Gadgets en Wed Nov 16 13:21:52 IST 2022 ultrahuman-ring-air-your-personal-fitness-coach-on-your-finger <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Ultrahuman is a startup based out of Bangalore that's into fitness and health devices as well as community building. They launched their new Ring AIR about two months back, which I have had for a few weeks now, too. Priced at Rs. 28,499, this ring aims to provide various fitness-based data points and measurements. Let's find out if it really delivered and if it's worth that price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Setup and box content:</b> First things first, you don't have to guess what size of the ring should fit you well. The firm first ships you a sizing kit, which has different samples for each size that you can try for yourself and then order the size that you find the best fit (it's only available in one color for now – matte black). Ultrahuman suggests you wear it on your index, middle, or ring finger. The Ring AIR is IPX9 water-resistant, so you can keep it on for your gym sessions or wear it under the rain just fine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the Ring AIR box, apart from the ring itself, you get the charging dock, a USB Type-C to C cable along with a few setup instructions and suggestions for day-to-day use. The Ring AIR is made out of Tungsten with Tungsten Carbide Carbon coating done on the outer shell. The inside part is hypoallergenic epoxy resin, which is smooth and comfortable. Of course, this comfort can vary depending on your skin type, but I didn't have any skin or related issues when wearing the ring.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ring is also quite thin and lightweight, weighing around 2.4 grams to 3.6 grams and measuring from 2.45mm to 2.8mm in thickness, depending on the size you choose.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sensors and connectivity</b>: Talking about sensors, you have plenty of those here – from heart rate monitoring and oxygen saturation to an infrared photoplethysmography sensor and six-axis motion sensors. You can connect and sync the ring with your smartphone using the Ultrahuman app, available for both Android and iOS, connecting over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Features and uses</b>: Let's start with the movement index, tracking your steps, calories, and active hours done in a day. Since this device is worn on a finger and not over a wrist, it's bound to be a little less accurate when it comes to step tracking. But it generally was in the ballpark of 10%-12% around a smartwatch tracking for the same period. You can also get details of metabolism, glucose data (available only when used in conjunction with the Ultrahuman M1, a CGM powered glucose monitoring platform), and performance diet, which might throw in a lot of interesting stuff to check over. The workout mode got recently added, allowing you to track different workout types and more granular details using your phone's GPS connectivity, but the feature is still in beta, so it's probably not worth judging its accuracy and stability for now. SpO2 tracking is also in beta, which currently seems to be not very accurate when compared with an oximeter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sleep tracking is something the company also highlights in its marketing campaign, and I found it to be a decent enough feature but not quite a home run. You can track sleep duration, which seems to be accurate enough to monitor how well and long you're sleeping at night.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another useful measurement is resting heart rate as well as heart rate variability. I found its tracking of heart rate quite consistent and reliable when compared to some other dedicated high-end devices. The readings seem to be stable and not show any unexplainable outliers. The Ultrahuman app presents all this data and performance measurements in a nice-looking UI with fairly detailed structure. You can further explore the app, try the activities tab for things such as meditation, check the timeline for the device itself, and so on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> Coming to the battery life, the ring is powered by a 26mAh lithium-polymer battery unit and lasts for about 5 to 5.5 days, which isn't far from the company's claim of 6 full days. It charges from near zero to full in about two hours. The charging dock has an LED light in the front to indicate the charging. You need to sync data from the ring with the app on your phone every cycle before the ring runs out of battery so as to not lose any unsynced data. I really liked the Ring AIR's form factor and how it didn't feel off or bulky on your finger at all when worn during the day and even while sleeping, which you may not like doing with a smartwatch on your wrist that much.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: One thing the Ultrahuman team deserves credit for is updates the Ring AIR has been getting and the timeline for new features in the pipeline. A lot of times, smart fitness companies don't provide any such updates once the product has been shipped, barring maybe one or two bug fixes. And of course, you can update the firmware of the Ring AIR using the Ultrahuman app.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It's also worth noting that there's no recurring subscription requirements here. You buy a Ring AIR for Rs. 28,490 and get the whole package, no fees to be paid later on, which a lot of folks might prefer compared to how it is with other smart rings out there today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, you get a really sleek and discreet smart ring with decent battery life, accurate heart tracking, though SpO2 (in beta) and steps tracking hopefully get better. The app that you would have to use every now and then is also not buggy or difficult to get around, so that's a plus too. If you're somebody who is looking to get a bit more serious about personal fitness and looking to track your progress and daily performance more granularly, the Ring AIR&nbsp; is a good enough option from what's available in the market. But be aware that it's far from a finished product that does not track every single thing accurately just yet, plus there are a number of features such as arterial stiffness and changes (among others) coming up.</p> Tue Aug 08 10:16:43 IST 2023 infinix-gt-10-pro-review-good-value-for-a-gaming-phone-under-rs-20000 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Infinix has been one of the hidden horses in the Indian smartphone space that has been gradually taking its market share, targeting the budget segment quite aggressively. The company has now come out with a rather distinct looking GT 10 Pro, which is priced at Rs 19,999, going up against the likes of the Redmi Note 12 5G. Let’s see what it really has to offer.</p> <p><b>Design</b></p> <p>This might the most interesting part of the phone for most users, I guess. The GT 10 Pro sports a polycarbonate body with curved edges and a 6.67-inch display with a centrally-placed punch-hole front camera near the top. There’s a flash placed rather subtly near the right corner in the same frame as the ear-speaker grille.</p> <p>The phone comes in Cyber Black and Mirage Silver colour options. Coming to the back of the Cyber Black variant, you see a small LED strip in the triple camera cutout that’s protruding a but, and also notice the whole “mecha design”, as the company likes to call it, with a rear panel that has some components showcased underneath to camouflage as a transparent panel, which it isn’t. But the whole cyber-ish edge look with blue and orange accents every inch. The LED strip gives it a nice appearance and also helps it stand out from the crowd.</p> <p>The right side houses the volume buttons and power/lock key; while the left side only has the dual SIM card tray slot near the top. The bottom locates the USB type C port, loudspeaker and primary mic as well as the 3.5mm audio jack; the top has the second outlet for loudspeaker and secondary mic. The phone weighs under 190 grams and measures 8.1mm in thickness and doesn't feel slippery or uncomfortable to carry around.</p> <p><b>Display</b></p> <p>The phone boasts a 6.67-inch full HD+ (1080x2400) AMOLED display that supports up to 120 Hz of refresh rates. The display here is quite bright and usable under direct sunlight provided you have cranked up its brightness. Regarding colours and sharpness, it seems to have pretty decent output for watching videos or viewing images.</p> <p>It’s not the most excellent panel in terms of colour calibration for a phone under Rs. 25,000 but it’s not that bad either, with some colour retention happening for greens and blues. I set refresh rates at highest settings and didn’t notice much trouble in the display keeping up with refresh rates most of the time.</p> <p><b>Camera</b></p> <p>The phone features a triple camera system – 108MP (f/1.75) main camera, a 2MP (f/2.4) depth sensor, and a 2MP (f/2.4) ultra-wide camera with quad tone flash. The main camera is pretty much the only one that produced usable shots, with other two cameras on the back there for mere namesake, it seems. The shots from the phone are detailed and in focus. However, if the subject moves even slightly the camera would struggle to capture a good image.</p> <p>You can expect to get well focused shots in daylight or well-lit indoors. On the front, you get a 32MP (f/2.45) camera with a dual tone flash. This camera can take surprisingly decent and toned shots that you may not mind using for your social media needs. There’s also very little shutter lag, which is nice to see. Talking about the camera app, it looks rather busy and at times even a bit cluttered with AI cam, beauty modes and other such options thrown right at your face when you start the camera.</p> <p><b>Software and performance</b></p> <p>The GT 10 Pro is equipped with MediaTek’s Dimensity 8050 chipset (up to 3GHz octa core processor, Mali G77-MC9 GPU and a 5G modem), 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS3.1 storage. The phone runs on XOS 13 for GT that’s based on Android 13 with the June security patch installed. What this XOS for GT specifically means is that the company has done away with bloatware of ads and pre-installed third party apps for this particular model. They have basically admitted that such things can hinder a better user experience out of the box. You get a few of Infinix’s own apps, such is XTheme, XArena, etc.</p> <p>The OS has an app launcher that arranges your apps in alphabetical order witht he top reserved for your most used apps. The launcher doesn’t allow you to simply drag and drop app icons on your desired homescreen, but you have to long-press that icon and select send to desktop where it will place the icon shortcut on the last homescreen on its own. Another weird thing was the phone not showing devices connected to the phone’s WiFi hotspot.</p> <p>There are some nice, customizable themes you can try from the theme store and can also try different icon styles. If you aren’t used to XOS, you are going to find the arrangement under Settings a bit confusing. Of course you can simply search for your desired option, but on the face of it, it does appear a bit all over the place.</p> <p>In terms of performance, the phone handled day to day tasks just fine keeping up app closing, opening, switching and multimedia playback without any troubles. For gaming, you can expect to play games like BGMI and Asphalt 9: Legends at their medium to highest settings without having to worry about overheating the device. First 5,000 buyers of the phone get finger sleeves and gaming control accessories with the phone. For a gaming-focused phone under Rs 20,000, I think this is more than a good enough performer. The mini LED can be configured for different use cases such as phone ringing, charging, notifications and while playing a game, too.</p> <p><b>Battery life</b></p> <p>The phone is powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit and comes with a 45 watt charger in the box. The phone charges from 1 per cent to full in 70-80 minutes and lasts about 22-24 hours on most days, making it a day-long performer. The bundled 45 watt charger supports Power Delivery (PD) 3.0, so can be used for charging other devices, including your laptop, that support PD.</p> <p><b>Other bits</b></p> <p>Call quality on the phone is top notch, and the 5G connectivity is also not bad, though not the best seen so far but it’s stable enough to not be a deal breaker. The speakers on the phone are quite punchy and loud enough and usable for gaming purposes if you’re not in a group. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack, which isn’t too common for phones at this price point these days, so folks with their traditional audio setup might like to see that. Same is the case for FM radio, which has also been provided and can be used with your earphones. The in-screen fingerprint scanner is quite reliable, it’s not the fastest in terms of unlocking but it still recgonizes correctly eight to nine times out of 10.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b></p> <p>Infinix’s GT 10 Pro is aimed at those who want a well performing phone and would also like to play games on their smartphone, and that’s where the GT 10 Pro doesn’t disappoint. It can handle many graphic-intensive games. But where it does lack is promise of just one major Android update, an OS that can feel a little out of sorts (as mentioned above), and a camera app that seems a bit cluttered at times. If these things don’t bother you, then the GT 10 Pro can be a good choice for your smartphone gaming needs.</p> Sat Aug 05 15:34:51 IST 2023 oppo-enco-air3-pro-review-true-wireless-earbuds-worth-the-hype <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Oppo’s audio products are often among the more recommended and popular options in the market, including their Bluetooth products. So, when the company launched the Enco Air3 Pro recently, the expectations from the product are quite high with some people interested to see what it brings to the table. Available at Rs. 4,999, let’s see if these true wireless earbuds are worth it or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Design and fit: The buds come in a glossy plastic oval-shaped case that has a translucent double-layered top and can be opened and closed with one hand. On the front of the case, you have an LED indicator, Oppo branding, while the bottom houses the USB type C port. The buds themselves fit in the case really well with no movements and placement issues any time. The buds are IP55 water and dust resistant (the case isn’t) and have a slightly elongated stem cell design with clear markings for the left and right buds. You get two extra pairs of eartips of different sizes in the box, but I found the default ones to fit well enough. These didn’t require much adjustments on the first try and were comfortable to be used for longer sessions of listening, too. The buds also carry visible magnets at their bottom for the case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound quality and experience</b>: The Enco Air3 Pro buds support Bluetooth 5.3 with Fast Pair connectivity. You get SBC, AAC audio codecs as well as LDAC, which is nice to see for this price segment. The buds have touch controls enar the top and can be configured using the HeyMelody app or earbuds settings within Bluetooth if you use these with an Oppo or OnePlus phone. The app also provides three different presets (though no fully customizable EQ), adjust ANC, and also things like Golden Audio for with which the buds adjust audio output settings based on your ear size and shape. As per Oppo, the Enco Air3 Pro are the first wireless earbuds to come with a natural bamboo fibre diaphragm, which can help these reach 40kHz audio frequencies, generally not seen at this price point.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the audio quality, I found the buds to give balanced audio output most of the times. You get really clean and clear mids to trebles with no sacrifice of vocals going at the same time. Bass boost on the default settings is slightly on the higher side but it doesn’t overpower or let other elements tone down much. I really liked how nicely it handled rock and metal instruments, which a lot of budget TWS can struggle with, giving a decent soundstage to the overall sound output. Oppo seems to have done a good job when itcomes to giving a well-tuned pair of wireless earbuds that don’t mess up handling various frequencies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking about the active noise cancellation, this is perhaps one area where the Enco Air3 Pro don’t exactly hit the home run. You can get decent noise cancellation when using indorrs with low frequency sounds, but with slightly mid to high frequency sounds or when outdoors or commuting, the ANC can be a bit ineffective despite trying both smart and Max ANC modes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life and other features</b>: The bud has a 43mAh battery unit while the case carries 440mAh. I got around 5.5 hours or playback with no case usage and ANC switched off, and more than 28 hours with the case included, which is pretty good.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The buds support connecting with two devices at once and switching between the two to take calls or play music or something works without too many hiccups in between. Also, you can use only one bud at a time, if required, plus these also have in-ear detection where your music stops playing as soon as you remove them and resume when you wear them back.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: It wouldn’t be a long stretch to say Oppo here has really got a lot of things right and some even best in under Rs. 5,000 price segment for true wireless earbuds. So, if you’re looking for a TWS with balanced and high quality sound quality for the price, good battery life and comfortable fit, the Oppo Enco Air3 Pro are certainly one of the options that should be on your priority list.</p> Thu Aug 03 16:54:44 IST 2023 oppo-reno-10-pro-the-perfect-blend-of-power-and-photography <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Oppo Reno 10 Pro+: Great camera performance, smooth overall performance, but the out-of-the-box experience remains a glaring miss. Oppo's Reno flagship series of smartphones brings the latest and greatest the company has to offer every year. The Reno 10 Pro+ is its latest high-end device that's big on camera technology among other things. Priced at Rs. 54,999, it competes against the likes of the Google Pixel 7, OnePlus 11, and iQoo 11. Let's explore where it excels and where it might lag behind.