Monthly Archives: April 2017

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Review

Head Cheese Duke may have gotten a chance to ride the new Suzuki GSX-R1000R at Phillip Island – which is probably tied at the top of every moto-journo’s bucket list of tracks to ride alongside the Mugello track in Italy – but as far as consolation prizes go, getting to ride at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, is pretty darn good. My steed? Ironically enough, the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000. While my bike may be down one R to the one Kevin rode, to underestimate the single-R Gixxer would be a huge mistake. Let’s take a closer look to why.

When comparing the double-R versus the single-R, the list of things the latter doesn’t have is rather small. From a hardware perspective, the major difference is a downgrade in suspension. Instead of the Showa Balance Free fork and shock, the single-R gets the Showa Big Piston fork and a standard Showa shock. Good bits, sure, but not top shelf stuff. The rest is down to software. What you won’t see on the single-R Gixxer Thou is a quickshifter, launch control, or cornering-ABS. For ABS-equipped models, the six-axis IMU still calculates pitch under braking, however, and will modulate the brakes if a certain threshold of rear lift is determined.

Suzuki’s old and new. Suzuki’s rich racing heritage goes beyond the similar color scheme on the new GSX-R1000, the technology developed in racing – like variable valve timing – has trickled down directly to its production sportbike.

Suzuki’s old and new. Suzuki’s rich racing heritage goes beyond the similar color scheme on the new GSX-R1000, the technology developed in racing – like variable valve timing – has trickled down directly to its production sportbike.

Otherwise, the GSX-R1000 siblings are identical. Which means both share the same all-new frame, Brembo T-drive 320mm rotors, monoblock four-piston calipers, and of course, the all-new 999.8cc inline-Four with variable valve timing and finger-follower valvetrain, which help it reach its lofty 14,500 rpm redline.

Because the two bikes are awfully similar, there’s not much to say about the technical details of the GSX-R1000 that Duke didn’t cover in his double-R review, so click over there if you want the full technical rundown. Here, we’re going to focus on the single-R’s track prowess, followed by quick impressions from the street in and around the Austin hill country.

Full Speed Ahead

Hopping aboard the new Gixxer, there’s no mistaking you’re on any other sportbike. Familiarity breeds comfort, and the GSX-R feels like an old friend. You’re sitting in the bike rather than on top of it, and the contours just feel similar, despite the fact the seat/tank junction is narrower than before thanks to the frame spars being 20mm closer together than the previous GSX-R.

Modern sportbike engines are a feat of technological marvel, but the GSX-R1000 engine is impressive because of its simplicity. Narrower and more powerful than before, Suzuki says its variable valve timing technology has been used in racing since the mid-2000s without any reports of failure.

Modern sportbike engines are a feat of technological marvel, but the GSX-R1000 engine is impressive because of its simplicity. Narrower and more powerful than before, Suzuki says its variable valve timing technology has been used in racing since the mid-2000s without any reports of failure.

But of course the big talking point about the Suzuki is its new engine. The only production sportbike to incorporate variable valve timing, the GSX-R really delivers on its claim of having broad, usable power. There are few racetracks in the U.S. that are big enough to let a literbike sing at full song; I’m talking sixth gear, pinned. The Circuit of the Americas is one of those tracks. At 3.4 miles in length, including a 0.62-mile (1km) long straight, the new Gixxer leaps out of the first-gear entry to the straight ferociously, the TC working overtime in the first couple gears to keep the rear from spinning too much while keeping the front just barely skimming above the ground.

Then, somewhere along the way, the variable valves shift their profile and the engine goes into another level and keeps pulling nearly all the way to its 14,500 redline. It’s quite remarkable, really, and totally seamless during the transition. But even more impressive is just how easily that power is to manage. Simply put, the GSX-R is an easy bike to ride fast. Lower the traction control settings and you’ll get a good amount of spin if you want it. At the same time the bike is working overtime to make sure maximum power is being delivered to the ground. That said, if I were to gauge power according to my butt dyno, I’d say the Suzuki is still a few horses shy of the almighty BMW S1000RR, but will give the all-new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR a run for its money.

One of the high points about the new GSX-R is its agility while on the brakes.

One of the high points about the new GSX-R is its agility while on the brakes.

Suzuki’s Drive Mode Selector is back on the new model, with all three modes still providing full power. The difference comes in the application of power, as A-mode is most aggressive, C-mode least aggressive, and B-mode somewhere in the middle. Track riding favors putting the bike in A-mode, where power is delivered with immediacy but is nothing resembling abrupt or harsh. A-mode, combined with the engine’s healthy torque output, allows a rider to roll through a first-gear corner in second without losing too much time.

Conversely, B-mode’s initial power delivery is slightly, but noticeably, softer for the first few degrees of throttle turn before ramping back up again. In contrast to A-mode, that same corner mentioned above in B-mode can be taken in first gear with less of a concern over covering the rear brake to inhibit the impending wheelie. As for C-mode, well, I didn’t bother trying it as the perfect conditions of our trackday meant there wasn’t much use in softening the power even further.

Outside of the Circuit of the Americas, Texas isn’t known for its curvy roads – this is the extent of lean angle we saw on our street ride. That said, as far as sportbikes go the GSX-R is awfully agreeable; its broad powerband is perfect for street riding, while ergos aren’t overly aggressive. Engine vibrations aren’t bad, either, with minimal buzz felt through the bars at cruising speeds.

Outside of the Circuit of the Americas, Texas isn’t known for its curvy roads – this is the extent of lean angle we saw on our street ride. That said, as far as sportbikes go the GSX-R is awfully agreeable; its broad powerband is perfect for street riding, while ergos aren’t overly aggressive. Engine vibrations aren’t bad, either, with minimal buzz felt through the bars at cruising speeds.

On the street, however, the immediacy in which A-mode delivers its power can be a little off-putting initially, with a small lurch during on/off throttle. That said, it definitely isn’t too aggressive for canyon riding, but I’d switch it down to B-mode otherwise. As far as shifting goes, the lack of a quickshifter is definitely missed (though it’ll soon be available as an option), but otherwise shifts are nice and crisp. A slip-assist clutch works well to provide a light lever pull and eliminate rear-wheel hop during rapid downshifts.

Power and Control

Apart from the Suzuki’s engine, its chassis is equally as impressive. During the tech presentation the night before our ride, none other than 1993 World Champ Kevin Schwantz addressed the crowd. KS34 has probably put more laps aboard the new GSX-R than anyone, and the thing he said impressed him the most was how easy the bike was to trailbrake. “Past GSX-Rs would fight me when I turn in on the brakes,” he said. “Not this one.”

You may not know the name Shinichi Sahara, but you should. He’s the project leader for the GSX-R1000, and his roots at Suzuki go back a long way. His resume of bikes he’s helped developed include the TL1000S on the street side, as well as Suzuki’s original MotoGP effort. But as you can see here, he’s not just a desk jockey with a calculator and a protractor – Sahara-san is a rider through and through!

You may not know the name Shinichi Sahara, but you should. He’s the project leader for the GSX-R1000, and his roots at Suzuki go back a long way. His resume of bikes he’s helped developed include the TL1000S on the street side, as well as Suzuki’s original MotoGP effort. But as you can see here, he’s not just a desk jockey with a calculator and a protractor – Sahara-san is a rider through and through!

Of course, as much as I respect Mr. Schwantz, the journalist in me had to be skeptical of his claims. He is Suzuki’s favorite child, after all. Turns out, I had no reason to doubt the legend; the GSX-R really is sublime while trailbraking into a corner. Grab the binders, tip the bike in, plant your knee down, clip the apex – the Suzuki does it in one fluid motion.

That said, the new bike lacks that nth degree of confidence at max lean as, say, an ApriliaRSV4. Perhaps a result of the lower-grade suspension, the Suzuki is good, but missing that last little bit. And at a claimed 443 lbs with its 4.2-gallon tank full, the Gixxer’s claimed curb weight is nearly 20 lbs heavier than the Euro-spec Honda CBR1000RR I put on the scales during its launch (yes, it had a full tank of fuel). You feel that weight during side-to-side transitions. Calling it sluggish would be a disservice to Suzuki, but it’s just a hair short compared to the class leaders. At the end of the day, these are nitpicks if there ever were any, but because the literbike field is so stacked, any imperfection, no matter how little, has to be mentioned.

2017 Honda CBR1000RR Review

Fun fact: as part of the GSX-R’s redesign, the gas tank profile is now 21mm lower at the top to help the rider tuck in just that little bit more.

Fun fact: As part of the GSX-R’s redesign, the gas tank profile is now 21mm lower at the top to help the rider tuck in just that little bit more.

Since we’re on the topic of nitpicks, the GSX-R’s brakes are simply good, but far from class leaders. Despite the Brembo logo on the four-pot calipers, these are a far cry from the company’s awesome M50 calipers. On top of that, at 320mm, the Suzuki’s rotors give up 10mm to the best in the field. This combination, combined with rubber lines and street-biased pads results in stopping power that’s simply adequate. Initial bite is relatively soft but consistent, so once you adapt, you know how late you can leave your braking. Steel-braided lines and more aggressive pads would likely improve braking responses.

Where the brakes do deserve credit is with its rear-lift mitigation software. If you’ll remember from my 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Review, I complained about how Honda’s proprietary RLM software resulted in inconsistent braking feel at the lever, causing myself and others to miss corners on occasion. On the Suzuki, stomping on the brakes from 175 mph down to 40 mph takes some serious braking effort, and while I could (at times) feel the lever pulsing in an attempt to keep the rear wheel on the ground, braking force remained consistent – a huge difference compared to the Honda.

Final Thoughts

Without having ridden the double-R Gixxer, I can’t make any comparisons. However, there are some clear takeaways after riding the single-R. First, that engine is killer. Its broad, usable power, while nice at the racetrack, is even more appreciated on the street, where most GSX-R owners will actually ride the bike. Second, its chassis composure under braking is superb – Kevin Schwantz wouldn’t lie to me. Third, it’s IMU-assisted traction control works well, allowing a certain amount of spin while getting power to the ground. Lastly, it veers on being comfortable, at least for a sportbike. The bars aren’t insanely low, the narrow seat makes it easy to put a foot down despite its 32.5-inch seat height, there’s plenty of room to move around, and the pegs aren’t overly aggressive.

Compared to the previous GSX-R1000, the 2017 model is unquestionably better in every way. However, Suzuki has its work cut out for it against the established players in the class. But if you’re a die-hard Gixxer loyalist, then the new 1000 won’t leave you disappointed.

Compared to the previous GSX-R1000, the 2017 model is unquestionably better in every way. However, Suzuki has its work cut out for it against the established players in the class. But if you’re a die-hard Gixxer loyalist, then the new 1000 won’t leave you disappointed.

Overall, though, the liter-class sportbike field is incredibly tight. It’ll take a mighty effort to unseat BMW’s S1000RR and the Aprilia RSV4, the latter updated for 2017. However, at $14,599 ($14,999 with ABS), the GSX-R1000 is the least expensive literbike out there, allowing you to take the money you save and spend it on some choice upgrades to make the bike as good, or better, than anything else out there.

In case there was any doubt, the answer is yes, folks, the 2017 Literbike Shootout is going to be a good one.

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000
+ Highs

  • Fantastic engine
  • Great agility while on the brakes
  • Cheapest literbike in the class
– Sighs

  • Sucks you gotta pay extra for a quickshifter
  • Brakes are just average for the class
  • Maybe a smidge heavy

(motorcycle.com, https://goo.gl/gu39Uc)

Nintendo 2DS XL vs 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: What’s the difference?

Seemingly coming from nowhere, the Nintendo 2DS XL took everyone by surprise when it was announced. It was widely thought that Nintendo’s attention would be solely  on the Switch for the time being, with the existing handhelds more than capable of holding their own.

However, the Japanese gaming giant decided to shake things up, with a new version of its very popular portable console coming to stores on 28 July. And by all accounts it looks to be the model that gamers, hardcore and casual, would most like.

We put all the current versions of the Nintendo handheld system head-to-head to see which would suit you best.

2ds-xl-slanted-hd

Since the original Nintendo DS, the company has essentially kept with a clamshell design – meaning it folds to protect the two screens at the top and bottom.

However, it did deviate from that formula with the Nintendo 2DS. This version of the handheld was designed for younger children primarily and as such is cased in a solid body rather than a foldable shell. The two screens are present but the device feels more solid – presumably to protect it more from drops and scrapes.

All four of the consoles – the 2DS, new 3DS, new 3DS XL and new 2DS XL – come with a stylus and the ability to add storage through a microSD card. This enables users to download games from the Nintendo eShop and store them directly on the machine.

A microSD card is included with each of the devices, with the 2DS and 3DS coming with a 2GB card, the 2DS XL and 3DS XL with a 4GB card.

new-nintendo-2ds-XL-4

All of the handhelds come with two screens: a top, non-touch display and a lower touchscreen. The top screen is always larger, but varies in size depending on the model.

The top screens on the 2DS and 3DS measure 3.53-inches, while the 2DS XL and 3DS XL both feature larger 4.88-inch displays. The resolution for the top screens on all devices is 400 x 240.

The 3DS and 3DS XL have stereoscopic, glasses-free 3D screens while the 2DS and 2DS XL are in 2D – the clues are in their names. That’s the biggest difference between them.

The resolution of the lower touchscreens on all of the models is the same: 320 x 240. The XL models have 4.18-inch lower displays, the 2DS and 3DS gave 3.53-inch displays.

new-nintendo-2ds-xl

The 2DS XL, most recent 3DS and 3DS XL models all feature the same internal tech. They run on an 804MHz quad-core + 134MHz single-core processing chipset, with 268MHz of graphics processing.

The 2DS has a 268MHz dual-core + 134MHz single-core processor – the same as the original 3DS and 3DS XL variants before Nintendo updated them.

The 2DS XL, 3DS and 3DS XL also have 256MB of storage built-in, while the 2DS has 128MB. All machines, as explained above, are capable of expansion through microSD.

All of the models have 0.3-megapixel cameras front and rear, with dual-lens 3D cameras on the back, even on the 2DS versions.

The 2DS is the only one of the four that doesn’t come with Amiibo support built into the device. The rest work with Amiibos by tapping the connected toys to the lower screen.

hardware-blank

All of the models are compatible with all 3DS and DS games available in stores and the online Nintendo eShop. They will also all play the Virtual Console retro game releases from Nintendo.

They each have the same style cartridge slot.

The 3DS has been around since 2011 and the original 3DS XL since 2012. However, they were both effectively replaced (you can still buy the latter from some retailers) by what Nintendo calls the new 3DS and new 3DS XL two years ago. They are the models we’ve been focusing on in this comparison.

The 2DS was released in 2013.

All of the versions are readily available from numerous online and high street shops.

The 2DS XL will be released on 28 July 2017.

vg.hh.01.lg

Almost all of the consoles come with a game included, with the exception of the 2DS XL. Some stores might include it in a bundle from launch day, but the initial indications are that you’ll need to buy a game separately.

Here are suggested prices and links where you can buy each of the consoles:

  • Nintendo 2DS (with New Super Mario Bros 2), £74.99 from Amazon.co.uk, (with no game) $116.17 from Amazon.com
  • New Nintendo 3DS (with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer), £159.99 from Nintendo.co.uk
  • New Nintendo 3DS XL, £169 from Amazon.co.uk, $243.99 from Amazon.com
  • New Nintendo 2DS XL, $149.99 in the US, UK price yet to be revealed

2017428e4514ee4-b7ab-4736-b6ad-ac926a8ddc46

The 2DS XL is a compelling option. Even though we don’t yet know the UK price point, it will clearly be cheaper than the currently available 3DS XL yet offers exactly the same experience save for the one feature many turn off anyway: 3D.

It also looks cool, in its black with turquoise trim or white with orange trim colour schemes. Younger children are still better off with the 2DS, thanks to its more robust build quality, but the 2DS XL breaths new life into the handheld family that we didn’t see coming.

(pocket-lint.com, https://goo.gl/bhIElT)

Medion Erazer X7849 review

OUR VERDICT

The Erazer’s soft touch finish, healthy arsenal of hardware and heavy array of connectivity options makes it a solid choice for any looking to pick up a desktop replacement. However, if you’re after something somewhat portable, you should look elsewhere.

FOR

  • Stunning IPS screen
  • Smart screen and GPU choice
  • Beautiful finish

AGAINST

  • Quite pricey
  • Old processor model
  • Middling keyboard

There’s something to be said for aspiring to move away from a full-sized desktop and towards a more portable, low-space notebook. The latest Erazer gaming laptop from Medion is technically portable: at 17 inches on the diagonal, it’d be considered a desktop replacement.

15-630.3069790405

Packing an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, a 480GB solid-state drive (SSD), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics chip and a G-Sync enabled, 17.3-inch, IPS 1080p screen, this Erazer isn’t about to rob you of a desktop-grade gaming experience just for shrinking down a bit.

This is a system more than capable of driving any of the latest AAA titles at a full 60 frames per second (fps) at 1080p, in beautifully color accurate detail with little to any worry. Couple that with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, and watch as screen tearing and frame drops become a thing of the past.

Price, availability and value

But, with an asking price of £1,699 (about $2,199, AU$2,937), is the Erazer worth plunking down that much for a recently-dated processor and an apparent lack of spinning storage? That is a huge chunk of money, regardless of how you look at it, especially for the spec sheet this laptop touts, compared to the desktop competition much less laptops.

Don’t believe us? As of this writing, for £1,706 you could get a Ryzen 7 1700 CPU, Samsung 850 Evo 500GB SSD, 1TB Seagate HDD, 32GB of HyperX DDR4 memory, a Gigabyte GTX 1070 and a 27-inch, BenQ 1440p IPS screen – with a solid set of peripherals – for almost exactly the same amount of cash.

That’s a system with four times as much computational power, three times as much storage, twice as much memory, running on a screen that’s 10 inches larger and at twice the resolution.

Ultimately, you’re paying for that portability. For that same money or less, you could have an HP Omen 17, replete with one of the latest Intel Core i7 processors (Kaby Lake) as well as a 128GB SSD + 1TB hard drive (HDD) combo. Likewise, you can get a custom-built Origin EON17-X laptop for a few more hundred bucks with more recent hardware.

And, honestly, we just don’t see a big portability play here with the Erazer. It’s big, it’s bulky and it’s just too much to cart on a commute. What does that leave you with? A system that you essentially still leave in one place from day to day.

As for availability, Medion serves both the US and UK as well as most of western Europe.

c8xiJhXymfet45v8gFjSme-650-80

Design

That said, the Erazer is truly a beauty. Although the LED lighting, situated around the trackpad and the back of the screen, may be less than appealing to those looking for a sleeker, more professional device, the soft touch finish wrapping the rest of the system is simply stunning.

And, while it’s certainly not the most portable of notebooks, the sharp angles situated around the design keep it looking sleek. The bezel is a little chunkier than we’d like, and the standard membrane keyboard leaves much to be desired (especially for the price), but there’s a lot to be said for it.

What did impress, however, was the cooling system. No doubt due in part to its large size, but it was rare for us to hear the fans ramp up, if at all.

That said, unsurprisingly, the fans are somewhat whiney when they do kick in, but they’re nothing that a good pair of headphones can’t drown out. While, frankly, you shouldn’t have to, most of the time you’ll be buried into a good game, so it’s not something we’ll get too hung up on with how rarely it happens.

The I/O, on the other hand – oh boy, what a compliment. With the Erazer, you could effectively run three additional displays attached to this monster.

BDRnsjjHQ3TCmUWJ8gsDke-650-80

Memory abound, storage absent

Storage, however, is one area in which the Erazer really comes unglued. In short, you get a single 480GB SSD. Fill that up with your run-of-the-mill OS programs, and you’ll be left with less than 280GB for games – not ideal. Considering the Erazer nears the £1,700 mark, and given it’s humongous dimensions, we have to ask: why no additional HDD?

Fortunately, the situation regarding memory is far merrier. With two out of four available DIMMs taken up with two 8GB RAM modules of DDR4 RAM, meaning you could throw another 16GB in for good measure, to give you a total of 32GB, which useful for media rendering tasks.

However, in that scenario, a seriously beefy external HDD, or a dedicated NAS, would almost be a necessity.

Performance

Computational performance was a little lower than we expected, averaging below 700 on CineBench R15’s multi-threaded performance, as to be expected from the mobile Skylake processor buried at the heart of this wee beastie.

30021462_PIC-H_Dfront

That last point is a bit of a stickler for us. At this point in time, Skylake is looking positively old in the world of advancing processors. Although Kaby Lake launched early in 2017, the mobile parts have been available since before December.

On top of that, Kaby Lake X, Intel’s next generation processor, is supposedly right around the corner, meaning we could soon see a slew of new mobile parts hit the mainstream. Couple that with AMD promising Ryzen mobile parts within the next quarter, and the aging Skylake core looks positively decrepit.

Does that mean the Core i7-6700HQ is chump change at this point? Yes and no. It’s still a serious contender, even in its mobile form factor, equalling roughly the same processing power as any keen-eyed Core i5-6600K desktop-side. If you’re looking to dabble in video rendering and editing on the move, it should be more than plenty to whet your appetite.

As for graphics performance, the Erazer is well outclassed by the Origin EON17-X we reviewed last winter and on par with the HP Omen 17 of fall 2016.

A battery bummer

But, the big one is battery, right? In our testing, we found that during intense video playback, the battery lasted 2 hours and 37 minutes. So, enough to get the latest Marvel film done and dusted, and maybe go through some bonus features, but not quite long enough to get a good Peter Jackson ode to New Zealand quite all the way through.

Similarly, the PCMark 8 Home battery test reported a somewhat lackluster 2 hours and 53 minutes. Both of these figures are expectedly a far cry from the 4 hours promised by Medion.

ocPRweUZUAJ5SfPDrncYke-650-80

Final verdict

Ultimately, the Erazer is a fine piece of work. Its soft touch finish makes the product feel premium enough, but it doesn’t tout the aluminium stylings we’ve seen from similarly-priced Asus, HP or Dell laptops.

That said, this laptop should feel like home to any who spend the majority of their free time gaming, its frame resisting sweaty fingerprints and greasy food stains. Performance is solid, dependable even. And, the coupling of that GTX 1070 with a 1080p screen should mean you’re set for any AAA title that launches over the next two to three years at least, without tweaking any major settings.

The price, though, and the lack of portability that comes with it, makes the Erazer less appealing than we’d hoped. If a spinning hard drive was thrown into the mix, we could perhaps forgive it, but for what Medion is asking, well, it’s just a little too much for what’s on the table.

(techradar.com, https://goo.gl/udymoj)

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF Review – First Ride

After a half-decade of sitting second chair to BMW’s S1000RR (Honorable Mention 2010, and again in 2015) Aprilia’s RSV4 finally, deservedly, secured Motorcycle.com’s 2016 Sportbike of the year award. Subjectively, the RSV and its V-Four engine have been a staff favorite every year since its introduction, but where does one go after having ascended the throne? For the 2017 RSV4 RR and RF, the answer is improved electronics.

Last year brought a variety of much needed mechanical upgrades to the RSV resulting in a 16-horsepower bump to a claimed 201 hp at the crank (measured rear wheel output of 179.5 at 13,700 rpm), effectively equalling BMW’s claimed 199 hp (measured rear wheel output 182.9 at 13,100 rpm). Although we didn’t conduct a multi-superbike shootout last year, there was a cage match between the RSV4 RR and Kawasaki’s then new-to-the-scene ZX-10R (The $17,000 Superbike Faceoff) in which the RSV emerged the winner. Also like last year, the RSV returns looking much the way it has since its inception because, to paraphrase Piaggio’s chief designer Miguel Galluzzi, when you create a bike that looks this good, there’s no reason to change every year.

Miguel Galluzzi and the 2017 Aprilia RSV4

Aprilia’s RSV4 is the most MotoGP-looking superbike you can buy, thanks to one of the most renowned designers of modern motorcycles, Miguel Galluzzi. The director of Piaggio’s Advanced Design Center in Pasadena, CA, recently gave us his personal Top 10 Motorcycles.

Getting back to this year’s models, we detailed in full all the upgrades to both the RF and RR back in October in our 2017 Aprilia RSV4 And Tuono V4 1100 Previews. In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

How’s that for a boatload of acronyms? More importantly, how do they affect the performance of our reigning champ?

2017 Aprilia RSV4 V4-MP

One of the coolest technologies the new V4-MP multimedia platform offers is the ability to download a track map with corner-by-corner MotoGP settings already included. If the track doesn’t already exist, hit the record button and it’ll create a track map in which you can input your own personal corner-by-corner settings for ATC and AWC. Standard on the RF, optional on the RR.

After spending the weekend studying the lines of various MotoAmerica and MotoGP riders cutting inhumanly fast laps around the COTA circuit, then having to wait a day while Troy rode the new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, it was finally my turn to take to the track. Having never ridden COTA, learning its 3.4-mile 20-turn layout was somewhat daunting, but I can’t think of another bike I’d rather be aboard for the learning curve.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR

Editor Score:94.5%

Engine 20.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.75/10
Brakes 10/10
Instruments/Controls 4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.25/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score 94.5/100

First up, the RR. Outfitted for 2017 with an up-and-down quickshifter and Brembo M50 calipers gripping larger 330mm discs, the RR, at $16,999, arguably represents the best of what is possible in this price range. Extolling dominant engine performance and a chassis we’ve praised with every flattering analogy we can think of, the RR had me quickly up to speed around COTA.

