Monthly Archives: November 2016

Archeer A320 2.1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review


  • Great Bass
  • Easy Setup and connectivity
  • Beautiful look


  • No WiFi for HiFi sound
  • Needs rubber feet to prevent wear and tear


Everywhere you look people are bringing their music with them. And so the audiophile market follows the trend of portability with the ever increasing pressure for higher fidelity sound and longer battery life. Audio company Archeer has taken it one step further and introduced a portable speaker product that pleases the eyes as well as the ears.


I received an email from Archeer to see if I would review their A320 2.1 Channel compact wireless home stereo system.  I have to be honest, without knowledge of the Archeer product line I wasn’t sure what to expect. I decided to do a blind test and just base my review without product knowledge, company history, or price point; just the company name and model number.


A few days later an Amazon box arrived at my door.  Inside the shipping box was the Archeer box with the A320 nestled inside.  While unpacking the box the first thing that struck me was the sheer beauty of the bamboo covering of the speaker.  The soft and warm look of wood is evident throughout my house so the A320 would be a perfect fit for any room in my home.


As I unpacked the rest of the box I found the AUX cord, carrying bag, and USB cord.  I thought Archeer had forgotten the power cord until I read the quick start guide and realized the A320 is actually a portable speaker system.

Build Quality

Looking over the unit, I liked the clean design of the inputs and controls. I could have done without the feel of the fabric wrapping, but that is a matter of personal preference over actual problems with the speaker.  Since it is in fact a portable device there is some concern that over time the material may wear.  I suppose only will tell but the soft dark gray, not quite black, textured material transitions nicely to the bamboo wood in the front and back of the unit.  The material does an adequate job of holding the speaker in place even during higher volumes.  Some consumers might opt for small rubber stick on feet attached to the bottom of the speaker to help decrease wear and tear on the fabric which the speaker rests on.  They will also serve to decouple the cabinet from the surface to reduce resonance.  I think it will be a good addition, and if I decide to keep this little gem, I’ll probably add them myself.

Archeer A320 bottom.JPG

The A320 is equipped with two 5 watt fullrange drivers and a 15 watt subwoofer.  Impressive for a portable speaker, but a subjective listening test will tell if the look of the speaker will match the output. The fully exposed drivers and sub surfaces might cause some sphincter contractions for people with young toddlers and curious fingers.  Not an issue in my house, but worth mentioning.


On the back is the AUX port, DC in via micro USB to standard USB, charge light, and reset button. In addition, near the bottom of the back of the unit is the bass port. On the top of the unit are easy to understand universal symbols for power, play/pause, and volume up and down. In the middle of these buttons is a small led light that will show different functions of the speaker.


BLUBOO Edge vs iPhone 7 Plus Battery Life Test Review

Bluboo Edge is a hot dual curved screen smartphone with 2600mAh battery currently. It’s not well-known for the design, but also the battery. Because Bluboo decides to compare Bluboo Edge with iPhone 7 Plus, a big challenge.

According to the video, both smartphones are in full charge, 100% and in highest brightness level. They test them in five hours such as offline video playback, video recording, playing games, social networking and video chatting, each is tested in one hour.


Iphone 7 Plus has 51% batter capacity left after first three hours, but Bluboo Edge remains 54%, after one hour testing the network browsing, iPhone 7 Plus only consumes 15% battery while Bluboo Edge consumes 16%, and they test video chatting in one hour, iPhone 7 Plus has remains 10%  battery, but Bluboo Edge keeps 11%.



In all, according to test result, we can know the minor difference between iPhone 7 Plus and Bluboo Edge in 5 hours battery life. Right now Bluboo Edge sells at $129.99 for Black and Gold. It can be one of the cheapest budget dual curved smartphone with long battery life.


Virgin TV V6 box and TellyTablet preview: TiVo supercharged and 4K HDR ready

Virgin Media has announced an entirely new TV platform, positioned as an evolution of the current TiVo service as opposed to a revolution.

Called Virgin TV, the new platform comes with a brand new, 4K HDR-enabled V6 box, powered by TiVo, which replaces the older generation device. There is also a TellyTablet portable tablet device and several apps and service updates.

We weren’t able to fully demo the new box for an in-depth look yet – that will happen soon – but here are our initial impressions from the London unveiling.


The initial teaser image of the V6 Box probably left some people thinking it was a big, ugly black box. Compared to Sky Q’s sleek box, Virgin could’ve been seen to be on the back foot already. But the V6 Box is actually around half the size of the original TiVo box, giving it a more modern look and making it much easier to place in the home.

Holding them side by side, the V6 does feel a little heavier, but it’s no bad thing. It feels like a solid, well made piece of kit that will look good under any TV.

Around the back there’s a decent spread of connections: HDMI out, digital optical out, a wired ethernet port, USB port – which is likely to be used for software updates – Scart out and analogue audio out. There’s also a cable input to receive channels, of course.

The V6 box will handle 4K streams, including those with added high dynamic range (HDR), something Sky Q can’t match. For now, HDR content is limited to Netflix and YouTube, as there’s no live HDR broadcasts, although trials have taken place that could make them a reality one day.


The V6 can record six programmes at once, so you should find recording clashes are a thing of the past.

The remote has received small updates too, including a new search button to help make your content and recordings easier to find. It’s also a tad smaller than the original, and a find your remote function will make it beep when you press a button on the V6 box.

We’re impressed with the new Virgin TV V6 box. It’s received a much needed makeover and has the ability to be a true multiroom streaming powerhouse, connecting with existing TiVo boxes and other V6 devices. The fact you can combine multiple V6s around the home to increase your storage each time means you’ll find yourself with a vast library of content in no time at all.


Also announced at the launch was something Virgin Media managed to keep under its hat. The 14-inch TellyTablet has been designed to act a second screen to the V6 for when one of you wants to watch one programme on the big screen, but another wants to catch up on their favourite programmes anywhere else in the home. It’s a hefty device, but a built-in stand makes it easy to prop up, whether it be on the kitchen counter to follow a recipe, or in front of the kids to keep them happy.

A 14-inch tablet may seem a bit too big for some, but from holding it and seeing it close up, we think it’s a good size. It’s not overly heavy and the bigger screen will soon become second nature, especially if it’s used regularly for second-screen watching.

The tablet runs on Android and has access to the Virgin TV Anywhere app, which is the application you’ll need to stream content from your V6 box. You can of course still use any tablets or smartphones around the home, using the app.


The user interface has been updated too, and now makes it easier to find content you want to watch, and content Virgin Media thinks you’ll want to watch. We haven’t been able to have a full demo of the new UI, but some short videos showed it looks easy to use. Search is the big function Virgin is keen to push, with that new button on the remote we mentioned.

Search works on what content is trending with other Virgin TV customers too, so open search, press 4 for ‘G’ and the first show will be Great British Bake Off. It’s popularised rather than alphabetised.

We’ll look more at the UI and other elements of the Virgin TV V6 box and TellyTablet when we have a proper play soon.


You’ll be able to get your hands on the devices from December, with the V6 box costing a one-off fee of £99.95/$149.93 (£49.95/$74.93 for Full House or VIP TV customers) and the TellyTablet costing £299 standalone. It will also be available as part of several Virgin Mobile Freestyle price plans.

First Impressions

It’s hard to come to a proper verdict without giving the new Virgin TV platform a thorough workout. For now though, we’re impressed Virgin Media has listened to its customers and updated its hardware and software in such a way that there’s not much new stuff to learn.

Existing Virgin Media customers will feel at home as soon as they turn a V6 Box on, and the ability to be able to use their current TiVo box as a way to stream content to or from a V6 box means you don’t have to lose any of your current recorded content.

What’s really clear from our time is that Virgin Media is properly taking the fight to Sky Q.


Teclast X80 Plus tablet PC Hands-on Review

Teclast X80 Plus is a dual boot tablet that features and genuine Windows 10 and Android 5.1, 8 inch display and Cherry Trail T3-Z8350 under the hood.



The Teclast X80 Plus is equipped with a 8 inch IPS screen and 1280 x 800 (WXGA) resolution. The X80 Plus offers 4K experience, so watching videos and browsing the Web is marvelous. The X80 Plus is equipped with TF card slot, Micro USB Slot, Micro HDMI and 3.5mm Headphone Jack. The dimensions of the X80 Plus are 20.8 x 12.6 x 0.89 cm and weights just 321 grams.



The Teclast X80 Plus is equipped under the hood with the Intel Atom X5-Z8350 (Cherry Trail T3-Z8350) Quad Core, clocked at 1.44GHz (up to 1.92GHz). The T3-Z8350 gives a very good performance, delivering plenty of power for multitasking and fueling casual games and movies. For the graphics, the X80 Plus uses a Intel HD Graphic Gen8 processor. It helps so everything in the tablet is better and faster in playing games and watching videos than the previous generation. The system is helped by the 2GB DDR3L of RAM and the 32GB eMMC of ROM. Both are more than enough to work, play, save and do whatever you might want. The X80 Plus features also a TF card for up to 128 GB.



The Teclast X80 Plus features Bluetooth 4.0 so you can transfer between devices images, videos and other files really fast. From the HDMI slot, you can connect the X80 Plus to your TV and project everything there. For connectivity features also WiFi connection with 802.11b/g/n. The X80 Plus comes with dual camera, one front that is 2.0MP and one at the rear that is also 2.0 MP. The X80 Plus supports video in AVI, MOV, MP4, RMVB, FLV and MKV and audio in MP3, WMA, WAV, APE, AAC, FLAC and OGG. You can see images that are JPG, BMP, PNG and GIF and Ebook in UMD, TXT, PDF, HTML, RTF and FB2 format. The X80 Plus comes with genuine Windows 10 that you can activate without any problem and you can also work in an android environment, since the tablet is dual boot.



The Teclast X80 Plus comes with a 3800mAh Li-ion battery, that will give you enough hours to watch the movie you want or the game that you love. It uses AC Adapter 100-240V.



The Teclast X80 Plus is a really good tablet, with dual boot ability, 4k movie experience and very good specs. A very good and very affordable gift for you or for friends and family, specially now for Christmas.


LENKEWI V2 Review – A 5.5 inch 1080P VR All-in-one 3D Headset

Lenkewi V2 is the second attempt of the company in the 3D VR headsets, with an updated version, featuring 5.5 inch display in 1080p.



The LENKEWI V2 is a VR Headset made out of ABS and Foam. Comes with 3.5mm audio jack, Micro USB, TF Card Slot and USB interface. It comes with build in 5.5” OLED screen with 1920 x 1080 (FHD) screen resolution at 60Hz fps. Uses button with indirect touch as control. The VR Headset is very stylish and with robust quality. It uses English as operational menu. The VR Headset weights 1250 grams and its dimensions are 16.50 x 13.50 x 9.00 cm



The LENKEWI V2 comes equipped with the RK3288 as CPU and the Mali-T764 as GPU. The system is helped by the 2GB RAM and the 16 GB ROM. The RAM and the internal memory is more than enough to save images and video. And in case you think this is not enough, LENKEWI v2 supports and External Card up to 64GB. The VR headset supports WIFI connection 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth V4.0. The operational system is Nibiru.



The LENKEWI V2 features Optical aspherical lens with 45mm diameter made out of PMMA. The FOV range of the headset is 90 – 110 degrees, with IPD Adjustment and IPD 60 – 75mm. The VR headset features space for glasses if you have eye problems, because it doesn’t support focus adjustment, neither refraction compensation. The video format must be in H.264, H.265 or MPEG2 and supports up to 1080P, 1080i, 720P, 576P, 576i, 480P and 480i. From audio format it supports AAC, MP3 and WMA and from games it supports all android games.



The LENKEWI V2 comes with a built-in 4400mAh Li-polymer battery. It also features DC 5V / 2A as power supply.


The LENKEWI V2 is a very impressive and strong 3D VR Headset. An ideal present now for the Christmas, to watch the movies you like, as if you were in a 3D cinema.


OUKITEL U15S Hands-on Video Review

Oukitel released a new video where they explain the OUKITEL U15S super screenshot & fingerprint functions.


In Android normally to get a screenshot, you use three fingers, slide down screen or press power key+volume down key to get a screenshot.

OUKITEL U15S supports natively a screen record function so you can record all your handlings on screen. It also has a function of getting a long screenshot of a whole long article. You can save up to 10 pages with one screenshot. OUKITEL U15S also supports rectangle screenshot, lasso screenshot and scrawl screenshot. It also supports rectangle screenshot, lasso screenshot and scrawl screenshot.


OUKITEL U15S comes with a customized version of Android 6.0 named  dido OS. With this new optimized OS the performance speed rise up to 25% compared to the original system and saved up to 50% power to make the 2700mAh battery last longer. The dido OS also allows the calculator to remember your calculate history, more convenient for checking datas.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho OUKITEL U15S

Here is the OUKITEL U15S super screenshot & fingerprint functions video:

OUKITEL U15S comes with MT6750T Octa-core 1.5GHz chipset, 4GB RAM and 32GB ROM with 128GB expandable memory. 16MP panasonic camera and 5.5 inch SHARP FHD display offers millions of colors on the screen for a visual feast. You can visit OUKITEL Official store page if you want to know more about it.





  • High 1080P video quality
  • Intuitive mobile app
  • Micro SD card dual save backup feature
  • Lane departure and frontal collision warnings


  • Higher price
  • No GPS or Speed display on video
  • Road alert system can become annoyance

Thinkware is one of newest innovators in the dash camera market and is looking to both protect and record your drive with its F750 dash camera. The camera includes road alerts and various safety features that hope to separate it from the growing number of competitors. We spent some time with both the F750 and the Thinkware Rearview camera to see if the combo is up to snuff.


In the box

The Thinkware F750 system comes with the main camera unit, a 12v car charger, adhesive mounting tape, 16GB MLC Type MicroSD Memory Card, and a MicroSD card adaptor. The MicroSD card is a proprietary device sold by Thinkware that has 512mb flash memory dual support to save a backup clip of any emergency recording. The body of the F750 camera is made up of hard plastic with a rotating metal cylinder that contains the camera lens. On one side, the unit has places to plug both the DC power source and the Micro USB port for the rear camera. The only buttons on the device power it on and off, start and stop recording, mute the sound, format the MicroSD card, and turn Wi-Fi on and off. The system is about four inches wide and two inches deep, but mounts flush with the windshield. You can also enable a white LED on the front of the unit that display similar to the lights on KITT from Knight Rider to let any intruders know they are being recorded. The Thinkware rear camera that can be purchased separately for $90 is small, cylindrical, and includes a 21-foot Micro USB cord to allow even those with longer vehicles to mount it in the rear window.


Initial camera setup

Securing and detaching the F750 camera to the front windshield is simple with a removable plastic mounting plate that adheres to the glass with the help of the included 3M tape. Once the unit receives power from the 12-volt car charger, it will light up and give a vocal reminder to regularly format the memory card. The unit will completely turn on and start recording in about 30 seconds and gives a vocal alert to let you know that “continuous recording” has started. The F750 will also give a vocal and LED alert when the device has found a GPS signal and is tracking your location.


To check the video alignment, you will need to first press the Wi-Fi button on the unit and second connect the camera to your smartphone. The Thinkware Dashcam Viewer application is available for Android and iOS and is necessary to view clips and adjust camera settings on the go. While the Wi-Fi is on and connected to a smartphone it will stop recording video. The system will show both the front F750 camera and rear camera if connected. For the front camera, you will get guidelines to help line up the camera in the proper spot for features like the Lane Departure Warning and Front Collision Warning System.

Video recording quality


Despite the additional cost to add the rear camera accessory, both the front F750 and rear camera film at a high quality 1920 x 1080p at 30fps. Generally, other manufacturers such as BlackVue or Cobra will make the rear camera lower quality so the advantage from the Thinkware camera is apparent. Video clarity is also slightly better with the front F750 camera due to a wonderful Sony Exmor Sensor that helps give a brighter picture and bring out more details in low light. The biggest criticism of both the F750 and rear camera is a rather small viewing angle of only 140 degrees. Most other popular front dash cameras have around 160 or even 170 degree viewing angles and there is a noticeable “keyhole” view at times.. Despite the narrow view, the Thinkware system is one of the clearer dual camera setups that we have tested at this higher price point if you combine the $250 price of the F750 with $90 for the rear camera.


Both front and rear cameras record simultaneously and clips are limited to one minute segments without any options to change the time length. Although the system does record GPS and speed, these numbers are not listed on the video and are only viewable within the Thinkware PC Viewer desktop program. Instead, the video timestamp shows only the date, time, and seemingly useless information like the power voltage to the camera. The camera defaults to continuous recording mode which records the one minute clips and simply overrides the older clips as you run out of space, only saving important clips if an emergency recording is triggered but the G-sensor. While most other dash cameras have a parking mode as a standard feature, the Thinkware F750 requires a $30 hardwiring cable kit. Only with this kit will the system record while you are away and let the motion sensors trigger on both the front and rear cameras.


Safety features

The Thinkware F750 dash camera also includes various systems to help keep you alert on the road. Within the Thinkware mobile application, you can enable/disable each system and modify the sensitivity to ensure you don’t get too many false alerts. The Lane Departure Warning System will beep twice if it detects that your vehicle is drifting out of your desired lane. This particular alert worked well but cannot determine if you are changing lanes intentionally and can become annoying over time. The forward collision warning is meant to alert you if an object in front of the car is approaching too fast and give you time to apply the brakes. This alert seemed to be too sensitive in congested traffic, even with the lowest sensitivity setting and would often beep when a car merged at a relatively safe distance. The last alert is a general safety camera alert that is meant to warn drivers of upcoming speed traps or red light cameras. This particular alert seemed responsible for various beeps throughout town with little indication of what was going on. While all these systems seem like convenient features, we found over time that we would completely disable them on longer drives to avoid the annoyance.



The Thinkware F750 dash camera offers a reliable and clear video system without many of the complicated setup problems that we have seen from other competitors. While the additional safety features seem like a nice selling point for the higher price tag, they often fall short on their utility.

Is there a better alternative?

If you’re looking at the higher price range dual camera setups then the F750 is less complicated than the BlackVue with similar quality. But for a single dash camera unit there are much cheaper alternatives with better quality.


How long will it last?

Dash cameras have stayed around 1080P for awhile and the F750 offers enough quality and features to keep it relevant to most buyers even without any major updates.

Should you buy it?

Do buy if you are willing to spend extra money for the road safety features that the cheaper competition doesn’t have. Don’t buy if you are looking for the best quality at the best price.



Pathos In The Groove review

What does it take to make a top class phono stage? Great sound is a given, of course, but we also want easy cartridge matching, low levels of noise and excellent build quality. Pathos’s In The Groove delivers all these things in style.

The job of a phono stage is arguably the hardest of all in amplification. These units deal with very low-level signals – in the order of millivolts –  from a turntable, and amplify them by a factor of a thousand. Even the smallest distortions or added noise caused by the circuitry become obvious.

Also consider that a cartridge is fussy about the electrical interface between it and the phono stage. Every model has different electrical demands too. The scale of the task is enormous.


Pathos has taken a sensible approach here. The In The Groove has a good spread of cartridge loading adjustments, from resistance and capacitance to gain, and so should match most cartridges properly.

The gain control is mounted on the back panel and is adjustable in four steps from 43dB (for moving magnets) all the way to 62dB (low-output moving coils). How do you find the right settings for your cartridge?

The manufacturer should have the information on its website, or you could just have a listen and tune the settings to the sound you like best. You can’t damage your cartridge or system doing this, so don’t worry.

The engineers have tackled the noise issues by moving the power supply – invariably the most problematic part of the circuitry when it comes electrical interference – outboard.

It’s connected to the main unit by a fixed umbilical. Inside the main unit, the RIAA circuitry is completely passive in a bid to keep noise levels low and improve transparency.

Overall build is as good as we’ve come to expect from Pathos. While the In The Groove is one of the company’s most conventional looking designs – Pathos’s products are known for their extrovert styling – it’s still distinctive.

The aluminium casework is solid and finished with care. Overall, this unit certainly feels worth the money, and then some.


We plumb the Pathos into our reference set-up of Clearaudio Innovation Wood turntable, Gamut D3i/D200i pre/power and ATC SCM50 speakers, sit back and enjoy.

It doesn’t take long for the unit to come on song, but give it a couple of days and things become a little clearer and more transparent.

We recognise the Pathos family sound here. There’s a slight sweetness to the presentation coupled with a fluid, full-bodied balance.

None of it is taken to the point where it intrudes, but it gives the unit a sound that works well with a wide range of partnering kit and recordings.

We start off with an old favourite, Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis, and like what we hear. This phono stage has a cohesive way with music.

It doesn’t try and tear the recording apart in an attempt to dig up the tiniest detail. Instead, it’s more concerned with organising the plentiful information it does unearth into a meaningful whole.

It transports you into the studio with those giants of jazz, delivering convincing shifts in intensity and pace coupled to an unswerving momentum with classics like So What.

Instruments from trumpet to piano and double bass are rendered with harmonic richness and no shortage of subtlety. The soundstage too, is drawn with skill, width and precision.

Move to something with more bite in the form of Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run or Radiohead’s In Rainbows and the Pathos shifts gear seamlessly.

There’s plenty of punch here and the ability to track hard charging rhythm tracks with determination.


Class leaders such as Cyrus’s excellent Phono Signature show a little more in terms of speed, dynamic punch and low frequency agility.

But the Pathos counters with greater authority, a more organic way with vocals and the ability to convey large-scale dynamic shifts with more vigour.

Provided you have a suitably talented turntable – something around the three to four grand mark at least – we think you’ll love this phono stage. It’s right up there with the best we’ve heard at the price.



Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL2.0 Tube Headphone Amp Review

Executive Overview

The MicroZOTL2.0 headphone amplifier and preamp is one of Mark Schneider’s latest reconfigurations in the world of audio sources. Featuring quality components, the amp also incorporates the ZOTL (Zero hysteresis Output Transformer-Less) technology which has earned numerous awards and been heralded a success in recent decades. The first implementation of this was, of course, in David Berning’s original MicroZOTL whose architecture came into fruition in the late ‘90s.