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>WHERE IT SHINES</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The device comes in two colors – Silvery Grey and Glossy Purple, the latter being the one I tried. The phone has a 6.74-inch curved display, making it convenient to grip. The back carries the big camera setup with the MariSilicon branding and has a smooth, glossy finish, which catches fingerprints and smudges but not too quickly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><b>Display</b></u>: Featuring a 6.74-inch curved OLED (2772x display), it's one of the better parts about this Oppo smartphone. It's a sharp and bright display, usable under direct sunlight, showing vivid colors when viewing photos and videos. The Natural Screen color mode provides softer colors and truer contrast for a better viewing experience. The Eye Comfort feature is well-implemented for full-day use, which is often overlooked by other companies. HDR output is pretty decent, though it only works on the Amazon Prime app. Overall, this is a good quality display that handles minor splashes well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The camera performance is impressive. The phone's triple camera system – a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, a 64MP (f/2.5) telephoto camera (both with OIS), and an 8MP ultra-wide camera – delivers excellent results. The telephoto camera is a significant upgrade, taking well-stitched portrait shots and performing well in low-light conditions. Zooming in up to 3x provides usable and decently detailed shots. The photo processing has improved compared to earlier models, with better shots from all cameras and less oversharpening of skin tones. The 32MP (f/2.4) front camera takes detailed shots with good exposure and color reproduction, although some may not like the filters and retouches.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery</b>: The phone features a 4,700mAh battery with a 100-watt SuperVooc charger in the box. It usually lasts nearly a day and charges from 1% to full in about 30-32 minutes, which is remarkably fast. Importantly, it doesn't heat up much during charging.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHAT'S A BIT OF A MIXED BAG</b></p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: Equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 256GB UFS3.1 storage, the phone boasts top-of-the-line internal hardware. However, the software experience out of the box is where things slide down a bit. Running on ColorOS 13.1 based on Android 13 with the June security patch, the phone comes with around 20 pre-installed third-party apps, which you might not use and may need to uninstall. Customizing ColorOS is easy and highly customizable, but it might take some time, especially for users not familiar with the OS. The phone handles day-to-day tasks and games well, but it tends to heat up after intense gaming sessions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> The Oppo Reno 10 Pro+ excels in hardware performance and camera capabilities, making it a worthy Android contender if you're willing to tweak the software to your liking. However, the out-of-the-box software experience could be improved, especially for a phone priced around Rs. 55,000. If you prioritise the software experience and regular OS updates, the Google Pixel 7 might be a better option.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Jul 31 19:30:56 IST 2023 the-nord-3-oneplus-latest-offering-impresses-with-stunning-sispl <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus’ Nord series has been witnessing a lot of action, both in terms of phones as well as earphones. And now we have the Nord 3, the flagship lineup of the Nord series smartphones. Priced at Rs. 33,999 for the base model and Rs. 37,999 for the highest model, let’s see where it excels and where it falls short.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHAT&nbsp; WORKS REALLY WELL</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: You get a 6.74-inch (2772x1240) 10-bit AMOLED display that supports up to 120Hz refresh rates and HDR10+ playback. The display is truly one of the better ones in this price range when it comes to colors and contrast, provided you choose the right color mode from Settings according to your preference. It boasts high sharpness and contrast, making it great for viewing high-resolution images and videos. HDR playback is decent too, especially for in-app streaming on platforms like Netflix, though there is certainly some room for improvement in terms of shadows and extra brightness. The 120Hz refresh rate works more reliably when you select a high refresh rate under display settings instead of using the auto-refresh option. I also really liked the Eye Comfort mode, which has been one of the better implementations of this feature on smartphones, making it comfortable for reading or navigating throughout the day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The phone features a 5,000mAh battery and comes with an 80-watt SuperVooc (Endurance Edition) charger, along with a USB Type-C to Type-A cable in the box. It charges the phone from 1% to full in around 35-40 minutes, which is pretty quick. I found the phone to last me a day quite frequently, and rarely did I have to charge the phone twice within the same day, even on moderate to heavy working days.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software:</b> The Nord 3 uses MediaTek’s 9000 Dimensity chipset (octa-core processor up to 3.1Ghz, Mali-G710 MP10 GPU), paired with 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB UFS3.1 storage (the base model comes in an 8GB + 128GB configuration). It runs on Android 13-based Oxygen OS 13.1 with the July security patch installed. The phone didn't show any hiccups or issues during daily tasks; it can handle scrolling, switching between apps, and resuming apps seamlessly. You can play games on it, such as BGMI and F1 Mobile Racing, but only at 60FPS, which is one of the limitations of this OnePlus device. Speaking of software, there are hardly any third-party apps installed, and the few existing ones can be uninstalled too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHAT'S OKAY</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design and thermals</b>: It’s a bit of a mixed bag here – the phone has a nice frosty matte-finish back with Gorilla Glass 5 and curved edges with the triple camera system housed in separate glass cutouts next to the two LED flash modules. It has symmetric and slim bezels around the display with a punch-hole in the top-middle. I tried it in the Tempest Gray color, and it also comes in Misty Green. You can immediately see the phone has a blocky rectangular design and is top-heavy, with the weight not spread evenly. Also, the phone tends to heat up a bit every now and then during different tasks – quick charging, video calling, and gaming for about 20 minutes or so. There’s a noticeable rise in the temperature of the back panel when the phone is under such loads, which is a bit disappointing since the company advertises this phone’s cool and reliable heat thermals in its marketing campaigns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The phone sports a triple camera system on the back – a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera. There’s a dual LED flash and another single LED flash to go with it. The photos from the phone have good dynamic range when shots are taken standing still. It captures high contrast and detailed shots, even in low-light conditions, and shots can at times be well-stitched without too much noise if your subject isn’t moving. The camera can struggle a bit with its color reproduction of skin tones and overexposure even when used outdoors in decent lighting, which we have seen from OnePlus’ cameras in the past. The 16MP (f/2.4) front-facing camera is adequately sufficient for social media use and video calls, but you might want to tone down filters and beauty modes as per your choice. You can shoot 4K videos at up to 60FPS with the rear camera and 1080p videos at up to 30FPS using the front camera.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Nord 3, priced at Rs. 33,999 and Rs. 37,999, offers a lot of good experiences at its price point. While the highest model isn’t significantly cheaper than the company’s own 11r, which I really liked and would still recommend if you can spend around Rs. 40,000 or a bit more, the Nord 3 is a solid choice for those looking for a phone around Rs. 35,000. It doesn’t come with too many third-party apps pre-installed, provides a great battery experience and display, and offers a decent set of cameras. The Nord 3 is a pretty good choice to consider for an Android device, especially if you aren’t particular about playing games at very high refresh rates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 28 18:24:31 IST 2023 oneplus-nord-2r-review-decent-sound--great-battery-life-and-affo <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus launched its budget-friendly Nord series of buds called the Nord 2r. Priced at Rs. 2,199, these true wireless earbuds have quite a few competitors up against them, such as the Redmi Buds 4 Active, their own Nord Buds 2, and the OPPO Enco Air2. Let’s see if these new buds really bring anything to the table and are worth your attention or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: These buds are plain old stem-celled buds that are curved inwards and have touch controls near the rubberized top. Both the case and the buds have a matte finish and come in two colours, Deep Grey and Triple Blue (the former being the one I tried). These aren’t very different in looks and feel compared to the Nord 2 Buds, which isn’t really a bad thing. The buds are IP55 water and dust-resistant, and each bud weighs under 4.5 grams while its case weighs under 40 grams and is small enough to be carried around in your pocket. The case has an LED on the middle-front part and the USB Type-C port at the back. The buds come with three additional eartips for different sizes and are quite comfortable to wear with the ones that come fitted, including for commuting and walking outdoors. In-ear fit and comfort are something that I didn’t have to worry about much with these Nord Buds, which seems like something OnePlus has figured out for their budget TWS offerings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound quality</b>: The Nord 2r sports Bluetooth 5.3 with support for SBC and AAC codecs and Dolby Atmos (required on the other device) and boasts 12.4mm drivers. You can use the HeyMelody app to change its settings for non-OnePlus Android devices. There is no active noise cancellation and transparency mode here. Coming to the audio quality, the Nord 2r is quite aggressive from low to mid-lows, offering bass boost and clear vocals. It can struggle a little when it comes to highs and mid-highs, with somewhat muted output when listening to rock or metal sub-genres. You should check different presets on the app to see which one is more suitable for your music and listening preference as it can make a noticeable difference on the buds. I would have liked its bass to be a little cleaner even if it’s on the aggressive side, which a lot of folks might prefer. It’s not a great pair of wireless earbuds, but they do the job for the price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: Each bud has a 36mAh battery unit while the case is equipped with 480mAh. The buds lasted around 7-7.5 hours on a single charge and about four times over using the case, which is quite impressive and one of the top performers in this price range. The buds take about 2 hours to charge fully.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other stuff</b>: I found the touch controls on the buds to be okay but not very accurate. Single tap to start or pause your music works fine, but other ones such as long tap to switch devices can be a hit or a miss. The buds support Fast Pair, and it worked really nicely for connecting with Android devices. Mic quality on the buds is not bad, something a lot of TWS struggle with. Noise cancellation, too, on the buds is surprisingly decent for calling when outdoors. The buds didn’t show any huge latency, and low latency mode does a good enough job if used for gaming. There’s no automatic pause and resume since there’s no detection whether you’re wearing them or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Nord 2r is a decent pair of low-end wireless buds that have excellent battery life and a comfortable fit. They don’t have very accomplished sound quality for sure, but it’s still decent for the price tag, and people who prefer boosted bass may also like them. Having said that, these do have some tough competition from the likes of the Redmi Buds 4 Active and OnePlus’ own Nord Buds 2, as mentioned earlier, and I am not sure they deliver enough to outpace those options in the price range.</p> Tue Jul 25 14:56:58 IST 2023 moto-razr-40-the-affordable-bendable-display-phone-with-impressi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>We have been seeing foldable smartphones for a while now, with the likes of Samsung and Oppo leading the way, but so far these devices have been out of reach for most smartphone users. Plus, there seems to be that early days' feeling to this category. Moto launched its retro-themed Razr 40 series of foldable smartphones recently, and I have been using the Rs 59,999 priced Moto Razr 40 for a while now. Does this lower-priced flip phone deliver while keeping the utilities of a foldable phone? Let's try and find out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The phone comes with vegan leather around its exterior back with a range and a noticeable crease where the display folds. The main display inside is a 6.9-inch 22:9 aspect ratio tall display, while the exterior one is a small 1.5-inch 2.1 aspect ratio display on a rectangular cutout with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus on top. Importantly, the hinge mechanism seems to work well, and there doesn't seem to be any cackling or anything alarming to put you off from folding or unfolding the device. Having said that, the hinge sections in the middle go apart (when unfolded), and they are a bit of an eyesore and can hinder your finger-scrolling every now and then, especially if you aren't used to such a phone. The crease on the main display's middle can be very much felt while scrolling or tapping on it. Another thing to notice is the thick display protector that the device comes with (same as other foldable phones we have been seeing), and the company suggests you not remove it. The right side of the phone features the volume buttons as well as the Power/lock (also has the fingerprint scanner) key, while the left side houses the SIM card tray. The back has the dual-camera setup and also the familiar Moto logo centered. The top has the secondary mic, and the bottom carries the loudspeakers, USB type C port, and the primary mic. The device's sides here are made out of aluminum series 7000 aluminum combined with the vegan leather back make the phone really comfortable to carry around, even though Moto Razr 40 feels like a flip phone that's sufficiently well put up when it comes to the hinge and folding mechanism. It's an IP 52 water and dust-resistant device and comes in Sage Green, Summer Lilac, and Vanilla Cream (which is the one I tried) color options.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: When unfolded, the main is a 6.9-inch pOLED LTPO (1080x2640) 10bit display that supports refresh rates of up to 144Hz and HDR10+ playback. The screen is quite bright and usable under direct sunlight in general. For the display, I can't help but feel the thick screen protector does make colors and output, in general, a little dull. It’s not a huge deal, but it's something still noticeable, especially if you care about your display quality at all times. In general, the display does a good job of viewing high-resolution images and videos and is smooth in higher resolution situations (saw 120Hz more frequently than 144Hz here). The external display is a 1.5-inch AMOLED (194x368) 8bit display that does the job well enough for its limited use (more on that later), is bright enough, and decent in color contrast, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The phone sports a dual-camera system on the back – 64MP (f/1.7) main camera with OIS and a 13MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera. You can expect to get quite detailed and well-colored shots when your subject is locked in focus and isn't moving. Dynamic range could have been a little better in outdoor shots, but it's still not bad that you might have to retake shots frequently. There's very little shutter lag, and the camera app is generally smooth to operate most of the time, no delay or anything when switching between different modes. Performance from the ultra-wide is quite good with balanced output not overexposing on colors in various kinds of shots. The front-facing 32MP can take nice shots for your social media use, but it can oversharpen the subject every now and then.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The device uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon on 7 Gen 1 chipset (2.4Ghz octa-core processor, Adreno 644GPU, and x62 5G modem) along with 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GBFS2.2 storage. It runs on Android 13 with the June security patch installed. As you can see, the phone doesn't use the latest and greatest chipset or storage disks for the budget, but that's one of the corners cut by Motorola to provide a flip phone at this price point. In daily use, the phone feels really responsive and doesn't lag while switching between apps or watching videos and browsing the Web alongside. There is a slight dropping of frames when scrolling inside a few apps at times when the high refresh rate is enabled, but that isn't happening too frequently or reproducible by the same pattern every single time. When it comes to gaming, you shouldn't really expect to play graphic-intensive games such as CoD: Mobile or Genshin Impact anywhere close to the highest settings, but other games, even BGMI, can be played at around 40-45 frames per second with the Smooth Graphics preset. The OS here is very much like stock Android with very few add-ons from Motorola's side, but some useful ones. One addition I really liked was from double-tapping the back (Moto logo) to start any app, including a third-party app, which can be selected from Settings. For the external display's functionality, you can add from a list of widgets; you can control music playback, see what app just sent a notification or check temperature and of course time. There's also the good old one-handed mode where you can shrink the UI to a smaller dimension if you have to use the device with one hand or just find it more comfortable to use since this is a tall phone. There's also a classic Razr mode where the phone shows the classic Razr layout that we had on the Razr flip back then, which can be used to dial numbers but nothing much else. The Razr 40 series will get three years of OS updates and four years of bi-monthly security updates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery</b>: The Razr 40 comes with a 4,200mAh battery unit and a 33-watt charger with a USB type C to C cable in the box. Using the default charger, I found the phone to charge from 1% to full in about 70 minutes (Turbo Charging). Regarding its battery life, it lasted me just about a day most of the time, and about 18-20 hours on a heavy day, which is decent, considering you would be using the main display nearly every single time. Worth noting that the phone heats up a bit when charging, more so when it’s done so in the flipped closed mode.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other stuff</b>: The loudspeakers on the phone are punchy and just loud enough, though you can experience some extra vibration on the back panel when playing at the loudest volumes. Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS performance here is top-notch, but 5G network reception isn’t the best I have seen, latching on to 4G/LTE more frequently in the same places that I have been getting 5 consistently on other 5G devices. The fingerprint scanner on the side is quick and reliable for frequent use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the Moto Razr 40 seems to have enough goodness of a flip phone with a bendable display that’s priced under Rs. 60,000, making it comfortable to carry around in your pocket or clutch when folded. It has a hinge mechanism that doesn’t have you worried, a nice display, a capable set of cameras, and decent battery life. Plus, there's no bloatware to be dealt with out of the box. Though performance-wise, there could have been a little more firepower provided, it still performs well for daily use. So, if you're looking for a phone with a bendable display that doesn’t go anywhere close to Rs. 75,000 in the price tag, the Moto Razr 40 is one worthy Android contender.</p> Mon Jul 24 14:29:27 IST 2023 netgear-orbi-rbk863--wide-area-wifi-in-large-homes---businesses <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Straight forward initial setup, Gigabit speed support, but missing WiFi6E and 7 at the price point Mesh WiFi routers aren’t new, and they are some of the more suggested pieces of technology for connecting your devices over a large surface area indoors. Netgear’s Orbi series of mesh routers is one of the more popular brands under this, and I have been using the high-end Orbi 863 tr-band for a few days now, which is priced at Rs. 1,14,999, and is targeted at those looking to cover their huge building with a single connection running all around with no dead points or bandwidth issues. Let’s try and see if the mesh router does really achieve that.</p> <p>What is it: You get three routers in the box – one main router (RBK863) and two satellite points (RBS860). The main router connects to your ISP’s modem via the ethernet WAN port and throughputs the WiFi signal to its connected satellite routers to cover the entire area without the user having to jump between two different networks. This is basically the crux of it.</p> <p>The routers are 10 inches in length and about 7.5 inches in width and they weigh about 920grams. Apart from the standard 12v power port, you get four gigabit LAN ports on all routers plus one 10gig WAN port on the main router. There’s also a curved LED strip hidden in the routers, which switches on White to indicate it’s getting connected and Magenta to indicate there’s some connectivity issue. The initial setup is quite straight forward, you have to install the Orbi app on your smartphone and follow the given instruction, which just includes scanning the given QR code on your router suing the app and it should take you ahead. Adding a satellite router after the initial setup, though, ctook a few tried before the app correctly detected a new one to add. The app allows you to do basic stuff such as renaming the WiFi SSID, change passwords, setup Guest network and update firmware. You can also block or unblock certain websites using the app and check speed tests, too.</p> <p>All the routers come equipped with 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi frequency channel and have another additional 5GHz channel (hence, tri-band) for the connection between themselves. You can use the main router alone or pair it with one or both satellite routers, as per your need. Having said that, good chance you would need all three if you’re buying this model for your coverage area.</p> <p>The company claims the mesh system can cover an area of about 8,000 square feet with about 6GBPS of transfer speeds, which isn’t the speed most users would have today. The main router supports Ethernet WAN speeds of up to 10 GBPS, if you have ever tried a connection that fast. From switching the touter on to having a working WiFi connection took about one minute. I found the mesh system to give WiFi speeds pretty much what the connection itself is, that is, not showing any speed drops during my usage. For bandwidth, I connected it to as many as 15 devices at once, the company claims it can handle about 100 at once, with two device streaming 4K videos, all with no noticeable lags and no performance glitches at all. For area, with thick floors and walls in between, the whole system was able to cover around 3,000 square feet over three floors without any trouble whether for speeds or for connection stability, importantly. Also, there weren’t any hiccups in Internet use when moving around where you might be switching from one router’s range to another one’s.</p> <p>One glaring miss here is the WiFi6E support, which is kind of expected at this price point, and it’s worth noting that WiFi7 itself might not be far from gradual use now. So, it would have been nice to have WiFi6E, considering the main router does have a 10gig WAN port for higher speed futuristic fiber connections.</p> <p>Another thing I found missing (this from the app and Web login), though it might not be a big deal for most users, is that you can’t have separate SSIDs allocated to 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels, the device automatically assigns the more appropriate channel as it seems fit.</p> <p>Among other features, you also get a suite of security features called Armor for anti-phishing and blocking of links, for which you can get notified as soon as something is blocked on the network and you can unblock it if you want to from within the Orbi app.</p> <p>All in all, the Orbi 863 does what it’s capable and does it really well. I got sufficient coverage across the 3,000 square feet area across multiple floors without any speed and bandwidth hiccups, which is the main job of a mesh system. If you’re looking to cover, say, your office area or a team within your building across floors, the orbi 863 is certainly an option, albeit on the expensive side, while you can also look at Netgear’s own Orbi models such as the 760 series.</p> Sat Jul 22 14:18:39 IST 2023 realme-narzo-60-pro-performance-and-value-combined- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Realme released its 11 Pro series of smartphones just a few days back, and is now already back with its Narzo series – Narzo 60. Priced at Rs. 23,999, Rs. 24,999 and Rs. 27,999 (the one I tried), it comes in direct competition to realme’s own 11 Pro+, Poco F5 and Moto Edge 40.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Let’s try and see if there’s really anything new here worth your consideration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: Realme Narzo 60 Pro follows a very familiar design we have seen from Realme. With a flashy orange vegan leather back and copper-ish looking sides, the phone doesn't look and feel cheap at all. It doesn't have any creaking sounds or bends anywhere. The same copper look follows at the back's circular camera module. The front has a 6.43-inch curved display with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top and symmetrical slim bezels around. On the right, you get the volume buttons and the power/lock key near the middle, while the left side is all plain. The bottom carries the dual SIM card tray, USB Type-C, primary mic, and one outlet for loudspeakers. The phone weighs under 185 grams and measures about 8mm in thickness, meaning it doesn't feel too bulky to carry around considering the display and the 5,000mAh battery inside. The vegan leather back has so far held up well, but I can't say how well it will be three months from now when it comes to dust and smudges from hands and otherwise.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: There's a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED FHD+ (1080x2412) display in place here that supports refresh rates of up to 120Hz and a peak brightness of about 1000 nits. I found it usable under direct sunlight and responsive to touch. The display is vibrant and provides good black levels for content. For HDR10 content (which doesn't play on Netflix), I found its contrast and color calibration to be okay but not entirely satisfying in terms of shadows. However, it still holds fine considering the price tag. For viewing high-resolution images and full HD videos, the phone doesn't disappoint and delivers the color-rich output that you might expect from Realme by now.</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: You get a 100MP (f/1.75) main camera with OIS and a 2MP (f/2.4) portrait camera. The main camera can capture shots where you can zoom in at 2x and still have some details and colors intact. The shots, in general, came out well-stitched with decent dynamic range. However, portrait shots leave a lot to be desired and struggle even in good lighting and with a still subject like your tea/coffee mug. You can shoot 1080p videos at 120FPS and 4K at 30FPS. The camera is snappy to use, and there's not a huge shutter lag while using different modes and filters. The 16MP (f/2.45) camera takes slightly skin-smoothened shots, but you can switch off filters and beauty modes completely to get shots closer to the actual scene.</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The Narzo 60 Pro is equipped with the MediaTek 7050 chipset (octa-core processor clocked at up to 2.6GHz, Mali G-68 GPU) along with 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage (also available in 8GB + 256GB or 128GB options). It runs on Realme UI 4.0 based on Android 13 with the June security patch. Due to recent reports, Realme has switched off Enhanced services by default (used to be one of the first things I turned off when setting up a Realme device), but there are still similar sets of third-party apps pre-installed here, pushing notifications left, right, and center. You have to spend a little time switching these off, as well as personalized search in the app drawer. The phone handles day-to-day tasks without breaking a sweat. Though there can be a few frame drops every now and then when scrolling between images in apps such as Twitter and Realme's own Photos app, it did get better with the last OS update. Realme Narzo 60 Pro doesn't heat up too much, and in terms of handling a game such as CoD: Mobile, the phone handled it on the highest settings and showed high frame gameplay consistently. The OS has improved RAM management compared to previous versions, and it also handles the opening of apps and switching between tasks with no compromises. One bug I found was that when unlocking the device after pressing the power/lock key only once, it would start the Google Assistant even though the press wasn't long, but this happened maybe once a day or so.</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> You get a 5,000mAh battery unit in the phone and a 67-watt SuperVooc charger in the box. I found the phone to last about a day even with two SIM cards inserted. With a couple of hours of hotspot switching between 5G and 4G, the phone doesn't heat up too much. With two email accounts, brightness at about 40%, an hour of video playback, and a lot of scrolling inside Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram, the phone doesn't give up before a day. It charges from 1% to full in about 50 minutes using the same charger.</p> <p><b>Other stuff</b>: The phone's 5G and 4G connectivity is top-notch. I especially noticed that switching from one 4G SIM card to another 5G-enabled SIM card wasn't a hassle, and it latched on to the respective network without a huge delay. The loudspeakers on the device are loud, though not as clear as the ones on the 11 Pro+. However, they still get the job done for watching videos or playing games when alone. WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth performance here are nothing to complain about, providing the transfer speeds and stable connectivity that you would expect. On the other hand, the in-screen fingerprint scanner is okay for frequent use.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the Narzo 60 Pro seems like another value-for-money device from Realme that offers a lot of performance, a great display, a decent camera experience, and reliable battery life that doesn't disappoint despite putting it to the test. I would tell the Realme team to keep tweaking and refining the RealUI, but then again, that isn't new. So, if you're looking for an Android device under Rs. 30,000 and prioritize battery life and display, the Narzo 60 Pro is a contender worth checking out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 08 18:07:08 IST 2023 cooking-made-easy-exploring-the-features-of-delishup--ai-powered <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>delishUp:</b> A smart home appliance that brings some automation and AI to your kitchen shelf Useful food-maker for those who can’t go full hands-on with gas stoves and manual recipes Smart cooking is still an upcoming trend that hasn’t quite caught up to the mainstream kitchen just yet, but we have seen it grow curing the lockdown. Up’s a Bangalore-based startup that came up with a smart cooking appliance for Indian kitchens that don’t require a lot of your own inputs and provides you appliance-ready recipes to work exactly with that appliance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is it really:</b> deslishUp is basically a smart and connected food processing and preparation appliance that gives you recipes for whatever you choose and then proceeds to prepare them for you step-by-step. The whole kit includes a stainless-steel jar (which had removable blades and lid), a Lenovo-made Android tablet and a weighing scale on top; while the accessories included differentsized spoons, a spatula and all this comes in a spacious rectangular bag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How does it work:</b> You choose a dish on the tablet, which first shows you ingredients, required, calory intake and things such as gluten, lactose, etc. for more insights. Once you have the ingredients, you need to follow steps, but remember each step can have small but important steps within them, so you don’t miss adding an item that had to be only sautéed and not chopped, for the dish’s sake.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I tried making several food items with it and I am certainly no cooking expert – paneer stir fry, gobhi masala, bhindi (okra), lauki (gourd) sabzi to cold coffee. The machine can do chopping, sautéing, blending, mixing, steaming and whipping, but not baking and deep frying. I found the applicane to go as high as 120-degree and as low as 9-10 degrees Celsius while preparing different things.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The best items that I found were paneer stir fry, gobhi masala and lauki sabzi. You need to remember here that it’s best suited if you have time on your hands but can’t go full hands-on with your food preparation; meaning that the preparation doesn’t require you to be all hands-on as you would on a gas stove but then this also requires much more time in comparison.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How did it go:</b> Most things came out quite well prepared, tasting very close to what you might expect considering the ingredients added and can redo some cooking steps if you think the dish isn’t quite there yet in terms of getting cooked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You need to close the lid and as soon as you close (or open it), you get a sound confirming the same thing. The Android tablet that comes attached could have been a little more responsive and struggles with any liquid splashed on it or if you use it with wet hands, but it gets the job done. If you’re using the appliance only once a day, you might need to charge the tablet before you can start using the appliance since the tablet runs out of battery when sitting idle in a day or so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One place where I thought there’s some attention required by the company is the cleaning process. There’s a rinse mode available where you put some water and liquid soap into the jar and switch on the rinse mode to wash the jar, but pretty much every time I tried it, I had to clean it manually later on to complete the job.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can search and choose a recipe from a long list, and, if it’s not there, you can use ChefGPT (using ChatGPT in the background) on the tablet to search for it, plus, the company is also adding more recipes every week by itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Priced at Rs. 21,999 (there’s also a Rs. 499 trial available if you’re in Bangalore), delishUp is one of the most interesting and unique smart home appliance I have tried in recent times. Having used it for about three weeks now, it’s clear to me that it makes sense for those who can’t be bothered to use gas stove and not bothered about how much time it takes to get their next meal as long as it’s to their own choice and under their roof. The whole procedure does take a bit getting used to for things such as getting the right quantity of ingredients and spices correct (may not always be right as per the recipe), to cook longer than the prescribed time, and so on, but it wouldn’t take too long before you realize what you might need to tweak or add as per your own liking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jun 29 12:30:58 IST 2023 redmi-buds-4-active-budget-friendly-tws-earbuds-that-packs-a-pun <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Xiaomi has introduced its new set of entry-level true wireless earbuds (TWS) in the Indian market named the Redmi Buds 4 Active. The Buds 4 Active are priced at Rs. 1,199 for now (Rs. 1,399 otherwise) and these come in Bass Black and Air White colour options. Let’s try and check what they really offer and where they might fall behind.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Buds 4 Active follow a familiar curved stem-cell design that comes in a plastic case with a USB type C port and LED indicator located at the bottom. Though the buds themselves are IPX4 water resistant, the charging case isn’t. The pebble-shaped case has a somewhat matte finish to it with a glossy curve going around the body. It’s a lightweight case and during frequest tries, the buds fit well and don’t wobble or anything while carrying around. The buds weigh around 3.6grams each and the case about 42grams. You get extra ear tips in the box for different sizes along with a short USB type C cable. I found these buds to be just about okay in terms of fit and comfort for longer durations. They weren’t itchy or downright uncomfortable but you may have to adjust them every half an hour or so while using them even when sitting still.</p> <p><b>Features and audio quality</b>: The buds support Bluetooth 5.3 with basic SBC audio codec and feature 12 mm drivers. They come with touch controls on the stem, but the controls aren’t very reliable and often demanded repeated attempts in order to initiate controls. There’s Google’s Fast pair, which allows it to be connected with Android devices quite quickly. You can use the Xiaomi Earbuds app in order to update its firmware, locate the buds or turn low latency mode on, so pretty basic stuff with an EQ option missing, which a lot of people may have wanted to tune their buds to their music taste and sound preference. Neither the app, nor the connected phone under its Bluetooth settings shows the battery left for the charging case (shown only for the buds). Oh, and you can use only bud at a time, too.