Monthly Archives: July 2016

Junsun D100 review

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PROS

  • Unbelievably cheap
  • European maps for 49 countries included
  • Lots of extra app functionality

CONS

  • No keyword address search
  • No safety cameras
  • Routing less efficient than premium alternatives

KEY FEATURES

  • 7-inch 800 x 480 touchscreen
  • iGO Primo navigation software
  • Maps of 49 European countries
  • Alternative versions for North America, Middle East/Australia/South America and Russia
  • Supplementary apps including media playback
  • Manufacturer: Junsun
  • Review Price: £30.85/$46.275

WHAT IS THE JUNSUN D100?

The D100 is a sat-nav from previously unknown Chinese company Junsun. You didn’t misread the price, either – it really is scarcely over £30 (at the time of writing). For this minuscule amount of money, you still get a 7-inch screen and maps for 49 European countries, including Russia, which normally would set you back over £100. So long as it actually works, the D100 looks like incredible value.

JUNSUN D100 – SPECIFICATION, MAPS AND MOUNTING

The D100 is essentially a Pocket PC specialised for navigation. It’s based around an 800MHz Corex-A7 processor with 256MB of RAM and 8GB of ROM. It runs Windows CE 6.0, and you can even get to the desktop of this operating system if you dig around in the menu. However, the system boots straight into a simplified graphical front end, which will then take you to the navigation application – iGO Primo.

The iGO Primo software is a relatively well-regarded navigation app, which can be purchased separately for iOS and Android, and is used for the embedded navigation in quite a number of cars, including Fiats, Ferraris, Hondas, Jaguars and McLarens. So the device might be a cheap Chinese import, but Junsun has chosen its components wisely.

Junsun D100

There are actually four map options for the D100, with subtly different prices, all round the £30 mark. Strangely, one of these is Russia on its own, which is also included with the European option. There’s also a North American pack, including Canada and Mexico, as well as a pack comprising the Middle East, Australia and South America. There are a few options missing, such as Japan, China, and South-East Asia, but a lot of the world is available.

One area where the D100 shows its low price a little is in the screen mounting. This is perfectly functional, and includes an articulated arm so the screen can be rotated and tilted to exactly the desired position. But the plastic cradle into which the sat-nav is clipped feels a bit flimsy and the process of attaching it is not as smooth as many sat-navs I’ve tested.

JUNSUN D100 – MENU AND NAVIGATION

The D100’s main menu is quite easy to use, with large, colourful icons to take you to the various functions. These include video and music playback, as well as some games. There’s even a calculator and unit-converter tool. But the biggest square takes you to the iGO Primo software.

Junsun D100

Once you choose this, another icon-driven interface appears. The largest icon takes you to the map, while three further icons provide facilities to search for a destination, plan a multi-waypoint route, and access supplementary facilities. These include yet another music player, picture viewer, unit converter, and (strangely) a clothing-size chart, but also more navigation-oriented features such as a trip monitor and fuel-consumption calculator.

The method for entering a destination does feel a little old-fashioned now that most of the big brands have moved over to universal keyword searches. Entering an address follows the traditional routine of country, town or postcode, street name, then house number. Points of Interest (PoI) are found primarily via categories, although there is a search function here. There is at least a history list and the option to save a series of favourites.

Once a destination has been entered, the navigation screen gives the usual 3D view, with the side roads in white, more major roads in yellow, and your route in a kind of terracotta. Turnings are shown on the map as yellow arrows. The next turning is also shown in the top left, with the one after that illustrated by a smaller icon next to it if it’s coming straight afterwards.

Roundabouts are clearly depicted in the next turning icon, with the various exits realistically shown, including their relative positions and the one you’re meant to be taking numbered, so you can count exits off as you go round.

Road names are shown as pop-up labels, with the name of the road you’ll be turning into at the top, and the one you’re currently on at the bottom. The distance to the destination can be found at the bottom right, and you can expand this out to include the estimated arrival time and the amount of time left on the journey.

Junsun D100

At major multi-lane highway interchanges, there’s a full-screen graphic to ensure you get in the right carriageway, with an approximation of the signposting along the top, which is always useful. A rather surprising inclusion at this price is 3D landmarks for some cities. This isn’t a feature I’ve found particularly useful, but it’s still pretty amazing to find it in a sat-nav costing £30/$45

The routes chosen aren’t the most efficient I’ve seen compared to Garmin and TomTom devices. Although historical traffic is allegedly taken into account, the routes chosen appear to be more based on road speed limits rather than how fast travel has actually been measured on that route, which is how TomTom and Garmin now calculate the fastest routes. So the chosen route might not be the most efficient possible. But in my testing the D100 still managed to find respectable ways from A to B.

Although the speed limit is displayed, your current speed isn’t shown unless you delve into the settings and change this from the default. Another downside is that there aren’t any safety camera locations included, nor average speed zones. But for the price, the D100 manages a very respectable navigational experience.

SHOULD I BUY THE JUNSUN D100?

The Junsun D100 may lack polish in some areas, but it does manage to do the navigational job intended without any major problems. This makes the £30/$45 or so price absolutely phenomenal, considering that some smartphone software costs more than this, and you get a whole standalone device with the D100. If you need more mature navigation and features, stick with Garmin or TomTom. But as an occasional navigator, or if you’re on a really tight budget, the Junsun D100 is unbelievably good value.

The Junsun D100 is available to buy from GearBest.

VERDICT

A £30/45 sat-nav should be rubbish, but this one is actually decent. The Junsun D100 offers incredible value.

(trustedreviews.com, http://goo.gl/oRtAad)

 

2017 Porsche Macan GTS takes on two peaks in one day

It’s track time and Pikes Peak Hill Climb is no ordinary race track. Taking a corner too wide pretty much anywhere within the 14,114 climb along what’s a 12.42 mile course packed with 156 twists and turns has consequences beyond a couple of dents. Luckily, Porsche’s confidence in the new 2017 Macan GTS is off the chart. This is a super rare opportunity where automotive journalists were given the opportunity to drive up Pikes Peaks and then, on the very same day, keep on going right up Mount Evans.

At this high of an altitude both the Macan GTS’s horsepower as well as the human body starts to feel the affects. Luckily our convoy of SUVs blazed through the drive with flying colors – no mid-trip shortcuts off the edge of the mountain – and the mighty middle-child Macan’s performance proved stellar.

Porsche Macan GTS

Back when I tried the new Macan for the first time, I solicited three different driving instructors as to whether they’d pick the cheaper Macan S over its Turbo sibling, and unanimously they opted for the S (albeit with the caveat that the air suspension, PASM and PTV Plus and Sport Chrono Package ($1,800) options were all ticked, too).

Comparing the standard-fit tech on the Macan GTS with their “perfect spec”, I see plenty of familiar features. The 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission is there, as is the air suspension with Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM). You might think rowing your own gears on a challenging course like the Hill Climb would be preferable, but I tried to manually paddle-shift to see if I could best the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission but, on such challenging terrain, my reactions proved no match for the near-telepathic shifter.

Porsche has re-tuned the air suspension so that the Macan GTS can reduce its ride height by up to approximately 10-millimeters, which improved the center of gravity for our spirited drive up the mountain. While the SUV doesn’t get the Turbo’s 3.6-liter with 400-hp and 406 lb-ft, it does however get a 20 hp bump from the S’s 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine yielding 360-hp and 369 lb-ft. At $372-per-hp, that’s $7,440 in savings.

Keeping in mind that Porsche named the subcompact SUV after a tiger in Indonesia, I felt confident pushing the GTS to the best of my driving abilities to follow Pikes Peak Legend, Jeff Zwart. It’s a course he’s raced multiple times and won in several different classifications, and proved more than capable of leading a pack of speeding tigers through the valley and ridges.

Porsche Macan GTS

The GTS isn’t screaming fast like the Turbo but it’s the most driver-centric of the Macan trio. Most importantly for something like Pikes Peak, having an engine with a midrange between 3000 and 5500 rpm is ideal for the task at hand. Heading into a hard turn, I’d paddle shift down to the lowest possible gear which was often second, slamming on the brake moments prior and then immediately back on the gas after the apex. Hitting third gear propels the Macan past 60+ mph, and that’s two or three times the 20-mph speed limit. Whether I paddle-shifted or let the PDK do all the work, it was near-instantaneous. That’s more than any driver can ask for on such a demanding road course.

Having driven the S and Turbo variants, I knew coming in that I had to commit to treating the Mecan as a sports car in SUV’s clothing – Porsche maintains it has the ‘heart and soul’ of a sports car – and I wasn’t disappointed.

After a couple of crackles over the walkie-talkie, Jeff announced “we’re off” and, with immediate urgency, the five Macan convoy ascended Pikes Peak. There’s little room for error navigating the 4,200-pound beast; let your focus drift for just a few seconds and, at best, you can lose time by slipping off Zwart’s racing line. At worst, you could slip right off the mountain.

 

About a third of the way up, I found myself regretting my decision to give up the slot right behind his lead car, but I could still do my best to ignore the Macan ahead and focus on Jeff’s racing lines. Still plenty of visibility for the epic moment when Jeff took an ultra-wide left before slicing immediately into a sharp right – and leaving one whole rear rear wheel completely off the edge of the cliff in the process.

Did I mention that the majority of the hill climb lacks any sort of guardrail and, when combined with unexpected corners, things can quickly go south (no pun intended)?
At the time I thought something along the lines of “holy crap, did that just happen?” It was only later that a colleague following behind me told me half of my own rear tire was also off the cliff. That’s 10-inches of the 20-inch Michelin Latitude all-season tires.

To the car’s credit, the handling’s better than stellar. Although it’s an all-wheel-drive system, most of the power is transferred to the rear so it turns in and straightens out as a proper Porsche should, elegantly gliding from turn to turn gracefully. It’s courtesy of the excellent stability control, the optional torque vectoring system, and large 14.2-inch front disc brakes with six-piston fixed red calipers and 13-inch single-piston rear red calipers. On a drive such as this one, it probably won’t surprise you when I say that great brakes are pretty critical. Happily, they did a fine job keeping me from running off the cliff.

While the Macan doesn’t drive like a 911 – and nor, frankly, would I expect it to – the new power steering has an improved electric assist motor. Unlike the previous Macan S and turbo I drove at launch, there’s more feedback and that’s a must-have.

The weather was unpredictable so Porsche erred on the safe side with Pirelli Scorpion all-season tires on 20-inch wheels, the standard-fit. If you’re not of a mind to tackle a legendary hill-climb, though, 19s and 21-inch wheels, along with summer/stickier tires are available.

Porsche Macan GTS

It had all been going so well; then, at roughly 12,400-feet up, luck ran out. The high altitude had lowered the boiling point of the car’s coolant, spewing off a crazy cloud of steam. Pair that with a snapped belt and I was forced to pull over.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should’ve just said “what the hell, I’m making it to the peak no matter what!” Unfortunately, at the time I wasn’t sure if it were the brakes that were failing so I didn’t want to risk mine and my co-driver’s life. Porsche later confirmed my suspicions that there was no actual damage to the engine: the belt was swapped out, the fluid – which has hosed out the engine compartment – topped up, and the car was back in action a few hours later. It’s important to note that these were pre-production vehicles; any frustration at a prematurely curtailed trip is a small price to pay for being Porsche’s product development test drivers.

Looking at the liveries on the GTS we drove, you can’t really see the standard Macan GTS treatment. Each of our GTS were wrapped like Porsche’s past Pikes Peak race cars – I’d be happy to sport any of them if I’d bought a GTS or any of the Porsche line up for that matter. As standard, the exterior gets black wheels, matte and gloss accents throughout – such as the lower door panels – and a long list of ways for you to make it your own courtesy of the options list.

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Pricing starts at $68,250 though most owners, according to Porsche, will an an average of $20,000 in options. That being said, expect to pay in the mid $80k range for a Macan GTS. Putting it into perspective, that’s still well below the $100k+ price tag for the Macan turbo.

The Porsche Macan is my benchmark for every and all subcompact SUV. While it’s much more expensive than most of the cars in the segment, you see where your money goes: it’s one of the best in every respect. In new GTS form it both looks and drives like a proper Porsche, and thanks to that the price tag matches.

VR 360!

(slashgear.com, http://goo.gl/Ep5EVfP)

Chuwi Vi7 3G Phablet Review – 7″ Cheap Android 5.1 Device

Now a days companies are focusing equally on phablets manufacturing along with smartphones, tablets & PC. The demand of Phablets is increasing day by day in the market as people want to have fun & satisfaction of both smartphone and a PC in one device which is a phablet. Also, the price of phablets is almost equal to that of smartphones. So, why not to have more features for the same price. Today I am going to review a very cheap phablet device from one of the top brand Chuwi i.e Chuwi Vi7 3G Phablet which has Android 5.1 operating system giving you whole new android user interface. It has quad core 1 GHz processor which makes this device powerful along with 1 GB RAM & 8 GB ROM. These memory features also helps this device to respond fast, according to the input provided to it. The major advantage with this Chuwi 3G phablet is its price tag. It is available on Everbuying.net at just $58.27 only. I think this price is very low for a 3G phablet of a big brand Chuwi. Usually 7 inch phablets are available at a price above $70-80, but this device is a very cheap. It has OTG support too with which you can connect a pen drive directly to this phablet. Now, I am going to tell you all the features of this Chuwi phablet in full detail.

BASIC SPECS:

  • Brand: CHUWI
  • Type: Phablet
  • OS: Android 5.1
  • CPU Brand: Intel
  • CPU: SoFIA AtomX3 C3230
  • GPU: Mali-450MP
  • Core: Quad Core,1GHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • ROM: 8GB
  • External memory: TF card up to 64GB (not included)
  • Screen type: Capacitive (5-Point)
  • Screen size: 7 inch
  • IPS: Yes
  • Screen resolution: 1024 * 600
  • 3G: Built in 3G (WCDMA)
  • GPS: Yes

DESIGN:

5

 

This Chuwi phablet has a very simple user friendly design. It has a very well furnished smooth edges which enhances its manufacturing beauty. It has a Product size: 18.80 x 10.80 x 1.00 cm / 7.4 x 4.25 x 0.39 inches which is good for a phablet. With this size you can do everything which you normally do on a PC. This phablet has Package weight: 0.566 KG only which is not heavy. You can carry this device with you anywhere very easily to your college, office or some other place. This phablet has USB port & 3.5 mm jack port for headphone connectivity. The overall design of this device is very elegant & classic.

DISPLAY:

1

Phabets are manufactured to provide a clear & bright display as they have a large screen size. This Chuwi Phablet has 7 inch IPS HD display on which you can watch everything in full high definition. It has aspect ratio 16:9 which provides you high contrast & brightness. It has 1024 * 600 screen resolution which supports its screen to show you pictures & videos in Full high definition. You can watch high definition movies on this device & play high graphic games.

PERFORMANCE:

Phablets have mostly higher chipset & memory specifications than smartphones as they are supposed to perform extra tasks. This Chuwi Phablet has 1 GB RAM, 8 GB ROM with 1 GHz Quad core processor, which makes this device very fast in terms of running of apps, games & videos on this phablet.

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It has Android 5.1 kitkat operating system which is the latest one providing you new look & feel. You can download almost any app, game or play any video on this device. All these above stated features makes this phablet a fast working device both in terms of memory utilization & efficiency.

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It has camera features –

  • Camera type: Dual cameras
  • Back camera: 2.0MP
  • Front camera: 0.3MP

2

You can make video calls with this device as it is a 3G enabled phablet. You can take selfies with your friends & family. With its rear camera you can record videos of anything.

It has a Battery features –

  • Battery Capacity: 2500mAh
  • Battery / Run Time (up to): 3 hours video playing time

3

This battery power enables its user to use this device for a long time. You can play games and watch movies on this phablet after charging it once in a day. It has a VCC smart technology which can reduce power consumption of all parts of this phablet. It has a standby time up to 120 hours.

Media formats supported by this phablet are –

  • Picture format: JPEG,GIF,BMP,PNG
  • Music format: AC3,AAC,MKA,MP3,OGG,WAV
  • Video format: 3GP,AVI,MP4,RMVB,WMV
  • MS Office format: Word,Excel,PPT
  • E-book format: TXT,PDF
  • 3D Games: Supported

As you can see there are lots of options available for you to use large type of media files on this device. You can read ebooks in TXT & PDF formats. You can also play 3D games on this phablet which is a new technology.

CONCLUSION:

This phablets have everything which you want to have in your first phablet device at a very, very low price.  It is available at just $58.27 only on Everbuying.net. It has 1 GB RAM, 8 GB ROM, dual cameras, 3G support, 3D games support, etc.

(kickiteasy.com, http://goo.gl/TVSw03)

LG G6: News, rumours, specs, release date and price

The LG G6 is coming in 2017, just as sure as the LG G5 followed the LG G4. Here’s everything we know so far about the LG G6, as well as a few educated guesses as to what to expect in terms of specs, release date and price based on the latest news and rumours.

LG itself has admitted that its G6 modular phone was a failure – in sales terms, at least. So what has the Korean company got up its sleeve for the follow-up? Will that modular design continue? Can LG match the premium build quality offered by Samsung and Apple, and what can the G6 do to stand out from the smartphone crowd?

Here’s what we’ve heard so far…

LG G6 FAQ

When does the LG G6 come out? April 2017

What’s new about the LG G6? Rumoured: 4K screen, SD830 chip, advanced wireless charging tech

How much will the LG G6 cost? Best guess: £500/$750

LG G6 RELEASE DATE UK & US – WHEN WILL THE NEW LG G6 COME OUT?

Based on previous models in the LG G series, the LG G6 release date is likely to be in April 2017. Here’s a look back at previous LG G launches:

  • LG G5 release date – April 8, 2016
  • LG G4 release date – April 22, 2015
  • LG G3 release date – May 28, 2014
  • LG G2 release date – September 12, 2013

Unlike their arch rivals in the Samsung Galaxy S series, the younger LG G models don’t have quite the same consistent release date history. However, the last two devices – the LG G5 and the LG G4 – first hit shops in April. The year before that, the LG G3 launched in May

April seems likely, then, unless LG wants to match its rival Samsung and bring the launch forward to March. Samsung did this with the Galaxy S7 because Mobile World Congress 2016 occurred in February rather than March. That’s set to happen again in 2017. Will LG want to be beaten to market again?

LG G5

LG G6 FEATURES – WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE LG G6?

Unlike, say, the iPhone 7 and even the Samsung Galaxy S8, there are very few rumours surrounding the LG G6 at present. However, there are plenty of areas to ponder following the launch of the LG G5, which was arguably LG’s biggest design gamble yet.

LG G6 DESIGN – WILL LG STAY MODULAR?

The chief question with the LG G6 is whether LG will stick to the modular approach of the LG G5. The company did promise additional modular support beyond the launch modules of the LG G5.

However, the LG G5 hasn’t sold well at all. According to reports from South Korea, the LG G5 is seen as a failure over at LG, and its mobile business division is expected to undergo a “major shake-up”. This will apparently involve job cuts, but it could also mean LG ditching its modular concept for the LG G6.

LG G5

It will be interesting to see how the Moto Z performs over the coming months. If the public takes to its simpler, more elegant take on modularity, maybe LG will go back to the modular drawing board for the LG G6.

It’s also worth pointing out that Google’s own modular phone, Project Ara, will launch to the public next year, so there should be some extra buzz around the whole concept.

Whatever the approach, we sincerely hope that LG takes criticisms of the LG G5 design to heart. It may have been the first all-metal phone in the LG G series, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as premium as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or HTC 10.

LG G6 – WIRELESS CHARGING INNOVATOR?

According to reports in May and early June, LG has made a couple of interesting breakthroughs in wireless charging technology for smartphones.

For one thing, it’s come up with a way to wirelessly charge phones at a similar speed to wired solutions. We’re talking a 50% charge in just 30 minutes.

Then there’s the report that the company has created a superior form of wireless charging technology that works at greater range than current standards.

LG G5

Up to now, phones that boast wireless charging still need to be in contact with a plastic dock of some sort. The magnetic induction technology in Qi chargers simply doesn’t have much range.

LG’s breakthrough reportedly involves magnetic resonance technology, which means that it can be charged from up to 7cm away. OK, so that’s not a massive distance right now. But it could mean you’d be able to charge your phone by putting it on a bedside table that’s right near a charge point.

LG was said to be mulling over whether to release this new technology into the market. Whatever happens, we wouldn’t be surprised if the LG G6 comes packing some form of wireless charging.

LG G6 SCREEN – WILL LG GO 4K?

There are no solid reports suggesting that LG will double up and go for a full 4K display with the LG G6. However, we wouldn’t discount it.

One telling report concerns the plans of LG’s arch-rival Samsung. Some industry analysts believe that Samsung will pack the Samsung Galaxy S8 with a 4K display, having showcased a 5.5-inch Ultra HD screen at the Society for Information Display trade show back in March.

Up until fairly recently, the concept of a 4K mobile display seemed to be a step too far – particularly with battery life in the perpetual slump that it is. There simply wasn’t any point to having such a pixel-dense screen.

LG G5

However, with the rise of mobile VR solutions like the Gear VR and Google’s Daydream, there’s suddenly a very real benefit to having 4K mobile displays.

LG doesn’t just compete with Samsung in mobile phones; it’s also a rival TV and display producer, and we can’t see it wanting to fall behind its local rival.

It’s also worth noting that LG got into QHD display technology first with 2014’s LG G3. The company is clearly prepared to take a punt on pushing mobile display boundaries.

LG G6 PROCESSOR – HOW POWERFUL WILL IT BE?

It hasn’t been announced yet, but we can make an educated guess that the LG G6 will be powered by the Snapdragon 830 CPU from Qualcomm. Why do we say that? Because every phone in the LG G series to date has run on Qualcomm’s most capable chip of the time. (OK, technically the LG G4 ran on Qualcomm’s second-tier chip of the time, but that’s another story.)

We know very little about the Snapdragon 830 at this point, but there are a few snippets of information available.

Earlier in the year, an ARM presentation leak showed that the company was working on CPU designs built on a 10nm manufacturing process. That’s much smaller than the 14nm process current high-end chips are built on.

LG G5

ARM’s core technology is what goes into all of the top mobile chips, so this point should prove very telling as to the next generation of mobile phones.

Also, both TSMC and Samsung – the two main suppliers of Qualcomm’s chips – are known to be working on 10nm chips for the end of 2016.

As always, a smaller manufacturing process will mean gains in both power and battery life for any phone that runs on it.

We can also expect the Snapdragon 830 to come packing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 modem, which will support “fibre-like” LTE Cat.16 download speeds. We’re talking speeds of up to 1Gbps, compared to 600Mbps with the Snapdragon 820 in the LG G5.

Of course, in order to capitalise on these speeds, your mobile network operator will need to keep up – and that’s not likely to be possible in the UK for another couple of years.

SHOULD YOU WAIT FOR THE LG G6?

We’re still a long way away from the LG G6’s probable release date, which is reflected in the fact that we know practically nothing about the phone.

What’s more, there are extra questions hovering over the handset following disappointing sales of the LG G5. Will LG respond with another radical reinvention, or will it be prompted to stay the course and refine the G5’s modular design?

Whatever the case, we simply can’t recommend holding out for the LG G6 at this early point. Google’s next Nexus phones and Apple’s next iPhones are all due well before the LG G6, and we know a lot more about both.

If you’re going to wait for anything, make it one of those. Otherwise, there’s a perfectly great bunch of phones that were launched just a few months ago – the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the HTC 10 in particular.

(trustedreviews.com, http://goo.gl/CPWnwY)

 

BEST HEADPHONES UNDER $50

They often say you get what you pay for. However, although premium offerings like Oppo’s PM-1 and Samsung’s Level-Over headphones offer excellent sound and comfort, they’re not always the easiest on your wallet. Thankfully, there’s a bevy of quality offerings from the likes of Panasonic and AudioFly for those of you looking for admirable sound, a suitable fit, and in-line controls, all on a shoestring budget.

They don’t rival the best of the best in terms of sound quality — again, these are the best headphones under $50 — but they will easily put the headphones that came with your smartphone to shame without the fear of loss, wash, or wear. Picking them up a second time is just as affordable, so consider yourself lucky should you have to.

