about a little under a day and about half a day when ANC isn’t in use, so battery life is not better than the original Buds Pro. You can also connect it to two devices at once after enabling it from the HeyMelody app. For mics, they seemed to catch speech somewhat better for calls and handle noise during a call okay too.&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 do offer several things, but they don’t necessarily perform those things very well or bring improvements over the original Buds Pro. The Buds Pro 2 have decent battery life, really nice fit and design, okay but not so great audio quality -- but still misses out on things like volume control, which some folks might have expected at this price range. Competing against the likes of Sony’s WFLS900N and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds2 Pro and Oppo’s Enco X2, the Buds Pro 2 don’t offer something vastly better and makes the original OnePlus’ own Buds Pro (available for Rs. 9,990) a worthy consideration even now.</p> Thu Feb 23 16:46:03 IST 2023 samsung-galaxy-s23-ultra-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung S23 Ultra: Premium design and performance at a premium price Samsung’s Galaxy S series has been among the forefront of Android flagships for over a decade now. It brings the Korean giant’s latest and greatest technology offering to compete against the like of Apple. I have been using the S23 Ultra for a while now (the model that’s priced at Rs. 1,24,999), and here’s what I think about it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The S23 Ultra follows premium aesthetics of the S22 Ultra with some little tweaks and additions. The front has slightly flattened display on the sides now while the device itself appears boxier than before. It is a big and heavy phone with a 6.8-inch display and weighing a little over 230grams, but it isn’t slippery and doesn’t get a lot of smudges around its back and front with a frosted matte-like(Gorilla Glass Victus 2) finish on the back that houses the crowded and protruding camera setup, on the Green colour model. The bezels around the display are thin and the bottom (chin) one is slightly thicker than others. It wouldn’t be surprising if Samsung does away with curved displays on its flagships in a while. The right side houses the volume buttons and the Power/lock key near the middle, both keys feel tactile to press, requiring just enough pressure. The bottom houses the S Pen, primary mic, one set of loudspeakers and the dual SIM card tray slot. The top just has the secondary mic. While the sides are slightly curved inwards, the top and bottom are flushed flat. As mentioned, this is a big phone that weighs more than an average phone but it feels really nice in the hand, never slipped and holds its own when it comes to dust and day to day scratches without much to worry, plus it’s IP68 water and dust resistant, as expected.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone features a 6.8-inch WQHD+ (3088x1440) AMOLED display with support for up to 120Hz refresh rates. This is a really sharp and bright display Samsung has used that you can use under direct sunlight, too, without any trouble. It really is a top quality display for watching videos, viewing high resolution images or reading text. Only the Apple iPhone 14 Pro competes well against it in terms of colour calibration and HDR content, which seems slightly better in output than the S22 series. It’s just that both still have 8-bit displays and not 10-bit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: If you watched Samsung’s launch even for the S23 series, you would have an idea how much time they spent on their cameras. The device features four cameras on the back -- 200MP (f/1.7) main camera, dual 10MP (f/2.4 &amp; f/4.9) telephoto cameras, and a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera along with a laser autofocus. By default, the device takes shots in 12MP resolution. The 200MP count is more than enough for pretty much every user, but it’s there for zooming and editing purpose later. One thing the camera has it a bit of shutter lag, which gets addressed to some extent using the Camera Assistant add-on from Galaxy Store, especially useful if you have kids and pets around your place. The phone can take detailed, well-lit shots with improved white balance compared to the S22 Ultra. The video performance seems to be a little better too with better handling of colours and detailing when your subject is moving. You can now also take 8k videos at 30FPS. The 12MP (f/2.2) front-facing camera tends to take a little more realistic and less toned up shots including in low-light scenes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience:</b> The device runs on One UI 5.1 based Android 13 with the January security patch. It’s powered by a slightly customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset /( up to 3.36GHz processor, Adreno 740 GPU and x70 modem) coupled with 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 storage. I found the phone to handle daily tasks and even graphic intensive gamming really well, without showing many hiccups. Playing a game like Apex Legends, the phone delivers smooth frames and responsive gameplay throughout. Moving from one app to another, using dual apps and two apps at once with the floating window work nicely. Thanks to the chipset, the phone rarely ever heats up included during charging. Even when it heats up, it’s nothing alarming and significantly less than S22 series. Regarding the OS, things like Smart Switch, DeX mode and Link to Windows make it a good package for your travel needs and keeping your data with you after switching from another device whether Android or iOS. The whole look and feel of the OS can be changed using themes and palette, one thing that could be tweaked is not giving all the icons in the dropdown shortcuts pane same colour after choosing a colour palette. Apps like Good Lock and its add-on really allow you to tweak and customize things as per your own liking, and something definitely worth giving a try if you have a Samsung Galaxy device. S Pen is pretty much same as before. I mainly used it for taking quick notes on the black screen as soon as you pick it from the bottom. It’s also handy for taking screenshots, writing to text mode as well as taking photos using the embedded button on it. I also liked how it handles adaptive refresh rates with frames per second not taking a big hit when switching to different apps. One thing I would suggest is to opt out of any recommendations and app suggestions during the initial setup and starting Samsung apps for the first time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: With a 5,000 mAh battery unit that supports up to 45watt charging speeds, the device lasted me a day quite regularly with adaptive refresh rate, brightness at around 35%, WiFi almost always on, 2 Email Accounts, highest resolution set. It charges from 1% to full in about 100-110 minutes, which isn’t quick by any means, and remember there’s no bundled charger in the box. The device supports wireless induction charging with speeds of up to 15watts, though I couldn’t try that one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other titbits:</b> Call quality and network reception on the phone didn’t show any glitches. The phon supports WiFi 6GHz standard, Bluetooth 5.3 and NFC. It showed decent 5G performance with latching to the network while on the move, though I did have to switch between 4G LTE and 5G manually once in a few days to get back to 5G in the same location. Loudspeakers on the device are sufficiently loud and clear for watching videos or even gaming sitting alone with rarely any distortion at maximum levels.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: As you can see, there’s very little the Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t do well. It could improve on charging time and maybe it’s a heavy device, but other than that there’s not something major to pinpoint that isn’t good enough. It has an excellent display, a great set of cameras and good battery life. The whole One UI gels in well and doesn’t look weirdly placed anywhere out of the box. It’s a high-end device that is into the iPhone 14 Pro territory, but Samsung has already been giving decent deals on its own website and there’s some offers on Amazon, too, so would suggest you check around for those since if you’re looking for a high-end Android device that is cutting edge on most fronts.</p> Mon Feb 20 16:57:29 IST 2023 samsung-galaxy-s23-series-first-impression--going-big-on-camera- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung has just unveiled its brand new Galaxy S23 series along with its line of Galaxy Book3 notebooks. There are three smartphones, as expected, with the Galaxy S23 starting at Rs, 74,999, S23+ at Rs94,999 and the S23 Ultra at Rs1,24,999. I got a chance to try these new smartphones very briefly, and here's how it went.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Starting with the flagship S23 Ultra, Samsung has upgraded the device with some interesting internal changes - chipset, camera as well as the display, to some extent. The company has opted with a custom chipset for the device based on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. Samsung's main reason to go for their custom design is enhanced gaming and thermal performance compared to the competition. From what little time I had with the phone, it seemed the camera app opens and closes slightly quicker than the S22, and the display seems a bit brighter, too. For camera performance itself, one would have to try and test it for a longer duration, but on paper, it is a quad camera setup - 200MP (f/1.7) main camera, dual 10MP (f/2.4 &amp; f/4.9) telephoto cameras, and a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera. The front has a 12MP (f/2.2) camera. It will be especially worth trying the low-light performance with multiple-exposure and any video performance enhancements this time. There is also a new HDMI mode where you can do straight preview on external monitors. The display here is a 6.8-inch QHD+ AMOLED with support for up to 120Hz refresh rates along with hopefully an enhanced HDR output support. You get a 5,000 mAh battery unit along with fast wireless charging 2.0 support. Samsung claims it can charge from 0 to 65% in about 30 minutes using the 45watt charging adapter that is sold separately, so worth checking how long the bundled charger takes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone has some sustainable materials used for components like the Power/lock key and volume buttons, as per the company. The edges on the sides on the display have been now somewhat flattened (may not be very far when Samsung actually goes full flat on it). There's also the S-Pen that fits into the bottom (not compatible with the other two phones). The phone comes with 12GB and 8GB LPDDR5 RAM options with storage going from 256GB to 1TB.