Archive | July, 2015

Paradigm Monitor 7 V7: a Great Loudspeaker for Its Price

Posted on 31 July 2015

Great sound quality, ease of use, and a slim design, the 7th generation Paradigm monitor loudspeaker are sure to impress audiophiles and casual listeners alike , being priced at $898.The loudspeaker has a seamless slender body with a mostly plastic frame, measuring 6.9 inches wide by 9 inches deep and 36-inch tall. It has a narrow profile and occupies little space. It comes in two finishes, black ash and heritage cherry. It definitely looks more premium than its predecessors. Although it weighs 36 ounces, it feels fuller.

It is a 2.5-way speaker, carrying a 25 mm High-Frequency Driver, a 140-mm Bass/Midrange Driver and a dedicated 140 mm bass driver and despite its size, the sounds it delivers are detailed and impactful. The bass can be a little too much but not enough to be fatiguing. The soundstage and serration are remarkably wide and makes the sound feel highly realistic and natural. The upper mids can be somewhat bothersome in some cases.

The sensitivity is decent, reported to be at 91dB and the frequency response on axis is 48 Hz to 22 kHz. It can sound less refined at higher volumes but the difference is hardly noticeable. Among its users, the feedback has been positive with its soundstage and low profile approach.

Although the speakers are designed for used as home theater, it still does a great job at playing music. Other speakers offer better value for money and may even sound better but if you live in a small home and dig a speaker with excellent soundstage, the Paradigm Monitor 7 v7 can be a good choice for you. After all, it doesn’t make a dent on your wallet and offers a decent sound quality, which is sufficient to justify its price tag and fulfill your needs and wants.

Ratings
o Design: 8.0
o Features: 7.0
o Performance: 8.0
o Value: 7.5
o Overall: 7.5

Photo courtesy: Paradigm

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Meizu MX5: Low-Budget Phone With Limited Features

Posted on 22 July 2015

The new flagship smartphone of the Chinese tech company, Meizu, the MX5 is pack with high-end features but with a competitive price of $290, it offers good value for money. It will be available mainly in the Chinese market. It spots a striking resemblance to an iPhone 6 plus in terms of appearance. The design is sleek (about 0.30-inch deep) with a rounded aluminum finish.

The front does not feature any logo with a home button and speaker grille being the only things sticking out. Placed at the back is a prominent 20.7-megapixel camera with laser auto focus and dual-LED flash. The secondary camera is a standard 5MP. The phone weighs 5.26oz and is available in colors of Grey, Gold, Silver, and Black &Silver.

The defining trait of the MX5 which makes it different than its predecessor is the change in display technology. It now features an AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. It also features dual-SIM slots, 4G LTE, mTouch 2.0″ fingerprint scanner integrated into the home button, Bluetooth v4.1, EDGE, GPS/ A-GPS and active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3.

For a flagship phone, the camera is poor in terms of quality. With a 1080 x 1920 pixels 5.5-inch display, the screen isn’t as high resolution as one would expect from a flagship phone. The hardware specs are great. It has a Octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor 2.2GHz, 3 GB of RAM, up to 64GB of storage, and a 3,150mAh battery. Up to 64GB of storage, and is powered by a non-removable 3,150mAh battery. It runs on Android 5.0, featuring Meizu’s Flyme 4.5 UI.

The MX5 looks like a promising phone and indeed has many plus points to back the claim but unless you are on a limited budget, it is not worth considering. The features are limited and it won’t serve more than your basic purposes and needs.

Photo courtesy: Meizu

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LG G Stylo: Affordable but With Limited Features and Specs

Posted on 20 July 2015

Offering decent hardware with plenty of features and an attractive design, the LG G Stylo is being seen as a great cheaper alternative to high-end phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It is currently available with a price tag of $200.

The design is sleek and carries a minimalist approach, with the LG logo being the only thing sticking out in the front. It is a remarkably slim phone, just 0.37 inches in diameter. It comes in white and titanium. The screen is an enormous 5.7-inch with a 720 x 1280 pixel display and the rear camera is a decent 13MP with laser focus and the front a 5MP one.