Earphones from Sol Republic, Sennheiser, and more

Sol Republic Relays Sport ($27)

SOL Republic Relays Sport 2

SOL Republic is a little bit like Beats without the bass overshadowing everything else. The Relays Sport are an affordable pair of in-ear buds that are ideal for listening to music with some volume, particularly when breaking a sweat with hip-hop or electronica blaring in your ears. That’s not to say that all other genres be damned, but the spatial resonance isn’t going to be the same no matter what you turn up. The in-line mic and controls are situated further up than usual, and in what is a somewhat unusual move for a pair of sport buds, there’s no pouch or accompanying carrying case included.

Audiofly AF45 ($50)

Audiofly AF45We rarely give headphones under $50 a full review, but when we do, we praise products like the Audiofly AF45. These headphones produce smooth, powerful bass and clear top end thanks to the brand’s choice of 11mm drivers. The AF45 offer an attractive design currently available in a melange of different colors. The on-board microphone and tangle-free, braided cable are also a nice touch, as is the remarkable level of instrumental separation from the open sound signature. Now, just remember to pick up a clip to avoid listening to the cable wobble.

First Harmonic IEB6 + Mic ($35)

Amazon Walmart Barnes & Noble First Harmonic IEB6 + Mic Who says strong, lightweight aluminum has to break the bank? First Harmonic has put together a classic and stylish pair of earbuds that offer solid bang for the buck. Five sets of ear tips ensure a snug fit for nearly any pair of ears, while a bright-yet-balanced sound signature further compliments the comfort and belies the price. The 5.5mm drivers power everything, and an in-line microphone with single-button control makes taking phone calls a breeze. The tangle-resistant cable helps keep it all under control, even without the included cord clip and carrying pouch.

Moshi Mythro ($30)

Moshi Mythro

Moshi, as a company, has nearly become synonymous with the production of iPhone and iPad cases. Thankfully, the company also makes a line of affordable headphones for non-audiophiles with little cash to spare. The Moshi Mythro — named in homage to the silver-like metal from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy — is one such offering, providing decent sound via a pair of DR8 neodymium drivers. The earphones are also surprisingly attractive, adorned with color-coded eartips that visually separate left from right, and featuring a built-in microphone and single-button remote for controlling music playback. And again, mithril.

Sennheiser CX 300-II ($42)

Sennheiser CX 300-II

Traditional canalphones aren’t the most comfortable. After all, few people like shoving earbuds deep into the recesses of their ear if they don’t have to. Sennheiser’s CX 300-II take a different approach, reducing noise isolation, but dramatically increasing their comfort level in the process. Most canalphones will likely outperform the CX 300-II in terms of sound quality, especially when it comes to treble response, but the sound is still remarkable considering the price and the fact Sennheiser is still just beginning to dip their toes into the realm of in-ear headphones with the 300-II.

Shure SE112 ($49)

Shure SE112

We’ve gone on the record stating “Shure’s SE112 are some of the best budget buds on the market,” and we stand by that statement still. Their impressive sound quality rivals headphones costing twice as much, with rich textures and a clear level of separation rarely heard at such a price. The passive noise isolation is above-average whether wearing the ‘phones with the 50-inch cable wrapped behind the ear or coming straight down. Their robust housing is both durable and comfortable when used with the myriad of bundled silicon tips, and though they don’t offer an in-line microphone like several other products on our list, the feature is available for $10 more. And few budget-based offerings bring out the gritty guitar of the Black Keys with such crisp detail.

More earphones, and headsets on a budget

Zero Audio Carbo Basso ($40)

Zero Audio Carbo Basso

You can rarely go wrong with Japanese engineering, and the Zero Audio Carbo Basso are a reflection of how value can be had at any price point. The name “Basso” isn’t a misnomer either; it’s a clear reference to the sheer amount of bass the headphones are capable of putting out. Thankfully, the extra low end doesn’t come entirely at the expense of the mids and highs, allowing them to maintain enough balance to tackle most music genres. You may not get the same feel if you primarily listen to rock or acoustic tunes though, which may be better served by the Carbo Tenore. The Basso’s cable is also a little thinner than usual and void of an in-line mic, so these are purely reserved for kicking back and taking it all in.

Skullcandy Method ($24)

Skullcandy Method

If you want bass at a price you can afford, this may be your ticket. The Method care little about fleshing out the mids and highs in the same way they pay attention to the low end of the spectrum. That’s not to say there’s a huge swing in balance, only that Skullcandy places more emphasis in the lows than just about any $30 pair of earphones we’ve tested thus far. Elsewhere, an in-line mic provides competent playback controls and an easy way to talk during calls, sans volume controls. Fit might be an issue given the Method only come with two bud sizes in the box, but they do sport a clip to keep the wires at bay and a small pouch to keep them clean. They also come in yellow, light blue, or gray — just in case you want something to match your wardrobe.

Koss PortaPro ($36)

Koss PortaPro

The ’80s may have drawn to a close more than two decades ago, but Koss’ quirky PortaPro prove some people just can’t let go. The cans feature the same design as they did upon their initial debut in ’84, complete with the collapsible metal headband and a touch of blue, along with an unmistakable sound signature. Although the headphones feature no noise cancelling tech or DSP, they still produce accurate sound within a wide range and offer clear instrumental separation regardless of the volume. And who doesn’t like the ability to adjust the tension on the ears and a “no questions asked” lifetime warranty?

Creative Sound Blaster Jam ($37)

Creative Sound Blaster Jam

It’s not often that wireless, on-ear headphones hit this price point. The Sound Blaster Jam are the real deal, however, with Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC for quick pairing with most mobile devices. Playback controls are found on the right earcup, and a built-in mic comes into play for calls or accessing Siri and Google Now on the fly. The earcups can’t be adjusted for a better fit on your ears — likely a direct result of the rigid and lightweight design — but they’re comfortable enough, and their wireless functionality can last for an upwards of 10 hours on a single charge. A bundled cable also enables a wired connection if you want to plug the headphones into your Mac or PC.

Monoprice DJ Style Pro Headphone ($20)

Monoprice 108232

It’s difficult to find natural sound with lower-tier headphones, especially natural sound that comes wrapped in a luxury package. The 50mm drivers on Monoprice’s flagship offering come close, though, producing a smooth balance between bass and treble that’s nothing like the hollowness that often accompanies similar closed-back offerings. The swivel design of the earcups also proves both comfortable and convenient when traveling — so long as you can overlook the 11.5-foot chord, which is there for … surprise, DJs!

Ausdom M06 ($43)

ausdom m06 imago

Generally, one expects a pair of headphones to have fewer features as the price goes down. You can have sound quality, or wireless capability, or a low price tag, but you wouldn’t expect to get all three; surprisingly enough, the Ausdom M06 headphones offer that exact package. Although not particularly stylish, the M06 have a solid build quality and are comfortable even after hours-long listening sessions. The sound quality is also commendable given the low price, as the treble is not overly bright nor the bass overwhelming. Of course, headphones this cheap cannot be without weaknesses, and the M06’s poor noise isolation and lackluster buttons are chief among them. Still, wireless headphones with decent sound quality are a unicorn in this price range.

(digitaltrends.com, http://goo.gl/F5hRXF)

 

8 Vehicles That Will Become Classic Cars in 20 Years

Like fine wine, rich Wisconsin cheese, James Bond flicks, and kimchi, certain cars age extremely well compared to everything else around them. Destined for destruction, most cars are doomed once they reach a certain age or mileage, and with Americans upgrading to new cars like never before, older cars are increasingly at risk of being sent to the crusher.

But not all cars are up for retirement; as they age certain vehicles grow in both popularity and demand. As classics like the ’69 Dodge Charger Daytona give way to highly coveted imports like the original Acura NSX, we’ve begun to wonder what the next classics will be.

Collectible automobiles are usually sought by people who have a strong sentimental connection to a car, whether that means they owned it as a kid or lusted after it but couldn’t afford it. High-end or limited-run cars also tend to retain their value and stay in demand. But this doesn’t mean that all of these cars will retain their value forever, nor will they be in constant demand until the end of time because trends and collector preferences are forever changing.

So as time marches on, millennials are growing sentimental over the cars they’ve loved from the 1990s to today, and their ability to buy these machines is increasing. Here are eight cars we’re sure will be coveted in 20 years, standing as testaments to the car enthusiast’s desire to hold onto their glory days, no matter what their age.

1. Porsche 911 R

Porsche 911 R

Pulling heavy influence from an iconic 1967 race car, this stripped-down (and completely sold-out) sports car is about as race-ready and exclusive as it gets. Only 991 of these cars exist, and with its exclusive manual gearbox, optional lift system, 20-inch staggered alloys, and 500-horsepower powerband, the 911 R is already one of the most coveted cars in the world. While it may not be as technologically advanced or insane looking as the 918 Spyder, this car’s traditional lines, simplistic approach to power, and less-is-more approach to fun will more than likely help it feel timeless in 20.

2. Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo

1990 Nissan 300ZX

Despite its popularity and relatively long production run (1990–’96 in the U.S., 1989–2000 in Japan), the twin-turbo 300ZX was one of those cars that was way ahead of its time. While it has yet to gain collector car status like the Acura NSX, the chiseled little lift-back has all the trappings of a future classic. It’s one of those cars that’s both period correct and timeless all at once, and while non boosted versions will likely be sought out as well, the turbocharged model will be the one to have considering its rarity and performance gains.

3. Honda S2000 CR

Honda S2000 CR

While the S2000 already has become a highly desirable roadster, it’s the “Club Racer” or CR model that’s the real gem. This limited edition final fling (available only for 2008–’09) from Honda was a race prepped, road legal two-seater that only came in four colors and didn’t have leather, AC, radio, or a soft top, all in the name of weight savings. With only 1,400 in existence and a cult following that’s almost all millennial-based, the CR is a prime example of what a “future collectible” is.

4. BMW M3 (E46)

BMW M3

Already in high demand for its solid performance capabilities and reasonable reliability, the 2000–’06 E46 M3 is on the fast track to being one of the most iconic European performance cars of all-time. With its endearing design and easy to iron out design flaws, this easily augmented BMW of yesteryear will more than likely continue to be a highly sought after collectible.

5. Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Mustang Shelby GT350

Here’s a car that dealers just can’t keep in stock, and for damn good reason. With its sharp stick shift, dampening exhaust, flat plane crank V8, massive brakes, and track-tuned aerodynamics, the latest Shelby Mustang is an American muscle car that will more than likely fetch a hefty price on the auction block in 20 years.

6. Jaguar F-Type SVR

Jaguar F-Type SVR

The SVR version of the F-Type is equal parts sexy and sadistic. This carbon fiber-heavy, tuned-up version of the already animalistic sports car has both the pedigree and performance to make it one of the most desirable Jags of all time. With loads of Jaguar pedigree, the thunderous SVR will more than likely stand out as a hot commodity for anyone who wants a rockstar in their garage.

7. Toyota J80 Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruiser

If history tells us anything about 4×4 Toyota trucks and their staying power, it’s that demand only goes up over time. While the older generations remain one hell of a hot commodity, the 1990–’97 J80 Land Cruiser will likely go down as one of the greatest SUVs of all time. With its renowned off-roading capabilities, spacious leather cabin, timeless styling, and proven reliability, this Land Cruiser is only going to increase in value as time goes on.

8. Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

Chevy 1LE Camaro

Resurrected and ready to rock, Chevy’s track-prepped 1LE Camaro is a new car that everyone seems excited about, and with its sharp styling and modest price tag (starting around $30K), we can see why. We love its massive brakes, bulging body kit, stylish bucket seats, and lightweight wheels, and since it’s about as driver focused as possible, the 1LE has all of the right characteristics to make it a collectible someday.

(cheatsheet.com, http://goo.gl/xGlFsf)

OLYMPUS STYLUS TOUGH TG-870 REVIEW

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HIGHS

  • Rugged features
  • Very good still images
  • Good lens focal range (21-105mm)
  • Wi-Fi pairing with phones, tablets
  • Action camera mode

LOWS

  • Not a low-light performer
  • Video focusing issues
  • GPS drains battery quickly

Smartphones may be our go-to camera for everyday shots, but we wouldn’t take one below 50 feet underwater for selfies; step on it; or drop it onto rocks (OK, with some you might, but those phones are rare). That’s why there’s still demand for rugged point-and-shoot cameras, so called because they can endure the harsh environments and abuse. Whether it’s the outdoorsman who wants to grab snaps and videos while trekking in the wild, or vacationers who just want to toss a camera around a pool, there’s still a valid need for this type of compact camera, even if demand in the overall point-and-shoot sector is declining. Olympus continues to be a major player in this field with its Tough series, and its latest for edition for 2016 is the TG-870 ($280). The camera is a mild evolution from the TG-860 – a camera (now discontinued) we beat the heck out of, but didn’t leave a scratch – and retains the same ruggedness as its predecessor. In the right lighting conditions, the TG-870 is an able performer, but there are some drawbacks.

Features and design

We’ve played with many Olympus Stylus Tough models over the years, as well as competitors from Panasonic, Pentax/Ricoh, Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony, and others. The thing they all have in common is that they are “compromise” cameras—if you’re looking for a compact with superior image quality and extensive photo adjustments, the TG-870 and others of its kind are not for you. That said, for environments where you wouldn’t dare risk bringing a super expensive camera or smartphone, the TG-870 perfect – to a point, which we’ll explain.

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The TG-870 is definitely rugged. It’s dust-, splash-, shock-, freeze- and crush-proof. You can take it down 50 feet underwater, use it in temperatures that hit 14 degrees Fahrenheit, crush it with 220 pound-feet of pressure, and drop it from a height of 7 feet. These are typical specs for most rugged cameras, but it’s an amazing feat of engineering.

The design of the 16-megapixel TG-870 is more sophisticated than rugged cameras of the past – less toy-like, more of a tank. Available in colors like Gunmetal Metallic (dark gray), Metallic Green, or Pure White, it’s a compact point-and-shoot measuring 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.1 inches and weighing around 8 ounces. There’s no trouble carrying it around all day as it easily fits in a pocket.

Our review unit is dark gray and has exposed bolts on the front to enhance the rugged look (they’re just there for show). On the right-hand grip is a red-dot “Face” button that lets you take selfies when using the tilt-screen LCD. Also on the front are a flash, LED/autofocus illuminator, and the lens. This non-extending glass has a 5x optical zoom with a 35mm range of a very wide 21mm to 105mm. It’s not the brightest lens available with apertures of f/3.5 (wide) to f/5.7 (tele). In other words, you’ll need outdoor light for best results and the flash for indoor subjects. For the types of activities we imagine people would use this camera for, abundant natural light shouldn’t be an issue. (Olympus has the much more expensive TG-4, at $379, with a 4x optical zoom and a bright lens with an f/2.0 aperture. Since it takes RAW files, it’s targeted toward those who have experience with post-editing software.)

Along the slim top are stereo mics, power, and shutter buttons as well as a zoom toggle switch.

The 3-inch LCD screen covers nearly the entire back, with a 920K-dot resolution – an improvement over the 460K-dot resolution in the TG-860, and even the TG-4 and TG-3. The screen also flips up 180-degrees into aforementioned selfie position.

olympus tg 870

Overall, since the camera is compact, there aren’t a ton of buttons on the back. There’s a small, recessed mode dial with Intelligent Auto, Program AE, Super Macro, Scene (19 options), 13 of Olympus’ cool art filters, Sportcam (turns the camera into an action cam, with quick access to four video settings), Panorama, and Self Portrait. Below this is a four-way controller with center OK button. There’s quick access to Info, flash settings, burst/self-timer. Other buttons include movie (activate video recording), playback, and menu/Wi-Fi.

On the right side is a dual-locking compartment for the battery and SD card. Keeping the electronic innards dry is critical and Olympus makes sure you slide one switch and flip another to make sure it’s sealed. If it’s not properly closed, you’ll see orange warning colors. It’s a simple and effective way to check if the camera is ready for the elements. Interestingly, the Stylus has two tripod mounts, one in the classic spot on the bottom with a second on the left hand side to change orientation.

What’s included

You’ll find the camera, battery, AC adapter, USB cable, hand strap, quick-start guide, and setup CD. The disc includes Olympus Viewer 3 (Windows/Mac) software for handling files and the instruction manual.

Performance and use

The TG-870 uses a 1/2.3-inch 16-megapixel backside illuminated (BSI) CMOS chip and the TruePic VII image processor (the processor is also used in the higher-end OM-D series). With such a small sensor and a maximum aperture of f/3.5, however, this camera needs a lot of light for best results – either ambient or using the flash.

We took the camera out to the desert as well as a pool for a dunking, shooting a variety of subjects. Using the camera we encountered noticeable pluses and minuses. We like the straightforward menu system that’s easy to understand. When you go into Scene or Art mode, the screen shows an example of that specific option. It’s very helpful, as is the ability to customize the selfie button on the front and red-dot video button on the back.

The bright Arizona summer sunshine overpowered the LCD, even when brightness level is cranked all the way up. During testing there were times when the screen was difficult to view, forcing us to look at it from different angles. And, although the 3-inch screen may be rated 920K dots, it’s not the sharpest we’ve tested.

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When we reviewed shots on the LCD, we were initially disappointed due to the aforementioned screen quality. That thinking changed when we reviewed the stills on a 27-inch monitor – image quality was quite good with accurate colors and sharpness and detail that were a pleasure to see. The camera has built-in lens-shift image stabilization that helps cut down on blur. Now this was in bright sunlight, the expected place an outdoors camera is supposed to be used.

When we shot subjects indoors, without the flash, results weren’t in the same league. The TG-870 has a native ISO range of 125-6,400. Our test subject held its own until 400-800, but then became much more pixelated as the numbers increased with an overall softening and color shifts. This is just a fact of life for small-chip point-and-shoots. We ran into the same problem with the non-rugged Panasonic Lumix ZS60. With enough light from the flash or Mother Nature, the camera will deliver solid photos.

One of the coolest features of the TG-870 – and any other tough camera – is the fact it’s waterproof, making it great for the pool or any other water-related activity that would kill a smartphone or traditional compact. We took the Stylus into a pool and shot a number of still-life images using one of the underwater scene settings. The stills were excellent and sharp. You can dive into deeper water with the camera, but it gets darker the deeper you go, and, as mentioned, low light isn’t the camera’s strong point.

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Where we had issues was capturing video. The TG-870 takes 1080/60p Full HD videos. The quality was good but the camera had trouble focusing as we panned around the pool. We had the same issue above the water as the lens had difficulty grabbing focus.

The TG-870 has built-in GPS, a great feature when you’re out in the field. The GPS has been upgraded so it finds your location more quickly than older editions. However, when enabled it’s constantly on, even when you power off the camera, draining the battery. If you don’t need GPS info, turn it off.

As for ruggedness, we tossed the camera into a pool and it didn’t skip a beat. Then, we proceeded to step on it, and dropped it from shoulder height onto rocks and concrete. The camera survived without any problems. We should note that users of older models have complained that the seal of the compartment door isn’t tight enough, and moisture would seep in. We haven’t encountered these issues with the newer models, but if you do decide to take the camera into water, make sure the door is properly closed and locked to seal.

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The camera has built-in Wi-Fi, and can pair with a phone or tablet via the Olympus Image Share app (iOS and Android). The app, while basic, is good. Setup is very easy process that involves scanning a QR code that pops onscreen (this is the same process used in other Olympus cameras). A quick scan using the Image Share app on a Samsung Galaxy S5 was painless. Importing images is simple, as is using the phone as a remote shutter. You can add geo-tags to your photos as well.

We should note the supplied strap is kind of cheesy and not adjustable to cinch around your wrist. A higher-quality, tighter-fitting strap should be considered as an add-on so the camera won’t accidentally sink into oblivion or inadvertently get lost on the trail.

The battery is rated 300 shots per CIPA, so buying a spare is a good idea if your adventures take you far from a power outlet.

Warranty

Olympus offers a one-year warranty for parts and labor.

Conclusion

The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870 is a very good rugged camera that takes fine stills and can take a beating. Despite the small sensor, the camera is capable of taking sharp, nice-looking photos in most well lit situations. There were some issues with video focusing but overall, it does what it’s designed to do – to survive whatever you put it through, whether it’s a wilderness trek or a summer pool party.

(digitaltrends.com, http://goo.gl/Ekgl1Y)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review

Having seen the turbulent recent years of the watch industry, it sure takes some admirable self-confidence to start a watch brand from scratch. Arguably, one would need a solid starting idea, a unique selling point, coherent and powerful design DNA, a decent movement… all offered at a competitive price. In an effort to tick all of these boxes, the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure marks the first collection of this new company that was established by two engineers, Eric Mauron and Christophe Musy. Let’s see how this new piece of “Armor” fairs in battle.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Beginnings – In A Nutshell

The two met in the late 1990s, when Eric was the managing director of Régis Mauron SA, a company that specialized in the machining of mechanical parts, and Christophe was serving an internship as a mechanic. It was more recently, in 2012, that they set out to create something new and that the Mauron Musy company in St. Aubin, Switzerland, was born. That “something new” was to be based on their extensive knowledge and experience in precision engineering – a prowess you can actually sense and feel when you pick the Armure up, but more on that a bit later.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

“nO-Ring” Technology: A Gasket-Free Case Design

So, what is that solid starting idea that makes Mauron Musy’s work unique? There are a handful of things to consider, but what stands out most is their “nO-Ring” case design, that allowed them to fully omit the use of rubber gaskets and seals. Traditionally, watch cases are composed of several separate components which are made waterproof by inserting synthetic rings (sometimes called “O-rings”) between them. The key problem with these gaskets, the two say, is that they have a limited lifespan: over time, the synthetic material deteriorates, it hardens up and fails to maintain a perfect seal between the case’s middle element and the bezel as well as the caseback, not to mention the frequently used crown.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

To leave gaskets out of the equation altogether, first, the nO-Ring technology does away with clamping screws to avoid any risk of deforming the case components’ flat surfaces. The glass and the back are clamped down by satellite springs placed around the entire perimeter, compressed and tensed by the closure of the case-band (the middle section) and the bezel. The parts are divided into several segments held together and secured by hinges during the assembly process, based on the same principle as clamp braces.

In essence, the technology is based on the components’ surfaces being machined and fitting together with extremely high precision, held together by the controlled tension achieved by the springs and hinges.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The surfaces in contact with the various components are “hardened, lapped with a grinding tool and then reworked to ensure the required flatness and the appropriate roughness of the surface profile,” the brand explains. So much goes for the case, but what’s up with the crown? This makes us wonder why nobody else has tried it before: each crown shaft is fitted in its bearing, creating such a “nanometrically accurate fit” that there is no risk of infiltration, even when the crown is operated underwater.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

All this engineering nerdfest allows the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure to remain water-resistant to a depth rating of 100 meters, and the brand says that you can even fiddle with the crown under water and you need not fear water entering the case. My love for watches allowed me to try this very briefly – it was a cringe-worthy experience, and while the Armure showed no water or condensation inside the case after the test, I’d still advise that you don’t try this at home and always make sure that the crown is pushed all the way in (it does not screw down) when you go swimming or scuba diving with your Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure. M’kay?

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Fit & Finish

Many of us watch enthusiasts are hardcore nerds at heart, who are fascinated by how things are made and put together. We have always had – and over the years have heavily developed – our sense for quality of execution and, for that reason, we find well-made things to be especially satisfying to look at, wear, or simply admire. More satisfying, than, say, rocking the latest trend, or the “dopest” brand name-dropped in rap songs.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

For that reason, a brand like Mauron Musy – established and run by two like-minded engineers who are utterly obsessed with high precision machining – we can still find to be hugely exciting. The Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure is cool and fascinating because these origins become immediately apparent once you have it in your hand, even if you have no idea where, how, or by whom it was made.

There is an unapologetic and almost complete lack of soul in the Armure – the only human element to it comes from how you can reflect on the painstaking work that must have gone into machining it with such unearthly precision. Some watches, like the ones made by Bexei orVoutilainen, have a tangible “handmade-ness” to them, comparable to what you can feel/touch/smell around vintage race cars or with handmade shoes.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Armure is beautifully made and has several years of man-hours in fine tuning components and machining techniques – which is all human effort that went into its creation. With that said, the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure still falls at the other end of the spectrum from those aforementioned independents (even if we disregard the price). With its intense-looking and -feeling design, where every layer, part, and cut-out feels functional first, and aesthetically pleasing second.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Having handled all kinds of high-end watches crafted from different types of steel, gold, as well as more modern materials including carbon and composites, I still have to say that the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure, when held in hand and scrutinized up close, feels like very few of them. It is no news that today’s manufacturing technologies are sublimely advanced, and you don’t have to pay top dollar for a luxury watch to get a sense of that – it’s there in nearly every premium electronic device, for instance.