</p> <p>In terms of audio output, I found the buds to be more on the bass side than mid to neutral, which is in line with what the company markets it as for bass-heavy users. It delivers pop and even lofi stuff well, keeping mid-bass and vocals for movie soundtracks in tune without missing on much details at the same time. You can expect it to be more than good enough in delivering hip-hop stuff well, too though it can show some struggle with core metal and rock music. But overall, the pair delvers sound quality that’s perhaps better than most TWS under Rs. 1,500 today, with its tuning and bass heavy output, which would have been nice to customize a bit had there been EQ available.</p> <p>For noise cancellation there’s Environmental noise cancellation, which actually does a decent job of cancelling out medium to low pitched noises around you. It can take a little hit on the overall sound quality, though it’s not a huge difference when indoors.</p> <p>Low latency mode can improve on latency while gaming but it takes a hit on the battery life, as expected, so you might want to switch it on or off as suitable. For watching Tv shows or movies, I didn’t notice any significant latency for this mode to be kept turned on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The buds gave around 4 to 4.5 hours on a single charge, which isn’t too bad and quite close the company’s 5-hour claim. Xiaomi also mentions 30 hours of total battery life when including the charging case. Battery life here is something that doesn’t disappoint.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the Redmi Buds 4 Active seem like bang for your bucks when it comes to entry-level TWS without too many compromises that you may expect. There are some noticeable absentee such as EQ settings, charging case battery level and more advanced audio codecs, but when it comes to what’s there on the table, the pair delivers with its good enough audio quality for the price tag, good battery life and design.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jun 24 12:22:07 IST 2023 nokia-c32-review-a-budget-android-device-with-decent-design-and- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Nokia portfolio of smartphones hasn’t seen too many shifts and launches past couple of years as you might have expected. There aren’t that many offerings across the price segments and not too many that are doing very well either. But now comes its budget offering – the Nokia C32. Let’s take a quick look at what it really offers at Rs. 8,999 for the base model and Rs. 9,499 for the higher model.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The C32 comes with a 6.52-inch 20:9 aspect ratio display with a drop -shaped notch to accommodate the front camera. The bezels around the display aren’t symmetric with the bottom one measuring nearly double the breadth of the other sides. The phone has toughened glass on both back as well as on top of the display. The right side houses the volume buttons and Power/lock key near the middle. These keys are just about tactile and don’t feel too cheap to use either, though the volume buttons require a little more pressure to press than the other one. The left only locates the SIM card tray towards the top corner. The top carries the 3.5mm audio jack; while the bottom has the primary mic, USB type C in the middle as well as the loudspeakers. The phone comes in Mint, Pink and Charcoal colour options, the last one is the one I tried. It weighs slightly under 200grams and measures about 8.55mm in thickness. It doesn’t feel very cheap at all and doesn’t have any bends or creeks to worry about out of the box. You get a basic clear case in the box, that does the job.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone features a 6.52-inch (1600x720) LCD display that does a decent job for watching videos and viewing images. It’s okay to be used direct sunlight but don’t expect it to be a high quality panel that can handle very rich and vibrant colours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: Running on near stock Android 13 with nearly no bloatware and added skin tones. The phone is equipped with an octa core Unisoc SC9863A1 chipset along with 4Gb of RAM and 128GB storage (also comes in 3GB + 64GB configuration). In terms of using popular apps such as Gmail, WhatsApp and Chrome, the phone does a decent job of keeping up with the tasks if there isn’t too many images and videos or more than 3-4 tabs open. Heavier media-centric apps such as Instagram and YouTube, it can show its limits in terms of switching between videos and resuming the app where you left. For tasks using the pre-installed basic apps such as Calling, Messages and Contacts, the phone doesn’t glitch out and can handle these fine. It’s certainly not a gaming device nor is it to consumer heavy media files.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> Powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit, you can expect the phone to last a day and then some on a regular basis. The bundled 10watt charger can charge it from 1 percent to full in around 2 hours or so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: Boasting a 50MP main camera along with a 2MP macro camera, you can expect to take somewhat detailed shots when in daylight with neither you nor your subject moving. The main camera can take a bit in terms of shutter lag to capture a shot, which isn’t very surprising. The frontfacing 8MP camera performs okay for an odd selfie for social media purposes provided good lighting and no movement, too, but don’t expect the most well-stitched or vibrant images here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Call and network:</b> Expect good 4G network reception and also for WiFi without any hiccups. Sound on calls is clear and loud enough that you would expect from Nokia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> the Nokia C32 appears like a good enough budget Android device that does basic tasks sufficiently well, comes with a great battery life, okay camera performance and a decent design to top it off. The company promises 2 years of security updates delivered quarterly, and hopefully keeps the OS running well with software updates, too.</p> Tue Jun 20 15:32:02 IST 2023 google-pixel-7a-impressive-performance-with-software-and-camera- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Reliable camera shots, okay fingerprint scanner and snappy performance out of the box Google’s Pixel line up has been slowly making some inroads in the Indian medium to premium range space for a while, and the Pixel 7a has been targeted to continue that effort – offering Google’s own take on the Android OS for the masses. Let’s see how well it performs with its price tag of Rs. 43,999.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: the phone features a very Pixel-esque look and feel, with a 6.1-inch 20:9 aspect ratio flat display, aluminium framing and the camera setup on a metal bar that we are so used seeing on Google’s Pixel devices. The left side houses the power button and volume buttons near the middle that require a decent amount of pressure and don’t feel cheap but aren’t the most premium buttons to use either. The left side is plain other than the SIM card tray. The top houses the secondary mic; while the bottom houses one set of loudspeakers, USB type C as well as the primary mic. The phone weighs about 193 grams and measures 9mm in thickness, that plus rounded edges and slightly curved back make it a comfortable device to carry around. The back is all glossy and does tend to catch fingerprints and smudges though a wipe every now and then should be sufficient to clean it.</p> <p><b>Displa</b>y: The phone features a 6.1-inch (1080x2400) AMOLED display with support for up to 90Hz refresh rates and HDR video output. I found the display requires to be set at a really high brightness when used outdoors in direct sunlight, but once done, it’s usable just fine. The colours and overall content appear better on the Pixel7a than the 6a in terms of contrast and calibration. It’s sharp and does an okay job of handling HDR content from streaming services. For viewing high resolution images and full HD videos, it does a good job with details and darker scenes in general.</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The Pixel devices have been known for their camera performance for a few years now. The Pixel 7a comes with a dual camera setup – 64MP (f/1.89) main camera and a 13MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera. The camera performance is reliable to sum it in one word. More often than not, I found the initial few shots to be sufficient enough in terms of picture quality and details than I didn’t feel like taking more shots of a subject that I might want to save for some use. The shots usually come out sharp and well-stitched in terms of colour as well as white balance. There are a few useful modes to choose from, including Single Res Zoom that allows you to zoom in twice, but you kind of lose out on details, as you would expect. Night shots seemed a bit better in terms of dynamic range and noise handling plus slightly lower shutter lag, too, which is nice to see. In terms of vides, you can shoot 4K videos at 30FPS and 1080p videos at 60FPS, and the output came out decent enough that you can use it for any editing for a small screen use, certainly better than Pixel devices from two years back by any measure. The front houses a 13MP (f/2.2) camera that handles selfie shots in both daylight and somewhat in low-light conditions well enough without blowing out on details and skin tones too much that you can use them for your social media or personal use. It can struggle a little if used for when used with the subject close (not exactly macro) but that’s not a common use for the frontfacing camera.</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: Coming to another part for which Pixel devices often get mentioned in a related discussion; the device is equipped with Google’s Tensor G2 chipset (octa-core processor and Mali G710 GPU plus Titan M2 Security chip) along with 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB UFS3.1 storage. Ut runs on Android 13 with the May security patch installed. The phone’s general day-to-day performance is nothing to be worried about. It handles scrolling, switching between apps, watching high resolution videos, navigating among images without breaking a sweat. The 90Hz refresh rate also shines through when scrolling in the OS UI as well as playing games such as CoD: Mobile at high settings with almost no frames dropped or glitches to report. What is worth reporting, though, is the phone does tend to heat up a bit every now and then under different workloads. With hotspot on and charging, it gets heated up; when charging all in one go, it heats up; when downloading heavy files while watching a video in the foreground, it heats up. The phone didn’t get alarmingly hot but it still happened frequently enough and you could reproduce it with similar tasks. There are some nifty little features you get from a Pixel devices – one is the ability to copy-paste images right from the multi-apps view, or select and copy-paste text; another would be Magic Eraser by which you can remove some object in your photos as if it wasn’t there in the first place with Google’s machine learning stuff, and it works well a lot of times. You also get Pixel drops where Google adds something (such as new wallpapers) with an update around every three months.</p> <p><b>Connectivity</b>: This is where I found the Pixel 7a’s biggest downside – it struggles with 5G connectivity and it’s significantly worse than pretty much any other 5G device above 25,000 today. It not only falls to4G/LTE more frequently than other 5G devices in same locations and same network (which is still not the deal breaker), but also fails to have data or even make and receive calls while latching to 5G (which is a big deal). After contacting the pixel support team, the connectivity issue got a bit better for making and receiving calls when 5G is on, but the phone still struggled to latch on to 5G and kept falling to 4G/LTE almost every single time. WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS performance, though, is stop notch and I didn’t find any issues during my usage.</p> <p><b>Battery experience</b>: The phone is powered by a 4,385mAh battery unit and comes with only a USB type C to type C cable (no charger) in the box. It supports up to 18watt of charging speeds, and takes a little over 2 hours to charge from 1% to full, which is considerably more than what we have been seeing from the likes of Moto, OnePlus, Realme and Xiaomi for quite a while now. The phone lasts about 20-22 hours for moderate use, and around 18 hours on a busy day, which isn’t too great but just about decent.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Pixel 7a makes for an interesting device in the Indian market. For those who really want Google’s own take on Android in a not-so-large form factor and no third party apps pre-installed, the phone excels in the performance and software side of things. Plus, you get a really reliable camera experience with a nice AMOLED display. It has an okay battery life, but really lets down with its 5G connectivity issue, which hopefully gets further improved with some updates in the near future.</p> Sat Jun 17 12:25:58 IST 2023 realme-11-pro--5g-review-unbeatable-value-for-money-in-the-mid-r <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Realme has been among the players in the Indian smartphones market to have done really well the past 5 years since their launch here. The company has offerings across price segments from 8,000 to 40,000. The realme 11 Pro+ 5G is a new mid-range device that’s aimed at providing high-end experience without having a price close to that. Priced at Rs. 29,999 (Rs. 27,999 for the base model) Let’s try and see if the 11 Pro+ is worth the hype or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The realme 11 Pro+ comes with a familiar 6.7-inch curved display with a 0.65mm protective glass on the top. The device has rounded edges and the back is rounded towards the middle too, and reminds me of earlier generation Samsung Galaxy S series flagship devices in terms of looks. The back houses the circular camera at the top-centre spot, which is protruding but the placement means the device angles downwards when placed on a flat surface and doesn’t wobble when it’s typed on or used for most part of the screen. I have the Astral Black colour that has a shimmery back that I don’t mind. The other two colours (Sunrise Beige and Oasis Green) come with vegan leather backs that’s handmade, as per the company. The right side houses the volume buttons as well as the power/lock key near the middle. The bottom locates the USB type C port, loudspeaker (second outlet at the top) and the primary mic. The phone weighs slightly under 190grams and measures under9mm in thickness, it isn’t the most comfortable phone to carry around for most people, but I found it not that uncomfortable to use while on the go.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone sports a 6.7-inch full HD+ (2412x1080) AMOLED display that supports refresh rates of up to 120Hz as well as HDR10+. It’s definitely one of the best, if not the best, displays we have seen on a realme smartphone so far. The AMOLED display does justice to high resolution photos and full HD videos, giving nice and bright output, HDR10+ for video streaming apps could be improved in terms of darker scenes and contrast, but then it might be a bit too much to ask for a phone priced at this point for now. The eye comfort mode seems to be tweaked and is now supported at the hardware level, and I really liked its implementation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: One of the things talked most about the company during the launch of the device was its triple camera system. You get a 200 MP (f/1.69) camera (which is a Samsung ISOCELL HP3 SuperZoom sensor), an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera. There are a lot of modes that you can your hands on – Street photography, Astrophotography, Moon shot. The main camera takes really detailed and well stitched shots in daylight and slightly low-light scenes. It has in-sensor cropping mechanism for 2X and 4X zoom without loss in quality, and it seems to do it quite well with very little loss in sharpness of your subject, that too not always, considering there’s no telephoto lens. Shots at night seem to have improved a lot, with better colour and dynamic range, though I would say there’s certainly some room for further improvement when it comes to tracking your subject on the move. On the front, you get a 32MP (f/2.45) camera that takes clear and focused shots, but even though filters and retouch options are a little better in terms of keeping making it look natural, I would still prefer no filters and retouched completely off from it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The device is equipped with a MediaTek 7050 chipset (octa core processor clocked at up to 2.6Ghz (launched recently), Mali-G68GPU coupled with 12GB of 256GB UFS3.1 storage (also comes in 8GB plus 128GB base configuration). It runs on realme UI 4.0 based on Android 13 with the April security patch installed. The phone’s look and feel are very much like previous realme phones (similar to how OxygenOS looks now), giving a lot customization options, including icons, colour shade for the system UI, lockdouble tap to lock and unlock, and so on. There are a lot of third party apps that come pre-installed out of the box, but you can thankfully uninstall almost all of them. Also, you need to spend a few minutes to switch off personal recommendations and notifications from under Settings in order to not get any ads or promotional stuff pushed in to your notification pane. In terms of performance, you an get your daily tasks done without facing any glitches here. Apps open and close quickly enough, scrolling with 120Hz enabled works reliable and so does switching from one app to another without having to wait for the app to resume from where you left it previously. For gaming, you can play the relaunched BGMI on the device with HDR graphics enabled, and the phone should be able to handle it. It doesn’t heat up much during video recording or while playing games, though it does while charging with several apps open in the background. One app I faced was the phone not removing Emails from the Outlook app in the notification shade but that seems to have been fixed with the latest update. Another one was the Gmail app not showing notifications for new Emails during first few days, but I haven’t encountered it since then.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The phone packs a 5,000mAh battery and comes with a 100watt SuperVooc charger, lasting about one working day quite consistently even with a couple of hours of WiFi hotspot over5G, brightness at 40%, 120Hz refresh rate switch od, two Email Accounts, an hour of music playback and composing short Emails in between. The phone charges from 1% to full in about half an hour using the bundled charger, though every once in a while it does heat up asa bit with apps opened, but this didn’t happen every single time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Connectivity and other stuff</b>: The phone supports dual 5G and I found its 5G (only using one SIM card) to be pretty much in line with higher-end devices in terms of 5G network reception and switching to and from 4G/LTE. The speakers on this device are really loud and clear that you won’t mind using them for gaming and watching videos when alone. WiFi and Bluetoth worked as you expect them to and so does call quality, which doesn’t show any troubles when outside in a noisy place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The realme 11 Pro+ is a feature-packed smartphone that does a lot of heavyweight stuff well – really nice display, a set of capable cameras that can give a lot of other smartphones in this price range a run for their money, and a great battery life. Its performance is generally reliable and smooth, but I would like to see way fewer apps that push promotional notifications out of the box. If you’re looking for a new Android smartphone at or under Rs. 30,000, realme’s 11 Pro+ is the latest addition to the worthy list in the Indian market.