Archive | February, 2017

Samsung Chromebook Pro: The Next Generation Chromebook

Posted on 27 February 2017

The Samsung Chromebook Pro comes with a rooted stylus and features that add a high level of functionality to Google’s operating system. With a 12.3-inch display coupled with a sleek, premium body, the Samsung Chromebook Pro is one of the best Chromebooks out there on the market. Since it is the first of its generation, it does come with some inconveniences. Some Android apps from the Google Play store do not work all that well. However, the browser-centric operating system certainly stands out among the crowd.

The Samsung Chromebook Pro brings a design that is minimalist and thin. The aluminum body is not as broad as you would expect on a notebook, and the shape is a little odd too. It comes with a 1600 x 2400, 12.3-inch screen, which is quite surprising. This is because the standard display that the majority of laptops use rounds up to an average of 16.9 inches width-to-height display whereas the Samsung Chromebook Pro utilizes a 3.2 ratio, which is great for a tablet but a bit strange for a notebook.

It weighs around 2.4 lbs and its dimensions are 0.6 x 11.1 x 8.7 inches. It is also among the lightest and thinnest Chromebooks seen so far. Since Chromebooks are dependent mostly on the cloud, it comes as no surprise that the Samsung Chromebook Pro does not feature a large number of ports. It comes with a Type-C USB port, a headphone jack and microSD card reader on the left, and one USB-C port along with a slot to support the stylus on the right side. Since the Type-C USB ports are utilized for charging, you can use only a single port when the device is plugged in.

The Samsung Chromebook Pro comes with 32 GB storage and 4GB RAM, and is great for multitasking without lag. There is no doubt that this model represents a significant upgrade on the past generations of Chromebooks over the years.

Photo courtesy: Samsung

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Pioneer SX-S30 Network Receiver Review

Posted on 24 February 2017

The Pioneer SX-S30 is a super slim, high quality stereo receiver that has every streaming feature imaginable: Airplay, ChromeCast built-in, FireConnect, PlayFi, Bluetooth, and Spotify Connect. It is 3.7 inches high, offers 4 HDMI ports and 85W per channel. The ports are also able to support HDR and 4K sources.

If you are all about high quality music, the Pioneer SX-S30 is definitely an option worth considering as it does DSD decoding from the disc or other networks along with supporting 24-bit/192kHz files. However, it only comes with a single subwoofer output, something you might not want if you are looking for a surround sound amplifier. The device overall is best suited for people who want a pair of good quality speakers in a small room.

This network receiver is also speculated to support FireConnect and Google Cast multi-room audio operation later in 2017, as per firmware update. If you prefer wired connections, Pioneer SX-S30 has got you covered thanks to its one HDMI output and UHD HDMI 4K inputs, a USB cable and an optical input.

Despite not offering a surround sound system, which is normally associated with home-theater-focused receivers, the Pioneer SX-S30 provide complete support for HDR signals to allow your whole system to be controlled with less hassle. It also has analog RCA inputs, which includes optical and coaxial digital audio inputs and dedicated phono for turntables.

The back of the receiver contains an Ethernet port, which supports wired connectivity, while Bluetooth, WI-Fi and Airplay provide wireless connectivity. The built-in ChromeCast facilitates easy playback from more than one source, while FireConnect and DTS Play are included for allowing wireless multi room playback. You can also play digital music via thumb drives and

portable hard drives with the help of an included USB port.
At present, the Pioneer SX-S30 network receiver is available at a price of $500 in Australia and the UK. You should definitely consider this device if you are looking for good sound.

Photo courtesy: Pioneer

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Lenovo Yoga A12: Android Tablet Delivering Seamless Integration

Posted on 22 February 2017

Lenovo has launched the Yoga A12 convertible tablet which emerges as a stripped down version of the Yoga Book. According to Lenovo, the Yoga A12 is an affordable Android tablet, which is engineered for maximum productivity. In several ways, the Yoga A12 is a low-priced version of the Yoga Book, which is marketed to appeal to the mainstream masses. The A12 comes with a 12.2-inch screen, and an Intel Atom x5 chip, 32GB storage inside and a 2GB RAM. Unfortunately, there is no pen input and no option for Chrome OS or Windows 10.