Yet, the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure feels and looks as though every single component has been machined and fitted just that tiny little bit more tightly, with tolerances so microscopic, that the high-tech machining know-how behind its manufacturing actually becomes tangible.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

If your primary preference in luxury products is seeing the traits of hand-finishing and the “craftsman’s touch” in the finer details, in the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure you’ll not find exactly what you are looking for. If you appreciate the fit and finish of extremely well-made, modern products, you are definitely in for a treat, though.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

How can there still be a difference in fit and finish among high-end watches produced today? Nearly all luxury watches of our time are machined and put together with amazingly small tolerances, but there still seems to be a way for the human eye to perceive a difference achieved through imperceptible improvements – it just works that way.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

When it comes to finishing, there is a very clever mix of brushed, satinated, and polished elements. Once looked at more closely, it becomes apparent how the different layers of the case have been separated from each other: brushed and satin finished segments follow each other all the way up to the only polished part of the Armure, which is the end of the bezel. Even this bit is intelligently placed, as it adds some extra flair and sense of refinement to the otherwise rather industrial looking package, and also frames the dial and its polished indices. The Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure could easily have turned into a “robot turd” (to quote the infamous John Biggs), but instead it looks every bit as high-end and refined as it has to.

Wearability

With that noted, I still maintain that the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure’s high-tech feel does in fact result in a lack of fun and soul – but that is not something that couldn’t be restored with a touch of creativity. I remember the struggle of picking which Armure to review: there are numerous different options, including dials satin-finished in grey or blue, as well as silver or black Geneva striped ones, along with 44-millimeter wide cases in 316L stainless steel or black-treated steel.

On a personal note, I’m utterly bored with black cases of any type as well as blue dials in general – two of the most over-done trends of the last 2-3 years, I think. Hence, I went for a regular steel case with a matching grey dial and a few splashes of red here and there.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

While the amazing fit and finish give enough to be excited about – if you are the type who appreciates these kinds of things – the overall impression on the wrist, for me at least, remained very much “I could take it or leave it.” Taste is very personal, and some will definitely enjoy the under-the-radar look of this grey watch on a black rubber strap… But this combo, I will admit, left me feeling quite a bit upset.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I wanted to like the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure more on the wrist, I wanted it to wear in tune with how fantastic it looked and felt when scrutinized up close – but, out of the box, it wasn’t happening. My frustration led me to try and find the culprit, and find it I did: it was the black rubber strap. It feels supple and flexible, so it is comfortable to wear; however, even from a few feet away (or when glancing down at it on the wrist) it looks 2-3 grades lower quality than it actually is. There is something about the slightly faded black and the three lengthwise grooves which make it appear to be from a much less refined watch – even if to the touch it unquestionably is a high quality strap.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

So I removed it from the watch – and, for a glorious moment, I could at last feel the designs’ real potential surface. I took the simplest, most restrained brown leather strap that I had laying around, put it on the Armure, and the watch was immediately transformed. To my great relief, this simple strap change worked great with the smooth, angled surfaces of the case, it lightened up the grey tones visually, making it appear to be as high-quality as it actually is and – heavens forbid – luxurious. The Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure’s vibe turned into a great everyday wear from what looked like something you forgot to take off after your scuba dives while on your summer holiday.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I am not sure, but can imagine why the duo went for the black rubber strap, as it might have helped highlight the water resistant, go-anywhere nature of the watch. But the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure has to also be equipped for everyday wear so that it works with all kinds of attire. For this reason, I feel the black rubber strap should have always been a secondary option that was supplied with the watch, while, out of the box, a higher-quality, but simple-looking brown or black strap would be a much better companion.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

On a final note, the 44mm-wide and 14mm-thick case does have some sharp edges here and there, but absolutely none that would cause any harm while wearing the watch or using the crown – something that is not at all true for most other comparably angular case designs out there. With its flat case-back and short lugs, the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure sits comfortably on the wrist, even if the steel case is not without the usual heft of this size. I am pretty sure that more material options will follow – and, for whatever reason, looking at this watch makes me want to see a version with a steel case and a yellow gold bezel.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Legibility

We have already mentioned dial color options, but time now for a closer look. A total of 13 applied indices adorn the grey, satin-looking, subtly sunburst-finished dial. Enforcing the grey theme are the three hands, with the two larger (which objectively appear to have taken inspiration from those seen on the Royal Oak Offshore) having been perfectly legible to my eyes under all but the darkest of lighting conditions.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

While the duo at Mauron Musy have seemingly done everything in their power to make the hands look very similar to each other, reading the time quickly has never been much of a struggle for me. Still, even if the hour and minute hands’ exact same shape were not an issue, the notches at their half point can at times can make them more difficult to tell apart than would be deemed ideal. The sweeping seconds hand tends to blend into the dial in any environment as dark or darker than a dimly lit room. Quality of the hands is fantastic with or without taking the price point into consideration: diamond polished and beautifully three-dimensional, they have plenty of volume and are properly sized.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The dial appears to be high-quality enough to nicely complement the case: both its color, sheen, and quality of execution make it a solid match to the somewhat unusual, more saturated silvery color of the case. I do wonder, though, what the indices and hands would look like with slightly wider strips of Super-Luminova: proportions are fine design-wise, but night-time legibility could be a lot better, for as bright as the lume might glow, there simply isn’t enough surface of it revealed for the eye to see with ease.

Lastly, the dial scores some extra points for the white-on-black date disc, the nicely balanced texts, and especially for the red on the 12 o’clock indices, the tip of the seconds hand, and on the fonts for the Swiss Made text at 6.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Movement

Inside the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure is the proudly 100% Swiss Made Eterna Calibre 3909A. We have looked at the Eterna 39 in great detail in our Movement Hands-On series here, but in a nutshell what you need to know is that it is one of the most impressive series-produced new movements put into production since the quartz crisis. Despite its thin profile and 4-Hertz frequency, the Eterna 3909A provides 65 hours of power reserve, replenished with a genuinely unnoticeable automatic winding that works free of annoying vibrations or winding sounds.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Furthermore, the movement hacks and the crown operates smoothly, allowing for quick and accurate setting of the time – and remember, there is no screw-down crown to be fiddled with. I loved how the 39 ran so silently, allowing me to work with the watch put on the desk next to my laptop.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Revealed through an ever-so-slightly raised and in fact very discreetly labeled sapphire crystal case-back, the movement and its custom, skeletonized rotor appear to be remarkably flat – and yet, no loud ticking can be heard, even with the balance wheel falling so close to the crystal. A superb movement overall, and kudos to Mauron Musy for not renaming it to imply a fake proprietary movement – it further goes to testify to their intentions of getting a solid movement to power their watch, and that’s the end of it.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Summary

I have admittedly had my ups and downs with the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure. The quality of execution of all the watch head’s components, and especially the machining of the case, is definitely among the very best in this segment. It is, however, light on fancy finishing and required a bit of work to get to its full potential. The black rubber strap, as comfortable as it may be, kills the watch’s vibe – put it on a simple brown leather strap and the watch transforms into one heck of a daily wearer. Mauron Musy is among the first to base a collection of watches on the Eterna Caliber 39, and their open-mindedness pays huge dividends: the Caliber 39 runs smoothly and silently, with no annoying vibrations and 50% more power reserve when compared to its ETA counterparts.

Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Priced at 5,500 CHF, the Mauron Musy Classic Steel Armure’s forte is in its proprietary case and nO-Ring design, as well as its fantastic overall quality of execution, allowing it to be a more unique and creative option for those looking for a daily wear watch that is everything but off-the-shelf.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Mauron Musy
>Model: Classic Steel Armure Reference MU 01-202
>Price: 5,500 CHF
>Size: 44mm wide, 14mm thick
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone with an open mind for new brands and an appreciation of luxury items with an emphasis more on fit and finish than story or soul.
>Best characteristic of watch: Case design and machining; intelligently matched colors and finishing throughout; superb movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Shipped exclusively on a rubber strap which fails to complement the watch and bring it to its full potential – so much better on a leather strap

(ablogtowatch.com, http://goo.gl/ipeO8S)

PRO-JECT DEBUT CARBON ESPRIT SB

The turntable range from Pro-Ject now extends to 23 models, so it’s no wonder that when a new one comes along, it can wind up with a rather unwieldy name. The Debut Carbon Esprit SB is so-called because it is has a ‘Debut’ plinth and is top of that parituclar range, ‘Carbon’ becaue of the carbon fibre tonearm and ‘Esprit’ because that’s an old Pro-Ject appellation for acrylic platter models. Which leaves ‘SB’ and that stands for Speed Box, which is not a separate box but denotes electronic speed switching. So there is a logic to the nomenclature, albeit not one that extends to the name appearing on the turntable itself; in fact, there is no visible branding at all. In an effort not to fill the review by repeating this deck’s full title, I’ll call it Debut from now on.

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This attractive turntable is supplied with an Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet cartridge installed in the headshell of the one-piece carbon-fibre tonearm. All you have to do to set the arm up is twist on the counterweight until the arm is balanced then attempt to align the zero point on the dial with the peg sticking out the back of the bearing. It would be easier if there were a mark along the top of the arm stub to align the downforce dial, but you can get pretty close to the desired 1.8 gram tracking force by eye from the cartridge end. Anti-skate bias is provided by a weight and thread as has always been the case with Pro-Ject arms, and while it’s a slightly fiddly business to put on you only have to do it once. It’s interesting to note that Rega has abandoned bias adjustment on its entry level arms because moving magnet cartridges tend to have similar downforce and anti-skate requirements. This saves them money and us fiddling around, and so is a welcome – if perhaps controversial – move.

The Debut is a nicely executed piece of equipment with the advantage of electronic speed switching, the latter being an intuitive system; press once and the 33.3rpm light flashes until speed is stabilized, press twice for 45 or one long press will turn it off. You can even have the platter spin at 78rpm if you move the belt to the larger pulley, but a cartridge change is required. Dust is kept at bay with a plastic lid, an underrated accessory that few ‘serious’ turntables offer to their detriment, and power is provided by a wall-wart supply.  The arm base has a pair of RCA phono output sockets and an earth point, so it’s easy to upgrade the arm cable. However, the Connect-IT E cable supplied is quite a smart example with a clear casing and twisted pair wires inside.
The inclusion of an acrylic platter on this Debut is described as “an excellent playback platform” by its maker, but it’s notable that there are only three models equipped with this type of platter in the range and these are found at the top of the budget turntables. Most of the ‘bigger’ models use aluminium sandwich platters with a mat.

The Debut has a smooth and easy to enjoy presentation. It is particularly good at rendering the flow of the music regardless of style and this, combined with a high degree of finesse for the price, makes it the perfect partner if you want to chill. But given that the affordable end of the turntable market caters to a younger audience these days chilling is more appropriate. In truth, this Debut is probably still a little bit pricey for teenagers or students and it doesn’t have facilities like an onboard phono stage, USB output, or Bluetooth connectivity – all of which potentially bodes well for sound quality, if not necessarily ‘youf’ appeal.

The Ortofon 2M Red is a decent cartridge for the money (£89) and helps the Debut to deliver detail and tonal depth that contribute to the effortlessness of the sound produced. Leo Kottke’s Great Big Boy [Private Music] is a record of acoustic guitar and band with Kottke’s laconic singing. There is plenty of guitar string zing and lovely fretless bass timbre to enjoy with this turntable. Its calmness of delivery means that low level sounds are well catered for, which goes a long way to producing an engaging result. The kick drum on ‘Nothing Works’ has good impact and much of its reverb breaks out into the room; the sonic picture is not the biggest available, but it’s adequate and varies significantly between records which is a good sign of fidelity.

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Bass extension and power is good if not spectacular. Burnt Friedmann & The Nu Dub Players Just Landed [Nonplace] could have more visceral grip and bigger dynamics, but the bass remains tuneful. Timing is something that most turntables can do almost by instinct, but some are more definite in this respect than others and this Debut is more about flow than stop/start leading edge definition.

There is something charming about the Debut’s approach to tempo, too – something that works really well with the lilting groove of Conjure’s ‘Betty Balls Blues’ [Music For The Texts Of Ishmael Reed, American Clavé]. Here you get lots of sumptuous tone from the brass, piano, and voice of Taj Mahal, the latter giving Reed’s fabulous words the full works. He is clearly a character when it comes to laying down the jam, and it’s a pity he hasn’t done more left-field stuff like this. The Debut helps the lyrics sound very clear, and the reverb applied to the voice is equally easy to appreciate. The sax solo on the follow-up track ‘Untitled’ is likewise extremely lyrical; it’s very easy to forget about the mechanics of the replay equipment and be carried away by the tune, very easy indeed.

With Mike Valentine’s rather more recent D2D recording of The Four Seasons [Interpreti Veneziani, Chasing The Dragon]the Debut reveals rather more groove noise and pops than usual. It could have more scale. But, while it’s tonally a little thin, the aforementioned fluency does give it the power to captivate the listener. It would have been nice to have heard more of the body of the sound that this fabulous recording captures, but the Debut’s relaxed demeanour does mean that you don’t get as visceral a result as can be achieved with the best alternatives at the price. Put on something like Binker & Moses’ saxophone and drums [Dem Ones, Gearbox], an album that is all about the physical nature of the instruments, and the Debut’s calming qualities bring out the melodic side of what can often seem like nothing more than a display of muscularity. By limiting the full power of the recording, it cuts through to the heart of the composition; whether you want your turntable to provide this sort of filter is a matter of taste but it certainly doesn’t lack appeal.

Neither does it dull more refined musical styles. Steely Dan’s ‘Gold Teeth’ [Countdown to Ecstasy, ABC] retains its fabulous contrapuntal rhythm and it’s easy to appreciate the beauty of both the lyrics and the playing, Victor Feldman’s conga is great, as is the pedal steel guitar and voice. In fact the whole piece is brimming with life; it could be more realistic, perhaps, but not a lot more engaging.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB

You get plenty of voltage from the Ortofon, which means that it will work with pretty well any MM phono stage. This might seem basic, but I have come across some MMs that require more gain than you might expect at the affordable end of the spectrum. I tried it with an iFi iPhono2 external preamplifier and into the MM input of a Rega Elex-R integrated amp and got great results in both cases.

Playing Laurie Anderson’s Strange Angels [Warner Bros] with the Debut I was struck by just how much of the recording’s character comes through. This is a polished, and distinctly eighties sounding album with sumptuous bass and mountains of reverb on the kick drum. The Debut let’s you know all of this and more in its own effortless style. Pino Paladino’s fretless bass sounds great and the guitar shines with a brilliance born of expensive studio time. The track made it clear that with an amp and speaker of appropriate price, the Debut is well balanced; it may be a little smooth, but that makes the job of the system easier than a more revealing source. Pro‑Ject didn’t get to 23 models with massive investment and a huge marketing budget; it did so by making turntables that sell and sell well. The Debut Carbon Esprit SB will undoubtedly join those ranks.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Full-size turntable, arm and cartridge with speed control

Rotational Speeds: 33 1/3 RPM, 45 RPM, 78 RPM

Tonearm Length: 8.6-inch

Tonearm construction: carbon fibre with integrated headshell

Drive Mechanism: Belt drive via flat rubber belt

Speed Control: Electronic

Platter Type: Acrylic 12-inch platter

Platter Weight: Not specified

Bearing Type: Not specified

Plinth Configuration: Single piece

Finishes: High gloss black, red, white

Dimensions (H×W×D): 118 × 415 × 320mm

Weight: 4.9kg

Price: £425/$637,5

(hifiplus.com, http://goo.gl/OZSyDU)

Apple iPhone 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 7 Pro: What’s the rumoured difference?

Apple is rumoured to be announcing three smartphones in September. Yes you did read that right, we said three.

They are going by the names iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 Pro, although they have also been called iPhone 6SE, 6SE Plus and 6SE Pro, and they are said to be hitting shelves on 16 September.

Whether we will see all three actually arrive is anyone’s guess, but if they do, here is how they could compare, based on the speculation.

The Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are said to be following a similar design to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus rather than seeing a revamp.

It has been claimed the headphone jack might disappear though and the antennabands across the rear will move to just the top and bottom for a more seamless look. It has also been said the Home button may evolve to being a Force Touch capacitive component.

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The iPhone 7 Pro is expected to follow a similar design path to the iPhone 7 andiPhone 7 Plus, but with the addition of a dual-camera setup and SmartConnector, the latter of which is found on the iPad Pro line. It is also thought to be the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus.

Apart from physical size, the leaked images suggest the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be identical to each other in appearance, as the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are. It’s been claimed the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 Pro will measure 7.3mm slim, which is the same as the current iPhone 6S Plus, while the iPhone 7 is said to measure 7.2mm.

The Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are thought to be sticking with the same size displays meaning 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches, respectively. The iPhone 7 Prois thought to adopt the 5.5-inch size.

Rumour has it Apple will switch to OLED over IPS LCD for the iPhone 7 andiPhone 7 Plus though, and it is thought the screen resolution will increase to Quad HD. If this is the case, the iPhone 7 Plus would offer a pixel density of 543ppi, while the iPhone 7 should be lovely and sharp at 624ppi.

There have been no rumours relating to the iPhone 7 Pro’s display but it would be surprising to see it not get the same technology as the other two devices, if not more advanced, such as Apple Pencil compatibility.

It’s probably safe to assume we will see Apple’s force touch technology – 3D Touch – on all three models.

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There haven’t been too many rumours surrounding the resolution of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus’s cameras, but as last year saw a bump in megapixels, it’s thought the sensor may stay the same as the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

If that’s the case, no doubt there will some extra features and improvements, but we can expect a 12-megapixel rear snapper, coupled with a 5-megapixel front camera and Retina Flash.

The iPhone 7 Pro is said to be coming with a dual-lens rear camera, distinguishing it from the other two devices. There has been no word on how it might work, or what the setup might be, but if the rumours are true, we’d expect some extra features on the Pro not offered on the other two devices.

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Rumours are a little vague when it comes to the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 Pro’s hardware, except the inclusion of the Smart Connector for the Pro.

The Smart Connector would allow for the transfer of both data and power at the same time, as it does for the iPad Pro range, and if it appears, it will probably mean the Pro will be compatible with accessories like the Smart Keyboard.

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It is thought the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will both have the A10 processor on board and the iPhone 7 Plus is said to be coming with 3GB or RAM, which we’d also expect for the Pro, if not more.

Other rumours have suggested Apple will start storage options at 32GB this time round, and it is also thought there will be a 256GB option, like the company offers on its iPad Pro range. It’s not currently clear if that 256GB model will only be available for the Pro, or across the iPhone 7 line up.

In terms of battery, the iPhone 7 Plus is said to be coming with a 3100mAh capacity so we’d expect the same, if not bigger for the Pro, and slightly smaller for the standard iPhone 7.

All three iPhone 7 models, if they all appear, will no doubt debut on iOS 10. There are several new features and functions in the new software, all of which you can read about in our iOS 10 feature.

If the iPhone 7 Pro does appear, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see a couple of extra software functions over the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus relating to its hardware, but at the moment, it’s a wait and see game.

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Currently, it’s unclear if the iPhone 7 Pro is the stuff of fantasies, or a reality. It looks like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be similar in terms of design and performance, based on the leaks, aside from a larger battery, perhaps more RAM and maybe extra camera features like OIS again.

Based on the leaks, it seems the iPhone 7 Pro will distinguish itself with a dual-camera and the addition of the Smart Connector. We wouldn’t be surprised to see some performance enhancements too though, if it appears at all.

It’s a guessing game at the moment, but we will update this feature as soon as any more leaks appear, or anything official is announced. You can read all about the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus rumours in our dedicated feature, as well as theiPhone 7 Pro rumours in our separate feature.

(pocket-lint.com, http://goo.gl/M5vjfh)

ASUS ROG G752VT review

PROS

  • Great IPS Display
  • G-Sync
  • 75hz refresh rate
  • Solid performance

CONS

  • Very heavy
  • Spongey keyboard
  • Inconsistent build quality

KEY FEATURES

  • 17.3-inch 1,920×1,080-pixel IPS display with G-Sync
  • 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GPU
  • Skylake i7-6700HQ processor
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD
  • Weight: 4kg
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £1,200.00/$1,800.00

WHAT IS THE ASUS G752VT?

Big, bulky and expensive. For better or worse, this is a classic gaming notebook.

Few laptops stand out like the ASUS ROG G752VT, with its striking brushed-aluminium chassis, bezelicious 17.3-inch Full HD display and Stealth Fighter-esque angular design. The chassis is nearly identical to that on the ridiculous liquid-cooled Asus ROG GX700 Trusted reviewed a couple of months ago.

But is the G752VT worth the £1200 asking price? Perhaps, but only if you need a gaming laptop right now.

G752 1

ASUS G752VT – DESIGN AND FEATURES

Built like a tank, the G752 is a behemoth of a gaming notebook. It tips the scales at 4kg (8.8lbs) – it really is bloody heavy. You’ll get more than a few looks if you whip (read: heave) this out of your backpack at Starbucks.

Compared to a desktop PC, you could call the G752 portable. But it’s almost twice as heavy as the competing Gigabyte P35V5 notebook (2.3kg), and that makes a big difference if you intend to carry it around all day.

It’s long, too – the back of the chassis has been extended to accommodate its cooling system, which means the G752 is bigger than the average 17.3-inch notebook.

G752 10

In terms of style, I think the exterior looks great. The aggressively sharp exhaust vents contrast well with the premium copper-coloured aluminium body. Opening it up, however, I was left feeling a little underwhelmed. The thick plastic bezels, rubberised palm rest and huge trackpad buttons make the G752 look just a little less premium than I’d like.

As for build quality, the G752’s weight makes it feel reassuringly strong and rigid. However, there’s a noticeable amount of flex if you press firmly toward the back of the keyboard, and the screen is prone to wobbling if you accidentally nudge the desk.

As for connectivity, the G752 has everything you could need. The right side features a 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack, USB 3.1 Type C, two USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, an HDMI port, and a gigabit Ethernet connector. On the left is a Kensington lock, two USB 3.0, a Blu-ray drive and an SD card reader.

While the Blu-ray drive and Ethernet port are nice features that many thin and light notebooks have to do without, for me the G752 is simply far too big and bulky.

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ASUS G752VT – KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD

The G752 has plenty of room for a full-size keyboard and numberpad. The chiclet-style keys are well spaced, have a good amount of travel and are generally comfortable to type with. However, the rubbery plastic material used on the keys makes them feel and sound spongey, which makes it harder to touch type.

If you’re using the notebook at night, the red-backlit keyboard will come in handy. Using the pre-installed ROG Gaming Center, you can customise whether just the left-hand portion of the keyboard is lit up, or the whole thing.

The combination of spongey keys and a slightly unnerving amount of flex in the G752’s plastic body makes it feel far less premium than a £1,400 notebook should.

G752 8

The trackpad, on the other hand, is a joy to use. It’s big and surprisingly responsive for a Windows laptop – particularly a gaming one.

The only problem I have is with the physical left- and right-click buttons beneath it; I’m not a fan of such a soft and long clicks. They feel like business laptops from a few years ago, and I don’t really think they suit a gaming machine.

ASUS G752VT – STORAGE

The G752 comes with various storage options, but all models include a primary solid-state drive and secondary hard-disk drive. The model I had for review included a 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD.

This storage solution works well, with Windows 10 installed on the fast SSD, which means the laptop feels fast to use – quick to boot and nippy at opening files and launching programmes. The larger hard drive can then be used to store bigger files and games.

SSD performance is impressive, scoring 1,861MB/s read and 130MB/s write speeds in the AS SSD benchmark. The high read speeds are higher due to the SSD using the faster NVMe interface.