Schneider’s modern take, however, aims to deliver sonics that match and even surpass its predecessor with the vision of delivering “stunning sound quality” in the home setting. Having had an extensive background in engineering, manufacturing and product design, Mark was attracted to the opportunity of working with Berning’s complex and desirable creations. It was with this passion that 2015 saw the founding of Linear Tube Audio, an audio company which strives to continue and build upon the successes of the original ZOTL technology. As if this were not enough, Mr. Berning personally oversees the initial run of the microZOTL2.0s to ensure the amps meet his strict criteria.


The $1,100 amp operates under a push-pull design with stock 6SN7 Russian tubes that can put out 1 Watt per channel as a stand-alone amplifier. As with the original, the microZOTL2.0 uses a “highly refined” no-feedback Class A triode design which in addition to the power supply and impedance conversion circuit make this amp a low-current one. The obvious advantage to this is that less stress is applied onto the tubes extending their life expectancy. An upgradeable power supply, touted the Linear Tube Audio ‘Linear Power Supply’ can also be bought for an extra $595.

Box and design

The MicroZOTL2.0 comes well-packaged in a large sized cardboard box with thick heavy foam inserts. Though more utilitarian than thrill-ridden, the packaging served its purpose of arriving in one piece across the trans-Atlantic.


The MicroZOTL2.0 offers a strikingly unique design which makes use of a clear glass acrylic top where the circuit components can be seen without dismantling. Some may consider the internals to be visually unappealing but I for one am happy with the insight into the tube amp’s workmanship. The front plate is made from aluminum and comes in a choice of black or midnight blue.

Build & Features


The MicroZOTL2.0 has a very clean front interface compared to that of the Violectric V281s. Although this has the benefit of a more aesthetically pleasing and minimalist design there is the obvious drawback of less utility options for the end-consumer. Nevertheless, the lack of a balanced input can be overlooked on the basis of appearance and convenience. On the far left hand side of the amp, there is a power button with a bright red LED display. Next to this is an input switch which toggles between two separate inputs. At the center, there is an ALPS potentiometer which feels smooth to the touch with good tactile resistance; it could however, have benefited from dialed markings and more clearly defined volume markers like those used in the V281 amp. On the far right of the device is a 6.35mm jack which can be secured with the red locking plastic mechanism. To release, the red tab needs to be pushed while simultaneously pulling out the cable.



On the rear of the ZOTL2.0, there are a plethora of inputs and selections. For example, the far left side hosts speaker and preamp outputs while the far right hosts the two RCA inputs. The power port, which is located on the bottom right of the device, can be connected to the 12V power supply attached.


The MicroZOTL2.0 adopts much of the same internal circuity as that of its predecessor. However, what has improved is that the power supply has been externalized, the volume pot has been made with higher grade material, preamp outputs have been included and there is now the option to select between two inputs. The stock tubes have also been rethought and now include the Russian Tung-Sol 6SN7 variant.


Sound impressions (w/ Linear Power Supply & Stock Tubes)

The MicroZOTL2.0 offers a unique tonality which is unlike many of the amps that I currently have to test it against. It brings to the table a liquid and immersive sound that does well in making music  engaging and lively. Often, neutral amps do very little to appease a musical and forthright sonic image and so when one does so, it is certainly refreshing to hear.

Starting from the bass, there is good amount of impact and slam. While not the tightest of low frequencies I’ve ever heard, there is generally a good sense of speed and articulacy. The Schiit Ragnarok, in comparison, presents more bottom-end heft and tightness but the MicroZOTL2.0 does good to convey some of the former’s speed and articulation. Paired with the Schiit Yggdrasil, the MicroZOTL2.0 is adept at the portrayal of micro-details and nuances at the lower end of the frequency range. The Violectric V281, on the other hand, has a faster bass decay than the MicroZOTL2.0 with its more analytical ‘solid-state’ signature. Overall, though, the bass of the MicroZOTL2.0 is respectable; it is able to dig deep and offer a pleasurable tonality that captures the essence of the solid-state’s speed whilst maintaining the charm and liquidity of tubes.


This tonality carries on through to the midrange where vocals carry a good sense of clarity coupled with some sweetness. Where the MicroZOTL2.0 differs in its timbre with other tube-based set-ups though, is that less emphasis is placed on an otherwise euphonic midrange. Instead, the mids sound ever so slightly recessed with a soothingly agile character which captures the best of the tube and solid-state world. A good comparison sees that ALO Audio’s Continental Dual Mono tube-hybrid amp sounds warmer in the midsection next to the perceptively clearer midrange of the MicroZOTL amp. Both amps however possess a good level of engagement albeit in different ways of achieving the same goal. With regards to imaging, the MicroZOTL2.0 has a relatively large soundstage eclipsing that of the Schiit Ragnarok and Mjolnir 2 amp.

In Andy James’ “The wind that shakes the heart”, the high frequencies are beautifully presented with this addictively sweet and extensive character which the MicroZOTL2.0 seemingly excels at. Despite not being the most realistic presentation of treble notes, the signature is nothing short of being clear and rich at the same time. Yes, the Ragnarok is more transparent and shows up higher levels of detail across the auditory spectrum but the MicroZOTL2.0 really does well to evoke an engaging and yet non-fatiguing sonic experience.


Part of the reason that the MicroZOTL2.0 is able to offer a different flavor of the tube-based sound is that it uses no output transformers. This allows micro-details to shine through without the unnecessary distortions and artifacts which plague other tube-implemented devices. The MicroZOTL2.0 is also unusual in that it generates very little heat and owing to the low-stress design enjoys a 10,000 hour tube life. It must also be noted that with tube rolling, the sound characteristics of the MicroZOTL2.0 are susceptible to change with various accounts claiming for the better. Having not tested any of the NOS tubes myself, though, it is difficult to recommend any.


The headphones used in this portion of the listening evaluation were HiFiMAN’s HE-400S, Edition X, Sennheiser’s HD800/S and the Fostex TH500RP. All of which were easily able to be driven with plenty of headroom to spare. The MicroZOTL2.0 was also able to handle IEMs such as Ultimate Ear’s Reference Monitors and Rock-it Sounds R-50s. Although the MicroZOTL2.0 can drive efficient speakers to moderate volumes, I did not test them in this aspect. According to Linear Tube Audio’s website they can be driven to volume levels starting from 89dB (for non-critical listening) and 97+ dB for critical levels of listening. An admirable trait that the MicroZOTL2.0 showcases is that no audible background noise can be heard even with the highest volume settings implemented.



Overall, the MicroZOTL2.0 is a great tube amplifier which capitalizes on certain traits not often associated with tube set-ups including its slightly lean and agile midrange as well as its extensive treble. The build quality is magnificent and together with its peer-in display makes for a really classy looking device. It must be noted that the linear power supply is a highly recommended accessory for this type of system to truly get the best out of the MicroZOTL2.0. While $1,699 is a considerable amount of money, I have achieved some outstanding synergy with top-end transducers. Yes, there could be a balanced out option and the additional power supply is not the cheapest but the MicroZOTL2.0 does well in reigning home a relaxed and yet involving sonic experience. Together with the ability to tube-roll and its pleasurable character, this amp is deserving of at least an audition. Stay tuned for more.


Best 360 degree cameras out now and on the way

VR is well and truly here, but it’s not just all about the immersive gaming. 360-degree videos are on the rise and it’s getting easier to shoot your own spherical flicks.

For people who don’t want to spend $60,000 on a Nokia OZO or pay out for GoPro’s Omni professional rig, there’s now a host of 360-degree shooters that you don’t have to break the bank for.

We’ve picked out the best 360-degree cams at both ends of the price spectrum, as well as the most exciting ones yet to come.

Best 360 degree cameras

Best 360-degree cameras available now

Already tried and true, these are the cameras that enthusiasts and regular folks like you and me can pick up. While some run a bit high in terms of cost, most are still under a $1000 or figure in around that mark.

Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh has been on a roll with 360-degree cameras. The latest Theta S model lets you shoot in 1080p HD at 30fps for up to 25 minutes at a time. You can also livestream your videos and even transfer footage to a mobile device without connecting to a PC. It’s a great price for the slim, easily portable camera.

$349.99, | Amazon

Samsung Gear 360

Combining a duo of 180 degree f2.0 fisheye lenses, each with 15 megapixels, the Samsung Gear 360 is capable of shooting two super wide videos or images at once, which can be stitched together using the companion app to create 360 degree visuals.

Once you’ve recorded your 360 degree action, it’s simple to share on Facebook or YouTube by tapping the relevant icon in the app and, of course, you can view the images or video on the Gear VR headset – for which there’s a dedicated mode.

$349, | Amazon

Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K

The Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K has a splash-proof build and can record UHD content at 30FPS via an ultra wide 235-degree lens. The camera can also survive 2m drops (Kodak notes with a drop cover) and extreme temperatures. You also have the option to pair two PIXPRO SP360 4K cameras together for fully spherical content capture. A mobile app and stitching software come bundled with the camera.

If it’s still too pricey for you, the previous model – the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 – is cheaper at $279 if you don’t mind sacrificing 4K quality. Instead, the camera delivers 1080p, which still isn’t too bad.

$499, | Amazon

LG 360 CAM

The LG 360 CAM is one of the most affordable cameras on the list and it doesn’t fall short on specs. It comes equipped with two 13MP, 200-degree wide angle cameras, surpassing several competitors. There’s also a 1,200mAh battery and 4GB internal memory, which can be supplemented by a microSD card, and you’ll get 2K video and 5.1 surround sound channel recording through three microphones.

Like several other cameras, you’ll be able to upload to YouTube360 and Google Street View, or view the content on LG’s other new product, the LG 360 VR.

$199.99, | Amazon

Nikon KeyMission 360

The KeyMission 360 is the first in a line of action cams from the veteran camera company. The camera has two lenses with f2.0 apertures and 20MP sensors that can record footage in 4K with electronic stabilization.

The device also does all the stitching in-camera, is waterproof to 98 feet, shockproof up to 6.6 feet and can be operated in temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The KeyMission is launching October of this year.

$499, | Amazon

360fly 4K

Another tough little guy, the 360fly 4K promises water, dust and shock resistance along with 1,504 x 1,504-pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. However because there’s only one lens, there’s no spherical image. A newer version is on the way that shoots in 4K and costs $100 more.

$499.99, | Amazon

Giroptic 360cam

The pear shaped camera from Giroptic is pretty cute with its unique design but it’s also packed with decent features too. The camera is completely waterproof down to 33 feet for up to 30 minutes and comes with a removable base to let you swap out rechargeable batteries. The rugged little thing can also stream video, connect to GPS for geotagging and more.


Best 360-degree cameras coming soon

These are the next cameras you’ll see everyone scrambling to buy in order to create their own 360-degree videos.

Kodak Pixpro 4KVR360

Best 360 degree cameras out now and on the way

Unlike the last Pixpro SP3604K action camera mentioned earlier, the 4KVR360 can actually shoot with two 20MP lenses on the front and back, meaning you get 360-degree shots without spending money on a second device.

It connects to your mobile device via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (to an optional remote control) and through NFC. You can record up to 128GB of footage on a microSD card where in-camera stitching clocks in at 15fps. It’s set to land in early 2017.

Price TBC,

ORBI Prime

Best 360 degree cameras out now and on the way

Designed to look like regular sunglasses, the ORBI Prime holds four full HD cameras – two one the front, two on the back – and shoots 360-degree video and images.

One charge cycle will let you capture around 90 minutes of video, and with microSD storage capability running up to 128GB, you should have plenty of space to keep it before exporting. It comes bundled with a video editor that will help you stitch your highlights together and share them on social media.

It’s raised just shy of $200,000 on Indiegogo and is estimated to ship in August 2017.



The compact, flat Vuze camera houses eight full-HD cameras with 180×120-degree lenses on its edges that records in 4K at 30fps and also offers stereophonic sound. You’ll get up to one hour of video on the camera’s battery and SD card with one minute of processing per minute of footage at the touch of a button.

The Vuze is also bundled with a companion app, editing software and a VR headset to view your creations. Preorders are open with plans to ship before the end of 2016.



While the LucidCam isn’t actually a 360-degree camera, we called it the “virtual reality camera for the everyman” in our last write up of the device because of its simplicity. With the press of a single button you can capture video and photos in full HD, and connecting three cams will allow you to shoot in 360-degrees. Initially expected to land in 2016, shipping has been pushed back to April 2017.



Best 360 degree cameras out now and on the way

Born out of Samsung’s in-house C-Labs incubator program the FITT360 is a wearable 360-degree recorder that wants to be more subtle than most. FITT360 is a hands-free way of capturing VR-ready footage, and looks like it might not be uncomfortable to wear. The headband-style device aims to make it easier to shoot from all angles and here’s hoping this one goes from project to product in the not too distant future.

Price TBC,

High-end 360-degree cameras

If you’re still curious about the cameras that require deep pockets, here’s the shortlist. These rigs are aimed at the professional filmmakers rather than average consumers, but it’s still fun to learn about things you can’t have.

GoPro Omni

The GoPro cameras are pretty much the go-to for 360-degree creators but the company also launched its own rig. That means you get six cameras, Kolor software, smart remote, cables, memory cards and more, or you can buy the $1,500 casing alone if you already have the cameras.


Nokia OZO

Easily the most expensive of the bunch, the Nokia OZO also promises to be one of the best. There are already big deals in place for companies to use the camera – like a recently inked deal with Disney – so here’s hoping we’ll get to see some cool stuff out of it.

The spherical camera has eight synchronised global shutter sensors that capture stereoscopic 3D video, accompanied by spacial audio that’s captured by eight integrated microphones.


Facebook Surround360

Surround360 was a surprise announcement from the social media company but the news after made it even better. The hardware and software specs for this camera are free for the public to download through GitHub.

The Surround360 consists of 17 cameras, one fish-eye camera pointing up and two pointing down to capture footage that renders online via a specially created software. From there, images will be stitched together in 4K, 6K and 8K for each individual eye.


Google JUMP Odyssey

The Jump camera rig called the Odyssey was announced at the last Google I/O as a partnership with GoPro. The rig consists of 16 camera modules in a circular array where the size of the rig and the arrangement of the cameras are optimised to work with the Jump assembler, which is Google’s software that stitches together the 16 pieces of video into stereoscopic VR video.



BeeLine Hand-on Review


  • e-Paper display
  • Four-week battery life
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass
  • Weather resistant
  • iOS and Android app
  • Manufacturer: BeeLine
  • Review Price: £99.99/$149.99


Cycling in a densely populated city can be scary. Not only do you have to deal with other methods of transportation fighting over territory (including fellow cyclists I might add) but pedestrians and haphazard construction, too. The added problem of not knowing where you’re going just adds to the danger cocktail. I, as an inexperienced cyclist with no sense of direction, can get lost simply going around the block.

There are plenty of GPS-based navigation methods available, of course. A lot of us get on perfectly fine using our phone, a handlebar mount and Google Maps or Citymapper. But following turn-by-turn navigation can be a distraction, which isn’t something you want when the above dangers are already in need of your attention.

BeeLine 3

Enter the BeeLine, a product launched originally on Kickstarter, that looks to circumnavigate this problem by stripping away the specifics of a pre-determined route, and instead simply pointing you in the direction of your destination. A bit like a compass that points you precisely where you want to go rather than just to true north.

Of course, this does mean the route you take might well not be the quickest, but it does mean you glance down far less frequently, thereby keeping your eyes on the road. The idea is that you enjoy the journey a little more, opening up a bit of exploration and less partaking of the urban rat race. It all sounds a bit wishy-washy and those who want to get everywhere as quickly as possible shouldn’t bother. For everyone else there is quite a lot of merit here.

Without a prescribed route, you’re able to change your chosen route on-the-fly without it having to be recalculated. It meant that because I wasn’t the most confident rider, I chose to often take the quieter side roads instead, but knew I was still headed in the correct direction. With my sense of direction being so poor, I did find myself taking much longer routes as a result.

BeeLine 4

As for the BeeLine itself, it’s a puck-shaped device that sits inside a rather clever silicone band. It’s this band that attaches to your handlebar by stretching round and securing the device in place. When not attached, you can reverse it and use it as a protective cover for the display. It makes the BeeLine look a bit like the new Google Chromecast. It also means you can attach it to your keys or a bag to keep with you. If you frequently use bike rental schemes, the BeeLine could be really handy.

BeeLine showed me a number of early prototypes and the mounting method has come a long way. Earlier models didn’t have a detachable silicone sleeve, with the device permanently attached, for example. The BeeLine in its near-final form felt far better constructed.


When setting a destination, you use the BeeLine app on your smartphone, and this communicates with the bike device through Bluetooth. Just tap in your destination and it’s beamed across. The compass-like arrow then points to the spot and a distance is provided on the display. You’re then ready to set off.

The app can also actually be used independently of the BeeLine device as you can get the same navigational arrow interface on your phone. So why bother with the BeeLine at all? Mainly for its weather resistance, easy method of mounting and long battery life.

The compass in the BeeLine should supposedly also be more accurate than the one in your phone, and less prone to being thrown off course by magnetic interference or large metallic structures. Still, BeeLine hopes that the app’s functionality will also act as a gateway to people buying the device, a sort of ‘try before you buy’ approach.

BeeLine 1

Supposedly, you will only need to charge the BeeLine once every four weeks of regular use through its Micro USB port. Part of the reason for that longevity is the e-Paper display, as well as the fact that internally it actually only has a magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope. The GPS is used from your phone to set the destination, then the internal sensors are used to make sure you stay headed in the right direction.

Once you’re off on your travels, you can tap the navigation buttons along the edge of the screen to change displays. You’ll be able to see your current speed and distance. These again are judged by the GPS sensor in your phone. Unfortunately, the unfinished prototype I tested had a software bug that meant this wasn’t actually working. BeeLine told me this would be fixed before launch.



As a novice urban cyclist, I came away impressed by the BeeLine. I can see it being a fun way to actually enjoy cycling, rather than just viewing it as a way to get from A-to-B. If you want the most efficient route to your destination, it’s probably not for you.

I found the at-a-glance directions made it easier to concentrate on the road, and I didn’t hesitate as much when deciding to take an alternative route compared to turn-by-turn navigation. As such, cyclists might find themselves making split-second decisions less frequently, which could make a massive difference to road safety.

BeeLine is aiming to ship to its Kickstarter backers within the coming weeks, and hopefully by then a few of the kinks will have been ironed out. The device is also available to preorder from the company’s website for £99/$148.5.



Kobo Aura Edition 2 review : It’s better than Amazon’s baseline Kindle, but it’s a lot more expensive

With other, more capable e-readers available at around the same price, we can’t think of any reason why anyone should invest in the Kobo Aura Edition 2. Consider buying it if you find it on sale. Otherwise, give it a pass.

  • Long battery life
  • Good build quality
  • Can display a wide variety of file types
  • No ads
  • Relatively low resolution (but its 212 ppi is higher than the least-expensive Kindle’s 167 ppi)
  • Bright backlight, but one that can make text look blurry
  • Similary priced competitors deliver more features and performance
  • Too easy to accidentally interact with the device’s touchscreen

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Aura Edition 2

The $130 Kobo Aura Edition 2 e-reader is an odd duck. It occupies the mid-point in the Kobo product line, and it boasts such desirable features as backlighting, long battery life, and the ability to open a diverse array of file types. But a number of e-readers, including the Kobo Glo HD, deliver many of the same features—plus higher resolution—for nearly the same price.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Aura Edition 2

Measuring 6.26 x 4.45 x 0.33 inches, the Kobo Aura Edition 2 boasts lightly smaller dimensions than the 2015 iteration of Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. It’s lighter than the Paperwhite, too, weighing 6.35 ounces versus 7.5 ounces. This, along with its grippy, textured back, makes holding the Kobo Aura Edition 2 more comfortable for extended reading sessions. There is a drawback to that smaller size, however; the bezel around its display is atypically shallow, so I found myself accidentally turning pages when my thumb would drift over to its touch-sensitive display. That’s irritating.

kobo aura edition 2 display

The Edition 2’s display is adequate, but it is neither as bright nor as legible as other similarly priced e-readers.

The 212 ppi resolution isn’t impressive either. It’s considerably lower than the top-shelf Kobo Aura One and the Kobo Glo HD, which costs just $10 more. Those e-readers boast 300 ppi resolution, as do all three of Amazon’s best Kindles. I read Earnest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls on both the Aura Edition 2 and the 2015 Kindle Paperwhite, and while I didn’t experience eyestrain after reading the Kobo, I couldn’t get past how poor the Edition 2’s text looked in comparison to Amazon’s e-reader. The Paperwhite’s page transitions seem smoother, too. I haven’t liked any of the Kobo’s backlights, which render text murky when they’re cranked up. It’s almost like reading through a film. The Kobo Aura Edition 2’s backlight is much brighter at maximum brightness than the Paperwhite’s at its max, but there’s not much of a difference at the lower levels that most people will actually use.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Aura Edition 2

The Kobo Aura Edition 2 provides 4GB of internal storage; unlike some of the other Kobo models, there’s no microSD card slot that would allow you to add to that. Still, the only time that might be a concern is if your reading habits entail loading up on larger files, such as PDFs. Like the rest of the Kobo, this model can read a broad range of document types, including CBR, CBZ, EPUB, EPUB3, HTML, MOBI, PDF, RTF, and TXT, as well as BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF image files. Just don’t expect this e-reader to render them quickly, particularly if you’re reading graphics-laden PDFs or examining high-resolution JPEGs. Flipping through such pages can be a lag-filled nightmare. Oh well, at least you won’t have to worry about the battery conking out mid session, it’s rated to last up to two months with moderate use. I’ve found this estimate to be accurate.

kobo aura edition 2 backplate

The Kobo Aura Edition 2’s power button is tucked up in the corner of the device’s textured plastic back plate.

But here’s the thing: at $120, the Kobo Aura Edition 2 costs almost as much as an ad-free Kindle Paperwhite, which delivers a higher-resolution display. If you’re not in love with the idea of owning an Amazon device, the Kobo Glo HD is a much better value than the Kobo Aura Edition 2. Buy it instead.