Accelerating off the slow Turn 11, pointing the RSV down COTA’s long back straight and firing, the 65-degree V-Four spins furiously fast, reaching speeds in excess of 170 mph before brake pressure need be applied. Learning just how fast and how deep into the corner the RSV can be pushed before slowing for the tight Turn 12 took multiple tries as the RSV sheds speed rapidly, and it takes some experimenting before you’re brave enough to keep the throttle pinned with brake markers approaching at what seems lightspeed.

Keeping all this ferociousness manageable is Aprilia’s laudable electronics package. For the most part, I kept both ATC and AWC at level 1, allowing for an enjoyable amount of rear-wheel spin and enough front-wheel lift to make me feel like a MotoGP stud in full control of a 200-horsepower firebreather (see image below). The best part is you know there are electronic aids working in the background, but they’re never intrusive enough for you to know they’re functioning other than the occasional dashboard light illuminating – unless, of course, you have ATC turned way up.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR

During one of the first go-arounds of the COTA circuit I rocketed up the elevation-gaining front straight and in a little hot to Turn 1. Grabbing a handful of front brakes resulted in the rear end getting out of line. I have to think that Aprilia’s Rear Lift-up Mitigation system helped keep the situation from getting out of hand.

We started the day with the ride mode set to Track, then by our third session and no crashes, Aprilia felt confident with us switching to Race mode, which allows the engine to spin quicker in the first few degrees of throttle twist. I actually preferred Track mode, as Race mode changes power delivery from rheostat to lightswitch, making throttle modulation a more difficult task, especially through COTA’s S sections where small throttle adjustments are required. I switched back to Track mode – without having to pit because Aprilia makes most adjustments on-the-fly easy – and left it there for the remainder of sessions.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 switchgear

The RSV’s new switchgear is handily manipulated, and navigating through the various menus a straightforward process. The only complaint is the toggle switch that moves left/right and up/down with no issues but gets a little persnickety when it’s time to push the button straight down and actually select a setting, oftentimes requiring a two-finger push instead of just your thumb. No longer is BMW the only hardcore sportbike with cruise control. Of course, there was no testing this tech at the racetrack, but I did sample the Pit control button, which works as you’d expect, keeping speeds limited to pit-imposed limits.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RF

Editor Score:95.75%

Engine 20.0/20
Suspension/Handling 14.75/15
Transmission/Clutch 10/10
Brakes 9.75/10
Instruments/Controls 4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.75/10
Value 8.5/10
Overall Score 95.75/100

Switching to the RF model, it was apparent on the first lap out what top-shelf suspension and lightweight forged wheels bring to the table. Hosting its first race a short five years ago, all those cars lapping COTA since have rippled the pavement in various places throughout the circuit. The RSV4 RF, outfitted with the latest gen Öhlins NIX fork and TTX shock, was better able to manage all the dips and bumps around the COTA circuit. Not to say the RR’s Sach’s fork and monoshock don’t perform admirably, but when ridden back-to-back, it’s hard to overlook the increased compliancy. In hindsight, without having a direct comparison, I’d be totally happy with the performance of the Sachs units and would welcome the reduced MSRP they reflect.

More significant (to me, at least) are the forged wheels the RF wears. The first time through COTA’s S turns on the RF, the difference felt as though the RR model was outfitted with wheels of concrete as the RF transitioned with a renewed sense of ease and immediacy. The reduced rotating mass coupled with the Öhlins ability to deal with surface imperfections exposed an increased sense of stability, generating more confidence in my ability to attack the COTA circuit.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RF

Also working in the background to keep you upright is the Bosch cornering ABS system. It’s a system you’ll probably never realize how many times it’s saved your bacon. We tested cornering ABS on a bike with outriggers last year and came away from the experience fully recognizing its potential.

Shifting either model around the COTA course is made ridiculously easy by way of Aprilia’s up-and-down quickshifter. The system worked flawlessly, eagerly grabbing gears without hesitation, and downshifting, blipping the throttle as it goes, all the way to first gear without upsetting the chassis. The only way to interrupt the operation is by allowing your foot to rest atop the shifter, which stops the system from grabbing the next gear. We’ve found that sometimes what works at track speeds and aggression levels doesn’t always transfer to street use, so we’ll have to wait until we have an RSV in our possession as to how its quickshifter works in the real world of street riding.

When you piece the whole picture together; a manageable 200-hp engine, grade-A suspension and brake components, MotoGP-level electronics, and magic-carpet-ride handling, you begin realizing the RSV4 RF would probably run circles around a 10-year-old World Superbike racer. All for a $23k MSRP.

If that price is a little steep – which it certainly is for a lot of us – the RR model is a perfectly good substitution, offering the best aspects of the RF model in a much more affordable package at $16,999. In fact, purchasing the RR model and installing a set of forged aluminum wheels will get you seriously close to the RF while still keeping the price below $20k. Either way, the RSV4 remains one of the best liter-class superbikes a performance junkie can wish to own. How it measures up against the competition will soon be discovered in our upcoming 2017 Superbike Shootout.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 TFT instrument display screen

The new full-color TF display is second-best one I’ve seen this year next to Triumph’s new Street Triple RS. You can choose between two screens, Road and Race, both with night and day backlighting.

Hands on: Dell Latitude 12 7202 Rugged Tablet review

OUR EARLY VERDICT

The Dell Latitude 12 7202 might have an old processor, but a deep discount scheme combined with a plethora of accessories and parts mean that this rugged tablet is well and truly a bargain.

FOR

  • Very solidly built
  • Great value for money

AGAINST

  • Old processor
  • Small SSD
  • Warms up more than expected under load

YEgigGccNMoyy8htEJRx8B-650-80

The Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is not your standard slate – the device is targeted at those who usually slave away on an oil exploration project or work in the Amazonian tropical rainforest (as a biologist maybe).

It is designed to be dropped, bashed about, and generally undergo all sorts of treatment that would pretty much be guaranteed to destroy any consumer-grade tablet. As such, this is no ordinary slate and shouldn’t carry the same expectations as your average model.

That’s also probably why Dell has yet to release a new version – this one has been around for nearly two years and is still being sold despite having a Broadwell-based processor.

ueL3BYaTSbfNuQp9qgoV3B-650-80

Longer product cycles ensure that platforms mature slowly, especially as the capital investments involved are often an order of magnitude bigger compared to the consumer market.

To say that this is a solid tablet would be a massive understatement; it has been designed and manufactured to withstand extreme conditions.

It has IP65, MIL-STD-810G and IP-810G certifications (rather than merely meeting the standards in laboratory tests), and these prove that the Latitude 12 7202 has a thick skin and should give other rugged tablets like the Xplore R12 (iX125 R1) or the Getac RX10 a run for their money.

xDqzAtNneQtqLCHoJcKmFB-650-80

At 312 x 203 x 24mm, it is fairly large for a tablet with an 11.6-inch display, while its weight – 1.79kg with two 2-cell 26Whr hot-swappable batteries – puts it in the ‘mildly-transportable’ category (as opposed to easily portable). You can only operate this device at arm’s length for only a short time before experiencing muscular discomfort (although your mileage may well vary).

The Latitude 12 is built mostly to withstand harsh environments, not win design contests, which explains a lot of pragmatic/functional decisions made by Dell.

There are massive rubber bumpers on the corners and the rubber enclosure itself is a couple of centimetres thick in order to protect the screen, arguably the most fragile component. The latter is also protected by the use of Gorilla Glass 3 technology in its construction.

kFiojVvJav2kqCLovA5F5B-650-80

Look around the tablet and you will find that most ports are covered with rubber flaps to prevent damage. Opening and closing them will be an issue if you wear gloves and it is worth noting that they can’t be locked. Dell also used a patented HZO liquid protection technology to stop water from killing your tech.

Default ports include USB 3.0, micro-serial port, mini-HDMI, microSD card reader, an audio combo connector and the power connector, which can be used with other compatible 45W Dell laptop power adaptors (like the one on the 2015 edition of Dell’s XPS 13).

Given the varied markets the Latitude 12 is expected to operate in, the tablet has an extensive range of connectors as well, including POGO-pin ports for a docking keyboard and a modular expansion pack.

fMMY8XKuDBffBs9JEbsGyA-650-80

A FIPS 201-certified smart card reader (with a nifty unit conversion cheat card), a fingerprint reader with TPM (v1.2), Bluetooth 4.0, Dual RF pass-through (Wi-Fi and mobile broadband), NFC, a 4G/LTE modem and 802.11ac Wi-Fi complete the list of connectivity options.

Note also the presence of air vents to cool the device. Even if that sounds counterintuitive given the rugged nature of this tablet, these slits doesn’t prevent it from being reasonably water-resistant. Dell uses a proprietary fan-based thermal management system that combines both passive and active cooling to keep the slate cool.

During our hands-on time with the device, the fan did work for reasonably long spells and we noticed that the tablet warmed up significantly, especially under load.

As expected, all the physical buttons (power, Windows, volume up/down, three programmable buttons and auto-rotate) require far more pressure to register than traditional tablets out there. Not only does that prevent accidental inputs, it also makes them easier to work with gloves. We further appreciated the fact that pressing the buttons causes the device to buzz and vibrate, so you know they’ve been pressed.

The tethered stylus slots nicely in the body of the tablet. It’s not as stylish as the active models, but at least you don’t have to charge it regularly and the pen will work regardless of the immediate environment.

At the heart of the Dell Latitude 12 7202 is the Broadwell-based Intel Core M-5Y71 CPU, a dual-core processor with a tiny 4.5W TDP and a base clock speed of 1.2GHz. It can overclock to 2.5GHz and down-clock to 800Mhz. The graphics subsystem is Intel’s HD Graphics 5300.

Our sample came with 8GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 1600MHz memory and a 128GB SSD (an M.2 2280 model from Lite-On) which was half full. There are two cameras with the front one sporting an interesting flap that allows the user to physically obstruct the lens.

The display, a glove-capable 11.6-inch 10-point multi-touch resistive screen, has a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution which is low, but this can be explained by the fact that, in the markets targeted by the Latitude 12, accuracy and battery life are far more important than the need to cram in as many pixels as possible.

The screen is not as bright as one would expect, although it does a decent job outside thanks to its matte finish. The tablet runs Windows 10 Pro and carries Dell’s solid three-year ProSupport and Next Business Day On-Site Service as default.

Oddly, while Dell included a full array of its own applications (Data Protection, Backup and Recovery, Rugged Control Center etc), there were also a couple of surprising additions like Deezer and Candy Crush Soda Saga; hardly enterprise-grade applications.

In use, the older Broadwell processor posted a decent score in our benchmark testing, although one can only wonder what a Kaby Lake upgrade might bring to the tablet (for a hint, check out the Xplore R12 which boasts a far faster Core i7-7500U Kaby Lake CPU).

mexfLnwrBGBKe9CJXv577B-650-80

The storage could also use an upgrade from a 128GB SSD. The limited capacity and lack of free space could explain why the Lite-On drive performs poorly on CrystalDiskMark and Atto in write tests (as opposed to read).

As for the battery life, the Latitude 12 7202 managed 4 hours 26 minutes with 27% battery left on our standard test (streaming a YouTube count-up video with brightness set to 50%). Extrapolating that number, one can expect the tablet to last just over six hours.

Early verdict

Dell sells the Latitude 12 7202 with two batteries for £1,599 (around $2,040, AU$2,700) excluding VAT and delivery. Options worth mentioning include a self-encrypted drive, a desktop dock, kickstand, keyboard cover with a kickstand, an extended IO module and a scanner module.

Compared to the competition, this is almost a bargain although we suspect that Dell is currently doing a bit of a clear-out – the device carries an official SRP of £2,284 (around $2,920, AU$3,860).

There are some issues here, as we’ve discussed – like a small SSD and an older-generation CPU – but these flaws can’t distract from the value proposition represented by this tablet at the current price.

(techradar.com, https://goo.gl/V80OwT)

Bose SoundLink Revolve review

OUR VERDICT

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is an excellent choice for those looking for a true 360-degree listening experience. Yes, it’s expensive but it sounds great. The biggest issue is that the Revolve lacks dust and waterproofing which means that it’s not the speaker you want to take with you to the beach.

FOR

  • True 360-degree sound
  • Beautiful design and build
  • Detailed and expansive sound

AGAINST

  • Only 30ft (10m) range
  • Charging dock not included
  • Not fully water or dust proof

Wireless speakers are super convenient to use around the house but most are directional, sounding their best in one particular spot. Bose and other speaker makers have come up with a solution for this problem: 360-degree sound.

The Bose SoundLink Revolve continues the company’s history of excellent build quality and sound and crams it all into a cylindrical speaker you can take with you on the go. The speaker bears a striking resemblance to the company’s excellent Bose SoundLink Mini II speaker but in a different form factor.

However, Bose hasn’t yet made a fully dust and waterproof speaker and that’s still the case with the SoundLink Revolve.

With an IPX4 rating, the SoundLink Revolve will survive splashes but you won’t want to dunk it in a pool or take it to the beach. That’s a big drawback especially for the $199 (£199, AU$299) price point but, if it’s any consolation, the speaker at least sounds better than the fully waterproof competition.

B8oQDuwifzgGpk5BHNXCzG-650-80

Design

The Revolve takes the design of the SoundLink Mini II and stretches it into a cylindrical shape that slightly resembles the Dalek robots from Dr. Who.

It features a strong aluminum housing which comes in either silver or black and features a rubberized base and buttons. The speaker feels extremely well made and should put up with being tossed in a bag with some keys and knick knacks.

On top of the speaker you’ll find buttons for controlling every feature of the speaker, including volume, playback, Bluetooth, aux and power. Bose’s multifunction button controls everything from music playback to activating voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant. The SoundLink revolve works great as a speakerphone for taking calls, something the UE Wonderboom, another well-regarded speaker that we reviewed earlier this month, lacks.

h7BC994v97pK4g6SxzaEHH-650-80

On the bottom of the speaker you’ll find four pins for an optional charging dock and a threaded tripod mount. It’s disappointing that Bose didn’t throw in the $30 charging dock for free like it does with the slightly cheaper SoundLink Mini II, which costs $180 (£170, AU$300). While it might seem odd to have a tripod mount, it offers flexibility for mounting the Revolve in your home.

Bose also lets you pair two Revolve speakers to use for stereo or amplification, a neat feature that’s becoming more and more common these days.

Performance

The biggest reason go to with the SoundLink Revolve over one of its flat-faced friends is if you want omni-directional sound. With it, you can move around and experience the same sound wherever you are. This is great for parties so everyone can have the same listening experience no matter where they’re sitting.

In terms of volume, the SoundLink Revolve does a great job of pumping music loudly in all directions. That said, if you place it at the center of the room, the speaker lacks some bass response but that can be remedied by placing the speaker near walls to help reflect sound and increase bass response.

euvKSUnhceedNuYMzav5gG-650-80

Overall, the Bose SoundLink Revolve’s sonic performance is excellent, especially when compared to our other favorite 360-degree speaker, the UE Wonderboom. Where the Wonderboom sounds strained, the Bose plays loudly and effortlessly.

Bass response also sounds richer and more controlled than the Wonderboom, which features a mid-forward sound. However, you should take into account that the Wonderboom is half the price of Revolve.

Compared to the aging SoundLink Mini II, the SoundLink Revolve sounds almost as good but can’t match the expansive soundstage and instrumental separation of the Mini II – though, admittedly both speakers sound very good and you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference unless you listen to them side by side.

pkd9u8J7JMsftQVG5CTkJH-650-80

Compared to the Bose SoundLink Color II, the Revolve features more detail and bass response. The 360-degree sound makes the Revolve more suited to listening outdoors than the directional sound of the SoundLink Color II. Both the Color II and Revolve are IPX4 rated, which means they’ll survive splashes but you won’t want to dunk either speaker in the pool.

Compared to the competition, the Revolve’s battery life is average for a speaker of this size, lasting 12 hours at moderate listening volumes. Be careful about charging the speaker the night before a big event as it also takes the speaker a ridiculously long 4 hours to fully charge when empty. It would have been nice to see Bose jump to USB-C for faster charging, but it’s not a deal breaker.

v8AJ6nsecQAUgpxjVVnD3H-650-80

Final verdict

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is an excellent sound speaker for users looking for true 360-degree sound. It’s great for sharing music during a party or for moving around the room without losing audio fidelity. However, the Bose SoundLink Mini II sounds slightly better and is slightly cheaper to boot.

On the debit side, it’s also not fully dust or waterproof so you’ll want to think twice before bringing the Revolve to the beach.

For half the price, the Wonderboom is a great speaker that is completely dust and waterproof. While it can’t match the audio fidelity or features of the Bose, it’s still great for on-the-go listening. If bass is your game, the JBL Charge 3 is an excellent fully waterproof speaker that sounds great but is big and heavy.

(techradar.com, https://goo.gl/ObmPNT)

Acer Leap Ware preview: More a limp than a leap

When Acer CEO Jason Chen showed off the company’s latest wearable, the Leap Ware, at Acer’s annual conference, the slender looking wrist-wearable looked as though it had promise.

That’s often been the case with Acer wearables, however, with the majority of earlier Leap products never then surfacing in the UK for us to get a thorough look in. But, having tinkered with the Leap Ware, that’s probably for the best: this so-called smartwatch is a limp rather than a leap into the wearable market.

php3fzzm1

Let’s start with the positives. To look at the Leap Ware has got plenty right. Although there’s no definitive specification available at the time of writing, the slender design doesn’t protrude excessively from the wrist, making for an easy-on-the-eye appearance.

It’s fairly well built, too, with a circular plastic body and metal edging sitting comfortably against the wrist thanks to that snug, slightly stretchy wrist band.

phpzeaxsw

There are two control buttons – the right-hand one when facing which activates a little light to the side of the watch, which is pretty quirky – but the main way to interact with this watch is through its touchscreen.

The screen itself is fully circular, so there’s no “flat tyre” black bar cut-off towards the bottom, which is good, but the resolution is low, the colours and dull and the brightness limited so it’s not the easiest to see when outside (which is where we played with the preview model).

phpt7jqph

The biggest issue with the Leap Ware, however, is the slow, slow software. Interacting with the touchscreen feels like dealing with a device many years old given the delay in accessing between screens.

There are plenty of options to select, including push alerts from your phone (iOS and Android) via the Liquid Leap app, music playback, and fitness – which utilises the built-in heart-rate sensor on the rear to assess your stamina, according to Acer.

phpcujyvw

Without employing a better-known platform like Android Wear, however, we don’t think many people will have the patience to get past the slowness of the overall experience.

Sure, the Leap Ware provides plenty of features available at your fingertips – but when the company is delivering true innovations in products like the Predator Triton 700 laptop or Switch 5 2-in-1, it’s almost bizarre to see such a low-end delivering in the wearables market.

(pocket-lint.com, https://goo.gl/zz0gkQ)

10 Cars That Could Have Been Built Better

It’s hard to get a car right. It’s even harder to get it perfect. That’s why cars like Volkswagen’s enduring GTI, the Mazda Miata, and the Subaru WRX are all so special. But the automotive world, like any other, isn’t black or white; cars are not either great or terrible. There’s a huge spectrum between the two, and every car ever made can be plotted somewhere along its axis.

The smallest details can sometimes make or break a car — brakes that are a hair too soft, a chassis with a touch too much flex, or if the engine’s just a sliver shy in the power department. Sometimes it’s a combination of these factors. Often automakers will go out of their way to help address these issues with succeeding generations, but other times, nothing happens at all. And that makes us sad.

So here’s a collection of cars that are very good — excellent, even. But as close as they are, they’re missing that small piece that makes them truly great. Read on and let us know how we did!

1. BMW Z4

It sounds like it should be perfect — shovel a creamy, silky BMW inline six into a taut, German-engineered chassis and allow for the top to drop when the sun comes out. Send those 300 horses from the powerplant up front to the wheels at the rear. Keep the weight down, and center of gravity low. That’s how you engineer the Ultimate Driving Machine. However, years of corporate neglect have left the Z4 roadster — a very capable car — behind both strategically and competitively. What you’re left with is a $48,000 roadster that’s chasing down $24,000 Miatas when it should be chasing down $70,000 Porsches.

2. Volvo C30

The C30 was a short-lived attempt at tapping into America’s lethargic hatchback market, although it enjoyed more success elsewhere. Meant to serve as a Swedish Golf or Mini, the C30 was an upscale three-door vehicle that by all means was a great car — if you overlooked its subpar fuel economy, rotund curb weight of over 3,000 pounds, and general feeling of malaise when compared to its more athletic competition. Had those situations been addressed, the C30 would have made a fantastic and unique vehicle in the segment. It was always a good little car, but sadly, it won’t be remembered as being great.

3. Lexus RC F

Japan has for a while now needed a player in the ring that showed the world that the Far East still had the means to put forth a genuine contender in the mass-market performance space. The RC F, for better or worse, answered that call: its high-revving, naturally-aspirated V8 and bold, aggressive styling certainly writes the right check, but its lumbering 4,000-pound bulk almost assures that the check won’t cash. It has every right and ability to be great, but won’t quite be there without a strict diet.

4. Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ Twins

We love the Scion FR-S. And BRZ. If hatchbacks aren’t really your thing, these two are arguably your best bets for drivers’ cars in their price bracket. They handle like little else in the $25,000 space, and offer rear-wheel-drive and a boxer engine. The only thing holding them back, as cliche as it sounds, is the anemia of the aforementioned unit. At 200 horsepower, it’s not desperate for power; but to take the cars over the threshold from very good to great, give it a bump — 50 more horsepower would ideal. Twenty-five, even. More than that would be too much. That’s how close these cars are — but I’ll let Jalopnik explain that.

5. Honda Civic Si

The Honda Civic Si is a fun coupe that nearly commits to going full out, but then doesn’t. It has 201 horsepower, which until this year was enough to beat the Golf GTI, but it’s hard getting around the fact that Honda hasn’t seemed too serious about keeping the Si competitive with the hot hatches that bore the badge in the past. The Si is a good little car, but more attention from Honda could make it great.

6. Mercedes-Benz CLA

Mercedes’s play in the subcompact sedan market is a good, strong foot forward in growing sales. In the CLA45 AMG flavor, the baby Benz is outrageous good fun. For the pedestrian mass-market car, though, the right boxes are checked but there are a few factors holding it back — it’s relative anemia for a Mercedes (208 horsepower), and a backseat you either need to be 7 years old or a dog to fit in. The ingredients are there, but there’s a flaw somewhere along the chef’s line.

7. Ford C-Max Hybrid

By all accounts, the C-Max Hybrid is the American Prius — only it sells a fraction of the vehicles that Toyota does. It’s endlessly utilitarian, and given the height advantage and less coupe-y shape, it’s fuel economy is exceptional for a car of its capability. It could be the frumpy looks or the fact that Ford has downgraded its alleged fuel economy twice, but even so, the C-Max is still a very good vehicle that comes just short of being a great hybrid.

8. Volkswagen Beetle R-Line

The Volkswagen Beetle R-Line doesn’t just look more aggressive, it has the go to pair with that show. It uses the 210-horsepower turbo-four borrowed from the GTI, and that’s exactly the issue. At $25,000, you may as well just get the GTI. You have to really love the look of the Beetle to opt for this over the Golf, and its lack of hatchback capability when compared to its brethren is what makes the Beetle good, but short of exceptional.

9. Dodge Dart

Dodge needed the Dart. Desperately. After wallowing through the Avenger and Caliber years, Dodge was in a bad way for compact cars. The Dart was everything it needed to be: sleek-looking, competitive, and available in variety of flavors. However, though it checked the right boxes, it’s been missing something since its birth — a certain je ne sais quoi that other compacts have mastered. With a little fine-tuning, Dodge has a winner in the Dart, but the company will have to look beyond the competition instead of trying to match it.

10. Buick Regal GS

Perhaps no brand is as associated with geriatric fuddy-duddies as Buick. GM’s soft-luxury line has had its name dragged through the mud with sedate vehicles like the LaCrosse and Regal, but GM is finally giving it some attention. The Regal GS is everything a sedan should be — European-based, turbocharged, and relatively understated. The GS turns the Regal into a very good, very fun Buick (yeah we just said that), but the Grand National was a great Buick.

(cheatsheet.com, https://goo.gl/zBHX9i)

 

 

 

Acer Windows Mixed Reality preview: Will this $300 headset bring VR to the masses?

In April 2017 Windows 10 rolled out its Creators Edition update, bringing various new creative tools – such as Paint 3D for three-dimensional editing – into the operating system. The lesser talked about point is that the Windows Mixed Reality platform – which includes Microsoft Hololens support – is also now compatible.

That paves the way for a Mixed Reality future and it’s not just Microsoft banking on that, as five manufacturers – Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo and HP – are each developing head-mounted display systems to play nice with the cross-platform Windows setup.

The first of these, the Acer Windows Mixed Reality head-mounted display – which will almost certainly be renamed when it becomes available to buy at the end of 2017 – we got to sample at Acer’s annual conference in New York. All you’ll need to use it is a Windows PC (with discrete graphics – but in the future integrated graphics will be ample), and a head.

phptwa3tu

First up, let’s breakdown the whole argument between Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR). The latter, VR, involves being entirely surrounded in a fully virtual world with zero object-based interaction crossing over with the real. Mixed Reality (MR), Microsoft argues, is when greater physical factors from the real world merge with the virtual to create interactive results. Hololens, for example, overlays positional holograms onto a floating heads-up screen which interact in a fully immersive way with the environment around you. You can walk around virtual objects in the real world, as if they’re there.

So it may come as a surprise that Acer’s so-called Windows Mixed Reality setup is a screen. There’s currently no option for the built-in cameras on the headset to deliver the surrounding world in digital form. In that respect, we would call this experience VR.