ASUS G752VT – DISPLAY

The G752’s 17.3-inch display is one of the best I’ve ever used on a laptop, let alone a gaming one. The IPS panel provides good colour reproduction, above-average 306nits brightness and solid viewing angles, as well as sticking to a sensible 1080p resolution. It also supports NVIDIA G-Sync and a high 75Hz refresh rate.

Few monitors, let alone notebook displays, include NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology, which reduces screen tearing and stuttering in games. It’s great to see ASUS has included it on the G752.

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More noticeably, the higher-than-average 75Hz refresh rate makes everything from navigating the desktop, to scrolling through web pages and playing games feel slicker and smoother. The extra 15Hz over a typical 60Hz display doesn’t sound like a lot – and it certainly doesn’t feel as fast as more common 120Hz desktop monitors – but it still offers a noticeable bump in smoothness.

You may be concerned by the G752 only offering a 1080p resolution rather than a 1440p or 4K option. However, the lower res is ideal for a gaming notebook, as it allows the mobile-class GPU (more on that on page 2) to reach higher frame rates in games, and take advantage of that higher refresh rate.

Achieving 86% of the sRGB colour space, the G752 falls in line with most other gaming notebooks. The IPS display is significantly better and more accurate than TN panels, but falls short of being good enough to use by photo and video editors, and the lower-than-average 886:1 contrast ratio means the G752 doesn’t quite achieve those inky blacks and brilliant whites.

Without doubt the display is one of the G752’s standout features, and it puts the screens on comparably priced gaming notebooks to shame.

ASUS G752VT – PERFORMANCE

There are three versions of the ASUS G752. The G752VL, G752VT and G752VY, which feature the Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M, 970M and 980M graphics cards respectively.

The G752VT I reviewed had the latest Intel Skylake-generation Core i7-6700HQ processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M and 16GB of DDR4 RAM, along with a 128GB SSD and a 1TB HDD for storage.

It’s a bit of a shame, considering the size and weight of the G752, that ASUS wasn’t able to squeeze a desktop-class GTX 970 GPU into it. Despite this, the benchmarks prove it’s still incredibly fast.

In the 3DMark Fire Strike test, the G752 achieved an overall score of 6,526. This is a decent score, but compared to the 8,390 scored by the Gigabyte P35V5 with the top-tier GTX 980M graphics card, the G752 isn’t quite in the same class.

Of course, the big question is how well the G752 performs in games – I tested it with Tomb Raider, Dirt Rally and Hitman.

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In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the G752 managed an average frame rate of 55fps and a minimum of 36fps with high settings at Full HD. With a few tweaks to the settings, it’s definitely possible to achieve a solid 60fps average in Tomb Raider, which is impressive considering how demanding the game is.

Dirt Rally was more than playable at Full HD with high settings, scoring an average frame rate of 74fps and minimum of 70fps. Conveniently, the average frame rate nearly matches the notebook’s higher 75Hz refresh rate, so you’re definitely making the most of it.

Finally in Hitman, again at Full HD with high settings, the G752 managed an average of 40fps and a minimum of 11fps. This low minimum frame rate is common in Hitman, but an average of 40fps isn’t particularly impressive and will require you to drop a few settings to make it enjoyably playable.

Only Dirt Rally really took advantage of the notebook’s higher refresh rate – but it goes to show how the 1080p display was a sensible choice by ASUS, rather than a more demanding 1440p or 4K resolution.

Overall the G752 performed well. However, the GTX 970M – and, indeed, all of NVIDIA’s top mobile graphics cards – are beginning to show their age and are due to be replaced by next-generation Pascal cards later in 2016.

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ASUS G752VT – BATTERY

Battery performance from the G752’s 67Wh battery is disappointing.

Watching Netflix for one hour with brightness sat at 50%, the G752 lost 41% of its battery compared to just 22% for the Gigabyte P35Xv5. This means you could just about finish a two-and-a-half-hour film before the notebook would conk out completely.

With general use, including watching YouTube videos, browsing a variety of websites and using some Office applications, the G752 lasted a little under three hours.

It goes without saying that you should only play games with the charger plugged in, or else you’ll be lucky to get an hour out of the G752.

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SHOULD I BUY THE ASUS G752VT

The ASUS G752VT is a remarkable, if impractical gaming notebook. It checks all the boxes in terms of specs and will run most of today’s games at High settings.

Without doubt, the G752’s best feature is its display. Racing through stages in Dirt Rally felt incredibly fast and fluid thanks to the high refresh rate and G-Sync.

If you don’t mind the size and want a good gaming notebook right now, it’s not a bad choice. But if you value portability or are happy to wait a couple of months for the new Nvidia and AMD cards to launch, the G752 will probably get a more powerful and similarly-priced successor.

VERDICT

A decent gaming laptop with an excellent screen, but its ridiculous size and slightly inconsistent build quality keep it from true stardom.

(trustedreviews.com, http://goo.gl/Fbo6X1)

 

 

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Preview – Worth to be Expensive!

At last, the next big thing was officially released a couple of hours back, straight from the eastern land. It was the predecessor of Redmi series Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 aka ‘Xiaomi Redmi Pro’ which finally inserted a full stop to our escalating anticipation. But guess what? We have this incredible flagship killer right here with us just for you guys to have a compelling glimpse at Redmi Pro.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Unboxing

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Preview – Everything You Need To Know

We have characterized everything about Xiaomi Redmi Pro under different categories to create a simplicity expression. So, starting with the number one, we have:

The Unboxing

To be honest with you, the package of Xiaomi Redmi Pro is similar to previous generations. The same box with no change in the proportion and composition. Only a visible change is observed with the image of Redmi Pro and its name. Apart from the graphical image, we have the taste of old packaging. But still, the plainness and exquisiteness delight us like the previous ones.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Unboxing 2Xiaomi Redmi Pro Unboxing 1

After opening the box, the first impression of Redmi Pro was uncomfortable. Yes, you heard it right! A phone flawlessly fitted inside with a BUBBLED plastic protector. Wow, what a first impression. Xiaomi certainly knows how to spoil first sight. Let’s just quickly cover up by stating that it was a mistake (maybe they could have done this in a rush). We hope that you don’t get a Redmi with a bubbled plastic cover.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Unboxing 3

At the end, we are left with the accessories. We know that Xiaomi backs when it comes to providing extra items like Elephone and other Chinese companies does. Still, Xiaomi provides the essential accessories which are as followed:

  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
  • Charger
  • USB cable
  • User Manual
Xiaomi Redmi Pro Unboxing 4

Design & Appearance

Xiaomi says farewell to the era where shoddy plastic would nullify the impact of a well-deserved terminal. With the Xiaomi Redmi Pro, the company continues to provide premium metal build phones to the world. Seriously, it’s the most expensive and time-consuming process along with the CNC machines to fabricate a metallic smartphone like Redmi Pro.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Display

It’s rather a three-stage design, a separate cast for the antenna design, a highly brushed metal back compared with sandblasting (that is, common sense matte aluminum back), embeds life to the terminal. In addition, new entrants in the process of drawing glazed texture have also been elevated to a better level (from which many people think of Huawei P9 and now Xiaomi Redmi Note).

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Design Rear

If we look in depth then we will release that’s the same as chassis but not as much good as in Huawei P9. Even compared to Mi 5, Redmi Pro offers a little rough trimming and the projection screen also seems to deliberately distinguish from it.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Design Rear 1

As far as the weight is concerned, Xiaomi is making it practical to shed some weight with Xiaomi Redmi Pro even if it has a massive 4050 mA battery and a 5.5-inch screen. However, the phone weighs equal to iPhone 6s (174 grams) which is slightly more but still acceptable.

On the front, a drastic shift can be seen with the addition of a centered home button. Looks like the Chinese company ended up in dismissing the common LED touch-based buttons from the ancestors. The fingerprint reader has been shifted on the front button like the mTouch in Meizu. On the rear, with a great surprise, we have the Dual Camera accompanied with the Dual tone Flash between them. Hmm…Now where have we seen this type of arrangement? Maybe LeTV. Yeah! Just the fingerprint has been replaced with a secondary camera.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro side

In short, Xiaomi Redmi Pro has taken certain patterns of the famous smartphones and combined them making it worth to be expensive but still affordable.

Hardware & Performance

When it comes to configuring, this time, Xiaomi has broken a tradition. They have evaluated Xiaomi Redmi Pro to be in high-end, despite the previous mid-tier ancestors. Well, the young generation is always advanced than the old. Here, the phone divides into three variants. An exclusive variant equipped with the latestMediaTeK Helio X25 (10x @ 2.5 GHz / 2.3 GH for High-edition) accompanied by 4 GB RAM and 64 / 128 GB of internal storage. Meanwhile, the standard edition has a heart of Helio X20 (10x @ 2.1 GHz), 3 GB RAM, and 32 GB ROM.

Perhaps this could be a reason for making the descendant the most expensive among the Redmi series. However, with that breathtaking hardware, the phone was able to yield more than 91,000 points on AnTuTu.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro BenchmarkXiaomi Redmi Pro Ranking

Screen & Display

For the company, Xiaomi Redmi Pro was the only phone to perform an experiment with. That’s why putting an OLED material in the 5.5-inch screen was their first attempt. With the AMOLED display, it is officially said that screen reaches 100% NTSC color gamut coverage. And we support this statement as the Full-HD displayand a maximum pixel density of 480 ppi is the best when compared to any Redmi terminal. Furthermore, selecting an OLED display has many advantages: energy efficient, low thickness of screen and a warm color effect. Even though, Redmi Pro makes no use of Gorilla Glass Protection but still the screen is dustproof and scratchless.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Display 1

Sadly, like iPhone 6s, from the Eye Pattern the OLED screen emits the excessive yellowing effect on Redmi Pro. Actually, the screen itself is yellow, with a blue light to warm but this yellowish effect is a nightmare for the night view. We hope that next time Xiaomi reaches a balance point with the eye pattern.

Camera

Now moving to the selling point and the most prominent aspect of the new Redmi phone. On the back, Xiaomi uses a 13-megapixel camera featuring a Sony IMX258lens accompanied by a 5-megapixel Samsung lens to form a dual-lens combination.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Camera

Rear dual camera concept originated from HTC, where one Lens affect the movement and the other is responsible for recording the camera depth information. Along with this, Xiaomi Redmi Pro’s Dual Camera focuses on the in-depth adjustment of “blur” and “amount of light”. Other aspects of the experience are that the camera can focus on objects in no time. Still, indoor low-light image noise and complex low-light sample sensed a little troublesome. Here are the two low-light samples:

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Camera Sample Complex Low Light
Xiaomi Redmi Pro Camera Sample Indoor Low Light

Similarly in outdoor light, Redmi Pro proofs sharpness and excellent contrast, but at a high latitude HDR light automatically turns on when the screen is dark and not outstanding. Here is an outdoor sample:

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Camera Sample Outdoor

We selected two different aperture size F5.6 and F0.95 (Xiaomi Redmi Pro) sample comparison below. We can see that in terms of brightness there’s no difference in the amount of light but the iris blur is completely different; a relatively large aperture blur in F5.6.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro Camera Sample Large Apertre effect

To summarize it, Xiaomi makes a perfect use of Dual-Camera and the image is a way better than the previous ones, so what if the price is imperceptibly high.

Connectivity

Another praising feature of the phone is that it supports Dual-SIM (Nano-SIM/ Micro-SIM) with dual-standby. Even 4G LTE is also enabled on Redmi Pro. Dejectedly, the slot is a hybrid which means that you can either add two SIMs or one Micro-SD (up to 256 GB) and one SIM at a time.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro SIM Slot

Another highlight of our protagonist is that it features USB Type-C 1.0 reversible connector. While, other connectivity aspects includes IR port, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth v4.2.

Like Previously said that Xiaomi Redmi Pro integrates a Fingerprint reader not on the back but on the front home button. The reader is identical to Mi 5 with the “round the waist” design.

OS & Battery

At last, a point where the younger brother is similar to the old ones. Like the previous terminals, Xiaomi Redmi Pro runs on the latest customized Android Marshmallow (v6.0) termed as MIUI 7. It’s the OS as the same in the previous phones (the updated ones). So, we can count on the stability and performance of MIUI.

As far as battery is concerned, it’s massive and non-removable with a capacity of 4050 mAh. These number of amperes are enough to last the phone for a day but still can’t deny that presence of Helio x20/x25 which is a 10 core power eater making the battery timing of Redmi somewhat an average.

pros
  • Dual Camera
  • Metal Design
  • Perfect Hardware Configuration
  • Fingerprint Reader on Front
  • Massive Battery
cons
  • Expensive
  • Hybrid Slot
  • A Yellowish Effect on Screen

Specification Sheet

Price & Availability

Xiaomi says that Redmi Pro will be available to purchase on August 13. The price of the variants will be as followed:

  • Standard version (Helio X20 + 3G + 32G) for 1499 yuan
  • High version (X25 + 3G + 64G) for 1699 yuan
  • Exclusive version (X25 + 4G + 128G) for 1999 yuan

We will inform you when the phone will be available for sale.

(xiaomitoday.com, http://goo.gl/OzwPSw)

15 Cars That Hold Their Resale Value

Unlike a home, a car isn’t an investment and it will lose value every year. Of course, how much value your vehicles loses depends on the type of car you buy. Some brands and vehicle types retain their value better than others which means you can expect a higher resale value later when it’s time to trade it in or sell it. Non-luxury vehicles tend to retain value better than luxury vehicles for the obvious reason: most people who can afford luxury vehicles buy them new, not used.

In terms of non-luxury brands, Subaru vehicles hold their value better than others. Subaru has won many Best Resale Value Awards over the last decade including the 2015 Best Resale Value Award from Kelley Blue Book. If you do buy a luxury brand, Lexus is the best bet for retaining your resale value. Lexus tends to offer more features per dollar than other luxury brands and it’s been named the Best Luxury Brand for Resale by KBB five years running.

Planning to buy a new car in the near future? Here are 15 vehicles that will retain their resale value.

TOYOTA TACOMA 2016

1. TOYOTA TACOMA

The Toyota Tacoma is the true resale value king: both Kelley Blue Book and NADA consistently rank it as one of the top three vehicles for resale of any vehicle type. The Toyota Tacoma midsize truck has an expected resale value of 73% of its original sticker price after 36 months and almost 62% at five years, according to Kelley Blue Book. NADA also ranks it as the number one vehicle for resale. In 2015, the Tacoma beat the number two ranked vehicle — the Jeep Wrangler — by 5% after three years and 1.5% after five years.

In 2015, Toyota won Edmunds.com’s Best Retained Value Award in the non-luxury division with a projected 52% residual value after five years. The 2015 Tacoma was named the best midsize truck for resale value by Edmunds.com and the latest model, which has been fully redesigned, is expected to maintain the same resale value as its predecessor.

2016 Jeep Wrangler Release Date, Review, and Changes

2. JEEP WRANGLER

The compact Jeep Wrangler has been a classic since its introduction in 1987 and it’s one of the most recognizable vehicles in the world. The Jeep Wrangler has remained the most affordable and popular off-roading vehicle for almost thirty years. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Wrangler is projected to retain 68% of its value after 36 months and 55% after 5 years of ownership which makes it one of the top ten vehicles for value retention.

The Wrangler is consistently voted as a top choice for value retention: in 2014, Autobytel named it as one of the top 10 Vehicles with the Best Resale Value. In 2015, Vincentric also named the Jeep Wrangler as the Best Value in America for a Compact/Mid-Size SUV.

2016 SUBARU WRX Sport Sedan

3. SUBARU WRX

Subaru is the leader in affordable vehicles with niche appeal and high resale values. In 2015, the brand was named the top non-luxury brand for resale by Kelley Blue Book. Among all vehicles, the Subaru WRX was named the 7th best for value retention, retaining more than 65% of its value after three years and almost 51% of its value after five years. The WRX retains its value better than any other compact sports car on the market, a secret that Subaru performance enthusiasts have known for years. The WRX was one of 15 vehicles to win the Best Resale Award in 2015: the Subaru WRX won among cars priced between $25,000 and $30,000.

Why is the Subaru WRX such a leader in value retention? This is because it’s the most affordable all-wheel-drive sports car available and it offers all-around value for your money with a well-equipped starting price of $26,295 in 2015.

2016 Honda Fit Design and Specs

4. HONDA FIT

The Honda Fit won the 2016 Best Resale Award for a Sub-Compact Car by Kelley Blue Book. The Honda Fit stands out not only for its resale value but also its practical design and fuel economy of 33 city/41 highway mpg. The Fit’s Magic Seat gives rear passengers more room than in many midsize sedans and it can practically turn into a moving van when the rear seats are folded down. The Fit received a Top Safety Pick in 2015 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and it includes many features that you pay extra for with other brands such as the standard rearview camera.

Starting at just $16,500, the Honda Fit retains more than 67% of its value after 36 months and 49% after 60 months. Kiplinger’s also named the Fit as the Best New Car under $20,000 for resale value. The Honda Fit beat out the Toyota Yaris and the Scion iA.

Lexus IS 350 2014 15 1920 X1080

5. LEXUS IS

Lexus consistently wins quality awards, customer surveys, and data analysis studies. Over the last few years, the brand has also dominated resale value awards. The Lexus IS offers excellent performance, unsurpassed quality, style, high-end features, and a reputation for owner satisfaction.

For the third year in a row, the IS was given the Best Resale Award by Kiplinger’s in 2015.
The Lexus IS retains 63% of its value after 3 years and 45% after five years. While this may not seem very impressive, it’s far ahead of other luxury brands, beating out the BMW 3-Series for resale value. The Lexus IS is also competing in the already crowded market of entry-level luxury sedans which makes its win that much more impressive.

2017 Subaru Impreza Release Date and Design

6. SUBARU IMPREZA

The Subaru Impreza manages to beat out competitors like the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic with its excellent value retention. The Impreza is a big part of the reason Subaru claimed the Best Brand award in Kelley Blue Book’s 2016 Best Resale Value Awards. The Impreza is the most affordable all-wheel-drive vehicle on the market, a feature that comes standard and gives you a sense of confidence no matter the weather conditions.

Kelley Blue Book awards the Impreza with a Best Resale Award because it retains more than 57% of its value after 36 months and more than 43% after 5 years of ownership. With a starting price of about $19,000, the Impreza was rated the best in retention among all compact cars on the market.

2013 Lexus ES 300h

7. LEXUS ES 300H

The Lexus ES 300h offers style and easy-of-use and it starts at just $42,000 — impressive for a hybrid. The Lexus Hybrid Drive gives this midsize sedan great drivability and a 40-mpg EPA combined fuel economy rating. New to 2016 is the optional Safety System+ driver assistance package and updated interior styling. U.S. News ranks the 2016 Lexus E3 number third among luxury hybrids and among the top 10 in upscale midsize cars.

Kelley Blue Book ranks the Lexus ES as the best hybrid/alternative energy car in terms of resale value. After three years, the ES is predicted to retain 55% of its original sticker price. The car will retain 39% of its value after five years.

2016 Porsche Panamera 4K Resolution #2016PorschePanamera, #4KResolution, #Porsche #Porsche - http://carwallspaper.com/2016-porsche-panamera-4k-resolution/

8. PORSCHE PANAMERA

Thinking about a high-end luxury car? Nobody beats the Porsche Panamera when it comes to value retention. The Porsche Panamera promises performance and exclusivity with roomy rear seats and utility features that help it retain its value for years. The Panamera has a 13-model lineup ranging from the base 310-horsepower V6 model to the Turbo S model with a twin-turbo 4.8-liter V8 engine. Given its huge model lineup, the Panamera ranges from $78,000 to $200,000.

The Panamera’s value retention is impressive: after 3 years, it retains almost 51% of its value. It retains about 35% of its original sticker price after five years of ownership. The 2016 Porsche Panamera certainly earns its Best Resale Value Award for a High-End Luxury Car from Kelley Blue Book by beating out the Lexus LS 460 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Autotrader also ranks it as one of the ten most valuable used luxury cars after the Audi R8 and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

TOYOTA AVALON 2016

9. TOYOTA AVALON

Toyota is one of the best-rated auto brands in the United States for a reason: the manufacturer has a reputation for building quality, reliable cars that last for decades. The Toyota Avalon is a full-size sedan that comes standard with leather seating, rearview camera, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, and a touchscreen for its “infotainment” center. With a combined fuel economy rating of 40 mpg, the Avalon consistently rates well among consumers and experts.

With a starting price of $33,500, the Avalon promises great value retention and it’s received the 2016 Best Resale Value Award for a Full-Size Car by Kelley Blue Book. The Avalon retains 46% of its value after 3 years and more than 32% of its value after 5 years. The Avalon certainly knows how to stack up its awards: it’s also the 2015 SmartChoice Fuel Costs Winner, the 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick, and it has an NHTSA 5-Star Overall Safety Rating.

2013- Chevrolet Camaro SS

10. CHEVROLET CAMARO SS

Want a combination of performance and value retention? No one beats the Chevrolet Camaro SS. The 2016 Camaro SS boasts an improved 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 455 lb-ft of torque, a level of power usually reserved for supercars but available in the Camaro SS for just $37,000. The lighter chassis and suspension makes the new Camaro adept at corners with the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 4 seconds.

The Chevrolet Camaro SS received Kelley Blue Book’s 2016 Best Resale Value Award for High-Performance Cars by retaining an amazing 61% of its value after 36 months and 49% of its value after 5 years. It blows the runner-up Fort Mustang GT out of the water: the Mustang GT retains just 45% of its value after 5 years.

2016 Lexus RX Release Date and Hybrid

11. LEXUS RX 450H

Hybrid SUVs are here to stay and they are now among the most popular eco-friendly vehicles on the road. While there aren’t many hybrid SUV/crossovers, the Lexus RX 450h does stand out for its bold exterior, high-end features, and track record of providing a great driving experience. These factors help make the Lexus RX 450h the best hybrid SUV/crossover for resale value, according to Kelley Blue Book.

The RX 450h wins the KBB Best Resale Value Award for a Hybrid SUV/crossover for the fifth year in a row with 60.5% resale value retention after 3 years. The RX 450h retains almost 45% of its value after five years. It beats out the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid which retains 42% of its value after five years.

2016 Honda Odyssey

12. HONDA ODYSSEY

Minivans aren’t known for their great fuel economy, but you can still get great value retention when you buy a Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey is consistently a top pick at Kiplinger’s for Best in Class minivan and it’s even one of Kiplinger’s greatest cars of the 21st century with excellent handling, a mini fridge, entertainment options, and spacious seats — everything you need for a road trip. While it won’t win any awards for fuel economy, the Odyssey does get 28 mph on the highway which is decent for a minivan.

The Odyssey shines when it comes to resale value. After 3 years, Kelley Blue Book predicts the 2016 Odyssey will retain 56% of its value. After 5 years, it will retain about 40% of its original sticker price of $42,900.

2010-2013- Toyota Tundra Crewmax Platinum Right Front 1

13. TOYOTA TUNDRA CREWMAX

The Toyota Tundra CrewMax is one of the most popular full-size trucks in the United States and you’re guaranteed great value retention whether you go with the 4.6-liter or 5.7-liter V8 engine. The Tundra CrewMax comes standard with a 5.5-foot bed, a rearview camera, and glass filters to keep out the heat. Most unique with the CrewMax is it comes with a blind-spot monitoring system and three-piece replacement bumper panels that make it less expensive to repair damage.

Both Kelley Blue Book and Kiplinger’s rated the Tundra as the top pick for value retention among all full-size pickup trucks. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Tundra retains an impressive 64% of its value after three years and almost 54% of its value after five years.

2016 Subaru Legacy Release Date Rumors

14. SUBARU LEGACY

The Subaru Legacy has made it to the top of Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value Awards list two years running in the midsize sedan segment. The Legacy offers standard all-wheel-drive and a starting price of just $22,500 — less than a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry — with an impressive 36 mph fuel economy. It’s easy to see why the Subaru Legacy has the broad appeal necessary to retain its value for years to come.

After three years, KBB projects the 2016 Legacy will retain more than 54% of its original sticker price and more than 39% of its value after five years of ownership.

TESLA MODEL S

15. TESLA MODEL S

The Tesla Model S is in a class of its own. It’s more than the fast charging possible with Tesla supercharging stations or the electric propulsion system that helps the Model S retain its value: it’s also the company’s innovative approach to upgrading the car over its life with overnight downloads that allow owners to take advantage of new features like the recent semi-autonomous auto pilot function introduced in 2015. There’s also huge demand for the vehicle: demand for the Model S continues to outstrip supply, according to Tesla.