</p> Fri Jun 09 17:38:04 IST 2023 dell-inspiron-14-2-in-1--7430---a-reliable-work-machine-with-dec <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Another good option from Dell for your work machine Dell’s Inspiron series is known for its heavy-duty workload efficiency for business and commercial users. The 14 2-in-1 (7430) brings the 360-degree convertible plus touch display features to the package. Let’s try and check wat this Windows laptop does well and where it lacks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design and build quality</b>: The 14 2-in-1 follows a very familiar and proven design – large sized trackpad with ample space around; dual top-firing speakers; full-sized backlit keyboard with decent key travel that’s comfortable to type on for longer periods (and also spill-resistent); sturdy hinge to keep that 360- degree rotation in check. It ticks a lot of right checkboxes when it comes to the build quality. It weighs a little under 1.6kg and measures 0.73-inch in thickness when closed, the device isn’t the most compact 14-inch machine e have seen but it isn’t too heavy or big to be carried around frequently, either. Oh, and the device comes packaged in a box that’s made from fully recycled and renewable materials, as per Dell.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: You get a 14-inch full HD+ (1920x1200) LCD display (WVA panel) with support for 60Hz refresh rates and added Dell Activa Pen touch support (has to be purchased separately). The display here isn’t IPS but has decent colour accuracy to watch videos and view images though viewing angles could have been a bit better. It gets 250nits of peak brightness and just about okay for outdoors use in tablet mode.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The 14 2-in-1 sports a 54Whr battery unit and comes with a 65watt type C AC adapter in the box. The battery life here seems to be around 4.5-5 hours, which isn’t too great for a full work day. With brightness at 50%, WiFI always on, an hour of music streaming, two Web browsers opened and editing a Word document, the laptop requires to be put back on charge in around 4.5 hours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: The device comes equipped with Intel’s 13th Gen. 1355U i7 chip along with Iris Xe Graphics plus 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM (also comes in 8GB RAM option) and 512GB NVMe ADATA 512GB SSD. The device runs on Windows 11 Home and comes with Microsoft Office 365 subscription, too. The machine handles tasks such as working on an Excl spreadsheet while having a PowerPoint PPT opened in the background with some music streaming and Web browser with 5-6 tabs opened always without any major glitches. It wakes up from sleep mode quickly enough and its physical fingerprint scanner is really reliable for frequent usage on a daily basis. There’s a physical privacy shutter button for the 1080p webcam with Windows Hello support for unlocking the device, but I used the fingerprint scanner (also with Windows Hello support) way more often. Connectivity-wise, you get an HDMI 1.4 port and 2 USB 3.2 type C (Thunderbolt4.0) ports with power delivery on the left side; while the right side houses the 3.5mm audio jack, a USB3.2 type A port and an SD card slot. It does seem to be at least one USb type A port short, though two USB type C ports are there for variable uses. The HDMI 1.4 port supports an external full HD 60Hz display but not a 4K display. You get WiFi 6E as well as Bluetooth 5.2 support and I didn’t notice any performance issues for networking here. Worth noting that you don’t get any HDMI to LAN converted with the device. The touch display is also quite responsive provided you’re okay with the tablet form factor in this size and weight, which is clearly quite far from what a regular 14-inch tablet would measure. Can you play games on this machine? Well, if it isn’t a graphic-intensive game such as Hogwarts Legacy, Cyberpunk 2077 or Spider-Man Remastered, then it can handle some titles in medium settings, but this isn’t one you should be eyeing if gaming is one your main use cases.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Dell 14 2-in-1 (7430) is a well-built Windows machine that has a familiar yet decent design, a great set of keyboard and trackpads for work and a decent display, too. It could have had a little battery life for work on the go, which is just about okay. For most use cases, as a work laptop, at Rs. 1,00,095, this is a good offering from the house of Dell that gets the job of running multiple Microsoft Office apps plus Web browser in the conventional laptop mode well.</p> Fri Jun 02 16:29:54 IST 2023 asus-rog-flow-x13-review-unleashing-gaming-power-in-a-stylish-pa <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The ROG brand from ASUS has a bit of a niche following when it comes to gamers interested in gaming on their laptops. The ROG Flow X13 is a gaming plus 2-in-1 convertible that comes with a lot of bells and whistles up its sleeves. Priced at around Rs. 1,74,990, the Flow X13 is equipped with some top of the line hardware, including Ryzen R9 7940HS chip along with nVIDIA RTX 4060 graphics. Let’s where it does well and where it falls behind.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHAT WORKS</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The first thing you might notice about this 13.4-inch convertible is its textured design and compact body. The textured aluminium lid carries the ROG naming and logo and it continues at the bottom near the vents. The device weighs about 1.3kg and measures 32mm (when closed) in thickness, making it a comfortable gaming machine to be carried around. The right side houses the Power button, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 type A port, a 1 x USB3.2 Gen 2 type C with Display Port 1.4; while the left side houses the 3.5mm audio jack, an HDMI 2.1 port, a microSD card slot and XG Mobile Platform to attach external GPUs. The display is a bit glossy and requires cleaning up every now and then though not very frequently that it should bother you much. The device goes full 360 degrees for use like a tablet and doesn’t show any bends or creeks anywhere during the usage. It’s a well-built compact Windows gaming machine that doesn’t put too much weight on your lap. Also, you get a sporty-looking zipped carrying cases with the laptop, which is designed to keep water away from the insides.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The Flow X13 boasts of a 13.4-inch 16:10 QHD+ (2560x16000) Nebula Display (IPS panel) that supports up to 165Hz refresh rates, MUX switch, and Dolby Vision plus HDR. Theis touch display goes up to 500nits in peak brightness and is usable outdoors, too. It is a really nice display here, shows details and provides crisp videos most of the time, including HDR content in darker scenes. In games, the display is capable enough to show varied details and handle changing contrast and colour depth without too much overlap or ghosting troubles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Keyboard and trackpad</b>: You get a full-sized chicklet keyboard (no numpad) with a short row of additional functional keys on the top. The keyboard’s backlighting is bright and can be customized using keyboard shortcuts to up to three different levels. The keys have just enough curve to them and are comfortable to be used for long typing sessions without. The large and smooth trackpad supports the usual Windows gestures, including multi-finger gestures and it works really nicely for these gestures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and gaming</b>: The Flow X13 comes equipped with Ryzen’s R9 7940HS (up to 5.2GHz octa core processor), chip with integrated Radeon 780M GPU plus nVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4060 GPU, this is coupled with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 1TB of M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD. It runs on Windows 11 Home single Language and comes with a couple of ASUS apps pre-installed. The ARMOURY CRATE app can be used to give your laptop a bit of a uniqie look and feel in terms of wallpaper, RGB, checking CPU stats, temperature, changing GPU mode, and so on. Trying on a game such as Forza horizon 5, it got around 50FPS when playing at full HD highest settings selected; while for Red dead Redemption 2 Ultra, the device was able to handle the gameplay at around 47-48FPS at 1600p having the Turbo mode on. I found the fan to really ramp up and produce noise quite rarely, and only during initial gameplays at highest resolution while using it in the regular laptop mode. For heat ventilation, there’s dual heat pipes, liquid metal thermal, three heat sinks along with the dual vents at the bottom. I think it would be safe to say that the machine handes most of your demanding games well enough that you wouldn’t have to check and tweak things along too much and can play many of these popular games at their highest or close to highest settings without seeing any noticeable throttling happening.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: gaming laptops aren’t exactly known or talked about for their battery life, but the Flow X13, with its 75Whr battery unit, does a pretty decent job, giving around 6.5 hours or so on an average, with little gaming, but of course a lot less the more you play a game like the ones mentioned above. But for regular day to day usage without gaming, it lasts around 6-7 hours or so. The laptop charged in around 2-2.5 hours using the bundled 130watt power delivery AC charger.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What could have been better:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Two things I would have really liked added to the package here – fingerprint scanner and at least one more USB type C port. Windows Hello is there and it’s fine, but having a physical fingerprint scanner would have made for a better experience. Also, having just one USB type C port seems really low, especially since a lot of its users might be attaching different devices and accessories. Just to add, I also would have preferred the Power button to be at the front/next to the keyboard, rather than on the right side, but that’s not a big deal.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One bug that I found was, in silent mode, when waking up from sleep, the machine would extra long before you are on the login screen. A bit odd, but something I noticed several times, on what is otherwise a really well-performing Windows 11 device.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the ROG Flow X13 is a well-designed, compact yet powerful machine that does gaming, its main job, on the go well – handling graphic intensive games at medium to highest settings without showing any major glitches or heating issues. For those looking for a Windows gaming laptop that isn’t heavy on the lap, with a good aesthetics and powerful enough internal hardware, the Flow X13 (2023) (GV302) is definitely a contender now.</p> Thu May 25 12:46:47 IST 2023 poco-f5-5g-the-perfect-blend-of-affordability--performance-and-d <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>Poco F5 5G</b>: A well-built smartphone with great battery life and good display, but the cameras require some work – overall a good value for money option Poco’s F4 was one of the better value for money devices to launch last year, also featuring in my best picks from phones to gift during the festive season, and the device did quite well for the company. So, its successor – the Poco F5 – has big shoes to fill. Being the first smartphone in India to come with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 chipset, the phone starts at Rs. 29,999 and goes to Rs. 33,999, let’s see how well it performs.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: One of the things about the Poco F5 that stands apart is its rear panel – the panel has a nice and distinct looking ice-flake pattern to it in the snowstorm White colour that I tried -- that also shimmers when hit against light. Coming to the front, the phone sports a 6.67-inch AMOLED on the front with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top, which also houses the front camera in the top-centre area next to the ear-speaker grille not looking very shabby either. The bezels around the display are as thin as we have been seeing on smartphones today and importantly symmetrical as well, as some people prefer. The top of the device is a little busier than usual with the 3.5mm audio jack, one leg of stereo speakers, secondary mic and infrared port, The right side houses the volume buttons plus the Power/lock key near the middle (that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner) – both keys require a little more pressure than you generally expect; while the left side is all plain. The dual SIM card tray slot, primary mic as well as the USB type C port and speakers sit at the bottom. Another nice thing about it is, despite that display size and battery of 5,000mAh, the phone weighs just slightly above 180grams and measures under 8mm in thickness. The back is slightly curved near the edges and makes it comfortable to carry around.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The F5 features a 6.67-inch FHD+ (2400x1800) AMOLED display with support for refresh rates of up to 120Hz. The display here is bright enough to be used outdoors, though we have seen brighter display this price range, but this one gets the job done, too. This 12-bit display supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, too, and the display is vivid and sharp for everyday use – whether text rendering or watching high resolution videos or viewing images. Its colour calibration seems to be a bit better for watching videos, showing slightly warmer tones overall. HDR output here seems somewhat better in terms of contrast and brightness that we have seen from Android smartphones in mid-range segment, details are better produced, including in darker scenes, but there’s definitely room for further improvement.</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The device sports a triple camera system on the back – 64MP (f/1.79) main camera, 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera. The main camera can fairly detailed and well stitched shots when neither you are not your subject is moving while in decent lighting. It does struggle to keep details and white balance intact in many situations, though, including low light but even otherwise, there can be some unsatisfactory shots. I would say the camera is the weakest link for the device, not producing any great shots with good depth from its OmniVision sensor for your use. The front-facing 16Mp (f/2.45) camera can take good shots when outdoors and when you have some good lighting but can give somewhat grainy and washed-out shots, though it’s more than good enough for your video calls.</p> <p><b>Software experience and performance</b>: The device is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 chipset (up to 2.91Ghz octa core processor, Adreno 725 GPU and X62 5G modem) along with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS3.1 storage (also comes in 8GB RAM + 128GB storage option). It runs on MIUI 14.0.3 based on Android 13 with the April security patch installed. In terms of look and feel, the OS here is very much what you see on a Xiaomi smartphone. You can choose from having a separate app launcher to having all your apps on your Homescreen. The left-most pane your Homescreen can be enabled got Google News feed or you can switch or off. The device doesn’t show any performance issues during daily tasks of opening and closing apps, scrolling inside third party apps or playing a game like Call of Duty at high frame rates. The phone can heat up a bit while playing such games for half an hour or having your WiFi hotspot in use while simultaneously charging the phone but nothing that would set your alarms off. It required 10-15 minutes of tweaking and back and forth of app switching, but you can disable unnecessary notifications and ads from some pre-loaded apps (most can be uninstalled from Settings) and from the phone’s system itself, but once done, I didn’t see any ads or recommendations anywhere in the OS during my use, but yup, be ready to put in a bit of work first.</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The phone is powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit and comes with a 67watt charger in the box. The phone lasted me a bout a day or so pretty much 90% of the times and charges from 1% to full in about 55-60 minutes (albeit a bit of heating of the back panel, but nothing alarming again). With screen brightness at 40%, two Email Accounts in sync, a couple of hours of WiFi Hotspot over 5G most of the time, the phone lasts one working day more often than not, making battery life one of its stronger points.</p> <p><b>Other stuff</b>: Call quality on the device is top notch and so is the network reception with reliable5G reception wherever available, reaching speeds of up to 1.2GBPS when tested outdoors. Speaking of calling, the phone dialer supports recording of calls out of the box. The stereo speakers here are quite clear and loud though they could have been louder considering the phone’s size, but they are still not bad for your video consumption or gaming when alone.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Poco F5 5G comes out as a well-built smartphone from the company – with a really nice display in place, great battery life and a familiar software experience that can certainly be further improved. It does a bit left hanging in the camera department, but overall it’s truly a successor to the F4, making it one of the better value-for-money Android smartphones available around Rs. 30,000 today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat May 20 17:01:13 IST 2023 oneplus-pad-a-promising-first-step-into-the-android-tablet-marke <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus' first ever tablet is here, and it's priced at Rs. 37,999 for the base model and Rs. 39,999 for the higher model. There are not so many Android tablets in this price range, so let's try and see if the OnePlus Pad has enough up its sleeves to make it a worthy contender to the Apple iPad 10th gen or not.