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the S23+ (196grams) and S23 (168grams), these are considerably smaller devices than the S23 Ultra. They have a familiar block-y design with smoothened and curved edges that, if done right, can give a really nice feel to a device. And I found both devices to fit comfortably in hand, and are not very slippery either. While the S23 has a 6.1-inch full HD+ AMOLED display,l to go with 3,900 mAh battery, the S23+ gets a 6.6-inch full HD+ AMOLED to with a 4,700 mAh battery unit. Both devices come with 8GB LPDDR5 RAM with 256GB and 512GB shortage options with the S23 also having a 128GB base variant. They have a simila triple camera system - 12MP (f/f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, a 50MP (f//1.8) main camera, and a 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera; with a 12MP (f/2.2) front-facing camera.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All these devices have IP68 water and dust resistance, and run on Samsung's One UI 5.1 based on the Android 13 OS. They have WiiFi6E protocol and 5G support with a lot of bands in place, but I will reserve my judgement on 5G as well as 4G LTE afterbusing any of these devices over a longer period across different locations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Samsung has also come up with a few sustainably made cases for these devices that will be sold separately.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There would be a lot more try, measure and preview when I can actually try one of these for a few days. Samsung is clearly going big on the cameras and is also not shying away from providing for battery upgrades over the predecessors.</p> Thu Feb 02 15:10:42 IST 2023 iqoo-11-5g-review--a-solid-performer-on-the-hardware-front <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>We have a new premium 5G smartphone and it’s from the house of Vivo’s sub-brand iQOO. The iQOO 11 5G comes at an interesting time where more and more smartphone players are adopting 5G across their price ranges, while not shying away from passing on the higher cost of it to the customer. With the base model priced Rs. 59,999 and higher one at Rs. 64,999 (before any discounts), let’s see if this new iQOO device is worth your attention.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The device has a 6.78-inch display with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on top of it and an optical fingerprint scanner near the bottom. I tried the Alpha Black model that has a velvety glass back and metal frame, which doesn’t catch smudges and fingerprints too soon. The phone measures 8.4mm in thickness and weighs 208grams, which makes it a bit on the heavier side. The volume buttons and Power/lock key sit on the right, and they feel nice and tactile enough to press (the left side is plain other than plastic stripes for better network reception). The top houses the infrared port and the secondary mic; while the bottom carries the dual SIM card tray, USB type C and loudspeaker (other one in the ear-speaker grille next to the front-facing camera). The bezels around the display aren’t the thinnest we have seen but these aren’t too thick either, just that the bottom one (chin) is slightly thicker than the others. The phone never felt slippery to carry around though it does feel a bit heavy, but that’s sort of expected with that display and battery combination.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: iQOO’s 11 5G sports a 6.78-inch (1440x3220) AMOLED display (that’s upgraded from E4 to E6 this time) with support for refreshing rate of up to 144 per second. This display is one of the better things about the device, without a doubt. It’s a good quality panel that can handle high resolution videos and images more than well enough, including HDR content over YouTube. The colours look quite vivid, video output is sharp for streaming users, and it’s usable under direct sunlight without any struggles. It has richer black levels with its AMOLED and is plenty bright enough that aren’t going to miss out on details on it.</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: On the back, you get a triple camera setup placed on a big rectangular cutout that also has the dual LED flash and V2 branding. The phone has a 50MP (f/1.88) main camera, a 13MP (f/2.46) telephoto camera, and an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wise camera. The camera hardware here isn’t anything to complain about. Ut’s pretty much a premium set of cameras that performs well in most conditions, giving really nice and detailed shots – whether using the 50MP shots or the ultra-wise shot on the go. For night shots, the main camera seems to be an improvement over iQOO’s previous tries, so you get less noisy and better focused shots with the night mode. You can shoot 4K videos at 60FPS and even 8K videos at 30FPS from the camera. On the front, you get a 16MP (f/2.45) camera that does a nice job of taking selfie shots or for regular video calls, though I would suggest switching off beautify and makeup modes for selfies and then trying on a few shots yourselves, though some “pose” (filters) might be worth checking depending on your location.</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The device runs on FunTouch OS 13 based on Android 13 with the January security patch installed. It sports the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset (up to 3.2GHz octa core processor, Adreno 740 GPU and x70 modem) along with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 storage. There’s also a Vivo V2 chip that’s made for additional camera, gaming and display performance, as per the company. The device performs day to day tasks and handles graphicintensive games without any issues here. You can expect to play a games like Genshin Impact and COD: Mobile at its highest settings without too many frame drops or stuttering during your gameplay. The OS hanldes switching between apps and closing of apps quickly, though I would suggest keeping some of your most used apps “locked” in the multiple apps view in order to not restart them every single time due to FunTouch OS’s aggressive RAM management at times. The software on phone is very much customizable and tinkered by the company. You can change fonts, themes, vibration intensity and son on from Settings. There’s also Material You from stock Android in place witch which you can select a particular colour palette for your icons and system colours from Homescreen settings. The thing I didn’t like about the OS is, how many extra set of apps and services are in place out of the box. Most can be uninstalled and ads can also be disabled during the initial setup itself, but not everything gets filtered out. For instance, when using an app installation link, the phone showed as many as 4 options to choose from to install that app, including the Play Store and Vivo app store, while the other 2 were useless. I would also suggest disabling notifications from some of the company’s apps that you aren’t going to ever use anyway. While the performance from the phone itself doesn’t disappoint in any noticeable way, there’s some software choices made here that could be further improved for sure.</p> <p><b>Battery life and other stuff</b>: The phone is powered by a 5,000 mAh battery unit and comes bundled with a 120watt charger in the box. It lasted me over a day more often than not, used at 30% of screen brightness with smart refresh selected, WiFi and location always on, with 5G and hotspot used for 2 hours, two Email Accounts, regular messaging, half an hour of videos calls and calls each, the phone doesn’t disappoint in the battery department. I found the phone to charge from 1% to fill in under half an hour, which is pretty fast, hopefully there’s no damage to the battery health in the long run.</p> <p>Connectivity-wise, I found 5G network reception to be decent enough, the phone didn’t often drop to 4G LTE too frequently when on the move. Even with hotspot on for hours, the phone didn’t heat up much. WiFi and Bluetooth performance is top notch here and so is the GPS experience with no lags in location lock-in. The phone, though, does miss out on wireless induction charging and official IP rating for water and dust resistance. Having said that, I found the phone to work without any hiccups after a splash in running water a couple of times.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The iQOO 11 5G is overall a really good performer on most fronts. It has a high-quality display, a top-of-the line chipset, great battery experience, a good set of cameras and a decent design, too. Though there’s wireless induction charging missing, the main point that can kind of hold it back is the software choices mentioned above. iQOO mentions 3 years of OS updates and 4 years of security updates for the device, and hopefully the software experience keeps on improving with these updates. It will be interesting to see how the likes of OnePlus and even Samsung compete in the coming weeks in thie price segment; with its price tags, the iQOO 11 5G is worth a consideration if you’re looking for high-end Android smartphone that is far from the most expensive but can hold its ground especially when it comes to the hardware.</p> Tue Jan 24 16:33:21 IST 2023 poco-c50-review--a-feature-packed-budget-alternative <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Poco has been one of the budget smartphones brands that has made a decent mark for itself in low to mid-range space in the past 3 years or so. The company doesn’t bring too many devices across various price points like several of its competitors, with the c50 being company’s latest budget offering. The phone comes in 2GB and 3GB RAM options, and the latter is the one I tried. Priced at Rs. 7,299 (launch price of Rs. 6,999), let’s see if the device delivers enough for that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Design: The Poco C50 sports a 6.52-inch LCD display with a drop-notch for the front-facing camera. The bezels around the display are somewhat thick, though the bottom bar is significantly larger than the other sides. The ear-speaker grille is near the front camera, and it can collect dust, requiring you to blow it off or clean it every now and then. The phone is made of all plastic, including the back, bu the back has a little more interesting leather-like textured design and feel to it, making it somewhat stand apart from quite a lot of other phones at this price point. On the top you have the loudspeaker, while the bottom houses the primary mic, microUSB 2.0 port and 3.5mm audio jack. The left side only has the Sim card tray; and the right side locates the volume buttons and Power/lock key; might be nit-picking here but the keys don’t feel that nice to press and maybe one of the things the company tried cutting cost on (howsoever little it might be). The phone doesn’t creek or show any signs of loose ends or easily damageable body parts throughout my usage. It weighs a little above 190grams, and doesn’t catch smudges and fingerprints too quickly, plus it is not slippery at all.