Kelley Blue Book has given the Tesla Model S the Best Resale Value Award for a Plug-in Vehicle in 2016. The Model S is projected to retain almost 48% of its value after three years and about 23% of its value after five years. By comparison, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid will retain 20% of its value after 60 months.

(carophile.com, http://goo.gl/i5rDmu)

Speedo Shine 2 first look review : Misfit fine tunes its swimming credentials

Misfit has had the upper hand on Fitbit and Jawbone by opting to make its fitness trackers waterproof. After teaming up with Speedo for the original Speedo Shine, the partnership has been resurrected with the Speedo Shine 2 with one clear goal: to improve accuracy.

Speedo Shine 2 first look

Like its predecessor, the swim friendly wearable you can wear in multiple ways is closely modelled on the Shine 2, Misfit’s most expensive tracker. There’s the same aluminium finish on the disc shaped sensor and thin plastic strap. I’ve had bad experiences with Misfit straps in the past, and in just a single day it’s already managed to slip off my wrist. In the pool, it was no problem at all.

You’re also getting the same 24/7 activity tracking features andIFTTT recipes support so you can take control of other smart home and connected devices like Philips Hue lightbulbs or the Withings Body scale. It also inherits the Shine 2’s coloured LED display, which still works for smartphone notifications, but in the water it can be also used for a new countdown timer that indicates your progress and indicates how far you are into your session.

But it’s the new swimming algorithms that are the real story here. You still have the ability to track lengths and laps in the pool, but Misfit and Speedo is promising a higher level of accuracy this time around. Interestingly, the improved software updates are also on offer for the Misfit Ray or Shine 2 as an $9.99 in-app purchase.

To put that accuracy to the test, we pitted it against theTomTom Spark, the GPS running watch that also possesses a pretty solid swim tracker that helped it earn second place in our recent big swim tracker test. The process for recording a session is the same as before. Triple tap on the face of the device to start tracking laps and then when you’re done, do the same to end a session. It sounds easier enough, but in practice, it’s a more fiddly. It took a couple of attempts to nail it and it’s not clear until you go back to your phone whether you’ve successfully completed a tracked swimming session.

When we did manage to successfully log a session the lap count was spot on although we were noticeably lacking any distance data. Clearly there’s a few bugs to iron out here. It’s baseline data, but for most, distance and lap counting is going to be more than enough if you’re adding some casual swimming sessions to your weekly routine.

Speedo Shine 2 review

Not a lot has changed on the app front. The same Misfit app used for the Shine 2, Flash or Flash Link is your go to place for reviewing data. So the big activity progress circles is still present, while swimming sessions are added to the ‘Today’s story’ news stream. If you head into the devices section, there’s the option to turn auto lap counting, adjust pool length and set up the new countdown timer. It’s remains one of the cleanest, most streamlined fitness tracking apps to use.

As far as first impressions in the pool go, it looks like Misfit and Speedo may well have delivered on that accuracy promise and housed it all in what we still regard as one of the best looking fitness tracker designs. Our main gripe is that getting those swimming sessions tracked is by no means straightforward and is a perfect example when Misfit’s trackers really could do with a proper display. Hopefully this will improve as we spend more time with it.

The Speedo Shine 2 costs $99.99, which is only slightly more expensive than the Ray or the Shine 2. Throw in the in-app purchase for swim tracking and it’s basically the same price. So that’s worth considering, if you’re thinking of picking up the second-gen swim tracker.

(wareable.com, http://goo.gl/KFJmVN)

Olympus 12-100mm f/4.0 PRO lens coming this autumn

Olympus is rumored to announce a M.Zuiko 12-100mm f/4.0 PRO lens by this fall. It will be a standard zoom lens for mirrorless cameras with Micro Four Thirds image sensors.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4.0 PRO lens is expected to feature extremely high quality optics.  Dust and splash-proof housing will sure make it perfect even for professional users.

The zoom lens provides a focal length from 24mm to 200mm in terms of 35mm equivalent. It also gives constant aperture of f/4 throughout the focal range.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4.0 PRO lens rumored for this fall

Photokina is the worlds biggest digital imaging event and photo enthusiasts welcome new products in the industry from all brands. The Japan-based company is rumored to announce the new Micro Four Thirds camera this year.

Olympus 12-100mm f/4.0 PRO lens coming this autumn

It will not be a big secret that the company might unveil this product at this event. Aimed at professional sports photographers, the Olympus E-M1 Mark II model is also rumored for this event. It is said to be capable of recording 4K videos with a new handheld high-resolution shooting mode. The rumor mill also claiming that the camera will include an electronic shutter of 1/32000s.

The M.Zuiko PRO line of lenses is built for the highest level of performance, incorporating fast apertures and weather sealing. We can also expect the Olympus 12-100mm f/4.0 PRO lens to be quite large and heavy. Considering the current PRO optics from the company, the price should stand between $1,500 and $2,000.

Stay tuned for more information.

(dailycameranews.com, http://goo.gl/lRJkNW)

Why You Should Really Buy a Laptop With an SSD (Really!)

You wouldn’t buy a brand-new car with a Ford Model T engine. So why would you merge onto the information superhighway with a laptop that uses an old-school mechanical hard drive? If you want a fast, responsive notebook ─ and why wouldn’t you ─ you have to get a solid-state drive (SSD).

When it comes to overall performance, a laptop’s storage drive is infinitely more important than other components, like its CPU, RAM and graphics chip. As you boot the computer, open applications and switch between tasks, your processor is tapping its fingers waiting for data to load from the disk. Even if you’re not opening files, transferring data or launching apps, your OS and software are using virtual memory (aka swap files) in the background.

SSD in laptop

With a technology that dates back to the 1950s, hard-disk drives feature a spindle that moves over a rotating magnetic platter grabbing data like an old-school record-player needle drawing sound from a vinyl LP. Hereꞌs why you really need an SSD.

Dramatic Performance Improvements

Because a solid-state drive has no moving parts, it’s able to read and write data infinitely faster than a hard drive. The real-world difference is most noticeable when you’re booting your computer or opening an application.

We upgraded a Dell Inspiron 15 5000 with a Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM from a 5,400 rpm hard drive to a 250GB SSD, and the time it took load Word 2016 dropped from 31.9 seconds to 1.8 seconds. Loading the Chrome browser went from 14 seconds to 1.1 seconds and Excel went from 19.9 seconds to 1.8 seconds.

App Open Times

While you’re sitting there staring at the blue ring of fire in Windows or spinning rainbow beachball on Mac, you’re not only wasting time but losing your train of thought as you scratch your head and whisper “Come on already. I don’t have all day.” With an SSD, the computer can work as fast as you do.

It almost goes without saying that copying files is infinitely quicker with an SSD. Of laptops we reviewed in the past 12 months, models with SSDs copied files at an average rate of 237.8 megabytes per second, while those with hard drives averaged just 33.9 MBps.

Laptop file transfer test: SSD vs HDD

Battery Life and Durability

SSDs also use less power than hard drives, because they don’t have to power any moving parts. The average SSD-enabled laptop we benchmarked lasted 7 hours and 9 minutes on the Laptop Battery Test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi. Hard-drive-powered laptops averaged only 5 hours and 43 minutes.

Battery Life compared

If you’re worried about your laptop breaking, you definitely want an SSD. SSDs are much more likely to survive a fall, because they don’t have hard drives’ delicate needles and platters.

The Cost of SSDs

There’s no doubt that SSDs cost more. Most sub-$700 laptops don’t come with solid-state drives, though some really cheap systems come with eMMC Flash memory, a solid-state storage format that’s no faster than a hard drive. Some noteworthy exceptions include the $399 Asus E403SA and $611 Lenovo ThinkPad 13, both of which come standard with 128GB SSDs.

On manufacturer sites where you can configure a laptop to order, companies such as Dell and Lenovo charge a high premium to upgrade from a hard drive to an SSD, or to move from a smaller SSD to a larger one. For example, if you configure your ThinkPad T460 on Lenovo.com, it costs a full $290 to move from a 500GB hard drive to a 512GB SSD, while a 512GB SSD costs just $125 on the aftermarket. The relatively high cost is why you should either settle for a lower-capacity SSD or consider upgrading the laptop yourself.

$290 to upgrade to 512GB SSD

Can You Upgrade?

Whether you’re buying a new laptop or trying to breathe new life into an older computer, you can save a lot of money by swapping out the preinstalled hard drive or low-capacity SSD for one you buy yourself. Not all laptops are user-upgradable; many have an SSD soldered onto the motherboard or located in a place you can’t access without damaging other components.

Replacing a hard drive with SSD

You can find out not only if your laptop is upgradable but what type of SSD it needs ─ 2.5-inch SATA, mSATA, M.2 60mm or M.2 80mm ─ by checking either its service manual or a memory finder such as Crucial’s Memory Advisor tool. If the laptop currently has a hard drive, it almost certainly uses a 2.5-inch SATA drive. No matter the size and connection, you can usually find a 256GB SSD for well under $100 and a 480 or 500GB capacity for less than $150.

Though each laptop is built a little differently, the process of upgrading your storage drive is basically the same. You must first clone the contents of your existing drive using a tool such as EaseUS Todo Backup Free and an external drive enclosure to attach the new drive. After the cloning is finished, you open up the laptop, remove the old drive and pop in the new.

However, many people don’t want to take the risk of opening up their laptops and potentially breaking something. Most manufacturers don’t void your warranty just for changing out the drive, though you’ll want to double-check because some do. Also, if you damage something or have trouble resulting from the upgrade, your warranty and tech support definitely won’t cover it.

Storage Space

Laptops that come with SSD usually have just 128GB or 256GB of storage, which is enough for all your programs and a decent amount of data. However, users who have lots of demanding games or huge media collections will want to store some files in the cloud or add an external hard drive. Some gaming and workstation-class laptops offer the best of both worlds, having a fast SSD and a spacious hard drive.

The lack of storage may be a small hassle, but the increase in speed is worth the trade-off. If you can possibly afford it, 256GB is a lot more manageable than 128GB.

eMMC Memory Is Not SSD

Many low-cost laptops these days claim to have an SSD, but use eMMC memory, instead. Most Chromebooks and sub-$200 Windows systems use this type of storage, which offers the increased durability and energy-efficiency of a real SSD, but not the performance.

The average laptop we tested with eMMC memory notched a lowly transfer rate of 37.8 MBps. However, these systems lasted an average of 8 hours and 52 minutes on our battery test.

What Kind of SSD Is Best

Any SSD will give you outstanding performance, but ones that use a PCIe-NVMe interface are two to three times quicker than those that use SATA, the more typical connection type. Where a SATA drive usually achieves a rate of 125 to 200 MBps on our file-transfer test, PCIe-NVMe SSDs can be as fast as 550 MBps.

An NVMe-PCIe SSD

However, most mainstream and budget laptops don’t support PCIe-NVMe drives. The Dell XPS 13/15, the Lenovo Yoga 900 and the Razer Blade are examples of laptops that come with PCIe drives as an option. All current MacBooks use PCIe drives as well.

Bottom Line

It’s 2016 and there aren’t many good reasons to buy a laptop with a slow-moving, mechanical hard drive. No matter how fast your processor and how sleek your software, you’ll always suffer from frustrating lag if you don’t have an SSD. Making a smart purchase or performing an upgrade after you buy will make that choice more affordable.

(laptopmag.com, http://goo.gl/38k0Ph)

Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Which should you choose?

The king of budget smartphones – the Moto G – has been updated, again. There isn’t just one model marking the fourth generation of the handset though, instead Lenovo-owned Motorola announced three – the Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus and the Moto G4 Play.

The Moto G has come a long way since it originally launched at the end of 2013 in terms of design, but each succeeding model has continued to offer excellent value for money. The question is, do the new Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus and MotoG4 Play also do this and what do they bring to the Moto G table?

We have put the new 2016 Moto G models up against the third generation ofMoto G from 2015 to see what the differences and similarities are between the four devices. Here’s how they compare in terms of numbers and our experience.

The Motorola Moto G (2015) measures 142.1 x 72.4 x 11.6mm and weighs 155g. It features a plastic interchangeable rear with a camera lens and the signature indented “M” symbol centralised and joined together with a metal bar.

The front has speakers above and below the display, both of which have metal detailing. The Moto G third generation is also IPX7 certified meaning water resistance up to one metre for 30 minutes. It didn’t impress us as much as the original, offering a slightly bulky design in comparison, but the design is still good for the price.

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The Moto G4 Play measures 144.4 x 72mm with a curve from 8.95 to 9.9mm and it hits the scales at 137g, making it slimmer and lighter than the third generation, as well as the other fourth-gen models. The measurements for the Moto G4 Plus and Moto G4 are 153 x 76.6mm with a curve from 7.9 to 9.8mm. They also both weigh 155g, like the third generation.

The new models see more refinements in design though with the rear metal bar on the rear reduced to just house the camera lens and flash, while the signature “M” sitting below. On the front, you’ll find just one speaker at the top of the display. The look and feel of both devices is more sophisticated than earlier MotoG models, especially without the silver bars around the speaker grilles, while the textured removable polycarbonate back offers a nice finish.

The Moto G4 Plus features a fingerprint sensor within a square button below the display, while the standard Moto G4 offers capacitive buttons only below the display.

The Motorola Moto G third generation has a 5-inch LCD display offering a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution for a pixel density of 294ppi. It is protected by CorningGorilla Glass 3 and it does a good enough job. Viewing angles are strong, colours vibrant and brightness more than ample to resist excessive reflections.

The Motorola Moto G4 Play has the same display as the third generation while the Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus both increase the display size to 5.5-inches. The original Moto G was 4.5-inches so two of the fourth generation variants see a big step up in comparison to the 2013 model.

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They also both increase the resolution to Full HD, meaning a pixel density of 401ppi, which theoretically means sharper and crisper images on the G4 and G4Plus. Neither offers the brightest display out there though, and although they both deal with indoor and outdoor lighting conditions well from all angles, theG4 Plus is a little yellow compared to the standard G4. Of the two, the standard G4 has a better display in our experience, despite being identical spec wise.

Both the Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3like their predecessor and like the G4 Play.

The Motorola Moto G (2015) features a 13-megapixel rear camera with an aperture of f/2.0, autofocus and a dual-LED flash. The front camera sits at 5-megapixels with an aperture of f/2.2. There was some image noise in low-light shots but the third-generation of Moto G significantly improved its camera offering compared to previous models.

The Motorola Moto G4 Play drops the rear resolution to 8-megapixels but sticks with 5-megapixels for the front-facing camera. The aperture on both is f/2.2, meaning the rear camera will let less light in than the 2015 model. It also opts for a single LED flash over a dual-LED flash, although the front camera does have a display flash.

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The Moto G4 pushes the resolution back up to 13-megapixels for the rear camera and again opts for a 5-megapixel front camera, offering a very familiar experience to the third generation. Shots in good light are fine but low-light causes some issues with image noise, although there is plenty of control at your fingertips with individual sliders for manual adjustments.

The Motorola Moto G4 Plus ups the resolution further to 16-megapixels on the rear, and offers both phase detection autofocus and laser focus. Low-light focus is pretty good thanks to the laser autofocus, but aside from that, there isn’t a huge difference between the G4 and G4 Plus despite the bump in resolution. TheG4 Plus also has a 5-megapixel front snapper and both the G4 and the G4 Plushave front-facing flashes.

The Motorola Moto G third generation has a 1.2GHz quad-core QualcommSnapdragon 410 processor under its hood with Adreno 306 graphics and it is a pretty smooth performer based on our experience.

The base level Moto G offers 8GB of internal storage with 1GB of RAM but there is a 16GB model with 2GB of RAM available too, for £50 extra. Both offer microSD support for storage expansion. In terms of battery, the Moto G third generation features a 2470mAh capacity, which saw us through the day without any complaints.

The Motorola Moto G4 Play also opts for the SD410 chip and Adreno 306 graphics, but it has 2GB of RAM as standard, along with 16GB of internal memory. MicroSD expansion is on board again, but up to 128GB instead of 32GB, and the battery capacity is a little bigger than the third generation at 2800mAh.

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The Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus both have a 1.5GHz octo-core processor and they come in 16GB or 32GB models. The G4 only comes with 2GB of RAM, while the G4 Plus is offered in 3GB or 4GB models. MicroSD is once again available with storage expansion up to 128GB.

Like the Moto G (2015), both the Moto G4 an G4 Plus models perform just fine with no stuttering when playing high intensity games, even if apps do take a few seconds to load.

The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus come with a 3000mAh battery, which is a nice bump from their predecessor. They also both have TurboPower charging on board, which will give you six hours use from 15-minutes of charge but only theG4 Plus comes with the charger in the box. They both got through the day, even if the claimed 24-hours was a little optimistic with our usage.

The Motorola Moto G third generation arrived on Android Lollipop as this was the latest Android software at the time of launch. It has since been updated to Android Marshmallow, which is what the G4 Play, G4 and G4 Plus launch on.

Motorola devices offer a close to vanilla Android experience, with only a few additional apps rather than a complete software overlay like Samsung and LG devices have. The Moto G4 Play, G4, G4 Plus follow this path so a close to stock Marshmallow experience is what you’ll find.

You’ll need to programme your fingerprint with the G4 Plus, but other than that, you’ll find the same experience across the Moto G models, which is a good thing as it’s a good one.

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The Motorola Moto G third generation has a lowered starting price of £129/$193,5. The model offering 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage has a slightly higher price tag of £159/$238,5, as we mentioned.

The Motorola Moto G4 Play starts at £129/$193,5 too, although not yet available, while the G4 starts at £169/$253,5. The Moto G Plus starts at £199/$298,5 and is available exclusively through Amazon.

The Motorola Moto G third generation is a great device that is brilliantly refined compared to its predecessors. Based on the numbers though, the Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus and Moto G4 Play are better, even if the latter only improves in a couple of areas.

The Moto G4 and G4 Plus improve on performance, battery capacity, display size and resolution, as well as design. The G4 Plus also offers a fingerprint sensor and a higher resolution camera. The G4 Play offers a better design, bigger battery capacity and more storage and RAM as standard, but the rear camera sees a drop.

The price does go up for the Moto G4 and G4 Plus, especially the latter, in comparison to the third generation of Moto G, but you get quite a few improvements for the extra cash. On paper, the Moto G4 Plus would be the device to go for out of these three devices. Based on our experience with them however, we would say the standard Moto G4 does the majority of what you’ll need just fine.

The G4 Play might be cheaper, but it doesn’t look as good on paper as the standard G4, unless you want to spend less and want a smaller device.

(pocket-lint.com, http://goo.gl/hWxdtz)

Hyundai Ioniq Electric review: Fully charged

Hyundai has opted to launch three different green driving solutions in one with the new Ioniq. The idea is simple: Hyundai offers one platform and you choose whether you want Hybrid, Electric or Plug-in Hybrid.

Options are few, making this a relatively straight-forward decision-making process. The idea is to create a car that’s accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.

Where the Hybrid squares up to a number of models – namely the Prius, but also Toyota’s wider selection of hybrids – the Ioniq Electric faces less competition. There are e-versions of established models across some car manufacturers – like the Volkswagen e-Golf – but cars designed to be electric from the get-go are rarer. Nissan dominates the UK’s roads with the Leaf, there’s the odd Renault Zoe sighting, while BMW has a healthy following with its i3 and Tesla is creeping in at the top-end.

So can Hyundai muscle in on the fledgling electric car segment with the Ioniq Electric, an electric car for the mainstream?

The Ioniq comes from the same school of thought as the Toyota Prius and that explains some of the similarity in design. The aim is to make this car as efficient as possible. That doesn’t immediately mean giving it a sports car profile, rather considering how the air passes over and under to keep drag to a minimum.

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As we mentioned in the prologue, thie electric Ioniq is the same design as thehybrid version that we’ve already reviewed, so we won’t dwell too long on repeating the same information – that the doors are a little thin in feel and don’t make that reassuring crunch when you close them.

However, we do think that the Ioniq Electric looks slightly better than the Hybrid, because there’s that futuristic silver panel stuffed in the front, rather than the grille of the Hybrid.

As there’s no air needed for an engine, there’s no need to be sucking in air through the front. Sure, Hyundai could have had an entirely different bumper assembly for a seamless look, but manufacturing more parts would push the price up. To highlight this as the electric version, there are highlights to the cabin and exterior in a copper colour.

Having spent some time with the Ioniq (in two of its three forms) we have grown to like the design. It succeeds in offering conventionality, whereas the Prius is getting a little odd; it offers practicality over the Nissan Leaf and range-limited Renault Zoe, with better looks and more space; we’d perhaps say that theBMW i3 is a better looking car with plenty of appeal, but it’s more expensive (although its lease options make it potentially affordable for business owners).

That sees the Ioniq Electric slotting into a space where you get quite a lot of electric car for your money.

But once you slip into the driving seat, the Ioniq Electric feels a little more like the car you want it to be. The Hybrid is a good car – it’s attractively priced, well loaded with tech and perfectly comfortable – but as soon as you pull away in the Ioniq Electric, the benefits of that instant delivery of electric power becomes apparent.

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There’s a lithium-ion polymer battery sitting under the backseat and boot floor, with a 28kWh capacity, connected to a front electric motor delivering the equivalent of 120bhp, or 295Nm torque. That’s all delivered instantly, meaning you can pull away with pace. This isn’t Tesla’s Insane or Ludicrous speed, but a comfortable and sensible delivery of the power to take you to 62mph in 10.2-seconds.

That’s not exactly fast, but it can be boosted in Sport mode, which claims a 9.9-second time to 62mph. Again, the Ioniq isn’t a dragster, but it is pacey enough to keep up with average driving.

But all this is delivered in relative silence, the cabin cosseted from the outside and one reduction gear taking the motor’s power and transmitting it to the front wheels smoothly. Like many modern cars, there’s regenerative braking to recoup energy back into the battery.

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One of the fun things the Ioniq Electric offers is different levels of regenerative braking controlled via paddles on the steering column, in the same sort of location you’ll find manual gear shift levers on high-end automatics. In thiscase, however, you can turn the regeneration up or down, basically by increasing the friction applied when you lift off the power.

Set to the highest level and this noticeably slows the car; it can make braking fairly jerky, but we can see that with time you’ll learn what level you can use smoothly. Coasting down a hill and we’re sure that you’ll be able to use it to best effect. Other EVs and hybrids offer similar systems, but not always as directly controlled.

The Ioniq claims a 174 mile range, when using 11.5kWh per 100km. Those are the on-paper figures: we can’t report on the longer-term real-world figures without more time living with the Ioniq, but our model reported 13.4kWh per 100km from its on-board computer. That compares favourably with the Nissan Leaf’s 30kW, which offers a 15kWh per 100km consumption; and the BMW i3, which cites a 12.6kWh per 100km (again, both on paper, not real-world figures).

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When it comes to charging, there are three options, as is usually the case. You can charge from a domestic wall socket, although that’s slow and will take 10-12 hours, but with fast-charging from a wall box coming in at 4-6 hours, and the ability to rapid charge to 80 per cent of the battery in 33-minutes from a 50kW CCS tethered public charging point, you should be able to handle decent length journeys without too much worry about range.

To help you manage your power consumption, there’s a breakdown on what is using power, as accessed via the central display. Here you’ll see what the car’s electric systems are pulling, as well as what the aircon might be using. There are also other clever features, like being able to set the charging times – to take advantage of off-peak tariffs – as well as cabin pre-conditioning, so your car can be cooled (or heated) while it’s still connected to the power supply, rather than only when you’re on the road.

One of the important elements in electric driving is satnav. The idea is that satnav will help you navigate and find those electric charging points so you’re never going to get stuck and this is one of the reasons that the Ioniq Electric only comes at the Premium and Premium SE trim levels.

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Hyundai doesn’t really do options. You buy the car, pick the trim level and that delivers with a huge range of mod cons. And this list is almost silly.

Pick the Ioniq Electric Premium and all this comes as standard: dual-zone aircon, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assistance, rear parking sensorsand rear camera, auto headlights and wipers, Bluetooth, 8-inch central touch display with satnav and TomTom Live services, Android Auto nad Apple CarPlay, heated front seats, Infinity sound system with subwoofer, auto dimming rear mirror, wireless phone charging, and keyless entry. Now breathe.