The MR aspect – limited as it is – comes into play because the same six-degrees of motion that Hololens offers are used to input into the experience: so, say, take a step to the left or right in the real world and it’ll input into the virtual world. Pure VR, by Microsoft’s definition, would only respond to head movements as input, not physical ones (which means HTC Vive clearly blurs the boundaries).

phpg1mz6s

One of the core factors of the Acer Microsoft Mixed Reality experience is the simplicity of setup. The two built-in cameras assess the surrounding environment, so can gauge position and be setup within about 15-seconds without the need for additional sensors in the room (unlike HTC Vive which needs a variety of boxes positioned correctly to enjoy the experience). Plugging in one cable and being transported into another world mere seconds later is a very cool thing indeed.

For our demo we were immersed into Microsoft’s “Cliff House”, which is a virtual house atop a cliff, surrounded by woodland (a little Seattle-esque, we feel, based on the company’s HQ). It’s kitted out with various interactive Windows tools: there are screens to watch movies, dip into 360-degree videos, send mail, listen to music, and effectively navigate around the concept of an operating system’s core in a virtual home environment format.

php2dtx6s

Which is interesting, but doesn’t really deliver a more functional experience of Windows to any degree. It’s fun, but it feels like a demo of potential rather than a purposeful reason to don a headset to watch a movie within a world of another world – when you could instead just cast to your TV via a laptop, while curled up on the sofa.

That’s one of these things about VR and MR: incredible though the technology is, it’s the genuine use cases that are lacking. This is where the likes of Acer and the other four manufacturers could become so important: the hardware has to be out there for people to experiment and for audiences to begin to understand the options available. Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality; they’re both additional tools in content delivery.

phptq4b6s

Whatever our view of where things will go, however, it’s the technical quality of the Acer Mixed Reality experience that shines through most of all. For a $299 headset, we weren’t expecting much. And yet, despite the fit not being perfect and some light entering through the rear sides, the quality of visuals is high and we didn’t feel nauseous or too disconnected from the world (some get fearful when strapping a massive unit over their face – whereas this Acer unit can easily be popped up and down by flipping the front section forward). The virtual world looks crisp and clear, with a workable refresh rate, all at a price point that will get people potentially opening their wallets.

With Windows now supporting Xbox titles – and increasing interest in the gaming sector – we can see this immersive option becoming an in-point for gamers. This Acer headset acts as the initial stepping stone, Windows acts as the handrails. What’s needed right now is that breakthrough moment to necessitate its worth however.

So here’s hoping, as this affordable kit could lead to some rather exciting content in the future. At the moment it looks like VR in another form, so a true vision of MR still eludes us.

(pocket-lint.com, https://goo.gl/1thhax)

New Nintendo 2DS XL: Five things to know

You’d think that most of Nintendo’s focus would be on the Switch at the moment, but even a new console launch isn’t stopping Nintendo from refining its existing platforms. Late last night, Nintendo introduced the New 2DS XL, keeping with the confusing naming convention it’s used for the 3DS. In order to dispel some of that confusion, here are five things you need to know about Nintendo’s latest handheld.

2017428e4514ee4-b7ab-4736-b6ad-ac926a8ddc46

1. It’s an upgraded version of the 2DS

That the New 2DS XL is an upgraded version of the standard 2DS might be obvious when you see the clamshell design of this new device, but there are under-the-hood improvements present as well. The New 2DS XL actually features the same improved processor found in the New 3DS XL. This means that you’ll be able to play games that were once exclusive to the New 3DS and should also enjoy better frame rate stability in standard 3DS games – just don’t be surprised to see frame rate issues persist in some games like Pokemon Sun and Moon, regardless of how good the processor is.

2ds-xl-slanted-hd

2. The displays are much larger…

Nintendo has been releasing these XL variants for years, starting with the original DS. Not only do these models give you a larger in device in general – making them good for people with large hands – but they also offer a bump up in screen size. With the New 2DS XL, that size increase is significant, with Nintendo saying that its screens are 82% larger than those on the standard 2DS.

new-nintendo-2ds-xl

3. … but resolution stays the same.

While larger screens are always nice, don’t expect an increase in resolution to go along with them. Nintendo hasn’t given specific screen resolutions yet, but if history is any indication, we probably can’t expect any change in resolution as we jump from the 2DS to the New 2DS XL. That may not be an issue for a lot of gamers, though games may not look quite as sharp as a result.

new-nintendo-2ds-xl-840x477

4. It finally has built-in amiibo support

One annoyance with the original 2DS is that it didn’t have built-in amiibo support. If you wanted to use amiibo with your games, you’d need to pick up a separate NFC reader to scan them that way. With the New 2DS XL, that isn’t a concern anymore, and you’ll be able to use your collection of amiibo without any add-on accessories.

5. It’s launching alongside two games

The New 2DS XL won’t be out until July, but when launch day rolls around, it’ll be releasing with two new games by its side. The first is HEY! Pikmin, a new 2D side-scrolling Pikmin adventure that seems to break with a lot of the series’ established conventions. The second is Miitopia, which casts your created Miis in a lighthearted RPG adventure and allows you to use Miis created in Miitomo and Tomodachi Life.

new-nintendo-2ds-xl-flat-front

Wrap-Up

At $149.99 ($50 less than the New 3DS XL), the New 2DS XL seems to be the best choice for someone looking to tap into the massive 3DS library. Unless you absolutely need 3D functionality – which these days is more of a gimmick that just drains your battery faster – the New 2DS XL should be the model you pick up. It’ll be here in just a few short months, as Nintendo has given it a release date of July 28.

What do you think? Will the New 2DS XL become the go-to device for someone who’s new to the 3DS scene, or do you think the New 3DS will continue to be the big seller? Head down to the comments section and let us know!

(slashgear.com, https://goo.gl/dvhYxE)

10 Android smartphones that cost less than $40 (2017)

Flip phones are by and large a thing of the past. For many buyers, a smartphone is their primary or sole means of accessing the Internet. For some, having a smartphone means being able to stay in touch with friends, apply to jobs, check email, and more. Not everyone has the budget for a pricey handset, though, and that’s where the market’s cheapest smartphones come. These models are, in some cases, as cheap as a mere $10, though for this list we’re including models that range up to just under $40 USD.

Alcatel onetouch Pixi GLITZ ($9.99)

03ae3668-e108-43f9-a0cf-eb74a91e9d3c_1.b77add3281482e3b56332ba870e4f7b6

Tracfone’s refurbished Alcatel one touch Pixi GLITZ is one of the cheapest Android smartphones available to the U.S. market. This model doesn’t have much to offer — to say it is a basic phone is an understatement — but it is still miles ahead of an ordinary flip phone. The Pixi GLITZ features a tiny 3.4-inch display and a 1.3GHz processor, a rear 2-megapixel camera (no front-facing camera), Android 4.4 KitKat, WiFi, 4G support, and Bluetooth 4.0. The phone has a tiny battery, as well, capable of only 5.7hrs of run time. The handset does feature GPS and A-GPS, though, as well as a microSD card slot for expansion.

Alcatel onetouch Pop Star LTE 2 ($9.99)

The second most-inexpensive phone on the market is another Alcatel phone, NET10’s Alcatel one touch Pop Star LTE 2. The handset features a 4-inch display paired with a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and a microSD card slot that supports a 32GB card. The handset is aged with its Android 4.4 KitKat OS and 5-megapixel rear camera (and a paltry 0.3MP front-facing camera), but it has some things to be positive about — namely a 15-hour talk time, nearly 17 days of standby time, and GPS.

be62dbe2-962b-4054-9d6d-f9edd065abfa_1.04e1f9215d5c8fb8914c6efa34701fe1

Huawei Pronto LTE ($19.99)

Though it represents a small jump in price, the Huawei Pronto LTE has a big boost in features, relatively speaking. The Pronto features a 5-inch display as well as 4G LTE support, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi, a 5-megapixel rear camera, and a microSD card slot with support for up to 32GB. The phone’s talk time is a decent 6.6hrs and the standby time is 16 days. The phone has GPS and Android 4.4 KitKat.

ZTE Unico LTE ($19.99)

For the same price as the above phone, NET10 is offering a refurbished ZTE Unico LTE, an Android 4.1 handset with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 4G LTE support, Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi, a microSD card slot with support for up to 32GB, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Talk time is only 5 hours, but standby time is decent at 8 days, plus there’s GPS and an included 8GB microSD card.

zte-solar-carbon-fiber-skin-protector-18

ZTE Zephyr ($29.99)

Bumping up into yet another price tier is the ZTE Zephyr, a 4G LTE phone with a 5-inch display and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. This model features GPS, a microSD card slot with support for up to 32GB, Bluetooth 4.0, a 5-megapixel rear camera, and 6.6hrs of talk time on a charge. Though it runs an older version of Android — KitKat, to be precise — it somewhat makes up for that with the inclusion of GPS.

Huawei Glory ($29.99)

Truth be told, this camera is a step down over the previous model, at least as far as the features-to-price comparison goes. It’s still worth including, though, as the price is right for budget buyers and it may suit the needs of someone eyeing Tracfone in particular.

The Huawei Glory has a 3.5-inch display and a 3.2-megapixel rear camera. There’s not much to the phone otherwise — it details an ‘unlimited-entry phonebook’ as one of its features, indicating just how little buyers should expect. Talk time is 5.3hrs, and there’s both WiFi and 3G network support. This phone runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

ZTE Solar ($29.99)

NET10 is offering the ZTE Solar for $29.99, and that’s not a bad price for this handset considering StraightTalk has it priced ten bucks higher. This phone is very similar to the above model, bringing with it a 4.5-inch touchscreen display and decent enough 3G connectivity. The model has a mere 5hrs talk time per charge and a single camera on the back (5MP). The phone does have GPS, though, one of its highest-end features, meaning the phone is still more usable than a flip phone or feature phone. Storage is via an included 4GB microSD card, however, so don’t expect to download many apps.

lg-k7-1

LG Tribute 5 ($31.99)

The LG Tribute 5 smartphone represents the first big jump in phone quality on this list, and it comes with only a slightly more expensive price tag. The Tribute 5 ordinarily sells for $80 but it is being offered by prepaid carrier Boost Mobile under a promotional deal for $32, making it an attractive deal that, not surprisingly, tends to sell out quickly. This handset is a bit more modern with Android Lollipop 5.1 and a 5-inch IPS display.

Under the hood lies a modest 1.1GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor, as well as 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The latter can be expanded via microSD by up to 32GB. The phone supports 4G LTE networks, and boasts other things like a 5-megapixel rear and front-facing camera, mobile hotspot capabilities, and a 2125mAh battery with 14.5hrs of talk time.

Samsung Galaxy On5 ($39)

Bumping up to the list’s highest price tier is the Samsung Galaxy On5, a phone that comes with a small ‘catch’ — this handset only costs $39 USD if the buyer takes full advantage of Metro PCS’s deal, otherwise it has a $129 USD price tag. That’s great news, though, if you’re looking for a new carrier or don’t mind porting your number.

This Samsung handset has a 5-inch HD display alongside a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of internal storage space and support for microSD cards up to 128GB in capacity. The phone has a rear and front-facing 5-megapixel camera, up to 18 hours of talk time, Bluetooth 4.1, and Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

LG

LG K7 ($39)

Last on the list is another Metro PCS phone, this one also priced at $39 USD as part of a larger deal that, when fully utilized, brings the cost down to this level. The LG K7 in white is one of the best phones on this list, offering a 5-inch display with an FWVGA resolution and 2.5D Arc Glass. The phone has a 1.1GHz quad-core processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and a flash, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and support for 4G LTE.

Wrap-up

Phones like the ones on this list are called many things — burners, disposable handsets, and sometimes junk. It’s true that at these price points, one should neither expect a large array of features nor durable build quality. Still, all of the phones above have more to offer than the average budget-tier flip and feature phone, and that’s nothing to ignore. If you’re in the market for something to get you through a couple rough months until your preorder comes in, a model for young kids who will probably lose it regardless of quality, or you just like being frugal, all of the above models will fit the bill.

(slashgear.com, https://goo.gl/CGiCfr)

2017 BMW M4 CRT BY ALPHA PERFORMANCE REVIEW

The BMW E90 M3 CRT was produced in such low numbers (only 67) that finding one on the road these days is a miracle. The M3 CRT was also historic in a lot of ways because it was the last M model that used a naturally aspirated engine before BMWtransitioned to forced induction engines. So with history and exclusivity on its side, it’s difficult to get your hands on an actual M3 CRT. German tuner Alpha-N Performance doesn’t exactly have one itself, but it could have the next best thing: a program for the BMW M4 that adopts a lot of the characteristics of the M3 CRT, right down to the aerodynamic and power improvements that give the sports coupe 520 horsepower.

Granted, some people may point at the recently unveiled BMW M4 CS as a descendant of the M3 CRT, making it a perfectly capable alternative to its supposed predecessor. While there may be some thin truths to that, the M4 CS, as dear ‘ol Pops points out, isn’t so much a capable, track-focused M4 as it is an overpriced M4 that tries to convince you of its exclusivity simply because it’s carrying the “CS” name. Alpha-N Performance isn’t trying to hide anything with its M4 CRT program though. The use of the “CRT” badge may be off-putting to actual owners of the limited edition M3, but give credit to the German tuner for embracing its program and giving the coupe the aftermarket modifications it feels is worthy of the CRT badge.

Exterior

bmw-m4-crt-by-alpha--5_800x0w

Beyond its outright historical significance and outright exclusivity, the BMW M3 CRT became so sought-after because it represented the last vestige of the M3 that drew its power without the technical sophistication of a forced-induction mill. That and the coupe also looked the part of a limited edition ride, right down to the presence of the reworked front splitter, lighter front hood, and the use of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) on the entire body of the car.

Alpha-N Performance didn’t exactly go that same specific route with its M4 CRT build, but it did use carbon fiber parts for the aerodynamic kit, specifically the front splitter and rear spoiler. The latter, in particular, has some CRT likeness to it as its addition helps add 117 pounds of downforce to the coupe at speeds reaching 124 miles per hour. Rounding out the tuner’s exterior package for the M4 CRT is a new set of 20-inch gold-finished HRE wheels wrapped in Michelin PSS tires.

bmw-m4-crt-by-alpha--8_400x266w

Care for an alternative body kit?

Alpha-N Performance’s objective in giving the M4 a CRT treatment may have handcuffed it in being more aggressive with its aerodynamic body kit. If customers are looking for a more dynamic looking M4 with hanging bits and pieces, Carbon fiber Dynamics’ treatment of the coupe is an interesting alternative. The exterior upgrades included in that program came with an MTC Design hood, a new front bumper and rear wing from 3DDesign, side skirts from Varis, and a 56°NORD carbon roof box that the tuner says were tested at speeds of up to 186 mph. The tuner also BMW M’s red, blue, and purple livery running throughout the body of the coupe. Another option to consider is fellow German tuner Lightweight. For its program for the M4, Lightweight relied on its own, albeit similar mix of aerodynamic components, particularly a new front spoiler blade and a carbon rear wing.

bmw-m4-by-carbonfibe-14_400x266w

note: side-by-side photo of the BMW M4 by CarbonFiber Dynamics and the BMW M4 by Lightweight.

Interior

Some people may have forgotten this, but for all of BMW’s intent in turning the M3 CRT into a track-focused sports car, it still kept most of the M3’s interior intact instead of stripping them down in the name of weight savings. In fact, Bimmer even gave the M3 CRT front and individual rear seats dressed in Sakhir Orange and Black bi-color covers, an Alcantara-covered M steering wheel and, exclusive door sill strips, door panels, and trim strips made from an aluminum grain structure. Even the just-released BMW M4 CS received plenty of exclusive features, not the least of which include lightweight M sports seats wrapped in leather and Alcantara, as well as compacted natural fibers on the door panels and Alcantara inserts on the dashboard, center console, and steering wheel.

bmw-m4-crt-by-alpha--11_800x0w

By comparison, Alpha-N Performance’s interior upgrade program for the M4 CRT is largely more subdued with the only notable change being the inclusion of new Recaro Pole Position sports seats that take the place of the standard seats. That’s the extent of Alpha-N Performance’s work on the M4’s interior, which is admittedly a little disappointing. Ironically though, the fact that Alpha-N Performance even went with Recaro sports seats is a significant change in it of itself considering that most of its peers in the aftermarket scene rarely include interior upgrades as part of their programs.

BMW Individual is the way to go

The notable attention paid to the M4’s interior by tuners can at least be explained by the growing popularity of personalization divisions. The German automaker’s BMW Individual personalization division counts itself as one of the best in the business and there’s good reason for that. It offers a wide menu of options, accessories, and packages that customers can choose from. One particularly cool example is the BMW M4 Pyrite Brown Edition, which the company unveiled back in 2015 as an Abu Dhabi exclusive. A quick example of the scope of BMW Individual’s capabilities was on full display in the M4 Pyrite Brown Edition. That special edition M4 received optional Sonoma Beige Merino fine-grain leather for the seats and the door panels, and the Individual Sycamore Red-Brown fine wood trim. Black leather surfaces were also notable features of the special edition M4, as was the contrast stitching spread throughout the cabin.

bmw-m4-coupe-pyrite--13_800x0w

note: interior photo of the BMW M4 Pyrite Brown Edition.

Drivetrain

bmw-m4-crt-by-alpha--6_800x0w

Here’s another interesting aspect about Alpha-N Performance’s BMW M4 CRT program. As much importance as it placed in living up to the E90 M3 CRT’s legacy, it may have shortchanged the coupe into getting more power than it otherwise did. To be clear, the tuner’s upgrades still amounts to a healthy increase of close to 100 horsepower for a total of 520. That’s compared to the standard model’s 425-horsepower output. Torque numbers also increased to 501 pound-feet, 95 pound-feet more than the standard M4’s 406 pound-feet of torque. Alpha-N Performance achieved that thanks to a Stage 1 engine software upgrade that the tuner actually presented all the way back in 2014. Remember this one?

2014-bmw-m4-by-alpha-n-pe_400x266w

note: photo of the 2014 BMW M1 Stage 1 by Alpha-N Performance

Only Alpha-N Performance knows why it didn’t opt for its more powerful Stage 2 or Stage 3 power kits, but whatever its reasons are, the decision to go with the Stage 1 kit leaves the M4 CRT a little lacking.

Plenty of other options to choose from

Fortunately, the BMW M4 is a pretty popular car in the aftermarket tuning world so there are plenty of other tuners to go to in case the Alpha-N’s M4 CRT doesn’t cut the mustard. G-Power, for example, has presented multiple iterations of its tuning kit for the M4, most of which used the tuner’s Bi-Tronik 2 V3 tuning module as its backbone. Not only was this module able to provide bespoke upgrades for the M4’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six engine, those same upgrades amount to 600 horsepower and 610 pound-feet of torque. Another tuner, B&B Automobiltechnik, also has a multi-stage tuning kit on the table that comes with modifications to the turbochargers to go with its own ECU upgrades. With these upgrades, the tuner was able to get as much as 580 horsepower and 533 pound-feet of torque out of the M4.

Then there’s Carbon Fiber Dynamics, which created one of the most impressive tuning programs for the M4. At the center of that kit was a pair of TTE 6XX turbochargers running 2.3 bar of boost pressure that worked in concert with a methanol injection kit and Burger Motorsport JB4 tuning module to help the six-cylinder engine reach 700 horsepower and 634 pound-feet of torque. It’s unclear if Alpha-N Performance could’ve topped those numbers with its more powerful stage kits, but the decision to go with the least powerful of them translates to an underwhelming power increase.

Check out the table below to see how it stacks up against the competition.

Tuner Power Torque 0 to 60 Time Top Speed
Carbonfiber Dynamics 700 horsepower 634 pound-feet of torque 3.0 seconds* 205 mph*
G-Power 600 horsepower 610 pound-feet of torque 3.5 seconds 200 mph*
B&B Automobiltechnik 580 horsepower 533 pound-feet of torque 3.5 seconds* 200 mph*
Alpha-N Performance 520 horsepower 501 pound-feet of torque 3.9 seconds* 186 mph
McChip 517 horsepower 405 pound-feet of torque 3.9 seconds 155 mph (with speed limiter)

Suspension

So far, the Alpha-N Performance’s M4 CRT build isn’t as good as you’d expect it to be and no paper, the fully adjustable Ohlins R/T suspension system that the tuner installed to keep everything from falling apart isn’t a significant enough upgrade to really turn some heads. Things could change though depending on how the sports car handles and at the very least, there are enough reason to be optimistic about that.

Pricing

Alpha-N Performance has not provided a price on its BMW M4 CRT sports coupe so the best way to learn its cost would be to contact the tuner directly. Considering that the M4 CS costs €116,900, cross those fingers that Alpha-N Performance doesn’t charge more than that. Here’s to also hoping that the total cost of the upgrades, plus the car itself, doesn’t fetch more than $100,000, which is our estimated price of the M4 CS in the U.S.

bmw-m4-crt-by-alpha--9_800x0w

Competition

BMW M4 By McChip

Even if the BMW M4 CRT doesn’t pan out, these upgrades could help fill that tuning void. One of these upgrades comes by way of McChip, which is offering its own power and performance upgrade that amounts to an increased output of 517 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. It’s actually the closest kit in terms of net output to Alpha-N Performance’s program so this could form a good basis of comparison between the two programs.

BMW M4 By B&B Automobiltechnik

The B&B Automobiltechnik program mentioned earlier also comes with Stage 1 and Stage 2 kits should the 580-horsepower Stage 3 kit be “too powerful” for your tastes. Both the Stage 1 and Stage 2 kits provide software tunes to the coupe’s six-cylinder engine and are good for 490 horsepower and 540 horsepower, respectively.

Conclusion

I’m not exactly sure what to make of Alpha-N Performance’s BMW M4 CRT. On the one hand, I appreciate Alpha’s attempt to bring back the E90 M3 CRT by using the M4 as a canvas to recreate the features that made the limited edition M3 so desirable as a collector’s piece today. On the other hand, doing so inhibits the tuner from really putting its most potent program on the table. There should be a market for the car given its story, but don’t expect it to be from people who really want to make the most of the M4’s power and performance potential. For that, it’s probably better to look elsewhere for an aftermarket kit.

  • Leave it
    • Could’ve been better had the tuner really flexed its muscle
    • Not for everyone
    • More powerful upgrades out there

(topspeed.com, https://goo.gl/DNJDSt)

Urbanista Seattle review

PROS
  • Good value
  • Smart design
  • Great sound
CONS
  • No NFC or aptX
KEY FEATURES
  • 12-hour battery
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Aux input
  • Touch controls
  • Manufacturer: Urbanista
  • Review Price: £89/$133

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Urbanista Seattle review

WHAT ARE THE URBANISTA SEATTLE?

The Urbanista Seattle are stylish wireless on-ear headphones at a price that won’t make you run away screaming. Not if you’ve seen what Sennheiser and Bose charge, anyway.

These are on-trend headphones, capitalising on the recent upsurge of interest in wire-free pairs. They sound great, too, and won’t fall off your head during a run at the expense of comfort.

You really can’t do much better for less than £100/$150.

Urbanista Seattle 15

DESIGN AND FEATURES

The Urbanista Seattle are on-ear headphones, similar to the Beats Solo 3 Wireless in shape, but at under half the price. These headphones also have a much simpler, less obviously branded style than any Beats pair.

Just look at them: no logos on the cups or headband; only tiny little Urbanista insignia by the headband hinge and a logo printed on the inside. They’re some of the most low-key headphones that still look like streetwear.

This approach starts to make sense when you learn that Urbanista is a Swedish company, adopting the same sort of ‘Scandi’ design that helps make IKEA so popular.

Urbanista Seattle 5

The entire outer of the Urbanista Seattle is soft-touch plastic, which has a matte finish, and the headband padding is rubber rather than synthetic leather. It’s similar to what you’ll find on the Beats Solo headphones, and is designed to stay put on your head better.

The pads use standard faux leather with memory foam beneath, although by feel I’d guess it was a thin piece of memory foam on top of standard reflex foam. I find the grip strong enough to wear the Urbanista Seattle while running, and have also been pleasantly surprised by their comfort. On-ear headphones with decent grip tend to cause ear discomfort after some time, particularly for glasses-wearers. I’ve worn this pair for several hours at a time without any issue.

Urbanista Seattle

Although you’re nowhere near to getting a Bose-like luxury feel, it’s a softer fit than the Beats alternative. The Urbanista Seattle also fold up to ensure they take up less space in your bag. Note that the cups don’t swivel, however.

The inclusion of Bluetooth 4.0 allows for wire-free audio from your phone. The battery lasts a respectable 12 hours, and there’s a 3.5mm socket on the left cup, should you run out of power away from a charge socket.

Wireless performance isn’t quite as good as the latest Sony or Beats wireless headphones – there were occasional blips – but it didn’t ruin my overall experience and nothing out of the ordinary.

Urbanista Seattle 7

There’s just one little power flicker on the left cup, since all the other controls are handled using the right cup. The touch surfaces means you flick up and down to change volume, left and right to change tracks and tap to play/pause.

When you want to change something quickly, or make more than one adjustment, these touch controls aren’t as handy as a traditional button. However, they’re just fine for the sort of minor tweaks I tend to make: a quick pause, a slight volume change.

Bar the touch controls, the Urbanista Seattle’s tech is otherwise ordinary. There’s no NFC and no support for the aptX Bluetooth codec.