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The OnePlus Pad sports rounded edges and sufficiently thin bezels around the 11.61-inch display that you can hold it comfortably without the bezels being too thick. The Pad comes in a nice, very OnePlus-like Halo Green colour. When holding in landscape mode, the top left has the volume buttons, left side houses the Power/lock key, right side has the USB type C port, while you have four speakers -- two on each side. Its 7:5 aspect ratio plus aluminium railing around make it usable in both portrait as well as landscape mode, though I did find the glass front catching fingerprints rather quickly during my use. The bottom houses pogo sticks to attach the tablet with the keyboard. The back houses the OnePlus logo, the camera plus LED flash in a circular cutout. The tablet weighs just over 550grams and seems well built and comfortable to carry around, including the buttons; the body shows no cracking sounds or corners that might be any cause of concern for the user.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The tablet sports a 11.61-inch (2800x2000) LCD 10-bit display with refresh rates of up to 144Hz supported. It can play HDR as well as Dolby Vision content and seems to be doing a better job of handling brightness and especially contrast for Dolby Vision and HDR content than what OnePlus phones have been doing. I wouldn't quite put the display in the same bracket as the iPad in terms of colour calibration and handling picture at low brightness, but it's still a nice, bright display with decent viewing angles, too, for the price tag, for watching TV shows, movies or just scrolling through your photos.</p> <p><b>Speakers and camera:</b> The four-speaker setup supports Dolby Atmos and offers really clear and loud output, which I kind of expected from a tablet this size. It does justice to the whole setup that you wouldn't mind using it for watching videos or even playing music in the background while you carry on with your work.</p> <p>It sports a 13MP (f/2.2) camera with an LED flash on the back, which takes decent photos that you can occasionally use ot for taking photos or scanning documents on the go without having to worry about details too much. I rarely ever take photos using a tablet, so the camera here is just fine. The front has an 8MP (f/2.28) that is up to mark for making video calls or taking a selfie for some work purpose every once in a while. Both cameras support EIS but not OIS, which is not a big deal breaker for a tablet.</p> <p><b>Performance and software</b>: the Pad is equipped with MediaTek's 9000 chipset (octa core processor up to 3.1Ghz, Mali-G710 MP10 GPU) along with 12GB of LPDDRX5 RAm and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage (also comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage option). You get about 233GB of available storage out of the box. The tablets runs on OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13 OS with the March security patch. The general day to day performance of the tablet seemed to satisfactory with the software showing no major lags or stuttering when using third party apps. You can go back and forth between apps without having to worry about any crashes. The tablet experience on the OS, though, is not something I would call as excellent, with apps struggling to run same on the landscape mode as they would in the portrait mode, or the keyboard being difficult to use, so you can see that the operating system may not be tablet-friendly in all corners. I am not sure I saw any app or even a game that could reach 144Hz refresh rates, occasionally 120Hz but certainly not higher. Though apps such as YouTube and Docs run well both ways and seem to be touch friendly wherever you're inside the apps, even in a popular app like Instagram, you can see the developer hasn't done much to make it a tablet-friendly app that can be used with both modes. This is where Apple's iPadOS is ahead, for providing a more cohesive and mature operating system that just gels well and feels native on a tablet that is not supposed to be just a bigger smartphone. Another thing, not every singe time, but every once in a while, the onscreen keyboard wouldn’t hide on its own after connecting the Magnetic Keyboard</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: the Pad is powered by a 9,510 mAh battery unit and comes with a 100watt SuperVooc charger along with a USB type A to C USB 2.0 cable in the box. I found the battery life to be over a day even with heavy to moderate use, and it was nice to see decent standby times, so the tablet won't lose significant charge when sitting idle, which Android tablets can sometimes struggle so it's is certainly good to have in the OnePlus Pad. What makes it better that you can charge it from 1% to full in about 90 minutes, which is pretty quick, and hopefully doesn't take a toll on the battery in the long run.</p> <p><b>Accessories</b>: I tried the Pad's Magnetic Keyboard and the pen called Stylo. The keyboard has a trackpad as well, which is understandably smaller than what you see on a standard laptop. The keys on the keyboard have good travel but aren't quite well spaced out, that I might want to type on it. Though I am typing this using one, if given choice, you would still pick your laptop's keyboard over this for the keys as well as comfort on the lap, unsurprisingly. Standard shortcuts such as CTRL F, CTRL + Tab, CTRL C, CTRL V and several others that you can check under Settings work out of the box -- systemwide. The trackpad, too supports standard gestures for scrolling, etc. the Stylo can be used for taking notes in the preinstalled Notes app, though it's not the most feature-rich notes app with no cloud connectivity or third party integration for now.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The OnePlus seems to be a good first try from the house of OnePlus when it comes to an Android tablet. Though the OS leaves a bit on the table in terms of not being really tablet friendly, the performance is generally good. It also has a nice and sharp display, really loud and clear speakers to make your multimedia experience better (though no 3.5mm audio jack). If you really want to buy an</p> <p>Android tablet around Rs. 40,000 that can handle high resolution videos and images without any hiccups, comes with a good battery experience and can also be used for occasional document and photo editing, the OnePlus Pad is one of the few better options Android has today.</p> Thu May 18 15:55:32 IST 2023 hp-pavilion-x360-well-built-windows-11-laptop-with-solid-performance-but-not-quite-a-homerun-as-a-convertible <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>HP’s convertible laptops have been quite popular when it comes to the company’s Spectre series of laptops, but it isn’t quite same when you come lower in the budget Pavilion line. The new Pavilion x360 (ek1009TU) tries to make up for that with a pricing of Rs. 57,990, giving a convertible HP laptop to compete with the likes of Lenovo and ASUS. Let’s try and see what it gets right and what it doesn’t.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What works:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Multimedia: </b>Boasting B&amp;O speakers, these better than what most laptops come at this price point, giving a loud and clear output that you wouldn’t mind using them for watching a movie or TV series all alone in your room. The laptop also handles most video and audio codecs without too much trouble, too. There’s also an SD card slot, so you can transfer your photos or videos without having to fiddle with wires if you use a camera or backup your data on a microSD card.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b> This laptop features a 14-inch full HD (1920x1080) IPS display that can touch 250nits of peak brightness. It’s a sharp display that renders text well and can handle high resolution videos, providing a wide colour range. The multi-touch display is responsive when put into the convertible mode and usable for several quick tasks such as note-taking, file transfers or even watching a video. A lot of times Windows’ convertible notebooks come with a sluggish touchscreen in place, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance: </b>This Windows 11 Home laptop boasts of Intel’s i5-1335U chip along Iris Xe Graphics, with a 1TB NvME M.2 SSD and 16GB of DDR4 RAM (2x8GB Samsung RAMs). The device handled day to day tasks of multiple Web browsers, Microsoft Office apps and playing a video alongside without breaking a sweat. Though it can heat up a bit when put on charge, it’s not alarming or very frequent otherwise. Rarely did it show any hiccups in opening or closing of apps and didn’t lag while scrolling within apps such as Mail or Telegram.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Keyboard and fingerprint scanner:</b> This is a nice backlit keyboard with hard tactile keys that require just sufficient pressure and are responsive enough to make it a good experience for long typing sessions. You can switch backlit on or off while the on mode has two modes in terms of brightness (brightest mode seemed to be the best). The fingerprint scanner near the palm rest is also responsive and dependably for everyday use, so much so that I rarely had to use Windows pin to login during my usage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What doesn’t:</b><br> <br> </p> <p><b>Portability as a convertible:</b> the Pavilion x360 weighs a little over 1.4kg and measures 1.7cm in thickness, and I find it a bit too heavy to be carried around as a convertible. The weight doesn’t really make it a convenient device that you can use while on the go in the convertible mode, while it’s just fine when using as a conventional laptop, sadly, there’s isn’t much going for it as a convertible. Also, its battery life is a little under 7 hours on a full charge in my experience, which isn’t bad, but not that great either if mobility is the headline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict: </b>The Pavilion x360 is a well built and sturdy laptop that has good performance and multimedia capabilities as a laptop but doesn’t quite have the advantages to be used as a convertible on the go. Looking at its pros and cons, the laptop is still a worthy option as a conventional Windows laptop under Rs. 60,000 but you can look at somewhere else if you’re primarily scouting for a convertible notebook that isn’t heavy on your hands.</p> Thu May 11 19:57:20 IST 2023 nu-s-55-inch-webos-tv-a-comprehensive-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Indian smart TVs market has been quite a bit of growth in the past 5 years or so, and, with that, there’s also been new entrants in it. From the likes of established names such as Samsung and Sony, to new but growing names such as Xiaomi/Redmi, the space has seen a lot of movement. NU is the latest entrant here; being Arzooo’s consumer durable brand, the company has launched under three different consumer durables categories, with TVs being one of them. Let’s try and see if their new 55- inch webOS TV, priced at Rs. 31,990, is worth it or now.</p> <p><b>Design:</b> The TV weighs a little over 11kg and follows a familiar design in terms of plastic body with thin borders around the 16:9 aspect ratio display. There’s NU branding at the bottom-front, with a physical switch facing the bottom at the centre. On the back, there’s somewhat flimsy plastic cover that houses all your ports -3 HDMI ports including one eARC, one bottom-facing USB port and one side-facing USB port, ethernet LAN port. 3.5mm audio jack and VGA, AV out. You get the standard dual table mounts plus wall mounts in the box along with the Magic Remote (and two AAA). Talking about the remote control, this is the same Magic Remote that you get with an LG TV. Measuring longer than most remote controls you see these days, it has two app shortcut buttons, a scrolling wheel that also doubles up as the select button, plus there’s Home, back, input source, power and number keys. It doesn’t feel cheap at all and isn’t too heavy despite its longer size.</p> <p><b>Display and performance</b>: The TV has a 55-inch 3840x2160 LED display (VA panel) that supports standard 60Hz refresh rates, supporting HDR, HDR10+ as well as HLG for videos. The TV features two speakers (20watt in total output) and supports Dolby Atmos. You get around 5GB of internal storage space to install third party apps or games from the app store. The webOS app store has pretty much all of the popular OTT apps while some are pre-installed on the TV.</p> <p>The TV’s display quality seems to be on par with most of the budget LEDs we have seen in this price range with a slightly better contrast and viewing angles in daily usage. The panel support peak brightness of 350 nits, which isn’t very high and it kind of shows when viewing HDR (both HDR10 and HLG) videos on the TV. Though the TV has vivid colours and sharpness for watching high resolution videos, for HDR content, it doesn’t quite have the firepower to show you the dynamic range of the picture. For watching a show like Planet Earth II, the TV does a good enough job of handling darker scenes while showing its full range during daylight shots and drone shots from above.</p> <p>The webOS Hub OS is not common in the Indian smart TV market, and only a handful of brands other than LG currently sell webOS TVs. Even if you haven’t used webOS before, the interface on the TV isn’t something that requires you getting used to it. Most things seem to be in place, requiring the usual steps and navigations. Your apps sit in tile style and you can change their order, or uninstall them from the same screen. You can set different picture and sound settings for different input devices or choose to select one set of settings for all of them at once, conveniently.</p> <p>The TV’s OS is fairly responsive in most of the places provided, including in streaming apps such as Apple TV, SonyLiv, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, though it can struggle a bit in handling Plex if your server library is media heavy, where TV remote control, which is generally quite responsive to navigate around the options most of the time, can be a bit laggy. The OS handled high resolution movies and TV series videos without any stuttering and same for 1080p 50FPS live sports streams. The one bug I found was unable use the keyboard in the LG ThinQ app that one can install on their smartphone to control the TV. In pretty much no app I could use the keyboard to search for something, and either had to use a voice search or navigate on the on screen keyboard of the TV itself.</p> <p>Coming to its audio quality, the TV’s cinematic mode seems to be best suited for watching TV shows or movies giving much clearer output for dialogues and background commentary. The 20watt speakers are actually loud if you’re using it in a not-so-large room setup, though a separate set of speakers would surely do a much better job if you’re going to use the TV in a large room for watching sports or movies.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the NU 55-inch smart TV seems like a well-rounded TV that somewhat stands out from the crowd with its webOS instead of Android TV or Google TV that a huge majority of TV brands go with these days. The TV has a good panel for most use cases (outside HDR) and a decent set of speakers, while the performance doesn’t let it down either. It would be interesting to see how this new brand competed with the likes of Xiaomi and HiSense in this price segment.</p> Mon May 08 15:56:48 IST 2023 oneplus-nord-buds-2-review-improved-sound-decent-noise-cancellation-make-it-a-good-pick <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus’ Nord series is often associated with budget value offerings, whether it is phones or audio products. The OnePlus Nord Buds is a decent start to the company’s audio offerings under the Nord moniker; and now we have its successor in the Nord Buds 2. While the Nord Buds was launched at Rs. 2,799, the Nord Buds 2 are priced at Rs. 2,999 and come with a few new features and improvements.&nbsp;</p> <p>Let us see if the new pair is worth it.</p> <p><b>Design:</b>&nbsp;The Nord Buds 2 comes in white and grey colour options and is very similar looking to its predecessor with stem design generic looking buds that don’t exactly stand out from the crowd. The buds are IPP55 water and dust resistant, but the case is not. The earbuds have silicon eartips and you get extra tips for two different sizes in the box. There are mics on each bud and each bud weighs about 4.7 grams while the charging case weighs nearly 38 grams.&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the case, it is a matte-finished plastic case with rounded off edges that have OnePlus printed on the top, the USB type C port as well as the physical button to switch on the pairing mode located on the back, while on the front you have a small LED indicator for charging and pairing mode. The case doesn’t seem like a very well-made premium earbuds case with a slim, flimsy-feeling lid, but then these are not very high-end pair of wireless earbuds, so it is kind of expected.</p> <p>In terms of fit, my biggest complaint with original the Nord Buds was the discomfort in wearing, which seems to be slightly better in the case of the Nord Buds 2. Of course, this depends on your ear shape and size, but I found the Nord Buds 2 slightly more comfortable to wear continuously for over an hour without having to pull out the earbuds as compared to the original Nord Buds.</p> <p><b>Audio quality</b>: The pair sports 12.4mm drivers plus SBC, AAC audio codecs and support Bluetooth 5.3, including Fast Pair (for only OnePlus and no Swift Pair for Windows, too). You can use the HeyMelody app to customize EQ, change touch options, switch between noise cancellation and transparency mode or just switch them off. In terms of audio quality, there seems to be an effort made on bass and mids here. The bass, especially, is deeper and a bit cleaner than before, while mids have also been tweaked giving clearer output along with vocals in your track.&nbsp;</p> <p>Treble is a little squeaky at times when listening to some genres though it is still fine for the price point. Also, there is a bit of lag if you use the earbuds for gaming, and using the gaming mode didn’t help too much either.</p> <p>Coming to active noise cancellation, OnePlus seems to have done a decent job of cutting out external noise for your listening experience, something not many brands can say at this price point. You can notice low and mid-pitched noises cutting off on your commute while wearing these on.</p> <p>Touch controls, on the other hand, are just about okay in terms of reliability. You can control the buds for playback pause or resume, skipping tracks or switching between ANC and transparency mode, but a lot of times I found the control to not work as intended. For instance, a single tap would at times go to the previous song instead of playing or pausing the current track as intended.</p> <p><b>Battery and other features</b>: The battery life of the Nord Buds 2 seems to be just about satisfactory, giving around 4.5-5 hours of usage plus about 25-26 hours with the charging case if using ANC all the time, and 7 hours plus 35-36 hours with ANC switched off.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 clearly have a lot of things going right for it – good enough audio quality for many first-time true wireless earbuds, decent active noise cancellation and satisfactory battery life. While its touch controls and build quality could have been a bit better, it more than makes up for it what all the pair delivers at this price point.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu May 04 18:23:18 IST 2023 asus-vivobook-s-15-oled-improved-design-great-battery-life-and-display <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Another week and we have another OLED laptop from ASUS, but this time, the company seems to have made noticeable changes to its Vivobook in terms of design. Let’s try and see if this Rs 85,990 notebook – Vivobook S 15 (K5504VA) is worth the bucks or not.