6 Things We Loved and Disliked About the All-New Honda CR-V

All you fourth generation CR-V haters can breath a lot easier now. Honda has gone the extra mile and fully redesigned America’s best-selling SUV to the point where we are genuinely excited about driving one. Yes, that’s right: We are excited about driving a vehicle that is about as commonplace as mispronouncing the word “saké.”

After 20 years of wearing the American SUV sales crown, the CR-V has been bought by nearly 4 million people in our continent alone and has experienced six straight years of growth as the entry-level CUV segment continues to expand. Honda knows that it cannot afford to relinquish its seat atop the CUV herd, and with many taking the current CR-V to task about its touch-exclusive infotainment screen, choppy lines, and unexcitingdriving characteristics, it was time for an overhaul.

Leather seats and center console storage

Trim-wise, Honda has retained the typical LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring badges, with the lowest grade holding on to the old 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine. But it has also upgraded even its most base model with things like a standard multi-view rearview camera, Bluetooth compatibility, an electronic e-brake, and a nice array of exterior updates. All this and a whole lot more can be had for just $24,045, but since the smaller HR-V still holds the keys to the palace for Honda CUV affordability, we turn toward the $32,395 Touring trim line as it allows us to cover every bell and whistle available.

While Honda expects only 15% of CR-V buyers will opt for the upper echelon Touring trim, after driving one down northern California’s coastal highways and along roads typically reserved for performance sports cars, we can offer two strong statements: First of all, this is a way nicer car than one might expect, and it drives like a dream. Honda has been listening closely to consumer and critic complaints, and has absolved many of the issues we encountered with previous generations by benchmarking this version against luxury SUV offerings like the BMW X3.

Secondly, Honda hasn’t struck perfection with the CR-V just yet. For as clever and agile as it has become, we found a handful of things its competition has on board that it could benefit from. Some of these oversights may be deal breakers for prospective buyers, others will not. But regardless of what buyers think of Honda’s latest SUV, one thing is for certain: This segment is only going to get more heated as time goes on, and this generation of the CR-V stands an excellent chance of helping Honda preserve its place at the top.

1. It carves hard … to a point

Small SUV

The all-new CR-V corners better than you would ever expect, and to stress this point, Honda put us on the kinds of scenic mountain roads typically reserved for testing cars like the new Civic Type-R.

In order to understand why this latest model handles so damn well, we spoke with the CR-V’s chief chassis engineer, Koji Nakajo. Nakajo lives in Tokyo, and has been commuting to work every day for the past 20 years in a first-generation Integra Type-R. Any time you put someone who drives a street legal race car to work every day in charge of chassis development, you’re bound to get some interesting results, and in the case of the CR-V, that means fun for almost everyone.

Pros: Sharply retuned MacPherson front/multi-link rear suspension features a floating rear sub-frame and liquid-filled bushings for smoother driving characteristics and sharper performance handling. The redesigned rack and pinion is also variable and only takes 2.3 turns to reach lock-to-lock over the old 3.1 standard, and Honda’s Agile Handling Assist (AHA) works well with stability assist to keep you in control.

Cons: Buyers can’t opt for a version with tighter lowering springs or wider wheels with stickier tires like on Toyota’s RAV4 SE. We also found issue with the H-rated 235/60 R18 Hankook Kinergy tires, which are great for efficiency gains, but are anything but confidence-inspiring in the corners due to being so hard.

2. Power and fuel gains are up, but come at a cost

1.5-liter turbocharged Earth Dreams engine

Anything above the LX line gets a beefed-up version of the turbocharged Civic’s 1.5-liter Earth Dreams engine, which translates to 16 more horsepower over the smaller car, for a total of 190 prancing ponies and the ability to put 57% of all torque to the rear wheels. It may not be a firecracker of an engine like the turbo 2.0-liter in the Santa Fe Sport, but it does offer a very nice 179 foot-pound torque curve that tapers into a flexible boost system for more rapid combustion and increased performance.

Pros: The revised, small diameter turbine features nine fans instead of the 11 found on the Civic, which translates to more power and fewer fill-ups. Once combined with a water-cooled turbo manifold, sodium-filled exhaust valves, better intake ports, and a free-flowing intercooler, fuel economy hits 27/33 (estimated) on all-wheel drive models.

Cons: If you want the best MPG numbers, premium fuel will be required, and even then this 1.5-liter motor still won’t give you the same zippy experience when compared to a Santa Fe Sport or a 2.0-liter EcoBoost Ford Escape. Sport mode also doesn’t seem to do much, even though on paper it should, and you can tell that this drivetrain targets efficiency more than fun.

3. Sharply restyled shell is smart but polarizing

LED headlights

We love the look Honda has given its award-winning small SUV, and the Touring version turns everything up a notch, starting with those signature LED headlights, running lights, tails, turn signals, and brake lamps. It also comes with an integrated aluminum gray set of roof rails, a streamlined undertray, and a wider, bolder stance that makes it look a lot more agile.

Pros: Bulging fenders, a sleek dual port exhaust, restyled front and rear fascias, and a liftgate that is height programmable are all winners in our book. Honda was wise to not go overboard in the unpainted lower plastic trim department, which offers a more refined, finished product.

Cons: Just by perusing at what people are saying about the CR-V on social media, you can tell that Honda fans are either up in arms over this update or are completely in love with how the blunt nose and hooked back of the CR-V look.

4. Is Honda “Beautility” really a thing?

New Honda CR-V interior

The CR-V’s development leader, Takaaki Nagadome, has his own term for the way in which the cabin of this vehicle has been re-crafted, and it’s called “beautility.” Looking to take a “wild and modern” approach to interior design, Honda has made upgrading decorative and touch-focused surface materials the star of the show, with both tactile and visual updates scoring major points with us over the course of our day-long drive. The volume control knob is back on the Garmin head unit, buttons and switches are all sturdy and sharply styled/positioned, both front and rear seats are horizontally lined, fully adjustable, and quite comfortable. Both the digital driver display and protruding touchscreen are also vibrant, easy to read, and responsive.

Pros: This cabin is quiet, comfortable, and incredibly dynamic. We love that the rear bench gets a duo of USB ports along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, materials look and feel amazing, seats heat faster than an Audi A8, and everything is easily accessible, both physically and digitally.

Cons: The center stack could use some contrasting colors like door inserts, seats are not two-tone or ventilated, the steering wheel doesn’t telescope all that far, and even the Touring model’s nine-speaker stereo upgrade sounds weak.

5. Space and storage for days, but still missing some key touches

Fold-flat rear seat

The cabin of the CR-V is designed for more storage and passenger space than ever before, and by utilizing the SUV’s new-found dimension gains, it can offer a lot of versatility over the old model. The rear stow space is now height adjustable, so you can lower it for more vertical wiggle room, or raise it for a completely flat cargo area, giving you 9.8-inches of depth and 1.4-inches of extra height for top-class interior space. Door pockets and cupholders have also been redrawn to hold a variety of differently sized drinking vessels, and the center console offers all the configurations of the new Civic.

Pros: Rear bench legroom has been improved by 2.1 inches, stow space is almost 10 inches longer and is reconfigurable, and storage pockets are larger and more customizable than ever before.

Cons: No in-seat storage bins or under-floor hiding places like some Fiat-Chrysler vehicles, and no smart lower center stack cubbies like in the Civic. The absence of 40/20/40 split rear bench also limits cargo space capabilities.

6. Honda Sensing is still amazing on the right car

Honda adaptive cruise control

Targeting an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating means the new CR-V is loaded with crash safety features, and the technology to prevent collisions from ever happening in the first place. Honda Sensing now comes standard on all models from the EX and up, and Touring models get a lot of outstanding upgrades, including road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise with low speed following capabilities, and cross-traffic alerts.

Pros: We were impressed with how well the CR-V followed cars when the adaptive cruise control was engaged, as both acceleration and slow-down speeds were quite smooth. Toss in blind spot monitoring and the clever cross-traffic alert, and let the multi-view rear camera cover the rest.

Cons: Lane keep assistance doesn’t work as well as in the Accord, and there’s no LaneWatch passenger side camera and no surround view capabilities like some of the competition.




Honda’s brawny people-mover gets beefier but it also gets a smoother ride for its latest iteration.

Honda is in the midst of a product renaissance. Over the next four years, nearly every model in their portfolio will be re-launched, and that aggressive product cadence is a key component of their ongoing strategy to keep the company’s vehicles at the forefront of modernity.

The latest case in point is this all-new fifth generation CR-V. Even with 2016 shaping up to a record sales year and the fourth generation CR-V already enjoying the notable distinction of being the best-selling SUV in the United States, Honda isn’t willing to rest on their laurels.

Considering the current model’s success, we’d forgive them for simply putting a fresh coat of paint on what’s already proving effective, but it’s also safe to assume that isn’t the sort of mindset that got Honda to the top of the food chain in the first place.


Instead, the 2017 CR-V comes packing a new turbocharged power plant, a heavily revised chassis that expands the CR-V’s dimensions, a revamped suspension that seeks to simultaneously improve both ride quality and handling, and a more sophisticated aesthetic to go along with the crossover’s range of content. The latter of which comprise the most expansive list of standard and available features than have ever been offered in the vehicle’s history.

Indeed, the tweaks to the formula for the fifth generation CR-V are fairly extensive, but as we’ve seen past that’s not always a sure-fire recipe for a better vehicle. We headed out to Monterey, California to put the all-new iteration of Honda’s crossover through its paces to see if all the revision would help the CR-V retain its title as the benchmark for the segment.


Boosted, bigger and bolder

Changes to the CR-V start as its very core with a new chassis that boasts a lower center of gravity while expanding the crossover’s footprint. It makes the CR-V slightly larger than the outgoing vehicle in nearly every dimension, as evidenced by its longer wheelbase, which has grown for the first time in the model’s history from 103 inches to 104.6.

Those expanded dimensions are part of a design strategy to not only give the CR-V larger sense of presence but to yield significant improvements in interior space, resulting in improved rear-seat legroom and a cargo area that’s nearly 10 inches longer than the outgoing model’s.


But a larger footprint can negatively affect drivability and overall vehicle dynamics, so Honda was keen to address these potential pitfalls. It does so with a more powerful braking system, a revised suspension system with fluid-filled bushings, a quicker variable ratio electric power steering rack that requires significantly less rotation from lock-to-lock, and a 190 horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged DOHC four cylinder motor that’s equipped in EX trim models and above.

While there’s big changes afoot here, there’s also numerous subtle additions as well, like rear-seat USB ports, a programmable lift gate that allows the user to determine the stop point when raising it, and a less convoluted rear fold-down seat design.


Honda Sensing – the company’s suite of active safety technologies – is now equipped as standard equipment on EX and higher trim levels, offering features like collision mitigation braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert.

All in, Honda’s changes for the fifth generation CR-V look to elevate the crossover in nearly every aspect while keeping it accessible from both a drivability and financial standpoint, though whether or not the larger dimensions of the vehicle give it a “just right” size as Honda sees it or make the CR-V slightly more cumbersome in practice is something of a subjective call on a per-case basis, as the move seems to buck the current industry trend of reduction rather than expansion.


Behind the wheel

Before even settling into the new CR-V, the changes versus the outgoing model are obvious – this new CR-V is starting to push the boundaries of how we define a compact CUV, and that notion is accentuated not only by the expanded wheelbase, raised ride height, and larger wheels but also by the CR-V’s new, more athletic bodywork that’s bolstered by the crossover’s 1.4-inch wider stance.

It yields the new CR-V a new level of aesthetic sophistication that thematically carries over into the interior, where passenger space has grown noticeably and overall material quality has been ratcheted up a notch. While it isn’t a clean-sheet design approach, new elements like the 7-inch information display in the center of the gauge cluster on EX trim models and higher give the cabin a sleeker, more modern feel that jives with Honda’s assertion that they targeted class-above benchmarks here.

It’s a similar story once things get moving as well. Honda provided a current generation CR-V to test back-to-back with the new fifth generation crossover, and the refinements made to ride quality are perhaps the most immediately noticeable improvement, while enhanced road noise isolation bolsters the new CR-V’s more premium feel over the outgoing model.

2017 Honda CR-V first drive

Yet the new CR-V feels no less responsive at speed despite bulking up, due in part to the quicker steering, larger brakes and turbocharged power plant. Honda points out that the new 1.5-liter motor gets the CR-V to 60 mph from standstill 1.5 seconds quicker than the outgoing car, and newfound wealth of mid-range torque we discovered out on the road seems to support that claim.

Although you’re aware of the larger dimensions at speed, Honda’s efforts to upgrade the crossover’s dynamics in tandem result in a vehicle that’s as easy to drive as the outgoing model while also providing the benefits of that more substantial footprint. And perhaps best of all, the infotainment system now has a physical volume knob.


The road ahead

The fifth generation CR-V goes on sale December 21st of this year, starting at $24,045 in LX trim and topping out in Touring guise at $32,395. Only time will tell if this new model will be able to maintain the current CR-V’s position at the top of the most hotly contested battleground in the industry, one which has recently eclipsed full-sized pickups as the largest automotive segment in America.

Although all comparative trim levels see a slight bump in MSRP versus the outgoing CR-V, it’s hard not see the fifth generation model as a value proposition just sheerly based on its mechanical enhancements, which is to say nothing of the improvements found in the interior and its more evocative outward appearance. While the buying public have been known to be a fickle bunch on occasion, this new CR-V looks to have all the ingredients necessary to continue carrying the torch.



  • Improved ride quality
  • Excellent road noise isolation
  • Extensive range of features


  • Turbocharged motor a bit lethargic at low RPMs



ASUS Zenfone 3 Max ZC553KL Review : Mid-range Dilemma

When we reviewed ASUS’ Zenfone 3 Laser a few weeks ago, we found that it was the perfect compromise between the bigger, glass-encased ZF3 and the budget, mostly all-metal 5.2-inch ZF3 Max. But just as people were gearing up to drop the cash on the ZF3 Laser, the Taiwanese company suddenly announced a far better phone by comparison: the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max. The new phone presented a problem for prospective buyers because it had relatively better specs, almost the same design and a significantly larger battery than the ZF3 Laser already on the market. The biggest question that’s on everyone’s mind: is the updated ZF3 Max a better buy than the ZF3 Laser that came before it?

Kết quả hình ảnh cho ASUS Zenfone 3 Max ZC553KL

ASUS Zenfone 3 Max ZC553KL specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 505
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, 2.5D glass, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB of expandable storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, laser AF
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0, ZenUI 3.0
  • 4100mAh battery


Identical-all metal design

ASUS has made a concious effort to give each segment of the Zenfone 3 lineup their own design aesthetic. The high end ZF3 Deluxe and Ultra for example, both sport unibody designs made from a single block of aluminum and invisible antennas. The regular ZF3 has a body crafted from a combination of metal and glass. For the mid-range and low-end ZF3 Max and Laser, the company has taken to using metal bodies that have bits of plastic in them.


If you put the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max and the ZF3 Laser side-by-side, they look identical, at least on the front. Turn both over though and you’ll spot subtle differences in their design – the laser autofocus module on the right instead of the left, the camera module that sits flush with the body and the square fingerprint scanner are all subtle hints that tell you you’re holding a ZF3 Max and not the earlier ZF3 Laser.


And despite the ZF3 Max’s substantially bigger 4100mAh battery compared to the ZF3 Laser’s 3000mAh pack, the ZF3 Max is only chunkier by a few millimeters (8.3mm versus 7.9mm).


Just like its smaller brother, the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max sports curved corners and sloping sides for better ergonomics and one-handed use. Two strips on the top and bottom at the back of the phone hides the antennas and omits the need for unsightly antenna lines. Both the power and volume buttons are on the right of the phone, while the 3.5mm jack is located on the top. The hybrid microSD/SIM slot is on the left, while the bottom holds the USB port and the single speaker grille.


Aside from having a bigger display compared to the ZF3 Max released earlier this year, the 5.5-inch version also ups the resolution, moving away from HD to full HD. The phone still uses non-backlit Android capacitive keys for navigation located just below the display.


As for the display – it’s alright, and provides excellent color and contrast, and is perfectly readable under the noon sun.


Better processor under the hood

If you bought the 5.2-inch ZF3 Max earlier this year, you’re probably a little upset that the 5.5-inch variant has way better chipset under the hood. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor is superior to the MediaTek offering that’s found in the smaller version. To make matters worse, aside from the slight RAM difference (3GB VS 4GB) the hardware on the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max is virtually identical to the ZF3 Laser.


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 is currently our favorite budget chipset, as it has the perfect mix of power, price and power efficiency among the budget SoCs currently in the market today. We’re not surprised that it’s showing up in more budget-oriented phones as of late. Performance-wise the Snapdragon 430 is capable of handling most Android apps and games well, even at high settings.

Just like the rest of the ZF3 family, the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max comes packing ASUS’ ZenUI overlay layered on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is still as bloated as ever. It’s a good thing that the Snapdragon 430 chipset is as zippy as it is, as it’s able to cut through most of the clutter without too much issue. There’s 32GB of storage on tap, which can further be expanded via microSD storage if you desire.

The single speaker on the bottom provides okay-ish sound for its size, and the rest of the package is what we’d expect from the Snapdragon 430 chipset. The fingerprint scanner unlocks the phone quickly, though it’s not as accurate as we would have liked.


Takes much better photos than the smaller ZF3 Max

The bigger ZF3 Max comes packing a 16-megapixel rear camera that comes with an f/2.0 aperture lens with PDAF and laser AF. It’s certainly a better shooter than its smaller brother, but does it match the supposedly more expensive ZF3 Laser?

Well, yes and no. For some shots the ZF3 Laser still managed to deliver nicer, clearer photos, though casual users might not notice much of a difference. In short, the bigger ZF3 Max delivers much nicer photos than its smaller brother, and is enough for its intended audience.

4100mAh battery is the bomb, no fast charging though

The main selling point of the Max family of phones have always been their above average battery endurance. While 4100mAh is less than the original’s 5000mAh rating, it’s still higher than the usual 3000mAh that you see on typical phones today.

While we’re still looking for a replacement app to accurately benchmark phones moving forward, seeing as PCMark has been unreliable with their new update, we recorded around two days of battery life with the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max on a single charge. The phone even managed to stick around until the late hours of the second day, despite moderate use.

If there’s one thing that we don’t like with the ZF3 Max, and really the budget offerings of ASUS in general is the lack of quick charging. That big battery takes quite a while to be charged (around 1:45 minutes to 2 hours), so plan accordingly.


Verdict: A great phone that makes the ZF3 Laser obsolete

If you’re looking to grab a member of the ASUS ZF3 family and have limited funds, then you can’t do any better than the 5.5-inch version of the ZF3 Max. It has many of the same features that both the ZF3 Laser and the smaller ZF3 Max have – big battery, fast performance and insane battery life – at a price that’s hard to beat.

Curiously enough, it puts the more expensive ZF3 Laser in a precarious position. While it delivers slighty better imaging performance, more users prefer better battery endurance even at the cost of slightly lower image fidelity. What’s the use of having a phone that takes nicer photos when it can’t go the distance, right?

At the end of the day, we think that the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max offers the most bang-for-your-buck of the entire ZF3 lineup. At Php 10,990, its price is hard to ignore. Earlier ZF3 Max and Laser buyers though might not be too happy though that a better phone has come along just a few weeks (days even for some) after their purchase. Oh well – live and learn.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E Review : Worth the Money… if You’re a Pro

Out with the old and in with the new. Nikon has released their latest update to the 70-200 f/2.8.

The older VR II (G-type) has been a cornerstone of many professional photographer’s bags, not to mention one of our most rented lenses. Nikon made some big changes revising this lens. Have they added enough performance to justify the new $2,800 price tag? We dug in and took a look!


First off, what are we calling this thing?

Nikon’s official name for this lens is the 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR…but that is a confusing mouthful.

If you’re not familiar, the “E” refers to an electronically controlled aperture, and “FL” stands for a fluorite glass element. Fluorite elements get you improved optical quality & reduced weight. How much weight you say? The new lens is about ¼ of a pound lighter than the VR II, or roughly a stick of butter. (You’re totally heading to your refrigerator to grab a stick of butter, aren’t you? Don’t worry… we did too!)

Another curious and confusing thing with the naming is that Nikon has decided to not add a version number like on the old 70-200 VR II (Nikon 70-200 G). This is going to make talking about these lenses online a bit more difficult.

For now, calling this lens the f/2.8E (Nikon 70-200 E) or 70-200 FL is going to make the most sense, but I won’t be surprised for the internet to just start calling it the VR III.


The zoom ring faceplant

The biggest change physically on the 70-200E comes in the placement of the zoom and focus rings. They have swapped positions on the new lens.

A lot of people have been up in arms about this change but I can tell you it wasn’t really a big deal after 20 minutes of use. The only real hurdle I can see is that it does take some mental gymnastics if you’re forced to switch between the 70-200E and 70-200G lenses which could result in a less than perfect score.


Everybody loves pushing buttons

Another change on the body of the lens is the return of lens focus buttons. There are four that are now placed around the middle section of the lens. These were found on the original 70-200 VRI.

Their function can be set with the selector switch on the side of the lens. They can be set to start AF or activate focus lock. If you’re a back button focuser, they are basically duplicates of your AF-ON button.


I’m happy to see these buttons come back from the original VR I lens, but I did have one interesting experience with them while shooting.

While trying to review images and access the menus, the way I was resting my camera I was accidentally pressing the bottom focus button on the lens. When I did that it would turn off the LCD and cause the menu and playback buttons to stop working. It took a minute or two to figure out why my camera body had gone all flaky.

Thankfully Nikon has put an “off” position for these new buttons if you don’t plan on using them and would like to avoid a situation like mine.

The need for speed

While we’re on the subject of focus, I did notice the new 70-200E feels much snappier during autofocus in comparison to the 70-200G.

The new lens seemed to acquire and nail focus just a hair quicker than the previous version. Keep in mind, neither lens could be called slow, but the 70-200E does have a bit more speed when making extreme focus adjustments from near to far.

Come a little closer now

Another focusing improvement I was particularly excited about is the decrease in minimum focusing distance. As a wedding shooter, I’m sure you’ve found yourself pressed against a wall in a tight space trying to get the old VR II to achieve focus while inside its 4.6-foot limit. The new 70-200 E lens shaves a full foot off the VR II making it much more forgiving at 3.6 feet.

