Gadgets en Wed Nov 16 13:21:52 IST 2022 samsung-galaxy-s24-and-s24-review-tweaked-up-versions-with-great-displays-and-build-quality <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung has this time decided to bring their two models of the Galaxy S series with the Exyn5os model and only the Ultra model with the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip for select regions. The Galaxy S24+ starts at Rs. 99,999 while the S24 starts at Rs. 79,999 for the base model. Let’s try and see how these perform and whether they are worth their price tags over their predecessor or not.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both the devices look and feel in the hand pretty similar to the S23+60 and S23, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The displays here are slightly bigger with the S24+ having a 6.7-inch display (over the 6.6-inch on the S23+), and the S24 has a 6.2-inch display (instead of the 6.1-inch on the S23). The phones have an aluminium armour frame that’s supposed to be more pressure-resistant than the S23 series. Unlike the S24 Ultra, which has sharp edges, both these devices have curved corners with the S24+ weighing 196 grams and the S24 at 167 grams and hardly any difference in their thickness (with the S24 being slightly thinner at 7.6mm).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both devices have Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on top of the display with matte finish glass at the back. They are grippy and comfortable to carry around, unsurprisingly more than the bulkier S24 Ultra.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The right side carries the volume buttons and then the Power/lock key near the middle, which I would have probably preferred to be the other way around in terms of placement of the Power/lock key on the regular S24. The left side is all left plain. The top locates the secondary mic and one outlet for loudspeakers; while the bottom has the dual SIM tray slot, USB type C port and another outlet for loudspeakers.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The displays on Samsung’s flagship devices have generally been some of the best in terms of sharpness, colour calibration and HDR output, and it seems to be the case with these two devices s well. The S24’s 6.2-inch full HD+ (1080x2340) Dynamic AMOLED appears to have a slightly cooler colour temperature than the S24+’s 6.7-inch quad HD+ (1440x3120) Dynamic AMOLED display. They are usable under direct sunlight without much trouble and have good viewing angles. The displays have dynamic refresh rates from 1 to 120Hz with the LTPO technology in place.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The S24 series has added HDR support for Instagram and you can clearly see the difference while uploading and viewing HDR photos on Instagram. One of the more talked-about changes with the S24 and S24+ is Samsung going with their Exynos 2400 chipset (up to 3.21Ghz deca core processor, Xclipse 940 GPU). This has been coupled with 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM on the S24 and 12GB on the S24+ base models.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You get 128GB UFS4.0 storage (also comes in 256 and 512GB) on the S24 base model while the S24+ has it as 256GB (also comes in 512GB). It runs on Android 14 with OneUI 6.1 running with the February security patch in place.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I found the phone to handle regular tasks without any issues. Regarding gaming, you can expect to play a heavy game like Genshin Impact at its highest settings without having to worry about any heating issues.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But when the phones's WiFi hotspot was turned on for about 45 minutes, they did heat up quite a bit -- something I didn’t see much on the S24 Ultra.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While call quality, Bluetooth, GPS and WiFi performance are top-notch, the 5G reception isn’t quite as good as the S24 Ultra or the OnePlus 12, both of which have a competing high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. This is really my only complaint with this Exynos chip, which otherwise performs really well and seems to have been much improved over its predecessors.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There’s another feature in the Gallery app that basically allows you to remove objects from your photos, for instance, you can remove somebody in the background of your own photo and it worked really well, including for photos taken with some other device.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the triple camera system – you get a 50 MP (f/1.8) main camera, a 10 MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera, and a 12 MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera – for both smartphones. The phones take detailed and punchy shots and the last software update seems to have improved the shutter lag, which is especially useful when taking photos of kids or pets. Taking shots in low light can require a bit of fiddling around with the camera app, which is pretty snappy and feature-rich to begin with.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can also shoot in RAW format for a more in-depth editing option, or HEIF for a lower size than JPEG generally. For videos, you can shoot 8K videos at 30FPS and 4K videos at 30 and 60FPS. The camera seems to have better output under low light in super-steady mode for videos.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The front-facing 12MP (f/2.2) camera generally takes detailed and well-stitched shots, though at times overexposing the subject, but not always, definitely good enough for your social media and video calling. The S24+ is powered by a 4,900 mAh battery unit while the S24 gets 4,000 mAh, with the S24+ I rarely had to charge it again on the same day, leaving about 15% after a medium to heavy day of usage.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With the S24, it used to be much less and on a heavy day, the S24 required to be charged again. The S24+ charged from 1% to full in about 1.5 hours, while this took 80 minutes or so for the S24. Both phones support up to 25 watts (power delivery) of charging, and it’s worth noting, that there’s no charger included in the box.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, the S24+ and S24, despite their 7 years of promised OS updates, show that the S23+ and S23 (five years of updates from the launch time) are still very much capable and the jump isn’t that huge. If you’re getting a good deal on either the S23+ or S23 (depending on your size preference, mainly), you might want to consider those. But for those looking for the latest from Samsung in these price segments, other than Exynos 2400’s network quality issue, the S24+ and S24 do not disappoint.</p> Wed Mar 06 19:41:45 IST 2024 oneplus-buds-3-review--affordable-tws-with-strong-audio-performa <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus’ audio products have been quite popular among TWS buyers, but not all of them have been good performers in terms of sales figures or audio performance. I really liked the original OnePlus Buds Pro, but not as much as the Buds Pro 2. And now we have the more budget-friendly OnePlus Buds 3 from the company, priced at Rs. 5,499. I have been trying to put these through their paces, and here’s how the experience has been.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The OnePlus Buds 3 come in Metallic Gray (which I tried) or Splendid Blue and are made out of metal and carry a dual matte plus glossy finish that isn’t too blingy. These stem-cell design buds are IP55 water and dust-resistant. The stem is slightly curved inwards with rubberized eartips. I found the OnePlus Buds 3 comfortable to wear for long durations and didn’t have to adjust their in-ear fit frequently either, whether sitting indoors or while commuting. The stems have capacitive touch controls on them; you can swipe up or down to change the volume, tap once to answer a call or change tracks, long-press to change noise cancellation mode, but there’s no gesture to pause or play your music again by default. You can change these from the HeyMelody app or from within Bluetooth settings if you have a OnePlus or Oppo device. The touch controls are fairly responsive and reliable. The charging case carries the OnePlus logo at the top, with a pairing button inside between where the buds rest; while the USB type C port sits behind outside. Each bud weighs about 5 grams while the case adds a little over 40 grams to it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The OnePlus Buds 3 boast 10.4mm dual drivers, support Bluetooth 5.3, and come with LHDC 5.0 audio codec, in addition to the usual SBC and AAC (for other Android and iOS devices). These also have multiple device pairing, plus Google’s Fast Pair, which definitely made pairing with an Android device a little quicker.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The OnePlus Buds 3 do not disappoint in terms of audio quality. They deliver a fairly bass-heavy sound without any noticeable distortion. You won’t have to crank up the volume much to get a good thump from the buds. However, for lows and mids, the OnePlus Buds 3 can be a little overly aggressive at times, but they generally perform well in handling instruments, although voice may seem a bit more balanced. The default EQ mode may not be ideal for every type of song, so adjusting the EQ from the settings as per your preference is recommended.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The quality of the buds' mics is pretty good for making calls while wearing them. Even when outdoors, the mic quality is sufficiently good for ensuring that the person on the other end can clearly hear your voice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When it comes to active noise cancellation, the OnePlus Buds 3 do a pretty decent job, especially considering the price tag. The sound quality is still preferred with it switched off, but with the ANC switched on, the surrounding noise does decrease considerably. Additionally, with the transparency mode on, you can hear your surrounding people well enough to not need to take the buds off.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The OnePlus Buds 3 perform well when syncing video and audio, even when playing high-bitrate content. Additionally, the gaming mode effectively minimizes latency, ensuring a smooth gaming experience without any noticeable issues. The automatic stop and resume feature when removing and reinserting the buds functions reliably.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The battery life on the OnePlus Buds 3 is impressive, lasting approximately 7.5 hours with ANC switched on and an additional 3 hours with ANC switched off. This is primarily when the LHDC codec is being used while paired with a OnePlus device (OnePlus 12 and Pad).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All in all, the OnePlus Buds 3 are a complete package to take on the likes of the Oppo Enco Air3 Pro. You get really nice audio quality, which is a bit bass-heavy, good battery life, decent ANC for the price tag, all while being comfortable to wear.</p> Fri Mar 01 10:45:58 IST 2024 exploring-the-features-of-the-remarkable-2--a-comprehensive-user <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Norwegian tech brand reMarkable recently entered India with its reMarkable 2 paper tablet. The tablet was globally launched quite a while back but the company says it got a stronger response from potential buyers in India compared to what they had previously anticipated, took them a while but it’s now here. Available for Rs. Rs. 43,999 for the base model, this tablet is not meant to be the one-stop machine for all your needs. It is meant to do very few tasks on it, help you disconnect from always-on digital life while also doing your work on it – whatever few things it does.</p> <p>The reMarkable 2 tablet is very much minimalistic in looks and feel just like its whole purpose seems to be. This paper tablet is thin (measuring 4.7mm) and does not feel too heavy (slightly under 405 grams) when holding with one hand while sitting. It carries an aluminium frame and does feel well crafted and something somewhat premium to handle. The top left corner locates the Power/lock key; while the bottom houses the USB type C port in the middle. The left side has pogo pins where you attach the Marker Plus pen and also folio case, in case you plan to buy these. For the folio plus the tablet (and the pen), you would have to shell out Rs. 53,999.</p> <p>The 10.3-inch e-ink (1872x1404 resolution) display does its job – it’s easier on the eye to read long documents on, has decent refresh rates for an e-ink display and doesn’t struggle with text-based documents in any way. In order to go to the next page, you simply swipe right from extreme left, and do totally opposite to go to the previous page. To come out of your currently opened document, you can either swipe down from the top or press the x button on top right. You can press the Power key once to turn the display off or long-press it to switch the tablet off. While the display is turned off (sleep mode), the display reads ‘’reMarkable is sleeping’’, and ‘’reMarkable is powered off’ when it’s switched off.’ The tablet takes about 15 seconds to turn back on completely.</p> <p>With a 1.2Ghz dual core ARM processor and running on a custom Linux-based operating system called Codex (currently on version, unsurprisingly, it’s far from a feature rich and densely connected OS. For starters, you can make notes on the tablet, read PDFs, share notes from the tablet directly over Email and also edit PDFs. The reMarkable website allows you to upload and sync documents from other devices to the reMarkable 2 and it works pretty smoothly. Though only file type PDF, PNG, JPG and EPUB are supported here.</p> <p>There are no menus, no app drawers and no app icons here – you’re presented with a nice slate where you can choose to add a notebook, make a new folder or make a quick sheet from a set of templates. At all times on the screen, you’re also shown the WiFi icon and battery status at the bottom, and search icon at the top right.</p> <p>Out of the box, the tablet had a little over 6GB of available internal storage. Users are given a year's worth of Connect subscription. What Connect gives you is unlimited document syncing, without it, you can sync documents where it's kept for as long as 50 days before getting removed from your synced data. There’s an app available for Android, iOS, plus you can simply login via a Web browser and import your files. There is also a Chrome browser extension available with which you can save an opened web page into a PDF or EPUB format and then have it synced to your reMarkable 2 - neat little feature. You can also, if required, send your Word and PowerPoint files as PDFs to the tablet using its Office add-on called Read on reMarkable. The subscription here of Rs. 299 per month does seem a little steep considering you can only sync those four file formats. The company’s website also has something called Room to Think, which basically gives you music tracks that can play in the background (on another device) while you’re writing or jotting down or just thinking aloud for some task.</p> <p>The Marker Plus has an eraser at the top and is quite smooth to write with. I could write with it on the tablet without getting much used to, though in order to convert your written text to a regular document, where the tablet converts your writing to text, requires pretty good legible handwriting for it to do it in a usable form. The display detects your palm, so it doesn’t cause any issues when you’re writing down on it using the Marker Plus. There’s ample broders around the display (especially at the bottom) to hold it with your fingers. You can set whether you’re left handed or right during the initial setup or from Settings at any time.</p> <p>This e-ink tablet does what few thing it’s meant to do and does it really well – not once did it struggle with any typing using the keyboard, rendering black and white PDFs (though it can take a little to show coloured pages in EPUB format), writing with the Parker Plus or journaling as your daily habit. You can also lock your documents down though this is only behind a four-digit code and not six or more nor include letters. The OS is just about smooth in transitions and isn’t quick or snappy by any means and while using the keyboard there is a noticeable latency, but it is not exactly required to handle anything heavy. The display can fail to register your finger taps every once in a while, but it didn’t feel like a deal breaker.</p> <p>Powered by a 3,000mAh battery unit, the battery life on this device seems good so far; I saw it go to 60% from full when using it with always-on WiFi for about 2-3 hours a day. Of course this battery life would be longer with the airplane mode on. You can give your documents tags and then search and filter them accordingly. But I couldn’t find any way to copy-paste folders, nor was there a way to change the screen brightness, which I didn’t need to do very frequently, but having it for reading under different lighting conditions once in a while would have been nice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 01 10:51:58 IST 2024 oneplus-12-review-unveiling-the-powerhouse-of-innovation-and-sty <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The OnePlus 12 is OnePlus' latest high-end device that upgrades the chipset, wireless induction charging, and telephoto camera while bringing a bigger display over its predecessor. It is priced at Rs. 64,999 for the base model and Rs. 69,999 for the higher model. Should you consider this over the OnePlus 11 or even the 12R? Let’s try and find out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b></p> <p>In terms of looks, the OnePlus 12 is pretty similar to the 12R. It features a wheel-like camera and dual LED flash setup on the back, along with Hasselblad branding and OnePlus branding in the middle of the back itself. The phone comes in a shimmery Silky Black color and also in Emerald Green. The display features Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on top, while the back has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. The phone weighs about 220 grams and measures around 9.2mm, making it somewhat big and heavy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b></p> <p>The device boasts a 6.82-inch OLED QHD+ (3168x1440) ProXDR display that supports variable refresh rates up to 120Hz. The display is bright and usable under direct sunlight and has good viewing angles. It handles HDR content without sacrificing much in terms of contrast and dark scenes. The curved sides are reflective. Overall, it offers a sharp panel that handles high-resolution videos and images without any troubles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Software and Performance</b></p> <p>The phone comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 gen 3 chipset, paired with 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM (base model comes in 12GB + 128GB configuration). It's running on OxygenOS 14 based on Android 14 with the January 2024 security patch in place. The phone handles games and app switching with ease, and it performs well in terms of software and performance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b></p> <p>Sporting a triple camera system on the back – a 50MP (f/1.6) main camera, a 64MP (f/2.6), and a 48MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera. The phone’s camera app is generally quick to capture shots, and the Master mode offers a lot of filters to choose from. The front-facing 32MP (f/2.4) camera also performs well in daylight and low-light conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery</b></p> <p>The OnePlus 12 features a 5,400mAh battery unit and a 100-watt SuperVOOC charger in the box. The phone lasted a full day most of the time and can be charged from 1% to full in about 40 minutes using the bundled charger. The phone also supports wireless induction charging at up to 50 watts using OnePlus’ new AirVOOC charger.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other Features</b></p> <p>Loudspeakers on the OnePlus 12 are crisp and loud, and the phone's Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS/GLONASS performance, and call quality are top-notch. The phone does not support eSIM as of now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b></p> <p>In terms of getting value for money, the OnePlus 12R does 90% of the things as well as the OnePlus 12, and now quite near to the OnePlus 12 for most people. The OnePlus 12’s camera and chip difference may not be for everybody. The OnePlus 12 is a solid smartphone that excels in areas such as battery life, design, and overall user experience, making it a recommendable choice for a smartphone around 65k.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Feb 22 16:59:27 IST 2024 realme-12-pro-impressive-battery-life-and-camera-setup-at-an-aff <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Realme recently launched its new 12 series in India, including the 12 Pro+ and 12 Pro. I have been using the higher-end 12 Pro+ model, which is priced at Rs. 29,999 for the base variant and Rs. 33,999 for the higher variant. The company has made several upgrades and changes to the hardware and software of the device. Let's take a closer look at whether this phone is worth considering:</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The first thing that catches your attention is the vegan leather back and the unique watch-like camera setup. The leather back seems well-fitted, although only time will tell how it ages. The phone features a 6.7-inch (20:9 aspect ratio) display with the front camera placed in the middle. The volume buttons and power/lock key are located on the right side, while the left side is plain. The top of the phone houses one loudspeaker outlet and a secondary mic, while the bottom has the dual SIM card tray, primary mic, USB type C port, and another loudspeaker outlet. With a thickness of under 8.8mm and weighing just under 200 grams, the phone is tall, narrow, and comfortable to hold. It also boasts an IP65 water and dust resistance rating and comes in three color options – Submarine Blue, Navigator Beige, and Explorer Red.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone features a 6.7-inch OLED display that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. The display is excellent, with good viewing angles and color reproduction when using the natural mode. However, it is not very bright and requires maximum brightness when used under direct sunlight. One downside is the absence of HDR support in Netflix. Nevertheless, the display is sharp and smooth for watching videos and reading text.</p> <p><b>Cameras:</b> The device is equipped with a triple camera system on the back, including a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, a 64MP (f/2.6) telephoto camera, and an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera. The portrait capabilities of this phone are particularly impressive, with good quality portrait shots and minimal sacrifice in contrast and details. The camera app is quick to load, and there's minimal shutter lag. The ProXDR image mode offers enhanced brightness and contrast, which many users may prefer. However, the camera performance in low-light conditions, especially with the ultra-wide camera, is a bit hit and miss. The Night mode helps reduce graininess to some extent. The front-facing 32MP (f/2.4) camera delivers detailed and well-stitched selfie shots.</p> <p><b>Software and Performance</b>: The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 chipset, with an octa-core processor clocked at up to 2.4GHz, Adreno 710 GPU, and X62 5G modem. It comes with 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS2.2 internal storage (also available in 8GB + 128GB and 8GB + 256GB configurations). The device runs on realme UI 5.0 based on Android 14, with the December security patch. The phone offers a responsive and smooth experience, with no noticeable stutters when switching between apps or scrolling within social media apps. While it can handle less intensive games at 60FPS, it struggles to provide consistent smooth gameplay for more demanding games like Genshin Impact. However, it performs well for games like Diablo Immortal, maintaining around 30FPS most of the time. The phone does not experience any heating issues.</p> <p>Realme has made some improvements to the software, removing a few pre-loaded apps and allowing users to uninstall most remaining third-party apps easily. The company promises two years of OS updates and three years of security updates, which is decent but falls short of the three plus four years policy becoming more common in this segment.</p> <p><b>Battery Life</b>: The phone is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery and comes with a 67-watt SuperVooc charger. Despite the smaller charger compared to its predecessor, the phone still charges from 1% to full in about 50 minutes, which is impressively fast. The battery life is excellent, with the phone lasting a day and still having 15%-20% battery remaining, even with heavy usage like using WiFi hotspot over 5G for a couple of hours. The display settings I used were auto refresh rate enabled and Adaptive sleep disabled.