Urbanista Seattle 9

SOUND QUALITY

I’m a fan of the price, the design and the pure practicality of the Urbanista Seattle, but it’s the sound that makes them really worthy of a recommendation. While there are issues in certain areas, these are comfortably the best of this style I’ve heard for less than £100/$150.

Let’s start with the bad bits. The Urbanista Seattle have boosted bass, and it isn’t as well integrated as the bassy lean you’ll hear in a Sennheiser Momentum headphones, or as bouncy as that of the AKG Y50BT. After spending time fiddling with the EQ settings, the Seattle sound better-balanced and cleaner after a -3dB low-bass and ‘normal’ bass reduction.

Even my picky ears can’t pick out too many other problems with the Urbanista Seattle sound, however. It’s nice and wide for a reasonably affordable pair, the detail level is good without over-egging the treble – which is clean and smooth. Again, the pricier AKG Y50BT have a little more bite, if that’s what you’re after.The bass boost is much less distracting than that of the Sony MDR-XB650BT, which is one of the Seattle’s top rivals. Here the bass can be slightly distracting with some tunes, but it doesn’t boom. It’s also an important part of the Urbanista Seattle’s sound personality, and plenty of people aren’t after the more neutral tone that my ears like.

Urbanista Seattle 13

The mids were never going to be ultra-detailed at this price, but crucially, they aren’t just a wet blancmange between the fun bass and the treble. There’s a decent amount of texture here for the price. Like the higher frequencies, it’s smooth without seeming soft.

The Urbanista Seattle have more refinement to their tone than most headphones at this price. They don’t have a true high-end sound, but having used them for the past few weeks, they’ve become the pair I pick up most often out of a cast of about ten £100/$150-ish pairs. Plain enjoyable, this is mainstream sound done right.

Urbanista Seattle 11

SHOULD I BUY THE URBANISTA SEATTLE?

If you want an all-purpose pair of wireless headphones for less than £100/$150 then the Urbanista Seattle are currently what I’d recommend. While the Sony MDR-XB650BT have better features, including far longer battery life, NFC and aptX, I think most will prefer using these headphones day-to-day. They’ll stay on your head during exercise, and they sound better too.

Like most headphones in this class, there’s a crowd-pleasing bass boost. And the rest of the sound is smooth without sounding soft, and has displays decent detail. There’s little to dislike.

However, if you’re happy to spend a little more, the AKG Y50BT offer similar sound but with extra treble bite.

VERDICT

One of the best set of sub-£100/$150 wireless headphones out there.

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/2zMHp4)

Lenovo ZUK Z3 hands-on review: specifications, design and price, comparison with ZUK Z2

There are a lot of Asian companies that produce smartphones with good specifications and acceptable price tags. However, not everyone is earning popularity. So, some not very well-known companies are helped by market leaders, which allows them to stay afloat. It is the brand ZUK, behind which stands such a giant as Lenovo.

For two years in a row, ZUK has been producing very delicious smartphones, or rather flagships, which cost ridiculous money. ZUK Z1 and ZUK Z2 ware good smartphones, so this year the Chinese manufacturer plans to release a third version of the top-end smartphone ZUK Z3.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Lenovo ZUK Z3

It is worth noting that until now ZUK Z2 on Snapdragon 820 processor is the cheapest phone with such a chipset. In China it costs only $175. As for ZUK Z3, at the moment all the information about it is rumors, and no one has yet been officially confirmed. Nevertheless, we are confident that another inexpensive flagship from ZUK will appear, and very soon. Since the predecessor was announced in May last year, then ZUK 3 is worth waiting for around the same time.

ZUK Z3: specifications

The network has repeatedly flashed leaks about specifications and design of ZUK Z3. So it became known that new smartphone will receive a glass compact body with a diagonal of display 5.2 inches. It should be noted that in the upcoming device we expect from 6 to 8 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of internal memory.

Lenovo ZUK Z3: review, specifications, design and price, comparison with ZUK Z2

Moreover, the Chinese are not greedy about a good camera – judging by the forecasts, ZUK Z3 will be equipped with Sony IMX398 module. Other features of the smartphone are given below.

ZUK Z3: features

  • Case: metal frame + tempered glass 2.5D;
  • Display: diagonal of 5.2 inches, matrix Super AMOLED, resolution Full HD 1080p, density 424 ppi, multitouch;
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4 Kryo 280 cores with a frequency of up to 2.45 GHz + 4 Kryo 280 cores with a frequency of up to 1.9 GHz, 64-bit, a process technology of 10 nm;
  • The video core: Adreno 540 with a frequency of up to 650 MHz;
  • RAM: 6 to 8 GB of the standard LPDDR4X, the frequency of 1866 MHz, two-channel;
  • Flash drive: from 128 GB to 256 GB standard UFS 2.1;
  • Camera: 16MP resolution, Sony IMX398 module, aperture f / 1.7, optical stabilization, autofocus, 4K video recording;
  • Self-camera: 8 megapixel resolution, aperture f / 2.0;
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac / ad and Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type-C 2.0, 3.5 mm audio jack;
  • Qualcomm X16 modem with support for LTE Cat.16 / LTE Cat.13 – download up to 980 Mbps, return up to 150 Mbps;
  • Fingerprint scanner;
  • Battery: 3300 mAh + fast charging QC 4.0;
  • OS: Android 7.1 + shell ZIU;
  • Dimensions: 139.1х71.9х8.4 mm;
  • Antutu: about 180,000 points;
  • Price: $ 261 for the base version.

Lenovo ZUK Z3: design

If you believe rumors and leaked from the network, it becomes clear that ZUK Z3 will be similar to its predecessor ZUK Z2. The smartphone will also receive a completely glass case, which is framed by a metal frame. Here, by the way, an important difference, since in the second beetle the edging was a composite part made of metal and fiberglass (stronger than plastic by 25%).

Lenovo ZUK Z3: review, specifications, design and price, comparison with ZUK Z2

The camera’s eye will be located in the center of the rear panel with a shift to the top edge, while the predecessor camera is in the left-right corner. As for the Home button and fingerprint sensor, it will remain at the same place. ZUK Z2 is a cute smartphone with a minimum of details, and hence the ZUK Z3 will prove to be no less attractive device.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Lenovo ZUK Z3

ZUK Z3: performance

Probably it is not necessary to explain that Snapdragon 835 is the most powerful mobile processor in the world. At the moment only three flagship equipped with processor: Galaxy S8 (S8 Plus), Xiaomi Mi6 and Xperia XZ Premium. The processor works at frequencies up to 2.45 GHz, while it is based on the cores of Kryo 280’s own development.

As the graphics accelerator, Adreno 540 is used, which can draw absolutely any games on the maximum with the highest fps. In general, the synthetic benchmark sows about 180000 scores – a crazy performance for many years to come.

It is also important that we are promised 6 to 8 GB of RAM. Galaxy S8 has only 4 GB, but Xiaomi Mi6 also offers 6 GB of RAM. The question is, why ZUK Z3 need so much as 8 GB, if they do not have anything to score? Although, on the other hand – the operative does not ask for food, so let them put it.

Lenovo ZUK Z3: review, specifications, design and price, comparison with ZUK Z2

Lenovo ZUK Z3: camera

So far we only know the camera module, namely Sony IMX398. What is known about the sensor? The resolution of the camera is 16MP. The maximum light intensity can reach f/1.7. It is known that the sensor will receive Samsung Dual Pixel technology, which allows you to instantly focus on the object. It is important for recording video. No more details are known.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Lenovo ZUK Z3

ZUK Z3 vs ZUK Z2: comparison

By tradition, let’s compare the technical specifications of the not yet released flagship ZUK Z3 with the current top-end smartphone ZUK Z2.

Based on technical specifications, it can be concluded that ZUK Z3 has grown a little in size. It is due to the slightly enlarged display of 0.2 inches. The screen matrix also changed from IPS to Super Amoled. Is it good or bad, you should decide for yourself, but note that AMOLED matrix is more energy efficient + gives a natural black color.

As for processor, it is not necessary to say anything special, here everything is clear. ZUK Z3 will prove to be more powerful, faster and more energy efficient due to the advanced process technology 10nm. Memory has become more, and RAM in 1.5 and 2 times.

The changes also touched the cameras, and the main camera improved significantly. Resolution has increased to 16 MP, but it is not the most important. The manufacturer has changed not only the camera module to the top IMX398 sensor, but also the lens from dark f/2.2 to a very light f/1.7. Now night photos will please and high detail with a minimum of noise, and color rendition.

ZUK Z3: release date, price

Initially, it was reported that flagship ZUK Z3 will receive a price tag around $330. But now we know the official price of Xiaomi Mi6, so ZUK decided to go for a trick, dropping the price ZUK Z3 to $261. While we do not know whether it is true or not, in any situation the price is very attractive.

The release date ZUK Z3 is scheduled for the middle-end of May this year.

(wovow.org, https://goo.gl/em0gL4)

Sony A9 vs Canon 5D Mark IV – Comparison

Let’s have a brief look at the main features of Sony A9 vs Canon 5D Mark IV. So what may be the main differences when consider their specs list?

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Canon 5D Mark IV

Sony has updated the a7 series with a new sensor, faster burst-shooting capability, blackout-free electronic viewfinder, dual card slots, and other enhancements. This makes the Sony A9an ideal camera for sports, wildlife, action, and even news photography.

On the other hand the 5D Mark IV from Canon is an outstanding still photography option and an able 4K-capable video machine. It has to be one of the most well-rounded and complete DSLR in the market today.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Sony A9

The price of Sony Alpha a9 is almost $1,000 more than the 5D Mark IV DSLR. The A9 costs $4500 while the EOS 5D Mark IV is currently seeling for $3,499.

If you’re looking to upgrade to a camera with full frame sensor, the Sony A9 vs Canon 5D Mark IV comparison covers all the important specifications of each camera.

Differences between the Sony A9 vs Canon 5D Mark IV

Sony A9 vs Canon 5D Mark IV - Comparison

Let’s see how the latest Sony A9 compares to the Canon 5D Mark IV.  Some differences like sensor, image size, shooting speed, lcd size etc.. detailed as bold on the table.

Feature Sony A9 Canon 5D Mark IV
Effective Pixels (megapixels) 24 megapixels 30.4 megapixels
Sensor Type / Size CMOS, 36 x 24 mm CMOS, 36 x 24 mm
Sensor Pixel Size ~5.93 microns ~5.36 microns
Image Size 6000 x 4000 6720 x 4480
Image Processor BIONZ X DIGIC 6+
Image Stabilization 5-Axis sensor shift No
Viewfinder Type EVF / LCD Optical
Viewfinder Magnification EVF: 1.3cm (0.5-inch) 2.4M-dot XGA color OLED, 100% coverage, 0.78x magnification 100% coverage, 0.71x magnification
Built-in Flash No No
Storage Media Slot1:SD UHS-II; 2:MS/SD UHS-I 2 slots supports UHS-I & UDMA7
Continuous Shooting Speed 20 fps with AF/AE 7fps
Buffer Size (RAW) 241 images 19
Buffer Size (JPEG) 362 images Unlimited
Max Shutter Speed 30 – 1/32000 1/8000 to 30 sec
Base ISO ISO 100 ISO 100
Native ISO Sensitivity ISO 100-51,200 100 – 32,000
Boosted ISO Sensitivity ISO 50 – 204800 50 – 102,400
Autofocus System Fast Hybrid AF: Wide (693 points (phase-detection AF), 25 points (contrast-detection AF) Phase Detect: OVF: 61-point (up to 41 cross-type points);
Video Output XAVC S / AVCHD 2.0 / MP4 MOV / MPEG4 AVC / H.264
Video Maximum Resolution 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30p 4096×2160 (30/25/24p)
LCD Size 3.0″ Rear Articulating LCD 3.2″ Fixed LCD
LCD Resolution 1,440,000 dots (360,000 px) 1,620,000 dots
LCD Touchscreen Yes Yes
Built-in GPS No Yes
Wi-Fi / NFC Wifi, NFC, Bluetooth Wifi, NFC, No Bluetooth
Battery NP-FZ100 LP-E6N
Battery Life 650 shots, 105 minutes video footage 900 shots
USB Version 3.0 3.0
Weight 23.7 oz (673 g)
includes batteries
31.4 oz (890 g)
includes batteries
Dimensions 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in.
(127 x 96 x 63 mm)
5.9 x 4.6 x 3.0 in.
(151 x 116 x 76 mm)
Price $4,500.00 (as introduced) $3,499 (current)

Size Comparison of Sony A9 vs Canon 5D Mark IV

CameraSize has already add Sony Alpha a9 to their database. So let’s see the size comparison of Sony A9 vs Canon 5D Mark IV cameras.

Conclusion

The Sony A9 is more expensive than the Canon 5D Mark IV. It is lower in megapixel count but has many advanced features for professionals.

The Alpha a9 offers 20 fps blackout-free burst shooting with uninterrupted viewing and AF/AE tracking. A larger buffer allows up to 241 compressed RAW images or 362 JPEG images to be captured in one continuous burst. Additionally, 693 phase detection AF points covering 93% of the frame track even the most erratic and fastest-moving subjects across the frame. Its native ISO range is also better than the 5D Mark IV.

We have to remind you that all these advanced features are almost half as light and ergonomic. Overall if you’re shooting photos of action and wildlife, then the Sony A9 stands out in every way and worth every dollar.

(dailycameranews.com, https://goo.gl/fw6f6Y)

LG OLED55B7 review

PROS
  • Unrivalled blacks and contrast
  • Improved shadow detailing
  • Vibrant yet accurate colours
  • Supremely low input lag
CONS
  • Imperfect motion processing for interlaced broadcast
  • Peak brightness insufficient for impactful HDR
KEY FEATURES
  • Self-illuminating OLED panel
  • HDR support: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Technicolor
  • Dolby Atmos sound decoding
  • Manufacturer: LG
  • Review Price: £3,000/$4,500

LG B7

WHAT IS THE LG OLED55B7?

LG is no longer the only OLED vendor in town. It’s facing increased competition from Panasonic and Sony, who’ve both rejoined the OLED TV fray this year. So to maintain its dominance, the South Korean manufacturer hopes to offer the largest number of OLED television models around – it has five series this year.

The OLED55B7 is the 55-inch model within the LG B7 series, which also contains a 65-incher. The B7 – alongside the equally priced C7, sold exclusively at Currys PC World in the UK – is the most affordable OLED range within the 2017 lineup. The 55B7’s price tag of £2999/$3500 means it’s cheaper than any 2017 OLEDs from other makes.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho LG OLED 55B7

DESIGN AND BUILD

Over the years, the no-backlight-required characteristic of OLED has lent itself to some truly exquisite styling, and this applies to the LG 55B7 for the most part. The panel is strikingly thin – you won’t see as lean a design from LED LCDs, which have to be made up of a back or edge lighting unit, liquid crystal array, colour filters, light guide plates and a host of other components.

The black bezel is suitably slim, and the OLED screen is surrounded by a brushed metallic silver trim which extends to the back. The bottom half of the rear protrudes by necessity to house the TV’s brains, connection ports and speakers.

To heighten the picture immersion, LG’s design team has taken the bold decision to remove any logos from the screen. Instead, “LG OLED” is emblazoned on the left edge of the OLED55B7’s stand. It’s a crescent stand, shaped like a curved Toblerone, though I’m reliably informed the composition is entirely metal with no hint of chocolate. It could be my assembly skills, but my review unit tilted forward ever so slightly, regardless of how hard I tightened the screws. You may have better luck.

The remote control that’s bundled with the LG 55B7 isn’t too different from last year’s. It’s an easy-to-hold oval wand with the company’s intuitive Wii-like mouse pointer. It works beautifully with the onboard WebOS 3.5 Smart TV platform. New for 2017, there are dedicated Netflix and Amazon buttons.

LG B7 9

SETUP

I’ve reviewed and tuned hundreds of TVs, so I usually have little patience for first-use help screens, but LG’s Bean Bird animation always puts a smile on my face.

The setup prompts are sensibly laid out yet fun, and completing each step brings a soaring sense of satisfaction thanks to Mr Bean Bird’s assistance.

If you choose Home rather than Shop mode on one of the last steps, you’ll invariably end up in Eco mode, the default picture preset on any 2016 and 2017 LG OLED. This looks far too blue, and has too much damaging picture processing going on. If you’re a video enthusiast who values colour fidelity, head straight to the Cinema preset, which looks far more natural.

Viewers who are not used to accurate video colours will likely find Cinema mode to be too yellow, initially. As a compromise, try the Standard mode, but with Sharpness toned down to reduce grain and fizziness, not to mention TruMotion disabled to clear up motion hiccups.

The ISF Expert modes provide the most number of picture-affecting controls to align the TV’s contrast and colours as close as possible to industry standards. Excessive adjustments in these expert menus can paradoxically introduce artefacts and degrade the picture.

LG B7 5

FEATURES

In my opinion, OLED is the most advanced panel-illumination method available on consumer-grade televisions today. Samsung’s iteration of ‘QLED TV’ this year is still based on edge-lit LED LCD technology. You can read more about that in our guide, What is QLED?

The benefits of being able to switch on and off every one of the 4K panel’s eight-million-plus pixels, independently of each other, are numerous. You not only get absolute blacks, but such inky blacks can be rendered without being contaminated or washed out by neighbouring bright elements. LG has also implemented a ‘Neutral Black’ polariser on all its 2017 OLEDs, which aims to maintain true blacks in ambient light conditions. The 2016 LG OLED TVs tend to exhibit a magenta tint in darker areas when light hits the screen.

The self-emissive nature of OLED also delivers extremely wide viewing angles that don’t really suffer from any significant drop-off in contrast and saturation, making it better than LED LCDs for use in a large room with different choices of seating positions.

LG B7

Compared with other TV brands, LG’s 2017 TVs provide the widest support of different HDR formats, namely HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), Dolby Vision and Technicolor’s Advanced HDR. The first three are supported straight out of the box, whereas Technicolor HDR will be added following a firmware update later this year.

A quick rundown on these HDR formats: HDR10 is the open standard used in current Ultra HD Blu-rays and Netflix 4K/ Amazon Video streaming; HLG is on course to be the de facto broadcast HDR standard in the UK and Europe; Dolby Vision is a proprietary HDR system that uses dynamic metadata for scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame optimisation; and last but not least, Technicolor is still a (relatively) fledgling format in terms of consumer recognition and content availability.

Four HDMI 2.0b ports with HDCP 2.2 compliance are provided, allowing owners to hook up the equivalent number of HDR-capable devices such as 4K Blu-ray players or PS4 Pro/Xbox One S game consoles. None of the 2017 OLEDs from any brand supports 3D, and the LG OLED55B7 is no exception.

LG B7 3

PERFORMANCE

Last year’s LG OLED TVs already ruled the roost when it came to SDR (standard dynamic range) image quality, yet somehow the company has still managed to find ways to improve on them. The LG OLED55B7 used the same chipset and OLED panel as the company’s Signature W7 OLED. All of LG’s 2017 OLEDs should deliver essentially identical picture quality.

One of the most significant improvements comes in the area of above-black handling. Traditionally, OLED TVs have always struggled with striking a good balance between impossibly rich blacks and clean, visible shadow detail, since there’s electronically a big jump between OLED’s ‘off’ stage and very dark grey.

The B7 is the best effort yet from LG in this regard, depicting low-light detail with noticeably less noise and pixelation than last year’s models. There’s little to no improvement in near-black uniformity, with thin vertical banding visible on very dark grey test patterns in a pitch-black room, but it didn’t bother me in real-life viewing.

Things look better too at the other end of the contrast-ratio spectrum. The maximum peak brightness on full-screen white hasn’t been raised, but what LG engineers have done is to tweak the Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL) algorithm on the B7 to be less aggressive than before.

ABL is a circuitry that dims the screen as the average picture level gets higher. It’s designed for optimal management of power, brightness and longevity. With reduced ABL, bright scenes will appear brighter on the 2017 LG OLEDs, contributing to the perception of higher contrast.

LG B7

Backed by true blacks, which act as an ideal canvas, colours pop with stunning vibrancy and realism on the LG B7. Flesh tones in very dark scenes can look a little ruddy, though.

The OLED55B7 doesn’t handle interlaced content (for example 1080i 50Hz from Sky+HD box or Freeview) very well. When I watched the most recent El Clasico match, where Lionel Messi proved once again he’s the best ever, the TV was misinterpreting slower passages of play, and wrongly applying film deinterlacing, which led to stuttering and tearing artefacts even with TruMotion switched off. The easiest cure for this is to send a progressive video signal to the OLED55B7. It’s an excuse – if you ever need one – to upgrade to Sky Q which can output 2160p.

The HDR10 presentation of the LG 55B7 is better than last year’s B6, but perfection remains elusive. Peak brightness measured 750 nits on a 10% windowed pattern in the TV’s most accurate HDR preset, representing roughly a 100-nit increase over 2016 sets. The 1000-nit figure quoted by LG only applies to very small window sizes in the overly-blue HDR Vivid mode.

LG B7

The LG OLED55B7 is a gamer’s dream TV. Input lag comes in at 21ms in Game mode, for both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR resolutions. PC gamers can also obtain this ultra-quick level of gaming responsiveness with full 4:4:4 chroma reproduction, with the right combination of presets/ settings.

Some people – perhaps burnt by plasmas or CRTs – are understandably worried about image retention or screenburn after prolonged gaming sessions. From my experience this is generally a non-issue on LG OLEDs, as long as you let the TV go into standby (rather than switching off from the mains) for the programmed uniformity compensation cycle to run periodically.

For such a thin display, the LG OLED55B7 pumps out very decent sound for run-of-the-mill viewing, with intelligible speech clarity and reasonable dynamic range being particular highlights. Note that the onboard Dolby Atmos decoder only works on Dolby Digital Plus and not Dolby True HD tracks found on most Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

LG B7 7

SHOULD I BUY THE LG OLED55B7?

If you’re considering buying a 2017 OLED television, the LG OLED55B7 should be on your shortlist. While I haven’t tested them in depth, the Panasonic EZ952/ EZ1002 should provide better calibration controls, though they lack Dolby Vision support.

The Sony A1, meanwhile, features superior motion processing and smoother gradation but a clunkier Android TV platform.

Casting my eyes further afield, LED LCD televisions with higher peak brightness – such as the Samsung QE65Q9F and Sony KD-55XE9305 – will deliver a more impactful HDR performance especially in bright scenes, but do suffer from haloing/blooming artefacts when displaying bright objects against a dark background.

VERDICT

Improving upon LG’s already outstanding 2016 OLEDs, the OLED55B7 is one of the best TVs you can buy this year.

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/PvMZ3b)

Acer Predator Helios 300 Preview: A mid-range gaming powerhouse

KEY FEATURES
  • Quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or 1060
  • 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch Full HD IPS display
  • Up to 16GB DDR4 memory
  • Manufacturer: Acer
  • Review Price: £1,200/$1,800

Acer Predator Helios 300

Hands-on with Acer’s more sensible gaming laptop

Acer is expanding its range of gaming laptops, filling in every conceivable gap. The Helios 300 range, which takes the form of both 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch laptops, is a step up from the Aspire VX 15 machine I reviewed earlier this month, but is still firmly in the mid-range.

This is a classic gaming laptop, with a classing gaming laptop design. There’s the sharp edges and red highlights you’ve come to expect from Predator machines, but it feels relatively well made. It looks very similar to the aforementioned VX 15, in fact. It’s similar in terms of weight as well; the 15.6-inch model tips the scales at 2.6kg and is 27mm thick.

Acer Predator Helios 300

The 17.3-inch model, meanwhile, weighs a mighty 3kg and is 29mm thick. This bigger model will go up against Asus’ excellent ROG Strix GL702VM.Related: The best gaming laptops to buy right now

I tried the 15-inch model at Acer’s launch event, and it ticks a lot of boxes. The keyboard feels very similar to the one found on the VX 15: it’s backlit by red LEDs – which not everybody will like – and has a really responsive action. It takes a bit more force to press than some other laptops, but it works really well in this case.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Acer Predator Helios 300

There are some differences between the Helios and the VX 15. The biggest – and most important – is that Acer has picked a substantially better Full HD IPS screen. The VX 15, you might recall, was serioulsly harmed by its rubbish screen, that had a slightly yellowy tint and horribly narrow viewing angles. Here, the screen has lovely clean whites, wide viewing angles and is an altogether much better piece of kit. The Helios 300 will start at $1299 or €1199 (we’d expect around £1200), which equates to a £100 price bump over the VX 15. That’s a price worth paying for a better screen.

Acer Predator Helios 300There’s a mix of specifications available on the Helios 300. The cheapest models will come with a quad-core Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory and a 128GB SSD alongside a 1TB hard disk. The lowest-specification graphics card you can pick is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, which will run all of the latest games at Full HD resolutions at Medium of High settings.

More expensive models get more powerful Core i7 chips alongside Nvidia’s GTX 1060, which is a proven 1440p gaming card and will happily play the latest games at Full at HD at High settings and beyond.

The model I tried was loaded up with Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and was happily handling High graphics settings at Full HD without too much fuss.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Acer Predator Helios 300

EARLY IMPRESSIONS

Acer’s already tried and tested this formula with the its VX line, and with a higher-spec graphics and a better screen, I’m optimistic this is another solid addition to its gaming laptop range.

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/HwZI5o)

Ford Escape Titanium v Hyundai Tucson Highlander petrol SUV comparison

The Hyundai Tucson is Australia’s second most popular SUV behind the Mazda CX-5, ergo one of the market’s top-selling vehicles full stop.

By contrast, the newly renamed Ford Escape (nee Kuga) is a perennial underachiever, highly regarded critically but comparatively ignored by buyers.