Stepping up to Premium SE gets you leather seats which offer cooling, blind spot detection and more.

In short, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric offers so much technology that you can’t help but see it as good value for money. There’s little that we can think of that’s missing and all of this comes in at a reasonable price point too.

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On the road this all comes together nicely. The driver’s display is mostly digital, switching to a more aggressive red coloured rev counter when you’re in sports mode. We’ve seen similar on the BMW i8 and this is the same idea, even if it’s not quite the same result. The inclusion of range info and satnav details on the driver’s display makes for plenty of info and all easily controlled.

Verdict

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a great addition to the electric options on the UK’s roads. It slices into the middle of the existing pack, offering good value for money, plenty of range and all the technology you could want.

For us, this is perhaps an easy alternative to cars like the Renault Zoe or NissanLeaf, although both of those are available for less – but in cheaper forms offer a little less for the money too (and the Zoe has potential issues with battery “loan” terms). The Ioniq Electric looks to present a mid-range electric option and does so well.

The Ioniq Electric also comes with a 5-year warranty for the car (as is standard for Hyundai) but will offer an additional 8-year 125,000-mile warranty on the battery. This should off-set any doubts, but ultimately, we’re yet to discover exactly what the long-term performance of the Ioniq Electric will be like.

The Hyundai Ioniq is safe and sensible. It’s well positioned, competitively priced and well specced. If you’re looking to go electric without breaking the bank, it’s certainly a car to be considered.

(pocket-lint.com, http://goo.gl/5dSZ2B)

Noble Audio Trident review

As far as we know these Noble earphones, although hand-assembled, aren’t crafted by the three Cyclopes that made Poseidon’s Trident.

So why the name? Perhaps the fact that each bud has three balanced armature drivers (updated, Noble says, from its previous three-driver design) is a reference to the three-pronged fork.

Or maybe they get their name from the military-style hard shell box they come in. Maybe the people at Noble simply thought it was a cool name.

Price

Whatever the reason, the Noble Trident earphones have plenty more than a name to catch your attention. For one, there’s the price.

Although here, the surprise isn’t so much in learning that these are the US brand’s entry-level in-ears (of Noble’s new five-strong universal-fit range), but in discovering that some of its models carry a £2000/$3000 price tag.

You might ask how a pair of in-ears could possibly be worth that. Or £275/$412.5, even. It’s a reasonable question, and one Noble answers by pointing you to its online catalogue. The more pricey custom-built ones, especially, are works of art.

Comfort and build

Noble has tried to bring some of that splendour down to this price point. The buds have a lovely speckled grey finish with branded aluminium end caps which stick out about a centimetre from your ear.

Noble also makes custom-fit acrylic (Trident C) and silicone (Trident S) versions for £350/$525 and £555/$832,5 respectively.

Despite being clunkier than most, they nestle snugly inside your ear canal without feeling like a burden.

Mounting them isn’t too fiddly either once you’ve draped the rubber-coated part of the cable that protrudes from the buds over your ears.

 

The rest of the cable is thick and plaited, which not only helps prevents tangles but makes it less susceptible to airborne electrical interference than a standard straight wire.

It also conforms to that premium look and feel too, although it doesn’t feature an inline mic or remote.

In this respect, features have taken a back seat to fancy accessories, which as well as the hard case, include a velvet drawstring pouch and belt clip, eleven ear tips (some rubber, some moulds), and – wait for it – an ownership card. Whether or not that is something worth showing off is largely dependent on their sound.

Sound

From the first listen of Yazoo’s Only You, it’s obvious that the Noble Tridents aren’t your typical off-the-shelf buds.

The generous amount of clarity on offer sweeps through the sweet melodic synths and vocal accompaniment, and there’s plenty of refinement, smoothness and even-handed balance to prevent them from feeling too in your face.

On a mission to gather detail, the Trident headphones communicate the discrepancies of each twinkling note with apparent ease. The track rarely sounds so intricate.

It’s a presentation that’s hard to ignore – even when playing low-res Spotify tracks straight from a laptop. However, we find that putting a DAC between your source and the Trident earphones is necessary to experience the height of their sonic capabilities.

Pocket-friendly USB DACs are a good shout if you are looking for something portable for your smartphone. We use the Oppo HA-2 (£259) and immediately hear gains in punch, body and solidity.

In Anthony & Johnson’s Kiss My Name, drums fill out, the rhythm tightens up, and the vocals that grace the top of the Chamber orchestration suddenly carry more lilt and quiver.

Verdict

With or without a DAC, the Noble Trident earphones offer a good sense of control, but like an overworked party host, they sometimes sound too busy to have fun.

We’d like them to strike down harder on drum beats, and fleet through the piano sequence with more drive. Dynamics could be a little subtler, too.

These gripes aside, the Noble Trident in-ears are impressive earphones, delivering a suitably mighty sound to go with their mighty name.

(whathifi.com, http://goo.gl/TuPfrq)

 

 

WI-FI NOMIKU SOUS VIDE CIRCULATOR REVIEW

The Wi-Fi Nomiku is sous vide done well … Or medium rare, however you like it

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HIGHS

  • Heats up quickly
  • Holds temperature well
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Makes good food

LOWS

  • App is a bit clunky
  • Pricier than competitors

The first time we reviewed the Nomiku sous vide immersion circulator, we were impressed by its compact design. The new Wi-Fi Nomiku is a different kettle of cooked-by-temperature-control fish altogether. It’s bigger than its predecessor and adds connectivity and an app to help newbies get their sous vide on. But has do the new features improve upon the design or merely change it?

Taking it for a spin

If the original Nomiku looked a bit like a snorkel, the newer model is more like a periscope. The reason for the bulkier shape is because it no longer needs the power brick that came attached to the first circulator’s cord. The first Nomiku boasted UL certification, too; the Wi-Fi model is still waiting on that safety certification, which should happen in the next few months, according to the company.

Made almost entirely of plastic, the Nomiku is black with a green, spinning dial at the top. This controls some of the functions on the 2.4-inch LCD screen, but there are also two menu and action buttons. You’ll often set time and temperature through the Nomiku’s accompanying app, Tender (Android | iOS), but these controls come in handy if you want to quickly set up your own recipe.

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The Wi-Fi Nomiku is 4-by-3 inches and a foot high. Its plastic sheath is removable and can be put on the top rack of your dishwasher, but simultaneously pressing the two release buttons while pulling down on the piece of plastic sometimes proved a challenge. This version of Nomiku has some improvements over the other; its minimum and maximum water levels are much more forgiving, for example. You need between 1.5 and 5.5 inches of water to get cooking, which translated to between about 6 and 18 cups in a 6-quart stock pot.

To get the Nomiku up and running, you need to add it to your Wi-Fi network. This necessitates downloading the app, then painstakingly — at least if you have a fairly secure password — turning the device’s green dial to key in each letter. The whole thing took about 10 minutes.

Tender is the app

If you’re new to sous vide cooking, it’s essentially a high-end technique that has become more accessible with immersion circulators like Nomiku and Anova. The Nomiku works by clipping on to a container or pot, then drawing in water, heating it using an 1,100-watt ceramic heating element, and spitting it back out into the pot. That means you don’t need an external heat source, though you may want to put the pot on the stove to protect your counter. It tops out at 203 degrees Fahrenheit (95 degrees Celsius), so you won’t be boiling water with your Nomiku, not that you need to for sous vide. The Nomiku circulates at a rate of 7 liters per minute, and we found it took about 13 minutes to heat up 4 liters of water to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius).

That’s a little warmer than you want your water if you’re going to sous vide a steak. Serious Eats has a handy chart for cooking steak sous vide based on type, thickness, and doneness. It came in handy because the Tender app isn’t exactly bursting with recipes. Many are user-submitted, and there doesn’t seem to be a universal standard. For example, one recipe we found for char siu pork tenderloin (Chinese barbequed pork) had everything in grams. It’s all well and good if you have a kitchen scale, but there doesn’t appear to be a way to convert the recipe into your preferred measurements in the app. Another recipe we found had no measurements whatsoever, just an ingredient list.

That the Tender app isn’t chock full of flawless recipes isn’t a deal-breaker. There are plenty of sites — and other apps — that can take you through the basics of sous vide. And there are two ways to go it alone when it comes to setting the time and temperature on your Nomiku. You can use the app by going to My Devices in the menu, selecting your device, and hitting the plus and minus buttons until you get to your desired temperature, then scrolling through a menu of hours and minutes. Or you can just use the wheel. Turning the circulator’s green dial slowly lets you make changes by 0.1 degrees, while more vigorous spins takes you through the numbers more quickly, though there are a lot of degrees to get through when you’re using Fahrenheit.

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Once you have the temperature set, hit the menu button, use the wheel to scroll to the set time option, then use the action button to get back to the main screen. You use the dial again to set your time, then hit the action button twice to start up the machine.

Precision cooking

The app is much easier than this somewhat arduous process. When you find something you want to make, you simply hit the “cook this” button, then hit start. The Nomiku kicks on, heats the water to your desired temperature, and then you hit “continue” to set the timer. The app also had some quirks. Setting the device’s units to Fahrenheit didn’t trigger a switch in the app, and we had to actually shut the app down and start it back up to get them to change.

If we wanted to create a recipe, saving it in draft mode meant you couldn’t actually use it; the app wants you to try to get your creations published first. That’s a shame, because it was actually the easiest way to set the time and temperature for the Nomiku. We ended up submitting some empty recipes to be published just so we could quickly set the temperature and time, then access the “cook this” button. (We got a comment on our barebones recipe soon after asking for more instruction.)

Wi-Fi Nomiku sous vide

Using thermometers to check the temperature, we found the Nomiku to be very accurate, within about 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit and often much closer. This meant that everything we cooked, from scrambled eggs to burgers to pork tenderloin, turned out as promised — though sometimes these were based on suggestions from other sites and apps. It made us wish the app simply had simple-to-follow guidelines in addition to its recipes. If you just want to make chicken breast, for example, and it let you select the type of meat, cut, and thickness — as the GE Paragon’s app does —the app would be more useful. It’s hard not to compare the Nomiku to the Anova, and the former’s recipes don’t compete. Tender has about 20 chicken recipes, and we stopped counting at about 50 on Anova’s app.

When it comes to cleanup, Nomiku wants you to use the self-cleaning method, sort of like a blender: Get a fresh pot of water and some soap, and let it circulate 149 degree Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) H20 for 10 minutes.

Conclusion

The Nomiku is quick to heat up and holds temperature well. It’s bulkier than its predecessor and a lot of its competitors, but we were still able to use it in a sauce pot with no problem. And the hardware works well overall, despite a bit of a time-consuming setup.

It’s really the app that might leave you cold here, but with cookbooks, sites, and apps dedicated to sous vide, it might not be a dealbreaker to venture out and find more recipes. It’s on sale for $199 right now, a very good deal. But when the price rises to $249, new sous viders would be wise to search for something cheaper.

(digitaltrends.com, http://goo.gl/P9X3TR)

 

 

 

 

Hands on: BlackBerry DTEK50 review

The world’s most secure Android smartphone isn’t half bad.

OUR EARLY VERDICT

The BlackBerry DTEK50 is a surprisingly promising smartphone with a more than reasonable price tag and a spec sheet to be proud of.

FOR

  • Excellent security and privacy
  • Reasonable price tag
  • Decent power

AGAINST

  • Copy-cat design
  • Potentially limited appeal

The BlackBerry DTEK50 is the world’s most secure Android smartphone – and that’s not a bad claim to fame. Concerns over personal security on our mobile devices have never been greater, and the DTEK50 looks to play on that insecurity in people’s minds by offering solid specs with enhanced protection.

BlackBerry has fallen away dramatically from the days when its Curve and Bold handsets, with BBM at their hearts, ruled the mobile roost. Over the past four years the Canadian firm has struggled to stay relevant in the ever-evolving smartphone world.

The rather awkward DTEK50 name – which comes from the DTEK security app which comes pre-installed on this handset and its big brother, the BlackBerry Priv – doesn’t do anything for the phone’s street appeal, and creates a decidedly ‘businessy’ tone from the outset.

Wondering where the 50 comes from? It’s a continuation of BlackBerry’s numbering scheme – Q5, Q10, Z10, Z30. It’s now deemed a jump to 50 the next logical step.

While BlackBerry has declared the DTEK50 the world’s most secure smartphone, the truth is that it has the same level of protection as the Priv – which means the firm actually has a pair of world-leading secure handsets.

The target market is mainly enterprise, but with a solid-looking spec list and an attractive $299, £275 (around AU$400) price tag, you can’t rule the BlackBerry DTEK50 out of the consumer market.

Those looking for a solid, affordable smartphone with added security could well be in luck – and the demand for this type of device is on the up.

So has BlackBerry stumbled upon a winning formula, or is it another stab in the dark? We got hands-on the world’s most secure Android smartphone to see what all the fuss is about.

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Design and display

The DTEK50 isn’t a flagship device – it slides in under the keyboard-toting Priv in terms of spec and price – but with the removal of the iconic physical keys emerges a handset that will likely appeal to a much wider market.

It’s no secret that BlackBerry hasn’t done anything special in the design department here. The firm has confirmed it used an off-the-shelf reference device from manufacturer TCL, and tweaked the hardware and software to give it the BlackBerry look and feel.

In fact, the DTEK50 is a modified Alcatel Idol 4, and while it may not be the most appealing phone around, this means it can carry a low price tag while still delivering on performance.

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Getting back to the design, the DTEK50 features a grippy soft-touch rear, which gives the handset a slightly rugged feel in the hand.

It won’t be winning any awards for cutting-edge design or premium appeal, but the metal frame feels solid, and the manageable 147 x 72.5 x 7.4mm dimensions enable it to nestle nicely into the palm.

This is the thinnest BlackBerry ever, so if pocket bulge is a concern the DTEK50 shouldn’t worry you, and at 135g it’s also surprisingly light.

The power/lock key resides on the left of the handset, while the volume rocker on the right is joined by a centralized round button, which BlackBerry calls the ‘action key’. It’s reminiscent of Sony’s power/lock key on its Xperia devices, and at first it’s a little confusing, as it looks to be the more obvious power option.

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In fact, this is a programmable button that enables you to access an oft-used app, task or function of your choosing.

If you find yourself constantly firing up Instagram to check your follower count, or forever diving into your email inbox, the action key provides a useful way of quickly accessing these.

During my brief time with the DTEK50, though, I found myself reaching for the button a number of times when attempting to wake/lock the screen, which was a little annoying.

Up front the 5.2-inch full HD screen is bright and clear, and considering the price tag of the DTEK50 it looks to be a very good offering. It’s not quite as colorful as AMOLED panels, with hues looking a little more muted, but there’s very little to complain about here.

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Specs and performance

A solid design and decent display aren’t all the DTEK50 has up its sleeve. There’s also a Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP rear camera, a 8MP front snapper (with selfie flash!), a 2610mAh battery and a microSD slot.

The expandable memory slot supports cards up to 2TB in size, and this additional space can be adopted by the Android operating system, so the DTEK50 will treat it as internal storage; this makes your card work more seamlessly with the phone, and reduces storage headaches.

That’s quite the rap sheet for a sub-$300/£300 smartphone, and finally puts an end to BlackBerry’s recent track record of offering outdated, underpowered specs at an inflated price (we’re looking at you, Z10, Z30 and Passport).

So does it perform? Our early findings suggest that yes, it does. Navigation is smooth, and load times in general seem to be quick. We’ve not yet had a chance to put the DTEK50 through highly demanding tasks, but the signs are positive.

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On screen you’ll find the latest version of Google’s mobile platform, Android Marshmallow, and BlackBerry has done very little to mess with the experience.

At its core this is still stock Android, although a fleet of BlackBerry apps come pre-installed, including the excellent BlackBerry Hub, which pulls all your messages and notifications into one handy application.

BlackBerry has also added the Productivity Edge, which is accessed by swiping in from the right of the display. This gives you quick access to emails, contacts, calendar entries and tasks, and reduces the amount of app-hopping required to reach key information.

The keyboard is another area where BlackBerry has added its own touch – and it claims it has a class-leading offering. While that’s very much up for debate, the good news is if you don’t like it you can grab an alternative from the Play Store in next to no time.

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It’s the security aspects which will really be grabbing many people’s attention though. As well as baking in its own security protocols from the chip level up, BlackBerry’s new smartphone comes with the DTEK app.

This makes security simple for everyone, as it clearly shows you how secure your phone is, and provides tips on how to improve the rating.

There are granular controls for every application too. If you don’t like the fact that the flashlight app you just downloaded accesses the microphone every time you use it, you can revoke that particular access. It’s easy to use, while also being a powerful tool.

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Quick verdict

The BlackBerry DTEK50 is a surprisingly promising smartphone, with a more than reasonable price tag and a spec sheet to be proud of.

It’s not going to wow you with its design, or blow you away with flagship features, but what you do get is a phone which fully encrypts all your data, makes it easy for you to monitor your privacy, and ensures everything is secure.

We’re looking forward to putting the DTEK50 through our in-depth review process – and we hope it can live up to this promising start.

(techradar.com, http://goo.gl/A5W4GH)

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On

The past few years have seen the launch and steady expansion of Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe line up. In 2013, we saw the original three-hander, 2014 gave us the Bathyscaphe Chronograph, and then the beautifully blue Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment Chronograph came in 2015. This year, Blancpain completed the family portrait with the latest iteration of the Bathyscaphe, which quite successfully puts the look and construction of the Ocean Commitment Chronograph into the original three-hand design.

In broad strokes, if you know the standard Bathyscaphe three-hander, you are well on your way to understanding this new version. While the basic form remains thankfully unchanged, this new model is more than just a blue dial and bezel as its 43.6 mm case is made of grey ceramic. This is not the first time that Blancpain has used ceramic for the case of a Bathyscaphe three-hander and, much like the preceding Ocean Commitment Chronograph, this version has a lovely brushed blue dial and ceramic bezel with Liquidmetal hour markers.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Until you have it in your hands, you could be excused for thinking that the case was metal, as it carries the warmth of titanium and a beautifully brushed finish. Upon lifting this diver from the table the ceramic feels solid, smooth like glass, and lighter than you might expect. The official reference is 5000-0240-NAOA (with the nato strap) but I wish they had called it something, anything, aside from just Bathyscaphe. I suppose we’ll all just know it as the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Still 13.8mm thick and water resistant to 300m, the blue dial and bezel make for a considerably different vibe than its siblings, perhaps not quite as austere. Less tactical than the monochromatic alternatives, the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (aside from its ceramic case and 43.6mm sizing) has the demeanor of a watch designed in the early days of diving. Its crystal-clear legibility and razor-sharp detailing is juxtaposed by the warm and inviting blue tones of the dial and bezel. If the Bathyscaphe is an attempt to carry vintage Blancpain design elements into a modern luxury diver, I think this blue version is the most successful iteration we’ve seen to date.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Visible via a display case back, the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe uses Blancpain’s calibre 1315 – the same movement used by all of the three-hand Bathyscaphes. This 4Hz in-house automatic movement uses three mainspring barrels to offer 120 hours of power reserve for its display of the time and date. Designed to be tool-ready, the 1315 is function over form and has been used in several of Blancpain’s dive watches in the past.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Blue & Ceramic Watch Hands-On Hands-On

I remember loving the original crop of Bathyscaphes back in 2013, and this blue model is an even stronger fit for my tastes while also being an incredibly unrealistic request of my wallet. The ceramic case ensures top billing in the three-hand Bathyscaphe pecking order, and indeed the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe claims a tidy $12,800 USD, mounted to either the pictured high-quality blue NATO or Blancpain’s frankly excellent sail canvas two-piece strap. Following the example set by the Ocean Commitment Chronograph, the blue Bathyscaphe offers a similar appeal in a more simplified layout that is certainly eye-catching and should look even better underwater. If you happen to take one diving, I’d love to see the photos.

(ablogtowatch.com, http://goo.gl/DtcMdj)

Hands on: Hannspree HannsG HU282PPS review

Hands on with a HannsG 4K monitor.

OUR EARLY VERDICT

This isn’t a perfect panel by any means, but it boasts more plus points than downsides, and sports a tempting price tag for a 4K monitor.

FOR

  • Nicely priced for a 4K monitor
  • Good connectivity
  • Speakers do the trick

AGAINST

  • Issues with glare
  • Viewing angles aren’t great
  • On-screen display settings are basic

Hannspree is one of the very few remaining Taiwanese display companies left. Alongside the likes of BenQ, AG Neovo, Acer and ViewSonic, they have had to fend off increasing competition from the likes of TP Vision (AOC, Philips), Samsung, LG and Japanese rivals (Ilyama, NEC and Eizo).

This has caused diversification to be seen as an essential aspect of Hannspree’s business plans, with mixed results. The company has dabbled in tablets, PCs, wearables, speakers and even smartphones, but these lines of business remained on the periphery.

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At any rate, today we’re looking at Hannspree’s latest 4K monitor, the HannsG HU282PPS with a price tag of just under £290 (around $380, AU$510) at Ebuyer. That’s about a tenner more expensive than the AOC U2879VF, the cheapest 4K monitor on the market, with a 27/28-inch diagonal.

At techradar pro, we’re adamant that moving to a 4K monitor is one of the best upgrades that any business or professional can make to improve their workflow.

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On paper, it looks like a pretty compelling offering: you get two rear-facing 3W speakers, a DisplayPort, two HDMI ports, a DVI one, audio in/out ports, a VESA mount and a rated brightness/contrast of 280cd/m2 and 1000:1 respectively.

One HDMI port is a version 2.0 affair according to the manufacturer, and this means that it should be able to do 4K at 60Hz. Hannspree also claims that the monitor consumes up to 38W in use and 500mW on standby.

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The rest of the specification sheet reads as follows: a 5ms response time, a 0.15 x 0.16mm pixel pitch, and viewing angles of 170/160 degrees.

Interestingly, the monitor sports toughened glass which claims to be anti-glare – such a feature is usually associated with touchscreen functionality, but this is not even an option on this model.

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Out of the box, the monitor comes with a power cable, a DVI cable and a pair of audio ones, plus a flat metal plate that can be screwed to the chrome stand.

The on-screen display (OSD) settings are basic to say the least, with the sort of options you’d expect to see on most monitors, allowing users to tweak the image to their working environment.

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We liked the design of the plate as it allows you to get extra real-estate on your desk, while the four ports allow you to use the latest devices as well as legacy ones that might have a VGA or a DVI connection.

You can only tilt the stand (up and down) as it doesn’t allow pivoting. With its large black bezel and a dash of silver plastic, this monitor does look a bit like anApple iMac.

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Maybe Hannspree is missing a trick here. We tested the monitor using a Dell XPS 13 laptop with a Mini DisplayPort. The HU282PPS was automatically recognised and ran in 4K at 60Hz without any noticeable hitch – we didn’t test the other ports which meant that we couldn’t confirm if it can do picture-in-picture (Ed: Hannspree confirmed that you can’t).

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In a brightly lit room, there is a significant amount of glare especially when it comes to darker or black areas. But on a more positive note, it does make for a particularly useful large format mirror when switched off (ahem).

The speakers are louder and clearer than we were expecting with no noticeable buzz or audio glitches, and you can connect an earphone or an external source to the monitor.

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The HU282PPS uses a TN panel rather than an IPS one, which means that it suffers from relatively poor viewing angles, which in real life translates to colour shifts if you move your head in a sideways direction. Also, the thick slab of glass compounds this problem making things slightly worse.

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When sat dead in front of the monitor though, the viewing experience was better with adequately rendered content (moving or fixed). You can always tinker with the settings which are accessible via a row of five buttons located on the bottom edge of the monitor.

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You can swap the display colour temperature from warm to cool and there are six pre-programmed video modes to cater for most user needs.

Early verdict

If you don’t plan on using it in a bright and sunny environment (next to a window for example), you will get used to the glass slab that covers this display. The Hannspree HU282PPS does have quirks but it is by no means a bad product; when it comes to 4K monitors, we’ve seen worse.

At least this one has an HDMI 2.0 and a DisplayPort, allowing you to connect two 4K sources. Having two other inputs capable of full HD means that you will be able to hook up legacy devices as well.