</p> <p><b>Other Features:</b> The call quality and 5G reception on the phone are impressive, with fast bandwidth and reliable 5G connectivity wherever available. The loudspeakers provide clear and loud audio for gaming and video playback. WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS perform without any issues when used individually or together. The fingerprint scanner, while not the quickest, works well enough for regular use.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The realme 12 Pro+ is a camera-centric phone that stands out for its price. It offers excellent battery life, a decent display, and a familiar yet premium design. Within just 12 days of using the device, I received three OS updates, including camera improvements and software optimization. Hopefully, realme continues to improve and enhance the user experience throughout the promised update period.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Feb 14 18:05:40 IST 2024 oneplus-12r--a-compelling-alternative-to-flagship-android-phones <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus recently announced its new 12 series in India and globally, which expectedly had two devices – 12 and 12R (no model named Pro). While the OnePlus 12 is the company’s high-end device, the 12R is its successor to the much-acclaimed OnePlus 11R from last year, priced at Rs. 39,999 for the base model and Rs. 45,999 for the higher model. Does this model have enough to justify that price tag and be a worthy successor? Let’s try and find out:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The OnePlus 12R has aluminum frames and, as per OnePlus, magnesium aluminum alloy internals. The phone has a 6.78-inch (19.8:9 aspect ratio) display with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on top of it. The back has Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 that has a slightly glossy finish to it on the Cool Blue model (also comes in Iron Gray), which does catch smudges quite a bit, while the protruding wheel-like triple camera system rests on the left corner and the OnePlus branding in the middle. The aluminum frame is all matte finish – the phone’s right side carries the volume buttons and Power/lock key, the left side has the alert slider (to quickly put the phone on mute, vibrate only, or ring on) near the top. The top locates one outlet for the loudspeakers, infrared port, and the secondary mic; the bottom houses the dual SIM card tray, primary mic, USB type C port, and another outlet for loudspeakers. The top and bottom are quite flat while the corners are curved and so are the sides. This IP64 certified water and dust-resistant phone weighs about 207 grams while measuring under 9mm – it isn’t a very heavy or wide phone to carry around, but it still can’t quite be called a compact phone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: Featuring a 6.78-inch (2780x1264) AMOLED ProXDR display with support for variable refresh rates up to 120Hz, it is clearly one of the best parts about the device. The display has good viewing angles, doesn’t miss out on details when viewing high-resolution images, and doesn’t struggle to keep up when used outdoors under direct sunlight. The only thing that might bug you are accidental touches on the curved sides when watching something in landscape mode. It’s an HDR10+ enabled display that doesn’t struggle with handling dark scenes and contrast in general when playing HDR content on it. You can choose to use the display at the default standard (2376x1080) display or at its highest resolution. I preferred using this display with the cinematic mode, but some might like other modes such as natural or vivid among others.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The phone runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset (up to 3.2GHz octa-core processor, Adreno GPU, plus x70 5G modem), 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM along with 256GB UFS3.1 internal storage (also comes in 8GB + 128GB UFS3.1 combination). It runs on OxygenOS 14 based on Android 14 with the December security patch in place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of performance, this phone doesn’t disappoint at all. You can expect a really responsive app usage experience, switching between apps without any stuttering and playing high-resolution videos without any lags, too, whether in the YouTube app or locally saved videos.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Heavy games such as Genshin Impact can be played at medium to high settings with HDR enabled without the phone becoming too warm during 30 minutes or gameplay, and it was consistently at 60 frames per second. Having said that, whenever I switched to another app and switched back to the game, it would take a few seconds to resume from where it was left.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>OnePlus, though, has removed background streaming capability from Smart Sidebar, which allowed you to stream something off YouTube without having the app opened on your screen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cameras</b>: Sporting a triple camera system – a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera. The phone can take some vibrant and detailed shots in daylight, though there’s also slightly longer shutter lag here than I can remember on the OnePlus 11. It can struggle a bit with low-light shots plus moving objects. Night mode does help a bit in capturing clearer frames of your subject, but even that can only help so much. The camera app has a lot of settings and filters to choose from and isn’t very complicated to get used to.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The front has a 16MP (f/2.4) camera with screen flash support, and it can take fairly good shots in terms of colors and details for most use cases and doesn’t disappoint for video calls either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I think it would be fair to say the camera department isn’t quite the device’s strength – while it’s not a bad camera setup, there are some clear downsides compared to the competition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery</b>: OnePlus’ 12R boasts a 5,500mAh battery unit and supports up to 100-watt charging using the SuperVooc charger that comes in the box. The phone charges from 1% to full in about 30-35 minutes, which is really fast and importantly doesn’t heat up any time when it’s put on charge. The phone regularly lasted me a little over a day with moderate to heavy use – display set to high refresh rates and using a single SIM card with WiFi hotspot used for around an hour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other bits: The phone’s in-screen fingerprint scanner is placed a little higher on the display that some may prefer, but it does the job quickly and reliably, better than most of the in-screen fingerprint scanners in other phones. The dual stereo speakers are clear and sufficiently loud though not the best I have seen from OnePlus in terms of depth. WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS performance of the phone showed no glitches, while 5G connectivity on the device is on par with some of the best 5G phones today with good reception and speeds wherever available.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: While OnePlus hasn’t dramatically changed the 12R in terms of design or even camera performance over its predecessor, the phone doesn’t have any major weakness points in the price range, especially for the base model. The phone has great battery life, a quality display panel, and nearly no bloatware and smooth OS in place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Feb 12 21:05:36 IST 2024 samsung-galaxy-s24-ultra-top-notch-display-smooth-performance-ai-features-its-highlight <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung’s lead in the global smartphone race came to a halt recently when it fell to the second spot after well over a decade, a lot of that because of the company’s flagship Galaxy S series performing and giving way in to the newest technology for its other smartphones, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new Galaxy S24 series, just like previous times, has three different models, with the S24 Ultra being the biggest and most beefed up model of the three. It’s priced at Rs. 1,29,999 for the base model and goes to Rs. 1,59,999, though there’s a good chance you get a decent deal to get it for significantly less online or from a physical store. Let’s try and see what Samsung brought to the table with the S24 Ultra.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b> The biggest difference between the S24 Ultra and the S23 Ultra is that the new one carries a titanium frame now (instead of aluminium). Plus, you get the Corning Gorilla Armor on top of the flat 6.8-inch display for not only improved protection but also getting a less reflective screen. The back has the Corning Gorilla Victus with a matte finish that doesn’t catch too many fingerprints and smudges. The back carries the four-camera system plus laser focus that are all directly attached to the back with no separate rectangular cutouts in between.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The right side holds the volume buttons and the power/lock key near the middle; while the left side is plain. The top houses the secondary mic and one outlet for loudspeakers; the bottom has the S Pen slot, second outlet for the loudspeakers, USB type C port as well as the primary mic and dual SIM card tray.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This phone is big, wide and not light by any means, weighing a little over 230 grams, and its edges could have been made out to be a little curved instead of the somewhat sharp corners.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b> The S24 features a 6.8-inch QHD+ (3120x1440) AMOLED display with support for 120Hz variable refresh rates. You can change the display resolution setting, which is set at FHD+ (2340x1080) by default. The display here is brighter than before and again usable under direct sunlight without much problem. Colour calibration and contrast are in line with what you would usually expect from a Samsung device, and that new Gorilla Armor does make it less reflective to use, a useful addition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can expect to watch HDR content over YouTube or Netflix on it with good details and get a balanced output, including in dark scenes and with good skin tones in general.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Software, AI and performance:</b> The phone is equipped with the slightly customised Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset (up to 3.4Ghz octa core processor, Adreno 750 GPU and X75 5G modem) along with a 12GB LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB UFS 4.0 internal storage (also comes in 512GB or 1TB storage). It runs on One UI 6.1 based on Android 14 with the January security patches installed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The headlines features here include new Galaxy AI features announced by Samsung. The one I found the most useful so far is Circle to search – long press the Home button and simply circle (doesn’t have to be precise) the part of what’s on your screen that you want to know more about. Saves 2-3 steps from reverse Google Image search or Google Lens by taking a screenshot and then searching for it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Samsung has also introduced an AI feature where you can summarise or translate a webpage in its Internet browser. It seems to be in the testing stage, as it sometimes just doesn’t work so far. There’s also Live Translate where you can have a call with somebody speaking another language to yours and have it translated instantly, but it’s still not very accurate, though somewhat usable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There’s an editing feature for photos where you can remove shadows, edit the main subject’s position or size, and so on; something we have seen on Pixels and iPhones, too. You can also make AI generated wallpapers as per your instructions for the phone. All the AI stuff can be made to be done on device only (can be selected inside Settings) and is all based on Google’s Gemini AI, supposedly available for free on the device till next year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>General performance and gaming performance of the S24 ultra is top notch here. Switching between apps, using two apps side by side, taking a call while downloading a heavy file – all work without any stuttering troubles. You can play heavy games such as Genshin Impact at near 60FPS and BGMI at near 90FPS without frames dropped.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cameras:</b> There’s a four-camera system on the back – a 200MP (f/1.7) main camera, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, a new 50MP (f/3.4) telephoto camera, and a 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera. The camera performance seems to be very near to its predecessor with slightly better portrait shots in both daylight and low light conditions. The camera app is feature rich and is quite straightforward to use. There’s very little shutter lag to take shots of your kids and pets. The overall shots appear to have punchy colours, well detailed with over exposure at times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can edit a photo from a regular to a portrait shot when the Gallery app detects the subject fine enough. The front-facing 12MP (f/2.2) camera is quick to take shots and is reliable for taking sharp selfies and video calling purposes most of the time. The AI generated photos have a watermark at the bottom and some added metadata to confirm that it’s AI generated, though the watermark can be removed using the default editor itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery:</b> Sporting a 5,000 mAh battery unit, the phone lasted me a day more often than not while the display settings were set at FHD+ and 2-3 hours less with QHD+ resolution, all at adaptive refresh rate selected. There’s no charger in the box, but only a USB type C to C cable, but it supports up to 45 watt charging and charges from 1% to full in about 80 minutes without any heating issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other bits:</b> I didn’t see any noticeable issues regarding WiFi, GPS, call quality and Bluetooth performance, though in-ear speaker volume could have been a little louder. Loudspeakers are crisp and loud enough for playing videos and games.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> The S24 Ultra is among Samsung’s first devices that’s aimed with the AI all over it. The device has some nice new AI tricks up its sleeves, which are quite useful but definitely not completely developed to be called a finished product for now. The phone has top notch internal hardware, smooth software and great but not much improved camera in place. There would be some nice deals going on for the S23 series now (which is expected to get AI features with an update in a few months), but if you want the bleeding edge in smartphones, you can probably still get a decent deal on Samsung’s latest flagship device that has some refinements over the predecessor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jan 31 12:11:55 IST 2024 oppo-reno11--a-budget-friendly-option-for-camera-enthusiasts <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Oppo's Reno series is its flagship camera series of smartphones, where the company showcases the best it has to offer in terms of imaging. The new Reno11 is another new phone from Oppo that continues that legacy. Priced at Rs. 29,999, let's see how it performs, including in the camera department.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The phone features a 6.7-inch curved display with slim bezels that are not symmetrical. Despite this, I didn't accidentally press it too frequently, which can happen with curved displays. The front-facing camera is located in the top-middle of the display, next to the ear-speaker grille. It is not very noticeable from a distance. The rounded edges and corners, along with the glossy sides, give the phone a premium finish. Moving to the back of the phone, there is an oval-shaped cutout for the triple camera system. The patterned design also stands out. The back has a shimmery, but not overly shiny, appearance, which contributes to the phone's overall design aesthetics. The right side of the phone houses the volume buttons and the power/lock key, which is located near the middle. The left side is left plain without any buttons or features.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the top of the phone, there is a single outlet for loudspeakers, an infrared port, and a secondary microphone. The bottom of the phone has a dual SIM card tray, a primary microphone, a USB Type-C port, and a second outlet for loudspeakers. The phone weighs approximately 183 grams and has a thickness of around 8mm. It never felt slippery or too heavy to carry around. I tried the Rock grey color option, but it is also available in Wave Green, which has a more noticeable patterned texture on the back.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The Reno11 features a 6.7-inch curved OLED display that supports HDR10+ and up to 120Hz high refresh rates. The display is known for its good viewing angles, vibrant colors, and high contrast, making it suitable for watching high-resolution videos and images. I prefer to use the display in natural mode over vivid for watching content throughout my use. It’s not the best display I have used on an Oppo device, but it’s still a sharp panel that doesn’t compromise on details. For HDR content, it does a decent job of handling bright as well shadow-y scenes without sacrificing on skin tones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cameras</b>: Featuring a triple-camera system on the back – a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera (with OIS), a 32MP (f/2.0) telephoto camera, and an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera – it’s pretty much the USP of this smartphone. The main Sony LYT600 sensor really shines when it comes to taking well-stitched and detailed shots from the phone. The colors and skin tones are more natural than previous Reno series phones, and low-light shots also seem to be improved in terms of less graininess and better focus on the subject. The Sony IMX709 sensor in the telephoto camera gives well-defined portrait shots where the bokeh effects don't appear too unnatural, offering a more refined take than some of the other phones in this price range, up to 2x zoom. The low-light performance can be a bit hit or miss. If you’re standing still with your subject not moving quickly, you can expect shots with good exposure and details in place, but that isn't the case very frequently. The camera app is quick and smooth to open and work with. There’s an added option where you can change the exposure settings while taking a shot, something you might like if you like to fiddle with your camera settings. The front-facing 32MP (f/2.4) camera takes sharp and well-lit shots that generally wouldn’t disappoint for your social media or personal use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Oppo Reno11 5G comes with MediaTek's Dimensity 7050 chipset, which includes an up to 2Ghz octa-core processor and Mali G68 GPU. It also features 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS2.2 internal storage (the base model has 8GB + 128GB). The phone runs on Oppo's ColorOS 14.0, which is based on Android 14 and comes with the January 2024 security patch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of day-to-day tasks, the Oppo Reno11 5G handles calling, messaging, and web browsing with multiple tabs open without any issues. It can also handle tasks like watching YouTube while scrolling through social media apps. However, it would have been better if Oppo had used a more up-to-date chipset instead of the Dimensity 7050. While you can play games like Badland and Asphalt 8 smoothly, the phone may struggle with more demanding games like Fortnite or BGMI at medium to highest settings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ColorOS 14 has a couple of nice features, such as File Dock, which allows you to copy and paste files from a side-handing dock, and Smart Extract, which lets you extract text or information from a screenshot. However, apart from these new features, ColorOS largely looks and feels similar to previous versions. It also comes with several pre-installed third-party apps, though they can be uninstalled if desired.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software:</b> The Oppo Reno11 5G comes with MediaTek's Dimensity 7050 chipset (up to 2GHz octa-core processor, Mali G68 GPU), along with 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS2.2 internal storage (the base model comes with 8GB + 128GB). It runs on Oppo's ColorOS 14.0, based on Android 14, with the January 2024 security patch. The phone handles day-to-day tasks such as calling, messaging, web browsing with 5-6 tabs open, and watching YouTube in the background while scrolling through social media apps just fine. It would have been better if Oppo had upgraded the chipset from the dated Dimensity 7050 to something more up-to-date. However, you can play games such as Badland and Asphalt 8 smoothly. The phone is unable to handle games like Fortnite or BGMI at medium to highest settings without showing any sluggishness. There are a couple of nice features in ColorOS 14, such as File Dock, which allows you to copy any file, keep it in the side-handing dock, and paste or use that file anywhere else by dragging it from the dock whenever you need to. Another useful feature is Smart Extract, which allows you to extract text or information from a screenshot that you just took. Other than these new features, ColorOS looks and feels very similar to how it has been for a while, with quite a few third-party apps pre-installed out of the box that can be uninstalled. Oppo promises 3 years of OS upgrades and 4 years of security updates for this device.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery:</b> The phone is powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit and comes with a 67-watt SuperVooc charger inside the box. I usually get about a day's worth of usage from a full charge under similar workloads, and I rarely run out of battery in the middle of work. The phone charges from 1% to full in about 50 minutes without any major heating issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other bits</b>: The phone's WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth performance is nothing to worry about, while the loudspeakers are also loud and clear for videos and gaming purposes when you aren't around many people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The strengths and weaknesses of the Oppo Reno11 are quite clear. It excels in the camera and battery departments, and it also boasts a sleek design. However, its chipset and gaming performance are not as impressive. Therefore, this smartphone is ideal for people who prioritise camera performance, whether it's the rear or front camera, over gaming and having the latest chipset available in the market today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Jan 29 18:19:08 IST 2024 poco-x6-and-x6-pro--budget-friendly-5g-phones-with-premium-featu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Poco has been a name often associated with value in the smartphone world. The company's F5 was one of the better and more affordable options available last year. This time, Poco has launched the X6 Pro, priced at ₹26,999 for the base model, and the X6 starting at ₹21,999. Do they have what it takes to compete in these price segments? Let's try to find out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Design: Both the Poco X6 and X6 Pro are made of polycarbonate materials with smooth edges and slightly curved backs towards the borders. The Poco X6 has Gorilla Glass 5 on top of its 6.67-inch display, while the Poco X6 Pro has Gorilla Glass Victus protection. On the right side, you'll find the volume buttons and power/lock keys, which are tactile enough. The left side is plain with no buttons or ports. The top features an infrared port, an outlet for the loudspeaker, and a secondary microphone. The Poco X6 also includes a 3.5mm audio jack. At the bottom, you'll find the primary microphone, the USB Type-C port, and another outlet for the loudspeaker. The back of both Poco X6 and Poco x6 Pro houses the camera setup, which is placed in a rectangular cutout. While some people may not like this cutout, I don't believe it's a major deal breaker. Both phones weigh less than 190 grams, with the Poco X6 Pro being slightly heavier. They both measure around 8mm in thickness, with the Poco X6 Pro being slightly thicker. Neither phone has any creaks or alarming bends, and they don't feel cheap in the hand. The Poco X6 comes in black, white, and blue colors, while the Poco X6 Pro is available in black, grey, and yellow, featuring a vegan leather back.