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Display: Sporting a 6.52-inch IPS LCD HD+ (1600x720) display. The display gets decently bright so that you would have to crank up the brightness to full to use it outdoors under direct sunlight. The display does an okay job of of handling HD videos, whether it’s YouTube or something else. One thing noticeable, though, is colours at times can look somewhat washed. The display might be having a bit of yellow-ish tint to it and it can also make content appear less accurate, in both images and videos. But for reading text and Webpages, there isn’t much wrong to pinpoint here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Performance and experience: The phone runs on Android 12 Go edition and sports a Mediatek A22 chipset (up to 2GHz quad core processor, IMG PowerVR GPU) along with 3GB LPDDR4X of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage (with about 23GB of free storage out of the box), which is expandable up to 512Gb using a microSD card. The phone has the Go edition of Android that’s aimed at low-end devices with limited available resources, but some features such as dual apps, split screen apps, and many app icon option shortcuts would be missing. The phone can handle basic tasks such as calling, video calling, watching videos over YouTube, listening to music and switching between these apps without much trouble. But it can show its performance ceiling once you open many Webpages (maybe a few heavy ones) in the background and use messaging apps alongside. If put under more than 4-5 tasks, the phone can struggle to handle switching between apps and scrolling smoothly in that case, but if you have 2-3 tabs open in Chrome, messaging on WhatsApp every now and then, and might browse YouTube or Instagram in your day while checking also on Email, you should be fine most of the time. Also, if you are used to carrying a lot of content on your device (whether from messaging, streaming or downloading otherwise), it might be better to invest in a good microSD card to with this phone. Oh, and there’s call recording feature present here and the person on the other side doesn’t get notified.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Camera: The phone has a dual camera setup on the back—8MP (f/2.0) main camera and a 0.8MP (QVGA) secondary camera. The camera app can take its sweet time before you can start using it. There’s portrait and time lapse modes included. The photos taken from the main camera looks okay to say the least. It can take usable shots for social media posting when used under good lighting and if you’re staying still. A little more challenging environment, or while the subject is moving and you might struggle to capture a nice enough photo. The camera can also take 1080p videos at 30FPS. It’s not a great camera but it’s not too bad for the price tag, just that it needs to be a little quicker to open and take shots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Battery life and other stuff: The phone boasts a 5,000 mAh battery unit that supports up to 10watt of charging speeds. You get a 10watt charger in the box along with a microUSB to type A cable and SIM card tray removal tool (no case or earphones included). The phone lasts a day with 10%-15% still remaining in the tank. It charges from 1% to full in about two hours using the bundled charger. Among physical sensors in place, there’s no ambient light sensor (adaptive brightness works through the front camera), barometer or gyroscope. WiFi and Bluetooth work as expected without any glitches to report. GPS also works fine, though your location lock-in can take a few extra seconds than expected. The fingerprint scanner on the back does a fine job of working reliably and frequently enough for unlocking the phone, nothing to complain there.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Verdict: Poco’s C50 seems like a decent enough device to consider if messaging, calling, 4G connectivity and Emails is what you would mostly like to do along with some YouTube browsing. There are some compromises like in missing sensors, USB type C connectivity and maybe raw performance, but that’s not what it seems to be made for.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jan 10 16:09:24 IST 2023 xiaomi-redmi-note-12-5g-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series has been one of its most popular line ups of smartphones since the company started operations in India. Whether it’s launching earlier 4G devices, taking lead in the mid-range or providing more than few phones across different price segments, the Redmi note series has been in the thick of things for Xiaomi, and the company expects something big with its new Redmi Note 12 series. This 5G series has Redmi Note 12 Pro+, Note 12 Pro and Note 12, which is the one I have been using for a few days. Let’s see if the most affordable 5G device from the series does any justice to the Redmi Note series or not. I tried the 6GB + 128GB model that’s priced at Rs. 19,999 (before discounts).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Design: The phone doesn’t have the most premium look and feel seen from a Xiaomi device, but it isn’t cutting too many corners either. It weighs a little under 190grams and is IP53 water and dust resistant, and doesn’t catch fingerprints and smudges that quickly as a lot of other phones these days, though every now and then you might still have to wipe it clean. It features a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top. I tried the phone in the Frosted Green colour and didn’t find it slippery at all. The back is all plastic but it doesn’t exactly feel cheap, but what’s might appear cheap is the back give-in near the middle part. Just a slight pressure with your finger and you can see the back panel getting pressed inside. Other than the Redmi branding on the back, you have the triple camera setup placed on a protruding rectangle near the top left. The left side only houses the dual SIM card + microSD card tray, while the right side has the volume buttons near the top and the Power/lock key near to the middle; these keys have decent feedback and don’t require too much pressure. On the top you have the 3.5mm audio jack, Infrared port and secondary mic, while the bottom has got the primary mic, USB type C in the middle and loudspeakers. The bezels around the display aren’t too broad, except for the bottom bar (chin), which is non-uniformly thicker by some extent. The ear-speaker grille next to the punch-hole selfie camera is hardly visible unless noticed from a short distance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Display: The device sports a 6.67-inch 1080x2400) FHD+ AMOLED display that supports up to 120Hz refresh rates. I found the display to be sufficiently bright for outdoors use, the company claims 1200 nits of peak brightness. I preferred to keep it on slightly different colour scheme than the default one out of the box (between saturated and standard) and you might want to do try the same. The display has deep reds and decent greens and does a decent job of multimedia handling, including HDR content, for a phone priced at this point. It’s not the highest quality of display seen on a Redmi Note device but there’s not much against it either here for viewing images, reading texts or streaming videos.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Camera: The Redmi note 12 5G sports a triple camera system on the back—48MP (f/1..88) main camera, 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera, while on the other side you have a 13MP (f/2.45) front-facing camera. The main camera on the phone can take detailed and contrast-y shots in decent lighting. It’s not very slow to respond and, if held without motion, can provide vivid shots for your stationary subjects. But while on the movie, it can struggle a bit to capture similar details and keeping colours intact. This along with the ultra-wide camera make for a nice combination for most of your photography needs, but the macro camera doesn’t really result too much useful output frequently, it would seem. The front-facing camera can take punchy shots, though with a hint of touch-ups and extra beautification done, which I suggest to switch off for trying out your selfies more often than not. More often than, not, it handles your social media needs just fine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Performance and software experience: the device runs on MIUI 13.0.4 based on Android 12 with the November security patch installed. Xiaomi promises two years updates and, importantly, 4 years of security updates for the device. It comes equipped with Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 chipset (octa core processor, Adreno 619 GPU and X51 5G modem) coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS2.2 storage. The overall performance is a bit of a mixed bag. I found the experience to be okay most of the time in terms of handling a few daily apps, navigating Homescreens, opening and closing Webpages, but every now and then the phone would stutter while scrolling within apps or even withing pre-loaded wallpapers while having several apps opened in the background earlier on. Worth noting that this stuttering became much less frequent with the last OS update, which is nice to see. It doesn’t overheat or doesn’t seriously struggle with basic tasks such as calling, Emailing, video calling, watching videos over YouTube or playing not-so-intensive games like Monument Valley but it clearly has its ceiling in place. MIUI is feature-loaded with some questionable choices such as still no copy to clipboard option in the sharing menu, though it’s not something you can’t address with third party options. One improvement with the latest MIUI is better iconography with respect to Material U for customizing your app icons and system wide accents. There are also a lot of different types of themes available in the themes store to try on. As you can see, It’s not a huge jump in terms of the chipset power and general day to day load-handling compared to the predecessor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Battery life and other titbits: With a 5,000mAh battery unit, the phone lasted a day and then some more often than now. With brightness at 40%, two Email Accounts on sync, 2 hours or so of YouTube videos consumption and a lot of use of apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Chrome, the phone doesn’t disappoint in the battery department. You get a 33watt charger in the box (with a USB type C to a cable), which is the official charging capacity of the device, charging the phone from 1% to full in 65-70 minutes, which isn’t too long. The phone supports 5G for NSA and SA networks, and I found its 5G performance in line with how’s 5G coverage been so far on Jio (not available on Vi). On 5G, I saw close to 1.2GBPS when in low traffic areas, and the phone switched to 4G LTE when no 5G was available rather well instead of completely going off the network that can happen at times. Also, there’s no issue with WiFi connectivity or Bluetooth stability noticed on the device. The stereo speakers are loud and balanced for watching videos and playing games, occasionally having distortion at highest volume levels.