If you are after a decent 4K monitor for less than £300, it is a toss-up between AOC and this HannsG as they share similar features (bar FreeSync on the AOC). We’re getting the former in for a hands on review soon, so will update this article in due course.

(techradar.com, http://goo.gl/uUJwlz)

Honda Civic vs. Acura ILX: Buy This, Not That

Back a million years ago – OK, it was the ’90s – my family used to vacation up in Canada, a chilly northern bizarro-land for a budding car-spotter. There were Asünas, which were rebadged Geos, Ladas from Russia, and these strange little Acuras everywhere. Up front, this Acura looked like a contemporary Toyota Camry, but from the A pillars back, it was unmistakably a Honda Civic. Known as the EL, the car never made it to America, unless of course a Canadian driver took a wrong turn near the border and ended up in Niagara Falls, Sault Ste. Marie, or Poker Creek, Alaska.

But it was an interesting car, slotting below the now-legendary Integra and serving as the gateway to Honda’s premium brand. In 2005, the EL became the CSX, and for fear that the average American buyer would confuse it for a freight train (probably), it was again sold only in the Great White North. By 2012, Honda thought we were ready for a Acura-badged Civic, and launched the ILX, a car that’s sold on both sides of the border.

2017 Acura ILX

Of course, there was one big problem: ILX was based on the new ninth-generation Civic, which was one of the most disappointing cars in Honda’s history. When it was refreshed for 2013, the Civic was blasted by critics for its shockingly (for Honda) cheap interior, indifferent fit-and-finish, and harsh ride. This led to one of the most comprehensive single-year redesigns in recent memory, and by 2014, the Civic (and ILX) were largely back on track.

That was a generation ago, and today, the Civic is flying especially high. Which brings up another problem: With a five-door hatch to augment the sedan, red-hot Si model, and the specter of the Type-R looming over the lineup (it’s coming stateside eventually…) the Civic lineup is arguably the best it’s ever been. But is it so good that it eclipses the Acura? That’s what we’ll find out in this week’s Buy This, Not That.

Tale of the tape

2016 Honda Civic Sedan

Honda worked hard to help the public forget the mistakes of its ninth-generation Civic, and it’s done all that and more. There’s something for just about everyone here, but unfortunately, customers may need to wait a few months to get exactly what they want. The 2016 North American Car of the Year is available as both a sedan and coupe for now, ranging from the sub-$20K LX model, to the Touring, which tops out at around $30K with all the option boxes ticked. From here the only way for the Civic is up; the Si model will arrive to scare the bejesus out of the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST in early 2017, and will likely be priced along the lines of the Touring. The five-door hatch will probably bow at around the same time, and giant-slaying Type-R is expected to arrive before 2018, and be priced to compete with the Ford Focus RS in the $35-$40K range.

Power comes from a pair of four-bangers — a 154-horsepower 2.0-liter i-VTEC on LX and EX models, and a turbocharged 1.5-liter that puts out 178 horsepower. For now, the LX is the only model offered with Honda’s fantastic six-speed manual transmission, but it’ll also be available on the sportier, and more powerful, Si and Type-R models. For everyone else, gear shifts come from the company’s smooth dual-clutch eight-speed automatic, one of the best in the business.

2016 Honda Civic Coupe

Inside, fit and finish is Honda quality – that is it punches well above its weight. The deluge of cascading screens and buttons of previous generations has been replaced with a simple, elegant dash, dominated by a big touchscreen and digital instrument layout. The HondaLink infotainment system is simple and intuitive, and the Civic is available with virtually every convenience and safety aid in the Honda arsenal. And on the outside, the car’s aggressive yet inoffensive new sheetmetal should appeal to most customers while making the rival Toyota Corolla look as boring as, well, a Toyota Corolla.

On the other hand, the 2016 ILX has a simpler story — one of “something lost, something gained.” Facelifted for 2016, the Acura has ditched the aging 2.0-liter base engine and five-speed automatic transmission, and made Honda’s 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter Earth Dreams (yes, that’s its official name) the sole powerplant. The good news is: Power is up somewhat. The old base car made 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, while the new mill is good for 201 horses – same as the old range-topping 2.4 – but has 10 more pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to Honda’s smooth dual-clutch eight-speed automatic, making for a comfortable and responsive drive.

2017 Acura ILX

Unfortunately, premium sedans in the ILX’s segment (in the $28-$35K range) are expected to be a little sporty, and this is where the Acura falls short. Where it once was the industry leader in bringing upscale performance-minded cars to the masses, Acura pulled the ILX’s six-speed manual transmission option in 2014, and its suspension is set up for comfort, not corner-carving. And as decent as the Earth Dreams’ fuel economy is (24 city/35 highway), a lack of a hybrid option (a mark against the Civic too), may keep green-minded buyers away too.

Inside, the ILX is comfortable and well-appointed, but no more so than a well-optioned Honda. Fit-and-finish, and overall quality are superb, but with its heavily hooded infotainment screen (at 7 inches, it’s the same size as the Civic’s), and acres of black plastic, it looks dated where the Civic looks chic and modern. That theme continues to the outside, where despite Acura’s lovely trademark “jewel-eye” headlights, the ILX is clean, handsome, but ultimately uninspiring.

The verdict

2017 Acura ILX

The ILX is by no means a bad car, but it has three big problems that just can’t be ignored: It’s easily overshadowed by the car it’s based on, it’s a sporty sedan that lacks the performance needed to set it apart in a cutthroat segment, and finally, it’s been put in the awkward position of competing with Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and well-optioned Civic Touring models. And once Honda’s performance Civics hit the streets, that in-house competition will only increase. In a perfect world, the ILX would be the spiritual successor to the Integra: rakishly sporty, comfortably upscale, and a legitimate sport sedan bargain. Nobody who loves cars has ever mistaken an Integra for a Civic; the ILX won’t have that luxury unless big changes are made. The new Civic is unquestionably world class. In our opinion, Acura’s entry-level car deserves to be too. Add this one to the growing list of accolades for the latest Civic.

(cheatsheet.com, http://goo.gl/HQJZO4)

Motorola Moto E3 (2016) vs Moto G3 (2015): What’s the difference?

Lenovo-owned Motorola has launched a flurry of smartphones this year, one of which is the new Moto E.

It’s being called the Moto E3 and it offers some pretty decent specs for its £99.95/$149.925 price tag. With last year’s Moto G now starting at just £129/$193,5 though, which model should you pick?

Here is the Moto E3 (2016) up against the Moto G3 (2015).

The Motorola Moto E3 features a similar design to the more recent Moto Gfamily, offering a more refined appearance compared to last year’s Moto G.

It measures 143.8 x 71.6 x 8.55mm and weighs 140.6g, meaning it is slimmer, narrower and lighter than the Moto G3, but ever so slightly taller.

The Moto G3 measures 142.1 x 72.4mm and has a curved rear between 6.1mm and 11.6mm. It hits the scales at 155g and it has a water resistance rating of IPX7.

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The Motorola Moto E3 and Moto G3 both have a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. This puts both their pixel densities at 294ppi.

The two devices’ screens are also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and they both use IPS LCD technology so you can expect a very similar experience when it comes to the display.

The Motorola Moto E3 has an 8-megapixel rear camera, coupled with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

It is capable of 720p video recording at 30fps and for the first time in the E range, Motorola has added a single LED flash to the rear camera.

The Moto G3 has a higher resolution sensor on the rear at 13-megapixels. It has an aperture of f/2.0, there is a dual-LED flash on board and it is capable of 1080pvideo recording.

The front-facing camera of the Moto G3 is the same resolution as the Moto E3 at 5-megapixels. The G3 has an aperture of f/2.2 and there is a display flash on board too, something that isn’t present on the E3.

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The Motorola Moto E3 features a 1GHz MediaTek processor under its hood, coupled with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.

Storage is expandable up to 32GB via microSD and there is a 2800mAh batterycapacity to get you through the day.

The Moto G3 opts for the 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, which is supported by either 1GB or 2GB of RAM, depending on the storage model.

Storage options are 8GB or 16GB, both of which are expandable up to 32GB via microSD, and both of which have a 2470mAh battery capacity.

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The Motorola Moto E3 launches on Android Marshmallow, while the Moto G3launched on Android Lollipop but has since been updated to the latest software.

Both devices feature very little bloatware, with only a few pre-loaded Motorolaapps rather than an entire skin. This means you’ll not only get a close to vanilla Android experience with Moto devices, but they also are some of the first to get new software updates.

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This year’s Moto E3 and last year’s Moto G3 are pretty similar in terms of specs, as well as price, now that the 2015 Moto G has been reduced.

The Moto E3 has a more updated design and it is lighter and slimmer than theMoto G3, as well as featuring a larger battery capacity. The two devices have the same size and resolution display but the Moto G3 has a faster processor, the option of more RAM and storage if you pay more, and more capable cameras.

We will update this feature with our review experience when we have spent some more time with the new Moto E3. For now, you can read our opinion on the Moto G3.

(pocket-lint.com, http://goo.gl/XSSHUd)

Sony XD9305 4K TV review: Making a strong first impression

Brilliant though the TV world’s new high dynamic range (HDR) technology is, it’s also proving monumentally hard for current TV technologies to handle. Which is precisely why Sony has moved past “current TV technologies” and come up with something new for its XD9305 series: the Slim Backlight Drive.

The main trick of this new Drive is that it introduces unprecedented levels of local light control to the edge LED lighting systems favourited – for affordability reasons – by the majority of LCD TVs. Its trick is that it places two of the light guide plates required by edge LED TVs in sequence, rather than just sticking with the usual single plate.

This gives the XD93 twice as much potential for controlling the amount of light appearing in different parts of the picture. That’s a big deal at any time, but a potential deal-maker in these days of HDR, where the need for more localised light controls has shifted to a whole new level.

So how does it fare and is the XD93 (not to be confused with the full backlight array of its bigger brother, the XD94) the 4K TV to plump for?

Despite using two light plates instead of one, the slim backlight drive has also been created to deliver one of those ultra-skinny designs everyone seems to want these days. The 65-inch XD9305, reviewed here, is just 36mm deep at its thickest point, and for at least half of its rear it’s actually far slimmer than that; not much deeper than your average 2016 mobile phone, in fact.

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The build quality of what little there is of the TV frame is exceptional. Sony has even managed to find the space for a bit of showboating in the form of an injection of gold that runs through the centre of the XD9305’s outer edges.

Even the desktop stand is classier than most with its tasteful aluminium sheet finish and graceful angles, while the new wall-mount option (included in the box) cunningly adds almost no depth at all to the TV.

Connections on the XD9305 are as you’d expect of a high-end TV in 2016: four HDMIs, for instance, can handle both 4K up to 60 frames a second and HDR content, while multimedia support comes via a trio of USB ports and both wired and wireless network connections.

These network connections can stream multimedia from your DLNA-enabled devices, or bring you into contact with the huge world of apps Sony TVs now provide courtesy of their implementation of the Android TV smart platform.

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It must be said, however, that Android TV is hardly the perfect smart TV system. Its full-screen interface feels clunky, and it doesn’t provide as many customisation options as the best rivals. It also doesn’t feel very focused compared with the finest smart interfaces, seeming to mistakenly believe that quantity usurps quality where smart TV interfaces are concerned.

Android TV also boasts one significant content weakness for all its hundreds of (largely pointless) game, video and information apps: its lack of UK catch-up TV services. Fortunately, Sony has got round this by also fitting the 65XD9305 with the YouView platform, which not only brings to the table all of the big four UK catch-up TV platforms, but also lets you access their on-demand content via a brilliantly simple electronic programme guide (EPG).

Turning to the 65XD9305’s picture technology, the Slim Backlight Drive is not the only trick the XD9305 has up its sleeve. Also likely key to its success – especially in the HDR era – is its combination of a wide colour spectrum panel and proprietary Triluminos colour processing.

Plus there’s Sony’s previously impressive X1 processing chipset, which combines powerful control of all the key elements of picture quality with a vast database of picture source scenarios to help the TV first identify and then apply appropriate rules to whatever source type it happens to be receiving. This database covers and optimises the appearance of everything from the ropiest of YouTube feeds to the most pristine of Ultra HD Blu-rays.

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To say the 65XD9305’s pictures make a strong first impression would be an epic understatement. Pushing the TV to its maximum capabilities with a selection of 4K, HDR, wide colour gamut Ultra HD Blu-rays, there are times where the 65XD9305 delivers the best pictures yet seen on an edge-lit LCD TV, and arguably the best pictures yet seen on any LCD TV.

Colours look ravishing for starters, as Sony’s Triluminos technology helps the screen serve up a truly dazzling combination of wide colour gamut vibrancy/saturations and mesmerising tonal subtleties that leave you in no doubt whatsoever that you’re watching the next generation of picture quality unfolding before your eyes.

The irresistible dynamism of the screen’s colours also owes a big debt of gratitude to the impressive brightness Sony has managed to get from the 65XD9305. Its peak brightness just sneaks past the 1000-nit level recommended by the AV industry’s Ultra HD Premium specification, and this brightness adds volume and punch as well as subtlety to the colours on show.

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The 65XD9305’s brightness in conjunction with the Slim Backlight Drive also creates a startlingly expansive dynamic range. This is particularly obvious at the brightest end of the HDR spectrum as Sony’s TV throws up peak whites and colours that glimmer and shine with an intensity old standard dynamic range video can’t even get close to.

The 65XD9305 is less emphatic in its handling of HDR’s extremes at the darkest end of the light spectrum, as you might expect of an LCD TV. But there’s certainly a big increase in the overall light range available to the TV for delivering enhanced shadow detailing in dark scenes, as well as that much more lifelike general look to images that is really HDR’s main raison d’etre.

While the 65XD9305 looks at its most spectacular with the HDR/wide colour content it’s pretty much being designed to deliver, though, it’s also mesmerisingly good with the “old” standard dynamic range content we’ve been living with for so many decades. It’s able to rein in its colours to match those of SDR pretty much perfectly, while the subtlety of its tones reminds you that while HDR represents the irresistible future of TV, SDR really has always been capable of looking pretty darned beautiful when it’s done right.

Another great strength of the 65XD9305 is its handling of detail. With native 4K content its superb colour and – for the most part – light handling helps it deliver one of the most convincing and extreme displays of 4K’s superiority over Full HD we’ve seen to date, unlocking the full potential of all those pixels the screen has at its disposal.

While the 65XD9305’s pictures look good enough to make a grown AV fan weep for much of the time, though, they also, sadly, have an Achilles Heel: the Slim Backlight Drive can’t completely solve the seemingly inherent problems edgeLED TVs have with delivering light on a sufficiently localised level to handle HDR’s light extremes with absolute conviction.

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The issue is this: while it’s beyond dispute that the Slim Backlight Drive can deliver deeper blacks in the darkest picture areas – even in localised areas in the image’s centre – than arguably any other edge-lit LCD TV to date, the way the Drive essentially separates the backlight into a series of individually controllable but large boxes can lead to some really quite abrupt and thus more distracting backlight divisions.

In other words, where very bright HDR objects sit against a very dark background you sometimes actually feel like you’re watching a series of differently lit blocks rather than a single organic picture. At times you even feel that a less localised backlight approach would actually have delivered a more immersive experience – even though this more typical edge LED arrangement would not, almost certainly, be capable of reaching the same black level depths that the 65XD9305 can.

To put it another way, while the Slim Backlight Drive is certainly a promising and well-intentioned innovation by Sony, right now there’s work to be done to make it a really effective HDR solution to LCD’s ongoing light control issues.

Sony’s new obsession with slimness has led to it ditching the huge magnetic fluid speakers that used to adorn the left and right sides of previous high-endSony TVs.

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This is a logical decision from an aesthetic and practical point of view – but unsurprisingly it’s not a positive move where sound quality is concerned. Unless, of course, you fork out some extra cash and buy a separate soundbar or speaker system.

These predecessor TVs were arguably the finest sounding mainstream TVs ever… and arguably the least attractive too. The 65XD9305, by comparison, sounds sadly pretty average.

Bass levels are fairly limited and slightly cramped, the mid-range is clean but pretty narrow, and while there’s a strong amount of treble detailing, this treble information can tip over into harshness when the going gets tough. Certainly consider that additional sound system, then.

Verdict

There are times when the 65XD9305 looks like the best TV ever made – both in design and picture quality terms. Its handling of bright HDR/wide colour 4K content is really that good.

However, high-contrast HDR content reveals that Sony’s well-intentioned bid to introduce a new level of edge-LED backlight control ultimately creates as many issues as it solves, leaving us with the feeling that this new Slim Backlight Drive technology is perhaps a transitional work-in-progress rather than the finished article.

Also the 65XD9305’s quest for slimness leaves its sound compromised not just against the efforts of Sony’s own previous equivalent models but also against the best audio efforts of its current rivals.

Put all this together and the 65XD9305 often looks nothing short of incredible, but isn’t always the image of perfection.

(pocket-lint.com, http://goo.gl/XFCXDE)

Windows 10 vs Windows 7 – Should you upgrade?

SHOULD YOU DITCH WINDOWS 7 FOR WINDOWS 10?

Windows 10 is a big improvement over Windows 8, but what if you’re still using Windows 7? Microsoft may be offering a free upgrade to Windows 10, but should you take it or should you stick with what you know? You don’t have much time left to decide: the free upgrade ends on July 29th so unless you want to pay upwards of £80/$120 for an upgrade, now is the time to make your final decision.

Below we’ll take you through the differences between Windows 7 and 10, but before we get to that it’s also worth pointing out that on August 2nd, Microsoft will issue the Windows 10 Anniversary update.

There are several new features in the update that might push the non-upgrader over the edge to activating their free Windows 10 licence.

For a start, the personal assistant Cortana is getting a major upgrade, with new commands and the ability to ask questions about meetings, flight information and anything else you can think of straight from the lock screen, without having to log in.

Windows 10 21

Stylus users listen up: Windows 10 is getting the new Ink API, which allows developers to work stylus movements and drawings directly into their apps without needing to come up with their own handwriting and gesture recognition algorithms. Microsoft has shown off Ink in a couple of ways: you can write onto Sticky Notes and have them turn into calendar reminders automatically, and you can also draw from one point to another in the Maps app and have a route calculated for you. It’s simple stuff right now, but with the API out in the wild, developers will be able to do a host of more complex things with it.

The final big changes come to the Edge browser, which now has extentions in the same way Firefox and Chrome do. This means the browser will be more customisable as ever and might tempt some users back thanks to its speedy performance. Edge is also getting Windows Hello support, which means newer devices with fingerprint scanners and facial recognition hardware will be able to log you into a website without having to use a password. This requires the website to enable it, of course.

Once the Windows 10 Anniversary update is released, we’ll update this comparison with hands-on impressions of the new features.

Buy Now: Windows 10 at Amazon.co.uk from £83 | Amazon.com from $85

If you’re still not sure, feel free to ask us more questions in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer.

PERFORMANCE

One of the least talked about improvements of Windows 8, and subsequently Windows 10, is that it does include a raft of performance upgrades.

Chief among these is boot-up time, which is markedly quicker, while better hardware acceleration and a host of other tweaks mean general navigation feels nippier, too. Power management has also been improved, so mobile device battery life tends to be a little longer.

Gaming performance is much more evenly matched, but with Windows 10 comes exclusive access to DirectX 12, which unlocks more performance from your existing hardware (game dependent) and is the future for Windows gaming – read our DirectX 12 vs DirectX 11 comparison for more on that.

It may seem like trivial stuff, but if there’s one single thing that’s generally at the heart of the upgrades we make to our computers, it’s performance. So the fact that Windows 10 offers that base-level improvement on top of all its other features is definitely something to be happy about.

DESIGN

Windows 8 marked a stark departure from the styling of Windows 7, with flat windows and bold colours taking over from 3D-looking icons and round-edged and transparent windows.

Windows 10 continues this change, with the flat and bold styling now taking over desktop icons and other core system features, though there’s still some way to go, with plenty of features such as the Control Panel and Computer Management interfaces using old icons.

Windows 7 Design

Windows 7’s design is cohesive

Overall, we’re still unconvinced that the new styling is actually better than the old. It’s arguably more “modern”, as flat seems to be the design theme of choice at the moment – websites are doing it and so is Apple – but we’re not sure it generally looks any more aesthetically pleasing.

That said, Microsoft has toned things down from the inital Windows 10 Technical Preview, where it used more bold and contrasting colours – like in Windows 8 – but the final release is more subdued and relies on dark grey and semitransparent menus that look cleaner and more professional. We really like the look of the final version.

Windows 10 Design

Early versions of Windows 10 looked particularly stark and disjointed

Windows 10 Design

The latest version of Windows 10 looks much more coherent

There are some practical benefits to the new design direction too, such as windows being smaller due to the lack of borders. Windows are also more customisable and some elements are clearer, thanks to the lack of translucent backgrounds.

All told, while we’re not bowled over by the new look, it’s a marked improvement over Windows 8 and definitely does have that more modern feel than Windows 7.

SEARCH AND START MENU

Tap on the Windows 7 Start Menu and you can quickly access the reasonably powerful search function that will quite rapidly look up matching programs and documents as you type. It also provides quick access to core features and your chosen programs. It’s simple but effective.

Windows 7 Search

Windows 7 search is effective but simple

However, Windows 10 ups the ante on all accounts.

Click on the now separate search box and it will also now include Windows Store apps and web search, with results shown in a much more organised fashion.

Also, even just clicking on the search box will have it show preview information such as the latest headlines, updates from your favourite sports teams and the weather, if you choose to turn these features on.

What’s more, it includes Cortana, the digital personal assistant. This adds two key features. Firstly, it monitors things like your email, calendar and search to provide useful information, such as when you need to leave for your next appointment.

Cortana Windows 10

Windows 10 greatly enhances the features of search

You can also use it to add appointments or make notes. If you have a microphone on your machine, you can also speak your commands to Cortana and it does a fine job of interpreting natural language to get you the answer you need.

Sadly, the interface doesn’t return the answer to you right there in the search bar, but rather opens the web browser. It’s still pretty cool to not have to type anything, though.

All this is combined with a Start Menu that now includes the Live Tiles from the Start Screen of Windows 8. Certain key features such as File Explorer and Settings are more clearly shown too, while pointless clutter like the Default Programs button have been removed.

The only downsides are that the link to the Control Panel has now been removed, with Microsoft instead wanting you to push users to the PC Settings interface (even though it doesn’t include all the same features). We’re also not fans of the ‘All Programs’ interface. On Windows 7 it’s compact and quick to scan whereas on Windows 10 it’s overly bulky and spread out.

Overall, though, it’s mostly an improvement.

FILE MANAGEMENT

It may seem totally mundane, but the tools used for finding and managing your files are some of the most oft used and fundamental to a good operating system.

Windows 7 has a decent selection and certainly we’re all long used to them. However, they certainly aren’t the most advanced, and in some ways they’re a backwards step from what came before – who remembers the removal of the Up button from the File Explorer?

Windows 7 File Management

Windows 7 File Explorer and copy dialogue are relics

This one little feature summed up all that was wrong about the nonsensical path being trodden by Microsoft at the time. But it wasn’t the only problem with Windows 7 File Explorer. By any standard it was poorly designed, with wasted space and key functions hidden from view.

Well, with Windows 10 the Up button is back! And with it are a host of other improvements to File Explorer – many of which, again, first arrived in Windows 8. The top menu is now arranged in a ribbon, so all the common tools are right where they’re easy to click and, perhaps more importantly, easy for novices to find.

There’s also a new Share ribbon which makes it much easier to move files between different apps such as Outlook, Dropbox or Skype. It’s still not perfect, but it’s a definite step in the right direction.

On top of these improvements to File Explorer there’s also an improved file copying interface. Now copying/moving tasks are grouped into one window for easier management. Transfer speed is also shown in real time and operations can also be paused, where they could only previously be cancelled.

Windows 10 File Management

Windows 10 File Explorer and copy dialogue is much more useful

Another neat new addition is Storage Spaces. This is a way to group multiple hard drives together to form a single logical drive. While hardly revolutionary sounding, what makes it particularly useful is that it supports multiple levels of drive redundancy, to ensure your data is backed up, and unlike a RAID system it’s completely hot-swappable and drives can be different sizes.