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Display: You get 6.67-inch displays in both phones, with support for 120Hz refresh rates. The Poco X6 Pro probably has the best display used by Poco in a phone so far, in terms of brightness, color calibration, and contrast. Both phones support Dolby Vision playback under Netflix, where the extra bits of brightness come in handy for handling shadow scenes and contrast in general, better than Poco's previous phones.</p> <p>Camera: These phones come with a triple camera system, consisting of a 64MP (f/1.7) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (f/2.4) camera. The HDR effect can be turned on to capture sharp and contrast-y looking photos, especially on the Pro model. In low-light conditions, the phone can deliver okay shots as long as there is no movement from both the user and the subject. Switching to 64MP shots doesn't cause much stutter, and there is not a significant shutter delay. Portrait shots are in line with the F5, with slightly enhanced skin tones. The front-facing 16MP (f/2.4) camera can take decent portrait shots in daylight and regular shots in less than ideal lighting conditions when using the Night mode. Overall, these phones offer some of the better camera combinations available in their price ranges today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Performance and software experience: While the Poco X6 Pro is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 8300 Ultra chipset (up to 3.35GHz octa-core processor, Mali-G615 GPU) along with 12GB LPDDR5X RAM and 512GB UFS 4.0 storage (also available in the 8GB + 256GB option), the Poco X6 is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 chipset (up to 2.4GHz octa-core processor and Adreno 710 GPU) alongside 12GB LPDDR4X RAM and 512GB UFS 2.2 storage (also available in 8GB + 256GB and 12GB + 256GB configurations).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Poco X6 Pro comes with HyperOS 1 based on Android 14 with the December security patch out of the box, while the Poco X6 runs on MIUI 14 for Poco that's based on Android 13.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of performance, the Poco X6 Pro can handle games like World War II at its highest settings or BGMI at 90FPS with HDR enabled, experiencing very few frame drops and no major heating issues even after playing for 30 minutes or so. However, the battery drain should be watched out for. On the other hand, the Poco X6 may not be able to handle such games at high settings, but it can provide smooth gameplay for games like Asphalt 8 and Badland.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both phones perform well in day-to-day tasks, including switching between apps and animations. HyperOS seems to have improved memory management compared to MIUI, and it also offers enhanced theming options. It's worth mentioning that Poco promises 3 major OS updates and 4 years of security updates for these phones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Battery: The Poco X6 features a 5,100mAh battery unit, while the X6 Pro has a 5,000mAh battery unit. Both batteries last about 22-24 hours on average with similar workloads at auto refresh. This workload includes two email accounts, display brightness set at about 35%, 5G usage for approximately 90 minutes, and a lot of web browsing. The phones charge from 1% to full in around 50 minutes using the 67-watt bundled chargers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Other aspects: The 5G network reception is pretty good, especially on the Poco X6 Pro, even while working on the go. Both phones have clear and sufficiently loud loudspeakers for video and gaming use. GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth performance didn't show any unusual glitches during my usage. The in-screen fingerprint scanner is quick enough, although we have seen better ones at a similar price range in terms of reliability, but the difference isn't significant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Verdict: The X6 Pro seems like another great value for money option from Poco, especially for those who want to play games on their smartphone. It is available under Rs. 30,000 and can also take good shots while not disappointing in the battery department. The Poco X6, although not as impressive, is also a pretty good offering with a decent design, capable cameras, and 5G connectivity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jan 18 17:31:26 IST 2024 redmi-note-13-5g--a-powerful-choice-for-seamless-5g-connectivity <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 known for bringing upgraded tech at not-so-high prices ever since the company entered the Indian shores. The latest Redmi Note 13 series tries to capture three different price segments, with the Redmi Note 13 5G being the most affordable in the series – priced at Rs. 17,999 to Rs. 21,999 (before any offers). Does it pack enough to be a great option in this highly competitive segment? Let’s try and find out.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Redmi Note 13 has a 6.67-inch display with decently slim bezels, though it would have been better if these were symmetrical, but it isn’t very common in this price range. The display has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on top and also carries the front-facing camera in a punch-hole format at the top middle. The phone is made of polycarbonate with a glossy, patterned, and shiny back, and more matte-finished sides. The back houses the triple camera system on a protruding rectangle cutout, while the Redmi branding sits near the bottom.</p> <p>The right side locates the volume buttons and Power/lock key (which also houses the physical fingerprint scanner) near the middle, while the left side carries the dual SIM card plus microSD card tray. The bottom has the primary mic, USB Type-C port, and loudspeakers, and the top carries the secondary mic, 3.5mm audio jack, and the infrared port. Being IP54 water and dust resistant, the phone comes in Arctic White (the one I tried), Black, and Golden color options. It weighs a little under 175 grams, measures 7.6mm in thickness, and feels decent and grippy enough in the hand.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone boasts a 6.67-inch pOLED Full HD+ (2400x1080) display that supports 120Hz refresh rates. When turned to high brightness, the screen is usable under direct sunlight without much problem. The display has good viewing angles and sharpness for watching high-resolution videos or viewing images. I wouldn't say its HDR output is excellent, but it's fine for watching something on Netflix. The higher refresh rates also help in playing games or scrolling inside apps. Its color calibration could have been a bit better, in my opinion, but it's still a fine display for a phone at this price point.</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The device features a triple camera system on the back, consisting of a 108MP (f/1.7) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP macro camera. The camera app is quick to open and responsive, allowing you to take shots efficiently. In good lighting conditions, you can expect to capture detailed and well-stitched shots with good dynamic range. The camera also performs decently in portrait shots. However, in low light situations, you may need to experiment with different angles and modes to capture a correctly exposed shot of your subject.</p> <p>The front-facing camera of the device is a 16MP (f/2.45) camera. It is more than sufficient for video calls and can capture sharp selfies with minimal grain. With filters and beauty mode turned off, the front camera produces more natural tones .</p> <p><b>Software and Performance</b>: Running on MIUI 14.0.1 based on Android 13 with the November security patch in place, the phone offers a smooth user experience. The device is powered by MediaTek's Dimensity 6080 chipset, which includes a 2.4 GHz octa-core processor and a Mali-G57 MC2 GPU. It is equipped with 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB UFS 2.2 internal storage. The phone is available in three configurations: 6+128GB, 8+256GB, and 12+256GB.</p> <p>Xiaomi has said that the much-awaited HyperOS upgrade will be released soon. However, it has not yet been rolled out to all devices, and the user is still waiting for it. Xiaomi has mentioned that the upgrade will be available for devices released after the Xiaomi 13 Pro and Pad 6.</p> <p>The phone handles day-to-day tasks such as messaging, background playback of YouTube Music, and running Google Maps without any issues. Users can switch between these apps smoothly without experiencing any hiccups. However, the phone may struggle with intensive gaming, causing stuttering or lags. The phone supports a 90Hz refresh rate, which allows for smooth scrolling within social media apps. While the chipset is not designed for high-end gaming, it can handle games like Shadow Survival Premium without any problems.</p> <p>The phone features a side-mounted physical fingerprint scanner, which is reliable and quick to unlock the device on a daily basis. Xiaomi has committed to providing three major OS updates, including the HyperOS upgrade, as well as four years of security patches.</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> The phone is powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit and comes with a 33-watt charger in the box. The phone needs to be charged again within a day if the display settings are set to a high refresh rate, but generally lasts about one day when set to auto refresh under similar task loads. The phone takes about 90 minutes or so to charge from 1% to full using the bundled charger.&quot;</p> <p><b>Other bits</b>: Call quality, GPS, and WiFi reception on the phone weren't something to worry about throughout my usage. The 5G reception is also pretty good, although not as reliable as a high-end smartphone. Nevertheless, it is still reliable enough for you to use the phone as a hotspot and go about your business on the go. The loudspeakers are sufficiently loud and clear for your occasional video and gaming needs.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Redmi Note 13 5G is a good performer when it comes to display and 5G reception. I would have liked to try HyperOS on it already, but hopefully, that won't be too long away for this device. Having showcased its performance across different aspects, I would say the Redmi Note 13 makes more sense with a base price of Rs. 15,000 for the base model. However, taking it above Rs. 22,000 for its highest model might be a little bit of a stretch considering the chipset and competing products. Having said that, if you're looking for an IP54 rated 5G smartphone with a good display that also has a 3.5mm audio jack, priced under 20k, and importantly, offers are available for purchasing this device, the Redmi Note 13 would be a viable option.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jan 09 14:02:18 IST 2024 lg-c3-oled-evo--a-premium-upgrade-for-your-home-entertainment <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>LG has been one of the few trusted names when it comes to OLED TVs over the years. Although OLED technology has been in the mainstream for a while now, it is often not adapted very well or the panel quality can often be subpar. However, LG's C series is a popular line of OLED TVs that has received an upgrade with the Evo C3. The price of the TV ranges from Rs. 1,50,000 to Rs. 1,62,551, depending on where you purchase it from. Let's explore the capabilities of this LG TV and see what it can really do.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The TV is metallic with a plastic casing in the front. The main panel is incredibly slim, measuring about 1.8 inches if you include the back panel that houses all the ports and machinery. The screen itself is less than 1cm thick, so its sides wouldn't hang completely flat against the wall due to the bulge in the middle at the back. If you want to table-mount the TV, there's a centrally mounted metal stand (not included in the box) that looks premium and feels just as sturdy as the rest of the TV. The back housing is also not flimsy and doesn't have any easily bendable spots or dings, which is good to see. The TV weighs a little over 14 kg, and adding the stand adds nearly 2 kg to it. The bezels around the display are thin and symmetrical. At the bottom, there is an LED with a physical button next to it for switching the TV on or off, as well as bringing up the menu by long-pressing it. The TV comes with LG's Magic Air remote, which resembles a standard TV remote with power, volume, channel, and number keys, along with a scroll wheel, okay button, and app shortcuts. It's not as small as the remote controls seen with Android TVs these days, but it isn't overly large for a TV either.</p> <p><b>Display and performance:</b> The TV sports a 55-inch 4K (3840x2160) W-OLED display with support for up to 120Hz refresh rates with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG. It runs on webOS 23 with AirPlay 2 and Smart Hub for controlling your smart connected devices through the TV or watching their feed on your TV itself. It’s powered by a quad core α9 Gen6 AI processor and carries 8GB of internal storage space.</p> <p>The OLED display used here by LG is slightly glossy but has an anti-reflective coating on it, which does an okay job against lights in your room. The panel used by LG is a quality one with really good viewing angles even when used in a medium to large room, plus rich black levels and high contrast for multiple formats. The display is vivid and sharp to view your content on without worry you might be missing out on any major details. It touches 800 nits when playing HDR and Dolby Vision content, which isn’t too high when compared to other TVs around the price range, but still handles the content keeping dark scenes and contrast in place when using apps such as Apple TV and Netflix on it. On the back, you get four HDMI 2.1 ports (one with eARC), three USB 2.0 ports, one ethernet LAN port, one optical in, one infrared out and one CI Plus 2.0 port.</p> <p>The evo C3 can do variable refresh rates up to 120Hz along with auto low latency mode, which are specially useful if you’re going to connect with a gaming console, such as a PlayStation, Xbox or even your gaming PC, and considering there’s nVidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s Freesync support, too, it would only make your gameplay experience better and more compatible across different gaming platforms. There’s a gaming picture mode that’s recommended for playing higher refresh rate and high resolution games. But in general, I prefered the Filmmaker mode on the TV to watching TV shows and movies most of the time as it seems to give a more accurate picture while keeping high dynamic range and shadows in place, too. For sports, the TV doesn’t break a sweat for handling 50 or 60FPS live streams whether inside a streaming app, including SonyLiv, JioCinema and even Twitch, without any stuttering, though you might notice a little judder for very low frame rate videos. Though Android TV has far more apps and a bigger ecosystem in place, you wouldn’t be missing out on any major OTT or streaming service app on webOS. You can set the TV to switch to an input mode that was on last time when before the TV was turned off so you don’t have to manually switch to it after turning the TV on again.</p> <p><b>Sound</b>: The C3 evo features 40 watt down firing 2.1.2 speakers that are surprisingly decent. Don’t get me wrong, you’re definitely better off investing in a dedicated set of speakers to go with the TV, especially for a large room, but for the TV speakers, they do a decent job of offering clean bass, clear dialogues as well as not mushing out on background details very often. They can struggle little when it comes to mids and mids to high when you’re playing music or during a soundtrack in a movie or show. The TV supports Dolby Atmos, DTS as well as aptX (for Bluetooth 5.0) provided your source is also having it.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: With a great display in place, a premium design (including the table-top stand), and a decent set of speakers, the LG C3 OLED evo doesn’t disappoint. You can nitpick that its brightness could have been a little better while LG could have provided some additional freebies (such as a subscription bundled with it), but it’s certainly not a deal breaker. So, if you have been eyeing a premium TV for your entertainment at home, it may not be only movies and shows but also for playing games on, the C3 OLED evo is a well-performing option worth your consideration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Dec 22 17:56:25 IST 2023 hp-pavilion-plus-14--a-solid-choice-for-work-and-entertainment <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>HP’s Pavilion series has been synonymous with the company’s laptop offerings for many years now. The HP Pavilion Plus 14 (2023) aims to be a one machine for all your work eeds as well as some entertainment taken care of on the go. Starting at a price point of Rs. 91,999, let’s try and see what it gets right and what it doesn’t:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The laptop is made mostly of aluminium and HP says there’s some recycled aluminium and plastic used for the construction here. It features a 14-inch 16:10 aspect ratio display with thin but not very thin borders around it. The top has a 5MP Wide Vision webcam (with a physical shutter over it) that supports HP’s Presence 2.0 feature to have better focus on you during your video calls.</p> <p>The left side houses the 3.5mm audio jack along with USB type A port; while the right side carries another USB type A port, an HDMI 2.1 port and 2 USB type C ports. The laptop weighs under 1.5kg and measures 17/5mm in thickness, and it’s one of the highlights of this machine – not once did it feel bulky to be carries around or working with on the go.</p> <p><b>Display and keyboard</b>: You get a 14-inch (2880x1800) 10-bit OLED display that supports full IMAX content with added support for 120Hz refresh rates. It’s not exactly a non-glossy display but you wouldn't need to wipe it clean frequently, plus it does not struggle with viewing angles when watching something. It okay when it comes to brightness though sharpness and colour reproduction don’t disappoint as the display does a good job when used for playing high resolution videos or viewing images. The keyboard is a white backlit keyboard that is really comfortable to type on. You get a satisfying feel thanks to its clickity and tactile keys that are spaced out well and have just enough travel.</p> <p><b>Performance and software</b>: The Pavilion Plus 14 is powered by Intel’s 13th gen. Core i7-1355U chip, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics along with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, running Windows 11 Home edition (23H2 version). I found the laptop to handle Web browsing plus Office apps plus a music player playing in the background without breaking a sweat. It comes with a 1TB SSD, which helped in opening and closing of apps quickly while having decent read and write speeds for files from and to an external drive. It’s not a gaming laptop, but you can play low intensive games at low to medium settings with decent, but not too great, gameplay. On the other hand, it handles higher frame rate videos at high resolution well enough to not be a bottleneck for your work mode.</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The device is powered by a 68Wh battery unit and comes with a 65watt USB type C charger, but you can also charge it with another compatible USb type C charger. The laptop lasted me 6.5-7 hours most of the time, for similar tasks as office apps, one Web browser and a music player in the background.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the HP Pavilion Plus 14 comes across as a reliable Windows machine for getting stuff done on the go, whether it is for documents, spreadsheets or Web browsing or for having your entertainment capsule for the day. Its battery life could have been a little better, but it certainly has the design, B&amp;S speakers and keyboard under its strengths to make it a consideration for a consumer laptop in the crowded market today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Dec 16 12:26:00 IST 2023 oneplus-open-offers-compelling-option-in-the-foldable-smartphone <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The foldable smartphone market has seen increased competition in recent years, with companies like Moto, Samsung, and Oppo releasing multiple devices. Now, OnePlus, a subsidiary of Oppo, has entered the foldable smartphone space with its OnePlus Open. Priced at Rs. 1,39,999, the OnePlus Open is not a mass-market device, but it aims to compete with established players like Samsung. Let's explore whether the OnePlus Open has enough to take on Samsung in this segment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: One of the first noticeable features of the OnePlus Open is its lightweight design, weighing about 245 grams. The phone measures 11.7mm thick when folded and 5.8mm thick when unfolded. The camera bump is quite large, but aside from that, the crease on the main display (when unfolded) is less noticeable compared to Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold5. The outer display has a 6.3-inch (20:9 aspect ratio), while the main display is 7.82-inch (1.07:1 aspect ratio). The hinge is lighter than other foldable devices, making it a more lightweight option. The phone's physical buttons and ports are well-placed, and the hinge feels sturdy and reliable. However, it does not have an IP rating for water or dust resistance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Displays</b>: The OnePlus Open features a 6.3-inch AMOLED (LTPO) outer display with refresh rates ranging from 10 to 120Hz. The outer display is bright and sharp, even under direct sunlight. The main display is a 7.82-inch flexi-fluid AMOLED (LTPO) with a resolution of 2440x2268 and supports refresh rates from 1 to 120Hz. The main display handles high-resolution videos and images well, without sacrificing sharpness. However, due to the aspect ratio, thick black bars may appear when watching videos.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The OnePlus Open boasts a triple camera system with Hasselblad branding. It includes a 48MP (f/1.7) main camera, a 64MP (f/2.6) telephoto camera, and a 48MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera. The camera performance has improved in terms of color accuracy with recent updates. It captures good details and white balance in broad daylight and performs reasonably well in low light. The telephoto lens is quick and retains details for still subjects but may struggle with moving subjects. The front-facing cameras, both on the outer display (32MP) and inner display (20MP), produce decent selfie shots and are suitable for video calls. The phone can shoot 4K videos at 30FPS, but the quality and stabilization may not match those of the rear camera's 1080p videos.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: The OnePlus Open is equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon Gen 2 (up to 3.2GHz octa-core processor, Adreno GPU, and x70 5G modem), 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM, and 512GB of UFS4.0 storage. It runs on Oxygen 13.2 based on Android 13, with the September security patch. The operating system allows for running multiple apps side by side, and with updates, the phone feels more stable and smoother in terms of app switching, animations, and multimedia playback. It can handle high-end games at the highest settings without overheating.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The phone is powered by a 4,805mAh battery and comes with an 80-watt charger. With typical usage, the phone lasts a full day, including around 1-1.5 hours of inner display usage. The bundled charger can charge the phone from 1% to full in less than an hour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other features</b>: The OnePlus Open offers excellent call quality, GPS, and WiFi performance. The 5G network reception is decent, although other OnePlus models may have slightly better reception. The loudspeakers on the device are loud and clear, enhancing the video and gaming playback experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: As OnePlus' first foldable smartphone, the OnePlus Open showcases their parent company Oppo's experience in this space. It impresses with its less intrusive crease, conventional smartphone-like feel when closed, good battery life, and overall design. The quality of the hinge compared to Samsung and Moto remains to be seen, and it would have been nice to have wireless charging at this price point. However, the OnePlus Open is a compelling option for those willing to invest in a foldable smartphone.