However, the feature that makes the tablet stand apart is the halo keyboard initiated on the Yoga Book, and the much anticipated 360° hinge. The 12.2-inch screen will take care of the cramped space on the original Book. The device weighs just under a kilogram and portable with a 5.4mm thick edge. The tablet has two Dolby Atmos speakers with almost 13 hours of battery backup. It runs a modification of Android with a hybrid multi-tasking UI, consisting of three panes for apps. However, Lenovo has not yet announced the exact version of Android the A12 runs.

The tablet comes with breathtaking functionalities but there are some technical disappointments. The screen comes with a 1200 x 800 resolution and the components are aging. Tech-savvy enthusiasts who seek the greatest and latest hardware may be disappointed as the A12 runs an old chip from Intel, which has rolled back its development of Android. This poses many doubts about the frequency of OS updates. It comes with Intel’s Atom X5 tablet processor (or code-named as Cherry Trail) which has now been discontinued by the chip maker.

Lenovo has not made it clear whether the Yoga A12 will be upgraded to Android 7.1 Nougat. The Yoga A12 is available from 8 February in the United States in Rose Gold and Gunmetal Grey through Lenovo’s website at an incredibly modes price tag of $299.

Photo courtesy: Lenovo

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HP Spectre X360 15 (2017) Review

Posted on 20 February 2017

If you are all for large screens then HP Spectre x360 15 is the option for you. With its sleek and beautiful charcoal and gold color scheme, long battery life and 4K screen, this computer is worth every penny. The HP Spectre x360 15 (2017) is one of the most beautiful laptops on the market today, with its distinctive aesthetic appeal in comparison with all other silver notebooks available on the market at present day.

The gadget feels premium thanks to its sleek copper-accented aluminum CNC body. HP continues to bring the flourishing trend of devices that offer only a few ports, but the Spectre x360 15 has all the important ports that you might need. With a 3.0 USB port, an SD card reader and headphone jack on the left, you will find a Type-C USB (which is to be used for charging), an HDMI output and a port 3 thunderbolt on the right.

If you are looking for more variety, the laptop further brings you 3 USB-C dongles, a full-size USB and a VGA. The display measures up to 15.6 inches and comes with a smart-touch screen which slightly lacks in brightness. Nevertheless, it covers a brilliant 113.2% of the sRGB color scheme, exceeding the standard 92% category average.

The screen is also equipped with a Delta-E color precision score of 3.5 (while 0 is the ideal). As mentioned earlier, the laptop’s screen could have been a little brighter. The keyboard of the Spectre x360 15 (2017) is rather punchy, going as deep as 1.5 mm of travel. It calls for 50 g of force when pressing. The mouse pad on the laptop is just what you would expect from a high quality device- it is quite spacious, clicky and sensitive to the touch.

With Intel core i7 and 2.9 GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB GB SSD and Nvidia GeForce 940MX CPU, the Nvidia GeForce 940MX CPU gets the job done efficiently.

Photo courtesy: HP

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Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Review

Posted on 17 February 2017

2-in-1 devices have usually been bulky and awkward looking, but not with Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. This is especially commendable since Dell has always been far behind when it came topping the ranks with like its competitors. Costing $999, this 2-in-1 device comes with a Core i5 processor, 128 GB of hard drive, and 4GB of RAM. Because Dell’s rivals usually offer a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, this is quite impressive on the company’s part.

In addition, for the very first time, Dell has promised to introduce a Dynamic Power Mode Technology in a laptop, which will scale up the speed when you require more performance. And that is particularly important provided that the system uses a Core M instead of the popular U series. The laptops brings you fewer ports than a typical XPS 13, and the battery lifespan could have been longer, but in general the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is quite an impressive product.