We want to investigate whether this discrepancy is justified. To do so, we’ve tested each model in its highest level of specification, with petrol engines that take the lion’s share of the segment.

So we have the Hyundai Tucson Highlander versus the Ford Escape Titanium.

hyundai-tucson_v_ford-escape

Pricing and specs

There’s nothing in it in terms of price, with the Ford costing $44,990 before on-road costs and the Tucson listed at $45,450.

Common equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels; rear-view camera; front/rear parking sensors; front, side and curtain airbags; outboard ISOFIX anchors; and five-star ANCAP ratings (2017 date stamp for the Ford, 2015 for the Hyundai).

Both also have proximity keys; 8.0-inch touch-screens; satellite-navigation with live traffic updates; Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (just added to the Hyundai as part of a running change); USB/Aux/12V; and Bluetooth phone and audio.

Furthermore each has leather seats with electric adjustment and heating for front occupants; cruise control; LED cabin lighting; dual-zone climate control; glass roofs; electric tailgate; rain-sensing wipers; dusk-sensing headlights; privacy glass; and roof rails.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-14

Unique to the Hyundai Tucson as standard is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB); blind-spot monitoring; lane assist; and rear cross-traffic alert.

Note: all of these features can be had on the Ford Escape, but you’ll need to pay $1300 extra for the Tech Pack (we recommend you absolutely buy this, and we are disappointed that Ford isn’t offering it as standard), which also adds radar-guided cruise control and a tyre-pressure monitor.

The Tucson alone also has a full-size spare wheel; electric seat adjustment for the front passenger; and seat cooling as well as heating.

The Ford Escape’s unique standard features include an additional knee airbag; Emergency Assist; and a programmable MyKey.

Winner: Hyundai, for its active safety tech and full-size spare. Just. 

Cabin thoughts

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-44

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-47

The Tucson’s rather austere interior design places the emphasis on practicality, ergonomics and quality rather than flair.

There’s nothing adventurous going on, but key touch-points are pleasant for the tactile-minded and the plastics are well put together.

Our test car had a 8.0-inch touchscreen with integrated sat-nav (up free updates for a stint), but in welcome news Hyundai has since added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-51

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-49

Connectivity includes an improved Bluetooth quality over the first iterations and two 12V inputs, though our tester still lacked Hyundai voice control (the new Apple/Android mirroring brings this).

We like the extensive amount of cabin storage in the doors and below the fascia, and the fact that unlike the Ford, the Hyundai gives you electric adjustment for the front passenger seat, plus ventilation for both front occupants.

Australia needs this more than mere seat heating.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-29

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-35

The Ford Escape sports what is unmistakably a more distinctive interior design, though the trade-off for its ‘sportier’ feel is reduced knee room thanks to the protruding centre stack.

And while the colour palette isn’t quite so monochrome, the materials feel cheaper and flimsier, especially the stuff flanking the screen and gear shifter. Our tester had a pillar squeak, coming from interior trim.

The SYNC 3 system familiar from a host of other Ford is excellent, with conversational voice control and CarPlay/Android Auto, better navigation graphics and superior audio quality.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-32

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-34

You also get two USB inputs over the Tucson’s one. That chintzy blue-green font on the climate control is so 1986, though.

We imagine the Ford has more immediate appeal, but Hyundai’s interior is the definition of a grower.

Given the positioning of both of these vehicles as family-friendly offerings, the comfort in the back seats and the practicality of the cargo area is just as vital.

The Tucson has a little more space in the back row than the Ford, and the hard plastic seat backs (while unpleasant to touch) are easier to keep clean and stop you poking the back of the driver/passenger with your knees.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-41

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-40

As with the Ford, the rear seats recline slightly, though unlike the new Volkswagen Tiguan, have no sliding function to liberate more useable cargo space or pull a child-seat closer to you, in the front.

Amenities include rear air vents, individual LED reading lights for outboard occupants, hand grips, a flip-down centre armrest and big door pockets for bottles.

Neither model here has levers to flip the back seats from the cargo area as offered in a Mazda CX-5 (which also has a more clever 40:20:40 folding seat configuration), though the Tucson gets maximum points for accommodating a full-size matching spare below the cargo floor.

The Kuga offers less space for taller rear occupants, in terms of knee- and shoulder-room, though it’s hardly tight and will still accommodate two adults.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-25

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-24

You also get nifty little flip-up tables mounted to the front seat-backs, and while the glass roof isn’t as massive as the Hyundai’s unit, it does slide and tilt.

All four windows are one-touch-operated though they’re smaller than the Hyundai’s and therefore the rear feels less spacious. As you can see, the larger part of the Ford’s 60:40 folding rear seats is on the kerb side, unlike the Hyundai which does it the other way.

Amenities include individual LED reading lights, vents, grab handles, a flip-down centre armrest and bottle holders in the door

As you can read in the table below, the Ford offers slightly less cargo space and no full-size spare, though, like the Tucson, its electric tailgate has a hands-free operation option for full hands.

Winner: Hyundai, by the skin of its teeth. 

Drivetrains

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-38

The Ford clearly outguns the Hyundai when it comes to power, thanks to its 2.0-litre turbo-petrol producing a very healthy for the class 178kW (at 5500rpm) and 345Nm (from 2000rpm).

By contrast, the Tucson’s 1.6 turbo-petrol makes 130kW (at 5500rpm) and 265Nm (from a low 1500rpm). Small wonder lots of buyers opt for the $2000 pricier diesel with its 136kW/400Nm punch.

Despite its portly 1751kg kerb weight, the Ford definitely wins in terms of performance. Power delivery is excellent right through the mid-range, with hot hatch-rivalling straight-line pace, while the engine is refined when relaxed and sonorous under heavier throttle.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-19

This is helped by the well-calibrated six-speed automatic with torque converter that is generally intuitive under dynamic driving conditions, and relaxed and jolt-free in stop-start situations.

However, claimed combined-cycle fuel use is a high 8.6L/100km, though in average driving you can expect closer to 10L/100km – nothing comes without consequence.

Like the Hyundai, the Ford gets a front-biased on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that shuffles torque to the rear when the onboard computer detects traction loss.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-46

The Hyundai’s engine, which is similar to that in the Veloster SR and Elantra SR, is by comparison a little underdone next to the Ford, or for that matter a Volkswagen Tiguan (either in 132kW/320Nm or 162kW/350Nm tunes).

On the other hand, the normally aspirated 2.5 Mazda CX-5 has a similar 140kW/250Nm, with peak torque not arriving until much higher in the rev range than the Tucson.

To its credit, the Hyundai doesn’t feel at all sluggish – maximum torque from 1500rpm gives it a strong mid-range – and its fuel consumption is about 1L/10km lower than the Ford’s.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-1

Matched is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is typically good under aggressive driving and better at reducing torque loss, but also feels a little hesitant and jerk-prone in day-to-day manoeuvring, and less smooth than the sequential AT in the Escape.

Hyundai’s on-demand AWD system gets a locking mode at low speeds, though on the flip side offers 16mm less ground clearance.

If you tow regularly and are interested in either of these vehicles, perhaps opt for the diesel versions (note, the Escape diesel gets a DCT). Both petrol versions have a 1600kg braked limit.

Winner: Ford Escape, by a point. 

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-62

Ride and handling

Hyundai Australia has long (quite rightly) made a concerted effort to publicise the extent to which it tunes the suspension of its cars for our market.

The Tucson might just be its best work yet, with fantastic comfort over typical urban patchwork roads and sharp hits. The car just floats, despite the low-profile tyres and 19s.

Given the fact that ride comfort and NVH suppression is a priority in the medium SUV class, the Tucson is very good indeed.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-57

The trade-off to that cosseting ride is a slight reduction in body control, as would be expected.

There’s no wallowing, but against lateral forces the body does roll a little compared to overtly sporty offerings such as the Tiguan and, as we’ll discuss, the Escape.

The Hyundai’s all-round independent suspension does a good job of maximising the contact patch, and the standard BLIS system along with the large windows is a blessing for merging.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-22

The Escape’s European origins – American name but Euro built – are obvious in the way the Ford handles. Its weight means it isn’t exactly nimble, but it’s very polished.

Urban comfort is almost as impressive as the Hyundai, in terms of the way it isolates occupants from sharp hits, and the noise suppression is also excellent at a higher clip.

Body control is a little more tied-down than the Hyundai’s, meaning it matches the engine’s nature by feeling a little sharper through corners than its bigger-selling rival.

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-54

Ford’s Control Blade rear suspension does a good job of separating ride from handling, minimising the way that improvement in one tends to undermine the other.

We would contend that buyers after a higher-specified SUV on 19-inch wheels care somewhat about performance in corners, and the way the Escape balances the two fundamental contradictory metrics makes it an appealing proposition.

We’d also note that both cars have light electric steering with little communication. The Tucson’s turning circle of 10.6m is very good, and 60cm better than the Ford. It’s also easier to park as it’s easier to see out of.

Winner: Ford again, only just. 

Running costs

2017-hyundai-tucson-highlander-v-ford-escape-titanium-comparison-11

From an ownership perspective, Hyundai gives you an excellent (transferrable) five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, complimentary sat nav updates for three years, free roadside assistance and lifetime advertised servicing prices.

For MY18 Hyundai Australia has thankfully improved the turbo engine’s servicing intervals to 12 months or 10,000km (up from an average 7500km). We’re chasing the cost of each visit at the moment.

By contrast, the Escape offers a three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist that is, like Hyundai, contingent on you getting your car serviced by a dealer.

Servicing intervals are 12 months or 15,000km, with four of the first five visits each currently set at $375 (the 60,000km or fourth-year visit is $625).

Winner : Hyundai. Though the Kia Sportage with a seven-year warranty beats them both. 

Verdict

Tough call. Both of these sub-$50k medium SUVs are excellent, even factoring in the brand new just-launched Mazda CX-5 (comparison tests on this top-seller coming soon), the Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan kicking big goals, and a brand new Honda CR-V around the corner.

The Hyundai Tucson, however, is best value in base Active and Active X forms, especially with its uprated normally aspirated drivetrain that’s better around town. That’s where the brilliant value truly lies.

As a semi-premium offering the Ford Escape works better – its drivetrain and handling ensure this – and while we strongly criticise Ford for charging extra for active safety, it’s still the car that impressed us marginally more.

The underdog takes the win, then.

Ford Escape Titanium

Hyundai Tucson Highlander

Price  (Before on-road costs)

$44,990

$45,450

Engine

2.0 turbo-petrol

1.6 turbo-petrol

Power

178kW at 5500rpm

130kW at 5500rpm

Torque

345Nm at 2000 to 4500rpm

265Nm at 1500 to 4500rpm

Fuel consumption

8.6L/100km

7.7L/100km

Drive

AWD on-demand

AWD on-demand

Transmission

Six-speed auto

Seven-speed DCT

Suspension

MacPherson/Control Blade IRS

MacPherson/Multi-link

Length

4542mm

4475mm

Wheelbase

2690mm

2670mm

Height

1749mm

1655mm

Width

1838mm

1850mm

Kerb weight

1751kg

1690kg

Ground clearance

198mm

182mm

Cargo space

406L to 1603L

488L to 1478L

Turning circle

11.2m

10.6m

Towing capacity

1600kg braked

1600kg braked, 100kg download

 

Ford Escape Titanium

Hyundai Tucson Highlander

Wheels

19-inch

19-inch

Spare

17” space-saver

Full-size

Autonomous Emergency Braking

(AEB)

Option (see below)

Yes

Lane Assist

Option (see below)

Yes

Blind-spot monitor

(BLIS)

Option (see below)

Yes

Rear cross-traffic alert

(RCTA)

Option (see below)

Yes

Rear-view camera

Yes

Yes

Parking sensors

Front and rear

Front and rear

Airbags

7

6

ANCAP

5 stars in

5 stars in …

Emergency Assist

Yes

No

Programmable MyKey

Yes

No

ISOFIX

2

2

Proximity key

Yes

Yes

Screen

8.0-inch touchscreen

8.0-inch touchscreen

Sat-nav

Yes, with live traffic

Yes, with live traffic

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Yes

Yes (new feature)

Aux/USB/12V

Yes

Yes

Bluetooth phone and audio

Yes

Yes

Leather seats

Yes

Yes

Electric adjustment

Driver

Driver and passenger

Seat heating and cooling

Heated only

Yes to both

Electric parking brake

Yes

Yes

Cruise control

Regular

Regular

LED cabin lighting

Yes

Yes

Dual-zone climate control

Yes

Yes

Cargo cover

Yes

Yes

Glass roof

Yes, electric opening

Yes, front portion electric opening

Electric tailgate

Yes, hands-free

Yes, hands-free

Rain-sensing wipers

Yes

Yes

Dusk-sensing headlights

Yes

Yes

LED daytime running lights

Yes

Yes

Privacy glass

Yes

Yes

Roof rails

Yes

Yes

Options

Metallic paint $550

Metallic paint $595

 .

Escape
Tech Pack ($1300) includes:

AEB

Radar-guided cruise control

BLIS

RCTA

Lane assist

Auto high-beam

Tyre-pressure monitor

(caradvice.com.au, https://goo.gl/FmikvZ)

Vivo V5s First Impressions Review : Another day, another selfie smartphone!

The latest smartphones banks heavily on the selfie camera which comes loaded with a 20-megapixel sensor. But will it be enough to make a long-lasting impression on the customers?

Vivo V5s First Impressions: Another day, another selfie smartphone!

Vivo has just strengthened its selfie-focused V series with the addition of Vivo V5s smartphone. The device comes with a price tag of Rs 18,990 and will be available in Crown Gold and Matte Black colour variants. The latest smartphones banks heavily on the selfie camera which comes loaded with a 20-megapixel sensor. But will it be enough to make a long-lasting impression on the customers? We got the chance to use for a while and here is our first impressions.

Vivo V5s Selfie Smartphone to Launch in India Today

Design and Display

Vivo has played it safe when it comes to design language there are no noticeable changes in it. The device looks a tad similar to its elder sibling, the V5 Plus, which again resembles a lot to the Apple iPhone 7. The U-Type antenna lines running across top and bottom of the rear panel is similar to what we have seen in iPhone 7. But that’s not a bad thing, as the list is pretty long when it comes Apple doppelgangers. That said, the device sports a unibody design with the metal finish (and not a real metal) and is pretty lightweight when you hold it with just 154 grams of weight.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vivo V5s

The front features some narrow side bezels coupled with 2.5d curved glass protection, which surely gives a premium look. We typically liked the black edition, which gives a sturdy look and the device is just 7.55mm thick making one of the sleekest options available in the market. There is a home button at the base, which also acts as a fingerprint sensor, while at the top you will the selfie camera along with moonlight flash and earpiece. The right houses volume controls and power on/off button, while the left is bare. At the bottom, you will find 3.5mm audio jack coupled with microUSB port and speaker grille.

At the back, there is a primary camera along with LED flash and at the centre, you will company’s logo. Overall, the device looks identical, but the black colour variant is an eye grabber.

Coming to the display, the device sports a 5.5-inch HD screen with a screen resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. At a time when all the other manufacturers are providing Full HD display, Vivo is still stuck with an HD screen, which is quite disappointing. However, the screen looks sharp and well-lit during our brief testing period and we hope it would a good job during our testing period.

Hardware and Software

On the hardware front, the smartphone is powered by an octa-core MediaTek MT6750 processor clocked at 1.5GHz along with Mali T860 GPU. It comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory, which can be further expandable up to 256GB via microSD card. That said, the specifications look promising, though there smartphones vendors like Xiaomi and Motorola, who are offering a much better specs sheet in terms of processor and similar RAM and storage option at a lower price point. It would be interesting to see who well does it perform or will it be able to compete with the competitors in our detailed review.

Vivo V5s

Vivo V5s runs on an older version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow with company’s own FunTouch OS 3.0 running on top of it. Again, on one hand, many manufacturers are giving the latest flavour of Android 7.0 Nougat, on the other, Vivo is still not ready to give up on Marshmallow. The user interface is quite different from what you have seen in other devices and the company has added new features like smart screen-split, app clone and more. The user interface has its hits and misses and we will be discussing it thoroughly in our review, so keep a tab on this space.

Camera

Vivo V5s

The major highlight of the smartphone is the 20-megapixel front-facing camera with aperture f/2.0 and Moonlight Flash for taking better selfies in the dark. The front camera comes with Face Beauty 6.0, a feature which is omnipresent in most of the smartphones these days. Then you have a group selfie option, where you take wide photos by moving the device while clicking a selfie, just like you do when you take a panorama shot from the rear camera. For the rear, you have a 13-megapixel shooter with PDAF and LED flash. During our testing period, we found out the camera do take some good selfies, however, it would be interesting to the overall performance of the camera in different lighting situations.

Battery and Connectivity

On the battery front, the smartphone is backed by a 3000mAh battery and support connectivity options like 4G LTE, WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/GLONASS, OTG support, a microUSB port, Accelerometer, Light sensor, Digital compass.

Vivo V5s

The company has always talked camera and music. For music, the company has added Hi-Fi audio system with an AK4376 Hi-Fi audio chip, which the company boasts will enhance the music experience.

Verdict

To wrap up, the smartphone looks a tad similar to its elder sibling at the end and packs an almost similar specification, which we have seen in the Vivo V5, with some noticeable tweaks. However, it is important to note that this is still one of the cheapest option available in the market which boasts such selfie camera, though, we need to check the performance of the camera. As for the competition is concerned, the device seems to be an underdog, at least on paper, when compared to the likes of Xiaomi Note 4, Motorola Moto G5 Plus, Lenovo Vibe P2 etc, which offers some superior specs and are priced lower than this one.

(themobileindian.com, https://goo.gl/IBMmlZ)

AOC AGON AG271UG review: The 4K monitor for casual gamers

This impressive monitor is ideal for casual gamers who want 4K

Pros
  • 4K at 60Hz
  • Nvidia G-Sync
  • Build quality and design
Cons
  • Inverse ghosting with Strong Overdrive
  • Washed-out colours

Gaming at a higher resolution than Full HD is always taxing for a computer’s graphics card, but if you have the horsepower at your disposal, why not use it to its fullest with a 4K gaming monitor? Step forward the AOC AGON AG271UG, a 27in 4K gaming monitor equipped with Nvidia G-Sync and an IPS LCD panel.

AOC AGON AG271UG review: Tl;dr

The AOC AG271UG is a jack-of-all trades monitor, skewed towards those looking to invest in 4K gaming. Despite costing £536, it’s actually very good value for a 4K monitor with Nvidia G-Sync. Its colours are a little washed out, but are accurate enough for gaming.

Input lag and a quick response time ensure that the monitor responds speedily to your mouse movements and can cope with fast-moving games, but its 60Hz panel will limit its appeal for non-professional gamers. If you fall into the latter group then you need to look for a monitor with a 144Hz panel.

Price and competition

At the time of writing, the AOC AG271UG costs £536 at Amazon, but I’ve seen the price as high as £620. Its direct competitor is the £690/$1,035 Acer Predator XB271HK, making the AOC far more affordable by comparison. Another one of its competitors, and one that I’ve tested, is the virtually identical £570/$855 ViewSonic XG2700-4K; it has the same resolution, but offers AMD’s FreeSync technology instead of Nvidia G-Sync.

Features, design and build quality

The AG271UG offers a good range of features, one of which is important for Nvidia-GPU owners looking for tear-free graphics. Of course, it’s Nvidia G-Sync, the technology that lets your Nvidia graphics card cleverly lock its frame rate with your monitor. This results in an image that’s free from tearing – a graphical annoyance that occurs when the frame rate of the monitor and the render rate of your graphics card aren’t in sync.

The monitor’s design is attractive, with a red-and-black theme, matte-silver stand and thin bezels. Full pivot, height and tilt adjustments are at your disposal through its sturdy stand, offering full control over the position of the screen. For those who want the option of taking the monitor to a LAN party, there’s a useful handle around the back plus a numbered scale to ensure you can set it up precisely as you have it at home.

On the right side of the monitor, there’s a fold-out arm that serves as a headphone stand. Here, you’ll also find two USB 3.0 ports, one of which carries a higher current for fast-charging your smartphone. A 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone input are found on the right-hand side of the monitor. Beneath the monitor are HDMI and DisplayPort video inputs, two extra USB 3.0 ports and an additional 3.5mm headphone output jack.

Image quality

The AG271UG has a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) IPS panel. You’ll need to ensure you’re feeding it with a DisplayPort 1.2 input to get the full 60Hz 4K glory that the AOC monitor offers, since its HDMI 1.4 port can’t achieve its refresh rate or resolution.

I used an X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibrator and DisplayCAL to measure the monitor’s colour gamut and accuracy. With an impressive 99.1% sRGB colour gamut coverage, the AOC monitor is able to display a wide array of colours. It also reproduced colours with an average Delta E of 1.06 out of the box – a highly respectable score that means professional-level photo and video editing isn’t beyond its capabilities.

However, compared with other IPS and PLS panels, I found the colours on the AG271UG a tad washed out. Placed next to the Acer XF270HU 1440p IPS monitor, colours didn’t pop. Furthermore, dark scenes in movies were a shade of dark grey, rather than deep black. In this respect, I found the panel looked very similar to the ViewSonic XG2700-4K, which also looks a little wan.

In terms of brightness, the monitor reaches 383cd/m2 level in sRGB mode, which limits the brightness to 90%, so it can go a bit brighter if you need it to. I measured the contrast ratio at 1,087:1, which is the norm for most IPS panels, but not as good as you’d get if you opted for a monitor using a VA-type panel.

Gaming performance

Gaming performance is the most important aspect for the AGON AG271UG, however, since this is what differentiates it from other, general-purpose 4K monitors.

You’ll need a strong graphics card to consistently hit 60fps at 4K in AAA titles. When used with an MSI GTX 960 2G, the GPU struggled to keep up with the huge 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. If you’re looking to buy this monitor, I’d suggest pairing it with an Nvidia GTX 1070 or above.

Input lag was minimal, but not as fast as some of the best gaming monitors available in the market today. And the same holds true for the panel’s response time. Its quoted 4ms isn’t as fast as your regular 1ms TN panel, but it’s fine for an IPS monitor.

To fully benefit from the monitor’s fastest response times you have to enable the monitor’s Strong overdrive setting. However, in this mode the monitor exhibited signs of negative ghosting (overshoot), so I’d suggest toning down overdrive and using it at Medium settings. The flipside is that this negatively affects the response time of the monitor, making it unsuitable for competitive gaming.

The AG271UG’s 60Hz refresh rate also limits the appeal of the monitor to the enthusiast rather than competitive gamers. If you’re serious about your games, you’ll need a fast 144Hz panel running at 1080p instead.

Verdict

Despite its limitations for serious gamers, the AOC AG271UG is a fantastic monitor for casual gamers who are looking to play in 4K. To be amazed by the level of detail that 4K has to offer you’ll need an appropriate graphics card, but if you’re after a screen that offers Nvidia’s G-Sync, a relatively fast response time and accurate colours, then the AG271UG should be the first monitor on your list.

If you’re an Nvidia graphics card owner and debating between the ViewSonic XG2700-4K and the AG271UG, I’d suggest you plump for the AOC – it’s currently cheaper and will also provide tear-free gaming via Nvidia G-Sync. If prices climb towards the £700/$1,050 price mark, then the ViewSonic becomes more attractive – but remember, if you have an Nvidia graphics card then you’ll be missing out on the joys of tear-free visuals.

(expertreviews.co.uk, https://goo.gl/7dWuRk)

Nikon D7500 vs Pentax KP – Comparison

This Nikon D7500 vs Pentax KP comparison shows what separates these DSLRs with a view of featured categories.

The Nikon D7500 borrows quite a bit of the tech from Nikon’s top-of-the-range DX-format DSLR, the D500. The DSLR offers a 20.9-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The biggest advantage of the camera is the bigger buffer and a better AF system.

Ricoh unveils Pentax KP with new 24MP sensor and 5-axis IBIS

The Pentax KP comes with a high-sensitivity 24.3-megapixel sensor. The CMOS sensor of the camera provides a top ISO of 819,200.

Let’s have a brief look at the main features of Nikon D7500 vs Pentax KP. So what may be the main differences when consider their specs list?

Specifications comparison of the Nikon D7500 vs Pentax KP Cameras

Nikon D7500 vs Pentax KP - Comparison

If you’re trying to decide which one to buy as your first camera, here are the differences of Nikon D7500 vs Pentax KP cameras. you can see some differences like sensor, image size, shooting speed, lcd size etc.. detailed as bold on the table.