</p> Thu Nov 30 11:38:16 IST 2023 true-wireless-earbuds-decoding-the-pros-and-cons-of-boult-curve- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Boult has been in the Indian audio industry for a while now, and they have been known to come up with new products every now and then with perhaps not&nbsp; many changes over the previous ones. The Curve Buds Pro is another pair of true wireless earbuds that is said to be offering a premium design, as per the&nbsp; company, despite being priced at Rs. 1,299. Let's look at what it really offers for that:</p> <p><b>Design</b>:&nbsp; The Boult Curve Buds Pro true wireless earbuds feature a matte-finish charging case with a sturdy lid. The case has an LED indicator on the front and a USB Type-C port at the bottom. The earbuds themselves are made of plastic but do not feel cheap. Each bud has a small LED light near the touch control area for pairing and charging. The package includes a short USB Type-C cable and two extra pairs of different-sized eartips.</p> <p>In terms of comfort, some users find the Curve Buds Pro to be okay for short periods of use, but not as comfortable as other options in the same price range, such as the Redmi Buds 4 Active. I found the buds to be okay in terms of comfort, having worn them for 30-40 minutes, when really needed, but after that had to put it back down. I prefer the Redmi Buds 4 Active in that department, which are priced quite close to these. You can pause or resume your music with a signe tap on either bud, and enable Google Assistant or Siri with a long tap.</p> <p><b>Audio quality</b>: The Boult Curve Buds Pro support Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity and come with SBC and AAC codecs. The earbuds deliver deep bass, as expected, but the mids are somewhat weaker in comparison. It handles vocals, especially for Bollywood stuff, decently but instruments in the background alongside could have been handled a little better in terms of details. You can expect good output for genres such as hip hop/rap in terms of high and low stereo vocals. I noticed a little better soundstage with environmental noise cancellation (ENC) turned off, and only had END switched on indoors which is where they seemed useful anyway. Having said that, you should probably not expect much in the noise cancellation department from true wireless earbuds at this price point to begin with.</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> The Boult Curve Buds Pro provide about 8-9 hours of battery life on a single full charge, with an additional two rounds of charging using the included charging case. Each earbud has a 40mAh battery unit, while the case carries a 700mAh battery. It's nice to see Boult go with USB type C instead of arguably outdated micro USB at this price point.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Boult Curve Buds Pro true wireless earbuds offer punchy bass and decent vocal output, making them a suitable option for some users, especially considering their price tag. However, they may not be the most comfortable option under Rs. 1,500. The earbuds come with a premium-looking charging case and provide a long battery life.&nbsp;</p> Thu Nov 09 16:23:49 IST 2023 exploring-the-oneplus-pad-go-a-closer-look-at-its-features-and-p <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus has expanded its product lineup in recent years, venturing into new categories such as smartwatches, tablets, and now foldable phones. The company recently released its budget Android tablet, the OnePlus Pad Go, which is priced at Rs. 19,999 for the base model and Rs. 23,999 for the highest model. Let's take a closer look at what this new Android tablet has to offer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What it gets right:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The OnePlus Pad Go boasts a strikingly similar design to the OnePlus Pad, with its curved sides and edges, complemented by a dual-tone matte and glossy bar running along the back in the elegant Twin Mint color. Its 11.35-inch LCD display showcases a 7:5 aspect ratio, providing a visually immersive experience. In terms of button placement, the volume buttons are located on the top when the device is in horizontal mode. On the left-hand side, you'll find the SIM card slot and the power/lock key, while the right-hand side houses the USB Type-C port and the primary microphone. Additionally, the Pad Go features quad speakers, strategically positioned around the metal unibody, ensuring an exceptional audio experience.</p> <p>The device weighs a little above 530 grams and is overall quite comfortable and grippy to carry around. The bezels around the display are not the slimmest we have seen but they aren't too thick either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: You get an 11.35-inch LCD (LTPS kind) 2.4k (2408x1720) display with support for up to 90Hz refresh rates. The display is just about bright enough to be used outdoors under direct sunlight. For watching movies and videos, there's sufficient detail and colour calibration looks decent enough. This being perhaps the most important part for a device that you're going to consume your content on, I would say the Pad Go handles text rendering for reading and colour rendering for videos without any major lapses. The tablet can play videos up to 1440p on YouTube with very very stutters and frame drops, making it a pretty good option for video consumption.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Audio</b>: The quad speakers on the tablet are loud and punchy to be used for watching videos or playing some game when you're not outdoors, and I think it might be more important in a tablet than its rear camera for consuming content. These speakers support Dolby Atmos provided your source is delivering that to begin with. They aren't the loudset you would have heard on a tablet, ever, but they still give pretty clear sound and pack a decent punch for the price tag. For wireless audio, it has Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC as well as LDAC codec support for higher resolution audio delivery.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: Powered by an 8,000mAh battery unit, the tablet lasts me 2-2.5 days when used for about 8-10 hours a day over WiFi and 4-5 hours less with 4G/LTE in use. The bundled 33-watt SuperVooc charger can charge the tablet from 1% to full in a little under 1.5 hours, which is fast for a tablet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What it doesn't do very well:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: Packing a MediaTek Helio G99 chipset (up to 2.2GHz octa core processor, Mali G57 MP2 GPU), 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB UFS2.2 storage (base model comes in 128GB). The tablet showed frame drops and stuttering every now and then during my usage, and even after an OS update, the performance didn't really improve. You can switch between apps such YouTube and Chrome or Telegram and Instagram without any worries but you can notice the tablet taking somewhat more time to load the app you're switching to. While videos play smoothly (as mentioned above), general performance and for gaming purposes, the Pad Go is far from a top performer.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Running on Android 13-based OxygenOS 13.2, the tablet offers a plethora of familiar customization options. These include options for customizing icons, theming wallpapers, and the ability to open two apps simultaneously using the recent files shortcut. This feature is particularly useful for the tablet form factor. However, it's worth noting that the styles and keyboard introduced by OnePlus with the OnePlus Pad earlier this year are not compatible with the Pad Go.</p> <p>I never experienced excessive heating issues while using the tablet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: If you're looking for an Android tablet that is good for reading PDFs and long webpages, plays videos at a decently high resolution without too much stuttering, and delivers really punchy and loud audio, plus has a reliable battery experience, the OnePlus Pad Go can be an option you can look at. However, if you are somebody who wants buttery smooth performance and something with gaming capabilities, then the Pad Go would fall short of your expectations.</p> Tue Nov 07 12:16:31 IST 2023 immersive-sound-experience-with-the-lg-sc9s-soundbar <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>I have reviewed several TVs – both big and small, budget-friendly and high-end – but what is not covered nearly as often, despite being very important, is the sound system that accompanies them. Many times, the TV's performance lacks the punch to deliver on the audio front. This is where a soundbar, like LG's SC9S, comes into the picture – to complete the home entertainment package. Priced at Rs. 34,991 (current offer price), I recently had the opportunity to try out the LG SC9S soundbar + subwoofer combination. Let's dive in and see if it fulfills its audio promise or not:</p> <p><b>Design and Setup</b>: The soundbar and subwoofer come in one big box, along with a wall mount and remote control. The soundbar itself is about 39 inches wide and weighs around 4.1kg. It is made out of plastic with metal grills in the front. LEDs on the front grill indicate power and volume adjustment. The back of the soundbar houses HDMI in, HDMI out, USB A port, 3.5mm audio jack, and digital optical inputs. On the top, there are touch control buttons for WiFi, Bluetooth, power, volume controls, input switching, and track changing. The subwoofer weighs about 7.8kg and measures around 15.5 inches in height.</p> <p>Setting up the soundbar is a straightforward process. You can connect it to your TV using wires or use it while playing media over WiFi or Bluetooth, depending on the app. For example, if you use Spotify, you can use Spotify Connect, which works flawlessly and even syncs volume control.</p> <p>The LG SC9S soundbar also supports audio passthrough, allowing you to attach it to one HDMI port of your TV while connecting a media box (like Chromecast or Apple TV) to another HDMI port. It seamlessly handles audio from the media box without any additional setup required. This feature worked well for me right from the start, without any unnecessary adjustments. Not every premium audio setup can claim this level of convenience.</p> <p><b>Sound and Experience</b>: The LG SC9S Soundbar app allows you to update firmware, adjust sound settings, add another speaker to the setup, or even add an Amazon Alexa compatible speaker. It also offers sound calibration for the room where the soundbar is placed, along with the subwoofer. The SC9S supports Bluetooth 5.0 (with SBC and AAC codec), WiFi, as well as Chromecast and AirPlay 2.</p> <p>Using the 3.1.3 channel, 400-watt soundbar for watching movies and TV shows, I was impressed by the clarity with which it delivers dialogue. The improved clarity enhances the viewing experience with the TV. You can change EQ presets to find the best sound for the TV show or movie you're watching, or the streaming app you're using. The soundbar supports IMAX Enhanced sound, Dolby Atmos, and HDR audio, along with 120HZ VRR ALL for better gaming and video experiences. Not many soundbars at this price point can handle all of these features. LG suggests pairing it with an LG OLED TV for the best performance, although I was unable to test this specific combination. However, I did not encounter any issues while using IMAX, Dolby Vision, or HDR content.</p> <p>The LG SC9S soundbar features three upfiring drivers to complement the 220-watt subwoofer. When listening to music via Spotify Connect or Tidal Connect, the audio output is clean and clear, with a focus on vocal notes and instruments. The bass is clean but not the deepest or loudest that you can get from a subwoofer. You can experiment with different settings to find your preferred sound profile. While the lows are handled well, they may not deliver the thumpiest bass.</p> <p>I also found that the soundbar handles MQA from Tidal and Nugs without any technical issues. However, I still prefer actual lossless FLAC or ALAC playback, which the soundbar supports from Tidal as well as from a USB disk drive. Apple Music can be played over Chromecast, but keep in mind that Chromecast does not support Apple's lossless codec, ALAC. The one area where the SC9S seemed to lack was Dolby Atmos output. It did not deliver as immersive an experience as I expected from an LG device with Dolby Atmos, whether it was from a streaming app or a music app with Dolby Atmos albums. It's possible that a firmware upgrade or an additional speaker is required to fully experience Dolby Atmos with this soundbar. That being said, for other use cases such as music, movies, TV shows, and gaming, the SC9S is well-equipped and handles nearly all content without any issues.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: At the current offer price, the LG SC9S soundbar seems like a good buy to complement your TV and complete your home entertainment package. While I would have liked it to provide a higher volume output overall, it is sufficient for a room measuring 15x15 feet. Although Dolby Atmos is its weak spot, the SC9S delivers clear dialogues for movies and TV shows, has clean bass, and offers good connectivity options with no major glitches when connecting to different devices. Overall, it is a worthy contender for your audio needs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Nov 07 12:22:24 IST 2023 pixel-8-a-flagship-contender-unveiling-the-features-and-performa <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Google's Pixel lineup of smartphones has been steadily gaining traction in certain markets in terms of sales. While it may not be a complete success just yet, the Pixel team has been consistently making significant improvements with each annual update. With the release of the new Pixel 8 series, the pricing has increased. The Google Pixel 8 is now priced at Rs. 75,999, while the Pixel 8 Pro is priced at Rs. 106,999. Let's explore the advancements it brings and determine whether it justifies the higher price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Pixel 8 very much carries the familiar Pixel look that we have been seen from google – with a camera bar at the back, Google logo in the middle and a somewhat industrial feel to the package with its aluminium frames. What's changed, though, is it's now a bit more curved from the sides and definitely more comfortable to carry around. The back and front glass are a little glossy but they don't catch on fingerprints and smudges that quickly that you would need to clean them up every few hours. The right side houses the Power and volume buttons - both require a little more pressure than what we usually see on a smartphone, but it's not too much to be a worry in any way. The left side has the SIM card tray towards the bottom. The top only has the secondary mic; while the bottom carries the primary mic, one outlet of loudspeakers and USB type C port in the middle. Bezels around the display are nearly all symmetrical and give a nice look to the phone from the front, despite that camera notch on the top of the 6.2-inch display (20:9 aspect ratio) is under Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus, with the ear-speaker grille hidden subtly near the top. The Pixel 8 comes in Hazel, Obsidian and Rose colour options, Hazel being the one I tried, which looks more grey-ish than green-ish in colour. Also, it's an IP68 certified dust and water resistant device.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: Sporting a 6.2-inch full HD+ (1080x2400) OLED display with refresh rates of up to 120Hz supported. It's a bright display that's usable outdoors under direct sunlight and is also able to handle HDR content a little better than before in terms of contrast and shadow scenes in general. There's also better output for ultra HDR photos, something that's added to the OA as well. Seeing 90 to 120Hz rates in certain apps is nice and you can tell the difference if you're more used to using a 60Hz display previously when scrolling between those apps.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The Pixel 8 sports a dual camera system on the back – 50MP (f/1.68) main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) camera. The camera shots here seem to be really well stitched even in harsh lighting conditions. Night mode can take a little more time to take a shot but otherwise there's very little shutter lag to be seen here. Google highlighted the best take and auto eraser mode, which allows you to take one best shot in, say, a group of photos you took with some people. So you can &quot;alter&quot; and take a shot where everybody is smiling or everybody is looking at the camera in one shot, which may not have actually happened, but with Google's AI and camera capabilities combined, it can be achieved and quite quickly too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There's an audio magic eraser feature that allows you to basically cut out some noises and sounds in a video that's not required leaving you to your subject and necessary background sound. Again, a feature dependent on Google's AI and cloud. On the front, you get a 10.5MP (f/2.2) camera that's quick to take shots and able to handle portrait shots producing decent details and colours without too much highlight boosting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience:</b> Running on the latest Android 14 OS with October security patch installed, the Pixel 8 is Google's first device that comes with promised 7 years of OS and security updates. This is a significant deal since even Google hasn't provided updates for its Pixel devices for anywhere close to this long a period. Though Android's updates situation has been improving the past two years or so, this should help it a little further, highlighting which companies actually care about providing updates and bug fixes well after a device has been released.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the added features in Android 14 include voice typing in multiple laguages with the Google Assistant, Generative AI wallpapers allow wallpapers generated from a set of themes. One improvement made is that face unlock is a little faster and more secure and can be used for unlocking more third party apps. The OS now handles HDR photos in a much better way – giving more details and highlights as intended in an HDR shot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone boasts of Google's Tensor G3 chipset (up to 2.9GHz octa core processor, Mali-G715 GPU) along with Titan M2 security coprocessor, 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage (alse comes in 256GB). I found the phone to handle day to day tasks of watching videos, taking and receiving calls, playing music in the background while messaging without much issues. You can expect to get decent gaming playback for games such as League of Legends and Genshin Impact at medium to high settings but the phone tends to heat up quite a bit. Even without any gaming done, the phone can heat up under regular tasks and it happened repeatedly during my usage. This is my biggest worry with the device, how quickly and frequently it could heat up when you're not using it for playing games or editing any videos either. That's certainly a place where Google needs to improve its G3 chipset for various use cases applicable for almost all users.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: There's a 4,545mAh battery unit that supports PD 3.0 for charging. I found the phone to last me about a day a little more regularly than its predecessor, such that heavy battery drainage isn't any issue. The phone charges from 1% to full in nearly 2 hours, which is something we have been seeing from Pixel devices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other bits</b>: I found call quality and WiFi reception on the Pixel 8 yo be top notch, but what is a little less impressive is its 5G connectivity, which pales in comparison to flagship devices from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and Apple. A lot of times 5G would hop on to 4G/LTE sitting at the same place for 10-15 minutes while another device would still be on 5G using the same network operator services. It's certainly better than the Pixel 7 and 7a at launch, but hopefully there are some updates and software patches made to further improve it for 5G reception.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Pixel 8 clearly has a lot of things going for it – an excellent set of cameras that can take on any other smartphone camera when it comes to still shots, great display and a decent battery life experience. Its chipset performs well for tasks and even gaming for most users, but it does have heating issues as of now, and, while 5G connectivity is something that has been improved from the previous Pixel phones, is something that still has a clear room for improvement. If you're somebody who likes camera AI enhancements, cares about software updates and don't mind the odd heating issue with the chipset for now, the Pixel 8 is a pretty good package to consider.</p> Mon Oct 30 18:07:46 IST 2023 lava-blaze-pro-5g-a-strong-contender-in-the-budget-5g-smartphone <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lava recently made a triumphant return to the Indian market, exceeding their own expectations in terms of demand and supply. The company's latest offering, the Blaze Pro 5G, aims to capture the 5G battleground in the sub 15k price segment, which is being fiercely contested by various smartphone brands, both domestic and international. With a price tag of Rs. 12,499, let's delve into whether this device deserves your attention or not.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><b>What it gets right:</b></p> <p><b>Design</b>: The phone has a very familiar yet good enough design and build quality without any major misses in the department. The device’s 6.78-inch display (20.5:9 aspect ratio) has a punch-hole front-facing camera with the ear-speaker grille next to it. It doesn’t catch on to a lot of dust, which can be quite irritating to deal with if happening frequently. The back, carrying the dual camera system near the top left corner in a glossy looking rectangular cutout, has a shimmery plastic material that doesn’t bend anywhere and doesn’t have a cheap look to it, feeling quite sturdy to use along. The right side has the Power/lock key (with the physical fingerprint scanner) and volume buttons that are click-y. On the left you have the dual SIm card + microSD card tray near the top corner. The top houses the secondary mic; while the bottom has the USB type C cable, primary mic and one (and only) outlet of loudspeakers, plus the 3.5mm audio jack.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: Featuring a 6.78-inch full HD+ (1080x2460) LCD display with refresh rates supported up to 120Hz. It is bright enough for outdoor usage under direct sunlight provided brightness has been set at a high level. It does a decent job at handling high resolution images and videos without stuttering much. The highest refresh rate I noticed during my use was 90Hz a little under that or so in some apps, but never higher than that. I preferred the normal mode under display settings instead of vivid mode right from the start.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: Powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit, the phone comes bundled with a 33watt charger and a USB type C to C cable, which is not common at this price point, so it’s nice to see Lava bundling this cable. Remember, smartphones series like Galaxy S23 and liPhone 15 come with such cables, so you can use the same charger to charge other devices, too. The phone lasted me a day almost every single day even with some heavy 5G use over hotspot tethered to 1 or even 2 devices at times. And it charged from 1% to full in about 80 minutes or so.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s decent enough:</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Software and performance</b>: The phone comes with MediaTek’s Dimensity 6020 chipset (up to 2.2GHz octa core processor, Mali-G57 MP2) along with 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB UFS2.2 storage. The phone can handle tasks such as watching 1080p YouTube videos, checking Email, switching between these apps or calling and messaging while listening to music in the background just fine, but you would notice a bot of lag when unlocking the device or some frames dropped during the process. Might be nitpicking here, but it is reproducible. Having said that, apps don’t stutter often and loading one or switching between two is handled quite smoothly majority of the time. Heavy games such as Fortnite don’t play above 30FPS but a game like Call of Duty can go above 50FPS, giving better gameplay. You can expect to play less intensive games at medium settings but don’t expect very high frame rates and the most immersive gameplay on a smartphone at this price point.