The other benefit of this is that the reproduction ratio increases. This means you’ll be able to fill more of the frame with your subject at 200mm than with the old VR II.


Stop breathing on me

Another welcome benefit of the new design on the 70-200E is that Nikon has addressed the focal length breathing many complained about with the VR II. If you aren’t familiar, the VR II was criticized for losing effective focal length the closer your subject was to the camera.

For instance, when focused around 4.5 feet, the VR II would act more like a 150mm lens even when set to 200mm. You may have never even noticed this but shooting both lenses back to back, the 70-200E will feel like it gets tighter on your subjects.


In the example below, with a subject distance around 8 feet you can see the focal length loss of the VR II at at the telephoto end. The new 70-200E stays true to its focal length markings at any focusing distance. That should also make it better for video shooters performing focus racks as well.


Let it shine

One area that Nikon has tweaked quite a bit is the way the lens handles flare and back-lighting. They designed the f/2.8E to retain more contrast. Based on my initial testing, this is true; however, the actual look of the flares are more prominent in my opinion.

Take a look at this example below:


Here is another extreme example where we have direct sun in the frame coming directly into the lens. Again, the 70-200E has much better contrast and avoids the color cast of the previous lens had.


Keep in mind these are extreme examples where we were trying to get the lens to flare as much as possible. In most situations, you won’t encounter such extreme results.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, but is it sharp?

The new lens is crazy sharp. This was never really a problem with the VR II since it was designed to fix the corner sharpness of the original VR I, but I got excellent results with the f/2.8E from the get go.

A +5 adjustment of AF Fine tune per Reikan’s FoCal software and the results were stunning. Shooting landscapes and wildlife images wide open netted sharp images edge-to-edge. Portraits held fabric detail and texture in dramatic fashion.

Just look at this image below. The detail in the stitching of the jacket and the texture of the backpack straps is fantastic.


Bokeh is very pleasing as well. Granted, there is no measurement for this aspect of a lens, but I can say that out of focus areas are rendered very smoothly.





Point light sources have smooth gradation and retain a mostly symmetrical shape wide open, too!


To conclude our thoughts

The big question has been, does the new 70-200 f/2.8E FL ED VR live up to its $2800 price tag? Like everything in life, the answer is, it depends.

If you’re a working professional, it’s much easier to rationalize the price when you think about the money spread over several years of use. If you’re a casual or hobby oriented shooter, spending nearly three thousand dollars on this lens is where things start to break down. If you only need the f/2.8 aperture, there are other cheaper alternatives.

Personally, I think the improvements in image quality, AF and VR performance are worth it as a daily 70-200 user. The biggest feature for me is the improvement in back lighting performance. I know that feature will net me better images when I’m faced with tricky or difficult lighting scenarios on a wedding day. But would 99% of most clients notice the difference between the E or G lens? Probably not.

There is no doubt that Nikon improved many things with the 70-200 f/2.8E FL ED VR, the question is what value do you as a photographer place on those improvements?


10 Great Cars People Are Avoiding for Some Strange Reason

Some car segments hit the skids in 2016, and it’s easy to see why. There were hybrids that fought cheap gas and lost. On other cases, small cars got lost in the shuffle of trucks, crossovers, and the biggest, baddest SUVs of all. Though it seems impossible in a country that buys over 16 million new cars a year, some vehicles simply never find a home here.

Automakers have options when they watch a model struggle. One good idea is rushing out a mid-cycle refresh. Whatever you forgot to do in the first try, maybe you can add it for the upcoming model year and snag a few thousand more sales. However, there are some cars that are doomed from the start. No added tech or new paint colors will matter in the long run.

Fiat 500L

The least popular cars of 2016 were a mix of the ugly, the malfunctioning, and the impractical

This post is devoted to the lost souls of the industry, the vehicles that need something — anything — to jumpstart their declining sales. Here are the 10 cars automakers couldn’t give away in 2016.

1. Toyota Prius V

2015 Prius V at family home

The case for Prius V got tough in 2016 

The original Toyota Prius V made sense: It got great economy but was not as confining as the compact models. Families could pack luggage, load up the kids, and travel in comfort. However, times have changed. These days, there are several cars that match its economy with better style. In fact, Prius V actually got a worse mileage rating in 2017 compared to 2016. That’s bad news for a car with sales down 50%. Meanwhile, slicker models like Ford Fusion Hybrid cost less while delivering better fuel economy ratings.

2. Fiat 500L

2016 Fiat 500L Pop

2016 Fiat 500L Pop 

Say what you will about the media — auto journalists were dead right about Fiat 500L. The brand’s four-door model was torched by reviewers who hated nearly everything about the car. Combined with lousy crash test scores and poor reliability ratings, the 500L lost whatever momentum it had in 2016. Through the first 10 months of 2016, sales declined 59%, year over year. It got to the point where Fiat dealers in the U.S. could barely sell 100 models a month.

3. Cadillac SRX

2016 Cadillac SRX

The Cadillac SRX had a run for over a decade before ending production in 2016, when GM’s luxury brand unveiled the XT5 as a replacement. With the kiss of death and huge discounts on remaining models, dealers had a hard time selling people on the SRX with the XT5 looming overhead. It was most obvious in October, when sales dropped 98% to 118 units on the month.

4. Ford Focus Electric

2016 Ford Focus Electric

Though Focus Electric sales never wowed anyone, 2016 was its worst year ever 

It’s hard for a model to underperform when its peak sales month was 264 units. However, Ford Focus Electric found itself there in 2016. This EV’s powertrain and range remain unchanged since its debut in 2012, and consumers have mostly written it off despite the generous incentives on the table. Just 734 models sold through October. There is no timetable for the 2017 model’s arrival, but plug-in enthusiasts can’t be encouraged by the “over 75 miles” of range quoted on the Ford website. (We expected well over 100.)

5. Kia K900

2015 Kia K900

Luxury has not been a winning proposition for Kia so far 

Folks love the Kia K900, the luxury chariot of LeBron James that was favorably reviewed not once but twice by Autos Cheat Sheet. Nonetheless, this car remains a victim of branding. Not enough people are ready to ditch premium German brands and opt for a Kia just yet. Hence the K900’s place on the sales list: 264 out of 298. Worse yet, it’s in decline. In 2016, K900 dropped 67% through the first 10 months of the year. It needs a comeback like the one James pulled off in the 2016 NBA Finals.

6. Dodge Dart

2015 Dodge Dart

The Dodge Dart’s phase-out can’t come fast enough

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne once considered the Dodge Dart a feather in the automaker’s cap, but the small car never really caught on in America. After announcing it would end production late in 2016, Dart continued to be sluggish despite heavy incentives for dealers to move it. At its best, Dart sold a fraction of the segment’s most popular models. At its worst (in 2016), it didn’t crack the top 100.

7. Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door

2016 Mini Cooper 2-Door

Small cars are struggling, and the Mini brand felt the burn in 2016

Though one month of Ford F-150 sales outshine the entire Mini brand’s yearly haul, 2016 has been even tougher on the small car lineup. The outgoing Paceman and Roadster disappeared as quietly as you’d expect, but the Hardtop 2 Door dipped nearly 50% despite its intention to stay on the market. We’ll see if Mini’s strategy of getting bigger works, but it’s safe to say the status quo did not.

8. Mitsubishi i-MiEV

2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

The world’s most maligned car had another bad year in 2016 

While there was never such a thing as a “good” year for Mitsubishi i-MiEV, 2016 featured some particularly demoralizing sales tallies. For example, the tiny electric car sold just 1 unit in March, and that was after selling a total of 7 cars in the first two months. You really have to feel for dealers with this model. Buyers can deduct the $7,500 tax credit off the purchase price of $22,995 and still no one will buy it. In several states, incentives bring the price down around $13,000. Yet no one wants it.

9. Volkswagen Touareg

2017 Volkswagen Touareg

There are strange car names, but none compare with Touareg 

It’s hard to believe any American consumer leaves the house intending to buy a Touareg. This oddly named Volkswagen SUV gets decent reviews but definitely has one of the worst names on the market and the unfortunate reality of a diesel variant in its past. Combine that with an all-new model on the way and you have a sales disaster in 2016. This car declined 68% in October, year-over-year, with just 271 sales.

10. Lexus CT200h


Hybrid sales slumped for all Toyota brands in 2016 

Toyota had more than slumping Prius sales to contend with in 2016. Lexus hybrids were just as difficult for dealers to move. For example, the Lexus CT 200h dropped 40% through the first 10 months of the year, with its October dip (48%) even more alarming. As Lexus’s most affordable car, CT 200h states its case as an economical option with a premium badge. But consumers tend to expect more than 134 horsepower when they hop inside any car they’ll use on the highway. Until that changes, this car will be a tough sell.


Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition review – solid dimensions and great overclocking potential

  • Revamped appealing design and high build quality
  • Silent and cool thanks to the GameRock cooler
  • High frequencies after factory overclock
  • BIOS switch
  • Monitoring of temperatures thanks to the LED backlighting
  • Additional performance with DirectX 12


  • 2.5-inch in height

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition

In our review of be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 we shared with you that our configuration featured the Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition graphics card. Now that were done with the case, we would like to have a look at another modification of the second most powerful NVIDIA GPU – GeForce GTX 1080. After NVIDIA refreshed its reference coolers lineup, which received the Founders Edition label, Palit also revealed a new type of cooler meant for the present generation of GPUs – its name is GameRock. For now it is available only for the highest end graphics cards – GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, which is confirmed by its seemingly solid construction.

Palit offer two different GameRock GPU models. The one we were sent is GameRock Premium Edition, and the only differences between it and the simple GameRock are as regards their basic frequencies and memory bandwidth. Fortunately for all of us, both of them offer factory overclock, and as we already mentioned, we managed to further increase the frequency of our graphics card. It is in this review that you can find out more about the capabilities of Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition

What’s in the box?

Just as it was the case with previous Palit GPU models, the new graphics cards come in a stylish and elegant box. Its front carries the GameRock logo and a confirmation that your product is powerful enough to fully immerse you in the world of virtual reality. In comparison to the other two models we have reviewed (GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and Founders Edition), there is no picture of the graphics card itself which will make you even more impatient to unbox it. As for the back part of the “shell”, it carries GeForce GTX 1080’s specification, while the top even has a plastic handle – the entire box is like a convenient and stylish suitcase.

When unboxing be careful because the device is placed in the second box which does not have a lid. Of course, Palit has made sure that their product will not simply slip out of the smaller box – there are styrofoam pieces which encompass the GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition, placed in an antistatic plastic bag. In addition to it, you get the mandatory complementary connector which supplies the GPU, a disc with drivers, as well as a user manual.

Supported technologies

Now that we’ve already published our MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and Palit GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition reviews, we decided not to include the well-familiar technologies but provide you with a link to one of our reviews in which you can find a detailed description of the apps and programs that come with the GeForce GTX 10xx series. Nonetheless, the present publication shall touch upon a piece of software particularly developed by Palit – ThunderMaster.



Just as MSI offers the Gaming App software package, Palit has created ThunderMaster – an app which provides certain curious and useful options that are easy to use. The interface is pretty simplified and the theme color is the mandatory blue. Additionally, the home screen gives information as to the operational frequency of your GPU, its temperatures as well as the rpms of the two fans – GameRock Premium Edition has two fans, and if you want to learn more about the GPU’s construction, read on.

Apart from the above-listed functions, you will also be presented with buttons which can record up to 5 profiles. We can also find the Settings, Status, BIOS and Restore options, located at the lower left corner. Before getting to the most important part, which we consider the overclocking capabilities, fans’ control and some more, we would like to quickly go through the ones mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph.

We begin with Settings. Pressing the button will result in a pop-up screen which asks you to allow ThunderMaster’s launch with Windows, and to determine the frequencies you wish to see displayed on the home page – base or present. Additionally, the Status submenu informs you of the core frequency and memory, temperature, rpms, voltage, energy consumption, and the load exercised on the core, as well as the amount of occupied memory. By pressing the BIOS button you can save the BIOS file if you have changed anything in it. Lastly, you are perhaps familiar with what the last button does – restores default settings.

led control

As we mentioned above, the most important options ThunderMaster contains are the fans’ speed control and the overclocking capabilities. When we tested the maximum capabilities of the graphics card we used MSI AfterBurner but this application is very similar to ThunderMaster, and if this is your first time boosting the GPU’s frequency with this software, you are unlikely to encounter problems. Again, you will be presented with a slider for increasing the core’s frequency and memory, as well as a Power limit which is vital for max overclocking. What ThunderMaster adds is the opportunity to increase voltage – we did not find any changes, irrespective of the way we tweaked it.

The fan controller is very much like any other software which allows us to manually adjust the fans’ rpms. We are again presented with two scales – one for temperatures and another for speed. Thus, you could effortlessly set the fan speed to 50% if the temperature is at 70 degrees Celsius, and if it’s quite noisy, you can always lower the rpms. However, the most positive feature which should motivate you to download ThunderMaster is the option of controlling the backlight located on the side. Apart from the great variety of colors, Palit has added a “GPU Temperature” button. By clicking on it, GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition will start glowing in four different colors, depending on the GPU’s temperature.

Build quality, construction and design

Build quality

In the lines to follow we shall touch upon the way Palit has built its graphics card, what they have added to it, what cooler type they have used, as well as the Pascal core itself. So, GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition is 285 mm long – almost 2 cm longer than Founders Edition. This means that the PCB is rather different from the reference one and the lines below shall go through all contrasting features.

Pascal was announced on May 6th together with GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition. It was back then that we figured that the graphics card ensures a really high performance without a drastic increase in power consumption. All this is due to the new architecture which is an indispensable part of the NVIDIA 10xx series’ models. The core in GeForce GTX 1080 has four Graphics Processing Clusters each of which contains five Streaming Multiprocessors. One SM holds 128 CUDA cores, 96KB shared memory block, eight texture cores and 48KB L1 cache memory.


All these pieces of data comprise a Pascal core which has a total of 2560 CUDA cores, 160 texture and 64 raster cores – to draw a parallel, the previous GeForce GTX 980 features 2048 CUDA cores, 128 texture ones and 64 raster units. Additionally, the model we were sent has a base frequency of 1746MHz that can go up to 1885MHz. Yes, this is the fastest graphics card that has ever crossed the threshold of our office without us having to manually increase its frequency. As far as its overclocking performance is concerned, we already spoke about in a separate publication but we shall also mention it in the Overclocking section. Because the chips’ frequency, which by the way are using the Boost 3.0 technology, depends on the temperature and supplied current, we came across a moment in which GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition used its “base” frequency of 2000MHz which says a lot about the good job they’ve done with the cooler.

Furthermore, the type of memory that GP104 (the core’s code name) has is GDDR5X and its capacity is 8GB. This seems to be the best choice because its smaller brother, GeForce GTX 1070, uses GDDR5. In its turn, the HBM memory may offer higher bandwidth but does not allow larger capacity than 4GB. Anyway, NVIDIA has already officially revealed GeForce GTX TITAN X that is not available with HBM2 memory, and this says a lot about the price of this memory type for the present moment. GDDR5X also allows higher memory bandwidth than the one of the standard GDDR5, and it reaches up to 10 000MHz efficiency through a 256-bit bus.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition

Construction and design

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition

As we already mentioned, the PCB size is larger than that of the reference model. Nonetheless, the “distinctive feature” is the height of GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock/Premium Edition. Also, the GPU is 2.5-slot which means that you may encounter problems in case you have two PCIe slots placed one next to the other, or if your SATA ports are in close proximity to the one in which you will install the graphics cards. When we attempted, we did not succeed in adding a second GPU to our motherboard, which was MSI Z170 Gaming Pro Carbon, namely because of the cooler’s height. However, if you pay close attention to this detail, you can effortlessly install your GPU in Mid Tower computer cases.


GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition is supplied via a 6-pin and an 8-pin connector. According to the manufacturer, the model’s power consumption can reach 200 Watts which is 20 Watts more than the one of the Founders Edition model. In order for the GPU to be supplied, it draws up to 75 Watts from the PCI slot and 75+150 Watts from the power cables. This means that a decent quality PSU of 500 Watts will be more than enough to “feed” the chip. However, do be careful if you are planning to do an overclocking and increase the model’s Power limit – as we mentioned above, the GPU comes “on steroids” and you may not even need to overclock unless you want to push it to the extremes.


Above the chip itself you can find the new Palit cooler – GameRock. For now we can encounter it in the most powerful NVIDIA graphics cards – GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070. This confirms the fact that the company targets hardcore gamers with this extravagant cooler that brings some freshness in the JetStream lineup. As it was noted above, the cooler is really solid – its height occupies 2.5 slots. Its lower-most section there is a copper base which is in direct contact with the GP104 core. To further disperse heat, Palit has put five copper pipes that go through the cooler fins. It is thanks to that, the manufacturer claims, that the chip’s temperatures are 20% lower – of course, we shall share the temperature data we registered and weather they are lower than the ones of Founders Edition and Gaming X models.


Above the base itself you will find the two fans which are 10 cm in diameter. Each of them is of the TurboFan Blade type which increases the airflow for the sake of lower GPU temperatures. What’s more interesting here is that the fans spin in opposite directions which increases the efficiency of the cooling system. Additionally, the quite operation, as it was the case with MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X, has also been thought of. When the GPU is engaged and its temperature is lower than 50 degrees Celsius, the fans are not operating – noise levels are at 0 dB. Like we said, thanks to the ThunderMaster software you can adjust the fans’ rpms according to your personal preferences. Above all this there is a plastic enclosure in three colors – blue, white and gray, and it carries a “GameRock” inscription in the lower left corner. When you add the LED lights we can’t but admit that Palit has done a very good design job.


It will probably not come as a surprise if we told you that the back part of the GPU has the so called backplate. It carries the GameRock inscription, printed on a metal plate – it would have been even more interesting and appealing if the logo had been engraved or laser-cut. Nonetheless, a back plate is a positive thing to have. Apart from the Backplate, the rear section of the GPU carries a switch. GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock features two identical BIOS-es. The second one can be called “BackUp” – in case there are some problems with the flashing of the first one, you just need to change the position of the switch and everything returns back to normal.


On the side, where the I/O panel is located, we are presented with the so called “Honeycomb Bracket” plate. According to Palit, this design language increases the airflow with up to 15%, allowing the generated hot air to go out through the side of the graphics card. As for the ports, GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition comes with three Display Ports, one HDMI 2.0b and a DVI port. The maximum digital resolution supported is 7680 х 4320 pixels with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Additionally, the GPU comes with a three years of warranty.


Specs sheet of Palit GeForce GTX 1080 Premium Edition

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition
Base core clock 1607MHz
Turbo core clock 1733MHz
CUDA cores 2560
Memory speed 10 Gbps
Memory type and size GDDR5X, 8GB
Memory bus 256-bit
Memory bandwidth 320GB/s
Architecture Pascal
Maximum digital resolution 7680×4320@60Hz
Monitor outputs DP 1.42, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
Technologies supported by
GeForce GTX 1080
  • Multi-Projection
  • VR Ready
  • NVIDIA Ansel
  • NVIDIA GameStream
  • Microsoft DirectX 12 and feature level 12_1
  • OpenGL 4.5
  • Vulkan API
  • Multi Monitor
Dimensions 26.7 cm x 11.12 cm, dualslot
Maximum temperature 94 degrees
Maximum consumption 180 Watts
Power cables 1 x 8-pin
Recommended PSU 500 Watts

Specs sheet of our configuration

CPU Intel Core i7-5820K (6-core, 3.30 – 3.60 GHz, 15MB cache)
Motherboard MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon
RAM 16GB (2x 8192MB) – DDR4, 2133Mhz
GPU 1x MSI GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X)
Connectivity LAN 10/1000/1000 Mbps
  • 4x USB 2.0
  • 10x SATA III
  • 5x audio jacks
  • 6x USB 3.1 – 4(Gen1), 2(Gen2, Type A+C)
  • 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 2x RJ-45
  • 1x 6.3mm gilded headphone’s jack

Benchmark tests and comparison to GeForce GTX 1080

Yet again we conducted our benchmark tests which exercise a 100% load on the graphics card. Because the GPU’s frequency depends mainly on the chip’s temperature, we got some pretty decent results which you can find below. As it was touched upon above, this is the most powerful GPU which comes with a factory overclock, and this, perhaps, had a key role in our tests. We have included both the 3DMark package and Unigine Heaven, while GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition performed at “base” frequencies – you can find the post-overclocking results in our “Overclocking capabilities and results” section.

Unigine Heaven 3.0 and 4.0


3DMark Firestrike Ultra


3DMark Sky Diver


3DMark Cloud Gate


3DMark Time Spy


SteamVR Performance


Comparison of the above results to those of GeForce GTX 1080

In the table below you can observe all results from the above images as well as a juxtaposition between the models Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition, MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and Founders Edition. Unfortunately, MSI has included a Silent mode which lowers the first model’s frequencies to the standard – with Palit there is no such option and the results are at maximum base frequencies which are quite far from those of the ones of Founders Edition or the other GPUs part of this series.

Model GeForce GTX 1080 FE GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock
Unigine Heaven 3.0 6062  6091 (+0,5%) 6243 (+3%)
Unigine Heaven 4.0 5118  5170 (+1%) 5282 (+3,2%)
3DMark Cloud Gate 135 064  140 630 (+4,1%) 143 891 (+6,5%)
3DMark Sky Diver 73 534 77 591 (+6%) 79 724 (+8,4%)
 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra 5010   5396 (+7,7%) 5488 (+9,5%)

Gaming tests

All gaming tests were performed with NVIDIA’s original driver, version 368.81


Tomb Raider (1080p, Low) Tomb Raider (1080p, Medium) Tomb Raider (1080p, Max)
612 fps 347 fps 182 fps


F1 2015 (1080p, Low) F1 2015 (1080p, Medium) F1 2015 (1080p, Max)
178 fps 155 fps 147 fps


Mode Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Low) Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Medium) Hitman: 2016 (1080p, Max)
Direct X 11 105 fps 96 fps 85 fps
Direct X 12 118 fps 110 fps 101 fps


GTA 5 (1080p, Low) GTA 5 (1080p, Medium) GTA 5 (1080p, Max)
171 fps 132 fps 65 fps

Shadow_of_Mordor_Wikia_-_Welcome_Video (1)

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Low) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Medium) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Max)
244 fps 211 fps 166 fps


Overclocking capabilities and results

We already said that we could not keep secret our overclocking results and published them in a separate news which discusses these. We can’t miss displaying the results once more because we managed to go beyond the limit of 2100MHz without having to increase the fans’s speed to 100%. The maximum frequency we managed to record was 2139MHz. Despite this, after a couple of minutes it fell down to the stable 2113MHz, which we believe is a very good result – the cooler proved not only solid but also extremely efficient.