 Features Nikon D7500 Pentax KP
Megapixels 20.9MP 24.3MP
Sensor Type APS-C CMOS APS-C CMOS
AA Filter No On/Off
Image Resolution 5568 x 3712 6016 x 4000
Body Image Stabilization Yes (Movie only) Yes
ISO 100 –51,200 100 – 819,200
Expanded ISO 50 – 1,638,400 None
AF Points 51 points 15 cross type 27 points (25 cross type)
Continuous Mode 8fps 7fps
LCD 3.2″ – Articulated 3.0″ – Articulating
LCD Resolution 921,600 dots 921,600 dots
Touchscreen Yes No
Focus Peaking No Yes
Top LCD Display Yes No
Viewfinder Coverage 100% 100%
Viewfinder Magnification 0.94x 0.95x
Video Resolution 3840×2160 (30/25/24p) 1920×1080 (60i/50i/30/25/24p)
Microphone Jack Yes Yes
Headphone Jack No No
Dual Card Slots No No
SD UHS Support UHS-I UHS-I
Fastest Shutter Speed 1/8000 – 30sec 1/24000 – 30sec
Bulb Mode Yes Yes
JPEG Buffer Size 100 28
RAW Buffer Size 50 8
Time Lapse Yes Yes
Built-in Flash Yes Yes
Max Flash Sync Speed 1/250 1/180
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes Yes
Built-in GPS No No
Bluetooth Yes No
USB Type USB 2.0 USB 2.0
Environmentally Sealed Yes Yes
Battery Life (CIPA) 950 shots 390 shots
Battery Included Yes (EN-EL15a) Yes (D-LI109)
Weight 22.58 oz (640g) 24.7 oz (699g)
Size 5.3 x 4.1 x 2.9 in.
(136 x 104 x 73 mm)
5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in.
(132 x 101 x 76 mm)
Release Date 2017 2017
Price $1,250 $1,096

Conclusion

Although the Pentax KP is cheaper than the Nikon D7500 by $150 USD, the D7500 gives the price difference in many respects. Main advantages of the Nikon D7500 vs Pentax KP are the bigger buffer with the improved AF system, 4K video recording and better battery life for a mid-range DSLR.

Although both cameras offer excellent features, we find it would be a wise move if the new users prefer the Nikon D7500.

(dailycameranews.com, https://goo.gl/ORYctK)

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa (2017) review

Verdict
  • A sophisticated way to get smart functionality to your TV, with easy-to-use voice control
For
  • Alexa voice control
  • Responsive UI
  • Multiple streaming services
  • Price
Against
  • Nothing of note

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa (2017) review

The development of talking technology isn’t as recent as you might think.

In 1773 Christian Kratzenstein built a speaking machine using tubes and organ pipes to make artificial vocal chords; and in 1939 the first electronic speech synthesizer called VODER (Voice Operating DEmonstratoR) said the words “Good evening, radio audience” at the New York World’s Fair.

But at this point in tech history, the voice assistant du jour is Amazon’s Alexa – and its inclusion in the new Fire TV Stick is the most obvious change between the now-discontinued 2015 version and this new iteration.

Features

Alexa mainly makes it easier to do three things: the first is menu navigation. By pressing the microphone button on top of the remote, you can command your Fire TV Stick to search for a particular actor, director, or film genre.

To its credit, the Stick’s voice recognition is pretty good, and names such as ‘Chiwetel Ejiofor or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’ don’t confuse it.

The second plus is being able to control your videos a little better. Say “fast forward five minutes” while watching Amazon Prime content, and it will skip ahead.

Unfortunately, this only works for Amazon’s own content – Netflix and other streaming services still rely on the conventional buttons to rewind or skip episodes.

Finally, because the Fire TV Stick will be connected to your wireless network – there aren’t any ports on its body apart from the Micro USB it uses for power – you can use it to manage any Internet of Things products you might have, such as smart-lights or thermostats.

Since you have to press a button on the remote rather than calling out a wake word, it isn’t quite as easy to use as Amazon Echo but having the Alexa function is still a neat addition.

You also have the option, if you go into the Stick’s wireless settings, to connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones or speakers to it in case you wanted to improve on your TV’s sound or avoid disturbing others.

Operation

Connecting up the device is simple: plug it into your TVs HDMI slot, connect to wi-fi, and blast through the short installation videos.

The only thing that might take you some time is logging into all your services and clicking your way through various emails and passwords using the Stick’s remote.

We’d recommend downloading the Fire TV Stick app for iOS and Android instead (which also has the Alexa functionality) as using your phone’s keyboard is much faster.

Apart from Alexa, the other major upgrade Amazon has made is the quad-core processor that means the Stick is more responsive than its predecessor.

There’s also Amazon’s Advanced Streaming and Prediction (ASAP) for its Prime Video service, which learns your tastes and pre-buffers shows it thinks you might watch next.

Moving through menus certainly feels quick and precise, and on our own wi-fi network content loaded relatively quickly.

Amazon’s new UI is also happy to put other streaming services ahead of its own Prime channels, focusing on usability over advertising its own content.

On top of the operating system is a menu for the home page, recent movies and TV shows from Amazon and other streaming services, as well as the Apps and Settings pages.

Next is a medley of your recent apps in well-sized tiles, followed by your downloads, which you can change the order of – prioritising the apps you use the most. After that are content recommendations, which become more specific as time goes on.

While the old Fire TV Stick lacked a few catch-up apps, the new one now has access to the expected broadcasters. BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5 are available to download, as well as Netflix and YouTube.

Video content will be in 1080p quality, and up to Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 channel sound. If you want 4K content from Amazon or Netflix, you’ll have to go for the Amazon Fire 4K TV box.

You can also download games to the Stick’s internal memory, and purchase a separate games controller for £35/$52, as you could on the old Fire TV Stick.

But just how well does it perform? Using a stream of Netflix’s How To Get Away With Murder as a test, the Stick performs well. The picture is as crisp and detailed as we would expect at this price and resolution, with suitable insight to the dark scenes and pop in bright colours.

It’s got a pretty good sound to it too. Speech is clear, without any extra tonal emphasis towards the high or the low range, and it’s pretty detailed too.

There’s enough emotion in the angry debates between lawyers and tension in the soundtrack. The differences between Annalise Keating’s (Viola Davis) whispered council and her loud declarations are dynamic enough as well.

Verdict

As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Amazon’s previous Fire TV Stick received five stars from us and, since the core design of this one remains similar, the 2017 version receives the same accolades.

The addition of Alexa is a nice touch, the UI is responsive, and at £40/$60 it’s a great low-budget way to get streaming services onto your television.

(whathifi.com, https://goo.gl/A6HhAV)

10 of the best Fitbit alternatives : Fitbits can’t be for everyone

Sometimes you just don’t want a Fitbit. Maybe you’re turned off by how they seem to be the most popular name in fitness tracking, or maybe you’re not into their aesthetic. It’s cool, everyone is different.

Luckily for you, there are plenty of other options out there. Practically every wrist-worn wearable device has some sort of fitness tracking embedded in it. But where do you turn? Who do you trust?

The best Fitbit alternatives

We’ve put together this list of our favorite Fitbit alternatives. We’ve chosen two alternatives to each of the major Fitbit devices, from the Alta HR to the Surge.

For the Flex 2

Misfit Shine 2

If you’re looking for a simple, good looking alternative to the Flex 2, you can’t do better than the Shine 2. Just like the Flex 2, the Shine 2 is waterproof, but on top of that it’s simple and stylish and boasts some of the best step and activity tracking we’ve seen. Its LED lights also offer a better notification system, giving you a close the ring-like indication of far you are from your goals.

$99, misfit.com | Amazon

Moov Now

If you’re looking for something a little more sporty, the Moov Now is right up your alley. It doesn’t hold a candle to the Flex 2 when it comes to activity tracking, sporting only basic info, but the adorable little sports wearable is big on coaching. Unlike the Flex 2, it features several training programs to help you achieve your goal. The voice coach will explain what you’re trying to do and how you can do better, going far beyond what the Flex 2 can dream of.

$59.95, moov.cc | Amazon

For the Alta HR

Withings Steel HR

If you’re looking for a stylish, feature-packed fitness tracker with a good heart rate sensor, it’s hard to go wrong with the Steel HR. With a long button press, it can turn into a running watch that tracks heart rate zones and distance. It’s gorgeous, it’s got a heart rate sensor that works well and it manages to perfectly toe the line between smart and analog.

$179.95, withings.com | Amazon

Garmin Vivosmart 3

Life can be stressful, so if you need something to better focus on helping you keep stress free the Vivosmart 3 is a good option. Yes, it can track your activity and automatically detect some workouts, but it keeps track of your stress level throughout the day too. If it’s too high, it’ll start up a guided breathing exercise to calm you down. Handy.

$139.99, garmin.com | Amazon

For the Charge 2

Samsung Gear Fit2

If you’d like something that’s got all the major features of a fitness tracker but keeps a toe in the smartwatch water, the Fit2 is a good alternative. It’s got a big beautiful AMOLED screen and support for apps like Spotify. It’s also got GPS, while the Charge 2 has to piggyback on your phone. The Charge 2 has better battery life, but that gorgeous screen on the Fit2 makes it the more attractive device.

$179.99, samsung.com | Amazon

Garmin Vivosmart HR+

While it’s a bit chunky and doesn’t offer too many sports, the Vivosmart HR+ offers superb run tracking via GPS and excellent activity tracking. While the Charge 2 is better at daily life stuff, the Vivosmart HR+ is the far better workout choice, with far more extensive data available. On top of that, it doesn’t look too out of place either at home or at work.

$179.99, garmin.com | Amazon

For the Blaze

Apple Watch Series 2

While the Blaze may have the Apple Watch beat on amount of workouts, the Apple Watch offers a good selection of third-party apps and complications to fully customize your experience. There’s also richer notifications, which allow you to reply and act on all of those alerts. Plus, you’ll go mad mixing and matching all of those bands.

$369, apple.com | Amazon

LG Watch Sport

If you’re not looking for an iOS-friendly alternative to the Blaze, there’s also the LG Watch Sport, the superb debut device of Android Wear 2.0. It’s got some solid fitness features and, more importantly, it can function independent from your phone with LTE, NFC and GPS. The Blaze has none of those, and fully relies on your phone for most things.

$349, lg.com | Amazon

For the Surge

Garmin Forerunner 235

If you’re looking for a super fitness watch for a hardcore runner, it’s hard to go wrong with Garmin and its Connect IQ platform, which provides a rich about of metrics and capabilities. You’ve got added metrics like cadence and training effect, which lets you know how effective your session was. While the Fitbit stands up in the hardware space, it can’t compete with that software.

$329.99, garmin.com | Amazon

Polar M600

The M600 sports an incredibly accurate heart rate tracker and a spot-on GPS, so if you need something accurate as a runner this is a good option. There’s also all the great features of Polar’s Flow app, like Training Benefit and Running Index. You’ll also get a good selection of running metrics, like pace and heart rate zones. There’s no auto-detected workouts, but it manages to sneak Android Wear into a device that doesn’t feel like it’s running Android Wear. Impressive.

$329.95, polar.com | Amazon

(wareable.com, https://goo.gl/t19Bwx)

10 Popular Cars We Wish Never Existed

Everybody in the world has different tastes from others. For many situations, this is perfectly fine — in grocery stores, there’s ample selection so everyone can find what they like or need. For cars, though, it’s a bit more tricky when you’re talking about a $25,000, ten-year investment and not a $2.50 jug of milk. And because of that, automakers have to be more discerning in what they offer.

Some, like BMW, are taking the approach that involves trying to satisfy as many tastes and preferences as possible, by constantly splitting categories into subcategories, and those into further subcategories. Others, like Chrysler, take a leaner approach and put most of their eggs into fewer baskets. But when you get an approach like BMW, it leads to redundancies — which is what this article is out to discuss.

2016 BMW M6 Gran Coupe | BMW

BMW is not the only automaker guilty of this, but it’s probably the most prolific. However, we looked around the industry and found ten vehicles that while they may be popular, don’t make a very compelling case for themselves because they either conflict or overlap with their stablemates. Here are 10 vehicles that we felt were the most redundant.

1. Honda CR-Z

2012 Honda CR-Z

In theory, the Honda CR-Z was an attempt at reviving the legacy of the CR-X from the ’80s and ’90s, and revitalizing Honda’s sporty hatch heritage. In practice, the CR-Z combined the sluggishness of a hybrid with the efficiency of a sports hatch. Buyers looking for MPGs could instead look at the Civic Hybrid, and those looking for speed are better off looking at the Civic Si. Our hats are off to Honda for attempting to merge the two, but the CR-Z sits in the middle of each and doesn’t fully benefit from either.

2. BMW’s Gran Coupes

2016 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe

It’s a four-door version of the two-door version of a four-door car. Though undeniably beautiful, is it really worth the added manufacturing complexity to desperately fill every conceivable niche? BMW makes a 4 Series version and a 6 Series version, which begs the question of why they thought demand for the 3 Series and 5 Series was low enough to justify the added product lines.

3. Chevrolet Sonic

2014 Chevy Sonic LTZ

Like the BMW, the Sonic isn’t a bad car — but there’s just not really a space in the lineup for it. Between the Cruze sedan and the smaller Spark, Chevy’s low-end offerings are pretty well taken care of; The Sonic RS hatch is pretty sporty, but otherwise, most buyers will find what they need on either side of the small car.

4. BMW X4

006_BMW_X4

What can be said of the X4 can also be said of the X6; it’s a less practical version of the X3 and X5 SUVs, and BMW’s quest to fill every possible market segment has led to the worst parts of a coupe coupled with the worst parts of an SUV. The result is a less sporty SUV with diminished cargo capacity, but somehow, they keep on selling.

5. BMW 3 Series GT

BMW_3_Series_gran_turismo_wallpaper_02_1920x1200

Apparently, having a wagon form of the 3 Series isn’t enough, because there’s also the 3 Series GT; this is a Franken-vehicle that adds a sort of SUV roofline without committing to being a utility, and asks nearly $10,000 more than a 3 Series sedan at base. If you can’t satisfy your need with the Sports Wagon, than move up to an X1. They make a GT version of the 5 Series too, because, you know, it’s BMW.

6. Buick Verano

2015 Buick Verano Turbo

there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Buick Verano — it’s inoffensive in styling, not particularly remarkable in any one aspect, and doesn’t really stand out from the crowd — but it’s definitely upstaged by the Regal. Buick should definitely get a small sedan in it’s stable, but the Verano is too close in stature (seven inches shorter, two inches narrower, and just two inches off the wheelbase) to the Regal to make a compelling case.

7. Ford Edge

15FordEdge-Titanium-Sport_HR

Here’s the thing: We actually love the Edge. A lot. It’s one of Ford’s best-looking and best proportioned utilities, but in Ford’s burgeoning lineup, it just doesn’t make sense on paper. It slots in between the the Escape and the Explorer, which shuttle the majority of buyers away from the middle, but then it’s also contending with the luxurious, three-row Flex too. The Edge is a great vehicle, but the business case for it is flimsy — at least it should be, but it’s selling quite well.

8. Porsche 911

Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet

Including special editions and convertibles, there are 25 new 911 models to choose from. Not only is that ludicrously complex from a manufacturing point of view, but there’s so much overlap that there are likely several models that could be eliminated without much fuss. Each has it’s own quirks and benefits, but at the end of the day, Porsche enthusiasts will remain Porsche enthusiasts — whether it comes as a Targa, a 4, a 4S, a GTS, a cabriolet, a Turbo, a Turbo S, a GT3, a GT3 RS, an S, and so on. You get the picture.

9. Toyota Sequoia

Toyota_Sequoia

Ignoring for a moment that the new Sequoia is still using seriously dated design language, the truck-based SUV occupied a weird niche in Toyota’s stable. If you’re looking for a big SUV for suburban family hauling, check out the Highlander or 4Runner or some of its updated competition; if you’re looking for a rock-crawler that’s also appointed at near Mercedes-Benz levels of quality, there’s the Land Cruiser (though granted, it runs $80,000). There might be a place for a truck-based SUV for Toyota, but the long-in-the-tooth Sequoia needs to be brought up to speed to justify its place in the lineup.

10. Hyundai Azera

2015 AZERA

The Azera has been a staple in Hyundai’s lineup for a while now, but with the upscale Genesis and a nicer Sonata, its place in the roost isn’t as unique as it once was. It’s about $4,000 less than the Genesis, but $14,000 more than a base Sonata, implying that it really exists only to pull sales from the nicer sedans. Given the amount of tech and additional features that the Genesis offers, as well as it’s premium looks, the Azera is becoming an increasingly difficult business proposition.

(cheatsheet.com, https://goo.gl/1eLRKp)

Tecno i7 smartphone review: Takes you by surprise

India is one of those regions where there is cut-throat competition between tech companies, especially in the smartphone segment. And this competition is getting fiercer by the day, with the arrival of more Chinese brands. So if a company needs to make a mark for itself, it needs to deliver something really compelling and worth the price.

Adopting a similar strategy, another Chinese brand debuted in India a few days back. Called Tecno Mobile, the company has launched as many as five smartphones.

Of these, the i7 is the most powerful. Bearing a price tag of Rs 14,990, the smartphone is aiming at much bigger names like Samsung and Motorola in the budget bracket.

Skimming over the specifications, it seems that the smartphone can give its competition a run for their money. But does it really stand a chance in the already overcrowded Indian smartphone market? Read on to find out.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Tecno i7

Design and display

When we talk about the design, Tecno i7 only cements the notion that all Chinese smartphones typically look the same. It seems to borrow design elements from other companies like Gionee, Oppo and Vivo. We got the Sky Black colour variant, which follows the trend of companies assigning funky-sounding names to shades of Black (and other colours) ever since Apple released the Jet Black iPhone.

Although the i7 has an uncanny resemblance to other many smartphones in the market, it feels good in the hand. The device is thin and has a firm grip. Volume rocker and Power button are on the right side. Although the Power button has a different texture, its placement with the Volume rocker can easily make a lot of users mistakenly press the wrong button.

At the front there is a selfie camera, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and a single LED flash above the display. A physical Home button with embedded fingerprint sensor lies below the screen, with two capacitive navigation buttons.

The back panel has a plain, minimal design with the primary camera on the top left corner and the four-LED flash below it. Two antenna lines run across the top and bottom. At the bottom, there’s a microUSB port with speaker grille on each side. However, one of them mirrors the audio emitted by the main speaker.

There are a couple of design aspects worth appreciating in the i7. The shining Silver antennas at the back look contrasting to the Black body, lending a somewhat premium look. The four-LED flash can easily light up a small room.

A downside we noticed while using the Tecno i7 is that though there’s a metal back plate, it still manages to attract smudges. There’s a company logo in the center and a ‘Rocket Charge’ fast charging branding below it. A hybrid-SIM slot can be found on the left side and a 3.5mm headphone jack on top.

While the design and build of the i7 is not very convincing, its display did prove to be an element of ‘surprise’ during our testing. The smartphone has an industry standard 5.5-inch Full HD display of 1080×1920 pixel resolution. The ‘surprise’ here is that although the screen is an IPS one, it looks like an AMOLED display. The Black levels are impressive and colours pop out more than in other smartphones that have IPS displays.

There is hardly any colour tone changes visible when the screen is viewed from different angles. In addition, brightness levels are comfortable enough so that the content on the screen doesn’t strain the eyes. The i7 offers a number of basic screen customization options to users under Settings.

Here, you can tweak the brightness manually or choose the adaptive brightness option for automatic adjustment. Besides this, there’s an ‘Outdoor’ option as well. You can toggle the pulsating LED light, change the wallpaper, font size and more.

The handset also comes with something called ‘MiraVision’, which lets users select different picture modes such as Standard and Vivid. A third mode – User – allows for custom adjustment of contrast, saturation and brightness. There’s a Blue-light filter as well.

Performance and camera

Performance is one of the vital factors that decides how good (or bad) a smartphone is, and we found the Tecno i7 to be decent in this regard. While using heavy gaming apps and jumping between 5-6 different open apps,we did encounter a little bit of lag. However, the smartphone can handle daily tasks such as social media browsing and music/video streaming without any hassles.

The processing power is provided by last year’s MediaTek MT6750 processor, clubbed with 4GB oF RAM. This is decent enough to handle majority of the tasks. The smartphone gets a little warm when streaming QHD or Full HD resolution videos for extended amount of time.

Just as we’d expected, the i7 failed to break any grounds when it came to AnTuTu and GeekBench benchmarking tests. On the former, it came at the bottom of the list with a score of 44336 and on the latter, single-core and multi-core scores were 621 and 2624 respectively.

At a given price tag of Rs 14,990, Tecno Mobiles could have easily matched its competitors in the processing department. It could’ve also added less bloatware, but it didn’t. The phone comes with numerous apps, some of which can be uninstalled while others can just be disabled. Obviously, they eat up internal storage.

Talking about the storage, Tecno i7 includes 32GB of internal storage and many would be relieved to hear that the smartphone supports microSD cards.

On the connectivity front, the i7 has everything a general user could need. It supports 3G, 4G, VoLTE, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. There is a hybrid SIM card slot as well.

During our testing, call quality was loud and crisp without any issues. Network detection was fine even in areas such as basements. Fingerprint sensor is accurate most of the times, but might annoy some while being used in moist conditions. Setting it up is child’s play.

We appreciate the fact that being one of the new smartphone brands in India, the company ships the i7 with Android 7.0 Nougat. The latest OS is layered with the company’s own HIOS UI layer. Although it is easy to get used to, those familiar with other CHinese Android skins won’t see much difference.

To make things easier for users, Tecno i7 comes with a ‘Micro Intelligence’ feature that lets you use gestures to perform actions such as launching apps. You can also flip the device to mute audio, cover the screen to silence incoming calls and more.

Tecno I7

VS

Lenovo P2

Octa core PERFORMANCE Octa core
5.5″ (13.97 cm) DISPLAY 5.5″ (13.97 cm)
32 GB STORAGE 32 GB
13 MP CAMERA 13 MP
4000 mAh BATTERY 5100 mAh
4 GB RAM 4 GB

Besides the display, we found the camera to be one department where Tecno i7 seems to have excelled. The resulting images from the smartphone’s 13 megapixel rear camera and PIXELEX engine came out to be vibrant and crisp. Daylight shots were impressive with accurate colour reproduction. The vivid display also plays a big part in making the shots look really good.

It might disappoint some to know that the camera UI seems like an iPhone rip off. It has the same layout, shutter button and the overall look. But as long as you are fine with the imitation, there won’t be any issues with the images. The camera is snappy and gives you easy access to some of the options right from the main screen. You can swipe to switch from photo capturing mode to video mode, as well as change to other modes like Beauty and Panorama.

It also takes one tap to access other shooting modes and change settings like HDR, aspect ratio, filters and front-facing camera. The camera manages to shoot decent images in low light. But if you want to add more light to the subject, Tecno i7 has four LED flashes. This not only lights up low light shots drastically but also proves to be an effective torch in certain situations.

The front-facing 16 megapixel camera is supported with a LED flash and screen flash as well. Users can apply the same rear-camera features on the front. There is an option to click wide selfie shots, which is nothing but a shorter version of selfie panorama mode. For selfie lovers, this might not be the best option today but should work in casual settings.

All the processing power, display, camera and connectivity need a powerful battery to make the Tecno i7 keep running and it doesn’t disappoint. The smartphone is backed by a massive 4,000mAh battery, which easily goes through a typical day of use. On screen time with general use was over 4 hours during our testing. But if you’re a heavy user, you might need to carry a charger.

If you want to save even more battery, you can activate the Ultra lower power mode in which the handset can only receive calls and SMS, in addition to keeping a few basic apps like Alarm and Sound Recorder active. The Battery Saver mode limits things like vibration and location services. Synchronization services are also reduced.

Furthermore, the smartphone has it’s home-brewed fast charging technology called Rocket Charging. The feature is claimed to reduce the typical charging time by 20%.

Verdict

The i7 is Tecno Mobile’s first baby step in the Indian smartphone market. The handset tries to bring all day-to-day features in an attractive package. However, at a price of Rs 14,990, the i7 competes directly against the likes Motorola Moto G5, Asus Zenfone 3S Max, Lenovo P2 and more.

Although these established rivals may make the Tecno i7 feel like another Chinese smartphone, the Display, Camera and Battery are three elements that can help the device get an edge over others. It could take some time for Tecno i7 to create a reputation for itself in the market, but for that it would have to deliver more value-for-money smartphones with better offline and online service. But that’s a conversation for another day.

SPECIFICATIONS

SUMMARY
performance Octa core
display 5.5″ (13.97 cm)
storage 32 GB
camera 13 MP
battery 4000 mAh
ram 4 GB
SPECIAL FEATURES
fingerprint sensor position Front
other sensors Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer
fingerprint sensor Yes
GENERAL
quick charging Yes
operating system Android v7.0 (Nougat)
sim slots Dual SIM, GSM+GSM
model i7
launch date May 10, 2017 (Expected)
brand Tecno
network 4G: Available (supports Indian bands) 3G: Available, 2G: Available
fingerprint sensor Yes
MULTIMEDIA
loudspeaker Yes
audio jack 3.5 mm
PERFORMANCE
chipset MediaTek MT6750T
processor Octa core, 1.5 GHz, Cortex A53
architecture 64 bit
ram 4 GB
DESIGN
build material Case: MetalBack: Metal
colours Champagne Gold, Sky Black, Space Grey
DISPLAY
display type IPS LCD
pixel density 401 ppi
screen size 5.5 inches (13.97 cm)
screen resolution Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
touch screen Yes Capacitive Touchscreen, Multi-touch
STORAGE
internal memory 32 GB
expandable memory Yes Up to 64 GB
CAMERA
settings Exposure compensation, ISO control
camera features Digital Zoom, Auto Flash, Face detection, Touch to focus
image resolution 4128 x 3096 Pixels
autofocus Yes Phase Detection autofocus
shooting modes Continuos Shooting, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR)
resolution 16 MP Front Camera
optical image stabilisation No
flash Yes LED Flash
BATTERY
quick charging Yes Fast
type Li-ion
capacity 4000 mAh
NETWORK CONNECTIVITY
wifi Yes Wi-Fi 802.11, b/g/n
wifi features Mobile Hotspot
bluetooth Yes v4.0
volte Yes
usb connectivity microUSB 2.0
nfc No
network support 4G (supports Indian bands), 3G, 2G
gps Yes with A-GPS
sim 1 4G Bands:TD-LTE 2300(band 40) FD-LTE 1800(band 3)3G Bands: UMTS 2100 / 900 MHz2G Bands: GSM 1800 / 900 MHz GPRS:Available EDGE:Available
sim 2 2G Bands: GSM 1800 / 900 MHz

(gadgetsnow.com, https://goo.gl/K0Ie5h)

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. Review

Pros
  • Outstanding sharpness
  • Low distortion
  • Low CA
  • Fast and silent AF
  • High contrast for punchy results
  • Dust and splash proof
Cons
  • Can be susceptible to flare
  • Fairly expensive

Panasonic Leica 8 18mm Front Oblique View

This new ultra wide to wide standard 8-18mm lens has a useful “35mm equivalent” of 16-36mm. Designed for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) format cameras, it is reviewed here using the 20mp Panasonic Lumix GX8 camera body. Carrying the prestigious Leica name, let’s have a look to see if it lives up to that stature in terms of performance and how it handles in practical use.