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b>&nbsp;The Vivobook S 15 has a revamped design with new protruding sections for connectivity options on both sides – a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 type-A port, a USB 2.0 port, an HDMI 1.4 port and 3.5mm combo audio jack, power DC, plus orange rubber foot at the bottom and same coloured escape key. The backlit keyboard is bright enough, tactile and spaced out while the touchpad is quite large, too, with comfortable armrest space to go along with it, making typing and scrolling experience better than before. You have the familiar privacy shutter button on the webcam, ASUS branding near the bottom of the 15.6-inch display, which goes 180 degrees flat. The build quality is a little improved but it definitely has room for improvement in terms of lid still feeling slightly flimsy, but ASUS has the device tested for US military-grade durability standards. The device weighs around 1.7kg, which is that high for a 15.6-inch display laptop that houses a 70WHr battery.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b>&nbsp;You get a 15.6inch (1920x1080) OLED 60Hz display that’s TUV Rheinland-certified and has less glare compared to some of the previous Vivobook models. The display is quite bright, usable outdoors, handling text rendering as needed. For watching videos and viewing images, the display does a good enough job of producing details, giving vivid colours, though for HDR output, in terms of contrast and dark scenes, you can say there’s something lacking to give out true Dolby Vision playback in these conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance:&nbsp;</b>The laptop is powered by Intel’s 13th gen i5-13500H chip (4 performance + 8 efficiency cores up to 4.7Ghz) along with Iris Xe Graphics and 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM plus 512GB PCIe Gen 4 storage. It runs Windows 11 Home edition and it runs it without showing too many hiccups. Apps open and close smoothly; the OS boots up quickly without taking any extra time any single time. You can play a game like 'Call of Duty', but at low settings, otherwise the system would struggle at keeping up with graphics and frame rates along the way. It didn’t heat up during regular day-to-day usage but with if playing graphic-intensive games at highest settings, you can notice the laptop heating up quite a bit rather quickly. Browsing heavy webpages or using Microsoft’s Office apps simultaneously – the Vivobook S15 handles these tasks without breaking a sweat and too much fan noise, but don’t expect it to be your gaming centre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery:</b>&nbsp;The notebook is powered by a 70Whr battery unit that supports 90watt fast charging and comes with a 65watt charger bundled in the box. It lasted me around 9 hours most of the time, used at 40 per cent of screen brightness and using WiFi and Bluetooth almost all the time. With multiple tabs open in Firefox and Edge, Office apps plus watching some full HD videos for an hour or so, the device gave 8-9 hours more often than not. It charges from 1 per cent to full in a little over 2 hours or so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:&nbsp;</b>The Vivobook S 15 is an improved laptop from ASUS when it comes to Vivobook’s build quality as well as minor tweaks with performance. It has a great battery life, a nice full HD OLED display and loud and clear speakers for your personal use. Its performance is up to the mark as long as you’re not into gaming heavily.</p> Mon May 01 17:17:35 IST 2023 amazon-echo-dot-5th-gen-improved-sound-quality-with-alexa-integr <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Amazon has launched many Alexa-enabled devices over past few years, but its Echo Dot line-up of smart speakers are some of the more popular ones in the market today. I have been using the 5th gen Echo Dot speaker in Blue (comes in two other colours – Black and White), and here’s what I think about this Rs. 5,499 smart speaker from Amazon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The latest Echo Dot is very similar in looks to the 4th Gen. Echo Dot, which was a change from the first three generations of small speakers. Here’s you have an orbital-shaped speaker with a flat base and fabric loid around the top with four physical buttons on it – 2 volume buttons, 1 action button and 1 mute button (for its mic). The speaker is slightly lighter than the previous gen., and I would say, still compact enough to be kept in a corner of your room all the time. The base has your multi-colour lights that go off in circular motion to indicate different modes such as pairing mode, interacting or processing your request, or updating firmware. Interestingly, the light will be stronger in the direction from where the device is hearing voice commands.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound quality</b>: The Echo Dot 5th Gen. has a 1.73-inch driver and seems to have a fuller sound than two generations older devices. I found it quite loud coming from other smart speakers that are similarly sized and priced. Voice and mids are handled quite well without too much being too. Highs are also a bit poppier while lows are deeper than before, though these are not absolutely great, but it’s overall still balanced as a small speaker that can play your tracks. There’s no 3.5mm audio jack, but you can still pair the device with another speaker via Bluetooth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Alexa and other features</b>: The 5th Gen. Echo Dot supports Eero network for enhancing WiFi coverage but I couldn’t try it. There’s also a new motion sensor to interact with the with a single tap, so, you can tap in the middle of the device’s top to mute it or shut your alarm off while it’s on. Setting up the device is straightforward and doesn’t require any repeated steps. Alexa is one of the most popular and compatible smart voice assistant out there, and with the 5th Gen. Echo Dot, you can control your supported devices just like before. I didn’t see any hiccups or glitches when it comes to controlling your home devices via the device. Alexa is responsive, understands Indian voice, speaking style and accent very well and is just a good overall smart assistant to have around to do the things you expect from your smart assistant on a regular basis without causing any major issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Verdict: The latest generation of Echo Dot is a compact enough smart speaker that has improved audio quality, comers with a nice fabric on top, circular lights at the flat bottom and doesn’t let down with its Alexa capabilities to make the experience familiar and reliable most of the times. So, if you’re looking for a new smart speaker and have Alexa-compatible connected devices or appliances at home, the Echo Dot 5th Gen. is definitely worth a look and consideration.</p> Thu Apr 27 13:00:24 IST 2023 oneplus-11-impressive-performance-at-a-reasonable-price <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>OnePlus 11</b>: Great battery life and display, with improved cameras for most users I reviewed the OnePlus 11R, which came out to be quite a performer in its price range, and it’s now time to check its bigger sibling, the OnePlus 11, which I have been using for three weeks now. Starting at a price point of Rs. 56,999 and going up to Rs. 61,999 (which is the one I used, too), let’s see what it brings to the table.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The OnePlus 11 kind of reminds me of the Nord 2T – with its shimmery and premium-feeling back, the phone is quite heavy, weighing a little over 200grams. It sports a 6.7-inch 20.1:9 aspect ratio display with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on top (Gorilla Glass 5 on the back). On the right side, you have the alert slider (yup, it’s back) as well as the Power/lock key; while the left side houses the volume buttons. All these buttons are tactile and require just enough pressure to register a tap. The bottom locates one set of loudspeaker, USB type C port, SIM card tray slot and the primary mic; while the top only has the secondary outlay for loudspeakers. Both the top and bottom are flat and glossy with a distinct look from the rest of the device. The phone really follows on the OnePlus design we have been seen for a while, feels nice in the hand and, expectedly, has quite large footprint.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The device sports a 6.7-inch (3216x144) AMOLED (LTPO 3.0) display that support refresh rates of up to 120Hz. The display here is one of the stronger points of the devide. It’s bright, it’s sharp and it handles multimedia and text for reading pretty well. I would like to see it handle HDR content a bit better in terms of contrast and detailing around shadows, but otherwise, this is a really good screen that doesn’t disappoint in any major way.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The smartphone sports a triple camera system on the back – a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, 48MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera and a 32MP (f/2.0) telephoto camera. The main camera has been tuned in partnership with Hasselblad for colours calibration, and it’s the lens I preferred the most on the phone to take day to day shots, which came out better tuned and less noisy compared to non Hasselblad shots. The HDR mode can also lift your shots at times in terms of highlights, though it can overdo things, too, that we have seen on OnePlus phones earlier. It also seems close-up shots have been improved in terms if details and sharpness in general, which is nice to see. The camera app, now closer to oppo’s camera app, is responsive and has many different options to choose from even if you don’t want to fiddle around too much. You can shoot videos in 8K at 24FPS, though 4K HDR at 30 or 60FPSshots are quite sufficiently good with OIS in place, if you want to try. On the front, there’s a 16MP camera that can take good enough and detailed shots for your social media needs with some improvements for shots taken in less-than-ideal lighting conditions indoors (helped by EIS in place) .</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The OnePlus 11 is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset (3.2Ghz octa core processor, Adreno 740 GPU, x70 5G modem) along with 16GB of Ram and 256GB UFS 4.0 storage (also comes in lower 8GB + 128GB configuration). It runs on OxygenOS 13.0 based on Android 13 with the March security patch installed. In terms of general day to day performance, the phone can handle it well enough. Even for handling graphic intensive games like Asphalt 9, the phone does a good job in keeping up with the game playback without dropping too many frames. Having said that, like previous OnePlus phones, I did notice frame rates dropped during scrolling in apps such as Instagram and YouTube; it happens such that there’s a noticeable delay in video playback and audio sync, or sometimes while simply scrolling within these apps and you would notice a bit of stuttering around. It’s not every single time, but it does happen every now and then, which is a little weird considering how high end the hardware in place is including the higher refresh rate display and RAM. On the other hand, apps close and open quickly, and so does switching between two apps without having to wait for an app to resume after switching to it a few minutes later.</p> <p><b>Battery experience</b>: Powered by a 5,000 mAh battery unit, the phone comes bundled with a 100watt SuperVooc charger. Maybe 90% of the days I used the device, it lasted me a aday and then some. Even with two SIM cards used, highest resolution and adaptive refresh rate selected, the phone lasted me a day. It charges from 1% to full in nearly 30 minutes, which is pretty fast, and importantly, the phone didn’t heat up alarmingly either.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The OnePlus 11 seems to be a good performer when it comes to battery life and display quality, while giving improved camera shots most of the time. In terms of performance, it can be a little jittery at times, though that isn’t the majority. With a familiar software experience, the phone shouldn’t be a new path to take on for somebody who is using a OnePlus device. Having said that, it pretty much makes the OnePlus 11R an even better value for money, giving, in my opinion, about 80%-85% of total performance and experience (except for camera and maybe display), while charging a decent difference for that upgrade.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Apr 24 16:51:37 IST 2023 dyson-v15-detect-high-end-cleaning-solution-for-a-dust-free-home <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Dyson’s vacuum cleaners are well known in several countries, and they have been in the Indian market for a while now, too. The V15 Detect is the company’s high-end offering that comes with a ray of accessories and features to make cleaning more convenient and effective. Available at Rs. 65,900, let’s try and see how well it does so.</p> <p>The vacuum cleaner has a good handshake-like grip that’s comfortable to get on with for holding it for a few minutes continuously. The side facing the user has a small LCD that shows different particles collected by the machine (bifurcated with respect to microns) using the piezo sensor, and there’s also the option to choose modes in terms of suction power – Eco, Medium and Power. An upgraded 240watt motor sits at the heart of the machine, that drives all the suction. The handheld machine has a flat surface at the bottom to sit on, and comes with a docking station that can be bolted on a wall where you can also charge the machine while hanging it. The build quality here seems satisfactory and so does the whole finish and feel of the machine, having a decent heft to it, though one can argue it’s a little too heavy (2.74kg) for continues usage and the clear plastic used could have been a little better in terms of ruggedness though it still seems okay.</p> <p>In the box, you get many attachments that you can use depending on your use-case. These include laser slim fluffy, cleaner head, digital motorbar floorhead, hair screw tool, crevice tool, combination tool, mini soft dusting brush and stubborn dirt brush. Each attachment can be attached or detached by pressing the red-coloured nozzle-like part. The inner box where all the dust gets collected is quite convenient to remove and can be simply washed with water and then dried along with the attachments that need to be completely dried before you can reuse them.</p> <p>The V15 Detect does a really good job of collecting all the dust that comes along the way when used on carpets, sofas, bedsheets and mattresses. The laser slim floorhead can be used with its laser-like green light turned on to give you a better view of the dust that’s around and you can kind of see before and after effects on the same surface, though not all small particles are visible.</p> <p>The one thing some might find missing is the ability to use the machine in wet conditions, but most of the time, I found the V15 Detect to be efficient enough with cleaning that I didn’t have to redo the whole exercise, seeing the dust collection increasing as per the LCD reading.</p> <p>From simple floor cleaning to curtains, from stairs and steps to thick carpets, and from pet hair to AC filter debris and dirt, the V15 is powerful enough to get the job done effectively. If you have slected a lower power mode but there’s a lot more dirt to be dealt with, the V15 Detect would automatically go switch to a higher power mode in order to do the required job.</p> <p>The V15 Detect can take around 4.5 to 5 hours to charge in full using the bundled charger. In Power mode, I found it to last nearly 40 minutes, which isn’t bad at all. While on Eco mode, you can expect it to be around an hour so.</p> <p>All in all, the V15 Detect is an efficient and effective wireless vacuum cleaner that gets the job done for most use cases. It isn’t meant to be used in wet conditions, but where it can be used, it’s more than good enough while keeping you informed about the dust and particles collected as well as the estimated time charge left. It isn’t an affordable or budget vacuum cleaner by any means, but looking at how well it worked and plenty of attachments it comes loaded with, it might well be useful for individuals looking to splurge to have their house dust-free whenever they use their vacuum cleaner</p> Mon Apr 17 17:24:46 IST 2023 asus-15x-oled-good-display-and-performance--but-average-build-qu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>ASUS has been on a race to provide OLED fitted laptops across its price ranges for a while now, and the 15X OLED (M3504) is yet another example of the company going all on it. The ASUS Vivobook 15X OLED starts at a price point of Rs. 66,990 and got up to Rs. 74,990. Let’s see if this AMD Ryzenpowered machine is worth it or now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>WHAT WORKS FOR IT</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: the laptop sports a 15.6-inch full HD (1920x1080) OLED display that support refresh rates of 60Hz. The display is quite bright and has vivid colours that we have seen from ASUS in the recent past. For watching videos or viewing high resolution images, the display does a good job of showing decent colour range across the board. It’s a 16:9 aspect ratio display and not 16:10, which some content creators may have preferred but what you do get is a quality display panel for the price tag. It’s a glossy display and carries PANTONE validation and VESA certification for HDR. There’s also a 2.8K 120Hz OLED variant but that’s not the one I tried.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: Running Windows 11 Home and powered by AMD’s Ryzen 5 7530U chip (up to 4.3Ghz 6-core processor) along with Radeon graphics, the laptop handled daily tasks pretty well without showing any major stuttering. Apps such as Firefox, Microsoft Word, Excel and Edge open and close without any delays and neither took any additional time to perform their usual tasks. For gaming, it can handle graphic intensive games like CoD at minimum settings and can somewhat show its limitation at medium to highest settings, with frame drops and other performance glitches.</p> <p>Otherwise, the laptop is well capable of handling tasks as it’s expected to. I tried its 512Gb NVMe SSD and 16GB variant and found it a good option for most users, including for those looking to transfer heavy files to and from the device on a frequent basis in terms of read and write speeds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Connectivity</b>: You get plenty of I/O options as well as WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5 support. On the left side, you have a USB 2.0 type A port along with the battery indicator; while on the left, there’s a USB 3.2 Gen 1 type C port with power delivery support, two USB 3.2 gen 1 type A ports, an HDMI 1.4 port 3.5mm combo audio jack and the power jack. As you can see there are a lot of ports and connectivity options. I would have liked to see ASUS bundle a LAN to HDMI dongle in the box to make up for the missing LAN port but it’s still not a common thing PC brands do these days. The 720p webcam on the front does a decent job for video calling, and comes with a physical shutter for privacy in place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The laptop is powered by a 42WHr battery cell and comes with a standard 65watt charger in the box. I found it to charge from 5% to full while working in about 2 hours or so, and the battery lasting about 8-9 hours on a regular basis, which is pretty good. With WiFi always on, screen brightness at 40%, a lot Web browsing, 40-50 minutes of full HD videos (but no gaming), the laptop usually lasted a working session.