Model GeForce GTX 1080 (base frequency) GeForce GTX 1080 (OC) Difference
Unigine Heaven 3.0 6243 7308 +17%
Unigine Heaven 4.0 5285 5410 +2,4%
3DMark Cloud Gate 143 891 147 625 +2,6%
3DMark Sky Diver 79 724 83 765 +5,1%
3Dmark Time Spy 7 549 7 952 +5,3%
3Dmark Fire Strike Ultra 5 488 5 817 +6%


Temperatures and convenience

After all above-listed results you have perhaps formed an idea as to the performance of the cooler. Nonetheless, we would like to share our 100% stress test readings, which by the way happens very rarely in the world of virtual reality. We perform this test to examine the cooler’s capabilities and see if it is reasonable enough or you could expect some surprises after longer gaming sessions.


As our custom goes, we begin with a 100% CPU load to see if this would increase the temperature to 50 degrees Celsius and thus launch GeForce GTX 1080’s fans. Although the Dark Rock Pro 3 cooler was close to the graphics card, the temperatures remained absolutely within the normal – 39 degrees with entirely passive fans. After observing these results, we launched the parallel 100% GPU stress test. At first the temperatures were around 60 degrees Celsius and then gradually started to go up. Toward the end, after an hour of loading the two most important components, we measured 78 degrees max temperature and 75-6 average temperature. As far as frequencies are concerned – we reached a maximum of 1973MHz which is a good news, considering the fact that the GPU does not have a large number of modes as it is the case with ASUS or MSI.


Kết quả hình ảnh cho Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock Premium Edition

The most powerful graphics card with factory overclock is perhaps the best way to describe this Palit model that we discussed in the present review. Without you having to download any additional software, the GPU is among the fastest on the market and the fastest that has entered our office. This is the model which went beyond 2100MHz without us having to increase the speed of the two TurboFan Blade fans – these results were achieved at the announcement of GeForce GTX 1080 several months ago.

Of course, we can’t miss mentioning the solid base itself which is 2.5 slots tall – consider this if you are planning to add a second GPU to the configuration or if some of your ports/outputs are near to the PCIe slot. It is perhaps thanks to this that we managed to maintain high frequencies and reasonable temperatures.


Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock really redefines the idea people have about this company in a good way. Because the graphics card is targeted at gaming fans, its aggressive looks really impressed us. Another positive aspect, we think, is the LED backlighting which is programmable and changes its color depending on the temperature. The only thing that puzzled us was that when the degrees were low, the GPU glowed in green, which is a bit strange – perhaps this signals that everything is normal. For those of you who are fans of overclocking and want to push the chip to its extremes, there is a BIOS switch which can be found in the back part of the GPU – a small but great complement.


ADATA XPG Dazzle DDR4 LED video hands on – unboxing and first impressions

Kết quả hình ảnh cho ADATA XPG Dazzle DDR4 LED

Recently we shared with you a material on a new ADATA product – XPG Dazzle DDR4 RAM modules. A gorgeous addition to any gamer’s desktop configuration. It combines both style and performance. One of its merits is the DDR4 memory type which offers not only better speed but also lower energy consumption. What’s more, these sticks carry arches with backlighting to make the interior of your case look even more aggressive and stylish.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho ADATA XPG Dazzle DDR4 LED

If you are interested in this product, you can check its current price and availability here:


The goal of this article is to present to you the most important characteristic features of the given product, so that you can make an informed decision in case you want to purchase. If you like this video, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel, share, comment, and hit the thumbs up button.


Sony Xperia XZ vs LG G5 Full Comparison Review

Among all the leading mobile manufacturers, Sony is the last to launch its flagship smartphone this year. At the recently concluded IFA, Sony revealed that the Xperia Z lineup has reached its last stage and now it will be replaced with the new Xperia X lineup.

Launched recently in India, the pricing of INR 49,990 makes the Xperia XZ stand against the likes of LG G5. LG launched its G5 flagship smartphone few months back with its key highlight of modular ecosystem and accessories, named as LG Friends. Let’s see how the two phones stand against each other in this detailed review.

Sony Xperia XZ vs LG G5 Specifications

Key Specs Sony Xperia XZ LG G5
Display 5.2 inch 5.3 inch
Screen Resolution 1080 X 1920 pixels 1440 X 2560 pixels
Operating System Android 6.0 Android 6.0.1
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2.15 GHz Quad-Core
Memory 3 GB 4 GB
Inbuilt Storage 64 GB 32 GB
Storage Upgrade microSD up to 200 GB microSD up to 256 GB
Primary Camera 23-megapixel 16-megapixel
Secondary Camera 13-megapixel 8-megapixel
Battery 2900 mAh 2800 mAh
Fingerprint Sensor No Yes
NFC Yes Yes
4G Ready Yes Yes
SIM Card Type Dual SIM Dual Sim
Waterproof Yes No
Weight 161 grams 159 grams
Price Rs 49,990 Rs 41, 900

Design & Build

Sony Xperia XZ

Sony has maintained the Xperia form factor along with introducing some subtle changes. The ALKALEIDO metal at the back and loop surface design perfectly accentuate the overall design in an effective manner. The loop design cues can be also witnessed at the edges of the front glass and premium tagging all over the body has been done to give an upbeat feel.


Contrary to Sony Xperia XZ, the LG G5 features a metal body that has a separate frame as well as the rear shell. Though LG has also given a slight curve at the edges but, due to separate frame, the feel does not meet that of a high-range phone. The front of the phone is 70 percent screen and some curves look pretty neat to improve the aesthetics in an effective manner. The lower removable unit is quite distinct in the segment but gives an image of a quite radical approach.


Sony Xperia XZ Display

The Xperia XZ features 5.2-inch Full HD 1080 display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. There are some other display technologies as well in the phone which include TRILUMINOS, X-Reality engine and Dynamic Contrast Enhancement.

LG G5 Display

LG G5 has a bigger screen, 5.3 inch Quad HD IPS LCD with a ~554 pixel density. The improved pixel density results in a much better viewing experience. The brightness is not similar to that of some other phones in the range and sunlight legibility is affected slightly due to this. Apart from that, it is a very good display in almost all other circumstances.

Hardware & Storage

Sony Xperia XZ is powered by a 2.15GHz quad-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, Adreno 510 GPU. The RAM is 3GB and 64 GB internal storage, which is further expandable up to 200 GB with microSD cards.

LG G5 is among those few phones who feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC. The RAM is 4 GB, which makes a significant difference in the performance and internal storage is 32 GB which is expandable up to 200 GB through microSD cards, similar to the Xperia XZ.


Kết quả hình ảnh cho Sony Xperia XZ

Sony has always marketed its phones on their camera capabilities and Xperia XZ is not any exception. The primary camera is 23 megapixel while the secondary is 13 megapixel with imaging cocktail – Triple Sensor Technology that is oriented towards giving best results while shooting pacing objects and complex lighting conditions. The XZ is also the first phone which has 5-axis video stabilization that helps in giving smooth and stable video recording along with playbacks.

LG G5 Camera

LG has provided a unique setup at the rear, the 16 MP is supported by one 16 MP main sensor and an 8 MP secondary sensor. At front, the G5 has 8 MP and one can shoot up to 2160p 30 FPS video with the rear camera and 1080p at 30 FPS with the front one. An option of slow motion mode for the rear camera is also there which reduces the framerate to 60 FPS at full HD resolution. Apart from this LG has also introduced image stabilisation, laser autofocus, and a colour spectrum sensor to give better results.

Xperia XZ Camera


Fast charging is the next big thing in the mobile industry which has created a significant impact in the user buying behaviour. The Xperia XZ is powered by a 2,900 mAh battery with a Quick Charge 3.0 support. According to the manufacturer, 10 minute charging is good to last for 5.5 hours of talk time. Just like other Xperia smartphones, the new XZ is also equipped with USB Type C port for charging and IP68 water resistant as well.

LG has also matched the segment level and provided G5 with a 2800 mAh battery pack, which comes with an additional 1200 mAh battery, counting the total to 4000 mAh. Though removable battery has become a yesterday’s thing but, LG G5 provides this option and somewhere it might act very helpful in some situations.

Pricing & Availability

The Sony Xperia XZ has been launched at a price of Rs 49,900 which is on the higher side than the current price of LG G5 which is available at Rs 41,900. Both the phones are available on their respective dealerships and various e-commerce platforms with various deals and offers.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Sony Xperia XZ


Sony has again boasted its camera capabilities with its new Xperia XZ with an aim to provide the best possible features to its fans. The launch price might force the customers to consider other available options but, for true Xperia fans, the XZ is a perfect smartphone.

LG has tried its hands to push its market share with a unique concept of a detachable battery pack in the respective segment. The LG G5 has not only evolved in various aspects but has been offered with capabilities that are good to challenge other top guns like Samsung and HTC.


Vizio M65-D0 Ultra HD Display Review

PRICE $1,299

Impressive contrast and shadow detail
Handles both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Affordable price
Wi-Fi sync issue with included tablet remote
No extended-color-gamut capability
Some halo artifacts from local dimming backlight
Only one HDMI 2.0a input

Vizio’s budget-minded display handles both flavors of HDR and, a few quirks aside, delivers impressive performance.


When is a TV not a TV? When it’s an Ultra HD Home Theater Display. With the new M series, Vizio has chosen to shake up conventional expectations of what a TV should be and should do. One key change is that each M series set lacks a tuner to receive over-the-air digital TV broadcasts—hence, the company’s use of the term Home Theater Display. Another change is that Vizio has scrapped the typical full-featured IR remote control and replaced it with an Android tablet. Future-savvy or future shock? Read on and find out.

Vizio’s changes might seem random to some, but they actually make sense. With the current ATSC 1.0 digital broadcasting system scheduled for an overhaul to version 3.0 in early 2017, why saddle 2016 sets with a soon-to-be-obsolete digital tuner that few people use anyway? (It has been speculated that the ATSC 3.0 digital tuner may take the form of a dongle that will plug into a TV’s USB port, and in any event the majority of viewers still use pay TV service with a cable or satellite box.) Also, with streaming services supplanting conventional cable and satellite TV for many viewers (myself included), why not give users a high-tech device with which to organize and control their media-streaming universe?

Before covering the details of Vizio’s streaming platform, I’ll briefly hit some other highlights of the M series. This budget-oriented line is available in screen sizes ranging from 50 to 80 inches, with the 80-inch model selling for a mere $4,000. As with all of Vizio’s current sets, the M65-D0 does not do 3D. But all of the M-series models support both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range (HDR) formats and have a full-array local-dimming backlight with 64 zones. They also feature built-in Google Cast support, which lets you stream content directly to the display from compatible apps on your smartphone or tablet, or from the Google Chrome browser on your computer. A few examples of Cast-friendly apps I used during my evaluation include Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, and Spotify.Vizio’s own streaming platform is called SmartCast, which comes loaded on the included Android tablet and can also be downloaded as an app that runs on other Android or iOS devices. While I mostly used SmartCast to control general features and adjust picture settings, it’s designed as a jumping-off point to search and collect content, so you don’t have to scroll through individual apps. For example, type “Star Trek” into the SmartCast search window, and it will give lists of relevant movies and TV episodes and route you to apps where they can be streamed or bought. As for Vizio’s Android tablet, it has a 6-inch screen and comes with a sturdy magnetic dock to park the device and recharge it when not in use. Vizio also includes a small IR remote that provides basic controls to power the set on and off, switch inputs and picture presets, and adjust volume.


The 65-inch M65-D0 itself has a sleeker, more modern design than that of previous Vizio sets I’ve tested. The screen is surrounded by a thin, matte black bezel, and the panel’s sides are capped with textured aluminum. Thin metal feet splay out toward the edges at the screen’s bottom, creating a sturdy yet unobtrusive base. Keep in mind, though, that the widely spread feet will require a wide surface on which to rest the set, something that comes up less frequently with traditional pedestal stands.

Inputs include a single HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 and four HDMI 1.4 ports. In my case, having only one HDR-compatible HDMI 2.0a jack ended up being a bit of a drag: I needed to plug and unplug cables to switch sources between a Samsung Ultra HD Blu-ray player and my UHD- and HDR-capable Roku 4 streaming player. Fortunately, most of the apps I regularly use on the Roku are supported by Google Cast, so I went that route instead.


I started out calibrating the M65-D0 in the set’s Dark Calibrated picture mode—and right off the bat, I ran into problems with the Android tablet remote. It repeatedly lost sync with my Wi-Fi network, forcing me to wait until sync was reestablished so I could continue with my adjustments. Abandoning Android, I downloaded the SmartCast app to my iPhone and got better results, allowing me to continue my calibration without loudly spewing expletives. Fortunately, Vizio issued at least two SmartCast app updates during my time with the M65-D0, which reduced (though didn’t fully eliminate) the Wi-Fi sync issues that I initially experienced with the tablet.

Setup options in the Picture menu were straightforward. I selected the Normal Color Temperature and then Active LED Zones to switch on the set’s local-dimming backlight. Vizio’s picture presets default to the Low setting for both the Reduce Signal Noise and Reduce Block Noise adjustments. After finding that both softened pictures noticeably, I made a point of switching them off. Other settings I selected during my standard dynamic range (SDR) calibration included Auto Color Space and 2.2 Gamma. I also made adjustments in the Color Tuner menu, which provides an 11-point White Balance plus a full color management system to precisely dial in grayscale, gamma, and color points. The M65-D0 is a 10-bit display but can only push color a bit beyond Rec. 709, so there aren’t any color space settings beyond what you’d see on a typical HDTV.


Several attempts to calibrate the set in either Dolby Vision HDR mode or for HDR10 turned out to be a misadventure, mainly because the tools to make that happen are new, and manufacturers are still working through compatibility issues. According to Vizio, M series displays should have the backlight parked at 50 (the default setting) for viewing Dolby Vision content. The set has HDR default settings that are said to kick in automatically when it sees HDR signals, including adjustments to white balance, color points, and gamma, but adjustments beyond subjective tweaks by eye need to be made using special pattern generators or test discs and display calibration software. None of the multiple procedures and pattern sources now available to calibrators and reviewers delivered the expected results with the Vizio. When I measured light output with HDR test patterns, the M65-D0 managed 500 nits in Vivid mode with a 100 percent white pattern, a high of 622 nits in Vivid with Vizio’s recommended 25 percent white window, or a high of 420 nits with a 25 percent window in Calibrated Dark Mode. Not bad, but well below what we’ve measured from the higher-end sets we’ve tested.

In the opening sequence of The Revenant on 1080p Blu-ray, where hunters track a moose, the Vizio presented deep blacks and well- defined shadow detail among trees in the heavily wooded forest. In a later shot where a Native American tribe attacks a fur-trapper encampment, highlights such as the setting sun on the water and trees engulfed in flames combined with the set’s strong blacks to deliver images with powerful contrast.

The Vizio’s accurate post-calibration color also contributed to its impressive picture quality. I watched an Ultra HD Netflix stream of Stranger Things, episode 7. In a scene where Steve chats with his friends outside a convenience store, the Vizio offered a subtle range of red hues, such as the maroon of his BMW, the garish red of a Coke can, and the red-orange trim of a varsity jacket. Meanwhile, the brown, yellow, and orange color scheme of the store came across with all its glum early-1980s aura intact, and skin tones of the squabbling friends also showed a good range of differentiation.

While the Vizio generally had good shadow detail in this episode, sequences in the Upside Down dimension, where El searches for Will, tested the limits of the set’s 64-zone local-dimming backlight. I could see a faint halo of light encircling El’s white-clad figure in the fully black netherworld. However, there were only a few other instances where I noticed such haloes, even in the case of movies with white-on-black film credits. For the most part, the M65-D0 exhibited very good picture uniformity, including when I viewed it off-axis.

1116viziotv.side.jpgHDR Performance
Vizio’s 2016 display lineup initially shipped with support for just the Dolby Vision HDR format, but a recent firmware update added support for HDR10, which is the format being used for current Ultra HD Blu-ray releases. Taking advantage of this, I loaded The Martian into Samsung’s UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

In a scene where stranded astronaut Mark Watney retrieves “organic matter” to fuel his farming experiments, sun reflections on the nearby solar panels had a brilliant look that really helped the image to pop. When I watched the same sequence on regular Blu-ray, the reflections came across as less intense. Scanning forward to a scene in a NASA control room where a technician first discovers that Watney is alive, I experienced a similar result: Highlights such as the banks of display panels had a punchier, more brilliant look on the HDR10 ver- sion, while the deeper, more detailed shadows helped to flesh out the image.

Next, I checked out Man of Steel on both Blu-ray and Dolby Vision UHD (streamed from Vudu). In a scene where the Earth father of young Clark Kent shows him the ship that transported him from space, beams from flashlights and glints of sun cutting through slats in the barn looked powerfully bright via Dolby Vision, while the barn’s shadowy interior came across as a deep tone of black. Comparing the same scene with its Blu-ray version, the latter looked considerably less dynamic. However, I did note a few banding artifacts in the Dolby Vision streams of both Man of Steel and Mad Max: Fury Road. A streaming issue, or an artifact generated by the Vizio display? At this point, with no access yet to Dolby Vision content on Ultra HD Blu-ray, it’s impossible to say.


Future-savvy or future shock? With the M65-D0, I experienced a bit of both. While I can appreciate the statement that Vizio has made by eliminating the digital tuner and turning the focus to streaming, I was more impressed by the set’s picture quality. The M65-D0 delivered deep blacks, very good shadow detail, and excellent contrast, especially when in HDR mode. With a careful calibration, it was also capable of rendering accurate Rec. 709 color.

What I didn’t appreciate about the M65-D0 was its single HDMI 2.0a input and the sometimes-spotty Wi-Fi performance of its Android tablet remote control. Also, when you consider the Vizio’s lack of extended color gamut capability and somewhat limited peak light output, you realize that its HDR performance isn’t as mind-blowing as what you can expect from higher-end models, including Vizio’s own P series and Reference series. That said, I liked what I saw with the M65-D0, and I definitely like its price.


Dimensions (WxHxD, Inches): 57.6 x 33.2 x 2.5 (without stand); 57.6 x 35.8 x 10.9 (with stand)
Weight (Pounds): 55.3 (without stand); 57.3 (with stand)
Video Inputs: HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 and ARC (1), HDMI 1.4 (4); component video (1)
Audio Inputs: Stereo RCA (2)
Audio Outputs: Optical digital (1)
Other: LAN (1), USB (2)
Price: $1,299


Maserati Levante first drive: Taking the luxe offroad

When you think Maserati, you probably think if its thoroughbred Italian racing heritage, the glamour and slick sports car lines. It was perhaps totally fitting, then, that the day we headed into the Cotswolds to test the new Maserati SUV, the UK issued 19 flood warnings.

A stroke of luck, you might call it, that we were driving a four-wheel drive SUV, rather than a hunkered-down rear-wheel drive speed machine. Slipping into the cosseted interior of Maserati’s new luxury SUV, hitting the heated seat button and speeding off along flooded roads, we did wonder if we’d be better in one of Maserati’s sponsored racing yachts.

Maserati say that the Levante brings a completeness to the family of cars it offers, a luxury alternative, a lifestyle model, that through its SUV lines it offers wider appeal to a wider range of owners than some of its sports cars.

Many will look at the way that Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and others are producing SUVs and see that Maserati is very much following the trend. We’re seeing SUVs dragged out of the “utility” class and transformed into something all the more special, a bigger driving experience, a lifestyle choice without sacrificing the brand values that sit at the heart of some of our best-loved cars.


For Maserati, retaining the visual identity at the front in a similar fashion to Bentley with Bentayga, gives that sort of toy car charm. The seriousness of Maserati’s GrandTurismo – its best looking model – is reflected but diluted as the Levante grows into its bigger body. The result is a rather long bonnet, scowling lights flanking a snarling grille on the front, centred on that Maserati trident. It’s an angry-looking car from the front, taking sporty over boxy design.

The Levante is peppered with Maserati hallmarks, like those side gills, rear quarter badging and so on. With sporty in mind, the rear roofline drops and the rear side windows get smaller as you move back. The rear window itself, in keeping with those sporty lines ends up rather small.


That, combined with a rear seat central headrest means that rear visibility is fairly poor. If you’re a sports car driver that’s par for the course, but the Levante loses the natural advantage towards the rear that SUVs often offer: it’s not actually that big.

But this isn’t about challenging the Discovery with a cavernous rear, it’s about providing a Maserati SUV.

Maserati’s aim was to produce a car that would drive like a Maserati on the road, but be happy wallowing in the mud too. It adopts the Ghibli’s four-wheel drive system, with a bias towards the rear wheels. In most driving conditions it will send the power to the rear, but with the ability to switch it through various steps of division up to a 50/50 split.

This works in tandem with driving modes from Maserati’s Skyhook system – normal, sport, offroad and increased control and efficiency (ICE). This system, like the sort of driving modes you’ll find in your average Audi, uses engine, gearing, stability and the AWD components to give you the best setup for the type of driving you’re doing.


There’s also an air suspension system that offers a lot of travel, riding at 210mm high normally, but being able to drop the car down to 175mm in aero2, a special automatic mode reserved for when you’re driving at speeds over 170kph. This latter mode is automatic, you can’t decide to drop into this low-slung position, the car decides when to do it.