Handling and Features

Panasonic Leica 8 18mm Vertical View

The quality of finish is not in doubt, the controls of the lens all being as smooth as silk in operation. If we start at the front of the lens, the first interesting feature is the deeply recessed front element. Although the lens moves in and out whilst zooming, it is totally enclosed in an outer casing. This means the actual physical length of the lens does not change. There is a standard 67mm filter thread, plus a bayonet fitting for a very well made lens hood. The hood has a locking catch.

Moving along the barrel, we reach the manual focusing ring. This is electronic in operation and has a firm but smooth action. As a wide angle zoom has plenty of depth of field the use of manual focus is not the easiest option, but whatever focusing aids a camera can provide will make it a little more viable. For this review, the AF system was crisp and efficient and the need for manual focus was never felt.

The zoom ring has an equally pleasant feel and the various focal lengths are marked clearly, with the engraving being of very high quality. Closer to the camera body, there is just the one AF/MF switch. We then reach the electronic mount, which has additional water resistance in the form of a rubber sealing ring. The whole lens is “dust-proof and splash-proof”, fast becoming almost a required feature for any outdoor use.

Nano coatings are used and the lens construction comprises 15 elements in 10 groups. This includes 1 Aspherical ED (Extra Low Dispersion), 3 Aspherical, 2 ED and 1 UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) elements. There is a 7 bladed diaphragm with a rounded design to the blades.

Panasonic Leica 8 18mm With Hood On Gx8

Focusing is silent, down to 0.23m (9.06 inches), a maximum magnification of 0.12x. Weight is a reasonably light 315g. This is a varifocal zoom, meaning that the lens should be refocused after any change in the zoom setting.

With no depth of field scale, no distance markings and the bare minimum of controls, the lens abdicates control of most parameters to the camera. The interface is clear and with the GX8 it offers an efficient way of working. It is interesting that although the maximum aperture varies with focal length, from f/2.8 to f/4, the minimum aperture remains a constant f/22. This is probably a wise choice as diffraction will soon set in with such a small format as MFT, taking the edge off sharpness at those smaller apertures.

It is, without a doubt, a very useful lens, with a commendably wide 8mm making quite a difference compared to the more usual standard zooms. The long end of 18mm encompasses the traditional wide standard, 35mm in full frame terms. This makes the lens a candidate for street photography. It may be a little wide for conventional portraits, but very usable for environmental shots of people.

Panasonic Leica 8 18mm Rear Oblique View

Performance

The resolution tests make for some impressive reading. At 8mm, centrally the lens shows outstanding sharpness from f/2.8 to f/4. It is excellent at f/5.6 and f/8, very good at f/11 and, as diffraction really starts to kick in, still good at f/16. Results are soft at f/22. The bokeh sample shots show this quite clearly. The edges are excellent at f/2.8 and f/4, very good from f/5.6 through to f/11, good at f/16 but again becoming soft at f/22. It is sensible design to limit that smallest aperture to f/22.

At 10mm, the centre shows outstanding sharpness from f/3.2 to f/5.6 and excellent results at f/8. It is very good at f/11, good at f/16 but soft at f/22. The edges are very good from f/3.2 to f/4, rising to excellent at f/5.6 and f/8, very good at f/11. f/16 is good and f/22 soft.

14mm gives excellent central sharpness at f/3.6 and f/4, outstanding at f/5.6, again excellent at f/8 and f/11. f/16 is very good and f/22 soft. The edges are very good from f/3.6 to f/5.6, excellent at f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and soft at f/22.

Sharpness holds well even at 18mm, where some zooms can become relatively weak in performance. The centre is excellent at f/4, outstanding at f/5.6, excellent at f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and soft at f/22. The edges are very good at f/4 and f/5.6, excellent at f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and again soft at f/22.

The high contrast of the lens also helps the overall crispness of the image and pictures show a real zing about them.

MTF Charts

MTF@8mm

MTF@10mm

MTF@14mm

MTF@18mm

How to read our MTF charts

Distortion is extremely well corrected, especially for a zoom lens. At 8mm we have -1.4% barrel distortion. By 10mm we find near-perfect drawing, with just +0.01% pincushion distortion. The Pincushion distortion gradually increases as we zoom, measuring +0.06% at 14mm and +0.54% at 18mm. Further software correction can be made, but for most purposes, this won’t be necessary.

Bokeh is not perhaps the primary consideration with wide angle lenses, as so much is in focus anyway with the large amount of depth of field. Together with the smaller format, which also results in more depth of field, out of focus backgrounds are not much in evidence. However, such as they are, there is no raggedness and the rounded diaphragm blades would appear to be doing the job well.

Focus is fast and silent, internal in operation so there is no change in lens extension. The AF system locks on every time.

Sample Photos

Floral Colour | 1/60 sec | f/8.0 | 10.0 mm | ISO 200

Adlington Hall | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Adlington Hall Garden | 1/320 sec | f/8.0 | 13.0 mm | ISO 200

Close Up Double Daffodil | 1/60 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 200

Closest Focus On 13cm High Dalek | 3.2 sec | f/22.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 400

Portrait | 1/40 sec | f/8.0 | 15.0 mm | ISO 200

Aperture range

Bokeh At F2,8 | 1/4000 sec | f/2.8 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Bokeh At F4 | 1/2000 sec | f/4.0 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Bokeh At F5,6 | 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Bokeh At F8 | 1/500 sec | f/8.0 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Bokeh At F11 | 1/250 sec | f/11.0 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Bokeh At F16 | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Bokeh At F22 | 1/60 sec | f/22.0 | 8.0 mm | ISO 200

Value For Money

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Asph Lens is priced at £1049/$1573, making it the most expensive of the close options available.

The alternatives could be the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO (£999/$1498), the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4-5.6 (£479/$718) or the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 (£759/$1138).

The new lens does offer a faster aperture than most of these, and more zoom range as well. It also offers a very high standard, so there are a few things to weigh up when considering value for money. It remains a very tempting option, at a price that may initially seem high but may well be justified.

Specifications

Manufacturer Panasonic
General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length 8mm – 18mm
Angle of View 62° – 107°
Max Aperture f/2.8 – f/4
Min Aperture f/22
Filter Size 67mm
Stabilised No
35mm equivalent 16mm – 36mm
Internal focusing No Data
Maximum magnification 0.12x
Focusing
Min Focus 23cm
Construction
Blades 7
Elements 15
Groups 10
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Dimensions
Weight 315g
Height 88mm

Verdict

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Asph. is a pleasure to use, but the greatest pleasure is arguably in the outstanding sharpness, giving a real punch to images. The pleasure extends to enjoying fine engineering as well, because there is the high quality of the construction and finish to enjoy for its own sake.

In summary, a lens that lives up to its Leica tag and should serve very well for many years of use.

(ephotozine.com, https://goo.gl/ZD0c5V)

Acer Predator Triton 700 Hands-on Review

KEY FEATURES
  • Quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • Weight: 2.6kg
  • 18.9mm thick
  • Manufacturer: Acer
  • Review Price: £3,400/$5,100

Hands-on: Acer’s latest thin gaming laptop impresses

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Acer Predator Triton 700

Acer likes to produce headline-grabbing products. It launched the Predator 21 X curved gaming laptop last September at IFA in Berlin and was met with a mixture of amusement and astonishment, which was a sign of things to come.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Acer Predator Triton 700

While the 21-inch 21 X was a massive laptop weighing more than 8kg, the 15.6-inch Triton 700 is a relative lightweight, tipping the scales at 2.6kg and slipping into an 18.9mm-thick casing. Considering the components inside, I’m pretty impressed.

Acer Predator Triton

But first, design and build. Acer being Acer, it’s put the keyboard front-and-centre. Why? It’s hoping gamers will hook up a USB mouse almost immediately, so they won’t have to reach for the rather strange touchpad that sits just under the screen. Not only is it weirdly positioned, it’s also quite a lot grippier than a regular touchpad and isn’t very pleasant to use. You have to arc your arm over the keyboard, which is a bit of strain; I couldn’t imagine ever using the touchpad unless I was desperate.

Acer Predator Triton

It does at least look cool: under the Gorilla Glass coating a slither of the laptop’s cooling system is revealed. I’ve never seen a transparent touchpad before, and I’d be happy to see more of them.

The touchpad’s loss is the keyboard’s gain. The island-style, backlit keys get the full width of the laptop’s 15.6-inch chassis, which is loads of space. The keys have mechanical switches, and while they’ll never match the satisfying feeling of a big, fat Cherry MX board I was pleasantly surprised by how tactile they are. The keys don’t travel far before they click, and it’s all quite pleasant.

Acer Predator Triton

Again, their front-and-centre position is a little weird, and I hope Acer provides a wrist rest like it did with the Predator 21 X, otherwise long sessions might get a little uncomfortable.

The chassis design is sharp and angular, and is a much more understated affair than Acer’s other laptops. This is a bit of a stealth gaming machine – at least until you open the lid.

Being so dense, the Triton 700 feels well put together and there’s not a hint of flex from the chassis. 2.6kg is heavy, but nothing a decent backpack won’t be able to stomach.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Acer Predator Triton 700

The selection of ports is pretty standard – a USB 2.0 (hidden behind an unexplained removable flap), three USB 3.0s, a USB 3.1 Type-C and gigabit Ethernet.

The screen, meanwhile, is a Full HD IPS panel. It looks great, although it’s a little disappointing that you don’t get a 1440p or Ultra HD display for your money.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Acer Predator Triton 700

Now for those specs: You get a quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, paired with 16GB of DDR4 memory as standard. That’s alongside an 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, which is more than fast enough to play the latest games at 4K, let alone on the Full HD screen supplied here. All of this is more than good enough for a video-editing, gaming powerhouse.

The model I tested had the GTX 1080 on board, but Acer didn’t specify the GPU on its spec sheet, which leads me to wonder whether there’ll end up being an updated, next-gen GPU by the time the Triton 700 launches into Europe in August. It’s either that, or the option of downgrading to a GTX 1070 for a lower-cost specification.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Acer Predator Triton 700

EARLY IMPRESSIONS

This is one of the most attractive gaming laptops I’ve seen this year, and it’s certainly one of Acer’s best pieces of work from a physical standpoint. But that bizarre touchpad, however seldom it’s used, is extremely weird and would put me off ever using this machine on the move without a USB mouse.

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/tvKOK2)

Gretel GT6000 First Video Review

The world’s first 6000mAh battery dual back cams smartphone with Front Fingerprint

Gretel may be the price killer branding this year, they already released the world’s cheapest 4G smartphone A9 on its level and the world’s cheapest 3G smartphone A7. Now, they are ready to launch the world’s first 6000mAh battery dual back cams smartphone with front fingerprint, it’s the Gretel GT6000, which will prove a great buy for those looking for a big-screen phone with decent camera, lots of power and fingerprint design.

Here we found the first video reviews of Gretel GT6000 phone:

From this leaked video, we can see that the Gretel GT6000 will come in black, blue and champaign gold. You will also find a fingerprint scanner built-in the home button, and thankfully it’s a touch-style instead of swipe-style or press-style scanner.

A HD screen is common, also can be found in the GT6000. The 5.5 inch big screen is a good-quality IPS panel from Sharp company, the edges of the screen are curved. The blue finish seems great and the dual camera setup is good fun too.

In addition to a 6000mAh battery, the Gretel GT6000 also sports a 9V/2A quick charger and Intelligent power saving mode button to further ensure the fast charging and a longer battery life. With a unibody metal design, it packs 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage with an option to expand memory up to 32GB.

The GT6000 also has two rear-facing cameras, with 13.0MP and 1.3MP AF f/2.2 lens, use 13MP Panasonic MN34172 sensor.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Gretel GT6000

At last, If you’ve found a smartphone is earlier than the so-called “Gretel’s first”, then check it’s spec and compare it to the Gretel we write here.

At last, Giveaway a few pieces of Gretel A7 will be online soon, stay tuned on Gretel VK page and Facebook Page @GretelSmartphone

(xiaomitoday.com, https://goo.gl/ecw29a)

Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV Review : Can Samsung’s Q8C deliver the full potential of HDR?

The Good
  • Detailed accurate picture
  • Local dimming effective with SDR
  • Wide colour gamut
  • High peak brightness
  • Low input lag
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Great set of features
  • Well made and attractive design
The Bad
  • Local dimming can struggle with HDR
  • Optimal viewing angles could be wider
  • Expensive

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

What is the Samsung Q8C?

The Q8C is the mid-range model in Samsung’s new QLED range of Ultra HD 4K TVs, that includes the flagship Q9F and entry-level Q7F and Q7C. The suffix denotes whether the model is curved or flat and the Q8C only comes in a curved option. Thankfully this year Samsung have decided to use consistent model numbers in different territories, thus preventing any consumer confusion when it comes to identifying the new TVs. Although Samsung have promoted their new QLED range quite heavily, it is not strictly a new technology but rather an LCD panel that uses an LED backlight and quantum dot technology to deliver increased brightness levels, more colours and wider viewing angles. Samsung claim that their new QLED TVs can deliver a peak luminance of 1500nits and a colour gamut that is 100% of DCI-P3, they also support High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR 10+and HLG, and are certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

Along with the bezel-less curved screen, the Q8C also uses Samsung’s 360 degree design ethos, with an all-metal finish, a newly designed stand and a no-gap wall mount. There’s better cable management thanks to the latest version of the One Connect box and a fibre optic connection that goes from the box to the TV itself. There’s also a redesigned One Remote and the company’s new Q Smart TV platform which combines Samsung’s Smart Hub with the Q Engine for a fast and responsive system that is easy to use whilst at the same time offering the widest possible choice. The Q8C comes in 55-, 65- and 75-inch screen sizes and we’re reviewing the QE65Q8C which has a price of £3,799/$5,698 as at the time of writing (April 2017). So can the Q8C deliver on Samsung’s promise of being the next innovation in TV technology or will it be more of an evolutionary process based on last year’s successful KS range of UHD TVs. Let’s find out…

Design

Samsung QE65Q8C Design

Although not hugely different from last year’s KS9000, Samsung has refined the overall design to deliver another TV with a sleek finish and an equally contemporary appearance. They have retained their 360 degree design ethos, which basically means the Q8C looks attractive from every angle. Samsung have also improved the build quality (there were reports of production problems last year with poor quality control in some cases) and the Q8C is well made and uses an all-metal construction for both the main chassis and the stand.

At the front you have the curved bezel-less screen with a 5mm wide chrome trim and a 5mm wide black border around the image. There’s an improved black filter on the screen that only reflects 0.1% of ambient light, whilst an additional layer on the inside of the LCD panel reduces reflections to 1.35%, as a result only 1.45% of all ambient light is reflected, a number that Samsung claim is the world’s lowest. Otherwise its all very minimalist and rather similar to last year, with an illuminated Samsung logo at the centre bottom of the screen, although you can turn this off if you prefer.

Samsung QE65Q8C Design

The all-metal chrome stand has had a slight redesign, with a tubular shape to the front support, a more rounded look to the rear column and nice brush metal finish. However in terms of its overall appearance it’s very similar to last year with a v-shaped rear that gives the impression the screen is floating in mid-air. If you’re thinking of using the stand it measures 910 x 370mm, it can’t be swivelled and there’s 110mm of clearance beneath the screen itself. Around the back is where all the main differences are and most of these are related to tidier cable management.

The stand attaches to the rear of the Q8C in a recessed section that is then covered by a removable panel making the back look very clean. There are minimal connections on the TV itself, merely the connector for the One Connect box and the power cable, and these can also be hidden behind a removable panel and run down inside the stand to keeps things very tidy. If you’re thinking of wall mounting, the recessed area where the stand is attached can also be used with the ‘No Gap Wall-Mount’ which is sold separately. This dedicated mount allows you to install the Q8C flush with the wall, although you also have the option of a standard 400 x 400 VESA wall bracket and spacers are included for the purpose.

The Q8C retains Samsung’s 360 degree ethos but now uses an attractive all-metal construction

Connections & Control

The QLED range uses the latest version of Samsung’s One Connect box but new for 2017 is the dedicated ‘Near-Invsible’ connection. This is a thin fibre optic cable that uses proprietary connectors and runs from the TV to the One Connect box where you will find all the other connections. You simply connect the fibre optic cable to the rear of the TV and then run it to wherever the One Connect box is located and you have an almost invisible connection.

The cable comes in a handy cable tube, there are bending covers to protect the cable and it’s 5m long, although there is an optional 15m version for longer cable runs. As mentioned you can run this cable down through the rear of the stand but if you’re wall mounting it’s thin enough to be easily hidden as well. You can also run the power cable, which uses a standard two-pin connector, down through the stand but if you’re wall mounting you could presumably hide that behind the TV.

Samsung QE65Q8C Connections & ControlSamsung QE65Q8C Connections & Control

The One Connect box has also undergone a make-over, it’s still black with a brush metal finish but now it’s larger measuring 360 x 115 x 30mm and includes all the connections (previously a few were still located on the TV itself). The box now has a power cable of its own, presumably previous versions of the One Connect box drew power from the TV via the connector but with the thin fibre optic cable that isn’t possible. The box doesn’t have any fans built-in, so there’s none of the noise associated with earlier versions, but due to the amount of processing inside it can get warm to the touch.

Samsung QE65Q8C

In terms of actual connections there are four HDMI 2.0b inputs, all of which support 4K at up to 60p, High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma), Wide Colour Gamut and HDCP 2.2. There are also three USB ports, twin terrestrial and satellite tuners and an Ethernet socket for a wired connection, although the Q8C also includes built-in WiFi. There’s also the proprietary connector for the fibre optic cable and the two pin socket for the power cord. On the side there’s a CI (Custom Interface) slot and a connector for a extension link.

Samsung QE65Q8C

The One Remote has also had a slight make over and is now composed of metal, which feels comfortable in the hand but also gives the controller a nice high-end appearance. The button layout is the same as last year, with everything you need for day-to-day operation of the TV and there’s even a built-in microphone for voice control. There are centrally positioned navigation and OK buttons around which you’ll find multi-purpose controls for numbers, colours, return and play/pause. There’s a power button in the top left hand corner and a Home button, along with volume and channel controls, further down, which now have rounded edges to make them more ergonomic. In addition to moving the volume up and down with the volume control, you can mute the sound by pressing it. On the back of the remote is a black button which opens the remote and there are also release buttons to make changing the batteries as simple as possible.

The One Remote also serves as a universal remote and works in connection with Samsung’s auto device detection feature which has been expanded to cover more potential connected sources. When the Q8C detects a new device being connected to the One Connect box via HDMI, it automatically identifies that device and sets it up in the Smart Hub. It also loads the remote control codes, thus allowing you to use the One Remote to control that connected device, as well as the TV itself. This is actually a very useful feature and it worked well with all the devices we connected directly to the TV, although connecting multiple devices to an AV receiver and then the TV will confuse the auto detection. However for direct connection it offers a quick and easy way of setting up, identifying and controlling all your HDMI sources with a single remote.

As with previous models, Samsung also include their standard black plastic remote control, should you not want the use the One Remote. The standard remote control has all the buttons you’ll need but obviously isn’t as stylish as the One Remote, nor does it offer universal or voice control. If you’d rather use your smart device as a controller there’s also Samsung’s Smart View remote app. This is available for both iOS and Android devices and is a simple but effective remote app that was easy to set up and control the Q8C with. The layout of the main control page is designed to replicate the button layout found on the One Remote and you can also access all the apps on the TV as well as content on your smart device.

There’s a nearly invisible fibre optic connector for the One Connect box and a redesigned One Remote

Features & Specs

The Q8C uses a curved Ultra HD 4K 10-bit panel with edge LED lighting along the bottom and a new quantum dot layer that covers these LEDs. This quantum dot layer uses a metal core and an improved metal coating that protects the core, keeping its colour properties pure, and increasing the brightness. This new quantum dot can deliver a very precise wavelength for the three primary colours of red, green and blue, along with a 15% increase in the brightness efficiency. As a result Samsung claim that their new QLED TVs can deliver 100% of DCI-P3 and over 1,500 nits of peak brightness, which means they can cover the entire colour volume used for HDR content graded at 1,000 nits. However content graded at 4,000 nits will still require a degree of tone mapping to match the larger colour volume of the content to the display.

The Q8C is Ultra HD Premium certified by the UHD Alliance and supports two forms of High Dynamic Range – HDR10+ and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). HLG was developed by NHK and the BBC and is the proposed HDR standard for broadcast TV, whilst HDR10+ is Samsung’s new version of the open source HDR10 that not only uses static metadata but also dynamic metadata to ensure superior tone mapping and a better HDR experience. HDR10+ will be launched globally on the Amazon Video streaming service this year and Samsung say that more content providers intend to use the format going forward. Along with the new quantum dot layer, the Q8C also boasts a new System-on-Chip (SoC) that uses four-way processing, which Samsung claim can deliver a wider optimal viewing angle with an improved contrast and colour performance.

Samsung QE65Q8C Features & SpecsSamsung QE65Q8C Features & Specs

This new System-on-Chip (SoC) includes the Q Engine which is Samsung’s latest processor that is 30% faster than the previous one and, along with the new algorithms designed to improve viewing angles, the image engine uses algorithms to analyse the source signals and apply image processing to optimise the picture quality. The Q8C also has a light sensor that when activated can adjust the brightness and contrast performance depending on the ambient light in the room. Since it adjusts the image automatically it could be used as an alternative to creating separate day and night settings. Unsurprisingly the Q8C doesn’t support 3D because Samsung dropped the format from their entire line-up last year.

The Smart Hub still uses Samsung’s Tizen-powered platform, which offers a launcher bar with a single access point for all your content that doesn’t just include apps but also various smart devices, making the TV a genuine smart hub in your home. There is a newly designed EPG that includes IP channels, as well as all the premium UHD HDR content from providers such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. All you need to do is select something from the launcher bar and a series of choices appear on another tier above that, making it easy to access all your favourite content. There’s also the option of customising the launcher bar, making it even easier to access the features you use regularly.

The Q8C supports High Dynamic Range including HLG and HDR10+ with dynamic metadata

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

Picture Settings – Out-of-the-Box

Samsung have made a few changes to their menu system this year, starting with the Game mode which has now been moved back into the General sub-menu. Ordinarily this would be annoying but it’s so easy to select the Game mode using the voice control that we really don’t mind. Thankfully Samsung have dropped the Sports mode from last year and they have moved the faux HDR mode, called HDR+, into the picture settings. The default Brightness setting is now zero and we generally find that you don’t need to adjust this when setting the TV up. Samsung are using BT.1886 as their default gamma curve for SDR content, although you can adjust this, and they have replaced the 10-point white balance control with a 20-point version.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

One change that is annoying, from a calibration perspective, is that you can no longer turn the local dimming off and instead you have to choose between Low, Standard and High. Although we would still recommend using the Low setting for SDR content, we would normally prefer to turn off the local dimming when calibrating things like the greyscale. However we’re glad to see that Samsung have added two new picture modes – Cal-Day and Cal-Night – as an alternative to the automatic day and night setting. Although if you’d like to use the latter but still have an accurate picture, then for SDR content select the Standard or High setting in Movie Mode and for HDR content use the Standard setting in Movie mode.

Samsung QE65Q8C Picture Settings – Out-of-the-Box

As you can see in the graph above, the out-of-the-box greyscale is actually very good, with all the colours tracking quite closely to each other. As a result the DeltaEs (errors) were all below the visible threshold of three and most were below two. We found that leaving the gamma setting at BT.1886 gave us a result closest to our target of 2.4, whilst fluctuating slightly between 2.5 and 2.3. Although the Q8C includes both a 2- and a 20-point white balance control, the out-of-the-box greyscale was actually good enough that we wouldn’t necessarily need to calibrate this particular sample, although there may be fluctuations from unit to unit.

Samsung QE65Q8C Picture Settings – Out-of-the-Box

The colour gamut performance using the Auto Colour Space was also very good out-of-the-box, with the majority of the colours tracking their targets at 25, 50, 75 and 100% very well against the industry standard of Rec.709. Red and green were over-saturated at 100%, yellow was under-saturated and there were some minor hue errors in green. However the luminance performance, which isn’t shown in the graph above, was also very good and overall this was an excellent result. In fact the Q8C’s greyscale and colour performance right out-of-the-box was so good that calibration probably wouldn’t make a perceivable difference.