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What seemed strictly okay</b>:</p> <p>Build quality: Even though there is an upgraded metal lid in place, the 15X OLED doesn’t quite seem to have a sturdy enough build in place. With a wobbly lid and a trackpad that struggles to catch your gestures (regular Windows ones) Vivobook isn’t particularly known for its design and build quality to begin with, and sadly it seems to be the case here too. Though the keyboard is spacious and decent to type on, the keys aren’t of very high quality and, if you have used another ASUS laptop with a different keyboard, you can tell the material and finish could have been a little better for something priced above Rs. 65,000.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The ASUS 15X OLED seems like a good enough laptop for most uses that’s outside gaming. The device has a good battery life, really nice display and connectivity options to go with it. It could have had better build quality and maybe keyboard but there’s nothing much wrong about it otherwise for a Windows 11 laptop with Ryzen 5 7530U.</p> Fri Apr 14 14:39:52 IST 2023 nothing-ear-2-comfortable-to-wear-tws-pair-that-delivers-good-enough-audio-quality <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nothing first came into limelight around two years back when they released the Ear (1), giving a new look for true wireless earbuds without charging a very high price. Now, the company has launched its successor, the Nothing Ear (2), which is priced at Rs. 9,999, and comes with several improvements and additions, according to the company. Let’s try and see what it really offers and where it lacks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:&nbsp;</b>The whole package comes in a small black box with minimal cardboard usage, carrying the case with the earbuds, USB type-C charging cable, and two pairs of eartips of different sizes. The case here is made up of all plastic and has a transparent body for the most part. The buds themselves have a plastic body with about 50 per cent of it being transparent, showing internals of the buds in an aesthetic way, something we have seen from Nothing with their products by now. The back of the case carries the USB type-C port, physical switch for putting it in pairing mode, and inside there’s a small LED for indicating charging or pairing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Neither the case nor the earbuds feel cheap in any case and seem to have a sturdy plastic material in place for prolonged usage. The buds are 1P54 rated while the case is IP55 rated for water and dust resistance. The buds have a familiar stem-cell design with silicon gel tips. I found these to fit in-ear well and to be comfortable for wearing even for longer durations continuously. Perhaps, the best part about the Ear (2) is how well they stay in your ear and don’t add any bulk that you might feel at all times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound quality:</b>&nbsp;Coming to the audio side of things here, the Nothing Ear (2) supports AAC, SBC and LHDC 5.0 audio codecs along with Bluetooth 5.3. It’s powered by two upgraded 11.6mm drivers. You can use the Nothing X app to update the buds’ firmware, customize and configure different settings for the buds from your smartphone, whether Android or iOS, including EQ and ANC.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The pair has a somewhat emphasised treble and improved detailing. For those concerned about bass and sub-bass, it’s a bit on the aggressive side, but not too aggressive that you would be better off without it. It seems to handle lows better than the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, which did overdo a few things. I also found sound to be better tuned for vocals while it can struggle at times to handle mids to go alongside at the same time, Nothing seems to have tuned it (by default settings) keeping lows and headroom for instruments in mind. For Android users, there’s higher frequency codec LHDC in place, though this isn’t a very widely used codec as AptX and AptX HD are.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The pair supports controls by way of squeezing either of the buds’ stem, and it works fairly reliably without missing it too frequently. Coming to active noise cancellation (ANC), let’s just say this isn’t quite a feature that you might want from a wireless pair of earbuds priced around Rs 10,000. The buds produce a hissing sound as others in order to cancel out on external noise but, in doing so, it not only drags down sound quality and battery life (naturally), but also the noise cancellation itself isn’t really up to the mark. I found using the pair with noise cancellation completely off to be a much nicer experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Mics and battery life:&nbsp;</b>Each of the buds has three mics around the top for noise cancellation and calls. The mics on these for calls are just about okay, a bit better when used indoors of course but then, it isn’t significantly worse in this department than other TWS around this price range. Both buds carry a 33mAh battery unit, lasting about 6.5 hours with ANC switched off and about 4.5 hours with ANC switched on at all times. Add the charging case (485mAh battery), and the battery life extends to around 30 hours or so with no ANC. The charging case is Qi2 certified for wireless induction charging, and, as per the company, gives 8 hours of playback with 10 minutes of quick charge over using the USB type-C port. There’s support for Google Fast Pair as well as Swift Pair, and you can also connect these to two devices at once. And yup, you can use just one earbud at a time, if preferred.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There’s also in-ear detection for music pause and resume, and it works fine on the Ear (2). For high bitrates videos and gaming, low latency mode does a decent job of countering the audio lag issue to some extent, which I had turned on during most of my usage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b>&nbsp;All in all, the Nothing Ear (2) carries the company’s trademark in terms of looks and design while offering a good set of features with performance on most fronts. It would have been nicer to have a longer battery life and ANC performance, but you do get a good bit of audio quality that might be liked by many users, plus a great design and in-ear fit, which is essential for any pair of wireless audio product. I got one firmware update while trying out the pair, and hopefully the company keeps on pushing these to further improve on the experience, which is currently up to the mark and good enough to make it a worthy contender to be on your list if you’re looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds under Rs 10,000, that can also stand apart from the crowd.</p> Fri Apr 07 16:54:00 IST 2023 poco-x5--sub-par-performance-on-mutiple-fronts- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Poco’s F4 was one of the better devices to come out last year in terms of value for money. So, when the company recently came out with the X5, there were quite a bit of high expectations from the device since its pricing is close to the F4. Starting at Rs. 18,999 and going up to Rs. 20,999, let’s see if the Poco X5 performs well on the expectations or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The X5 has a familiar centrally=placed notch on the 6.67-inch display, curved edges and thin plastic to wrap around the back. The back has enough give-in, so you can kind of press the back panel against the inner body, not something you like to see on a phone. The right side has the volume buttons and Power/lock key (with the fingerprint scanner mounted) near the middle, both keys are tactile and don’t feel cheap; while the left side houses the dual SIM card tray. The top locates the 3.5mm audio jack, infrared port and secondary mic; and the bottom has the USB type C port in the middle surrounded by the primary mic and loudspeaker. The back has the protruding triple camera setup on a rectangular cut-out with the poco branding to go alongside. The phone comes in Jaguar Black, supernova Green and Wildcat Blue colour options, which is the one I tried. It weights under 200grams and is a shy of 8mm thickness plus it is IP53 water and dust resistance. The phone doesn’t quite have the best build quality, but design seems to be okay and about on par with this price segment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone features a 6.67-inch full HD+ (1080x2400) AMOLED display with up to 120Hz refresh rates support. The display here is bright enough and usable under direct sunlight. It’s sharp and handles high resolution images and videos sufficiently well. Its HDR output for streaming videos lacks a bit in terms of contrast but otherwise this display does a good job at handling content or graphics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The X5 sports a triple camera system on the back with dual LED flash – 48MP (f/1.8) main camera, 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (2.4) macro camera. The main camera can take well lit shots in daylight, but the phone can take a little to stitch the shot together before you can view it. For low light shows, there’s a bit of hit and trial required to take shots that don’t come out grainy. The ultra-wide camera is just about okay for group shots or outdoors use, while macro camera can barely be used for any details or sharp shots. For videos, the phone can take 1080p or 720p videos at 30FPS (no 60FPS). On the front, you get a 13MP (f/2.45) camera, which you can take decent shots for your social media use in terms on of colour reproduction and skin tones with beautify turned off. The camera itself, though, has a lot of options to choose from for both videos and photos from the rear or front camera such as movie mode, night mode, slow motion and pro mode.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The phone comes with a Snapdragon 695 chipset (up to 2.2Ghz processor, Adreno 619 GPU and X51 5G modem) coupled with 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB UFS2.2 storage (also comes in 6GB and 128GB configuration). The phone runs on MUI 13.0.1 based on Android 12 with the December security patch installed. As you can see, things here aren’t particularly up to date. While the chipset itself is a bit dated (which is okay), the phone is still on Android 12 version and doesn’t have any recent security patches installed, importantly. In terms of day to day performance, I felt this was the biggest disappointed with the device. While scrolling between apps, every now and then the phone would struggle to keep up high refresh rates, and I am not even talking about games here. Even for popular Instagram, you can see frames dropping during video playback, which just doesn’t bode well. The phone’s own stuff like MIUI launcher, Settings, and camera app do a fine job of in terms of being smooth and responsive to use, but the phone can’t quite be called a good performer when it comes to handling multiple apps. The software here is very close to what we have seen on the Redmi Note 12 with MIUI giving plenty of customization options, whether it’s for notification styles, theming, vibration intensity or choosing between having an app tray or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery</b>: The phone is powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit and comes with a 33watt charger in the box, which is the maximum charging capacity for it. I found the battery life to be among the better things about the phone, with it lasting me a day almost every time with 5G and hotspot used for hours, some YouTube and heavy messaging usage, two Email Accounts, and display set at higher refresh rates with the brightness set at 30%. The phone charges from 1% to full in about 65-70 minutes, which isn’t too bad either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other stuff</b>: The phone’s side-mounted fingerprint scanner is quite reliable and quick for daily usage on a frequent basis. The loudspeakers, though, aren’t too great at handling videos even if you’re sitting alone indoors, giving just about a decent output to watch a video. For 5G connectivity, I found the phone latch on to 5G in most places available fairly well without going back to 4G LTE that I would have to keep checking. WiFi and Bluetooth 5.1 performance here is reliable and something I didn’t have to double check during my usage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Poco X5 5G seems to be a not-so-stellar performer in most departments, especially if we put it against the likes of the Redmi Note 12 5G and Realme 10 Pro 5G. While the Poco X5 does have a nice display and good battery life., it’s really its software experience, lacklustre performance and build quality that let it down big time, making it a bit of a disappointing device considering the same folks came up with the Poco F4 not that long back.</p> Tue Apr 04 16:56:24 IST 2023 samsung-galaxy-s23-power-performance-in-one-compact-device <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bigger display and much better battery life on the middle sibling than the smaller S23 I reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra and S23 just a while back, and now it’s time for the middle sibling – the S23+. Starting at a price point of Rs. 94,999 and going to Rs. 1,04,999, the S23+ offers a bigger display and battery in place than the regular S23. Let’s see what it gets right and what it doesn’t.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: Well, to put it briefly, it’s simply a bigger version of the S23. The overall look and feel are very much like the S23, which isn’t a bad thing You get a 6.6-inch AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on top and a front-facing camera in a punch-hole near the top. The right side gets the Power/lock key near the middle and volume buttons near the top; while the left side all plain except for the stripes for network reception. The top only has the secondary mic; and the bottom houses the dual SIM card tray, USB type C, primary mic and loudspeaker. I didn’t find the device to be very slippery nor overweight. It feels decent in the hand and would comfortable to carry around for most people considering phone sizes in general these days.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone sports a full HD+ (2340x1080) AMOLED display that supports refresh rates of up to 120Hz. It’s an 8-bit panel but handles HDR pretty well without sacrificing on losing out on details that can happen in streaming content at times. The display is bright, sharp and in line with Samsung’s flagship offerings in recent times in terms of vivid colour reproduction on default settings. Also, I think the phone handles high refreshing rates in third party apps better than the OnePlus 11R and 10T, where the S23+ doesn’t randomly cut down on refreshing the display while scrolling, which is nice to see.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: For photography, you get a familiar triple camera setup on the back -- a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera. The performance for these cameras is of course same as the S23. It can take really detailed and bright shots in daylight. Pro mode is nice to try in different conditions, tweaking different settings to see what might work a little better. With your subject moving, or in low light sitatuons, though, it can struggle a bit to keep up with details and can give grainy shots. On the front, there’s a 12MP (f/2.2) camera that can take sharp shots for your social media needs. There’s some nice filters to try though many of those go overboard in terms of skin toning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: For its hardware, the smartphone features a slightly customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (up to 3.36GHz octa core processor, Adreno 740 GPU and x70 modem) chipset to go with 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB UFS 4.0 storage. I found its general performance to be not lacking in any significant manner. You can play a game like Ashpalt 9 without any troubles or excessive heating issues with the device. Apps open and close smoothly with no stuttering seen in day to day usage here. As mentioned above, the phone handles higher refresh rates pretty well in third party apps for scrolling or just navigating through the device otherwise. The device runs on Samsung’s One UI 5.1 that’s based on Android 13 OS with March security patch installed. In terms if customization and added features, One Ui doesn’t disappoint – whether it’s added options with the Gallery app or the handy file manager or Good Lock add-on that is a must try app from the Galaxy Store if you have a Galaxy device today. Just make sure to disable recommended apps and show customized apps under Samsung’s settings, which I found don’t really add any value to your user experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The phone boasts a 4,700mAh battery unit and supports up to 45watt fast charging, though you don’t get a charger in the box (just a USB type C to C cable and a SIM card tray ejector tool). The phone lasted a day quite frequently with moderate to heavy use every day. It charges from 1% to full in about 90 minutes or so, which was expected. The battery life is nearly as good as the S23 Ultra, though not exactly as much, but significantly better than the S23.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other stuff:</b> The device latches on to 5G connectivity wherever available quite well, perhaps better than many other 5G devices that often show to drop to 4G LTE on a short movement even if you’re outside. The call quality here is top notch and so is the GPS performance for reliable quick lock-in. The loudspeakers on the device aren’t the best in terms of loudness or deep output for multimedia, but it’s still decent enough that you won’t mind using them for watching your videos or playing a game when alone. Optical fingerprint scanner is just decent enough when it comes to unlocking the device frequently and quickly, though its placement could have been slightly lower under the display for convenience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> The Samsung Galaxy S23+ performed pretty much in line to what you might have thought about it. It’s a bigger version of the S23 with a longer battery life and a larger display that both do a good job. Its performance is top notch in this price segment, You might say this isn’t a huge change from the S23 or not a huge leap from the S22 in terms of design, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing always considering it’s working fine and doesn’t really cause any dip in the user experience.&nbsp;</p> Mon Mar 27 17:04:18 IST 2023 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