That’s something we didn’t get the chance to use, given the poor road conditions we faced when driving the Levante, but we did get to test the descent control, feeling the car brake and control downhill speed on some very muddy slopes. We were driving on standard winter tyres through some very slick mud across fields and through woodland.

The Levante is perfectly comfortable in such conditions, with enough clearance to let you drive into the rough stuff without the worry that you’re going to catch a piece of the bodywork on the way. No one really expects this to be a rival to theRange Rover’s offroad skills and the likelihood is that the Levante won’t find itself being set to task in those conditions too often.

However, find yourself offroad and the Levante certainly offers enough to give you the control and handling that some softer crossover cars won’t, so if you do need to take your trident-badged luxe SUV through a muddy field to deliver your welly-wearing friends to a picnic, you shouldn’t have a problem.


Sitting under the hood is a 275bhp V6 diesel engine, the same you’ll find inGhibli and Quattroporte, that will whisk you to 62mph in 6.9 seconds. Maserati says this is the most powerful engine of its size in this segment, but it’s not the most powerful SUV out there, and will be left in the exhaust fumes of some of the more flighty models. Put your foot down and there’s that reassuring purr, but this isn’t a noisy drive, it’s mostly quiet and refined, save for that moment you put your foot down and everything wakes up to remind you you’re driving a pumped-up sports car.

There’s plenty of weight to the steering, but we found the column-mounted shifters to be a little too big: the left shifter pretty much blocks access to the indicator stalk and we’re pretty sure that you’ll be using that more regularly than you will be manually dropping gears.

There’s a distinct lack of choices available, and that’s perhaps the problem that the Maserati Quartoporte faces: the competition is so widely varied and with companies like Audi churning out S and RS Q models, Porsche pushing its Cayenne and a widening selection of Range Rovers, there’s a lot of choices, some higher quality, some higher performance and some more practical in this highly fluid SUV category.

What the Maserati succeeds in doing is making an alternative choice: there will likely never be a shortage of Audi Q5 or BMW X5s on the road, and this Maserati is there for people who want something different.

With that in mind, the Levante interior finds itself filled with familiar technologies, many that haven’t been offered on a Maserati so readily. There’s an effective blind spot warning and lane departure system. There’s collision warning, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and so on. Dealing with that slight lack of visibility, there’s also 360-degree cameras and parking sensors, to make sure you don’t drive into that low wall in the Waitrose carpark, as well as the option for a kick sensor for the boot so you can easily get your shopping in.


There’s also a central touchscreen controller for your media, satnav and other car systems. It’s been designed to be familiar for users coming from other systems, offering both touch and rotary dials, although we don’t quite have the confidence in its user interface that we do for BMW or Audi systems. It’s easy enough to use, but doesn’t quite have the sophistication and maturity of some of its bigger brand rivals. It is responsive to the touch, but you sometimes have to dig a little deep to get to something, like the passenger’s heated seat for example.

There are choices for a range of interior packages, with a leaning towards luxe or sport, and we found the interior to be comfortable and reasonably quiet when underway – despite all the water on the roads. The seats are comfortable and there’s enough space in the rear, although the centre rear might be a bit of a squeeze for a fully grown adult.


Choosing the Luxury pack (£5,950/$8,925) brings some cost advantages over the individual elements it offers, as well has giving you some upgrades that can’t be found on the options list and offers you a higher quality finish in the interior, while the Sport pack gives you things like the shifters and aluminium pedals for more of a racing look and feel.

First Impressions

But with all that said, the Maserati Levante does elevate itself above many other SUVs that it rivals. As wonderful or as technically proficient as many of them might be, some are getting very commonplace.

If nothing else, then that’s what the Maserati Levante offers. It’s an alternative that sits in the luxury segment, flying the flag for a smaller brand with heritage. It’s a car that, on first impressions, does have a few quirks, but it is interesting, and if you’re looking at spending £55k/$82.5k on an SUV, that’s important.

Our time with the Maserati Levante was a little limited and we can’t profess to having driven it in anger on the road. What we can say is that as much as we don’t think the Levante will worry the luxe SUV segment’s leaders, we can’t help liking it.





  • Perfect Black levels/Contrast
  • Excellent HDR performance/versatility
  • Outstanding Color
  • Super-friendly user interface
  • Excellent viewing angle


  • Slight screen glare

The LG B6 OLED TV is the company’s most affordable OLED television, but it’s got the same stunning picture quality you should expect from any of LG’s other OLED models, right up to the super-premium Signature G6 OLED. So, if the B6’s picture quality is the same but the TV is less expensive, what must you give up? As it turns out, the answer is very little.

For this review, we’ll go ahead and rehash some of the glowing things we said earlier this year about LG’s OLED TV picture quality, clarify some of its outstanding features, and go over the short list of things you don’t get with this model. Ultimately, though, here’s what we want you take away: The LG B6 OLED offers the best picture quality you can buy today, at the best price yet.


Out of the Box

No shortage of ink has been spilled over how incredibly thin OLED TVs are, and the B6’s panel itself is certainly impressive in that respect, measuring thinner than an iPhone 6. Keep in mind that all the hardware needed to light up that panel has to go somewhere, and in the case of the B6, that place is the lower half of TV’s back panel, where the unit’s total depth is extended to about 9 inches. Even so, the TV still looks incredible mounted on a wall.

Without its table-top stand, the B6 weighs just 35.7 pounds, and with the stand just 43 pounds.

Riding along with the TV is an accessories box which contains our favorite iteration of LG’s Magic Motion remote (more dedicated buttons!), along with batteries for said remote and some product literature.


Features and User Experience

LG distinguished itself from its competition this year by offering a healthy selection of TV models which support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, two different High Dynamic Range (HDR) formats which have a noticeable impact on picture quality when watching HDR content, the bulk of which can be streamed from Netflix and Amazon or sourced from Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Presently, Dolby Vision is only available on certain streaming programs, but it will soon be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray too, and when it is, it will offer yet another hike in picture quality for OLED owners since Dolby’s flavor of HDR can adjust to suit a TV’s contrast capabilities – a fact worth noting here since OLED currently offers better black levels than other displays on the market.

Add in four HDMI 2.0a ports with HDCP 2.2 support and you’ve got a 4K Ultra HD TV that is as well steeled against future developments as you could hope to have right now.


WebOS 3.0 continues to serve as LG’s operating system and smart TV platform, and remains one of our favorite on the market (in a close tie with Samsung’s Tizen OS). If you don’t care for waving your remote around like a magic wand, you can always use the more conventional directional pad and enter key along with dedicated buttons for things like input selection and settings menu access. Still, I think users will find moving the cursor by aiming the remote a pretty big help when entering text for usernames and passwords.

WebOS 3.0 also offers some convenience features like keeping apps open in the background for instant access and quick switching to and from other apps or TV channels; no need to reload Netflix every time you pop out to check on game scores – Netflix will automatically resume right where you left off, and making the switch is lightning quick.

What you don’t get with the B6 model is a built-in premium sound system or a super-fancy “screen on glass” effect that come with some of LG’s higher-end models. I don’t miss the integrated sound bar found in the company’s flagship G6 Signature OLED much, to be honest – the B6’s sound quality is decent for such a thin TV, and better sound can be had with a third-party sound bar anyway, or, better yet, a full-on surround system.

LG B6 OLED55B6P (2016) review

Most TV manufacturers are dropping 3D entirely, but I recognize some still enjoy it. Keep in mind that if you choose the B6 OLED, you must give up on your dreams of in-home 3D. If it’s any consolation, I don’t think you’ll miss it much.

As for design, this is a very handsome TV, and it’s flat, too! No more having to accept a curved screen to get that premium OLED picture quality.


As I stated above, the B6 offers the best picture quality money can buy today, owed mostly to its perfect black levels, but also to increased brightness over prior years, and dazzling color capabilities.


Clearly, a lot rides on that perfect black level component. The hard fact is that LED/LCD TVs simply can’t avoid certain pitfalls due to their LED backlighting systems – there will always be some degree of light leakage, blooming, and halos around bright objects. The OLED doesn’t suffer these issues because when a pixel is off, it is completely off and completely black. This results in contrast that really must be seen to be understood. Still, I’ll try to illustrate: Imagine a scene in a film showing a big, bright moon against a dark night sky. On an LED TV, you’d notice that the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the TV aren’t perfectly black as they should be, the dark sky appears to have a subtle shade of dark blue to it, and you’ll note that the moon’s edges are somewhat soft, with a bit of glow extending past what should be the edges. By contrast, an OLED TV will have perfectly black letterbox bars, a perfectly black night sky, and the edges of the moon will be razor sharp, with no glow spilling out onto the screen. Plus, any stars in the night sky will be tiny pinpricks of light rather than splotchy dots.

Clean lines and outstanding contrast set the stage for everything else the B6 OLED can do. Its color is deep and vibrant, with subtle shades rendered beautifully. When you watch HDR content on this TV, you will see colors in movies you know very well were never there before. For me, that moment came when I watched JJ Abrams’ Star Trek for the 43rd time. Crimson hues burst from the crew’s uniforms, the sky took on a new shade of blue, and Uhura’s sexy, green-skinned Alien roommate, Gaila, leapt off the screen in a shade I found completely unfamiliar. You may think you’ve seen your movies before, but until you’ve seen a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray where a colorist has taken free reign in the mastering process, you have no idea what is possible.

Brightness levels for this model are also outstanding – I never had any problem with washed out picture while watching in the middle of the day with sun pouring in the windows. A direct beam of sunlight will definitely tame this beast, but it won’t kill it.


Along the lines of brightness: Some will note that LG’s claimed max luminance levels are less than that of its top-tier competition from the likes of Sony, Samsung, and Vizio, and it is true those sets can get quite a bit brighter, but in side-by-side comparisons, I rarely found the brightness intensity to be particularly advantageous, and certainly not enough to make up for black levels that paled in comparison to the B6’s.

Sony’s remarkable Z9D series, for instance, offers incredible spectral highlights with intense peak brightness, but even with more addressable individual zones of LED backlights than any TV before it, the Z9D just couldn’t take down the LG B6 in overall picture quality. Though our Z9D sample came in at 65-inches, the smaller 55-inch B6 OLED came off as the more impressive of the two sets in an informal poll of DT staffers.

Samsung’s top-of-the-line KS9800 is also a fierce competitor, boasting impressive brightness and some of Samsung’s best black levels to date. The KS9800 is also a curved display, and, once again, boasted a 65-inch screen size that’s much larger than the B6 OLED’s 55-inch display. Still, even with less screen real estate, the OLED’s ability to deliver razor-sharp lines in challenging scenes won our hearts in the end. Is perfect black really all that important? Absolutely.


Warranty information

LG offers a one-year parts and labor warranty on the B6 OLED


LG’s B6 OLED has already been established as one of the best TVs you can buy, but now that its price is coming down and likely to dive even further, that luxurious picture quality is finally within reach.  While the 55-inch price is now set at $2,000 and the 65-inch at $3,000, a Black Friday promotion recently saw the 55-inch B6 drop to $1800 and the 65-inch to $2700. That puts the B6 on the same pricing terms as the Samsung KS9800 series and just above the Sony X930D, making it one of the most compelling premium TV choices on the market in years.

Is there a better alternative?

There are less expensive TVs which are very impressive indeed – Vizio’s 2016 P-Series is outstanding, as is Sony’s X850D series — but if you’re looking for a better alternative to OLED’s perfect black levels and dazzling contrast, you won’t find one on the market just yet.


How long will it last?

LG claims its OLED panels should last about 100,000 hours, which means you’ll be in the market for another TV long before the B6 dies, assuming everything else holds up. In other words, barring any unforeseen tragedies, this TV will last you longer than you need it to.

Should you buy it?

If you have the means, then yes, absolutely buy this TV. Next year’s OLED TV’s may boast some improvements, but they will be considerably more expensive. If you’re looking to purchase a new TV this year and want the best picture you can get for your hard-earned dollars, LG’s B6 OLED is the ticket.



Samsung Gear S3 review : Can the Samsung Gear S3 beat the Apple Watch and Android Wear?

  • Classy design
  • Swift performance
  • High-quality display
  • Battery life
  • Size and weight
  • Lack of apps
  • Comfort during exercise
  • 1.3-inch 360 x 360 always-on display
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • 768MB of RAM
  • 4GB storage
  • Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi B/G/N, NFC, MST, GPS/Glonass
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, HRM, ambient light sensor
  • 380mAh battery and wireless charging
  • IP68 rating
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £349/$523

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung Gear S3 review


Samsung’s had a fair few cracks at smartwatches now, with some faring considerably better than others. The Samsung Gear S2 certainly veered the closest to “hit” rather than “miss” compared to previous efforts.

This year’s Gear S3 takes some of the familiar principles – the round display and Tizen operating system – and augments them with a raft of new sensors and a bigger, bolder design that more closely resembles a classic analogue timepiece.

The “bigger” part shouldn’t be understated, though. Due to packing in the likes of GPS, a barometer, an altimeter and a bigger battery, the Samsung Gear S3 is a seriously chunky smartwatch. It’s not going to suit every wrist.

Even with that said, it’s a seriously classy timepiece, but unfortunately still hindered by the Tizen operating system’s lack of must-have wrist-based apps.


The Gear S3 is actually available in two models – the Gear S3 Classic and the Gear S3 Frontier – although there’s no difference in the smart functionality of the two models. I was sent the Frontier model to review.

The Frontier is targeted towards those with more active lifestyles and comes with a more weather-resistant silicone band. The Classic errs more towards classic timepiece styling, with its traditional-style crowns and leather strap.

Samsung Gear S3

Both Gear S3 variants are compatible with standard 22mm watch bands, however, so you’re free to customise as you see fit.

What I didn’t like about the standard Gear S2’s bezel was how slippery it felt. It meant rotating could be difficult. The one on the Gear S2 Classic had distinct ridges along its edge, much like on a diver’s watch, which alleviated the issue. Fortunately, the Gear S3 improves on that further.

This bezel control was one of my favourite elements of the S2 and is by far the most natural way of interacting with a circular smartwatch. It means your fingers don’t obstruct the screen.

Samsung Gear S3

Magnets in the bezel give some tactile feedback and make jumping between screens and menu items feel really natural.

With the case measuring 46.1 x 46.1 x 12.9mm, there’s no getting away from the fact this is a chunky watch by any standards. Its thickness in particular is problematic. It means the watch gets caught on cuffs or jacket sleeves. Depending on your fashion sense, it can sometimes be difficult to actually gain access to the Gear S3 as you struggle with your sleeves.

It’s also pretty heavy at 63g for the Frontier or 59g for the Classic. That’s without the additional weight of the straps, too.

Samsung Gear S3

If you’re planning on wearing the Samsung Gear S3 to run, you’ll definitely notice it on your wrist. It felt as heavy as two separate trackers I wore simultaneously on my other wrist during testing.

Two buttons on the side provide a way to access the menu and go back, just like on the S2, and it’s where you’ll find the microphone. New with the Gear S3 is a built-in speaker, so you can actually use it to make and receive phone calls – although you’re going to look rather silly doing so.

You can even use it to play music, but that’s not advisable. Better to pair some headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.

The silicone strap of the Frontier model is well built, and there are two loops for taking up the excess slack. It does pick up some lint and fluff, but it’s not as bad as the Polar M600 that looked incredibly scruffy almost immediately out of the box.

Samsung Gear S3

In part, the size of the Gear S3 can be excused considering it has a raft of sensors that make it more like a dedicated sports watch. Inside are an altimeter, barometer, accelerometer and GPS, then there’s an optical heart rate monitor on the back.

All of these make the Gear S3 a tantalising prospect for fans of exercise or the outdoors, but I’ll discuss this more later.


Beyond the more obvious analogue watch styling, the Gear S3’s larger size is dominated by a 1.3-inch display – a bump in size from the Gear S2’s 1.2-inch screen. It has the same resolution as the Gear S2, however, at 360 x 360.

While the resolution remains the same, Samsung says it has done extra work around anti-aliasing to avoid jagged edges. That seems to have paid off, as the Gear S3’s AMOLED screen is one of its best features. It’s big and bright with vibrant colours. The colour palette has been doubled to 16 million from the Gear S2 and looks all the more exciting for it.

Samsung Gear S3

It supports always-on display as well, which displays a lower-power version of whichever watch face you select so you’re not left with a blank screen on your watch when not in use. This does negatively impact battery life, however.

As before, if the display lights up at an inopportune time, you can cover it with your palm to turn it back off. Alternatively, you can put it in Do Not Disturb mode and it won’t turn on for incoming notifications, plus the sound is muted and vibrations are turned off.


The Gear S3 runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS 2.3.1 and has a dual-core 1GHz processor. There’s 768MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. Beyond that there’s Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and NFC built-in with support for Samsung Pay.

While the specs have received a healthy upgrade over the Gear S2, the older model never felt slow or unresponsive. So it came as no surprise that the Gear S3 felt swift too.

Jumping between menus and apps, there’s never any sign of slowdown. That’s whether you’re using the touchscreen to swipe around or the rotary bezel to navigate. It all feels really responsive and seamless.

Samsung Gear S3

All this said, the Tizen operating system remains the roadblock to smartwatch greatness.

There are things it does well, though. It makes great use of the rotary bezel interface, there are plenty of watch face customisations, and the widgets approach is good. You can move the widgets around so you have quicker access to your more regularly used apps and information, such as S Health.

Samsung Gear S3

Notifications are well handled, letting you respond easily either through your voice, pre-canned replies or a slightly fiddly on-screen keyboard. They’re still a little slow to actually buzz on your wrist, though.

Clearing notifications at least feels intuitive and natural, and Tizen bundles multiple notifications together from the same app in a logical way, which isn’t always the case – as was seen with the Pebble watches.

But where Tizen shows its shortcomings is around the app catalogue, and that’s something rather important. There’s really a dearth of must-download apps. Where Android Wear and Apple’s watchOS have plenty of convenient options around smart home and navigation, there’s a distinct scarcity of all that here.

Samsung Gear S3

Uber has been added, but there’s no Google Maps, Citymapper or anything else that makes a lot of sense on a watch. Samsung at IFA said that a standalone Spotify app was coming, but that’s still yet to materialise. There are a few throwaway games if you need something to pass the time, but nothing that will hold your attention.

Samsung Pay is at least a useful addition that supposedly doesn’t actually require a paired Samsung phone for contactless payments. Some are reporting difficulties getting certain smartphones to work, such as the Google Pixel. A double press of the top button will bring up Samsung Pay ready to be used at a terminal. As Samsung Pay hasn’t launched in the UK, I wasn’t able to test the functionality.


The Gear S3 comes with the S Health app for the watch and the companion app for Android. This is responsible for keeping tabs on all of the usual activity-tracking metrics, such as steps and sleep, and all of this is done automatically.

There’s even exercise tracking on certain bodyweight movements such as squats. I found the actual rep counting a little hit-and-miss, however. You really need to exaggerate the movement to get some reps to count.

As for the step counting, this was a typical affair. You can set a target in the app and you get update prompts on your progress. You also get reminders to move if you’re sat for too long but, in a novel move, you also get prompts to stretch as well. So I could be sat there, typing away, and I’d get a buzz telling me to do a few side-to-side rotations, and the watch would count each rep on the display.

Samsung Gear S3

The sleep tracking was accurate on the whole, but it’s a little strange in that the notification you get on the watch when you wake up can be just one small segment of your sleep.

So say you woke up an hour or two before your alarm and went back to sleep, the notification might show your sleep time as being only an hour, rather than the total. Diving into the companion smartphone app shows the full night’s kip at least, and you get a breakdown of motionless, light and restless sleep.

Strangely, when I left the watch in my gym locker during a workout on one occasion, it decided I’d taken an early afternoon siesta and given me some additional sleep time. Fortunately this didn’t happen again, but I would’ve thought the watch could recognise being completely stationary compared with me being asleep.

The barometer and altimeter are also used to more accurately track floors climbed, so there’s a specific target for taking the stairs. Again, you get progress updates and little reward notifications to say when you beat a record or hit your goal. It’s actually all very motivating and well implemented.

Samsung Gear S3

All of those sensors I mentioned earlier are what will really appeal to fitness enthusiasts, though – much like how the Apple Watch Series 2 found its footing as a fitness wearable alongside its original smartwatch smarts.

The GPS is going to be great for more accurately tracking your distance and speed during runs or bike rides, and the barometer and altimeter are going to be popular with hikers and for other outdoor exploits. This is all topped off with the returning optical HRM, as seen on the Gear S2.

Unfortunately, while the GPS was pretty much right on the button when it came to distance compared to the TomTom Spark 3, Samsung Gear Fit2 and Wahoo Fitness Tickr X I wore at the same time, the optical HRM threw up some very inaccurate readings.

Samsung Gear S3

Checking the watch while I ran, its bpm reading was often 20 beats higher than the TomTom Spark 3 and Wahoo Fitness Tickr X chest monitor I was wearing. It put my maximum heart rate as high as 200bpm, but generally at 180+, where both other devices were putting me in the 160-170bpm range. I’d hazard a guess that the inaccurate readings weren’t helped by how much the watch bounced around on my wrist due to its weight.

The poor HRM performance, combined with just how clunky the watch felt on my wrist, made it less than favourable for running. I have small wrists, so your experience may well be more positive, but as it stands, I’d much rather run with the Samsung Gear Fit2, which provides a very similar tracking experience, but minus the weight and I didn’t experience the anomalous heart-rate data.

Samsung Gear S3

At the end of your run, the S Health app does give you a bunch of rewards to keep you motivated, in a similar method to Strava. So you’ll know if you’ve run farther or faster.

Disappointingly, while the Gear S3 is rated to IP68, Samsung says it’s not suitable for swimming or diving, which gives a distinct advantage to the Apple Watch Series 2.


Samsung has increased the battery capacity to 380mAh, up from 250mAh in the Gear S2. This meant that with the always-on display turned off, I was averaging around three and a bit days between charges. Turn on the always-on display and this dropped to just short of a full two days. That’s pretty impressive and better longevity than I saw with the Apple Watch Series 2.

A magnetic charger is included, which props the watch up so it can be used as a nightstand clock. A quick 20 minutes of charge should get you enough for 10 hours of use, so you can always top the watch up in the morning before you set off.