As the name suggests, the smartphone comes with an embedded stylus which allows the user to write and draw on the screen. Its hardware specs include a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a 3000 mAh removable battery, more than enough to handle most of your day to day mobile activities. It offers up to 18 hours of talk time.

The device runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop and comes with LG’s own custom enhancements, such as Knock Code and QuickMemo+. Other notable features include 3G/ 4G LTE/ Enhanced LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Access to Boost Zone, 3-way calling, GPS/GPRS and TTY mode. Although support for microSD is featured, it is limited to only up to 32 GB and it does not feature dual SIM capabilities

The smartphone is great for its price range with plenty of good features. Considering the price, you may consider it a steal, but do keep in mind that the G Stylo will not match up to the performance of the leading smartphones on the market. This is why it is advised that you only opt for this phone if you are on a limited budget and want a phone that can fulfill your basic needs.

Photo courtesy: LG

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Toshiba KIRAbook: Only for Business-Oriented Users

Posted on 15 July 2015

One of the first laptops to come with an Ultra-HD display, the high-end KIRAbook by Toshiba gets an upgrade in the form of an updated CPU and some tweaks, with an increased battery life in the process. It is priced at $ 1699.99.

The design for the second-gen KIRAbook is pretty much the same as the original. It is slim and lightweight, just as light as a Macbook Air and a little more compact. The brushed magnesium alloy body gives it a premium feel but doesn’t make the notebook stand out. The keyboard shares similarities with ones in other Toshiba laptops. However, the keys are firmer and provide a better typing experience. The touchpad is lengthier and is equipped with a multi-touch feature.

The KIRAbook comes in two models, one with an i5 and the other with an i7 processor. Both models of the notebook run on Windows 8.1 Pro (64-bit), come with 8GB of RAM , 1792MB Graphic card (intel HD Graphics 4400) and a whooping 256GB SSD hard drive and a eye-melting 2,560 x 1,440-pixel touchscreen display.

The features and the high-resolution screen, which is becoming increasingly common even in lower end laptops, does not justify the high price tag, at least with the new update. The battery life is no longer an issue but there is next to no change in terms of performance from the previous model, which makes the laptop an expensive addition to Toshiba’s product line.

It is certainly more expensive than its rivals, such as the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus or Apple’s Macbook Pro, being priced at $1,399 and $1,299 respectively, but in the end it is a matter of preference. The Toshiba KIRAbook is certainly more business-oriented, offers more power but is aesthetically less appealing and user-friendly than other similar laptops on the market.

Ratings
o Design: 8
o Features: 8.5
o Performance: 8.5
o Battery Life: 8
o Overall: 8.25

Photo courtesy: Toshiba

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Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro: Design Yes, Performance No

Posted on 10 July 2015

The latest in the flagship series of Lenovo which kick started a trend, the Yoga 3 is surprisingly thin and lightweight and comes with a distinctive hybrid design. It is priced at $ 1,299. But is it worth the price?

The design is excellent, with an updated highly flexible Yoga hinge makes the ultrabook foldable to a complete 360o. The keyboard doesn’t deviate much from the standard Lenovo design, apart from being thinner in keeping with the overall design. The tray is covered in rubber rather than metal, which does give it a less than premium look but helps avoid keys from scratching against the table surface.

It runs on Windows 8.1 (64-bit), has a great storage capacity in the form of a 256GB SSD hard drive, 8GB RAM and a good graphic memory of 4GB (Intel HD Graphics 5300). The laptop also boasts an impressive 3,200 x 1,800-pixel, 13.3-inch touchscreen.

The Yoga 3 is the first laptop to feature Intel’s new Core M CPU, which requires little to no cooling, allowing the notebook to be as slim as it is. The notebook is just 13mm thick and weighs about 2.6 pounds, but this comes at a price. The performance isn’t great for a laptop in this price range and neither is the battery life any better at a meager six hours at best (a MacBook Air lasts twice as long on a single charge).