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5G connectivity</b>: Being one of the key features of the device, I found the 5G network reception to be pretty good outdoors, but a little less impressive indoors where other devices could latch on to 5G just fine. What makes it a little more weird is the phone, at times, won’t fall back to 4G/LTE when 5G isn’t available to it, meaning no data connectivity in between. Hopefully, Lava can fix this issue with an OTA update, because, otherwise, when outdoors with 5G reception, the phone is able to provide high speeds and low latency despite the price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What’s strictly okay:</b></p> <p><b>Camera</b>: featuring a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera and a camera system on the back that can produce detailed 12MP shots (default resolution) when used in good lighting with suitable backgrounds. But anything else and you can figure out the camera isn’t the phone strongest suits by any means. The camera app can be opened by double-pressing the Power/lock key even when the phone is locked and it doesn’t take too long before you can capture a shot.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: At Rs. 12,499 and the performance the phone is able to deliver across different factors, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Lava might well have a worthy 5G contender in its hands now.</p> <p>Lava has also introduced a convenient service called &quot;Lava Service at Home&quot; for their after-sales support. This service allows customers to get troubleshooting and repairs done without the need to personally visit a service center. It includes home pick-up and delivery of the device. The quality of this service will naturally depend on the specific issue and the customer's location. However, it demonstrates Lava's commitment to long-term customer satisfaction by ensuring a seamless and hassle-free experience.</p> Thu Oct 26 14:54:25 IST 2023 sony-wf-1000xm5-exploring-the-upgraded-audio-performance <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Sony has been one of the most recognizable names when it comes to true wireless earbuds in the market for a while now, and it isn’t just because of their name in the audio industry from decades but also what the company brings to the table for TWS. The Sony WF-1000XM5 are the latest pair of wireless buds in the WF-1000 series that is priced at Rs. 21,990 (pre-booking offer price, otherwise Rs. 24,990) and go against the likes of Apple and Bose. Do they justify the price tag and what all the improve compared to the predecessor, let’s try and find out:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: the buds are now lighter and a little smaller than before. The outer shell is more glossy now while the touch control button area is matte. There are three mics on each bud now. The eartips are a bit more flexible as per Sony and they pack in an extra pair of small size in the box. Oh, and the packaging box is made from recycled paper.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The charging case is all semi-matte finish with LED light on the front and USB type C plus physical pairing button on the back. There’s Sony branding at the top and the rest is all plain black except for regulatory print at the bottom. The case, too, is smaller in size compared to the previous model.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The buds are comfortable to wear and I didn't have to twist or adjust their placement too much in order to fit them in the ears even for the first listen. They didn’t feel jarring and bulky even when worn for over an hour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sound quality and features: The earbuds support Bluetooth 5.3 (with LE audio) along with SBC, AAC, LC3 and Sony’s own LDAC audio codec (no aptX or aptX HD here).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can connect the buds to two devices and jump between one and another as required without too much fiddling required and this feature works pretty well. These also support auto pausing when an earbud is removed from the ear, and you can also choose to use one bud at a time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can use Sony’s Headphones app to choose EQ profiles, switch between ANC and transparency mode, enable 360 Reality Audio and update the firmware. You can also try Sony’s Autoplay app that sets up listening sessions based on your location or current activity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming to the sound check, the WF-1000XM5, the pair features upgraded 8.4mm drivers and are powered by dual processors – main processor V2 and the HD noise cancelling processor QN2e. I found the buds to have deeper bass now compared to the previous model, at least trying out default sound settings. These offer really clear and full vocals without sacrificing on the instruments played alongside. There’s good headroom given to treble and midrange with more prominence given to lows (as mentioned earlier). Worth adding that overall soundstage and details seem a bit better than the predecessor with spatial audio and 360 audio realitcy enabled, though it would heavily depend on your source app, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Active noise cancellation is a headline feature of this series and it would appear the WF-1000XM5 continues that with really compact cancellation of low to mid pitched noises on most occasions without too heavy of a toll seen on audio quality. There’s ambient sound mode where you can opt to hear some external sounds (transparency mode). You can, of course, choose to switch both these modes off and listen to your music in regular mode, which would probably give you the “least filtered” sound from the buds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life and other bits</b>: The buds last about 7-8 hours when used with ANC switched on and a 2-3 hours more with ANC turned off, which is really good for the TWS category. Add the charging case and you can expect to get twice more juice on the go. Charging the case completely plus buds in one go can take a little over two hours. The charging case also supports Qi wireless induction charging.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Call quality including mic from the buds is decent enough and usable for outdoor use. Sony says they have added AI noise cancelling for calls on the go, though I am not sure i noticed any significant changes there, but call and mic quality aren’t bad in the first go for a wireless pair of earbuds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I found pairing these with Android and iOS devices to be a no-hassle process and didn’t see any significant lag when used for watching high resolution videos on phones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: Sony’s WF-1000XM5 are quite a pricey pair of TWS that do offer a lot of good stuff for it. They offer top notch active noise cancellation, full and detailed sound for a TWS pair and don’t sacrifice on looks or battery life, importantly, to top it off. So, if you’re looking for a premium pair of wireless earbuds and care about noise cancellation along with sound quality, this offering from Sony might well be worth a look.</p> Wed Oct 18 13:01:12 IST 2023 amazon-flipkart-sale-which-smartphones-to-gift-this-festive-seas <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The festive season is here, and along with it comes the much-awaited online mega deals season. Whether it's Amazon, Flipkart, or other portals, they are all vying for your attention with their enticing new deals. However, with the plethora of options available, it can be quite overwhelming to decide on the perfect gift for someone close or even for yourself, especially when it comes to smartphones. To help you navigate through this maze of deals, here’s a curated list of smartphones across different price segments that not only have attractive discounts but are also worth considering for your purchase:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>OnePlus 11R:</b> With a great build quality and excellent battery experience, the OnePlus 11R is one of the more value for money options under 40k today. It has a really nice display and a capable set of cameras that don’t disappoint in most use cases. A really responsive, clean and bloatware-free software experience out of the box, plus, OnePlus promises three major OS updates and four years of security patches.</p> <p>Usual base price: Rs, 39,999 plus Rs. 2000 bank discount and Rs. 3000 coupon discount.<br> Buyers also get a complimentary pair of OnePlus Buds Z2 alongside</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Moto Razr 40:</b> If you want to have your first smartphone with a foldable display and don’t want to shell out over 50k the <a href="">Moto Razr 40</a> is a pretty good option these days. With a clean OS that doesn’t stutter or lag for most tasks, a decent battery life and, importantly, a reliable hinge mechanism in place, the razr 40 also got pretty looks when closed in with its vegan leather clamshell.</p> <p>Usual price: Rs. 59,999<br> Deal price: Rs. 49,999</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Poco F5:</b> If you want (or want to gift somebody) a smartphone that gives you dozens of customization options for its software, doesn’t compromise on the build quality and also has a good battery life, then <a href="">Poco’s F5</a> is one of the better options around Rs. 25,000. The phone also has good 5G network reception and supports 67 watt fast charging. There’s also call recording feature that continues to be asked for by many users.</p> <p>Usual price: Rs. 27,999<br> Deal price: Rs. 20,999</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Realme 11x:</b> The device gives great battery life with support for fast charging, doesn’t heat up too much even if using 5G on the go for hours with hotspot enabled and also has a shimmery back that some people prefer. The <a href="">realme 11x</a> has a lot of customization options for its OS, plus a generally reliable physical fingerprint scanner on the side.</p> <p>Usual base price: Rs. 14,999 plus Rs 2000 deal discount plus Rs 1000 bank discount, so deal price Rs. 11,999</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Please be aware that the deals mentioned may have limited availability and may not be in stock at the time of checking.</i></p> Wed Oct 18 12:14:30 IST 2023 apple-iphone-15-pro-an-in-depth-exploration-of-the-cutting-edge- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Apple unveiled its range of new devices just a few weeks back in Cupertino that also included four new iPhones with its iPhone 15 series. The iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max – from lowest priced to highest are Apple’s latest new smartphones. The 15 Pro, which I have been using for a while now, sits between the regular iPhone 15 and the beefy iPhone 15 Pro Max. With a base price of Rs. 1,34,900 and going to Rs. 1,84,900 (of course there are deals and bank offers), let’s try and see what the iPhone 15 Pro really brings to thetable:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The new iPhone 15 Pros come in grade 5 titanium framing instead of steel from earlier. They also sport matte finish glass at the back. The edges are also slightly curved and more tapered now. What all this meant, lighter and grippier devices that are more comfortable to carry around than the predecessor. The front has a 6.1-inch display with ceramic glass shield on top (and thinner bezels around it compared to the iPhone 14 series), Dynamic Island setup with the ear-speaker grille next to it. The right side houses the Power/lock key; while the left side locates the new Action button (replacing the Alert slider) as well as separate volume buttons and the SIM card tray. All these buttons feel nice and not super sharp to use in whatever way you’re holding the phone. On the bottom, you get the USB type C port (replacing the decade old lightning port), primary mic and one outlet of loudspeakers. Coming to the back, you get a triple camera system with dual tone LED flash and LiDAR scanner – all situated on a curved rectangular cutout that’s protruding from the body.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone comes in Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium (the one I used), White Titanium and Black Titanium. Thankfully, there’s no discolouration on the unit I have, but there have been some reports of it for the Natural Titanium colour. It weighs slightly under 190 grams and measures about one third of an inch. Despite being a little thicker, I definitely prefer how it feels in the hand over the iPhone14 series. Oh, and it continues the be IP68 water and dust resistance certifications from before.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: Featuring a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED (2556x1179) display with adaptive refresh rates of up to 120Hz. It’s not significantly different from before except being a little brighter as per Apple. This is a high quality display that does a good job of handling hgih resolution videos and images with colour calibration that we are used to seeing on iPhones by now. Watching something over Netflix or Apple TV+, you can see how well it handles darker scenes transitioning to really bright scenes without any colour retention from before. It’s usable direct sunlight without having to crank it to highest brightness either. By default, higher refresh rates ProMotion is enabled and the display does a fine job of keeping up with its during different use cases such as playing games or just regular scrolling inside apps.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: The device sports a triple camera system on the back – 48MP (f/1.78) main camera, 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera and a 12MP (f/2.8) telephoto camera. The phone now takes 24MP shots from the main camera by default up from 12MP that used to be the case for years. The shots from the device look really sharp and detailed, slightly better if you zoom in to the photos compared to last year. You can shoot 4K ProRes videos but only if an external storage disk is attached even for a 1TB iPhone 15 Pro. There’s also a new log mode for videos that’s generally not seen on smartphones and gives a less processed and something to play around with plenty of details intact. The camera app is smooth to use and shows less shutter lag when processing regular shots or HDR. You can now change regular shots to portrait shots after taking a photo thanks to the new Image Processing chip and tweaked software in place. The 12MP (f/1.9) front-facing camera generally takes really good, well-toned shots for your social media use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: Running on iOS 17.0.2, the iPhone 15 Pro is powered by Apple’s A17 Pro (not “Bionic”) chipset (hexacore processor, Qualcomm 5G modem), which is the first chip based on 3nm technology on a smartphone; this is alongside 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage space (also comes in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB options). With the new Action button, iOS now allows you to set it to either mute or ring, or you can customize it to open any app or any particular action within an app using Shortcuts, which is a really nice and useful addition, in my opinion. What could make it even better is if Apple allows you to add another action by double pressing the buddon in addition to the current long-press. A new feature called StandBy mode allows you to turn the device into sort of a smart display when left in landscape mode while charging – giving you time, weather, alarm and your chosen widgets one screen. With Always on Display enabled, this is a nice little feature especially if you have a wireless charger stand to lap the device on. Apple has also improved the iOS keyboard’s autocorrection and learning abilities, but I am not sure I have noticed anything remarkably improved there, maybe it will be more apparent with longer usage. Another addition is under Messages, you can now swipe to right to reply to that message.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Widgets are now more interactive so you can check stuff or tap within a widget on your homescreen to do a task without having to open its app.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The phone handled day to day tasks, shuffling between apps, switching between videos and photos and installing and updating apps without any troubles. I didn’t see many frames drops or any delays to get such things done. For gaming, the phone can handle the most graphic intensive games such as Call of Duty and Genshin Impact at 60FPS, apparently its update for higher refresh rates is in the pipeline. Gaming playback is pretty smooth but I did notice the device heating up a big after 20 minutes of gaming.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The phone comes with a 3,274mAh battery unit and comes with a USB type C to C braided cable in the box. It charged from 1% to full in about 2 hours, but noticeably got hotter during the 50% to 70% stage almost every single time. The phone lasted me a day quite frequently, leaving about 10% in the tank with low power mode not enabled.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other bits:</b> I found 5G performance to be generally reliable whether outdoors or indoors with very infrequent switches to 4G/LTE. Call quality, WiFi reception and GPS performance are top notch here. Also, the loudspeakers on the phone are really loud and punchy with a deeper bass that I can remember from before, definitely makes watching videos and playing games a better experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> Folks, the new iPhone 15 Pro does bring much awaited USB C to the iPhone with which you can attach a host of accessories (with USB 3 data transfer speeds), use sable cable to charge and transfer data as many Android phones, or simply use another phone to charge it. Though the design – look and feel – of the phone is better this time, there’s some thermals issue when the phone is being charged or you’re playing games, otherwise these things do get fixed quickly by Apple. Other than that, this is a really well performing high-end device from Apple that has industry-leading video camera capabilities, a great set of photo cameras and a solid display with reliable and strong haptics feedback to top it off. So, if you have an iPhone 14, does it make sense to upgrade already? Not quite. An iPhone 13 Pro, if it’s still in good condition, I would say nope, but earlier models, then yup, you’re gonna see some noticeable improvements and can look to upgrade with an exchange offer considering the online sale season has begun.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Oct 05 11:04:31 IST 2023 hp-victus-16-review-gaming-powerhouse-or-mid-tange-performer <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>HP Victus is an entry-level gaming laptop with a great keyboard, good display, and build quality, which is evident in its performance with demanding games.&nbsp;</p> <p>HP has been making efforts to enhance its gaming offerings in the Indian market, and as a result, the company has introduced several new gaming laptops under its Omen and Victus sub-brands. The most recent addition to this lineup is the Victus 16, which is priced starting at Rs. 86,999 (s0095AX) for the base model. I have had the opportunity to use this laptop for a couple of weeks, and I will now share my experience with it.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Victus 16 comes in Performance Blue colour that is close to navy blue with the silver Victus logo on the lid. The laptop has a plastic chassis carrying slightly glossy finish that can catch fingerprints but doesn’t require to be cleaned up every single day. You get three vents including one on the back right next to the hinge.</p> <p>The Victus 16 boasts a 16.1-inch display with an anti-glare coating. It houses a 1080p webcam on the top and a small Victus logo on the bottom bezel. The laptop has a wedge design with horizontal cuts on both sides. It weighs approximately 2.3kg and measures 2.3cm in thickness, making it a relatively heavy gaming machine.</p> <p>The keyboard here is a full-sized backlit one with number keys and Ome gaming hub shortcut key. This keyboard is really comfortable and well-spaced to type on or used it for gaming. Typing long documents on it isa really nice experience thanks to the soft keys, one of the better parts about the whole experience of using this notebook, in my opinion. The trackpad is large enough and tracked standard gestures quite reliably during my usage.</p> <p>Overall, the design of the HP Victus 16 offers a visually appealing gaming laptop with a comfortable keyboard and reliable trackpad.</p> <p>On the left, there’s a LAN port, USB A 3.0 port and 3.5mm audio jack; while the right side houses the charging port, an HDMI 2.1 port, two USB A 3.0 ports and a USB type C port with DisplayPort 1.4.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: You get a 16.1-inch full HD (1920x1080) LED display with refresh rates of up to 144Hz. The display is not the brightest seen on a laptop at this price point but it’s still okay. The picture looks share and detailed for video playback as well as most of the AAA games. Higher refresh rates and sRGB colour gamut do help in animations and gameplay and seems like an essential need for a gaming laptop’s display today.</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience:</b> The Victus 16 sports AMD’s Ryzen 7840HS chip (up to 5.1Ghz octa core processor) &amp; Radeon 780M Graphics, 16GB DDR5 RAM along with NVidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 GPU (with 6GB DDR6 dedicated) and 512GB PCIe Gen4 NVMe m.2 SSD. It runs on Windows 11 Home edition (22H2 version) with a few HP apps pre-loaded such as Omni Gaming Hub, HP Smart, Dropbox, McAfee, but not too many and these can be uninstalled too. Playing games like The Witcher 3, the laptop handles it at high to highest settings fairly well, keeping gameplay at about 65 frames per second without too much heating to report. You can expect to play other games like Sim at highest settings too but playing very demanding titles such as Forza Horizon 5 and Dying Light 2 and you can see the laptop show its limited headroom, displaying somewhat choppy performance if these games were set at their highest settings, though they were much smoother if these games were played at high settings, giving close to 100FPS under such loads. Basically, it can handle the most graphic-intensive settings at medium to high settings but not at the highest settings, and games that are a little less demanding at their highest settings well enough. You can customize keyboard lighting, themes and wallpapers, make a gaming launcher for a list of your installed games or even boost the internal clock speeds when a game is played using the Omen Gaming Hub app.</p> <p><b>Battery life: </b>Powered by a 70Wh battery unit with support for fast charge, the laptop ran for about 4-5 hours most of the days, with an hour of gameplay and mainly Web browsing and music playback for rest of the times. It charges from 1% to full in a little over two hours.</p> <p>Other bits: WiFi and Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity on the laptop are top notch with no major lags or glitches seen during my use. It comes with dual Bang &amp; Olufsen speakers, which are decently punchy but not quite loud and deep for gaming needs or even videos, they aren’t bad, but they could have been better considering the use case here.</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b> In a nutshell, the Victus 16 clearly has its strengths and weakness when it comes to gaming performance. As mentioned, most of the games are handled at higher refresh rates with little to no choppiness, however, it shows its limited horsepower when playing the most graphic-intensive games. With this great keyboard, good display and build quality, a price tag of under 80k seems a little more justified, so if you get such a deal in the festive season with eyes on a gaming laptop, the HP Victus 16 might be worth a consideration.</p> Tue Sep 26 17:29:06 IST 2023 redmi-new-43-inch-smart-tv-is-it-worth-it <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Redmi's inaugural Fire TV smart TV was a 32-inch model that delivered considerable value earlier this year. Now, the company has unveiled a larger 43-inch model with upgraded hardware specifications. Priced at an introductory rate of £269.99, this TV faces stiff competition from rivals like OnePlus, Hisense, and even Xiaomi's own offerings. Does the new Smart Fire TV 43 have what it takes to compete? Let's delve into it:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: At first glance, the Redmi Smart TV 43 closely resembles the Redmi X series of televisions introduced some time ago. The front sports slim bezels around the 43-inch display, with a thicker lower bezel bearing the Redmi logo, a white LED, and a physical power button. The all-plastic back houses all the ports: a bottom-facing LAN port (100 Mbps), a 3.5mm audio jack, AV input, antenna and optical inputs, and side-facing 3 HDMI 2.1 ports (one of which supports eARC), along with 2 USB-A 2.0 ports. Weighing approximately 7kg, attaching the two tabletop feet is straightforward with the required screwdriver. For wall mounting, it's compatible with standard wall mounts, although you may need to purchase one separately if you don't already have it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display and Performance</b>: The TV boasts a 43-inch 4K (3840x2160) LED LCD panel with up to 60Hz refresh rates and HDR support. Most content tested on the TV was handled satisfactorily. The picture is sharp and detailed, with vibrant blues and reds and minimal issues with grays during high-bitrate video playback. In SDR, the TV performs well, but it reveals its budget nature when it comes to HDR, especially in terms of contrast and brightness in dark scenes. Even at 50 to 60FPS, you can expect smooth playback for live sports without frame drops or jarring effects.