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Verdict: All in all, the Redmi Note 12 5G has its fair share of strengths and weaknesses, being the most affordable device in the Note 12 series. It has a great battery experience, a good display, decent performance and a capable camera but the jump from the Redmi Note 11 isn’t quite significant here. The software could have been further refined in terms of pre-loaded apps and their notifications, but, as mentioned earlier, they aren’t too bad for day-to-day usage and for some casual gaming. If you want a budget Android device with great battery life and display and have used MIUI earlier, the Redmi Note 12 5G is a worthy consideration, but if you’re more into intensive gaming and prefer a standout design, you might want to look somewhere else, including Xiaomi’s own offerings priced just a little higher.</p> Thu Jan 05 16:46:34 IST 2023 audio-technica-ath-m20xbt--affordable-over-ear-headphone <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Audio-Technica is one of the names often mentioned in audiophile communities and forums online. Its M series, both the M20x and M50x, are two of their most popular headphones for mid-range headphones. With the ATH-M20xBT, the company has added wireless functionality to the M20x with a price tag of Rs. 13,500. Let’s check if the ATH-M20xBT is worth that much or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design and build quality:</b> The ATH-M20xBT is a closed-back over-the-ear headphones with fauxleather earcups that are spaciously big, plus, inside and headband part doesn’t lack cushioning either to make them comfortable to wear. But wearing these for longer periods, especially for those on the go, is not the best experience, as the headband can get slightly loose and require you to adjust its position on your head every now and then. This is my biggest complaint with the build quality for what’s otherwise quite a comfortable pair of headphones to wear along. The left earcup looks packed, carrying the volume buttons with the multi-function power key in the middle, 3.5mm audio jack and the USB type C port. This key also handles Bluetooth pairing mode, low-latency-mode as well as switching on your voice assistant. There’s ATH-M20x name imprinted with the logo appearing on both sides.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Audio quality:</b> The pair comes with 40mm drivers, supports Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC and AAC codecs (no aptX support for Android, but Fast Pair is present for pairing). The sound quality from the ATHM20x is neutral and quite accurate, to put it briefly. It gives balanced sub-bass and bass while mids have decent representation, too. This is pretty much in line with what one would expect from AudioTechnica’s studio offering. With vocals, you can hear a clear and bright output frequently. For most of the popular genres, the headphones do a good job of not showing any distortion and providing a rich output. You can, of course, use them wired using the bundled cable. If you’re using these over Bluetooth, would suggest you have its low-latency mode on (by pressing the power button thrice), which is especially helpful for high bitrate videos and while playing games. The mic does a good job for calls and catching on your voice even if not done in very quiet environment. Noticeably, there’s no active noise cancellation present here and passive isolation via the cushioning inside doesn’t really fulfil its absence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other nitty gritty: </b>The company claims battery backup of 60 hours, and using the headphones wirelessly about 2-3 hours a day for 15 days, the headphones are at low battery stage (as indicated by the headphones themselves). Other than the 3.5mm aux cable, you get a USB Type C to A cable for charging with headphones supporting fast charging as well (10 minutes of charging for about 10 hours of playback).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> The ATH-M20xBT have a lot of worthy points up its sleeve while have a couple of glaring misses. It has excellent battery life, a natural-sounding audio quality that a lot of folks, that want their music playback to be neutral and adjusted to their taste, might appreciate. But on the other than, there’s no active noise cancellation and aptX either, which is quite disappointing for a pair of Bluetooth headphones priced this much. If you favour quality of audio much more than features in the package, and aren’t going to use these only while on the move, the ATH-M20xBT might well be for you. If not, there are quite a few other options available in this price range for you look at.</p> Wed Dec 28 17:33:06 IST 2022 asus-vivobook-pro-15-oled--k6500--review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>ASUS has been launching OLED laptops for a while, so much that the company wants to compete with an OLED-equipped display across price segments. The Vivobook 15 OLED K6500 is company’s multimedia and work offering at Rs. 89,990. Let’s try and see what if gets right and what it doesn’t.</p> <p><b><br> What works:</b></p> <p><b>Display</b>: The laptop features a 15.6-inch (1920x1980) OLED with 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut range. It’s perhaps the best part about this notebook. The colours look vibrant, but not too vivid that you would have to change calibration. It’s bright enough to be used outdoors and does a good job of handling full HD videos and high-resolution images. It’s 16:9 aspect ratio display instead of a 16:10 that’s more suited for creators/video content creators. It supports HDR, so for streaming services, it can handle HDR content well enough, something a lot of mid-range laptops can struggle with at times.</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: Featuring Intel’s 12th gen. Alder Lake chipset i5-1240H octa core at max. clock speeds of 4.4GHz, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, integrated Intel UHD graphics plus nVidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti GPU, plus a 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD, the notebook doesn’t lack on the internal hardware front too much. It runs on Windows 11 Home (22H2 version) OS with a couple of third-party programs pre-installed that can be removed as per the user’s preference. The machine handles day to day tasks, Web browsing with multiple browsers, Word document, and a video player in the background without breaking a sweat. For a game like Fortnite, you can expect playing it at 60FPS or so with no lags or stuttering. There’s 2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports on the left, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 type A port, a thunderbolt 4 (with support for 4K display &amp; power delivery), an HDMI 2.1 port, 3.5mm audio jack and a micro SD card reader on the right side. Other than no LAN port, most users’ requirements should be met with this set of I/O in place. Oh, and there’s also a physical switch to turn off the webcam manually. Keyboard and speakers: The notebook features a standard QWERTY keyboard with a familiar set of function keys. The keys have got decent travel and feedback when typing quickly or for casual gaming. There’s dedicated number keys, a large trackpad that handles gestures and taps better than previous some of the Vivobooks for basic tasks such as multiple apps view, scrolling and switching between opened apps. For audio, there’s Harman Kardon speakers with an amplifier to for boosted volumes while taking care of distortion, providing a pretty clear and loud output for a laptop. It takes care of your media playback needs when you don’t have your earphones around.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s just okay:</b></p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: With a 70Wh battery unit that supports 150watt charging using the bundled charger, the notebook lasted around 5-6 hours on 30% brightness, WiFi always on, 3 hours of video playback, 20 minutes of gaming, and charged from 1% to full in 2-2.5 hours.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><b>What doesn’t quite work:</b></p> <p><b>Build quality</b>: Vivobooks aren’t necessarily known for their build quality and design, and the Vivobook 15 OLED K6500 seems to follow that trend, too. Though the finish of the material seems okay, there’s a bit of give-in on the arm-rest area that can be pressed without too much pressure applied. The same can be said for the outer shelf at the bottom side. At times, when closing the metal lid, the hige produces a knock sound, though this doesn’t happen every single time, but still worth a mention for what’s otherwise a pretty well rounded Windows laptop.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Vivobook 15 OLED (K6500) has a lot of things going for it, which is needs to in this price segment that a lot of interested folks are interested in- to get work and entertainment, including a bit of gaming as well. The notebook has performance on par with most laptops in this segment, a great display, not-so-great build quality and okay battery life to sum it all up. If you are looking for a 15.6-inch Windows 11 laptop that is good enough for most use cases with a decent set of ports and headroom for performance.</p> Wed Dec 21 15:18:56 IST 2022 realme-10-pro-5g--an-all-round-budget-android-smartphone <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Smartphone maker Realme has been one of the better-performing companies in the Indian smartphone space for the past three years or so. The company is generally known for its value-formoney options, delivering Android smartphones at various price points. The realme 10 Pro is its new 5G handset that comes at a base price of Rs. 18,999. Does it deliver? Let’s try and find out.