Samsung Gear S3

The Samsung Gear S3 is a more refined version of the S2. I’m actually really fond of its larger display and more traditional styling. I think it looks really classy. The improved rotary bezel is also really great and is my favourite piece of watch UI.

However, there’s no getting away from just how huge the watch is – especially on daintier wrists. It dwarfs all other smartwatches I’ve worn, including other large models such as the Huawei Watch.

While on paper all of its sensors should make it great for sports, its size is to its detriment and I’m pretty sure part of the reason why the heart rate monitor performed so poorly for me, especially considering I didn’t have the same inaccuracies with the Samsung Gear Fit2.

Then there’s the real issue of Tizen and its app ecosystem. There are still no great apps to be found, and I fear that’s not going to improve if it hasn’t already. After all, why develop for Tizen’s limited devices when you can reach far more with Android Wear?

Ultimately, for the high price of this smartwatch, there’s a lot of unfulfilled potential.


The Samsung Gear S3 flirts with greatness, but it ultimately falls short due its gargantuan size and weight, as well as its Tizen OS.


Meizu m3s vs Coolpad Mega Quick Comparison Overview

Meizu has launched its latest 4G smartphone, the Meizu m3s in India earlier this week. The Meizu m3s comes with a 5 inch HD IPS LCD display and is powered by an Octa core Mediatek processor. The device comes with 2 / 3 GB RAM and supports 4G LTE. The Meizu m3s has been priced at Rs. 7,999 and Rs. 9,299 respectively.

The Coolpad Mega was launched in India in August. The device comes with a 5.5 inch HD IPS LCD display and is powered by a Quad core Mediatek processor clubbed with 3 GB RAM. The Coolpad Mega has been priced at Rs. 6,999.

Let’s compare the Meizu m3s with the Coolpad Mega.

Meizu m3s vs Coolpad Mega

Meizu m3s vs Coolpad Mega Specifications

Key Specs Meizu m3s Coolpad Mega
Display 5 inch IPS LCD 5.5 inch IPS LCD
Screen Resolution 720 X 1280 pixels 720 X 1280 pixels
Operating System Android 5.1 Lollipop Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Processor Octa-core 1.5 GHz 1.0 GHz Quad core
Chipset Mediatek MT6750 Mediatek MT6735P
Memory 2 / 3 GB 3 GB RAM
Inbuilt Storage 16 / 32 GB 16 GB
Storage Upgrade Yes, up to 256 GB Yes, up to 32 GB
Primary Camera 13 MP, f/2.2, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash 8 MP, f/2.2, autofocus, LED flash
Video recording 1080p@30fps 1080p@30fps
Secondary Camera 5 MP 8 MP
Battery 3,020 mAh 2,500 mAh
Fingerprint Sensor Yes No
4G ready Yes Yes
SIM card type Yes Dual
Weight 138 grams 143 grams
Dimensions 141.9 x 69.9 x 8.3 mm 76.8x153x7.85mm
Price 2 GB – 7,999
3 GB – 9,299
Rs. 6,999

Design & Build

The Meizu m3s comes with a complete metal body except the top and bottom. The top and bottom are made of plastic for better antenna reception. The device is very light. It weighs 138 grams and is only 8.3 mm thick. It has a great grip and feels elegant to hold.

The Coolpad Mega is made out of plastic on the back but has metal on the sides. It feels solid to hold and the plastic back does not feel cheap. The Coolpad Mega is also very light and weighs 143 grams. It is very easy to hold as it is only 7.85 mm thick.


Meizu m3s

The Meizu m3s features a 5 inch HD IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. It comes with a pixel density of ~294 PPI.

Coolpad Mega (7)

The Coolpad Mega features a 5.5 inch HD IPS LCD display with a resolution of 720 X 1280 pixels. The device comes with a pixel density of ~267 ppi.

Hardware and Storage

The Meizu m3s is powered by a 1.5 GHz Octa core Mediatek MT6750 processor clubbed with Mali-T860MP2 GPU. The device is available in 2 / 3 GB RAM variants with 16 / 32 GB of internal storage. The storage on the device can be further expanded up to 256 GB via microSD card.

The Coolpad Mega is powered by a 1.0 GHz Quad core Mediatek MT6735P clubbed with Mali-T720MP2 GPU. The device comes with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. The internal storage on the device can be further expanded up to 32 GB via microSD card.


Meizu m3s cam

The Meizu m3s features a 13 MP primary camera with f/2.2 aperture, phase detection autofocus and dual-LED flash. The camera can record videos up to 1080p @ 30 FPS. The camera comes with features such as geo-tagging, touch focus and face detection. On the front, the device sports a 5 MP secondary camera with f/2.0 aperture.

Coolpad Mega (4)

The Coolpad Mega features an 8 MP primary camera with f/2.2 aperture, autofocus and LED flash. The camera can record videos up to 1080p @ 30 FPS. The camera comes with features such as geo-tagging, touch focus and face detection. On the front, the device sports an 8 MP secondary camera with f/2.2 aperture.


The Meizu m3s is powered by a 3,020 mAh battery and the Coolpad Mega is powered by a 2,500 mAh battery. Neither of the devices support Fast Charge. The Meizu m3s easily wins in the battery department as it comes with a higher capacity battery.

Pricing & Availability

The Meizu m3s is available in two storage variants, 2 GB and 3 GB. The 2 GB variant has been priced at Rs. 7,999 and the 3 GB variant has been priced at Rs. 9,299. The Meizu m3s will be sold exclusively by Snapdeal in Gold, Silver and Grey color options.

The Coolpad Mega has been priced at Rs. 6,999 and is being exclusively sold by Amazon India. The device is available in Royal Gold and Champagne Gold color options.


While the Coolpad Mega is priced at Rs. 6,999 only, the 2 GB variant of the Meizu m3s that is available for Rs. 7,999 seems like a better option as it comes with a better camera and a bigger battery. The only downside is that the device comes with 2 GB RAM compared to Coolpad Mega’s 3 GB RAM. The 3 GB variant of the Meizu m3s has been priced at Rs. 9,299 and the price difference makes it harder to compare this variant.


Battle Of The 125cc Ankle Biters – Part 2

Now the real fun begins…

By now, we’ll assume you’ve read the Part 1 of the Ankle Biters test, wherein we asked some newer riders to ride the Honda Grom, KawasakiZ125 Pro, Kymco K-Pipe 125, and SSR Motorsports Razkull 125. Their job was to give us feedback as to which bike makes the best learner for the absolute noob because it’s been awhile since any of the MO staff could call themselves one. Our riders had a lot of fun with the test, but as for us MOrons, we wanted a bit more excitement once we got a chance to throw a leg over the quartet.

Naturally, being the sporting set that we are, and considering we’ve already raced a Grom and K-Pipe twice around the clock already, we decided to have a battle royale between all four bikes to settle the score. A race was in order! Time and budgetary constraints dashed our wide-eyed dreams of taking all four to a go-kart track for a closed-circuit race, but with a combined 32 horsepower, this was one of the few times we could hold a race on four street-legal motorcycles without fear of breaking the speed limit!

Gentlemen, don your leathers.

An Uphill Battle

The premise for our race was simple: we’d race to the top of one of our favorite canyon roads, which conveniently has a cafe at its summit. The loser would buy lunch. Once we got rolling up the hill, however, we didn’t need very many miles to sort out where the four bikes stood. Not surprisingly, by virtue of having the most horsepower and torque, at 8.3 hp and 7.6 lb-ft, respectively, the Grom slowly but confidently pulled away from the rest, handling the gentle upward grade of the road better than the others. The Kawasaki came next, its 8.0 hp and 6.4 lb.-ft. keeping the Honda honest while firmly sitting in second. In third was the Razkull, its 7.7 hp and 6.9 lb.-ft. not enough to keep up, and in a very lonely last place was the Kymco, plagued by its meager 7.0 hp, 5.7 lb.-ft., and porky 247-pound curb weight.

In case you missed it from Part 1, take a look at how all four bikes stack up on the dyno. The Grom has a healthy power advantage over the others, while the Kawasaki’s power really picks up after the others begin to trail off. Also impressive is the SSR, which makes more power than the Kawasaki until roughly 6500 rpm.

In case you missed it from Part 1, take a look at how all four bikes stack up on the dyno. The Grom has a healthy power advantage over the others, while the Kawasaki’s power really picks up after the others begin to trail off. Also impressive is the SSR, which makes more power than the Kawasaki until roughly 6500 rpm.

With the race decided five miles into a 25-mile run, we scrapped the uphill portion and voted to have Tom pay for lunch – which we would have done anyway, regardless of who came in last. Since we had a lot of time to burn at full throttle before reaching the lunch spot, roughly 20 miles away, it gave us plenty of opportunities to think about the machines underneath us.

The torque graph mimics the horsepower chart, except the Kawasaki never pulls an edge out over the Razkull. Meanwhile, the Kymco languishes at the bottom of both charts.

The torque graph mimics the horsepower chart, except the Kawasaki never pulls an edge out over the Razkull. Meanwhile, the Kymco languishes at the bottom of both charts.

Honda Grom

There’s no way around it, the Honda is an impressive motorcycle within this category. “It’s the segment’s O.G. and the one the rest are shooting for,” says Kevin. It’s streetfighter-inspired redesign looks slick, and charging up the mountain, the other bikes had difficulty keeping up with the Grom.

The Grom’s neon coloring may be off-putting for some, and if you don’t like it, you’re probably not the target audience anyway. It also available in white, red or black.

The Grom’s neon coloring may be off-putting for some, and if you don’t like it, you’re probably not the target audience anyway. It also available in white, red or black.

It’s 12-inch wheels gave it the agility to quickly dip into corners, but it and the other contenders with 12-inchers didn’t feel as stable as the Kymco with its 17-inch wheels. Its fuel injection is calibrated perfectly, giving smooth, linear inputs when you twist the throttle. It’s put together well, despite being manufactured in Thailand instead of Japan, and none of us could really find an angle to knock it for. Except the price. Tom agreed, saying the Grom, “Is the nicest bike here in terms of fit and finish, overall quality, and performance, but it’s also the most expensive. So, you’re paying for what you get.”

And there’s the rub. Is the Grom’s $3,200 price tag worth it? We’ll debate our point on this topic later on.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro

For the Kawasaki’s part, our notes all mention something about it being nearly the Honda’s equal. Fit and finish are at the same levels you’d expect from Kawasaki, with engine performance slightly disappointing compared to its Japanese rival (though both are made in Thailand). Whereas the Honda’s new clothes give it a more manga appeal, the mini Z is like the Mothra to the Honda’s Godzilla.

Kevin’s notes say the Kawasaki Z125 has “Less seat-to-peg room than the others, but the most cornering clearance.” Here, Tom is graphically illustrating the seat-to-peg closeness. Check out how close his knee is to his elbow.

Kevin’s notes say the Kawasaki Z125 has “Less seat-to-peg room than the others, but the most cornering clearance.” Here, Tom is graphically illustrating the seat-to-peg closeness. Check out how close his knee is to his elbow.

The Grom may make more power, but the Z is more agile. It’s pegs, placed relatively high and rearward, are clearly the raciest here, and if we were burning laps around the tight confines of a kart track, where peak power isn’t as important, instead of ripping up a wide and expansive mountain, it might even give the Honda a run for its money.

“It seems strange to me that Kawasaki had the Grom clearly in its sights when developing the Z125, and yet couldn’t build a bike that doesn’t surpass the Honda in any performance criteria,” Ed-in-Cheese Duke whined. “What happened to the company which always built the baddest motors?”

As it stood, with the long ribbons of road to climb, the Honda eventually pulled a gap the Kawi couldn’t claw back. Once we got to the top and had a good lookaround at the bike, Kevin liked its double five-spoke wheels, while Tom thought the Kawi looked visually complete with the under engine cowl. The Z125’s fuel tank, however, features shrouds that jut out, which could inhibit leg room for some riders. It’s selling point of course, is its $200 cheaper price tag than the Grom.

SSR Razkull 125 and Kymco K-Pipe 125

Coming in a solid third place up the hill, the Razkull couldn’t keep the Grom or Z in sight for very long, but it clearly outpaced the Kymco, which came a distant last. Basically, whoever was riding either of the Chinese-made bikes were at the tail end of the group while they putt-putted their way to the top.

“The Razkull feels much closer to a Grom and Z125 than its paltry MSRP would indicate,” says Kevin.

“The Razkull feels much closer to a Grom and Z125 than its paltry MSRP would indicate,” says Kevin.

Carburetors come fitted on the SSR and Kymco, helping to drive down the price, and the lack of fuel injection makes cold starts much more difficult. Once warm and with throttles twisted to the stop, there’s really no telling which bike is fuel-injected or not. Also, unlike the fuel-injected Kawasaki, with its jerky on/off throttle application, neither the SSR or K-Pipe had such issues, although the carbureted bikes are, of course, unable to automatically adjust to variations in altitude.

Otherwise, the Razkull’s and K-Pipe’s deficiencies were greatly exposed going up the hill. They lack power – severely in the Kymco’s case – and they both weigh the most at 247 lbs. However, this number is slightly misleading, as Tom explains in the table below:

Because these bikes produce such miniscule amounts of power, weight is a huge factor in each bike’s performance. I have a 30-pound weight disadvantage against the other editors, and it showed every time I was riding uphill or even on a flat surface. So, it should be pointed out that where the Kymco and SSR appear to weigh the same, the difference in curb weight discluding each bike’s fuel capacity is huge. The Kymco carries the least amount fuel among all the bikes and the SSR the most. Factoring in fuel capacities we see that the SSR weighs only five pounds more than the Honda, instead of 16, while the Kymco remains weighing substantially more than the rest. The Kymco’s larger-diameter wheels account for some weight increase, but 12 pounds more than the next heaviest bike? Where’s all that weight coming from?

Curb Weight Fuel Capacity Weight of Fuel Curb Weight Without Fuel
Honda 231 lbs 1.45 gal 8.9 lbs 222 lbs
Kawasaki 226 lbs 2.0 gal 12.4 lbs 214 lbs
Kymco 247 lbs 1.2 gal 7.4 lbs 239 lbs
SSR 247 lbs 3.17 gal 19.7 lbs 227 lbs

So as we can see, the Razkull’s portly weight is largely due to the touring-like fuel capacity it holds, which helps explain its lonely standing on the way up the mountain.

Bringing up the rear in our uphill battle is the Kymco K-Pipe 125. It’s a roomy little motorcycle, with a cool tubular frame and swingarm. It’s just not as focused on performance as the others in this test.

Bringing up the rear in our uphill battle is the Kymco K-Pipe 125. It’s a roomy little motorcycle, with a cool tubular frame and swingarm. It’s just not as focused on performance as the others in this test.

When the bikes are pointed downhill, things become very different. And considering how anti-climactic our uphill race was, we were hoping the way down would renew our child-like hooligan spirits. The short answer? Yes, yes it did.

It’s All Downhill From Here

Yep, the uphill portion was pretty boring, with the four players sorting themselves out very quickly. Coming down the mountain, however, was an entirely different story, and we didn’t know what to expect.

Among the surprises was how much of an equalizer weight and gravity play. Where the Honda would leave the others for dust going up, the quartet were surprisingly close coming down. The Honda would leap away at the start, but the advantage of long, open pavement that helped it form a gap going up gave the others the runway to claw the Honda back coming down.

The Grom’s new redesign is capped off by its headlight. What does Kevin think of it? “It looks a little like Iron Man’s helmet,” he noted.

The Grom’s new redesign is capped off by its headlight. What does Kevin think of it? “It looks a little like Iron Man’s helmet,” he noted.

The Kawasaki and SSR were better able to stay with the Honda, that is until the Z125 was forced to bow out once hitting its 67 mph speed governor (the Honda felt like it topped out around 71 mph, but it wasn’t clearly as governed as the Kawasaki). Until that point the Kawi could gain a little bit of ground on the brakes and with its superior agility. The Razkull, for its part, doesn’t have no pesky limiter – or if it does, we weren’t able to reach it – allowing it to roll as quickly as we dared on its 12-inch wheels. We saw an indicated 76 mph on the SSR the few times we were brave enough to look down. By that point, its rider was closing the gap quickly to the Honda, and if Tom, the heaviest of the four testers was aboard, that gap would close even quicker.

The problem then becomes the flightiness of the little wheels. Trading stability for agility is the sacrifice you make with 12-inch wheels, and maintaining speeds above 70 mph for any length of time makes the Honda and SSR nervous, which is probably the reason the Kawasaki is governed to 67 mph…

Skimming knee at a snail’s pace aboard the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.

Skimming knee at a snail’s pace aboard the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.

Of course, the big benefactor here is the Kymco and its 17-inch wheels. It, too, doesn’t have a limiter, and though it took a long stretch of road for it to gain speed, Tom used its extra weight, in combination with the stability from the 17s, to catch – and pass – the rest of us with a lot less drama. “With seemingly no governor on the K-Pipe I saw a downhill speed of 76 mph. Coupled with its larger wheels, the K-Pipe redeemed itself during the downhill portion of our race,” he noted.

While fun, the Kymco is still tragically plagued by a soft and spongy front brake – a pretty important thing when you’re hauling butt downhill. We also weren’t fans of the semi-automatic transmission with an unorthodox shift pattern (neutral at the bottom, four up) that requires long throws. “Worst transmission of the lot,” Tom says, adding “no feeling to signify you’ve shifted gears.”

The clutch lever, which isn’t needed at a stop, is equally puzzling, with Kevin adding, “I’m confused why there is a clutch lever. Seems pointless considering it’s not needed to get the bike rolling.” The going gets worse for the Kymco, as, apart from that weird transmission, there’s a “digital joke” of an instrument cluster, Tom says, with numbers that flash and morph into letters on occasion.

John Burns channels his inner Rollie Free aboard the Kymco K-Pipe 125.

John Burns channels his inner Rollie Free aboard the Kymco K-Pipe 125.

Surprising us the most was the SSR. It might cost a fraction of the price of its fuel-injected counterparts, but it sure doesn’t look, feel, or perform like it. Our testers noted the impressive fit and finish of the Razkull, with no unsightly gaps or exposed wires. Plus it simply looks attractive with its red trellis frame, seat cowl, high-mount muffler, and overall aesthetic ripped from Bologna, Italy.

“The SSR mini-Monster is a blatant ripoff of Ducati, but who cares,” says Tom. “The Razkull looks great, and stands out among the other two homogenous Japanese bikes. More than that, the Razkull isn’t just a looker, either. At least when it comes to hauling butt downhill. Like the Kymco, it claws back and overtakes the Honda when given enough room to take advantage of its greater weight and lack of a speed governor.

If it weren’t for the low foot pegs on the Razkull, its handling score would have been even better. As it is, the low pegs make for a comfy commuter.

If it weren’t for the low foot pegs on the Razkull, its handling score would have been even better. As it is, the low pegs make for a comfy commuter.

It’s a surprisingly good handler, too, though let down by its footpegs that are closer to the pavement than the other three. Other than that, the Razkull brakes into the corner as well as the Honda or Kawi, turns in with equal confidence, and feels just as stable as the other two on its side. With more peak torque than the Kawasaki, it even feels slightly more punchy than the Z on corner exit, to boot.

What’ll It Be, Boys?

Ultimately, the race downhill came down to which of the editors had bigger balls and was willing to put it on the line. With the exception of the Kawasaki, whose fun peaked at 67 mph, the other three battled it out like a Wrestlemania pay-per-view special, each dishing out a hit as it took its turn at the front. Tom “Big Guns” Roderick, for example, felt like a boat anchor on any bike he rode uphill, except the Honda, while downhill he felt invincible on the Kymco – the same bike he bemoaned on the way up.

Kevin called the Grom “The Complete Package.” But for $3,200, you’re paying a premium for that package.

Kevin called the Grom “The Complete Package.” But for $3,200, you’re paying a premium for that package.

Still, there’s no question which bike brings up the rear in this test. The K-Pipe 125 is simply lacking in too many areas: power, brakes and transmission the biggest among them. It does redeem itself slightly as having a generous amount of space for its rider, while also being the most stable at higher speeds. Its minimalistic styling appealed to some, but calling it attractive is pushing it. At $2000, the price point is attractive, but it’s the inferior buy for riders looking for performance.

Ranking the other three is a bit more challenging, as the MO scorecard has them very evenly matched. Like we mentioned in Part 1 of this ankle biters story, the Grom is the most well-rounded and best performing bike here, with the Kawasaki coming in a close second. However, the Razkull is a very close third.

If you have the $3,200 to spend, then you can’t go wrong with the Honda. “The Grom is the complete package, so it shouldn’t be surprised that package has the highest price,” says Kevin. “Five years from now, I’d bet the Grom would still be entertaining kids big and small with reassuring reliability.”


Can you guess which one of these gauge clusters belongs to the Grom and which belongs to the Razkull? The Honda’s is on the left, but curiously, of the two, the Razkull’s is the one equipped with a gear-position indicator (only visible when the bike is in gear).

Which puts the Kawasaki in a strange place. At only two Benjamins less than the Honda, you’d have to bleed Green or truly have sportbike intentions in your future if that’s the one you want. It flicks quickly, and its pegs are the last to drag out of the four. But with a slightly less powerful engine than the Honda, the Zee doesn’t quite measure up to its obvious rival.

That leaves the SSR Razkull. Sure it’s carbureted, has low pegs, and a limited dealer network. But is that really a dealbreaker? Not for Tom, who writes, “Pegs can be moved, and being a carbureted bike works in the Razkull’s favor as well as against it. EFI is definitely preferable, but the SSR costs a lot less money and either the bike’s owner, or a mechanic with carburetor knowledge could make the Razkull run a lot better than it does. Even as-is, the SSR proved to be very competitive in the power department against the two Japanese bikes.”

In our eyes, the SSR Razkull 125 may not be the complete package like the Grom, but for the price, we think it’s more than complete enough. Kevin writes, “In terms of a playbike to play with, the Razkull’s coolness combined with its low price begs owners to fit a jet kit and pipe and mod it in other ways while still adding up to less money than its Japanese rivals.”