The Yoga 3 has a design which will surely impress and the performance is good enough for everyday use but is certainly not the type of laptop suitable for gaming or handling other performance-heavy applications and should not be bought for such. However, the Yoga 3 isn’t as bad as it might look on paper and for those valuing design and features over performance, it can be a decent purchase.

Ratings
o Design: 8.5
o Features: 8.5
o Performance: 7
o Battery Life: 7
o Overall: 7.75

Photo courtesy: Lenovo

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5.2-Inch Huawei Honor 7: Possibly the Best Chinese Smartphone Yet

Posted on 06 July 2015

The stylish and sleek Honor 7 Smartphone is the latest flagship phone of Chinese company, Huawei. Available from $323, it goes on sale in on 7th July in China followed by its launch in other countries around the world.

The smartphone has a slim all-metal design, and is available in gold, silver and dark grey, giving it a premium and durable look. It boasts a 5.2-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display screen and weighs 5.54 oz. It comes in three versions, the CNY 1999 (16G), CNY 2199 (16Gw/ dual-SIM), and CNY 2499 (64G).

The most defining feature of the smartphone is its amazing 20-megapixel camera with Face Detection Autofocus feature .The front camera is also impressive at 8 megapixels. It is a flagship phone so it is a given that features such as slow-motion video shooting, personal filters, and time lapse mode are also available. Whether it’s a selfie or a portrait, the camera delivers exceptional results.

It also has a unique feature, dubbed as the “smart key”. Pressing and holding it leads you to voice command while pressing it twice launches Smartcare, Huawei’s own version of an intelligent personal assistant. The phone also has a fingerprint sensor which is placed just below the camera. It is claimed to be one the best in the business, being able to identify and unlock the phone in only 0.5 seconds and is self-learning, getting better with time. When it comes to connectivity, the phone features a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS/ A-GPS and dual 4G LTE.

The phone runs on Android Lollipop5.0 and features Huawei’s EMUI 3.1 on the top. The hardware, given the price, is great, an octa-core Kirin 935 processor, 3GB RAM and a 3,100mAh battery. Keeping all these features and specs in mind, it is safe to say that the Huawei Honor 7 is among the best smartphones in its price range.

Photo via DigitalTrends

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Amazon Echo: It’s Getting Better All the Time!

Posted on 01 July 2015

Straight out of the realm of science fiction, the Amazon’s Echo is a wireless cloud-connected voice command device, available on the market for $179. The device runs on Amazon Web Services. Its voice recognition ability is great. Its seven microphone arrays and beam-forming technology allows it to hear your words clearly, even if you are across the room. It can be manually turned off using the mute bottom. It responds to the word “Alexa”, though this can be changed to “Amazon” if the user wishes.

Alexa is a cloud-based voice service which serves as the device’s intelligent personal assistant. The voice is natural and soothing. You can ask questions or order it to do specific tasks, such as play music, set alarms, read the news, and check the weather, and can access Wikipedia articles to provide relevant information, but at least for now, Alexa is fairly limited in its capabilities

The Echo has improved immensely since the original came out in 2014 and continues to improve as Amazon adds new features and updates. Among the new improvements are Pandora compatibility, traffic reports, audiobook playback as well as support for IFTTT (If This, Then That) and compatibility with WeMo and Philips Hue devices

The device does have its drawbacks. The speaker doesn’t play music well, with there being severe distortion at high volumes. There is also a concern about privacy, as it possibly sends sensitive info to the cloud service which can pose a security risk. It does not come with a battery and must remain plugged in. Most audio services are not supported.

All in all, the device has its share of quirks and limitations but with time, as it improves, you can expect the device to get smarter, boast more features and be truly a worthy companion for any household. For now, it is a simple device which works well and justifies its price tag in terms of performance.

Photo credit: Amazon

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