</p> <p><b>Design:</b> The 10 Pro 5G features a 6.72-inch LCD display on the front with thin bezels on the sides and top but slightly thicker at the bottom (chin). The phone weighs around 190grams with a thickness of about 8.11mm and has flat sides and a blocky design that a lot of folks might like. The back of the phone features a polycarbonate casing with matte finish. I found the device comfortable to hold and noticed nearly no fingerprints and smudges during the usage. The dual camera cutouts protrude from the back with no single rectangular housing as we often see on phones these days The left side features the dual SIM card tray (plus microSD card) near the top, while the right side has the volume buttons and Power/lock key near the middle. The keys feel don’t feel cheap and have enough travel requiring decent pressure to be pressed. The bottom houses the 3.5mm audio jack, primary mic, USB type C port and loudspeaker, while the top has the secondary mic. The main standout of the device is that nebula blue back with changing colours as per the light on it and the angle you’re holding it at. The ear-speaker grille at the top is a bit of an eyesore, but it’s not a deal breaker. So, design and build quality are definitely a strength of the phone here.</p> <p><b>Display:</b> The phone features a 6.72-inch (1080x2400) IPS LCD display with support for up to 120Hz refresh rate. The display is really bright and usable under direct sunlight without much hassle. It doesn’t support HDR but is decently sharp and has somewhat vibrant colours to watch videos and view images. The 120Hz refresh rate also helps in navigating UI and more so with games, of course. The punchole for the front camera on the screen isn’t too large either, so that also helps a little with watching your content.</p> <p><b>Cameras:</b> There’s an 108MP (f/1.75) camera (Samsung HM6 sensor) and a 2MP portrait camera on the back. The portrait camera isn’t much to write about, if you are into taking portrait shots regularly, you might want to look somewhere else. The main camera, though, is pretty good in most conditions. I found the camera to have less of a shutter lag than the 9 Pro+ but the camera quality isn’t much better. The photos looked detailed, decent contrast and white balance in conditions with good lights, whether outdoors or indoors. In low-light, the pictures are okay and not too great. They can have good colours but often came out grainy or too blurred out on the subject even if you’re not moving. There’s also RAW mode support if you want to tinker more with your shots later in the Street mode. The front-facing 16MP camera is a good performer for your selfie needs as it can take detailed, colour-rich shots, but I preferred no filter and retouch mode on it for a more realistic shot.</p> <p><b>Performance and OS:</b> The phone is equipped with a Snapdragon 695 chipset (2.2Ghz octa core processor, Adreno 619GPU), along with 8GB LPDDR4X of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage. It runs on realme UI 4.0 based on Android 13 with the November security patch. The phone handles day to day tasks usually well enough. The 120Hz refresh rate comes in handy in games such as Asphalt 9 Legends, it handled them fine (very few frames dropped) at highest settings albeit the phone heated up a little after an hour or so. One thing where realme UI seems to have improved with 4.0 is less aggressive killing of apps and services in the background, apps resumed much quicker and from where they were left previously more frequently than what we have seen on realme phones before. But one thing where it could further improve is throwing ads and additional apps installation options to the user after installing an app or while setting up the phone. This happens frequently whenever you install a new app, and it does hamper the user experience to some extent. Most of the irrelevant ads and notifications can be disabled from Settings or during the initial setup. It supports 5G (NSA + SA) mode, and I found it latching on to 5G quite frequently on Jio (yet to be available on Vi), but every now and then, even sitting at the same spot, it goes to 4G LTE. On 5G, I got as high at 650mbps download speeds and 100mbps upload speeds with 30ms latency. The chipset is far from being the latest and greatest for this price segment, something realme could have given a bit more thought on, but it isn’t that outdated or low on power.</p> <p><b>Battery life and other stuff:</b> The phone boasts a 5,000 mAh battery unit and comes with a 33watt charger in the box (with a USB type C to A cable). The phone lasted a full day more often than not – with brightness set at 30%, two Email Accounts, a lot of music playback, an hour of videos, WiFi connected for about 12 hours, 5G + hotspot for nearly 5 hours. The phone charges from 1% to full in nearly 100 minutes or so using the bundled charger. The WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity (supports aptX) was pretty much on point and didn’t show any trouble. Dual stereo loudspeakers are quite loud and punchy and provide a good enough experience of multimedia, not distorting unless played on highest volume for some mid to high pitch stuff. The call quality, including with 5G on, is really top notch, something a 5G handset can at times struggle with. The fingerprint scanner on top of the Power/lock key, though is at an unusual place, is quick and reliable for frequent use that I didn’t really miss it placed on the front side.</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> The realme 10 pro 5G is an all-round budget Android smartphone that provides a satisfactory 5G performance (when available), a great battery life, an improved software experience that certainly has room to improve further, and that gets its basics correct. The phone is in a very competitive price segment, and if you want your phone’s main rear camera and front-facing camera to be more than good enough, then you can consider this device, otherwise you might have to look somewhere else with a lot of 5G devices on shelf these days.</p> Tue Dec 20 17:26:44 IST 2022 -yamaha-tx-e7b-review--stands-out-from-the-crowd <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Yamaha’s TW-E7B is the company’s flagship true wireless earbuds that are priced at Rs. 24,200, and compete with a lot of heavyweights of the TWS space, including the Apple AirPods Pro, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 and Sony WF-1000XM4. Let’s try and check if the paid is worth that price tag or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design and fit: </b>The TW-E7B are circular in shape with a rather chunky design and build. Each earbud weighs just under 8grams and are noticeably bigger in size than more wireless earbuds launching these days. The charging case, especially, is quite bigger and perhaps not pocketable for most people on the go. The case has four little LEDs on the front to indicate battery level and a USB type C port on the back. The buds themselves are quite comfortable to wear and fit-in well enough to be used even when you’re not sitting still. After a couple of twists and turns when inserting them in your ear, the earbuds generally didn’t require any adjustments. The left earbud has a physical button on the top side for switching between noise cancelation and ambience mode while the right one has two for changing tracks, volume adjustment and for switching on your voice assistant oppose. The physical buttons are a noticeable change from touch controls that most of the other earbuds carry. What this resulted in is no accidental touches, especially while taking them off. The buttons require just enough pressure to make them satisfactory to use without hindering your experience of wearing the earbuds. There’s also a small LED on the outside on each earbud to indicate Bluetooth mode and charging, the mics sit inside. It’s IPX5 rated and should be okay for an odd splash, though Yamaha does have the slightly higher certification IPX7 water-resistance on its other model.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Audio quality:</b> The TW-E7B has support for Bluetooth 5.2 along with SBC, AAC and aptX. It sports 10mm drivers and come with active noise cancellation and ambient modes. The audio quality on the pair is generally satisfactory. The TW-E7B handles upper to mid bass nicely without much hinderance and gives a clean and detailed output for vocals and acoustics. You wouldn’t be missing out on details for most genres here, but what you might miss here is a good ANC experience. The earbuds don’t quite do justice with cutting out on external noise. Most of the times, there seems to be nearly just as much noise falling in as with ANC switched off. Compared to pretty much any high-end TWS today with ANC, the Yamaha TWE7B pales behind in delivering a performance that sufficiently cuts out on noise whether you’re using the pair outdoors or indoors. Latency on this Yamaha pair is on the lower side, which is something a lot of manufacturers miss out on. Mics on these are pretty decent, with sound on the other end coming clear, though not the loudest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life and other stuff</b>: The TW-E7B lasted close to 6 hours on one go that’s in line with what the company claims. Add 16 hours or so that, the battery life on this thing isn’t anything to be disappointed about. You get a short USB A to C cable in the box and extra ear tips of different sizes along with it. The case and buds take nearly 3 hours to charge in full. The pair supports Fast Pair on Android (Swift Pair for Windows is missing) and showed no connectivity issues throughout the usage. You can use Yamaha’s Headphones Control app (on Android and iOS) to try different EQ presets or create one of your own, or to update the earbuds’ firmware. There’s in-ear detection and it worked nearly every single time when removing the earbuds to pause or placing them back to resume playback. Oh, and you can use one earbud at a time, too, if needed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict: </b>The Yamaha TX-E7B offer a lot of good stuff—mainly solid audio quality, good design and snuggly fit plus good battery life. They do miss on the ANC performance and that puts a little question mark on that price of it, especially considering the competition today. If Yamaha offers these somewhere under 18k (already 20k deals around), and can improve on the ANC performance with a firmware update, the TW-E7B would be worth considering, especially for those that prefer clear and detailed audio on their wireless earbuds with a design that can stand out from the crowd.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Dec 14 11:33:57 IST 2022 samsung-galaxy-watch5-pro--competes-with-the-likes-of-apple-watc <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung has made quite a few big changes in the past year or so when it comes to its wearable offerings. Moving from its own Tizen OS for smartwatch to Google’s Wear OS being the biggest shift. Wear OS itself has been making some change and updates with watch makers trying to get on the latest OS for better performance and feature set than before, something a lot of smartwatch users have been asking. The Watch5 Pro is Samsung’s latest flagship smartwatch – that comes in GPS + LTE and GPS + Bluetooth-only models. I tried the former, which is priced at Rs. 49,999, and here’s how it went.