The laptop measures up to only 0.32 to 0.54 inches thick, in contrast with the traditional 0.33 to 0.6 inched traditional XPS 13. It weighs 2.7 pounds, which is quite light. On the bad side, you will not find a full sized SD card slot and USB port; however you will find a Type-C USB, a Thunderbolt 3 port and a microSD card slot. Luckily, dell has decided to include a USB C to USB A adapter, which is sure to make its connection with other devices and phones a lot easier. Currently, the laptop is only available in color silver, but we are hoping for gray, rose-gold and other colors pretty soon.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is equipped with InfinityEdge display which is not going to disappoint you especially if you are fond of captivating images. It also lets Dell stuff a 13-inched, full screen into an extremely compact design. So, if you are looking for a decent 2-in-1 laptop, this is an option you should definitely consider.

Photo courtesy: Dell

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Bragi the Headphone

Posted on 15 February 2017

Bragi the Headphone is a truly wireless headset that is also light and small enough to make you forget that they are even there. If you are going for the feel of the music playing inside your head, these ear buds are for you. The quarter-sized headphones are easy to hide and fit perfectly in the ears. The Bluetooth connection is also solid, if not the best.

When it comes to the quality of sound, The Headphone has a reasonably powerful and dynamic sound, which is certainly more than what you expect from the tiny device. Its neat and transparent audio allows you to decide how much sound of the real world you wish to hear with the help of the three control buttons at the right side of the ear bud.

Connecting Bragi the Headphone through Bluetooth is as easy as any other pair of headphones, even though it lacks Apple’s one-touch magic. Unlike its advertisements, the Headphone’s battery does not always last up to its claimed six hours. In addition, because the protective casing does not act as a charger, you will lose your music jamming session if even one of the buds dies while you are listening to music. Also, the Headphone does not turn off even after you have put them away in its case.

When not use, it can become awkward as to where these ear buds need to be placed. For this reason, Bragi designed a case on a lanyard to allow you to have it around at all times. The buttons smush, and not click. Moreover, the Headphone’s microphone is just as useless as that of its predecessor, and is not good enough to even dictate a text accurately. They are also water-resistant, but enough for a workout, not a swim.

In conclusion, these $120 ($150 after 1st November) headphones are quite worth the investment, especially due to reasons such as good quality sound, great design and comfort.

Photo by: Bragi

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Asus VivoPC X Review

Posted on 13 February 2017

Asus VivoPC X is a virtual-reality ready desktop that is smaller than an Xbox and a gamer’s heaven. In spite of its console-like footprint and affordable rate of $799, the Asus VivoPC X is a fully equipped Windows 10 PC that is all set for virtual reality.

Features
o Intel Core i5-7300HQ
o 6MB cache
o 3.5 GHz/2.5 GHz
o Quad Core
o Intel HM175
o 5.1 audio channel
o 230 W
o 8 GB of DDR4-2133

It comes with a state drive of 512 GB memory and seventh generation Core i5 processor along with GeForce GTX 1060 graphics which is sure enough to not give away even the least of fidelity virtual reality experiences you can imagine but Asus claims that the PC is completely certified for the Oculus Rift. Besides that, the Asus VivoPC X comes with 4 3.1 USB ports and 2 2.0 USB ports that translate to enough supply of jacks for the Oculus Rift’s peripheral sensors. Furthermore, it brings users 2 HDMI ports, Plus Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac WIFI and a display port.

With the graphics and CPU chips integrated into the motherboard, the Asus VivoPC X is not technically a PC that you will be able to upgrade sometime in the future- but that is what you get for such a tiny computer.

The Asus VivoPC X uses mobile PC parts in a bid in order to keep its size compact and power utilization at low levels. Its volume is about 5 liters and power consumption can go less than 230 W (since it uses a peripheral power bar to feed itself). In the meantime, use of such elements means that upgrading the computer can become difficult, as discussed above.

With Asus VivoPC X, the developers are aiming for changes in positioning and providing SFF gaming-grade mechanism under the brand called Vivo. You should definitely consider purchasing this if you are into gaming.

Photo by: Asus

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