All told, there’s a lot that Windows 10 adds to day-to-day file management and very little that’s been taken away.

GAMING AND DIRECTX 12

We touched earlier on how gaming performance hasn’t changed much on Windows 10, but it’s worth elaborating.

In fact, there’s a slight drop in performance on average, with Windows 10 tending to be about 0.5% slower than Windows 7, particularly with older games – Crysis 3, for instance – although there are some instances where the roles are reversed. Of course 0.5% is a ridiculously small amount either way, so much so that it’s not worth worrying about.

Elsewhere, Windows 7 has proven to be a robust and reliable gaming platform, though not one entirely stacked with innovation – it’s a solid base on which a host of gaming tools are built.

Windows 10, though, adds a load of new features. Most will, in all likelihood, be of limited interest to most PC gamers – the ability to access your Xbox Live account, stream games from your Xbox to your PC and have multiplayer games work with both PC and Xbox players – though they are, of course, mostly welcome.

Windows 10 Gaming

Windows 10 brings access to lots of Xbox features

Probably the neatest feature is built-in game capture. This will constantly record your gaming sessions, allowing you to grab a snapshot of the last 30 seconds of gameplay to share with your friends. It may not be new technology, but having it baked into the OS is very useful. Also it works with every game ever – at least so Microsoft says – so if you fancy capturing a video of your Monkey Island adventures, it will happily do so.

Also, Windows 10 has exclusive access to DirectX 12, which promises to unlock performance on existing hardware thanks to it allowing programmers to better access the features of specific hardware. The performance gains are likely to be fairly small, and very much dependent on exact circumstances, but it’ll likely be enough to tip the balance of performance back in Windows 10’s favour.

NOTIFICATIONS

Windows has long had a notifications area of sorts, in the shape of the System Tray. Here you’ll find popup messages from the likes of Outlook, Dropbox and Spotify – anything that actively runs in the background.

However, it’s never really been a proper unified place where messages from other apps can reside, and where you can see a history of updates.

Windows 10 Notifications

Windows 10 has a useful single place for all notifications

Enter the new notifications area of Windows 10. This simple addition brings together system messages and app notifications into one place, with alerts ordered chronologically. It’s a small addition, but one that’s immensely useful.

The notifications area also contains some useful system functions, such as being able to switch to tablet mode or access the settings screen.

WORKSPACE MANAGEMENT

Getting and keeping your workspace tidy is of key importance to certain users. While those with a laptop may be content with just making everything fullscreen, if you’re a desktop user you may have multiple large monitors and need good tools for managing all the windows and desktops that make up the total working area.

Windows 7 has multi-monitor support, though it’s somewhat limited with just access to either a mirroring mode or one that stretches the whole desktop across all the monitors, but with only one taskbar on one monitor. It also has an early version of Snap – the tool that automatically resizes windows when you drag them to the left or right. But that’s it – it’s a fairly limited set of tools.

Windows 10 Virtual Desktop

Windows 10 adds virtual desktops and better multi-monitor support

With Windows 10 both these features have been enhanced. Different monitors can now have different backgrounds, with different slideshows, too. Pictures can also now be set to span across all your monitors.

On a more practical note, the taskbar can now appear on multiple monitors or both your primary monitor and whichever monitor you’re currently active in. Snap has also been improved to support snapping to four corners, not just side to side.

Perhaps the biggest addition, though, is virtual desktop support. Although Windows 7 has had support for virtual desktops via third-party software, now it’s built right in. The implementation isn’t super slick, but it’s a big bonus, particularly for laptop users.

TABLET MODE AND TOUCHSCREEN OPTIMISATION

It may not seem a particularly key feature for Windows 7 users – being as most won’t be using it on touchscreen devices – but it’s still worth noting that Windows 10 is a vast improvement over Windows 7 when it comes to touchscreen devices.

As well as many features having more touch-friendly icons and gestures there’s also the easy tablet mode which at the touch of a button will switch a device between a more conventional multi-windowed interface with a normal Start Menu to a fullscreen mode using the Start Screen.

Windows 10 Tablet Mode

You may not ever use the features on the desktop but it is good to know that the OS is designed to work smoothly across a range of devices, making it much easier to switch between your desktop, hybrid laptop and tablet.

ANNOYING EXTRAS AND FORCED UPDATES

Microsoft – and Apple with OSX – has long tried to push new integrated features onto users with each new operating system, when some people simply don’t want any extras but rather want a OS that’ll just do the basics reliably. In this regard Windows 10 is no different.

Perhaps the most prominent is that Windows 10 really pushes you towards creating a Microsoft account. This is then used to log into the machine where it links up with your email, calendar, OneDrive shared storage and more, syncing them across all your devices.

It’s the sort of thing that is definitely useful for certain users, but it’s a bit annoying if you just want the simple life. Thankfully you can choose to just create a local login and ignore all the extra Microsoft account stuff. Except that if you choose to do so you can’t use any of the preinstalled new apps such as Calendar and Mail, nor are any of the new gaming features available (other than DirectX 12). That’s downright cheeky if you ask us.

Cortana arguably falls into this category too, but this you can at least just choose to turn off completely, leaving a more basic localised file search.

What you can’t turn off, though, is automatic updates. This has long been something that Microsoft has tried to push users to do but with Windows 10 they’ve completely taken the issue out of user’s hands. Now, the OS will download and install any important updates whether you like it or not, with only the option to choose when it does so.

It’s kind of ridiculous that one of the most often criticised aspects of Windows – the fact that it’s insecure and requires constant rebooting to install updates – has gotten so bad that Microsoft has felt the need to just force the issue onto users, rather than fix it. Thankfully for those that really find it irksome there is a workaround that involves disabling the Windows Update service – you’ll have to then manually restart it when you do want to update.

Buy Now: Windows 10 at Amazon.co.uk from £83 | Amazon.com from $85

THE VERDICT

There’s nothing wrong with sticking with Windows 7, but upgrading to Windows 10 definitely has plenty of benefits, and not too many downsides. Of course the fact that it’s a free upgrade right now makes it even more tempting.

Windows 10 has a lot of genuinely useful new features, as well as key improvements to old features, compared to Windows 7. None is enough on its own to make an upgrade necessary, but when combined they do make a compelling case.

You’ve got better search, window management, file management, gaming tools and more. Windows 10 is faster in general use, too, and the new Start Menu is in some ways better than the one in Windows 7.

The only real sticking point is that Microsoft wants you to sign in with a Microsoft account and if you choose not to you lose some features. Features that shouldn’t need to be linked to any online account. You certainly can get away with a normal ‘offline’ version but Microsoft really doesn’t want you to, and that’s something we’re not keen on.

(trustedreviews.com, http://goo.gl/TQ6ia3)

Samsung Galaxy J5 vs Galaxy J5 (2016) – What Difference Did You Expect?

Not all people can notice the difference between the two Samsung Galaxy J5s which were released somewhat a year apart. Perhaps it is about time and it would only be fair to reveal the notable advantages of one to the other. So, here are the top similarities or dissimilarities of both smartphones having at least the same names.

The Samsung Galaxy J5

  • Design Comparisons

Initially, the J5 has the following dimensions: 142.1 x 71.8 x 7.9mm to begin with. At the same time, it weighs only 146 grams. Likewise, it has a plastic back along with the metal frame.

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  • Display

This unit dons a 5-inch AMOLED display that has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and a 294 pixels per inch (ppi) ratio. For a smartphone in this category, it might just be a good buy.

  • Processor, GPU and RAM

This one has a Snapdragon 410 chipset Qualcomm MSM8916, quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex A53 CPU, and a graphics card categorized as Adreno 306, to go along the 2GB of RAM.

  •  Storage

This model has two variants of 8GB and 16GB of internal memory storage with supported microSD slot expandable to 256GB.

  • Battery

A removable Li-ion battery with 2600mAh is inside the J5, which might not be a very impressive feature for a smartphone at this category these days.

The Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)

  • The Display

Both have super AMOLED displays, but this one has a 5.2-inch display that should go with the 1280 x 720 pixels at 282 ppi.

  • Processor Speed and RAM

The J5 (2016) has the same chipset and processor speed and graphics card. The only difference between the two is the 2GB of RAM, which is slightly better than the first.

  • Storage

Both have microSD slot expandable to 256GB, which is not a usual feature that any other phone can easily have. However, the notable difference is the internal memory which starts at 16GB instead of 8.

  • Battery Life

Speaking of powerful devices, it should come with greater battery than the usual. So, Samsung has made it 3100mAh to go with the new hardware upgrades.

In terms of camera features, they are still the same in this category in which both the Samsung Galaxy J5s have 13MP back- and 5MP front-facing camera features. Well, the cards have all been laid and there you have it, folks!

(neurogadget.net, http://goo.gl/whNS1d)

HYPERX CLOUD REVOLVER HEADSET REVIEW

Two Months with the HyperX Angry Sea Clam Cloud Revolver Gaming Headset

My love affair with the new Cloud Revolver headphones from HyperX didn’t start off well, but we’ll get more into that later.

After a serious amount of research and more than a few unboxing videos, I was practically drooling at the thought of getting my hands on the HyperX Cloud Revolver Pro Gaming Headset. For me, the edgier style and bigger ear size of the Cloud Revolvers put them ahead of the well-loved HyperX Cloud II’s.

So I headed over to Amazon and managed to grab myself a pair on sale for £90 ($118 / €107) with next day delivery. 24 hours later I grabbed the package off the postman like a rabid dog and scuttled back inside to open my package… my precious… my Cloud Revolvers…

Placing the crown headphones upon my head, I felt the soft cushioning embrace of premium leatherette against my cheeks and immediately opened up my steam account to test these bad boys out. When the love affair ended, was an hour later when I felt like my head had been clamped by the angriest clam in the sea. The more I wore the headphones the angrier the clam became.

Kill the Angry Sea Clam!

Like all good love stories I wasn’t ready to give up on the Cloud Revolvers yet… See the image above? That’s act one of  trying to loosen the Angry Sea Clam’s deadly grip.

Let’s take a look at the Pro’s & Con’s of the HyperX Cloud Revolver before I go in-depth on how to kill the angry sea clam adjust the un-adjustable Cloud Revolver headset.

Cloud Revolver starts at… UK : £95 | EU : €135 | US : $145

Pro’s
  • Fits over my massive ears
  • Super Comfy (post: Kill the angry sea clam)
  • Fantastic Sound-stage
  • Excels at Gaming & Music
  • Great build quality
  • Packaging Heaven
Con’s
  • Twangy Metal Support
  • Non-detachable headphone cable
  • Sound travels up the braided cable easily
  • Clamps your head (Pre: Kill the angry sea clam)
  • Medium Gaming Bass (easily fixed with EQ)

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-headphones

Design & Build Quality

When you first pick up the Cloud Revolvers you get a real sense of the craftsmanship that has gone into making these headphones so great. They aren’t the lightest at 365g but this only adds to the feeling that there’s some serious drivers inside, you won’t find any weights in these headphones coughbeatscough.

Now, although I prefer the Revolver’s design over the Cloud 2’s, you wouldn’t catch me wearing these outside the house… in the ‘real world’. Everything that makes the design great indoors makes you look like a Star Trek extra outdoors. But that doesn’t matter because there a much better choices for on the go.

The metal suspension bar that rises over the headphones is pretty much indestructible but does have the downside of acting like a tuning fork if you accidental knock or adjust the headband. Whilst gaming at a computer, this isn’t a problem, but if you are planning to walk around the occasional ‘twang’ can be quite distracting.

HyperX Craftsmanship wins again

An impressive aspect of the Cloud Revolver headset is the minimal noise leakage. With the headset on, it creates a  nice seal around your head that keeps leakage very low, even at high volumes.

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-headphones-logo

A slightly unexpected downside to the Cloud Revolvers is that the metal support band can be a little dangerous. Although there aren’t any rough edges it’s still not wise to be waving them around near your expensive monitors.

Overall, I’m a big fan of the Cloud Revolver design, the edgier gaming style, to me, feels more contemporary when compared to the Cloud II . The one big downside, for me, is the unexpected noise produced by the metal headband as well as how easily noise travels up through the cable and into the left ear cup. I’m going to look at fixing this with some carefully placed black elastic bands.

Comfort

Why am I discussing Comfort before Sound Quality? Because no matter how great a pair of headphones sound, if my ears feel like they’ve been bitten by the angry sea clam after an hour then they can go straight back to the shop.

Straight out of the box, they Cloud Revolvers feel great, everything you would expect from a full over ear premium set of headphones. But, a big but here, after around an hour of wearing the headset my ears were burning and the side of my cheek ached.

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-metal-support

I’m pretty sure that I’m not some giant headed blogger which means that others must be feeling the same way about the non-adjustable tight Cloud Revolvers. As the headphones are full over ear they rest from above your ear to the side of your jaw. Too much pressure on your jaw soon becomes very uncomfortable.

The way the Cloud Revolvers exert pressure means that the bulk of the force ends up on the lower half of the headphones, mainly your jaw. I think the rave reviews about these headphones comfort must have come from either tiny headed tech enthusiasts who didn’t wear the pair for more than 5 minutes… well I hope so or I’ll have to admit I have a freakishly large head.

Adjusting the Cloud Revolver Headband for comfort

Fear not though fellow tech enthusiasts… through bravery and testing I have developed a very scientific way of adjusting the Hyper X Cloud Revolver Headband!

Disclaimer: Be careful when trying step 3 as you may overstretch the bar.

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-headband

First of all, you will need a 200ml Graduated Cylinder, a Bunsen Burner, and a Gauze mat. Just kidding!

First, I stretched the headphones over the box and left for 24 hours. The headphone sprang back to their original shape and the indestructible headband laughed at me.

Secondly, I tried heating the bar with a hair-dryer until too hot to touch and then leaving them stretched over the box until cool. This did nothing. The indestructible headband laughed at me even harder.

My third attempt was more drastic. Placing the headphones upside down over my knee, I pulled the headphones down until the headband became straight, then slightly past straight. Releasing the headphones you could see the gap between the two ear muffs had increased around 5mm. I tried the headphones on and repeated until the clamping pressure on my head felt right.

Post Angry Clam Cloud Revolver Comfort

Now that I’ve adjusted the headband tension these are some of the comfiest headphones I’ve owned. Fully covering my big ears and gently resting on my cheeks and head.

I made out like adjusting the headphones was an epic mission but if you skip straight to step three then you’ll easily be able to lessen the clamping force for your Cloud Revolvers as well.

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-design

Sound Quality

Overall the cloud Revolvers sounds fantastic. If you’ve ever tried the Cloud II headset then you’d know that we were expecting great gaming audio from the Cloud Revolver.

I tested the headphones using a variety of high-quality FLAC music titles, lots of FPS games and a selection and high-quality film trailers.

Straight out of the box, the Revolvers produce a really clean soundstage. You can hear each instrument separately which at first is a little distracting as you get used to it sounds fantastic. I was surprised at how well these headphones worked for listening to music without being overpowered by bass.

One area where the Cloud Revolvers won’t WOW you straight out of the box is in the Bass department. The unequalised Bass sounds earthy and guttural but is, in my opinion, still a little lacking. This isn’t an issue though as the free 7.1 software from Razer improved the Bass two-fold.

Razer Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound Software

If you haven’t already then go get yourself a free copy of the Razer 7.1 software. It massively improved the Cloud’s Bass whilst generally making everything sounds more epic as well as giving a 7.1 effect.

Make sure to turn the setting off when listening to certain genres of music as it can sometimes muffle the treble on voices.

Razer Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound Free

Overall Sound Quality

Music and gaming audio is very much down to personal preference and taste but, for me, I absolutely love the Cloud Revolvers. Admittedly I haven’t had my hands all that many headsets. What appeals to me about the Clouds Soundstage is the clarity between the different in-game sounds which really draws you into the action.

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-microphone

Removable Microphone

The microphone does a good job of picking up the full sound of your voice. Often headset microphones tend to make you sound flat but the Cloud Revolver microphone does a good job of keeping a realistic amount of Bass when recording.

The microphone is detachable and adjustable via bending it towards your face. In practice, it will often bend back and take quite a few tries to get it to stick. It takes a standard 1.5mm jack so can be easily replaced or swapped out.
Microphone Technical Specifications

  • Element: Electret condenser microphone
  • Polar pattern: Uni-directional, Noise-canceling
  • Frequency response: 50Hz–18,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -40dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-weight

For the Geeks

HyperX Cloud Revolver Technical specifications

  • Driver: Dynamic, 50mm with neodymium magnets
  • Type: Circumaural, Closed back
  • Frequency response: 12Hz–28,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 30 Ω
  • Sound pressure level: 104.5dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
  • T.H.D: < 2%
  • Input power: Rated 30mW, Maximum 500mW
  • Weight: 360g
  • Weight w/ mic and cable: 376g
  • Cable length and type: Headset (1m) + Audio Control Box (2m)
  • Headset Connection: 3.5mm plug (4 pole)
  • Audio Control Box: 3.5mm stereo and mic plugs

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-in-box

What’s in the epic box?

HyperX know how to make great packaging, a subtle slice of red protruding from all black box with the grey HyperX logo giving hints of the subtle craftsmanship that lies within. The cardboard is dense and premium with that almost air-tight seal making you work to get to your hard earned prize.

Surrounding this is a cardboard sleeve, teasing your tech mind with with words like “Studio-Grade Soundstage” and “50mm Directional Drivers”.

Inside you’ll find: 2 Meter – 1.5mm Jack controller with Volume & Mute, Cloud Revolver Headset, Instructions & warranty leaflet and a secret message written inside the box.

HyperX-Cloud-Revolver-ear-cushioning

Final Thoughts

I’ve been using the Cloud Revolver headset daily for the last 2 months and wholeheartedly say I can recommend this headset. It’s not cheap, and it does have it’s flaw (mainly the twangy headband) but when sat at a desktop or gaming laptop these go unnoticed.

Follow my instructions above and you’ll have yourself a super comfy, perfectly adjusted set of headphones that will not improve your game but allow you to hear your music in all its glory.

Cloud Revolver starts at… UK : £95 | EU : €135 | US : $145

(review-hub.co.uk, http://goo.gl/r70XVK)

macOS Sierra Tips, Tricks and Hidden Features : 9 secret Siri commands to try today

Our guide to macOS Sierra tips, tricks and hidden features will turbocharge your Apple software experience. Whether you’re a pro user or a complete novice, here are nine secret Siri commands to try out today.

Siri has officially graduated. Everyone’s favourite pocket assistant is moving on from its smartphone roots, progressing to make its Mac-based debut aboard Apple’s latest desktop software rollout. While the full macOS Sierra release is still being fine-tuned ahead of a September release, the public beta is now available as a free download, giving you an early chance to try out many of the new features.

Chief among these, and lining up alongside improved Photos skills and picture-in-picture video viewing, is Siri. Instead of forcing the digital PA to drop the sass bombs by asking it to divide zero by zero, why not give these handy Siri for Mac commands a go instead?

Here are nine of the best things you can ask Siri to do in macOS Sierra.

1. FIND OUT WHAT FLICKS TO WATCH

macOS Siri

Some of Siri’s Mac-based skills are exactly the same as its smartphone counterpart’s. That’s anything but an issue, though. Siri’s pretty handy on your pocket blower, so rejoice in being able to do things like checking football scores, finding your nearest coffee shop, and checking which movies are being shown at a cinema near you.

By asking “When’s Star Trek Beyond showing near me,” not only will Siri tell you when the film you’re interested in is scheduled at your local cinema, but it will also give you an insight as to how people are reacting to the film. Because maybe that latest Adam Sandler flick isn’t quite as hilarious as the well-edited 14-second trailer would lead you to believe.

2. ENJOY HANDS-FREE TWEETING

macOS Siri

Handling social media accounts isn’t what big shots do, and just like any minor celebrity or mid-sized company with interns, you can get a taste of the high life by turning your back on manual Twitter updates. Assuming you’ve synced macOS Sierra to your social media accounts, here’s how to let Siri take the reigns.

Once you’re all hooked up, just tell Siri to “Tweet” followed by your sub-140-character message of choice, then your verbal commands will be transformed into a fully formed tweet. You can even throw in hashtags simply by saying the word “hashtag” – Siri’s now smart enough to sub out the word for the symbol.

It’s not just Twitter you can post to without lifting a finger, either. To get Siri doing your Facebook posts for you, simply say “Post to Facebook” followed by whatever social status you want to throw down.

3. FIND YOUR HOLIDAY PHOTOS WITHOUT THE FAFF

macOS Siri

One of the coolest new macOS Sierra features is the Skynet-style Photos app. As well as keeping all your images safe and secure, Photos has added some AI-enhanced street smarts. Among these is the ability to work out not only where photos were taken, but what’s going on and even who is in them – creepy, but also cool.

This makes searching for specific snaps much easier. Commands such as “Show my photos from yesterday” or “Show me photos taken in Spain” will now utilise Photos’ enhanced smarts to do just that. With Photos also set to learn who’s in the snaps you’ve taken, you’ll soon be able to voice search for images of your mates or selfies of you and your bae too.

4. GET A LITTLE PEACE AND QUIET

macOS Siri

Sometimes when you’re sat at the computer, you just want a little, well… alone time – for watching the latest Bond film or catching up on the day’s sporting action, obviously. With Siri’s skills at your disposal, you can kill all the distractions just by shouting, “Do not disturb.”

Customisable in Settings, this “Do not disturb” command can be used to curb all manner of annoyances, with everything from Calendar alerts and Messages notifications being turned off, allowing you to enjoy your film without your email inbox pinging every 12 minutes.

5. FIND YOUR DOCUMENTS THE EASY WAY

macOS Siri

We’ve all been there. You know you looked at a specific document just a couple of days ago, but are unable to find the sodding thing in the mass of desktop clutter that you meant to sort out weeks ago. Thankfully, the days of mind-numbing manual searching are behind us – Siri for macOS is coming to your rescue.

Asking Siri to “Show me documents opened this week” will help narrow down your spreadsheet hunt massively – and it doesn’t stop there. Ask a follow-up query like “Only show ones with ‘accounts’ in the title” and your desired documents should spring forth, with no button presses or endless searches required.

6. GET REMINDERS BASED ON YOUR LOCATION

macOS Siri

Location tracking is both sinister and handy in equal measure. Fortunately, this Siri-aiding enhancement falls on the useful side of the fence. Because your Mac knows where you are (and where you live and work), it can use its geo-smarts to give you prompts and reminders when you arrive at the office or return home after a busy day.

This can cover off pretty much anything from picking up something to eat, reminding you to wish your bezzie a happy birthday, or asking Siri to “Remind me to call Mum when I get home.” You’ll never be accused of forgetting your folks again.

Cheers, Siri.

7. MAKE FACETIME CALLS QUICKLY

 macOS Siri

So Siri’s reminded you you’ve got to call your mum, but that’s not a cue for your digital PA to clock off for the day – there’s more that it can help you with. Letting you leave your phone firmly in your pocket, Siri commands such as “FaceTime Mum” will get the call going without you having to lift a finger.

You don’t need to look someone in the eye to talk to them, either. If you own an iPhone as well as a Mac -– and your phone’s on the same Wi-Fi network as your laptop – you can use Siri to make an actual call by saying, “Call Mum, home.”

Phone in another room? Don’t worry about it – by syncing wirelessly with your computer, you can simply chat and listen using your Mac’s integrated mic and speakers.

8. MUTE THE VOLUME

macOS Siri

Got a call incoming? You no longer need to worry about faffing around pausing tunes in Spotify or trying to remember which keyboard shortcut lets you mute the music – Siri can do it all for you.

Simply yell: “Mute the volume,” and Siri will do just that, culling the audio while keeping everything running in the background so you can answer your call in peace. Other commands such as “Pause my music” will also do the trick.

9. CHECK YOUR COMPUTER’S STORAGE

macOS Siri

Beyond helping you find lost documents, Siri on Mac can serve up plenty more useful functions, too. Like what? Well, it can keep tabs on the state of your machine for a start. Calling out, “How much free space do I have on my Mac?” will save you much menu and settings hopping, presenting your device’s storage options front and centre.

It’s not just a passive experience, either. Commands such as “Adjust my brightness” and “Turn the volume up” can be used to tweak your system’s settings without all the usual faff and effort.

(trustedreviews.com, http://goo.gl/7iUPvW)