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: I tried the Watch5 Pro 45mm size in the gray titanium variant (Watch5 has aluminium) that has a full grey 20mm band with a magnetic clasp to close and open the watch. There’s a D buckle to adjust for your size, and something you wouldn’t be adjusting frequently. The watch has a titanium body and a sapphire crystal 1.4-inch display (Watch4 had Corning Gorilla Glass DX+) and weighs about 47 grams. The watch fits well once you lock in the buckle and didn’t feel rough or uncomfortable on the wrist during my use. There are two physical buttons for going to Home and going backand are customizable (more on that later). The watch is clearly chunkier than most other smartwatches and that’s mainly due to its 45mm size as well as that not-so-thin bezel around the round display. The watch seems durable and sturdy thanks to the material, plus it didn’t catch a lot of visible scratches during the usage both indoors and outdoors. It’s IP68 water and dust resistant, so should be okay for your workouts and occasional splashes and drops.</p> <p><b>Performance and features</b>: The Watch5 Pro carries Samsung’s Exynos W920 (1.5GHz dual core processor) chipset along with 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (around 7.5GB usable). There are plenty of sensors in here, including ECG, Body Composition, skin temperature, SpO2 and optical heart rate sensor in addition to the usual ones such as barometer, gyroscope and ambient light sensor. The ECG sensor is of no use for Indian users as it is yet to be enabled for the Indian model.</p> <p>Another thing not available is the skin temperature, which doesn’t work either. Remains to be seen when Samsung rolls out updates for these features, considering this is their flagship model. The watch runs Wear OS 3.5 with One UI 4.5 on top. During regular apps usage and UI navigation, the Watch5 Pro doesn’t show any hiccups and is able to keep up with the pace. It felt like one of the better smartwatches running Wear OS when it comes to refinement of the OS, with no sluggishness shown during most of my time with the watch. At times, when searching for stuff using voice, it might take a couple of tries and extra time to show you the result. A lot of previous Wear OS smartwatches have shown struggles for using third party apps but the Watch5 Pro doesn’t. You get notifications for many apps on the watch, and can select which apps’ notifications are allowed on the app. The watch automatically shows a companion app for an app on your connected smartphone. For instance, you can get turn by turn navigation on it when having it opened on your phone, so you don’t have to check your phone. The vibration and sound on the Watch5 Pro are just about sufficient to get the job done outdoors. With LTE, you can make the calls directly, though setting up the mobile plan using the Galaxy Wearable app can take quite long. If you have Samsung’s Buds, they can be controlled using the watch, though anybody can control their music playback from the watch on apps such as Spotify (no Apple Music compatibility and companion app, to nobody’s surprise). The&nbsp;</p> <p>Wearable app can also be used to customize watch faces, add app tiles, add fitness stuff such as stress measurer, sports modes, and so on. Tracking of distance walked while wearing it seemed to be quite accurate on the watch. There’s a snore detecting feature, in addition to the usual sleep tracker, if you’re okay wearing the watch while sleeping. Other things include, taking body composition measurement, which can take a few tries to complete, blood oxygen monitoring and heart rate zones. The 1.4-inch (450x450) Super AMOLED display is just about enough bright to be used outdoors in direct sunlight and is quite sharp for daily readings.</p> <p><b>Battery</b>: The watch sports a 590mAh battery and it lasted around 3 days with always-on display switched off and barely a day with always-on display switched on. This was with NFC turned off, location turned on, brightness at automatic and WiFi turned on. You get a USB type C to C cable with the proprietary charger in the box, same charger as the old Watch Active 2, taking 2.5 hours to charge from 1% to full.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> The Watch5 Pro is a premium smartwatch that competes with the likes of Apple Watch. It has features missing such as ECG and has an okay battery life on par with the competition. It’s wellbuilt, compatible with third party bands and works and syncs with Android devices, but that price tag does seem to be quite hefty for what appears to be still a product work in progress, considering&nbsp; Wear OS is not exactly the most polished OS for wearables, though it itself does a better job than most of its Wear OS peers, there are popular smartwatches at much lower price tiers for Android. Until Samsung brings the remaining features here with OS updates and we see a decent price cut, the Watch5 Pro may not exactly be the most value for money purchase in the Indian wearables&nbsp; market today, which the likes of Samsung’s own Galaxy Watch5 might be</p> Mon Nov 28 14:07:00 IST 2022 sony-wfls900n-review--good-enough-for-most-people <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sony has just launched its new pair of true wireless earbuds (TWS) in India called the Sony WFLS900N, which are priced at Rs. 13,990 (including Rs. 3,000 cashback for the introductory price) The pair lies somewhere between Sony’s original LinkBuds and the 1000XM4, which are Sony’s flagship true wireless earbuds. Let’s see what this pair offers and if it worth that price tag or not.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Sony WF-LS900N (Sony also calls with the LinkBuds S in other markets) follows a beanlike design that weigh under 5 grams each and have a non-glossy design that doesn’t attract smudges too much too quickly on the Beige model that I tried. The buds fit in really well in ears and rarely required any adjustment while commuting with. That’s perhaps the best part about this pair is how well it fits it with the silicon eartip fitting in snugly, of course it can vary a lot for you, depending on your ear size and shape. These are IPX4 rated so should be okay for random splashes and spills, but we have seen IPX7 rated buds, which provide a little more protection from water, in this segment. On the outside, you can notice big mics, while the inside part has the magnetic pins. The charging case weighs about 35 grams and features an indicator light on the front for charging, a USB type C port alongside a physical button located on the back to put the buds into pairing mode. I didn’t notice much jarring when wearing the buds for longer periods, and could consider it for a long day of use due to its comfort and fit.</p> <p><b>Audio quality</b>: The buds have 5mm drivers with support for Bluetooth 5.2 profile, and AAC, SBC as well as LDAC audio codecs. The sealed external design on the buds certainly helps with to deliver a fuller output compared to the original LinkBuds, which had an open-ear design. These buds have accurate upper mids while somewhat struggles to provide a similar accuracy with higher frequency sounds. Expect them to deliver a relatively consistent quality for most genres. I noticed bass to be on the higher side though not too high while vocals are handled satisfactorily on pretty much all occasions. Would recommend you try Sony’s Headphones app to tweak EQ settings (alongside other options) to your liking. The mics on this Sony pair are just about okay, in my opinion. When indoors, they offer decent and clear sound but outdoors and in slightly noisy environment, they often had tinny output and the person on the other side did not get a loud enough sound at times. The noisecancelling on these buds doesn’t disappoint. I wouldn’t quite put it up with the 1000XM4, but they do a fine job of handling low to mid-high pitch noises, while higher pitch noises can get through. For most use cases while commuting, the ANC doesn’t disappoint. The tap controls on the buds are usually dependable though you might take a few tries getting used to how hard or soft you have to tap on the buds.</p> <p><b>Battery life and other tidbits</b>: The WF-LS900N lasted around 5.5 hours on a single charge and added 12-13 hours or so with the charging case, which isn’t hugely different from what the company claims. The case doesn’t support wireless induction charging or any impressive fast charging, though Sony mentions 1-hour of playback with 5 minutes of charging, but it seemed closer to 40 minutes in my experience. A full charge took about 2 hours in one go. You get different eartips in the box along with a short USB type C to A cable.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Sony WF-LS900N are a fairly well-rounded par if headphones that doesn’t bring a whole lot newness to the table but do a good enough job on most fronts. They are up against a lot of worthy competitors from the likes of Bose, Oppo, OnePlus and Sennheiser, even Sony themselves has its offerings in the price range. While they aren’t the best sounding pair (though not bad, either),</p> <p>they do have their strengths in comfort and fit.</p> Tue Nov 22 16:38:42 IST 2022 lenovo-yoga-9i-great-well-built-hardware-marred-by-software-bugs <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lenovo’s Yoga 9i is a 2-in-1 convertible that is a full-fledged laptop that also swivels to become a touch-enabled machine. At a base price tag of Rs. 1,30,600, let’s see what works well and what doesn’t for this Windows 11 laptop.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What works&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Display: The convertible features a 14-inch (2880x1800) OLED with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The display swivels nearly 360 degrees to close in on the back of the keyboard to be used via touch. The display quality here is really top-notch, for both viewing videos and images. For content creators, a 16:10 aspect ratio display is often preferred, so that’s covered, too. The display has vivid and sharp colours with deep blacks and does a good job of handling most multimedia output. There’s support for HDR and Dolby Vision, and I could try the HDR mode only, which is handled with decent contrast and brightness maintained. Touch response, too, is satisfactory. It does not have the quickest touch response seen on a laptop today, but it still does a decent enough job to not be a bottleneck when you’re using the machine in the converted mode.