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Powered by a quad-core CPU and Mali G52MC1 GPU, along with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage (with only about 2.5GB available out of the box), the TV runs on Fire OS with Xiaomi's Patchwall. The operating system, even for those unfamiliar with it, is relatively user-friendly. It's divided into Input, Find, Live TV sources, and your purchased or rented content. You can also press the Apps button on the remote control to access your list of installed apps and long-press the Home button for quick settings, regardless of your location within the OS.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Streaming content through apps like Apple TV, SonyLiv, and Netflix is a smooth experience. The TV not only navigates these apps seamlessly but also moves between menus and settings without glitches or lags. Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi consistently maintain good performance and connectivity during usage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Audio</b>: The TV features a dual-speaker setup with a total output of 24 watts, supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS: Virtual X. It delivers loud and punchy sound suitable for a 15x15 room with a couple of viewers. However, for significantly larger spaces with more people, it's advisable to connect dedicated speakers to the TV. It handles dialogue reasonably well but excels in background and foreground audio. Lows and mids are adequately handled unless the volume is cranked to its highest level.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Notably, there's a horizontal ad bar near the center of the display under the Home tab, sponsored by Amazon. It's not overly intrusive but is almost always present. The TV supports Miracast and AirPlay 2, allowing you to cast YouTube from any smartphone and mirror content from Miracast-compatible and iOS devices without any issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Long-pressing the Alexa voice button provides options for issuing commands or controlling your Alexa-enabled devices on the same network. Xiaomi has also added a picture-in-picture mode (PiP) that enables you to view the live feed from an Alexa-enabled smart security camera alongside your main content. This eliminates the need to switch between apps to access the security camera feed, a handy feature for those with a full security camera setup.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Redmi Smart Fire TV 43 presents itself as a value-for-money smart TV that doesn’t disappoint in handling basics - offering snappy performance (a challenge for many smart TVs in this price range), good SDR video playback quality, and a decent speaker setup suitable for small to medium-sized rooms. Additionally, it includes thoughtful features like AirPlay support and PiP mode for security cameras, alongside a user-friendly remote control. This makes it a commendable package overall.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Sep 23 14:47:53 IST 2023 lenovo-yoga-9i-pro-a-mixed-bag-for-gamers-and-professionals <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lenovo’s Yoga 9i Pro is said to be a Windows machine that’s aimed to cater to both work and play users. It’s part of a somewhat crowded portfolio of product offerings from the company, and may not necessarily have distinct features, but then it might not be a bad performer on any count either, so let’s try and see where it excels and where it might not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: I tried the laptop in Tidal teal colour (also comes in Storm Grey) and really liked its sober look and feel made of recycled aluminium and plastic. It follows a somewhat matte finish throughout the body and doesn’t catch many fingerprints and smudge that quickly. On the right side, you get the power key with an LED indicator, two USb type A ports, 3.5mm audio jack and camera shutter key; while the left side houses the HDMi port (can run an 8K display at 60Hz), two USB type C ports with power delivery and Displayport 1.4 and an SD card slot. The laptop has good build quality with no creeks or bends. The lid, hinge and palm rest are all well-built with no complaints. The only complaint I could see was the bottom panel with the fan vents that appears to be slightly wonky in design compared to other parts of the hardware. Measuring about 1.65kg and 0.67 inches in thickness, it’s not the most portable laptop in the Yoga series but it’s still not massive enough to be a huge burden for carrying it around every now and then.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The laptop comes in different display sizes 16-inch and 14.5-inch (3072x1920) display (which is the one I tried) in Mini LED and LCD options, up to 165Hz. The Mini LED is really punchy in colours and good contrast levels with peak brightness of about 1,200nits, providing decent output for HDR content, which a lot of laptops tend to struggle with. The 10-bit display panel here seems to&nbsp; be of good enough quality that you can edit your images and videos keeping colour correctness in mind. It’s probably the best part about this Lenovo laptop, though it doesn’t go full 360 degrees and only goes flat 180 degrees despite being a touchscreen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: the device runs on Windows 11 Pro and comes Intel’s 13 th Gen. i9 (13905H) chip (clocked at up to 3Ghz along with nVidia’s 4070 GPU with 8GB VRAM, all this to go with whopping 64GB of LPDDRX5 RAM, 1 TB of m.2 SSD. It’s a filled package with a lot of high-end hardware up its sleeve. I found the laptop to handle smooth graphics and gameplay, make sure you have enabled 165Hz from settings along with HDR. It does tend to get hot near fan vents. You can expect to play AAA titles at highest settings for pretty much any Windows game here without the feeling your hardware requires extra headroom. For editing videos, too, provided you have placed the laptop on a flat surface so there’s sufficient space for cooling at the bottom, you can edit a 4K video while&nbsp; having your&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Web browser open and some Microsoft Office app open, too. There are a couple of Lenovo apps that come pre-installed though I am not sure either of them really added anything&nbsp; valuable, perhaps battery stats and performance mode from the Lenovo Vantage app, but that’s about it. Also, it does wake up from sleep quicker than the Yoga 9i, but it could still be further&nbsp; improved despite having performance mode enabled (and battery saver off).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Keyboard</b>: You get a full-sized and backlit keyboard with no numpad. The keys have sufficient travel and are tactile and comfortable to use for longer durations, not even once during my usage I found anything that I would perhaps like to change with the keyboard in any major way. The trackpad is plenty big and works smoothly with the usual Windows gestures and doesn’t miss a beat when scrolling, pinching or using multiple fingers gestures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> The laptop features a 75Wh battery unit that lasted around 6-7 hours on a stretech with screen brightness at 40%, WiFi always on, watching an hour of video, having Web browser always open with a Microsoft Office app in the background.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since I didn't have a compatible charger for the notebook that is compatible with Indian plugs, I couldn't test the charging speed with the bundled charger. However, I want to mention that both USB Type-C ports on the notebook can be used for charging.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: All in all, the Yoga Pro 9i seems like a good enough but not too great a choice for a gaming laptop and even less than that for working considering the price tag of Rs. 2,06,100. It has a great display and keyboard, but an okay battery life and it also shows heating issues every now and then under heavy loads including gaming.</p> Wed Sep 20 15:38:32 IST 2023 galaxy-watch6-review-a-stylish-and-feature-packed-smartwatch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Samsung launched its new foldable smartphones just a few weeks ago, and with them came its new wearables as well. The new Samsung Galaxy Watch6 comes at a base price of Rs. 29,999 for the Bluetooth-only 40mm model and goes up to Rs. 36,999 for the Bluetooth + LTE 44mm model. Does the new Watch6 have enough to justify being your wrist accessory to go with your phone? Let’s try and find that out.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Galaxy Watch6 comes in an aluminium finish with crystal sapphire glass on top of its 1.5-inch circular display. The back houses all the sensors that would rest against your wrist area. The watch has standard 20mm silicone straps that you can remove with just a press of the small buttons located at the back of each strap (default ones) and use any other such strap to go with it. You can buy such straps from Samsung, too, including ones made out of fabric. This isn’t a very heavy smartwatch (about 34 grams), but it has sufficient heft to be felt on your wrist. It’s an IP68 water and dust-resistant device and should withstand light rain and showers, and of course, gym use. The watch didn’t catch any scratches on the glass or on the sides during my few days of usage, but I would expect it to show more scratches with rougher use when used daily for a longer period. The watch is comfortable to wear and not rough on the skin so far, as I have tried. The 44mm size I tried required being hooked to the last hole in the strap to be snug enough.</p> <p><b>Display</b>: the 1.5-inch AMOLED (480x480) circular display is a little brighter than before and is usable under direct sunlight or gloomy conditions outdoors. The text and graphics on the display are clear and sharp enough for you to read your notifications, check map routes or write a short reply to a message.</p> <p><b>Software and features</b>: The Galaxy Watch6 runs on Wear OS 4 with One UI 5 on top and the June security patch in place. It looks and feels rather different from any other non-Samsung WearOS smartwatch but very much like the Watch5. On the inside, you get the Exynos E930 chipset (1.4GHz dual-core processor) alongside 2GB of RAM and 16GB (only 7GB available) of internal storage space. The watch is responsive to touches and swipes while also not showing too many drops in animations.</p> <p>You can swipe down one the Home screen to get to connectivity shortcuts; swipe from the left to right to get to notifications; swipe up to get to all your apps; and swipe to go to different watch modes and fitness measures. You can add more tiles to the right side Home screen. Paired with a Samsung phone, you can pay over NFC using the Watch6. You would need to have Samsung Wallet set up, which is exclusive to Samsung phones. You can pay with Samsung Wallet on an NFC-enabled PoS machine (need to add your debit or credit card in the app beforehand), and it does work well.</p> <p>You can also control media playback including on any Galaxy Buds from the watch.Another thing, you can reply to a pending message using the on-screen keyboard, if you’re okay with typing on the display.</p> <p>With the Watch6, you can keep track of your body measurement and any changes made regularly. You can also tag different measurements done, such as if it was done pre exercise or post, etc. You can track the hours of your deep sleep, step counts (which I found fairly accurate) and also take a note of stress measures in your body at a time.</p> <p>The watch supports rotating on its display’s edges to navigate between screens (compared to a physical rotating bezel on the Watch6 Classic) and it seems to work just fine. You can assign the Home button for going to the most recent app or go to an exercise mode. Same way, the back button can be assigned to either go back or show the recent apps. Noticeably, the ability to do ECG reading (with AFbi) is still missing from the Galaxy Watch6 in India, which was the case with earlier models, too. I found the haptics on the watch to notify you to be pretty strong and reliable even when commuting.</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b> The Watch6 44mm sports a 425mAh battery unit, which lasted me a little above a day most of the time. With LTE switched off, I found it required to be charged the next day every time. But with LTE (using your phone SIM card’s data), it is needed to be charged again within the same day. The Watch6 took about 80-90 minutes to charge from 1% to full.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Watch6 would make sense if you’re ready to splurge on a high-end, well-performing smartwatch that needs to be paired with your Samsung smartphone (not for any other Android phone either). With a slightly improved battery life and display and added Samsung Wallet feature, the Watch6 is a worthy contender if these points satisfy your requirement and budget. Having said that, I would suggest looking out for deals, especially during the festive season, since Samsung’s wearables (along with others) might pop-up with some nice deals during that time.</p> Sat Sep 16 13:01:32 IST 2023 bass-lovers-rejoice-realme-buds-t300-review-and-analysis <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&quot;The sub-3,000 TWS segment seems to be crowded by the week. We have many options available these days from the likes of OnePlus, Oppo, JBL, and now Realme has launched its Buds T300 TWS at Rs. 2,299. Let’s try to find out if they can stand out with their performance or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The buds T300 come in a matte finish plastic case that has the realme branding on the front, USB type C port at the bottom and a small LED between them. The interiors of the case have wooden-like brown colour (same for the realme branding outside) that looks nice. The buds fit in well and I didn’t notice any shifts or movements inside while carrying them around in the case. The charging case may not be the most premium built case but it still feels sturdy enough when closing or opening the lid.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The buds have stem-cell design with rubber eartips and these also come with two extra pairs in the box for different sizes. The case weighs about 41grams and buds weigh 4.1grams each and were found to be quite comfortable to wear for even extended periods. You have small left and right indicators marked on the respective bud, which also carry 4 mics for noise cancellation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Buds T300 are IP55 water and dust resistant, so using them in the gym and under light splashes should be okay.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound and features</b>: The buds come with Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity and support SBC, AAC codec along with Dolby Atmos (if your phone and source stream support it too). They are powered by 12.4mm drivers that we have seen on previous realme buds, too. There’s 360-degree Spatial Audio audio support, again if your source has it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In terms of sound quality, the buds are high on the bass, clearly. They are aggressive with the lows and tend to give it more weightage compared to other frequencies. It handles vocals well, but sound is a bit melow for trebles and various instruments when played together and so is the soundstage, but that’s expected for a wireless pair of earbuds at this price point.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking about its active noise cancellation, the buds have decent ANC quality for low frequency noises, but the sound quality does tend to suffer a bit with ANC switched on.</p> <p>There’s transparency mode, too. There’s very little lag in the earbuds for watching videos and even for gaming, it’s not that much with Game mode enabled using the realme Link app.</p> <p>Each earbud features touch controls for pause or resume playback, ANC on or off, changing track, answering a call and turning on Google Assistant. These do not have Google’s Fast pair connectivity, though I did find them to pair with a smartphone pretty quickly most of the times</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: Each bud has 43mAh battery pack while the case carries 460mAh battery. You can expect 6-7 hours of playback on a single charge (with ANC turned off) and over a day and a half of total playback with the charging case as power backup.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: In a nutshell, the Buds T300 don’t have the most accomplished sound quality at this price point, but what they do have is a bass-heavy sound output with great battery life. If these two are your priorities for wireless earbuds, then you should consider these Realme earbuds; otherwise, the Redmi Buds 4 Active and Realme’s own Buds Air 3 Neo are still the ones to consider.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Sep 13 15:51:18 IST 2023 tecno-pova-5-pro-review-a-mixed-bag-of-a-device <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>We saw Infinix’s GT 10 Pro just a few weeks back, and we now have its sister company Tecno’s new Pova 5 pro 5G device. Starting at a price of Rs. 14,999, the phone tries to stand out with its quirky design and gaming performance. Let’s try and find out if this new 5G device is worth your attention.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b>&nbsp;One of the first things you would notice about the device is its different looking back, which has multiple RGB LED strips on it that glow up under different tasks (more on that later). The company calls it ARC design. The back also houses the dual camera setup in a rather unique cutout that’s quite familiar for Tecno phones by now. On the front, with a thicker bezel at the bottom compared to other sides, you have a 6.78-inch display (20.5:9 aspect ratio) that has Panda glass on top for protection and comes with a punch-hole front camera in the middle near the top.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The right side locates the volume buttons and Power/lock key near the middle (both keys have very little travel); while the left side only has the dual SIM card + microSD card tray near the top corner. On the top, you get one outlet of loudspeakers; and the bottom has the 3.5mm audio jack, primary mic, second outlet of loudspeakers and USB type-C port. The corners of the phone are curved with its sides being flat. The phone is made up of polycarbonate and is a little thicker than most phones we see these days, weighing a little under 210 grams and measuring 9mm in thickness. The phone isn’t slippery at all, but some people may find it a little bulky. It is available in two colours – Dark Illusion (which I tried) and Silver Fantasy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b>&nbsp;The phone sports a 6.78-inch IPS LCD full HD+ (1080x2460) display with refresh rates supported up to 120Hz. It’s bright enough and usable under direct sunlight outdoors. You can expect decent colour reproduction and viewing angles here. Full HD videos and high-resolution images are handled just well enough with enough details. Backlight and refresh rates could have been handled better in terms of consistency and smooth transition, otherwise, this is not a bad display.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera:</b>&nbsp;You get a dual camera system on the back – 50MP (f/1.6) main camera and a 0.8MP portrait camera. The main camera can take decent portrait shots at 124MP by default. Expect detailed but often over-sharpened shots even in daylight at times with too much smoothening of faces and struggling with dynamic range. 50MP mode gave better results in terms of colours and details but it does leave that AI retouch feel, too. The camera app is not very quick to open and take shots but it’s quite straightforward to get around different camera options and modes. On the front, you get a 16MP (f/2.0) camera, which can take well-focused shots and perform okay in terms of colours provided no beauty modes, even in the super light mode, it can give shots good enough for your social media use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience:</b>&nbsp;Pova 5 Pro is equipped with MediaTek’s Dimensity 6080 chipset (up to 2.4Ghz octa-core processor, Mali-G57 MC2 GPU), 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB uMCP storage. It runs on HiOS 13.1 (no points for guessing what that name sounds a lot like) based on Android 13 with the June security patch. The software's look and feel are very much like XOS that we saw on the Infinix GT 10 Pro. It’s a customizable and feature-loaded skin where you can have dual apps, live translation with Ella, try new themes from the theme store, or play YouTube videos as audio in the background. There are many apps pre-installed on the phone, most of which can be uninstalled, but what was surprising to see is getting a little pop-up at the bottom asking if you would like to reinstall one of those pre-installed apps that were uninstalled. This seemed absolutely unnecessary. Swiping top down from the left gives you notifications; while from the right gives you shortcut tiles. There’s an added shortcut in the dropdown pane that allows you to quickly switch between 5G and 4G with one tap and comes in handy at times. I found the phone to be sufficiently responsive in terms of handling multiple apps and switching between one and another. It can drop frames every now and then. You can expect to play a game like BGMI with frames per second at about 40. The phone rarely heats up and even then nothing too much. I did notice the phone switched off randomly when sitting idle, once every 203 days, which was odd, but I couldn’t repeat it since there was no set pattern to it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life:</b>&nbsp;Powered by a 5,000mAh battery unit, the phone comes with a 68watt fast charger in the box (you also get basic a transparent protective case), which is not common for this price range, so credit to Tecno for bundling it. The phone lasted a day 7 out of 10 times, and didn’t show any weird battery drops. You can expect to charge the phone from 1 per cent to full in about 70 minutes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other bits:&nbsp;</b>As far as 5G connectivity goes, the phone does satisfactorily, latching on to 5G wherever available for most of the time. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS performance are also nothing to worry about. Top and bottom-facing loudspeakers are just about okay in terms of loudness for watching videos and playing games, but they don’t necessarily sound distorted at higher volumes. Call and voice quality with the in-ear speaker could have been a little louder but it’s just about okay for outdoors and noisy environments. You can customize the LED backlight for notifications, calls, gaming, startup, charging and even music playback</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:&nbsp;</b>The Tecno Pova 5 Pro clearly is a mixed bag of a device. It has some performance issues and some questionable software choices taken, while providing a good gaming experience and connectivity as a smartphone. For a budget of around Rs 15,000, you might be better off with the likes of the Realme 11x but If you’re somebody who might want a quirky-looking Android phone that you can play high-end games at medium settings, the Pova 5 Pro is a decent option to check out.</p> Tue Sep 12 16:43:04 IST 2023 zunpulse-avian-30-plus-a-remote-controlled-bldc-motor-powered-fan-for-your-house <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>BLDC motors, or brushless DC motors, have been the trend in the home fan space for quite a while now. They use direct current (DC) as their power source and are supposed to be less noisy and more energy-efficient. Zunpulse is a relatively small player in the smart home appliance but with a lot of products for home appliance requirements. The Zunpulse Avian Plus 30 is a BLDC-powered ceiling fan that is priced at Rs 2,400, which I have been using for a few weeks. Does it deliver on the promises mentioned above? Let’s quickly find out.<br> </p> <p>From the looks of it, the Avian Plus 30 looks like any other ceiling fan you see every day except for the LED mounted right in the middle of the fan. The fan sports three blades for wings covering a span of 1,200mm. It’s powered by a 30watt BLDC motor and can be operated with a remote control that is included in the package. The ball bearing has double-sided steel shielding over it and the whole fan weighs about 3kg. The fan comes in Brown and White colour options, the latter being the one I tried.