Picture Settings – Calibrated

However should you wish to calibrate the Q8C there are now two options – the traditional manual calibration or Samsung’s new auto calibration feature which was developed in conjunction with Spectracal, who created CalMAN. We were able to test both approaches using our profiled Klein K-10A, Murideo Fresco Six-G and CalMAN 2017 software. The results using the Auto Cal feature are shown in the CalMAN screenshots below:

Samsung QE65Q8C Picture Settings – CalibratedSamsung QE65Q8C Picture Settings – Calibrated

To use the auto calibration feature you’ll need to get hold of a 3.5mm to serial cable and a matching serial to USB adapter, that allows you to connect the Ex Out jack on the One Connect box to your laptop. You then run the Home Enthusiast workflow on CalMAN and use Direct Display Control to control the Q8C directly along with your pattern generator and colour meter. Although it defaults to 0.5, you can set the Auto Cal to calibrate to within a chosen tolerance level for the greyscale, gamma and colour gamut. The Auto Cal is quick and easy to use and delivered a very accurate greyscale and gamma. The colour gamut wasn’t as good because although the 100% saturation points were accurate, many of the lower saturation points were off, so we preferred a manual calibration for the colour gamut or you could just leave the Colour Space set to Auto. However the Auto Cal was still impressive and certainly opens up the possibilities for both enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Samsung QE65Q8C

In terms of the manual calibration there was no need to use the 2-point control, so we jumped straight to using the 20-point and fine-tuned each 5IRE point until we had equal amounts of red, green and blue. As you can see in the graph above it was a fairly easy task to get the greyscale perfect with all three primary colour tracking each other exactly. The gamma was now tracking our target of 2.4, aside from a slight bump at 10 and 90IRE (the Auto Cal actually did a better job of ironing out these bumps than we did), and overall this was an excellent performance.

Samsung QE65Q8C

After calibrating the greyscale white fell precisely on to its target of D65, which is the industry standard for the colour temperature of white. Using the Custom colour space, which gives you access to the colour management system and defaults to Rec.709 for standard dynamic range content, we were able to fine tune the majority of colours but red was still over-saturated at 100% and so was yellow, although it was more accurate at 25 to 75%. However the luminance performance, which isn’t shown on the graph above, was spot-on and overall this was an excellent colour performance and, when combined with the greyscale and gamma, the Q8C was able to deliver a very accurate image with standard dynamic range content.

The peak brightness and colour gamut measurements were amongst the highest we’ve measured

Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range

When the Q8C detects an HDR signal it automatically defaults to the settings you have chosen and we’d recommend using the Cal-Day or Cal-Night picture modes for the best results, with the backlight at maximum and the local dimming on High. You should leave the colour space on Auto because although the Custom mode provides the option of calibrating either the DCI or Rec.2020 colour gamuts we found that Auto delivered greater accuracy. In terms of the PQ EOTF (gamma), the Samsung will default to ST.2084 for HDR10 material and HLG for Hybrid Log-Gamma content.

The measurements shown below are for an out-of-the-box performance and as you can see the EOTF (Electro Optical Transfer Function) tracked very closely to the SMPTE 2084 (PQ) target, with the luminance not rolling off until 90 IRE. The greyscale is tracking very well and overall the errors were mostly below two, except where the curve rolls off at 90IRE, where there is a slight increase to six. The Samsung did an excellent job of tone mapping a 10,000 nit signal to its native peak brightness without unwanted clipping of content.

Samsung QE65Q8C Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range

Samsung have made a big deal about the Q8C being able to deliver a peak brightness of 1500nits and that was true in terms of some of the less accurate picture modes, with Dynamic actually hitting 1700nits. However in the Cal-Night/Day modes we actually measured it at 1250nits using a 10% window and 500nits on a 100% and, unlike last year, the Q8C can maintain its peak brightness for much longer. This is still one of the highest accurate measurements we’ve recorded so far but for the best results you will need to be sat central to the TV and even then the positioning of the LEDs at the bottom of the screen meant that you would get columns of light and the black bars on letterboxed movies would suffer. It seems that although the Q8C is bright, the location of its LEDs is a limiting factor in its HDR performance.

Samsung QE65Q8C Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range

Another area where Samsung have been making some big claims is the size of the colour gamut on the Q8C and here they have certainly delivered. We measured the Q8C at 99% of DCI-P3 using xy and 99% using uv coordinates, which equates to over 74% of Rec.2020. These are the largest colour gamut numbers we have measured on a TV, with only JVC’s Z1 laser projector scoring higher. The graph above shows how the Samsung tracked against Rec.2020 and, within the limitations of its native colour gamut, it was reasonably good.

Samsung QE65Q8C

The graph above shows how the Q8C tracked against the DCI-P3 saturation points within the Rec.2020 container and in this test the Samsung was even better, with the primary and secondary colours tracking their targets closer than they did in the Rec. 2020 test. There was some over-saturation of red but in general the colours were near their targets which resulted in saturated and natural-looking images with actual HDR content.

Another area where Samsung have been quite vocal recently is colour volume and here the Q8C was generally impressive. We started by measuring the Relative Colour Volume, this takes the display’s own peak brightness and measures the colour volume relative to that peak brightness based on the CIE L*a*b* colour graph and 140 data points. For the Q8C we got measurements of 127% against Rec. 709, 85% against DCI-P3 and 58% against Rec. 2020 which are the highest we have measured so far for a TV.

The Perceptual Colour Volume uses the PQ EOTF out to 10,000nits and the Rec. 2020 colour gamut measured using the ICtCp colour graph to take into account human visual perception. This measurement uses 393 data points which produces a number expressed in Millions of Distinguishable Colours (MDC) and the Q8C produced an MDC number of 442, which is largest we have measured so far. It just pipped Sony’s XE93 which had a higher peak brightness but a smaller colour gamut.

The local dimming was very effective with SDR content but struggled with HDR material

Picture Quality

Black Levels and Contrast Ratios

Since you can’t turn off the local dimming on the Q8C, we were unable to actually measure the VA panel’s native black level but with the local dimming set to low we measured black at 0.0003nits and in the High mode we got 0.0001nits. The Samsung was certainly capable of delivering a completely black image even in a darkened room. On a TV as bright as the Q8C we had no issues hitting our target of 120nits for a nighttime mode and that results in an on/off contrast ratio of 400,000:1 with the local dimming in the low setting. However that number isn’t representative of real world content and using a checkerboard pattern we measured a far less impressive 4,000:1. This would be a good number for an LCD TV if we were measuring the native contrast performance but with the local dimming engaged it isn’t as impressive and reveals the limitations of local dimming when the LEDs are only along one edge.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

Backlight Uniformity

Despite the use of edge LED backlighting the Q8C did manage to deliver a surprisingly even backlight. We tested the Samsung in its three local dimming modes in a darkened room and the uniformity on a 5% window was very good. There was some minor lighter edges at the bottom where the LEDs were located but the pattern was free of clouding or dirty screen effect. We were also pleased to see that Q8C was able to avoid visible banding, which meant football looked good with a bright, saturated and detailed image and no obvious banding as the camera panned across the pitch. The filter on the front of the screen also proved very effective, rejecting any ambient light and delivering impressive blacks when watching during the day.

Local Dimming and Viewing Angles

The local dimming on the Q8C was something of a mixed bag, with an effective performance with standard dynamic range content but less impressive results when it came to high dynamic range content. We started testing the local dimming using a test pattern that moves a white circle around the screen and in SDR this looked good, the white circle was well defined as it moved around and there was no haloing. However once you switched to an HDR signal the brightness increases dramatically and then there was some haloing around the the circle, although the local dimming was still fairly precise as it moved around the screen. The local dimming was also quite effective at retaining shadow detail within darker images but once again it is limited by the position of the LED backlight, as evidenced in the contrast numbers.

When we switched to real world content the results were more mixed, with full frame SDR pictures the images were impressive and the Q8C could also handle letterboxed films reasonably well. However it did struggle slightly with our Gravity torture test, where as Sandra Bullock’s character tumbles through space there is a single bright white object moving quickly through a black background. On occasion the local dimming struggled to keep up due to the limitations of the edge LED backlighting. When it came to HDR it often also depended on the aspect ratio of the content, a full screen image like Planet Earth II could look stunning but when dealing with darker scenes in letterboxed films the black bars would begin to look dark grey rather than completely black. Given where the LEDs are positioned there isn’t really any way the Q8C can avoid this issue.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

In order to ensure that you minimise haloing as much as possible, especially with HDR content where the brightness is at maximum and the local dimming set to high, you need to be sat central to the screen. Samsung have made some fairly bold claims about the viewing angles on their QLED range of TVs and whilst the performance is an improvement on last year’s Samsung TVs, you will still get a drop off in contrast and colour performance as you move off-axis and the haloing from the local dimming becomes more noticeable. The Q8C certainly has a better off axis performance compared to other LCD TVs that we’ve reviewed recently, especially within a 30 degree arc either side of central, but in comparison with an OLED TV like the Sony A1 there’s no competition.

Motion Handling

The Q8C is an LCD TV, so no one should be expecting miracles in terms of motion handling but within the inherent limitations of the technology, the motion handling was reasonably good. The Samsung was free of any of the stuttering or frame dropping that we have experienced with their TVs in the past and the Q8C handled all of our motion tests very well, delivering a motion resolution measurement of over 300 with Auto Motion Plus off and the full 1080 lines with it on. Naturally using Auto Motion Plus on the Auto setting does introduce smoothing thanks to the frame interpolation, so with film-based content we would always leave it off. However for sport-based content, which is shot on video, there is certainly room for experimentation, especially with the custom setting, where you can experiment further with blur and judder reduction. The Custom setting is also where you’ll find LED Clear Motion, this feature uses black frame insertion, which reduces the brightness of the image and can cause flicker with some people, but it can also result in a better sense of motion although it was still too smooth for our tastes when it came to movies.

Standard Dynamic Range (SDR)

We started off with some standard definition content and considering the size of the screen, it looked surprisingly watchable. Samsung have always had good video processing and the Q8C did great job of deinterlacing and scaling a standard definition broadcast like Agents of Shield. The TV can’t add what isn’t there but the increased resolution of the 4K panel does give the processing more pixels to play with and all the other factors that constitute a good picture still apply. So the excellent greyscale, gamma, colour performance and generally effective local dimming of the Q8C all helped to deliver some very pleasing images.

Of course we don’t watch that much standard definition TV these days, aside from the occasional Come Dine With Me marathon, so it’s with high definition broadcasts that the Q8C had a chance to really shine. The images it delivered were certainly detailed thanks to the video processing and once again the excellent greyscale, gamma and colour accuracy really helped to produce some lovely images. Our usual benchmarks are the BBC’s wildlife documentaries and these often looked superb, whilst a streamed show like Better Call Saul also benefits from some really impressive photography.

In general we found the local dimming to be very effective with standard dynamic range content and the absence of clouding, banding and dirty screen effect also helped. The screen filter proved very useful during the day and the Q8C could deliver a great image with deep blacks regardless of whether it was day or night. For those that are interested in using the automatic day and night setting, it certainly worked but we always found it difficult to get a brightness level that we were happy with, especially if it was one of those days where the sun was going behind clouds constantly. Ultimately we preferred the manual route of selecting the Cal-Day or Cal-Night setting ourselves but the automatic version is always there as an option for those who aren’t as fussy.

Regardless of your approach to setup, the Q8C certainly got the most from Blu-rays with wonderful images that were bursting with detail and colour where appropriate but had deep blacks and good shadow detail in other scenes. The Samsung handled the bright scenes in Moana with ease, producing some fantastic images whilst also keeping the black letterbox bars black. The same goes for Rogue One with the later scenes on Scarif looking particularly good but even the darker scenes on Eadu were impressive, as long as you were central to the screen. As mentioned earlier, it was only during certain scenes in Gravity that the local dimming on the Q8C struggled but with other SDR content it was impressive.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

Samsung have been heavily promoting the QLED range as HDR1500, which presumably is supposed to mean that the TV can deliver 1500nits of peak brightness, and also as having a colour gamut that 100% of DCI-P3. As we discovered earlier the peak brightness is over 1500nits in the inaccurate Dynamic mode but the accurate Cal-Night mode delivered 1250nits, which is still very high but not as high as some other TVs like Sony’s XE93. As for the colour gamut, we measured it at 99% of DCI-P3 which is close enough for us, and certainly wider than any other TV we’ve tested to date. As a result the colour volume was the highest we’d measured, just pipping the XE93 thanks to the Q8C’s wider colour gamut.

So on paper at least the Q8C should be a stellar performer with High Dynamic Range and in many respects it was with a superbly detailed image on a native 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray like The Revenant. The wider colour gamut meant that the colour accuracy was also impressive with some very realistic looking images and the peak brightness gave specular highlights real impact, whether it was the sun glinting off the waves in The Shallows or shining through the trees in The Revenant. The glorious photography in Planet Earth II was simply breathtaking at times as all of these factors came into play and the shots of the natural world produced some stunning HDR images. The same was true of a film like Pacific Rim, with the Q8C retaining detail in the shadows whilst also producing some impressive peak highlights. The Samsung also reproduced the ‘Arriving in Neverland’ scene in Pan correctly, with the circle of the sun clearly visible above the edge of the mountain.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Samsung QE65Q8C QLED 4K HDR TV

However Pan also revealed the limitations of the Q8C because in the very next scene the pirate ship flies into a dark tunnel with a bright opening at the end. In HDR the local dimming struggled to keep the black bars black and often failed when there was a bright object against a dark background. In full screen productions like Planet Earth II or Pacific Rim or with brighter films like The Shallows and The Revenant, the Q8C could produce some really impressive images but the limitations of the local dimming were all too apparent in a very dark film like Assassin’s Creed. It’s a shame because in all other respects the Q8C is a great performer with HDR but it does reveal how difficult it is to deliver the full experience with edge LED backlighting, especially as these TVs are getting brighter and brighter. The Sony XE93 also has edge LED backlighting but it uses dual layers on either side of the screen and a guide plate to reduce the problems of washed-out blacks in the letterbox bars of widescreen movies.

Sound Quality

Despite its slim dimensions, the Q8C actually delivered a reasonable performance when it came to sound quality and there’s no doubt that the larger screen size certainly played a factor. The use of psychoacoustics and clever speaker design can tease a half decent audio performance out of a slim TV but the addition of decent-sized speakers and better amplification resulted in an improved level of sound quality. Thanks to the 65-inch screen size the speakers were wider apart and, as such, the audio had a better sense of stereo separation which resulted in a suitably wide front soundstage. The speakers themselves managed to reproduce the mid-range and high frequencies quite well and although the bass performance isn’t going to compete with even a cheap soundbar that includes a dedicated subwoofer, the low frequency response was certainly sufficient for general TV watching.

The Q8C had 60W of amplification built into a 4.2-channel configuration it and could go quite loud without becoming harsh or brittle. The Samsung also produced an expansive front soundstage that could fill the average sized living room, even creating a certain degree of immersion, whilst dialogue always remained clear and centred. We generally find that the Music option in the sound settings tends to provide the most balanced audio and so it was for the Q8C. Whilst this TV is never going to be able to deliver a room-shaking and immersive surround experience with modern blockbusters, it can certainly handle the majority of your regular content watching. However, if you’re investing in a 65-inch Q8C, we would certainly recommend that you seriously consider buying an outboard audio solution so that you can get the best from your new TV like Samsung’s matching HW-MS6500 soundbar.

The low lag times for 1080p, 4K, SDR and HDR inputs are sure to please gamers

Input Lag & Energy Usage

We measured the input lag on the Q8C using our Leo Bodnar tester, combined with an HD Fury Integral to inject HDR metadata and an HD Fury Linker to upscale the signal to 4K. The results were consistently good, with the Q8C delivering a 1080p lag time of just 24ms, regardless of whether the signal was SDR or HDR and this dropped down to 20ms with a 4:4:4 signal. When it came to 4K the results were equally good, with the the Q8C also producing a lag of 24ms regardless of whether the signal is SDR or HDR and again dipping down to 20ms with a 4:4:4 signal. Whether you’re gaming at 1080p or 4K, always keep the processing to a minimum by selecting the Game mode because the other modes increases to 80ms. You should also avoid using the Auto Motion Plus frame interpolation feature because even in Game mode this will increase the input lag to 80ms as well.

In terms of the Q8C’s energy consumption it proved to be reasonably efficient and using a full window 50% white pattern we measured our calibrated Cinema Pro mode at just 42W, whilst the Standard mode that the TV ships in was drawing 140W. Of course once we moved on to HDR the level of energy consumption increased, with the Q8C using 166W of power. These numbers are just for the TV itself, although it’s worth remembering that the One Connect box also requires its own power supply but this is minimal in comparison.

How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution
HDR Support
Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 – 100% best) 74%
10-bit Panel
HDMI 2.0a Inputs
HDCP 2.2 Support
HEVC Decoding
4K Streaming Services
Smart TV Platform
Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 9

Conclusion

The Q8C is more a series of refinements than anything ground-breakingly new from Samsung. As a result they have redesigned the look of this LED LCD TV and expanded their feature set, whilst also upgrading the Smart TV platform, the One Connect box and the One Controller. As a result the Q8C has a new all-metal construction, a redesigned stand and an expanded One Connect box with plenty of connections. The use of a fibre optic cable means you have a nearly invisible connection to the TV itself, whilst a separate ‘No Gap’ bracket allows you to mount the TV flush with the wall. The Q8C is easy to setup and control thanks to auto device detection and the One Remote, whilst the Smart Hub is comprehensive and responsive, delivering an effective smart TV experience.

In terms of the picture quality, Samsung have also increased the peak brightness, widened the colour gamut and improved the off-axis performance, whilst the addition of HDR10+ and HLG support is very welcome. The Q8C’s out-of-the-box accuracy was excellent and Samsung have expanded their calibration controls and even added an auto calibration feature. The result is a near reference level of accuracy after calibration and a picture that delivers natural and detailed images. The HDR measurements were impressive, among the best we have seen to date for a TV, and the input lag is low regardless of whether you game in 1080p, 4K or HDR. The local dimming was often impressive but did sometimes struggle with certain HDR content.

Overall the Samsung QE65Q8C is a well made and nicely specified Ultra HD 4K TV that is capable of delivering a very good picture, especially with standard dynamic range content. It’s also no slouch when it comes to high dynamic range material but with certain scenes the limitations of the edge LED backlight were apparent, which is a shame. However the Q8C certainly does enough to warrant a recommendation and if you’re looking for a curved screen it’s probably the only higher option left.

As good as the Samsung Q8C is, at £3,799/$5,698 it’s certainly not cheap and it’s going to find it’s got some serious competition from Sony’s KD-65XE9305. For a start the XE93 also has the looks and build quality, although we definitely prefer Samsung’s One Remote and Smart Hub platform over Sony’s rubber remote and Android TV. The XE93 has a higher peak brightness but the Q8C has a wider colour gamut, resulting in both TVs delivering almost identical colour volume numbers. They also both have excellent image processing and similar black levels and contrast ratios, although the Q8C is slightly more accurate out of the box. The Samsung also has a slightly better off-axis performance but, thanks to Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive+, the XE93 has a better local dimming performance, especially with HDR content. It that wasn’t enough to tempt you, the 65XE93 is also £600/$900 cheaper than the Q8C at £3,199/$4,798, so on a price to performance basis the Sony remains a tough act to beat.

(avforums.com, https://goo.gl/fh99cJ)

Toyota Prius Prime: 10 Things to Know About the First Sensible Plug-in

Everyone who drives an electric vehicle immediately notices two things: the acceleration and the fuel economy. Driving an EV means instant power from a stoplight, and the feeling is addicting. Likewise, finishing a trip with 100 mpg or better makes you want more. Both elements are major selling points for consumers.

Yet plug-in hybrids and all-electric models still post small sales numbers. Which leads us to the two things everyone dislikes about EVs: charging a car and paying so much extra for the battery. Once you start talking about installing a charger in the garage and paying thousands extra to go electric, you lose about 95% of the car-buying public.

Prius Prime, Malibu

The 2017 Prius Prime makes a strong case for green car driving. | Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

Then Toyota released the second generation of its plug-in hybrid, calling it Prius Prime. With this model, you would charge the car when you had a chance and travel 25 miles getting the best economy around. When you couldn’t charge, you would get the best economy of any car without a battery on the standard (54 mpg) hybrid system. Plus, there was another kicker: It cost the same as the regular Prius after the $4,500 tax credit.

In other words, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime represents a small revolution in electrified vehicles. Here are 10 things we learned about the world’s most sensible plug-in vehicle over an eight-day test.

1. Prime styling: a giant leap forward

Prius Prime in profile Blue Magnetism

2017 Toyota Prius Prime in blue magnetism | Toyota

No matter how much people loved Prius’s economy over the years, hardly anyone really loved the car’s style. That consensus applied to multiple generations of the hybrid and included the original plug-in model. Even the redesigned 2016 Prius features some severe angles and a polarizing overall look. Prius Prime, on the other hand, can pass for a stylish car. The plug-in is unanimously the most attractive Prius to date.

2. We averaged 101.4 mpg

Prius Prime

Prius Prime’s economy is best of any plug-in hybrid on the market in spring 2017. | Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

Prime received an EPA rating of 133 MPGe in electric mode and 54 mpg during hybrid operation. Over our week-long travels that extended nearly 500 miles, we averaged 101.4 mpg. That amazing figure came with just one charging session outside the home. Using a base in Echo Park on L.A.’s east side, we traveled to Santa Barbara and back and made multiple excursions to Malibu yet hardly used half a tank of gas. Had we hung around L.A. proper and avoided extended highway driving, we probably would have averaged over 150 mpg.

3. You charge it like a phone

Toyota Prius Prime

Prime charges on a standard household outlet in 5.5 hours. | Toyota

When Prime debuted, Toyota touted its ability to charge on a regular home outlet (110v) in 5.5 hours. Indeed, that’s a huge selling point. You drive electric without worrying about a home charger or a subscription to a charging station network. We just plugged in our car at the end of a day’s travels and started over in the morning. Looking at charge times of Ford Fusion Energi (7 hours to 21 miles) or Hyundai Sonata PHEV (9 hours to 27 miles), Prime has a clear advantage. If you use a Level 2 (240v) charger, the battery needs just 2 hours.

4. The touchscreen challenges Tesla’s

Prius Prime touchscreen

Prius Prime features an 11.6-inch touchscreen in the two trims above the base model. | Toyota

In the premium ($28,800) or advanced ($33,100) trims, Prime comes with a touchscreen measuring 11.6 inches. It may not stack up against Tesla’s massive 17-inch screen, but it competes and creates an impressive centerpiece in what is a tech-heavy automobile. The screen is responsive and generally easy to operate. Navigation comes standard in every available trim. Base Prime models called “Plus” start at $27,100.

5 . The 25-mile EV range is real

Prius Prime from left 3/4

The EPA-estimated electric range for Prime is accurate. | Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

A hallmark of the new generation of plug-in vehicles is accurate range readings. We noticed it in our Chevrolet Bolt EV drive in January 2017 and we saw it in our run in Toyota Prius Prime. The estimated 25 miles is actually 25 miles. If you manage your acceleration and braking perfectly in city driving, you will even push it beyond the EPA mark.

6. You feel the tech at work

2017 Prius Prime mph hologram

Prime’s advanced tech makes driving easier rather than more complicated.  | Toyota

In advanced trim, Prius Prime offers a head-up display (HUD) that projects a hologram into the windshield featuring your current speed and other details. We found it especially useful when we were using the navigation system. Instead of having to glance at the map to clarify where you make the next turn, you see the important data right in front of you — right where your eyes should be when operating a vehicle.

7. Hatchback utility

Prius Prime utility

Though it features less cargo space than a standard Prius, Prime’s hatchback design is useful. | Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

No one will be wowed by the 20 cubic feet of cargo space inside a 2017 Prius Prime. That number puts the plug-in model well behind the standard Prius (27 cubic feet) and slightly head of Chevrolet Volt (19 cubic feet). On the other hand, Prime easily fits a 6-foot surfboard inside and has room for much more with the back seats down. (You will need to use the back seat if you bring several large suitcases or other large objects aboard.) One thing about the hatch: It has a tall reach when open, so consider that inside a low garage.

8. Visibility issues

Toyota Prius Prime Advanced trim Blue Magnetism

The latest plug-in Prius still has some visibility issues. | Toyota

In the past, Prius was known as a vehicle with multiple blind spots, a product of its raised rear end. Prime’s window inside the hatch helps a bit, but we still had trouble seeing clearly in the back corners. Advanced safety equipment largely neutralizes this disadvantage. backing up in the one-car garage where we parked, the sensors were quite adamant about us getting out unscathed. The system works, and a rear camera comes standard, but drivers will notice this element, especially in the base trim.

9. Standard Prius reliability

2017 Toyota Prius Prime | Toyota

Over the years, Prius has appeared on lists of most of the lists of most reliable and longest-lasting cars on the road. Prime buyers get access to that heritage, which includes keeping the hybrid EV batteries working for the long haul. Consumer Reports has yet to deliver its final verdict on this model (it’s still in testing), but we expect more of the same from a trusted brand on the reliability front.

10. A competitive World Green Car Award

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced

Prius Prime won the World Green Car Award win among stiff competition. | Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

In any other year, Prius Prime would have been a lock for the World Green Car Award. But in 2017 Toyota’s plug-in faced off against both Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model X. We believe the overall convenience of Prime — no home charger, unparalleled efficiency — gave Toyota the win over this stiff competition at the New York Auto Show.

Though economy and convenience are Prime’s biggest selling points, we can’t ignore the plug-in’s excellent drive character. In electric mode, you will experience the joy of EV driving in ways you would never expect from a Prius. This element may be Prime’s biggest achievement of all. You get the thrill of EV driving without the hassle; meanwhile, the world-class efficiency quietly hums along in the background.

(cheatsheet.com, https://goo.gl/Q5jKJK)