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Keyboard and trackpad: The notebook features a backlit keyboard with an extra set of function keys for functions such as performance boost and smart appearance for webcam effects. The keys have good feedback and are comfortable to type on for long and continuous usage, though some people may find its travel a little less than expected. The trackpad next to it is large and does a good job of tracking your taps and gestures with multiple fingers.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Build quality: Another thing I liked about the Yoga 9i is how well the build is. There’s hardly any flex throughout the aluminium body despite it being a convertible. The hinge and speaker setup are nicely done, with no creeks or loose part sounds at any time. I liked its champagne-like colour that Lenovo officially calls oatmeal, though the extra paint applied on the cutouts for ports could have been a little more subtle.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s strictly okay&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Performance and Windows experience: The notebook boasts an i7-1280 chipset with the highest clock speed of 4.8Ghz along with Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics and 16GB of soldered LPDDR5 RAM. The Yoga 9i can handle most day-to-day tasks and even video processing is decent but not great considering the GPU in place.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Windows 11 OS comes with some extra bloatware that gives a lot of unnecessary notifications such as the McAfee upgrade notification, Lenovo Vantage. You are better off uninstalling them if you don’t want to use them any time.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another thing I noticed was, the laptop went to sleep despite changing the default settings in Windows. As a result, it kept on pausing background tasks when no button is pressed for 3 minutes, despite selecting a much higher limit in the Windows 11 settings along with battery-saving mode turned off. Several reboots later, it got the settings correct at last, but this isn’t something you accept from a high-end laptop today. I haven’t seen this particular bug on any Windows 11 laptop recently, so can’t say it’s an OS-only issue, but it seems it’s more to do with this very model.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another issue I had was heat and fan noise. Even with just three tabs open in a Web browser and having a music player on, the laptop produced a lot of heat and the fan was pushed to its limits producing a lot of noise that you wouldn’t normally expect with such a workload, this happened quite regularly, too.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>PS: I didn’t get a compatible charger with the notebook for Indian plugs, so couldn’t check the charging speed for the bundled charger, but all three USB type C ports can be used for charging such as the 125watt charger that Motorola provides with its edge 30 ultras in the box (that I used, too).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>&nbsp;Verdict&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The Lenovo Yoga 9i has a lot of upsides that are high—display and build quality—while having some serious downsides that go really low— heat, fan noise and regular software bugs. The laptop seems to perform really well in the hardware department while lagging due to some software issues plaguing regular day-to-day tasks frequently. Until Lenovo can fix these reproducible bugs, this notebook seems a bit hard to recommend despite its convertible qualities.</p> Sat Nov 19 15:12:55 IST 2022 google-pixel-7-review-makes-a-worthy-contender-with-its-upgraded-features <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Google's Pixel series has not seen a flagship device in India for quite a while. The Pixel 6a is the more budget offering but now we have the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro available in India. I tried the Pixel 7 for a few days, which is priced at Rs. 59,999, and this is how my experience was.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b> The Pixel 7 follows a brushed aluminium (recycled as per the company) build with a matte finish. The phone has a familiar camera bar on the back with cut-outs for the cameras, LED flash and mic. The phone has Gorilla Glass Victus on both front and back and is IP68 water and dust-resistant.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both the Power/lock and volume buttons are placed on the right with the power key just a little above the halfway mark, and these keys are a little stiffer to press than what we usually see on phones. On the left side, you have the SIM card slot in the lower half. The top houses a mic, while the bottom sports the USB type C port with the primary mic and one set of stereo speakers around it. The other set of stereo speakers is in the ear speaker grille along with the front-facing camera notch on the 6.3-inch display.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone isn’t thin and has flat sides, making it quite comfortable to carry around relatively for its size. It weighs a little under 200grams and did not feel as the most slippery big phone either and the Snow colour I tried can catch smudges though they are not as prominent compared to others.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b> The picture photos 6.3-inch (1080x2400) OLED display that supports up to 90 Hz refresh rate display is quite vibrant and a higher quality panel than the one of the Pixel 6a. Video output for HDR is also pretty good with accurate colours. It’s bright enough and usable under direct sunlight without much hassle. You can choose from 60Hz or an auto-refresh rate that uses 90Hz refresh rate in supporting apps, which as far as I could tell most apps do by now. So, for streaming over something like Netflix or Plex, the display is up to the mark.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera:</b> For your photos and videos needs, the phone has a dual camera setup on the back—50MP (f/1.85) main camera and 12MP (f.2.2) ultrawide camera—while on the front you have a 10.8MP (f.2.2) camera. The photos from the Pixel 7 are reliable and consistent most of the time. Most of the improvements I saw were in the HDR shots as well as lower shutter lag while taking night shots. If you have kids and pets around, you might want to have the top shot enabled for capturing that extra special moment that you don’t want to miss.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone chooses what it thinks is the best shot from within a motion picture and video, this was there on the Pixel 6a too, but it seems to be better refined now. For zooming, the device can handle shots from 2x to 3x quite well, but anything beyond that and you start to get a lot more blurry and grained shots since there’s no Telephoto lens here.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The front-facing camera does a nice job with its tone rendering for different skin tones under different light environments, which a lot of phones tend to overdo. For videos, cinematic video, with its focus can deliver decent shots even in low light but you really have to keep your phone steady while shooting. The app now shows you the video resolution in effect and also retains the zoom level when switching between video and photo.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software:</b> The device is powered by Google’s own Tensor G2 chipset (octa-core processor and Mali G710 GPU plus Titan M2 Security chip) along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB UFS3.1 of storage (comes in 256GB, too). It runs on Android 13 OS out of the box with the October security patch. The phone does a really good job of handling day-to-day tasks without any hiccups. Apps close and resume just as you would expect without any noticeable stuttering or frames dropped. For most games, the Pixel 7 should be fine for playing, but for high-end games such as Genshin Impact, it can struggle a little to handle the game at its highest settings but should be fine at lower.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While making long video calls and charging the phone in one go, the phone can get quite a bit warm, it’s not alarmingly hot, but it’s still so much that it needs to be mentioned. Google’s Tensor G2 is not the highest-performing chipset in the smartphone industry today, but it can handle 95% of the tasks well enough, so its performance is consistent.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the software part, there are subtle, the Pixel 7, as we know, shows Google’s own take on Android for its users. The main improvements seem to be better voice detection, including for Indian users, along with transcribing in the recorder app. Photo Unblur is a feature where you can try to sharpen or unblur an old photo even if it’s taken from a non-Pixel device, works okay, something worth trying if you have a cherished photo that may not have come a bit blurry than you might have wanted.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now Playing, which tells you what music is playing around you, now also shows you information on your lockscreen. Material U and its icon theming is adopted by more app developers now and seems to look a little better too. The Pixel team promises 3 years of OS and 5 years of security updates for the Pixel 7, which is lower than what Samsung promises now and what Apple has been providing for a long time, but at least there are updates on the table, and the Pixel updates, though can be a little late to come depending on your region, you know you’re going get it sooner or later.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking of updates, the fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 7 is quicker and more reliable than the one on the Pixel 6a, but it’s still not in the same league as the ones we have seen from Samsung and OnePlus.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery:</b> With a 4,355mAh battery unit, the phone lasted almost a day more often than not. With Always-on Display enabled (which cannot be scheduled), two Email Accounts, 1.5 hours of YouTube time, video calls and network data for 2 hours or so, the phone can last about a day. What’s not so nice was how long the phone can take to charge from 1% to full, taking 1.5 hours to do that (highest charging capacity at 21watt, officially), which is what we saw on the Apple iPhone 14, too, and is just not quite a nice experience especially if you have used a smartphone with faster charging and that isn’t uncommon in the smartphone world these days.