</p> <p>The fan’s main USP, other than its BLDC motor, is the remote control bundled with it. The remote control has a plastic body with rubber buttons on the front. You can select from six different speeds, set timers for switching the fan off automatically when the timer is complete, turn the fan in reverse mode (apparently this is to be used during winters), and switch the LED on or off. The LED in the middle also switches on for half a second whenever you press a button. The LED is small and just bright enough to be used late at night if you want to move around in your place without disturbing anybody else around and not bombarding lights for others, and nothing else.</p> <p>The fan itself is not noisy at all, all the sound you hear of the air blowing off the blades and none of the motor running inside. One downside often sighted for BLDC motors fans is that they can be slower than their traditional counterparts, and though this one might be slightly slower than a traditional one when comparing their highest speeds, it’s still fast enough to cover a 12x12 room. I never really saw a need for the fan to be faster on speed 6. As per the company, you can expect as much as 65% of electricity saving from this fan. Though I can’t say it is exactly so, it’s certainly less power hungry compared to older models seeing the metre running side by side for the same setup.</p> <p>All in all, at Rs 2,400, this Zunpulse BLDC fan does live up to most of its claims and it delivers with fast enough speeds and quite enough operations. I would have liked to see Zunpulse give the remote control a better design in terms of looks as well as materials used considering how frequently it’s required to be used, but this 5-star energy rated fan does perform the job.</p> Thu Sep 07 17:47:41 IST 2023 is-realme-11x-worth-your-money-pros-and-cons-revealed <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Realme’s market share last quarter took a bit of a hit compared to the same quarter last year. The company has seen quite a few changes among its top leadership in the past two months or so. Whether Realme will be able to find its mojo in the market again we will have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the company is targeting the 15k price segment with new 5G devices, one of which is the realme 11x that I have been using for a few days now. Let’s try and check what it gets right and what it doesn’t and if it packs enough to justify the price tag of Rs. 15,999 (or Rs. 14,999 for the base model).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: One of the better things about the realme 11x seems to be its build quality and familiar design that we have been seeing from the company for a while now, including its 11 Pro series. The phone comes in Midnight Black and Purple Dawn colour options. I tried the Purple Dawn colour that features a shimmery, glittery back with the dual camera system placed in a protruding circular module near the top left; while also having the realme branding towards the bottom. The back and sides are all made from polycarbonate material and do not feel cheap at all. The right side houses the Power/lock (mounted with a fingerprint scanner) and volume keys; while the left side carries the dual SIM card plus microSD card tray near the top corner. At the bottom, you get the 3.5mm audio jack, primary mic, USB type C port and the lone outlet of loudspeaker; on the top you just have the secondary mic. Near the top of the display, you get the ear-speaker grille next to the front camera. The bezels around the 6.72-inch display (20:9 aspect ratio) are thin except for the chin. which is noticeably thicker than the other three. The phone weighs around 190grams and measures about 7.9mm in thickness. Its corners are curved while the frame around the body is all flat, and the never felt slippery to carry around.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The phone sports a 6.72-inch full HD+ (1080x2400) IPS LCD display with support for refresh rates of up to 120Hz. The display is sufficiently bright to be used outdoors under direct sunlight provided the brightness has been set high. The display us quite sharp and decent for viewing for images or watching hgih resolution videos on YouTube. It’s not the most well calibrated display on a realme device or one with rich blacks and reds in place, but it’s still good enough for the price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera: </b>The back of the phone has a dual camera system – 64MP (f/1.79) main camera along with a 2MP (f/2.4 portrait camera). The main camera can take sharp and punchy <b>shots </b>in daylight, but perhaps oversharpened at times. It can keep focus quite well with a subject not moving too fast. The camera app is quick to load and there’s very little shutter lag to report, too. The front has an 8MP (f/2.05) camera, which, with beauty modern and filters off, can take decent shots for your social media needs, but don’t expect very well stitched shots under not-so-ideal lighting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience:</b> The device is powered by MediaTek’s 6100+ chipset (up to 2.2Ghz octa core processor, Mali G57 MC2 GPU and 5G modem) with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage (base variant has 6GB + 128GN configuration). The phone does fine in handling day to day tasks and it can handle multiple apps, if not too media heavy, okay. I wish realme gave a better UFS storage for internal use, but it’s perhaps the sign of the price tag. For using two apps in floating windows, you can see the phone struggle with scrolling for apps such as YouTube and telegram, but otherwise it does just fine when having only one app on your screen. Gaming performance on the phone is nothing to boast about, giving 60 to 80Hz on not to heavy games at medium settings, so don’t expect to get any smooth playback for games like BGMi or Genshin Impact on medium to highest settings. The phone runs on realme UI 4.0 based on Android 13 with the July security patch. As mentioned earlier, you would have take a few minutes off while setting up a realme device to get rid of unnecessary pre-installed apps and notifications out of the box. Once done, you can customise a lot of things here as per your need, including having an app launcher or not, icons, colour palette for UI, dual apps, and so on. The phone doesn’t do 120Hz refresh rates and was more or less around 90Hz most of the time when using third party apps. For things like Hot Games and Hot Apps, these cannot be uninstalled but only disabled by the user from the phone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: Equipped with a 5,000mAh battery unit, the phone lasted a day more often than not, giving a little over 24 hours on a single full charge most of the times even when used with WiFi hotspot turned on for 3-4 hours connected to two devices at times. The bundled 33 watt SuperVooc charger that comes in the box (along with a protective case) charges the phone from 1% to full in just a little over an hour, which is absolutely okay.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other bits</b>: I found the single loudspeaker just okay in terms of loudness for gaming and videos, and it clearly lacks having stereo output with another outlet. WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS performance of the phone is nothing to worry about. I also liked the phone’s 5G reception, latching onto 5G without jumping back to 4G/LTE in areas where 5G is generally available, which is nice to see for a phone priced so. The side-mounted physical fingerprint scanner is not the quickest you would have seen but it’s still fine for every day use for reliability.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: To sum up this device, you get great battery life, decent combination of display and cameras, while having a good build quality and familiar design in place. The realme 11x comes out as a value for money 5G device that has its pros and cons, but the pros seem to outweigh its cons given the price tag, making it an option worth consideringif you’re looking for an Android device prioritising its battery life and large display for around Rs. 15,000.</p> Thu Aug 31 18:15:04 IST 2023 samsung-galaxy-z-flip5-bridging-the-gap-between-style-and-perfor <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Starting at a price of £1,54,999 and going up to £1,84,999, the Fold5 is among the costliest smartphones available today. Having said that, it’s the latest and biggest foldable smartphone from Samsung, which has been setting the bar for the category for a while now. So, what really does the device bring new to the table? Let’s try and check that.</p> <p><b>Design</b>: Like the Flip5, the Fold5’s design is among the biggest changes it gets over its predecessor. With a refined hinge that allows the phone to be closed nearly all flat and a slightly thinner and lighter device, the Fold5 feels a bit of a finished product now. In the unfolded mode, the phone carries a 7.6-inch display while the cover display sits at 6.2 inches. You get the dual SIM card tray on the left; while the right side houses the volume buttons and the Power/lock key. The bottom has the primary mic, loudspeaker and USB type C port; another loudspeaker outlet and secondary mics on the top.</p> <p>The outer part of the hinge carries the Samsung branding. Coming to the back (when folded), you get a triple camera system layered in a cylindrical cutout placed one above the other, along with the dual-tone LED flash. The cover display, along with the back, is covered with Corning Gorilla Victus 2. The main display still carries a protector on top, but it’s a bit more subtle than earlier, but the crease in the middle is still noticeable and felt when scrolling just as much as it was before. The phone is IPx8 water-resistant but still not dust-resistant. The cover display has a punch-hole camera in the middle; while the main display has a right-shifted under-display camera that’s not hugely noticeable at all times. The phone is made up of a mixture of aluminium, glass, and some plastic, and feels nice in the hand, but it’s definitely a thick and heavy device to be carried around with 253 grams of weight and 13.4 mm thickness when folded. The phone comes in Icy Blue (the one I tried), Phantom Black, and Cream colour options (plus two more options exclusive to the Samsung website).</p> <p><b>Displays</b>: The main display of the phone is a 7.2-inch QXGA (2176 x 1812) AMOLED with a 21.6:18 aspect ratio. This display is slightly brighter than before and is usable under direct sunlight without a problem. It’s a really nice and big display to watch videos, edit PDFs, or write Emails on. The protective layer (suggested by Samsung to keep it on) is now not as obstructive to view content with. The cover display is a 6.2-inch full HD+ (2316x904) AMOLED with a 23.1:9 aspect ratio. It’s a sharp and bright enough display and supports 120Hz (same as the main display), which I used for maybe 85% of the time using the device. I preferred using it in natural screen mode rather than the default vivid mode.</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience:</b> The Fold5 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen. 2 chipset (up to 3.36GHz processor, Adreno 740 GPU and x70 modem) with 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB UFS4.0 storage (higher models come with with 512GB and 1TB options). It runs on One UI 5.1.1 based on Android 13 with the August security patch installed. I found the phone to be a really smooth operator for day to day tasks as well as for gaming with playback at high refresh rates for titles such as CoD: Mobile and Modern Combat 5 without any stuttering. Importantly, the software takes good care of using the extra screen estate inside, so you can run, say, 4 apps side by side to use the main display and there wasn’t any performance drop there. When in-app, you get an app bar at the bottom, between app menu launcher and navigation keys, from where you can drag and open apps side by side for maybe taking notes while a video call is on or scrolling through one social media app with another open alongside, it works really nicely. You can also buy and use an S Pen with the device if you want. Oh, unlike the Flip series, you do get DeX functionality here, so you can plug the device with a PC and have a desktop-like mode powered by your Galaxy Z Fold5 instantly.</p> <p>Whatever you have running on the cover display can be continued on the main display as soon as you open the phone. You can choose to have the same or different layouts for the homescreens of your cover display and main display and similarly for its other customization options.</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: On the back, the triple camera system holds a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera with OIS, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera with OIS. The cameras aren’t a big upgrade here, but they do take punchy and detailed shots, and importantly there’s noticeably less shutter lag now. The camera app is quick to launch and navigate around to try different options in it. The front-facing 10MP (f/2.2) on the cover display takes well-stitched shots with decent colour reproduction. The fifth camera, that is, the 4MP (f/1.8) under display camera on the main display is fine for video calls, though I preferred taking video calls with the phone closed.</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The phone is equipped with a 4,400mAh battery unit and can be charged using a 25-watt charger from 1% to full in about 100 minutes using a compatible charger. The phone lasted me a day quite regularly, with the main display being used for maybe 1.5 hours in total, most of the time being spent on the cover display. The phone does heat up a bit near the rear camera area a bit quickly while it’s put on charge.</p> <p><b>Other bits</b>: Call quality, WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity – all work without any glitches to report. I also got pretty good 5G network reception on the phone while commuting in public transportation or using a cab. The loudspeakers (placed on the top and bottom) are loud and punchy enough, though I have used better speakers on a Samsung device before.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Fold5 comes across as a more polished foldable smartphone from Samsung in their effort of making foldables more mainstream. I wished they had put a bit more effort into upgrading the camera part, but it’s still pretty good to use. The phone has good software in place for regular use as well as multitasking several apps on the bigger display inside, while performing well for gaming, too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 31 18:18:05 IST 2023 is-the-oneplus-nord-ce3-worth-its-price-a-comprehensive-review <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>OnePlus' Nord series of smartphones was originally intended to be the company's budget offering, delivering value-for-money performance and design without breaking the bank. However, the series has been a bit all over the place, with the Nord 3 launching recently and the <a title="" href="" target="_blank">Nord 3</a> Lite a little before that. Priced at Rs. 26,999 for the base model and Rs. 28,999 for the higher model (which I have been using), does the phone justify the price tag? Let's try and find out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The Nord CE3 follows a simple yet premium design with a glossy plastic back that doesn't feel cheap at all. The back houses a protruding triple camera setup in a cutout format. The phone comes in two colors – Grey Shimmer and Aqua Surge – the latter being the one I tried. The sides are all matte finish – with the volume button and Power/lock keys on the right side; while the left side is left plain. At the bottom, you have your dual SIM card tray, USB Type-C port, primary speaker, and one outlet for the loudspeaker; on the top, you have the infrared port, secondary mic, and secondary outlet for the loudspeaker to go with the ear-speaker grille in the display's top bezels next to the circular punch-hole camera. Speaking of bezels around the 6.7-inch display (20.1:9 aspect ratio), these are quite thin with nearly uniform dimensions. The phone weighs around 185 grams and measures 0.32 inches in thickness, and it never felt slippery to carry around.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The OnePlus Nord CE3 sports a 6.7-inch full HD+ (2412x1080) AMOLED display with support for refresh rates of up to 120Hz and HDR10 for videos. The display is quite bright and usable under direct sunlight. There's a bit of color retention when viewing full HD videos, but otherwise, color reproduction is pretty good with sharp and punchy output. I prefer the natural mode for the display's settings, but you may prefer something else. For HDR, only YouTube supported HDR video playback, which the Nord CE3does a strictly okay job of in terms of contrast and shadows.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera</b>: You get a triple camera setup – a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera along with an LED flash. The main Sony IMX890 and ultra-wide Sony IMX355 can produce detailed and well-color-stitched shots for daylight conditions. The subject is often focused with good contrast and dynamic range to go with it. It can struggle with portrait shots even in daylight outdoors with oversharpening of the subject. For videos, you can shoot at 4K resolution at 30FPS, and 1080p videos at 60FPS. The front-facing 16MP (f/2.4) camera takes pretty sharp photos and decent portrait shots when used in suitable lighting conditions, and it is more than good enough for video calls. The camera app loads and snaps quickly with very little shutter lag and has a lot of options to choose from within.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b>: Powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 782G chipset (up to 2.7GHz octa-core processor, Adreno 642L GPU, and x53 5G modem), 12GB LPDDR4X RAM, and 256GB UFS3.1 storage (the base model comes with an 8GB + 128GB configuration). The Nord CE3 runs on OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13 with the June security patch installed. It handles day-to-day tasks of opening and closing apps, switching between apps, using multi-window, and scrolling within these apps just fine. On the other hand, I did notice that navigating inside an app is almost never done at more than 90Hz refresh rates, which is something seen on previous OnePlus models too. When playing a high bitrate video with HDR, the phone can show a bit of sluggishness in terms of handling playback smoothly. It does not happen frequently but it is reproducible. For gaming, don't expect to play a game like BGMI at its highest settings, though playing at low to medium settings should be okay. As you can see, performance is generally okay, but it doesn't quite hit it out of the park when it comes to smooth scrolling and gaming. You get very few third-party apps pre-installed out of the box, and most of those can be uninstalled too. The Enhanced Intelligent Services option inside Settings is now switched off by default.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The Nord CE3 comes with a 5,000mAh battery unit and an 80-watt SuperVooc charger in the box (along with a blue-colored rubberized protective case and USB type-A to C cable). The Nord CE3 lasted me a day around 8 out of 10 times, not requiring charging again during a day almost every time. It charges from 1% to full in about an hour and doesn't heat up significantly either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other bits</b>: The call quality and WiFi reception on the Nord CE3 are top-notch as I didn't notice any unusual network drops or bandwidth issues during my usage. 5G connectivity from OnePlus is some of the better implementations on phones, and the Nord CE3 is no exception, giving good speeds and latching on to 5G in most places where it's usually available.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The Nord CE3 is a good performer when it comes to providing a neat and clean software experience out of the box with great battery life. On the other hand, it doesn't quite provide you with the best performance and gaming experience at this price point; for that, the likes of the <a title="" href="" target="_blank">Poco F5</a> and <a title="" href="" target="_blank">Realme 11 Pro+</a> still take the cake. So, if you are somebody that prioritizes how the phone's experience is out of the box without too much tinkering required to be done yourself at first and a camera that is quick to snap photos, the Nord CE3 is a decent option to consider under 30k.&quot;</p> Fri Aug 25 16:53:09 IST 2023 hp-omen-16-llaptop-review-the-gaming-beast-you-ve-been-waiting-f <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>HP’s Omen sub-brand of gaming laptops is part of a growing segment in the Indian market, which has been gaining popularity among serious gamers and early adopters in recent times. The company launched its Omen 16 laptop a while back, and I have been using its Intel i7 variant with Nvidia 4080 for a few weeks now. This heavily configured laptop within the series is priced at Rs. 2,44,990. Let’s see how well it performs to justify that price tag.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: The HP Omen 16 comes in a complete black look with a somewhat understated Omen logo on the lid. The 16.1-inch 16:9 aspect ratio (non-glossy) display has thick bezels (housing the full HD webcam with a privacy shutter switch at the top), which is expected from a heavy gaming laptop. The hinge and durability of the laptop seem pretty decent, with no creaks or bending observed. The sides are populated with wide vents, with many ports now shifted to the back of the laptop. On the left, you get two USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports (with DisplayPort 1.4), a 3.5mm audio jack, and the vents; while the right side houses a USB 3.0 Type-A port and more vents. The back features your power input, a gigabit LAN port, an HDMI 2.1 port, and another USB 3.0 Type-A port, along with more vents. The laptop weighs just under 2.4kg and is less than 2.5cm thick. You get a full-sized backlit keyboard with a number pad and dual Bang &amp; Olufsen speakers to top it off. There is no fingerprint scanner or SD card reader here.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The HP Omen 16 laptop sports a 16.1-inch WQHD (1560x1440) IPS display with an anti-glare feature and support for up to 240Hz refresh rates. The display is pretty sharp and responsive in terms of different scenes and videos for playing games. It is not very, very bright, which might have helped a bit more with the overall output, but it’s still a well-calibrated display for a wide range of colours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance</b>: Powered by Intel’s Core 13th gen. i7-13700HX processor (clocked at up to 2.1GHz) with Nvidia’s 4080 GPU 12GB DDR6, along with 32GB of DDR5 RAM (upgradable) and 1TB of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, running Windows 11 Home (Single Language version 22H2). The HP Omen 16 handled games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider playing at the highest settings. GTA: V, on the other hand, played at around 125FPS at QHD resolution. There weren’t any major frame drops or throttling to be seen while playing games, providing a nice and smooth gameplay experience. I didn’t notice the display reaching its full 240Hz refresh rates in any game. The laptop reached a peak temperature of around 62 degrees Celsius during my usage when used without any air conditioning switched on in the room. You get dual fans inside the machine with plenty of vents to take care of thermals, importantly. I didn’t notice too much fan noise, but I still did notice a lot of heating around the left and right sides of the keyboard with continuous usage. The keys are backlit, and that’s done per key, which is a nice addition. You can customize RGB lighting, try gaming-themed wallpapers, performance controls, and other such stuff with OMEN Gaming Hub.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound</b>: The dual speakers are sufficiently loud and can provide an immersive gaming experience when you're alone. You can try different audio settings from the Omen Gaming Hub app. HP also provides HyperX headsets with select models, and you can configure audio settings for them using the pre-installed HyperX NGENUITY app. The speakers are fairly decent for music playback or for watching some YouTube videos with not much noise around you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery life</b>: The HP Omen 16 laptop is equipped with an 83Wh battery unit and comes with a 280-watt charger in the box. The battery here is strictly okay, lasting about 3.5 to 4 hours with minimal gaming and, of course, much less with more gaming, which is what was expected from this gaming laptop in the first place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: The HP Omen 16 laptop is an all-around solid gaming laptop that performs well for its main purpose – gaming. It can handle AAA and FPS games near their high settings with fairly high frames per second during gameplay. It has decent audio quality but just okay battery life and has good build quality to top it all off, making it a good option if you want to buy a new laptop for gaming.