In our eyes, the SSR Razkull 125 may not be the complete package like the Grom, but for the price, we think it’s more than complete enough. Kevin writes, “In terms of a playbike to play with, the Razkull’s coolness combined with its low price begs owners to fit a jet kit and pipe and mod it in other ways while still adding up to less money than its Japanese rivals.”

Tom continues with stories about how Chinese bikes have had dirt kicked in their faces for years because of questionable quality, “but I think the Razkull proves this albatross can be overcome,” he says. “If it were my money, I’d buy the Razkull.”

It’s a conclusion the rest of us came to as well. Sure the Honda is objectively the best bike here, but the fact the SSR comes oh-so-close in many performance aspects, looks killer, and is even affordable on a MOsalary makes it the most attractive in our eyes. Not to mention you won’t see too many other Razkulls on the road, whereas we see Groms all the time.

So there it is. In a bit of a bombshell, we’re picking the Razkull 125. For the price, it simply can’t be beat.

Battle of the 125cc Ankle Biters part 2 Specifications
Z125 Pro
K-Pipe 125
Razkull 125
MSRP $3,199 $2,999 $1,999 $1,799
Engine Type 124.9cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, EFI, SOHC, two-valve 125cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, EFI, SOHC, two-valve 123.7cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, carbureted, SOHC, two-valve 125cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, carbureted, SOHC, two-valve
Bore and Stroke 52.4mm x 57.9mm 56.0 x 50.6mm 54mm x 54mm 52.4mm x 55.5mm
Compression Ratio 9.3:1 9.8:1 8.6:1 9.0 : 1
Rear Wheel Horsepower 8.3 hp @ 6,400 rpm 8.0 hp @ 7,700 rpm 7.0 hp @ 6,900 rpm 7.7 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Torque 7.6 lb-ft @ 5,300 RPM 6.4 lb-ft @ 5,900 rpm 5.7 lb-ft @ 5,900 rpm 6.9 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission 4-speed 4-speed 4-speed 4-speed
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain Chain
Front Suspension 31mm inverted fork;
3.9 inches travel
31mm telescopic fork;
3.9 inches travel
31mm telescopic fork;
3.5 inches travel
Inverted telescopic fork;
4.7 in. travel
Rear Suspension Single shock;
4.1 inches travel
Single shock;
4.1 inches travel
Single shock;
4.0 inches travel
Single shock;
4.0 inches travel
Front Brake Single 220mm disc, dual-piston caliper Single 200mm petal-style disc, dual-piston caliper Single 276mm disc, dual-piston caliper Single 220mm disc, two-piston caliper.
Rear Brake Single 190mm disc, single piston caliper Single 184mm petal-style disc, single piston caliper Drum Single 190mm disc, single-piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70-12 100/90-12 2.75-17 120/70-12
Rear Tire 130/70-12 120/70-12 3.50-17 120/70-12
Rake/Trail 25.0º/3.2 in 26.0°/2.7 in 27.0°/3.5 in 26.0°/3.0 in
Wheelbase 47.2 in 46.3 in 50.8 in 47.7 in
Seat Height 30.0 in 31.7 in 31.0 in 29.5 in
Curb Weight 231 lbs 226 lbs. 247 lbs. 247 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 1.45 gal 2.0 gal 1.2 gal 3.17 gal


Vimtag B1 Waterproof Cloud IP Camera review : Easy outdoor surveillance

The Vimtag B1 Waterproof Cloud IP Camera makes it easy to monitor the outside of your property, with plenty of options for customizing your surveillance.

  • Weatherproof design
  • Lots of customization options
  • HD video (720p)
  • No cloud storage (don’t let the name fool you)
  • Design makes it hard to conceal

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vimtag B1 Waterproof Cloud IP Camera

Monitoring the outside of your property is as important to home security as keeping an eye on the inside, and a number of manufacturers are introducing DIY outdoor cameras to fill that need. The Vimtag B1 Waterproof Cloud IP Camera is one of the best we’ve seen, offering a simple, intuitive way to keep tabs on what’s going on in your front (or back, or side) yard, and its presence could help you deter an intruder before they break in.

The B1 is a bullet-style camera, similar to the CCTV cameras you often see mounted outside commercial buildings. It features an aluminum-alloy body that’s designed to withstand the elements—it’s waterproof and has an operating temperature of 14- to 131 degrees F. A pigtail of three cables extends from the bottom of the preattached stand, offering an ethernet port, power port, and reset button. Attached to the side is a 3Dbi antenna for Wi-Fi connectivity.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vimtag B1 Waterproof Cloud IP Camera

The camera itself features a 3.6mm lens, which is surrounded by more than a dozen infrared LEDs for night vision up to 20 meters. You can monitor your home’s surroundings in real time through the live feed, or set motion detection alerts to have the camera push notifications to your device when it sees movement. You can also enable the motion detection to trigger actions, such as taking a snapshot or recording HD (720p) video.

Its name describes it as a “cloud” IP camera, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. The B1 does not connect to any public cloud to store its surveillance footage. Rather it comes with a preinstalled 32GB internal SD card for video recording and playback.


The Vimtag B1 offers an simple outdoor security solution whether you want to thwart break-ins or make sure no one takes deliveries off your porch.

It can be used with private cloud storage, however; namely Vimtag’s S1 Storage CloudBox ($150): a 13 x 9 x 3-inch unit that provides 1TB of storage and can accommodate up to four cameras. That’s something to consider if you’ll be using the camera for 24/7 recording, such as with a vacation home.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vimtag B1 Waterproof Cloud IP Camera

You can also purchase the B1 outdoor camera and S1 CloudBox as part of a package that includes the Vimtag P1 indoor security camera. The $390 total gets you a complete home security solution.

Setup and usage

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vimtag B1 Waterproof Cloud IP Camera

You can connect the B1 to your network via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable; the former being the preferred option for most people, particularly if you have an outside electrical outlet to plug the camera into, as this eliminates the need to drill a hole in your wall to run cables into your house. To set it up, download the free Vimtag mobile app, scan the QR code on your smartphone camera, and follow the on-screen prompts. The process only takes about five minutes. Once this is done, you can mount the camera to the exterior wall with the supplied screws.

If you’re going to use the S1 CloudBox, it will need to be added to your network as well. You connect it to your router with the included ethernet cable (the camera will connect to the box over Wi-Fi), and then use the Vimtag app to scan its QR code and follow the wizard to create a device password. After that’s done, you have to access the camera’s settings in the app to enable the storage device for use with the B1 by scanning in the S1’s QR code again.

The Vimtag app makes controlling your camera and managing security footage a breeze.

The Vimtag mobile app is the same one used for the company’s indoor cameras and we’ve previously noted it’s delightfully easy to use. Tapping the B1 on the app’s home screen takes you to the camera’s live feed. Beneath it are buttons for manually starting/stopping a video recording, taking a snapshot, triggering a camera’s microphone (not applicable here as the B1 doesn’t offer two-way audio), and accessing the camera’s exposure settings.

All the camera’s settings are accessible from the gear icon at the top of the app. The ones you’ll be most concerned with customize the camera’s motion-detection alerts. False alarms triggered by incidental movement are always a risk with indoor cameras, but they can be an even bigger issue outdoors where you have no control over the environment. Fluttering leaves on the tree in your neighbor’s yard could potentially set off a camera’s motion sensor if it’s sensitive enough.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vimtag B1 Waterproof

The good news is the Vimtag app provides plenty of options for minimizing erroneous alerts. You can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor for day and night independently on sliding scales of 1 to 100. You can also set up to four separate alert schedules to enable alerts only during times when you’re expecting some kind of activity, such as a package delivery. You can also turn off alerts completely; this is a useful option as it only stops the push notification, but still allows the camera to carry out video recording or another enabled action when it detects motion.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vimtag B1 Waterproof

The camera also provides several options for recording video, as well. In addition to recording only motion events, you can enable continuous recording or schedule up to four recording blocks. And as previously mentioned, you can manually trigger recording from the home screen if you see something suspicious on the camera’s live feed.

The B1’s video quality is exceptionally detailed, with rich color representation and good contrast. Night vision is equally sharp and well-lit. Push notifications were prompt and the motion-detection customization settings really helped with the accuracy of the alerts.

Bottom line

The B1 makes it easy to monitor your front porch, backyard, or any other area outside your home. Its real strength, though, is the app, which is easy to use and gives you a wealth of options for customizing your surveillance. If you’re using multiple cameras to keep tabs on your property, purchasing the S1 CloudBox probably makes sense as you get exponentially more storage for your recorded videos and they’ll all be saved on one device. But if you’re just investing in a single camera and not recording continuously the CloudBox is probably more than you need.


Kobo Glo HD review : This is a great e-reader for the money

The Kobo Glo HD delivers all the features you want in an e-reader without any unnecessary bloat. We also appreciate its ability to read a diverse selection of file formats, but we have reservations about its build quality.

  • Display quality is equal to that of more-expensive e-readers
  • Can open a wide variety of file formats
  • Easy access to loaned library books via OverDrive
  • Comfortable to hold, with a rubberized back plate that makes it slip-resistant
  • Build quality is not up to par
  • Rubberized back plate is difficult to clean
  • Had difficulty opening some content-rich files
  • Murky backlight

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Glo HD review : This is a great e-reader for the money

The Kobo Glo HD isn’t Rakuten’s most recent e-reader. At the time of this review, that title belonged to the Kobo Aura One. It’s not the company’s least expensive e-reader, either—that would be the Kobo Touch 2.0, which we hope to review soon. The Kobo Glo HD is, however, Rakuten’s most well-rounded E-Ink device. Priced at $130, the Glo HD incorporates many of the more desirable features of the pricey Kobo Aura One at a price point that puts it closer to Amazon’s special-offer-free Kindle Paperwhite ($140).

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Glo HD review : This is a great e-reader for the money

Pick up the Kobo Glo HD and the first thing you’ll notice is how good it feels in your hand. Its backside is covered in a layer of grippy, perforated rubber that makes the device easy to hold. On the downside, that material did prove difficult to keep clean during testing, picking up fingerprints and filth from coffee shops far more easily than the smooth plastic bodies of other e-readers we’ve tested.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Glo HD

The Kobo Glo HD measures 6.18 x 4.53 x 0.36 inches, and it weighs just over six ounces. That’s the same heft as the Kobo Aura Edition 2, but it’s lighter than Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. So it’s no big deal to hold the Glo HD during extended reading sessions, even if you’re cursed with president-elect-sized hands. The Glo HD feels sturdy enough, but I noted a couple of issues with its build quality that caused me some concern.

kobo glo primary

First, the device’s mini USB charging/data port didn’t align with the hole in the Kobo Glo HD’s cover. I’ve seen this sort of thing lead to the port becoming detached over time. Second, and less troubling, there’s a seam along both sides of the e-reader’s rubber back plate where it meets the rest of the device’s enclosure. After a couple of days, I found these seams got jammed up with debris that was floating around in my backpack and had to scrape it out with a knife.

kobo glo vs amazon paperwhite

The Kobo Glo HD is as close to a Kindle Paperwhite as you can get, without buying a Kindle Paperwhite.

As with the rest of Rakuten’s current lineup of E-Ink devices, the Kobo Glo HD doesn’t suffer from an abundance of buttons. Most of your interactions will be made using its touchscreen, with the exception of turning it on or off. The Kobo Glo HD’s power button, which is recessed into its top, is easy to press intentionally, but difficult to hit accidentally. And as with all E-Ink devices, the Kobo Glo HD sips power. A single charge of its battery can get you through up to two months of use—though your results will vary depending on how much and how often you read.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Glo HD

The Kobo Glo HD comes with a 6.0-inch touchscreen that splits the difference between readability and energy efficiency. With resolution of 300 ppi, text appears crisp and just as legible as what you’ll see on the Kobo Aura One or on Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, Voyage, and Oasis. And Rakuten makes it easy to tweak text size, font settings, and line spacing. Like all Kobo e-readers, the Kobo Glo HD provides 11 font choices and 48 text sizes. Font height and sharpness can be adjusted, too. I also found that JPEG and BMP files, as well as images embedded in PDFs, looked great even if they weren’t originally grayscale.

The Kobo Glo HD’s backlighting failed to impress me, however; in fact, it’s a complaint I have across the Kobo product line. Lighting is consistent across most of the display, but the e-reader’s normally sharp text becomes slightly blurry if the backlight is pushed beyond 40 percent. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is disappointing.

kobo glo button

The Kobo Glo HD’s recessed button makes this e-reader difficult to turn on by accident.

The Kobo online ebook store isn’t as comprehensive as what Kindle users enjoy through Amazon’s Kindle ebook marketplace, but it offers a large enough variety of reading materials to keep most people happy, provided their reading tastes don’t lean towards the esoteric. And all Kobo e-readers support Pocket and OverDrive integration, allowing you borrow digital books from your local public library and read saved offline content harvested from the web. As useful as these two features are, they feel like a stopgap measure designed to compete with Amazon’s excellent subscription Kindle Unlimited Service—an all-you-can-eat book buffet. It’s also important to note that Kobo’s online store provides no access to periodicals. If you’re interested in reading newspapers or magazines on your e-reader, you’ll want to consider shopping for an Amazon device instead. Attempting to read a graphics-heavy PDF copy of Foreign Affairs on the Glo HD proved frustrating, to say the least.

The Kobo Glo HD can open a broad array of document and image files, including EPUB, EPUB3, PNG, GIF, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, HTML, MOBI, PDF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ and CBR—provided they’re not protected by any form of DRM. I found that the performance of these files on the e-reader varied greatly. EPUB, MOBI and text files all opened up quickly and were responsive to my input. Reading PDFs, as in the example above, was a laggy nightmare.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Kobo Glo HD review : This is a great e-reader for the money

No matter what you prefer to read, the Kobo Glo HD should provide you with Ample room to store it. While it doesn’t come equipped with the ability to use removable storage like the Kobo Aura H2O does, its 4GB of internal memory is spacious enough to hold thousands of books and documents.

The Kobo Glo HD is a good option for those who prefer to find their reading material online, through their local library, or who just don’t like the idea of filling their electronic library with Amazon’s DRM’d content. It offers all of the features most people might find desirable in an e-reader, without any of the unneeded bloat.


WowWee Lumi review

  • Easy and fun to fly
  • Sensible, safety-first approach
  • Cool activities to try out
  • Sudden bursts of speed and changes of direction
  • Doesn’t really do enough
  • Short battery life
  • Quad-rotor drone
  • Bluetooth low-power wireless connectivity
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Controlled via iOS and Android apps
  • Supplied with Bluetooth beacon and USB charging cable
  • Manufacturer: WowWee
  • Review Price: £79.99/$120

Hình ảnh có liên quan


Of the few things I thought I knew about drones and drone safety, one was that they’re not toys. Two, that they shouldn’t be flown indoors. Three, that they shouldn’t be flown near people. Four? They shouldn’t be flown by children.

Well, WowWee’s new gaming drone flies in the face of boring conventional wisdom. It’s a pint-sized drone to be flown indoors, near people and – ideally – by children. I know what you’re thinking: is this really such a good idea?


Well, it’s a smarter one than you might expect. WowWee has designed Lumi from the ground up to be as fun, safe and easy to fly as is humanly possible, working in concert with a small device known as the beacon and a simple mobile app. Not only can kids fly Lumi, they can play games, do stunts and create acrobatic routines – all without exiting the family home.

Most parents will – quite rightly – have safety concerns, but a few moments with the drone should allay most of them.



It’s a very slender, lightweight drone: just 28cm long along each side and weighing a mere 132g. The rotors move at a terrifying speed and make an equally nerve-wracking noise, but the sides and below are set behind a flexible cage, which seems to help Lumi bounce off most obstacles.

It would be possible, with a little effort, to stick a finger in them from above. However, in tests with a baby sweetcorn this didn’t do a lot of damage. There may be tears, but no dramatic rush to casualty.


On its own, Lumi doesn’t do anything; to even achieve take-off you need to download and install the Lumi app. Once installed, it searches for the drone over a low-power Bluetooth connection. Phone and drone are quickly linked and the main menu appears, with options for Free Flight, the Lumi on the Beat game and the Lumi Dance activity.



Within the app you can just tap Free Flight, switch to the Advanced Flight mode and control Lumi using a virtual D-pad, plus up, down and rotate controls, all mapped on the surface of the touchscreen.

Just bear in mind that the controls are incredibly responsive, and that your idea of where Lumi is pointing at any given moment might not correspond to where Lumi thinks it’s headed. This can result in moments of sheer panic for spectating children, house-proud spouses and – particularly – nervous pets.


While there is a panic button that brings Lumi down instantly, flying it in Advanced mode can be perhaps just a little too exciting. There’s potential for loved ones to be pursued and pummelled by the drone and for ornaments to be swept off shelves or mantlepieces. This will not make the drone very popular. It won’t make you very popular, either.

Luckily, there’s an easier way: hold the beacon or attach it to your phone or tablet with the clip provided, turn it on, then switch to Easy flight mode.

Lumi now takes over much of the work of flying, moving slower, with improved stability and more inertia, while using the beacon to work out roughly where you are. You can switch it to a mode where it will follow you around the room, avoiding obstacles, human beings and decorative objects. What’s more, you can tap a button to summon up a library of cool(ish) automated tricks, which send it spiralling upwards, downwards, circling or swaying back and forth.


In theory, this makes it easy enough for your average kid to fly – and in practice, most will manage it without issue. The controls can still be twitchy, though, and Lumi has a worrying habit of speeding towards you, hell for leather.

However, with a little patience and practice, most children of nine, ten or upwards can probably manage it, provided nerves don’t get the better of them. You can even set it to follow the clip around, which minimises the sudden bursts of movement.

But there’s more to Lumi than just Easy Flight. Remember the gaming drone bit? What this really comes down to is a simple, Simon-style follow the colour game, where you tap one of the four buttons on your device to match the current colour of the LEDs on Lumi.

You tap them in sequence to start the drone flying, then simply watch and tap to get the highest score you can. This isn’t particularly challenging, and it isn’t when Lumi is gently hovering nearby. However, Lumi’s habit of suddenly speeding towards you can result in breaking your focus.

As a game, then, it isn’t entirely successful, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.


Beyond that, you can program Lumi with dance routines, selecting Lumi’s pre-selected song or one from your device’s music library (it has to be one you’ve downloaded for the stock player, so bad news here for Amazon Music or Spotify fans).

After that, you can sequence movements, tricks and light colour changes to the beat, enabling you to create your own drone performance. The results aren’t always predictable, but the interface is slick and it’s relatively easy to put a sequence together.

What’s more, you can capture your efforts on video through your device’s rear-facing camera. You’ll need to link to a Bluetooth speaker, though, or you won’t hear anything over the rotors.

Lumi can be a lot of fun, but I’m not sure it’s where it needs to be quite yet. You don’t always feel in full control, it isn’t always perfectly responsive, and the iOS app has a nasty habit of crashing halfway through a dance routine.

At times it’s reluctant to connect, too. The fact that it’s noisy and prone to crashing into things means it won’t be welcome in some households, especially where space is tight.

Meanwhile, the battery lasts for only around 20-30 minutes, and while it takes an hour or so to recharge, you have to remove the unit from the drone then connect it through a proprietary cable to a USB charger or PC with a free USB slot.



The Lumi is a fun little drone for indoor use that’s easy enough for kids to fly and reasonably safe to use. However, it’s a little temperamental and prone to sudden bursts of speed or changes of direction.

Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is that Lumi doesn’t really do enough to keep a child’s interest for more than a few days. Sure, you can fly it and run through the preset tricks, play the game for an hour or so, and create a few dance routines, but Lumi really needs to have more games and activities before it lives up to its gaming drone billing.


The basic drone design is sound and there’s little WowWee couldn’t fix through software updates – but right now, Lumi is a nearly great tech toy, rather than the finished item.


Philips SHB8750NC review

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Philips SHB8750NCs are being very nice to the Award-winning SHB8850NCs.

Superficially, these two pairs of headphones share many of the same features and even have some sonic traits in common – but there are still significant differences.

Overall, these headphones aren’t quite as finely balanced as their twin.


The only aesthetic change between the 8750 and 8850 review samples is the black on the housings and headband rather than silver.

They have the same noise-cancelling functionality, volume and playback controls as the 8850s, as well as the same hinged, rotating earcups hiding the 32mm drivers.

As these are Bluetooth headphones, there’s a micro-USB port for charging, but if you find yourself low on battery you can also plug a jack into its 3.5mm connection.

Put them on your ears, however, and the differences between the two Philips headphones soon reveal themselves.


If there’s one thing the 8750s do well, it’s the midrange.

Play The xx’s Shelter and Romy Madley Croft’s vocal has a decent amount of expression and clarity. It’s detailed enough to reveal just how breathy the song is.

Move on to Infinity, a track that needs headphones with plenty of spatial awareness, and the 8750s don’t disappoint.

When recording the song, Oliver Sim sang on the opposite side of the room from Croft, and the distance between the two singers can certainly be appreciated.

Tonally, the 8750s do lean more towards the lower frequencies. The thumping, low-frequency synths in Fantasy are moved further towards the forefront and help the song establish its foundations.

However, the bass on the 8750s is thicker, but not as taut or articulate as with the 8850s.

The heavy kick-drum that underlies No Church In The Wild by Jay Z and Kanye West sounds just a touch imprecise from these cans. They could do with being a bit tighter and having more punch.

They also don’t quite have the same dynamism, especially through the midrange and treble.

Playing The Game Is On from the BBC’s Sherlock, the high-pitched piano sounds a tad strained, and there isn’t enough attack quite to capture the same sense of life that the 8850s do.

And, changing to something more demanding, the headphones want for the organisation of the 8850s.

Holland, 1945 by Neutral Milk Hotel is a distorted track that needs to be handled firmly. Though the 8750s make a good attempt, keeping the vocals and horns above the noise, the drums and guitars aren’t easily distinguishable.


An audiophile hermit would, no doubt, be perfectly content with these headphones.

They’ve got solid sound quality and a fair bit of bass that is impressive at this price.

However, the 8750s don’t exist in a vacuum, and are implicitly set against the 8850s because of their similar design, feature set, and cost.

Weighing the two against each other, the scales tip in favour of the 8850s, and as such they are the ones to retain our recommendation.