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other features: </b>There’s WiFi 6e support, though I couldn’t try it as I haven’t got a supporting WiFi router so far. There’s 5G support but for Indian network carriers, Google is expected to seed an update for compatibility with 5G in a month or so, but the device does support most of the bands that’s required for pan-India coverage. Otherwise, network and call quality seem top-notch on the device, taking calls on the go while having 4G hotspot enabled wasn’t an issue either. The stereo speakers are quite loud and punchy though they are not exactly the loudest on a phone today with the earspeaker grille speaker being a little more dominant than the bottom one to give a slightly imbalanced stereo output at higher volumes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict: </b>The Pixel 7 makes a nice comeback for Google to the Indian market as far as its flagship devices go. Hopefully, the forthcoming software updates can further address (minor) heating and fingerprint scanner, too. The phone is priced considerably higher than the Pixel 6a, and it shows in its performance, fingerprint scanner as well as camera performance. If you are eyeing a Pixel device for the first time, have a budget that can stretch to around Rs. 60,000, one that doesn’t cut too many corners, the Pixel 7 is a worthy contender with its upgraded display, consistent software experience and reliable camera performance.&nbsp;</p> Tue Nov 01 15:47:20 IST 2022 cool-gadgets-that-are-worth-buying <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>TRUE WIRELESS EARBUDS</b></p> <p><b>Mivi DuoPods F50</b>: If you’re looking for an entry-level wireless buds with a long battery life and a sound output that’s heavy on the bass, the Mivi DuoPods F50 are worth your consideration. The DuoPods F50 deliver close to 50 hours of battery life including from the charging case. These feature dual mics for making calls and come in four colour options.</p> <p><b>Sens Hendriks 1</b>: At Rs. 1,699, the pair gives a satisfactory sound quality and decently long battery life. Able to connect with Android, iOS and Windows, it shows no major connectivity problems and also come in a nice zinc alloy metal 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 are a worthy contender. Price: Rs. 1,699&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Jabra Elite 4 Active</b>: Aimed at people looking for wireless buds for their workouts or outdoor activities, the Elite 4 Active fit in well and are IP57 rated for dust and water resistance. If you’re a Spotify user, you can check your music collection from the buds without having to fiddle around with your phone for that. Oh, and you can use either if you don’t want to use both buds at once. Price: Rs. 5,001</p> <p><b>Sony WF-1000XM4</b>: If you’re looking to invest in a pair of true wireless earbuds with some comfort and category benchmark active noise cancellation, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are worth a look. These buds have Speak-to-chat feature where the buds go mute as soon as you start speaking. Another useful feature is wireless induction charging, so you can place the buds in the charging case and just put the case on your charging pad. Plus, these are IPX4 water resistance for safety from occasional splashes and drops. Price: Rs. 16,990</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WEARABLE</b></p> <p><b>OnePlus Nord Watch</b>: OnePlus’s first smartwatch under the Nord brand provides a good enough experience for a smartwatch under Rs. 5,000 that comes with a 1.78-inch rectangular AMOLED display with curved edges, a step tracker and fairly long battery life with its 230mAh battery unit. It’s more suited for people with relatively large wrists, in my experience. It’s IP68 dust and water resistant, so less worry if used outdoors or in gym. Price: Rs. 4,999</p> <p><b>Amazfit GTR 2 (new version)</b>: The GTR 2 has a nice 1.39-inch circular AMOLED display and can do 24- hours heart track monitoring. It can do calling over Bluetooth (if you really want to), can carry music in its internal storage and has a long battery life and a lot of built-in sports modes for better tracking, too. The strap, fitness accuracy and display quality really make the GTR 2 stand tall among the competition for a premium looking smartwatch. Price: Rs. 8,999</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> Sat Oct 22 12:00:29 IST 2022 sony-xr-55a80k-review--great-oled-package <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sony’s Bravia XR-55A80K is the company’s latest mid to high-range OLED TV that currently sells for about Rs. 1,80,000. The TV shows Sony’s efforts in the Indian TV market,which has seen a lot of players in the entry-level, while the mid-range space shows more and more OLED options for the customer. Let’s try and see what this Sony Bravia TV gets right.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What clicks</b>:</p> <p><b>Design:</b> The build quality and design aesthetics of the TV are pretty much line with what we have come to expect from a Sony TV in this day and age. The TV weighs about 18kg and comes with a metallic leg one near each corner and doesn’t wobble one bit. The back of the TV is all plastic though the quality of this plastic used can be instantly seen to be better and more assuring to use than what we have been seeing on budget smart TVs in the last 3 years or so. The back also features all your ports inlcuidng HDMI 2.1 and the port section can be covered with a removable lid. The bezels around the display in the front are quite thin, giving the TV a nice touch up. The remote control is pretty tall, slim and is made out of plastic, too, with dedicated buttons for apps such as YouTube, Netflix, YouTube Music and Prime Video. Other notable buttons include Google Voice, source input, settings and Home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display quality</b>: The Bravia A80K features a 54.6-inch OLED display with a 3840x2160 resolution and variable refresh rate up to 120Hz. The display on the A80K handles HDR and Dolby Vision better than probably any smart TV under Rs. 1,50,000 today (when used in low-light rooms), maybe one of the few models that can give it a good race would be LG’s 55C2. The contrast and details in the output make the video look really good, whether it’s in the Apple TV app or something over Plex, you wouldn’t be disappointed with how it handles HDR and DV videos. The TV has rich and deep black levels with good contrast levels with Sony’s Cognitive processor XR in place. Its brightness level could have been a little higher, but it isn’t too bad to make it a deal breaker.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: The TV runs on Android TV 10 based Google TV, its menu navigation and app opening and closing experience is nothing to worry about. A lot of times, we have seen manufacturers cut down on the processing bandwidth that can hinder a smooth UI navigation and app switching but this didn’t seem to be the case here. Also, you can use your Android phone to cast videos or photos from an Android phone as you would expect, plus, beam media from an iPhone or iPad as the TV supports AirPlay 2 (HomeKit is also present for controlling your smart devices). Viewing photos and videos over either of these two is smooth and glitch-free. Other than that, the TV has the horsepower for higher refresh rate gaming, so you can connect your consoles like PS5 and Xbox X (2HDMI ports support ideal variable refresh rate and tone mapping). There’s only one USB 3.0 port (other one being USB 2.0), though it should have had at least one more of that in place; there’s also no audio analogue output on the A80K.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other features</b>: The TV comes pre-installed with the Bravia Core app, which is Sony’s own exclusive ap for the XR series. You can stream a lot of old movies, including IMAX releases, on the app for free, and you get 5 credits to stream some selected recent releases on the app for free. The user gets this service for a year, but there’s no official word from Sony about its pricing for later on. The app streams in 4K Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos at about 80mbps bitrate, which I am not sure any other streaming service does today. It’s definitely worth surfing through to watch IMAX releases, especially so if your Internet connection is fast and stable enough.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s okay</b>: I found the audio output on the TV to be a bit of a mixed bag. At times, the audio quality is sufficient to handle live sports, but other times it struggles a little with the commentary, making the audi sound mushy. It isn’t bad but for movies and TV series, your experience would obviously depend on the source. Its acoustic audio experience can be decent for movies and even games, but you’re still better off with a dedicated set of speakers for your TV experience, especially so for room large enough.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> The A80K meets expectations and performance measures on most counts. It isn’t a low-ned priced TV, but it seems to be aimed priced for somebody looking to buy their first big OLED TV. A lot of deals have been floating around for smart TVs these days, and Sony themselves three-year warranty for this TV if you buy one this month (instead ot the usual two years). If you care about having a nice contrast-y 4K picture quality with more than decent HDR support, smooth performance and decent build quality, the A80K is one of the contenders in the market today.</p> Thu Oct 20 15:58:32 IST 2022 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>: </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;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> Under Rs. 50,000</b>: </p> <p>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> <p><b>OnePlus Nord Watch:</b> OnePlus’s first smartwatch under the Nord brand provides a good enough experience for a smartwatch under Rs. 5,000 that comes with a 1.78-inch rectangular AMOLED display with curved edges, a step tracker and fairly long battery life with its 230mAh battery unit. It’s more suited for people with relatively large wrists, in my experience. It’s IP68 dust and water resistant, so less worry if used outdoors or in gym. Price: Rs 4,999.</p> <p><b>Amazfit GTR 2 (new version):</b> The GTR 2 has a nice 1.39-inch circular AMOLED display and can do 24-hours heart track monitoring. It can do calling over Bluetooth (if you really want to), can carry music in its internal storage and has a long battery life and a lot of built-in sports modes for better tracking, too. The strap, fitness accuracy and display quality really make the GTR 2 stand tall among the competition for a premium looking smartwatch. Price: Rs 8,999</p> Tue Oct 25 22:23:43 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