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Aug 23 15:36:35 IST 2023 sony-55-inch-x90l-led-tv--where-design-meets-immersive-visuals-a <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Sony launched its new full-array LED series of TVs about a couple of months ago. The TVs come with a Cognitive Processor XR aimed at improving picture and sound quality compared to earlier models, according to the company. I have been using the Bravia XR-55X90L model for a few weeks now. Priced currently at Rs. 1,39,990, the 55-inch model sits above entry-level OLED TVs and competes in a market segment where mid-range to premium offerings are available. Let's examine where this Sony TV excels and where it faces challenges.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design</b>: Right out of the box, you would notice the premium design and appearance of the TV, a significant departure from the budget TVs we often see these days and even from some of Sony's previous models. The TV is slimmer, measuring only 2.2 inches in width, compared to other LEDs in this price range. It comes with three-way aluminum wedge stands that enhance its appearance in your living room. I chose to wall-mount it, and it maintains a slim profile, which complements the room's aesthetics. The LED indicator and a single button are located at the bottom on the front, and notably, there's no visible branding. On the back (mostly plastic), you have four HDMI ports, with two supporting HDMI 2.1 with variable refresh rates up to 120Hz, and one of these supports eARC (the other two are HDMI 2.0). Additionally, there are two side-facing USB 2.0 ports, audio out, a 3.5mm audio jack, and composite video input. Design-wise, there's very little to complain about the TV, with its slim bezels around the display, high-quality materials, and a sleek profile. The remote control follows suit, being compact and comfortable to hold.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The TV boasts a 54.6-inch Ultra HD (3840x2160) VA-type LED-LCD panel with refresh rates of up to 120Hz and support for HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG for videos. Sony's Bravia tuning and upscaling technology, powered by the Cognitive Processor XR, enhance the picture quality. The X90L delivers sharp, bright (sometimes exceeding 1,200 nits), and clear visuals for various content types. For HDR content, it produces excellent contrast and smooth transitions between bright and dark scenes. Streaming from apps like Apple TV and Netflix provides vivid video with ample details. However, the panel shines when streaming a movie in the Bravia Core app, offering high-bitrate content (some going as high as 80mbps with Pure Stream enabled) and IMAX-enhanced ratios. Watching something like &quot;Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse&quot; showcases the display's prowess in handling quick transitions, movements, and colors with Dolby Vision. With local dimming and more dimming zones, the display reveals finer details without washing out highlights, though subtitles can occasionally cause a slight blooming effect. The TV's viewing angles from extreme corners might appear slightly off in large rooms, but overall, this full-array LED panel with more dimming zones than before delivers high-quality picture quality for both standard and HDR content. The TV handles higher frame rate videos well, making it suitable for sports and upscaled content, although I couldn't test it with a gaming console myself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound Quality</b>: The TV features centrally-placed 30-watt speakers (divided into four parts) with support for DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Atmos. The audio output from the TV is generally loud and punchy enough for a group of 5-6 people in a moderately quiet environment. It offers clearer dialogue than many other TVs, which often struggle in this regard, along with decent mids and vocals in audio tracks. However, the bass output is somewhat lacking in depth. For larger rooms, a dedicated set of speakers would be a better choice, but for most purposes, the TV's audio quality is satisfactory, suitable for watching TV shows, movies, and even gaming if the room isn't too crowded.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Features and Performance</b>: The TV runs on Google TV based on Android TV 10 with the February security patch. It is equipped with MediaTek's MT5895 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and a 32GB storage disk. It also supports Bravia cam and video chats over Google Meet and Zoom using a compatible Sony or Logitech webcam. The TV is generally responsive, whether you're switching between apps, installing third-party apps, or watching high-bitrate videos. It exhibits minimal lag when switching between input sources, showing no jitters or lags when using a non-default input source. There are microphones on both the remote control and the TV itself for voice commands, which work fairly reliably, capturing your voice most of the time for searches or controlling compatible home devices using Apple HomeKit or Amazon Alexa. The TV supports Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2, both of which function smoothly. However, having at least one more HDMI 2.1 port, along with an Ethernet LAN port that can handle more than 100mbps bandwidth, would have been appreciated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict</b>: In summary, Sony's 55-inch X90L is a well-performing LED TV that not only boasts an appealing design but also excels in the picture department. It offers decent sound output, although the audio quality isn't significantly improved compared to previous models. If you are in the market for a stylish smart TV, have a budget of Rs. 1,40,000, and seek a TV that can handle HDR content for TV shows, movies, and sports effectively, the XR-55X90L deserves consideration.</p> Mon Aug 21 17:21:21 IST 2023 haier-s9qt-qled-tv-review-impressive-display-and-feature-rich-ex <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>QLED TVs are relatively new in the Indian market, including Haier's QLED offerings. The company recently launched its QLED series of smart Google TVs, and I've been using the 55-inch S9QT model. Here's how my experience has been with the TV:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b></p> <p>The TV features a combination of metal and plastic in its body design. The back is predominantly plastic, while the sides are framed with metallic accents. The centrally mounted table stand is also made of metal and is well-designed, which is a rarity in today's smart TVs. The thin bezels around the display look sleek and don't appear overly thick during use or when the TV is off. The bottom chin of the TV is covered with blue fabric featuring the Haier branding, Dolby Atmos/Dolby Vision IQ on the left, and a red LED power indicator on the right. The back of the TV houses all the ports, including two bottom-facing USB 2.0 ports, four HDMI 2.1 ports, a LAN port, and an audio out. The TV is slim and has a unique appearance, especially due to the metallic stand, framing, and fabric-covered chin. The remote control is a silver bar with standard control buttons, resembling the layout found on smartphones. Notably, the mute and volume buttons are side-mounted, similar to smartphones. In addition to the usual navigation and select keys, Google Voice, app shortcuts, source, and home buttons, there's a shortcut button for quick access to all your apps, which is a convenient addition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b></p> <p>I tested the 55-inch QLED model of the QLED series, which features a 3840x2160 Quantum dot LED panel with support for Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10, and HLG video formats. The TV's display is sharp and well-calibrated, offering ample detail and contrast for high-resolution videos. The display handles fast-moving scenes without significant color retention or shadow highlights. The TV supports variable refresh rates of up to 120Hz, which would be beneficial for gaming with consoles like PS5 or Xbox Series X/S. While I didn't test it with a gaming console, I did try a 4K 60Hz sports stream with MEMC, and the TV performed well. Dolby Vision IQ adjusts picture settings based on the room's lighting conditions. Dolby Vision and HDR content are handled effectively, particularly for dark scenes, skin tones, and overall contrast transitions. Streaming content with Dolby Vision enabled results in vibrant skin tones and details, although larger landscape scenes might lack a bit of accuracy. Bright-to-dark scene transitions benefit from local dimming, providing punchier and more contrast-rich pictures. Considering its price, the TV does a decent job with handling HDR content.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Software and Performance:</b></p> <p>The TV runs on Google TV based on Android TV 11, equipped with a quad-core 1.3GHz CPU, G52 MC1 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. While the hardware and software versions are not the latest, the TV's general performance is satisfactory. It handles high-bitrate streaming videos smoothly and can play heavy files using the pre-loaded media player or third-party media players from the Play Store. Chromecast and voice commands work reliably. The pre-installed Haismart app offers access to movies from various free sources.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Sound:</b></p> <p>The TV features 30-watt stereo speakers that perform adequately for watching sports. While they provide loud and punchy output for movies and series, they might struggle with clear dialogues. In a 15x15 room with few people, the sound output is decent and clear, but a dedicated set of speakers would enhance the movie and series-watching experience. Dolby Atmos support is present, and content tuned for Atmos delivers improved depth and overall audio experience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Priced at Rs. 69,990</a> (MRP Rs. 1,20,990), the Haier S9QT is a solid offering in the QLED TV segment. It features a quality display panel that handles Dolby Vision and HDR content better than many LED TVs in the Rs. 60,000 to 70,000 range. The sound quality is decent but not exceptional, and the TV offers reliable performance for app switching and high-bitrate content playback. The package includes a premium-looking table stand and remote control.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 21 17:59:23 IST 2023 xiaomi-redmi-12-4g-decent-option-if-you-are-content-with-4g <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Redmi 12 series by Xiaomi recently introduced its smartphones, with the 5G variant grabbing headlines. However, there's also a 4G variant available, starting at Rs. 9,999 and going up to Rs. 11,499 for the higher model. Does the phone offer enough to be a reliable budget option? Let's find out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b></p> <p>The phone boasts a 6.79-inch display covered by Corning's Gorilla Glass 3. It features a glass back that resists smudges and fingerprints. The rear accommodates a triple camera system with an LED flash and Redmi branding. The phone's edges have a curved design, with polycarbonate framing along the sides. Volume buttons and the power/lock key are on the right side (requiring decent pressure to press), while the left side houses the dual SIM card + microSD card hybrid slot tray. The top includes an infrared port and a 3.5mm audio jack, while the bottom has the USB Type-C port, primary microphone, and loudspeaker. Weighing just under 200 grams, the phone feels comfortable in hand with a sturdy build. It's also IP53 rated, offering resistance to dust and water splashes. Although the bezels around the display are somewhat thick and uneven (especially the chin), the design and build quality stand out as the best aspects of the Redmi 12.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display:</b></p> <p>The phone features a 6.79-inch Full HD+ (2460x1080) LCD display with support for up to 90Hz refresh rates. It's reasonably bright for outdoor use, especially at higher brightness settings. While the display panel is not exceptional, it performs adequately in reproducing colors for Full HD videos and high-resolution images. Viewing angles are somewhat limited, which is expected in this price range. The display provides decent contrast and sharpness for watching videos on YouTube.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Camera:</b></p> <p>The back houses a triple camera system, including a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide lens, and a 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera. The camera app is quick and stable for regular usage, which is impressive for a low-end smartphone. Photos appear relatively detailed considering the price, capturing sufficient light and maintaining focus in good lighting conditions. However, in darker conditions or with moving subjects, the camera can produce shaky and grainy shots. The 8MP (f/2.1) front-facing camera takes usable shots for social media use, with adjustments needed for beauty mode and filters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Performance and Software Experience:</b></p> <p>Powered by MediaTek's Helio G88 chipset, with up to a 2GHz octa-core processor and Mali-G52 MC2 GPU, paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB eMMC 5.1 storage, the phone's internal hardware aligns with its price. It can handle 6-7 open apps simultaneously, although media-heavy apps like YouTube and Instagram might take a few seconds to open. Stuttering can occur when viewing multiple videos in a tab. Starting a Full HD video on YouTube might lead to a choppy initial experience. It can handle tasks like calls, texting, messaging apps, and checking Discord with ease, but fluid switching between apps might not be seamless. MIUI 14.0.2, based on Android 13, runs on the phone, featuring customization options and some pre-installed third-party apps that can mostly be uninstalled. The phone supports double-tap to wake and lock the display on the lock screen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Battery Life:</b></p> <p>With a 5,000mAh battery, the phone lasts consistently for a day of usage. It charges from 1% to full in about 110 minutes using the included 22.5-watt charger. The phone heats up slightly while charging, but it's not a cause for concern.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Other Features:</b></p> <p>Call quality is satisfactory, with good network reception over 4G LTE and VoWiFi calling indoors. The single loudspeaker is adequately loud, though not as impactful as a dual stereo setup. Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS performance are reliable without glitches.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Verdict:</b></p> <p>The Redmi 12 4G, an Android 13 low-end device, excels in battery life, build quality, and design. It offers decent performance and camera capabilities for its price range. While the 5G variant with a slightly better chipset and storage is available for a higher price, if you're content with 4G and basic tasks like messaging, calling, and light app usage, the Redmi 12 4G stands as a reasonable option for its price.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Aug 16 15:56:58 IST 2023 boult-striker-plus-pros-and-cons-of-an-affordable-smartwatch-opt <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Boult Striker Plus is an entry-level smartwatch with a decent battery life and reliable notification display, but it falls short in terms of fitness measurements. Boult is a rapidly growing brand known for budget-friendly options popular among students. The Striker Plus, priced at Rs. 1,299, offers various fitness features and other capabilities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Design:</b> The watch boasts a 1.39-inch circular display with a zinc-alloy metallic frame and is lightweight. The soft, thick silicon straps are comfortable for extended wear. It offers ample size adjustment holes, and four color options are available. The right side holds a multi-function crown button, while the bottom houses sensors and the charging port. The copper-shaded crown button responds well to taps and works reliably. It's IP67 water and dust-resistant, suitable for workouts and outdoor activities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Display</b>: The 1.39-inch display is sufficiently bright at 350nits peak brightness for use in direct sunlight. Text, numbers, and icons are readable, although the resolution isn't the sharpest. The touch and crown taps on the display are responsive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Features and Performance</b>: The Boult Striker Plus includes tracking features like heart rate monitoring, SpO2 measurement, steps tracking, and blood pressure monitoring. Steps counting is accurate but occasionally a bit high (10%-15%). There can be instances where it counts steps in a moving vehicle. The SpO2 readings matched an oximeter once, but the app's responsiveness for displaying results needs improvement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The watch offers numerous sports modes for activities like running, cricket, yoga, etc. It has multiple watch faces and practical shortcuts accessible by swiping down. Swiping left lets you choose sports modes, and swiping right leads to the dialer, contacts, and recent calls.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The watch features a microphone and speaker for calls, although making extended calls with it might not be comfortable. The raise-to-wake mechanism works about 70% of the time, which is typical for a budget smartwatch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Overall, the Boult Striker Plus is a good-looking, comfortable smartwatch with a 3 to 4-day battery life. While it's not the best at tracking physical activities, it excels as a wrist accessory for notifications, calls, weather updates, and basic voice commands, reducing the need to check your phone constantly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Aug 12 13:57:37 IST 2023 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 14:09:45 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> Tue Aug 08 14:05:26 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> Tue Aug 08 14:13:27 IST 2023 samsung-galaxy-z-flip5--a-meaningful-upgrade-in-the-flip-series <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5: A meaningful upgrade in the Flip series</b></p> <p>Samsung has been one of the frontrunners when it comes to folding phones, and it’s not a surprise that their Fold and Flip series is often the benchmark taken to gauge how good a foldable phone is. I have been using the company’s latest Flip5 smartphone for a bit and this is how my experience with the phone has been. The base price for the phone is Rs 99,999 and the higher variant is for Rs 1,09,999.</p> <p><b>Design</b></p> <p>First of all, the cover display is now significantly larger than before – sitting at 3.4 inches. Secondly, the new hinge now allows the phone to close nearly all flat. The phone has matte finish all around but doesn’t have a matte-finish glass unlike the previous models. This means the cover display does catch some smudges and fingerprints near the rear camera setup, but it isn’t a big issue.</p> <p>The phone is thinner and feels a bit more refined to use due to the new hinge and cover display. When opened, you get a 6.7-inch (22:9 aspect ratio) tall display with a slightly protruding framing around it with breaks at the middle where it folds. The main display still has a thin crease in the middle where it folds and it’s felt every time you scroll or tap over it. The hinge and the whole folding and unfolding mechanism feel well fitted and in place that I never really felt much concerned while using it outside or while flipping it open or close while moving around, which is assuring.</p> <p>On the right side, you get the volume buttons and power/lock key near the middle, which also carries the fingerprint scanner that’s reliable and quick to use. The left side houses the SIM card tray near the top. The ear-speaker grille is subtly done placed next to the front camera that’s not taking too much screen real estate at the top. The phone is available in four colour options – Graphite, Cream, Lavender and Mint (the one I tried). Oh, and it’s IPX8 water-resistant, and can take on a few splashes and drops just fine.</p> <p><b>Display</b></p> <p>On the outside, the 3.4-inch HD (720x748) AMOLED 60Hz cover display is not a perfect rectangle. It is angular near the bottom side next to the dual camera setup. It’s a bright enough and sufficiently responsive display that get you several things done (more on it later).</p> <p>The main display on the inside is a 6.7-inch full HD+ (2640x1080) AMOLED display with support for up to 120Hz refresh rates. It’s a bright and well-calibrated display from Samsung that is responsive and keeps details for your video streaming needs in place. HDR output is also pretty decent over YouTube and even Netflix, which a lot of phones can struggle with. I prefer to use the display on the Natural mode. You should try different settings and choose accordingly.</p> <p><b>Camera</b></p> <p>On the back, which can also be used as a front camera using the cover display, there’s a dual camera setup – a 12MP (f/1.8) main camera (with OIS) and a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera along with a dual tone flash. The camera performance is generally reliable, giving detailed shots, decent dynamic range and portrait shots. This is certainly not the best cameras we’ve seen on a Galaxy device, but overall along with video, they can deliver punchy enough shots in decent lighting. The front-facing 10MP (f/2.2) camera is more than good enough for video calls, but can, at times, give overly sharpened selfie shots, using the default settings, might as well use the rear camera as a Flip user.</p> <p><b>Performance and software experience</b></p> <p>The phone comes with a slightly customized Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset (up to 3.36GHz processor, Adreno 740 GPU and x70 modem) along with 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage (higher end has 512GB). The phone runs on Samsung’s One UI 5.1.1 based on Android 13 with the July security patch in place. The phone handled day-to-day tasks, opening and closing of apps, switching between apps in floating mode or going back and forth to regular mode without any troubles.</p> <p>You can expect it to stay at 90Hz in many of the popular apps, having switched to adaptive refresh under Settings, though I would have liekd to see a 120Hz and a 90Hz only option. Games such as CoD: Mobile and Alto Odyssey at near high settings and din’t notice frames dropping, delivering a smooth playback. The phone can get a bit warm under different tasks, including gaming for 20 minutes or so, but it never became too hot.</p> <p>Regarding cover display, other than the camera functionality mentioned above, you can check notifications, runs apps such as Messages, WhatsApp, widgets such as Calendar, Samsung Health, Watch and Weather. You can choose from a bunch of different widgets to make the default screen of the cover screen. Hopefully its capabilities and feature set keep on improving, provided Samsung promises four years of OS updates and five years of security. The Flex mode, where the main display is half folded and half opened, allows you to run apps such as YouTube with additional controls given in the bottom half while the app runs in the top half.</p> <p><b>Battery life</b></p> <p>Equipped with a 3,700mAh battery unit (no charger in the box, again), I found the phone to last around 18-20 hours on most days. You can expect it to last close to a day on a not-so-heavy day, but on most moderate to heavy days, I had to charge the phone twice. The phone charges from 1 per cent to full in about 90 minutes or so, using a PD 3.0 charger. It also support 15 watt wireless induction charging with QC2.0, but I couldn’t try that.</p> <p><b>Verdict</b></p> <p>The Galaxy Z Flip5 is not revolutionary but certainly a very meaningful upgrade in the Flip series of foldable phones. My biggest complaints remain the battery life and the very “in your face” crease on the main display, which Samsung really needs to address by now. The phone’s nearly all flat and reliable hinge (for the time being), a larger and evolving (on the software side) cover display and a capable (but not Samsung’s best) set of cameras make it another premium offering from Samsung that gets the attention standing apart from the crowd and in a good way, if you’re looking to splurge on your first foldable smartphone.</p> Sat Aug 12 15:01:25 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> Tue Aug 08 14:16:39 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> Tue Aug 08 14:20:24 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